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Old 01-22-2013, 12:54 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Help/tips for calming a stressed-out kitty?

I took my 15 year old Ocicat boy, Austin, to the vet last week as I was seeing
blood in his urine (and he was peeing everywhere). The vet palpated his
bladder, and there was no sign of blockage, inflammation, or infection. He does have a history of urethral spasms, but has never actually had a UTI. We did a blood panel on him which came back pretty darn good (except his kidney values are high normal, which I would expect in a cat of his age). But he's also lost two pounds in the past year.

The vet seemed to think that his problem is stress, and I tend to agree with
her. Austin has always been a sensitive boy. We have 4 cats in the household,
and our youngest Ocicat, Archer, has been harassing Austin constantly. I didn't realize how bad it was getting, as Archer is just a kitten (about 18 months old) and wants to play, play, play... and he won't take no for an answer!

We think the reason Austin has lost weight is because Archer is harassing him so much and is probably chasing him off his food. I was feeding them all together at the same "station", providing plenty of food, but Austin is easily
intimidated and probably just doesn't want to deal with Archer at feeding time. This is evidenced by the fact that Austin is getting skinny and Archer is fat and sassy!

Here's what I've done so far:

I've been separating Austin from the other cats, in the bedroom, with his own
food, water, and litter box. I put one of those pheromone collars on him--don't know if it'll help, but I'm sure it won't hurt. Been giving him lots of pets
and cuddles and hands-on attention, but not TOO much--mostly, we've just been leaving him alone and letting him sleep and relax as much as possible.

I've been feeding him as much canned food as he wants to eat, and we're looking into putting him on a special kidney diet. Is there any diet you all recommend? I don't really like k/d, and I think Purina makes a kidney diet, but is there another option? What about raw? I've fed raw before and he tolerates it well, and loves it of course.

The second part of the equation here is Archer. I am sure he will eventually
calm down and stop being such a crazy little brat-cat, but in the meantime, is
there anything I can do to wear HIM out so he doesn't attack everyone? I'm
thinking about getting one of those cat exercise wheels. Archer gets lots of
attention and play from us, since he basically follows us around demanding it,
but he still wants to play with the other cats. Dizzy and Spyder, our other two
cats, don't want to play with him but they don't seem to get stressed over it
the way Austin does.

Any tips? Advice? Anything I should be thinking about? Thanks!
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Old 01-22-2013, 01:33 PM   #2 (permalink)
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It seems you are doing everything right for Austin. My sister in law adopted a cat from a shelter she was volunteering at. The 18 month old cat constantly harrassed the resident 13 year old Calico and it was absolutely bordering on meaness and destructive attacks after awhile. It was cute at first to see the younger cat want to play and engage Cali, but within short order it had turned in to full blown attacks on the old cat (I think the younger cat sensed weakness) - didn't happen over night, it took awhile. After a couple years of sheer terror towards Cali, they decided to rehome the now 3+ old younger cat. It was heartbreaking to them, but the old cat was there first and less likely to find a good home and the move would have been far more destructive to her.
I'm not saying this is what you need to do, I'm just saying that the harmony of a home is important and sometimes cats are best as only cats or better matched emotionally to someone their own psyche or age. Best wishes.
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Old 01-22-2013, 02:56 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Thank you, Marcia. Don't think it hasn't crossed my mind that this isn't the best situation for Austin OR Archer, but at this point I would sooner cut off an arm than rehome either of them. If it came down to malicious, deliberate attacks and someone getting hurt, then I would think about rehoming Archer, but so far he doesn't seem malicious--just playful. I think it's simply an overabundance of kitten energy, and that Archer will calm down in another year or so. I've had several Ocicats and I've found that they are mild terrorists for the first 2-3 years, after which they become more laid-back and unlikely to torment anyone. I am hoping that this situation will be temporary and that we won't have to separate everyone forever.

It's been almost a week since I've given Austin his own room, and he seems to be enjoying it. He's eating well, using his litterbox consistently, and doing a lot of sleeping. I do let him out of the bedroom when he wants, but he usually wants right back in within a few minutes. So the fact that he is comfortable is good.
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Old 01-22-2013, 03:18 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I understand about rehoming. In that case, perhaps Austin will benefit from his own room for a year or two. If you own your home, you can install one of those cat doors in to the room's door that will only activate by using a chip on the collar. That way Austin can enter and exit and Archer can't unless he is in hot pursuit. They are normally sold for access to the outdoors. OR if you are renting, you could go to Home Depot or Lowes and buy a cheap interior door to replace the existing door (replace with original when you move out) and put that on the hinges with the limited access doggie door installed in to it. You'll think of a good solution or perhaps someone with a better solution will chime in. Best wishes to Austin, Archer and you!!!
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Old 01-22-2013, 03:45 PM   #5 (permalink)
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My two cats are the same way...

Gadget (10, almost 11 months old) loves to try to run and then climb on Oreo (6 years old).

Oreo will then hiss and run away.

Gadget isn't malicious, he just wants to play. Other times he will come over and lick her.

Oreo's safe place has been under the dining room table. It's a solid oak mission style, so there are several nooks for Oreo to feel safe - She generally sleeps under there now.

Gadget doesn't bully Oreo around food and doesn't mind him unless he's climbing on her.

I will play with them both at the same time and they love to play.

My vet suggests that once Gafget "grows up," she will find him less annoying.
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Old 01-22-2013, 05:46 PM   #6 (permalink)
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We own our home. I thought about using one of those chip-activated kitty doors for Austin, but more often than not, Archer would be right on Austin's heels and so would get through the door too. :/

We tried a baby gate for awhile, but while Austin won't jump over it, Archer will.

Anyone ever used one of those cat exercise wheels? They are like a big hamster wheel for the cats to run in. The videos I've seen show cats having a great time with it. I've thought of getting one to help wear Archer out, but they are fairly spendy around $350...of course, a vet bill for a stress-case kitty is nearly that much, so it could be a good investment!
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