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post #1 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-24-2011, 08:42 PM Thread Starter
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Help with cat behaviors.. Don't want to let our cat go :(

Hello, I am a semi-new cat owner and my wife is a lifetime cat owner... however, we're stuck with a new problem.

I know this is a long read but I really love my cat and we're doing everything we can to keep her but she's messing things up so much we're getting desperate and my wife is thinking we can't keep her for long.. i love my cat so much and im desperate for help!

we have two cats, a developing kitten of about 8 months (starting to look closer to an adult cat) she is black and white with short fur, and not fixed (has been through one heat cycle already, very recently).

our other cat is a fixed male of about a little over a year, he is gray and white


The problem is with the younger female. She has an over the top obsessive personality, she is very sweet but very obsessive. She loves to sleep with us in the bed and loves to be pet, although she doesn't come seeking affection like our gray cat she doesn't run from it and seems to enjoy it and purrs. she isn't a demon cat, but she has some behavioral issues.

I'll address the most problematic behavior last, but firstly is her obsessive behavior..

we adopted her as a stray not too long ago, and she was extremely sweet and would sit on your lap and purr all day, we made sure to take care of her health (wormed her, etc) and in a few days she was jumping around.

Firstly, she is obsessive about food. Very obsessive, she won't jump into one of our plates per say but she'll wait until the first second we're distracted and run in and take a few tastes, she will never feed off of it, she just goes in and tastes it, Always. Every time, at least she tries. She keeps jumping on the table and we put her on the floor (we don't fuss at her, we know fussing doesn't work on cats) we just grab her patiently and lay her on the floor

secondly she obsesses about windows, while she isn't bad with things around the house (she doesnt damage things at least never on purpose) she keeps forcing her way behind the blinds, she already ruined one. she meows and stares and keeps trying to get behind the blinds and just stares at the window, she is obsessive about this. we tried moving things to make it harder for her to get up there but she is now big enough she can jump from the floor.

She is also obsessive about getting out, but this behavior really confuses us, she has been like this way before her first heat too. She stands by the door, sometimes literally spends hours in front of it, if we have to go or even get near it she gets up and starts meowing and pawing at it. We usually pick her up and lay her on something and get out quickly, its usually a race. The thing is when we come back, she's ALWAYS at the door waiting for us to open it (even if we were gone all day) and as soon as we open it she darts out the door.... the weirdest thing is, she darts out the door, and just stands there. Every time... she stands there, goes nowhere, sniffs around, and always goes to the same exact place. I got pretty fed up of having to pick her up everytime that out of sheer curiosity i stayed outside and watched her... she stayed outside our door, (2nd floor of an apartment complex) walked up to the hand rails, rubbed up all over them (marking it?) walked up to the neighbor's door (he has two cats), sniffed around, walked around more, took her time, slowly made her way down the stairs.. seemed like she was exploring, i think she might be obsessed about this because she smells other cats around the neighborhood, also she might have been out there before and deems it her territory, we're about to move 6 hours away for work and family reasons so this might solve that?

The weirdest thing is.. when she was in heat, we were EXTREMELY careful not to let her out while she was (we knew she wanted out bad before and now in heat we were scared of kittens) well one time she got especially crafty, squeezed out of the door, jumped over my foot and between my hands trying to catch her, dodged my wife and I perfectly and guess what she did? she did not run away, she stopped right where she always does, sniffed around, looked around as usual, and we finally got her and put her inside where she proceeded to get in the heat position and meow.

I do not understand that behavior at all

She also scratches our couches, but fortunately our couches are practically indestructible made with some type of burlap material their claws don't mess up. We tried covering them but she still sometimes gets to it. We have kitty scratchers around the house, which our other cat uses and she sometimes will too, but she prefers the couches. This isn't too big of a deal now because of our couches but if we get more furniture....

Lastly, this is unfortunately the worse behavior and the one that has caused us a lot of grief.

Okay, she likes food and has ruined some stuff for us, thats just a bit of money on food and its not the end of the world, we love her and thats not lifeshattering. The blinds? they are not expensive and we came up with a few solutions for it, the going outside obsessively? well she doesnt run, so we just catch her.


However, she is not good about using the litterbox. She does use it, but she goes wherever she feels like it. I got some furniture on craigs list including some old cushions, and she peed all over them and pooped on them. It was very random and she hadnt done this before. The one time she had done it had been when we tried a better clumping litter but she hated it for some reason so we went back with the other one. We decided the owner of the other cushions might have had a cat so we counted our losses and got rid of them (even though we cleaned them really well, soaked them in rubbing alcohol and used carpet cleaner on them, did not work she still peed on them).

she used to also sneak into our room and my closet and poo and my air mattress that was rolled up in there, we moved that, she behaved for months, then one time peed on the back seat of our car in a literally three minute drive (she jumped off our lap and climbed back there)

Then she took to peeing on our curtains... on our magazines... etc

the problem is this isn't constant, she does this about once a week, so we don't know why she is doing this which appears to be random

the weirdest thing is, now that we don't let her in the bedroom, she goes inside the restroom and pees inside the bathtub... i have never heard of a cat peeing inside a bathtub


we're very desperate, we love our cat so much but she is so difficult and it is very heartbreaking because we want to keep her so bad...

she's just so difficult sometimes.. i dont understand her behavior she'll do it in front of us or behind our back sometimes too.

Someone please help...


-very worried cat owner
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post #2 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-24-2011, 09:21 PM
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Cats, by instinct, are very careful not to pee or poo in random places but only where they can cover their tracks very well. If they go in random places, especially on the odd day, it's a sign of distress caused by something that's bothering them / making them suffer very much.

I don't know if this is the reason, but she may not be an indoor-only cat however much you want her to be. You may have to accept that she'll go out for some time each day. I adopted Prince at 1-2 years old, from the street. I made him indoor-only and he developed behavior problems. I started letting him out every day and he was instantly his old, normal self. Even if most of the time he just stays in the hallway near our apt. door, sniffing under the neighbors' doors or just looking down over the hand-rail. He's often not in the mood to go to the street, just outside the apt. door is enough. I'd say that you should work more WITH her than AGAINST her, but I'm quite new at cats, so someone please correct me if I'm wrong.

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post #3 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-24-2011, 09:23 PM
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The good news is that (imo) there's still a lot you can do that will most probably succeed and you won't have to give her up. The other good news is that there are people so knowledgeable here that they'll be able to help you. So don't give up and don't be too worried.

The Royal von Meouw Dynasty: His Royal Highness the late Prince von Meouw,
Her Royal Highness Princess Gatita von Meouw, Nikita Duchess of Meouw and
His Highness Cuchi-Cuchi, next in line for the throne of Prince von Meouw.
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post #4 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-24-2011, 09:26 PM
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Alright, take a deep breath, and say it with me: "It's going to be alright."

You've described some problems, but it doesn't sound like there's anything insurmountable going on here.

1. Honestly, the first thing you need to do, is take her to the vet, because she may have a urinary tract infection (UTI). This can be serious if left untreated, and you should not proceed with behavioral therapy until you are POSITIVE that it is not due to a bacterial infection.

2. While you're at the vet to check for a UTI, schedule her to be spayed. I'm not sure where you live, but there may be a low-cost program available if you've not done it yet for financial reasons. Some/all of the "peeing" may be marking behavior, and spaying is almost guaranteed to stop marking behavior in female cats. This may also diminish the other "obsessive" behaviors that you described.

If the problem persists after that, these are some of the things I would try:

2. Is your litterbox covered, have a swinging door, in a dark room, or otherwise slightly claustrophobic? Make it more inviting by removing the top, turning on lights, or removing the plastic door to make it the least scary place possible.

3. As she is now sexually mature and unspayed, she may be uncomfortable using a litterbox that is shared with your male cat. If you only have one box, try getting another. Although they would still likely be sharing, it still might help.

4. Obviously, you identified the new litter to be the cause of the non-litterbox elimination at one point, but you shouldn't rule out the old litter as a potential problem either. Consider switching brands, or to a different style, to gauge her reaction.

5. I have a cat that will pee in the sink if she decides the litterbox is too dirty. Likewise, she may also decide (less commonly) to use the bathtub for this purpose. She will also poo in the bathtub if she feels the litterbox isn't clean enough. Try scooping more. I don't know your routine, but twice a day is not unheard of.

6. Reward proper elimination behavior. Have treats at the ready, and if you hear her in the litterbox, give her treats and pets *immediately* after the emerges.

As far as her obsessive behavior goes, that will likely wane as she progresses further into adulthood, but is there a reason she can't have an open window to peer out of, if she enjoys it so much?

Aversive conditioning with a squirt bottle will get her to stop tasting food when you're nearby fairly quickly, but the single thing that made my human-food obsessed cats lose all interest in what was on my plate, was switching from kibble/canned to a species appropriate food.

You'll get through this, I promise!
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post #5 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-24-2011, 09:32 PM Thread Starter
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that was actually insightful, hopefully i can get some help, unfortunately our nami is still young and not fixed so letting her out a couple of hours a day could be bad... we're also about to move and so letting her out might be harsher on her if we're going to take away her territory very soon. At least when we move she'll have all the stuff she's familiar with (furniture, rugs, us, etc) but well i dont know how to handle it.

I know getting her fixed is probably important, but at this point would it even change her behaviors? is it too late? also we're pretty broke and are hard-pressed for money but we're willing to do it if we can fix her behaviors, the problem is we are worried about fixing her and she doesn't improve and we still can't keep her.
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post #6 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-24-2011, 09:34 PM
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First and foremost you need to get her spayed ASAP. Some of these issues may resolve themself just by that simple act. There are a myriad of reasons as to why this needs to be done, and as soon as possible, and I will be happy to share any of them if you need. I am going to try to break these issues up so I don't go chasing rabbits and distracting myself

Whenever someone says they are having a specific problem with their pet I think that there are some questions you should ask yourself regarding the issue. It is how I deduce things as well.

Question one: Is there a medical problem (Your cat's hunger issue could be cause of a thyroid).

Question two: Is the behavior a normal behavior for a cat (i.e. scratching up furniture, which can be annoying, but the act of scratching in and of itself is a normal cat behavior).

If both of the answers is no then I immediately wonder about the amount of exercise and stimulation the cat is receiving.

1. Food obsession - Her food obsession may come from her stray past. Was she experiencing starvation when you found her? I know many animals, and people as well, that have experienced starvation unconsciously live in fear of experiencing this again. I've seen the behavior your describing in many cats that have lived on the streets and went hungry (I am an owner of a cat suffering from food obsession due to starvation!). This tends to be more of a psychological issue that will need patience and understanding on your part.

Another possibility that can come with food obsession is one I believe is playing a role in your situation, especially based off of your other issues. How much exercise and stimulation are you giving her? Food obsession often occurs in cats that are not receiving enough physical and mental stimulation. A food obsessed cat can drive their owner crazy, however this tends to be a cat that is saying, "I'm very, very bored." The solution to this is simple. Enrich your cat's environment and and increase the amount of time you spend playing with her. She is still a kitten and is longing to play with you!

You should visit a vet to rule out the possibility of thyroid, diabetes, etc.

2. Desire to escape outside/looking out windows - Cats love to look out windows and can spend a great deal of time enjoying this! It is mentally stimulating and not necessarily a bad thing. However, the way you described her behavior and especially what you did when you let her out (not a good move since she is unspayed) very much indicates to me that, once again, your cat is bored and is longing for stimulation. So she is seeking a different environment in order to fulfill that. Once again I recommend playing with her more and enriching her environment. Perhaps you can train her to wear a harness and leash and go for a walk? Many cats enjoy this, and it would be a way to stimulate/exercise her without her being left outdoors and in danger. You need to not let her out when she is begging.

I also believe that the obsession to escape will decrease dramatically once she is spayed.

3. Scratching furniture - Cats have scent glands on the bottom of their paws. When your girl is scratching your couch one of the things she is doing is marking her territory. One thing you can do is provide her with a cat tree next to a spot that she will love. I recommend in your case a window. This often becomes a cat's favorite piece and will become the object of their scratching affections. Bare in mind though that different cats like different types of things to scratch (carpet, card board, wood, etc). You might need to experiment to find what your cat loves. Encourage her to use her scratching post, and when she uses it to scratch reward her with praise and treats. I would avoid punishing her for scratching the couches. Scratching is an instinctual thing for a cat. She will associate your anger with you and not with what she is doing. You being upset will not stop her from not scratching when you are not around, and could possibly make her avoid you whenever around the couches. Yelling at your cat and loud noises can cause anxiety in her resulting in more behavior issues. Reward her positive behavior and she will seek to act it out. Like I said, scratching is an instinctual and natural thing for a cat, so she will scratch somewhere.

4. Litter box use - I have found that, in cats, the use of litter boxes is half way taught/half way learned. Let me explain. By taught I mean that a mother cat shows her kittens where the box is and what it's function is, and will encourage them to go potty there. Kittens need their mother's stimulation to go to the bathroom so it is very natural that as they learn to go on their own it is done in the box. On the flip side though it is partially instinctual. A cat in the wild will not urinate or defecate where they eat and sleep. It is unsanitary, but more importantly it is unsafe. To do so would be to draw predators to their scent. They will always pick an alternative place to go to the bathroom. This is also why cats cover their feces and whatnot. They are covering their trail. A house cat naturally will be drawn to a box to use for a bathroom.

That being said, a cat that is not using their litter box is a cat that is trying to communicate something. Cats generally don't use the box for one of two reasons. First is for a medical issue. You cat could easily have something like a UTI. This would make it hurt to urinate. The cat naturally thinks that the box is hurting them. So they start peeing in other places, looking for a place to get relief without pain. You need to take your cat to the vet to rule out this possibility. I have heard of MANY cats peeing in tubs that have UTI's or other intestinal issues.

The second reason is for stress issues. There is a number of reasons I can think that your cat might be stressed. One is the fact that she has hormones raging that she can't satisfy. This is going to cause her a lot of frustration. Another reason could be if, what I said before, is true and she is bored. This is going to cause frustration and anxiety in her. Top that off with the fact that it sounds like you are frustrated with her as well, which she will feel. Once again, play may help. I would also recommend purchasing some Feliway. It has pheromones that calm and sooth, which can aid her on several of these issues. How many litter boxes do you have? If only one then there is always the possibility that your other cat has claimed that that box is his own and is not letting her use it. It is recommended to have 1 box per cat plus 1. So you should have 3. Also some cats are very picky about the condition of their boxes. Some won't use it if there is even one poo in there. Perhaps she doesn't like the type of litter you are using, or the type of box, or the location of the box?

Getting her spayed can greatly help this issue and possibly even make it go away. There are lots of options for getting low cost spay/neuter. I will find the sticky and link it on here.

Over all your cat is giving you some clear messages that she is trying to communicate to you that she is feeling bothered for one reason or another. Please do not get rid of her, she is trying to tell you. These are very fixable things. You need to play detective and try different things/watch her behaviors closely to get to the bottom of it. First and foremost take her to the vet and get her spayed. That alone will fix a lot. I personally do not like spray bottles and do not recommend the use of one.

Please let us know how it goes!

Last edited by Pawsitively Nicole; 02-24-2011 at 09:36 PM.
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post #7 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-24-2011, 09:37 PM
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post #8 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-24-2011, 09:48 PM
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Nicole just reiterated many of my points, but said them better, with lovely section headers. A+ for a golden post with lots of great insight!
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post #9 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-24-2011, 09:50 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AshleyHoneyBee View Post
Alright, take a deep breath, and say it with me: "It's going to be alright."

You've described some problems, but it doesn't sound like there's anything insurmountable going on here.

1. Honestly, the first thing you need to do, is take her to the vet, because she may have a urinary tract infection (UTI). This can be serious if left untreated, and you should not proceed with behavioral therapy until you are POSITIVE that it is not due to a bacterial infection.

2. While you're at the vet to check for a UTI, schedule her to be spayed. I'm not sure where you live, but there may be a low-cost program available if you've not done it yet for financial reasons. Some/all of the "peeing" may be marking behavior, and spaying is almost guaranteed to stop marking behavior in female cats. This may also diminish the other "obsessive" behaviors that you described.

If the problem persists after that, these are some of the things I would try:

2. Is your litterbox covered, have a swinging door, in a dark room, or otherwise slightly claustrophobic? Make it more inviting by removing the top, turning on lights, or removing the plastic door to make it the least scary place possible.

3. As she is now sexually mature and unspayed, she may be uncomfortable using a litterbox that is shared with your male cat. If you only have one box, try getting another. Although they would still likely be sharing, it still might help.

4. Obviously, you identified the new litter to be the cause of the non-litterbox elimination at one point, but you shouldn't rule out the old litter as a potential problem either. Consider switching brands, or to a different style, to gauge her reaction.

5. I have a cat that will pee in the sink if she decides the litterbox is too dirty. Likewise, she may also decide (less commonly) to use the bathtub for this purpose. She will also poo in the bathtub if she feels the litterbox isn't clean enough. Try scooping more. I don't know your routine, but twice a day is not unheard of.

6. Reward proper elimination behavior. Have treats at the ready, and if you hear her in the litterbox, give her treats and pets *immediately* after the emerges.

As far as her obsessive behavior goes, that will likely wane as she progresses further into adulthood, but is there a reason she can't have an open window to peer out of, if she enjoys it so much?

Aversive conditioning with a squirt bottle will get her to stop tasting food when you're nearby fairly quickly, but the single thing that made my human-food obsessed cats lose all interest in what was on my plate, was switching from kibble/canned to a species appropriate food.

You'll get through this, I promise!

wow this was extremely insightful!

okay...

1- UTI that is definitely to be looked into, nothing else i can say about it

2- I literally JUST did research on it and found something, I live in Houston, TX so there has to be some, this place is huge! ill see what i can do

3- We have two litterboxes actually, and they are both uncovered. One of them used to be covered but i took it off and noticed it was used more after that and stopped covering it

4- as far as the litter goes i can try a few other types, im having trouble finding unscented litter because i know scents are a marketing thing that people by into that doesnt do any good to cats and bothers their noses. i use Arm and Hammer super scoop, would be willing to find something better

5- I clean the litterbox about once or twice a day.. and we have two (one of which is used far less and is usually way cleaner)

6- we have tried using treats on them... the problem is, they don't seem to care for them, we probably need to find better treats that they'll actually love they just seem to feel indifferent about the treats we have, they prefer their food or human food. lol

7- as far as the open window we live in an apartment complex that is a bit dangerous and we're trying to be a little bit private, when we move it shouldn't matter.

8- We can't afford wet cat food for them yet, but we know the great benefits of them so we always supplement their diet with it. We found dry cat food with the least amount of grains and stuff useless for cats, so we make sure to give them a piece of our chicken or beef if we have some (granted it wasn't spiced with things like onion that cats are allergic to) and give them a can of wet cat food (I read the ingredients to make sure it wasn't garbage) a few times a week.
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post #10 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-24-2011, 09:53 PM
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The detective work you mention, Nicole, is what I meant by working WITH her. That's exactly what I did with Prince when he started developing behavior problems. That way I discovered that he was suffering from lack of stimulation, fresh air and exercise. My own solution was to let him out a few hours a day, which needn't be other people's solution. In my personal case, he's neutered, our downstairs garden is his former home so he knows it and the other cats very well, and in this very tiny apt. where there's only me at the computer and smoking all day, nothing would ever provide him with the stimulation, fresh air and exercise a giant cat like him needs. I also work from home, so I go and check on him every couple hours downstairs and ask him if he wants to come back up. Sometimes he wants to stay longer, sometimes he comes running back up.

The Royal von Meouw Dynasty: His Royal Highness the late Prince von Meouw,
Her Royal Highness Princess Gatita von Meouw, Nikita Duchess of Meouw and
His Highness Cuchi-Cuchi, next in line for the throne of Prince von Meouw.
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