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post #1 of 39 (permalink) Old 03-21-2013, 08:36 AM Thread Starter
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New (to me) cat behavior question(s)

Chloe is a 2 year old, female, grey stripey ball of energy. I brought her home a week ago today.

Chloe came from a friend of mine, who made the decision to find her a new home based on the fact that she did not do well with my friend's 3 kids. The kids were all good with her, but having 3 human balls of energy in the house only stressed Chloe and made her very anxious. So, she came home with me. I live alone in a one bedroom apartment. Chloe has always been used to being an indoor only cat. When I picked her up my friend gave me some of her things (toys, litter box) so she would have a few familiar smells in her new home. Thankfully, despite being in a brand new place, she took immediately to her litter box again.

The first night she was home with me she didn't hesitate to come to me for pets and snuggles. I sat on the floor with her and let her come to me and she'd happy take scratches and pets while she rubbed herself on me. Then at some point after I went to bed she went in to hiding. I searched high and low but couldn't find her; I suspect she ended up behind the fridge as that was the only place she could have gone, and the one place I couldn't get at to check. Though she was in hiding I knew she was coming out sporadically through the night as her box had been used and her food and water were gone.

After a few days of hiding she eventually started to come out more during the day, but would retreat to under the couch. If I made a move, even if not to go to her, she was off like a rocket, but would come back to her spot under the couch. Gradually she started to stay out more and more. She built up to playing actively at night, and eventually to engaging in play during the day. She now doesn't hesitate to go to her food or water during the day.

Wanting our relationship to build on her terms and comfort level I sat on the floor again with her to see if she would come to me. And she did. I gently moved to pet her, and after about 3 seconds of petting she hissed and swatted at me and gave my hand several good scratches. So, I left her be.

Two days ago she ventured in to my bedroom, which she had never done before, and has decided that one of the shelves in my closet is now her's and is her favorite nap spot, which is fine with me. I put an old fleece sweater on the shelf for her so she would have something to curl up in/on. She quite happily hangs out there for the majority of the day. When she gets up it is usually to climb on and in my dresser, or to go stalk one of her toys. I should also note I spend a fair bit of time in my bedroom on the computer, watching tv, reading...I'm in here more often than not. She doesn't stay in here at night though. Usually by the time I'm ready for bed she's in full play mode hunting down her toys in the living room, so I leave her out there for the night. When I get up in the morning I usually find her either under the couch or in the kitchen.

Every so often when she hops down from her napping spot she'll look at me and softly cry. Sometimes if I kiss to her she'll come over and hop up on the bed with me. Again, wanting things to be on her terms so she is comfortable I let her call the shots. She'll come up beside me and will rub her whole body against my arm, I've even noticed her purring while she does this. However, if I so much as unintentionally flinch she hisses and bolts. The other day I was sitting on the edge of my bed, she came over and rubbed against my leg. As I had been picking something up off the floor my arm was sort of hanging down by my leg. She would rub against my sleeve and my leg and purr and seem quite content. Me not wanting to discourage her from coming to me decided to stay still and let her do her thing. As soon as she rubbed her head on the bare skin of my hand she hissed and ran off. h

If I walk past her sometimes she will hiss at me. She hasn't swatted at my feet as I've walked by, but she has hissed. She is starting to figure out that I'm the source of her food: when she hears her food container open, or the crinkle sound of her treat bag she will come out to watch me. If I toss a couple of treats out to her she will come toward me to take them off the floor.

The more I watch her the more I notice she is quite uncertain about the noises in my building. It is fairly quiet here, however when she hears a door close in the hall or someone walks by it's like she's on high alert. If there is a noise she is really uncertain of she will run to her spot in my closet.

My friend also told me on of her favorite things is scratching one furniture. In effort to deter that I got a scratching post for her. To entice her to it I sprinkled some catnip on it so she would know it was her's. I do hear her scratching at it, however as of yesterday she has also taken to scratching on my chairs.

So, my questions are:

1) my closet is her new favorite place to hangout. I also spend much of my time in this room only a few feet away from her. Does her choosing the same space mean she is beginning to accept me?

2) Even though I haven't actually been able to pet her since that first night, does her coming and rubbing on me indicate she wants affection but is still adjusting and nervous to fully accept it?
b) is there anything I can do to help her feel more at ease with me?

3) is there anything I can do to stop/lessen the destruction to my furniture?

I know we haven't been together for long. And honestly I was expecting her to be in hiding for longer than she was. But I wonder if I'll ever get to a point where I'll be able to pet her. My friend tells me in her family she was the only one who was able to give her pets, and if they had visitors Chloe would go to the adult females before going to kids or males.

I'm not a first time cat owner, however this is my first experience at rehoming an adult cat. I always had cats growing up, then when I was on my own I brought home kittens, but I've never had to deal with rehoming an adult.

Based on the above, am I'm way off base in my approach?

Thanks for reading! Sorry it got so long.
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post #2 of 39 (permalink) Old 03-21-2013, 08:46 AM
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Sounds to me like everything is going really well, and you are doing everything right. Chloe's hissing and scratching is most likely a residue from the stress of living in a household with children. Children's movements are so quick and unpredictable, they can really frighten and even scar a nervous cat.

In time she will lose that fear, I think, continue to let her show you affection, but resist the urge to reach out to her.

Her choice of a closet shelf may be in part because it is near you. Plus it is elevated which is very important to cats.

Talk to her often, using her name.

Get a few more scratchers. Offer different shapes and materials. Many cats like curved scratchers. You know, the s shaped ones. Get a slanted one too. Cardboard and sisal are good materials. Cover the couch with something while she is learning to use her scratchers rather than the couch.

What are you feeding her? Diet plays a very important part in a cat's health and well being and behavior. You want to feed her a wet diet, using foods that don't contain a lot of grains and artificial things.

Feeding wet food on a schedule also helps build bonding.

Congratulations to you both on coming together.
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post #3 of 39 (permalink) Old 03-21-2013, 08:59 AM
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I agree, it sounds as though it is progressing pretty well. Have you ever gone on vacation and thought hey, this is great! - but then the vacation never seems to end and in fact gets a bit annoying after several days of new noises....you really just want to go home. This will take Chloe awhile to sort out, but I would let her be and just keep doing what you are doing.

Can't help with the scratching - this is why I only adopt old previously declawed cats. My friend adopted two cats that ended up costing her $3K in new living room furniture despite the numerous scratching posts. You might try adding one of those curvey scratching things that lay on the floor - they seem to work pretty well with my friend's new furniture. Petsmart and other places also sell double sided tape for this purpose, too.

Congratulations on your new kitty!

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post #4 of 39 (permalink) Old 03-21-2013, 09:03 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks!

It has been hard but I've managed to resist the urge to reach out to pet her. I so very much just want to snuggle her, but know that until she trusts me it isn't going to happen. And me pushing her isn't going to help either.

As for what she is being fed: my friend sent a bag of Iams (for indoor cats) with her. I'm not a huge fan of it. When I had my dog I did some pretty decent research on premium food brands to ensure I was feeding the best possible, and found a brand I liked. I'm hoping to do the same for Chloe. However, for the time being I'm going to continue with the Iams as it is what she is used to. I didn't want to immediately change it and upset her anymore than necessary. I have started to introduce wet into her diet. I don't recall the brand (it's early and I'm too lazy to get up to go look) but I did get it from a premium pet food supply store.

I do want to get her another scratcher or two so I can put another one in the living room and maybe have one in the bedroom for her. I know it's normal for cats to scratch on things, I would just rather it not be on my two new chairs! lol I looked up your recommendation of something made of sisal (as I wasn't sure what sisal was!) and it looks to me like the one I got her is at least partially covered in it. If I had the budget i'd like to get her one of the tall cat house/tree things. But wow some of them are crazy expensive! I don't mind her being on the furniture, so if she wants elevation she's welcome to hangout on the backs of chairs etc. I'll just hopefully be able to find a few scratchers that she likes!

Thanks again! It's nice to know I'm at least on the right track.
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post #5 of 39 (permalink) Old 03-21-2013, 09:14 AM
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You can put shelves on the walls for her to perch on.

Cats can be trained not to scratch on furniture. I have had cats all my adult life and none of my furniture is scratched. They have all kinds of scratchers, and use them.

While I agree that a food change should be done very gradually, I think you will be pleasantly surprised if you switch her over to a wet diet.

Here is the best site to learn about feline nutrition.

Feeding Your Cat: Know the Basics of Feline Nutrition :: healthy cat diet, making cat food, litter box, cat food, cat nutrition, cat urinary tract health
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post #6 of 39 (permalink) Old 03-21-2013, 09:39 AM Thread Starter
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Wow! That was a great article!
I'll have to reread it at some point as it was a lot of information to take in.

I have definitely started the process of introducing wet into her diet. She gobbles it up without hesitation so I don't think switching her over will be a big issue. I just don't want to do it too quickly.

Thanks!

Chloe: a moody, grey ball of energy
Cooper: a black goofy ball of love


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post #7 of 39 (permalink) Old 03-21-2013, 10:35 AM
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This all sounds pretty normal to me, Erin - the beginning of a long, wonderful friendship. The move to a new home and new person was a big change for her, but cats are determinedly adaptable and the two of you will continue to learn about each other along the path to a happy coexistence.

My question is ... when are we going to get to see photos of little Miss Chloe?


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post #8 of 39 (permalink) Old 03-21-2013, 10:40 AM
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As others have said, it sounds like you are doing a great job!

Just keep in mind that even when you do everything right, it can still take a long time for cats to adjust.

To help prevent damage to furniture, use double sided tape. Just put strips on the areas that she has started to claw.

You can try a feliway diffuser, I really do think they have a calming effect

Comfort Zone Diffuser with Feliway for Cats at PETCO
.

Also, since there are other noises going on, you can try leaving a radio on at a soft volume, that way it helps distract from other noises, and silence can sometimes make animals nervous.

And, the best decision I ever made as far as my cats go, was buying this:





It has become kind of a "safe place" for my cats, especially my girl who gets anxious. I think she feels safe at the top of the tree. And, they scratch the **** out of it instead of my furniture


Good Luck and keep us posted!!


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post #9 of 39 (permalink) Old 03-21-2013, 11:03 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NebraskaCat View Post
This all sounds pretty normal to me, Erin - the beginning of a long, wonderful friendship. The move to a new home and new person was a big change for her, but cats are determinedly adaptable and the two of you will continue to learn about each other along the path to a happy coexistence.

My question is ... when are we going to get to see photos of little Miss Chloe?
Just as soon as I can get some!

I have a few that I've managed to get with my phone but they're not so great as she is very quick which only results in blurry photos! Once I get a few that are decent I'll be sure to post them.

Chloe: a moody, grey ball of energy
Cooper: a black goofy ball of love


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post #10 of 39 (permalink) Old 03-21-2013, 11:22 AM
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New (to me) cat behavior question(s)

I agree with everyone else that it's all sounding pretty good. And you're wise not to press her beyond her comfort zones.

Regarding the cat tree, check Craigslist. I always see cat trees/condos for sale on there.




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