Behavior  

Diane L
Diane L
Originally Answered: Behavior

Not sure what’s going on with my cat. So family life sucks. Husband moved out going on three weeks tomorrow. About two days after he left I noticed my cat will not sleep in my room anymore. It’s like she’s scared to be in there. In fact most nights she would rather stay downstairs in the living room somewhere with our dog who annoys her daily. She also won’t use her litter box upstairs either. She now uses our main floor bathtub. Also, for no reason at all she gets startled, jumps and runs off.


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Diane L
Diane L
Originally Answered: Behavior

Firstly sincere apology to hear about your current family life Diane, this is an awfully tough time for you, be kind to yourself!

Sounds like your cat is additionally finding it challenging and may be enduring separation related problems https://allaboutcats.com/cat-separation-anxiety or suffering behavioral depression since your husband’s departure, particularly if they had a really close bond.

Elimination outside the litter box and hyper-vigilance (if it’s a new behavior) is indicative that something isn’t right in her world. She can also be feeling distressed, not coping well with the household change communicating her negative emotions through peeing or marking. Lastly, she may well be spending time downstairs where the scent of your husband remains pungent despite the dog annoyance.

A visit to your veterinarian should be first on the list to rule out a health issue combined with a behavioral evaluation. To help your vet, keep a diary of behavioral changes while in the interim provide your kitty extra TLC and playtime.

 

Hope this helps a bit and you’ll be able to get some help and support from relatives or close friends.

Please keep us posted, sending love & healing Melina


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Peggy
Peggy
Originally Answered: Behavior

Hello Behaviorial Community,

We have a female cat that is about 2.5 years old.  Last year we walked her no incidences.  This year we often walk her outside with a escape proof harness. In May 2021 we had her out and she saw another cat run through our fence.  Within minutes full yowling and hissing.  She turned that aggression towards me.  This is a cat who never did anything like this.  This was scary and difficult to get under control.  A few days later we were walking and again out of nowhere she started up again, no other animal around. This time it wasn’t as bad but scary.  We called the vet thinking maybe she was sick and trying to tell us something.  The vet said stop taking her out.  If we feel we must take her wait 30 days and perhaps reset her.  We did exactly that.  We took her out after 30 days first day no problem.  The second day we think she smelled feral cat feces.  Not immediately but within 10-15 minutes she started up again with deafening yowling, hissing. Way scary..
we almost couldn’t get past her to get her inside.  I almost grabbed a blanket to throw over her but she ended getting her inside the house.  Can you explain what happened to our quite and demure female?  We now have committed to keeping her inside permanently and for that we feel terrible.  We don’t really have a choice.  It’s too traumatic for both of us.  The vet says STOP taking her out. We don’t want to go through these episodes again.

 I look forward to your response.

thank you


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Melina Grin
Originally Answered: Behavior

Good morning Peggy

You did the right thing contacting your vet and stopping the leash walks.

The behavior you described is redirected aggression triggered by an external stimuli, in this instance it’s a neighborhood or a feral cat which was seen by your cat and most likely accessed your area in recent days/weeks. He/she left chemical messages indicating their presence through marking, facial rubbing or by leaving feces and your cat has perceived it as a threat to her security unable to direct it towards the source of the stimuli. In the first instance she redirected the frustration onto you and now most likely just flees the area all together. Often unintentionally cat owners make it worse trying to pacify or comfort our distressed cat during an emotional arousal.

Cats are extremely explorative and territorial animals. They will sniff odors in their environment to decipher whether they are pleasant or aversive, of significance or not. Certain cats will even get frustrated when seeing another cat out of a window and may redirect their frustration onto another pet or a human near by.

If you have your own private garden or outdoor space and wish to let your kitty have outdoor time, I would recommend fencing it off with a cat containment or building a Catio or enclosure. Alternatively you can try going for a walk in a cat stroller once your cat has been fully trained and associates it with a positive experience. If the whole encounter have left you both too traumatized, I would increase environmental enrichment through puzzle feeding, foraging opportunities, interactive play and indoor sensory stimulation.

 

Hope this helps

Melina


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