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johnners
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26 Sep 2008, 3:01 pm

Two weeks ago, my wife and I took in a cat from an aminal shelter. He's only 2 and pretty active but well behaved, on the whole. The last few days have been hell for me, though. He constantly wants attention, folloiwing me from room to room and when I ignore him he climbs all over the place getting into things. I got so stressed that I shut myslef in the bedroom and flopped down on the bed, twitching and hyperventilating with anxiety, while the cat scraped and mewed at the door.

My point is, how can a cat, a little cat, make me feel so anxious and depressed? I feel awful, I have no drive to do anything, can't concentrate, I feel like I did when I went through a bout of depression a few years ago, which annoys me because I was really doing much better recently.

Is all this happening because the cat has totally blown my very strict routine apart? What can I do to get my mind back on track? We don't want to get rid of him. What little thing has happened to you that has just totally changed everything?



Since
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26 Sep 2008, 3:15 pm

Can I ask why you ignore the cat? You don't say.



Greentea
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26 Sep 2008, 3:18 pm

Watch this for instant relief:

Web Page Name


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johnners
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26 Sep 2008, 3:20 pm

I play with him, hang out with him, but that doesn't seem to be enough. It's usually when I've had an hour with him, and want to move onto something else, like watching the TV or using the computer that he starts acting up and I get stressed. When I say 'ignoring him' I mean I'm trying to do something else. Also, I don't want to encourage him in thinking I'm available for play/attention all the time.



johnners
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26 Sep 2008, 3:24 pm

Greentea wrote:
Watch this for instant relief:

Web Page Name


Priceless! :) Thanks Greentea, that has cheered me up no end!



AnnaLemma
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26 Sep 2008, 5:04 pm

I am having a measure of revenge right now. I have a cat (now 2) getting a taste of his own medicine. He was like your cat and the "mean kitty"--relentlessly active and attention-seeking. He is Abyssinian and it goes with the territory. I even considered cat agility, hoping it would drain some energy, but it only drained mine. I walk him every night after dinner and he starts getting wound up for it about mid-afternoon. However, we just got a manic young kitten and she is hounding him the way he pestered me. If you could only see the pathetic looks he gives me after she's been assaulting him. Hopefully you will both live long enough for him to grow out of it.


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Electric_Kite
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26 Sep 2008, 8:44 pm

johnners wrote:
He constantly wants attention, folloiwing me from room to room and when I ignore him he climbs all over the place getting into things.


Kitty wants human attention. He knows two ways to get it. One is to follow you around making friendly overtures. When that fails, it's to do something annoying. (Mine are the same way, and when they feel neglected but 'asking' for my attention doesn't work, they get up on counters where they are not allowed, or climb the bookshelves and pull books off onto the floor. Negative attention is better than none at all.)

You can limit this stuff. Give him attention and play at the same times every day, or in the same order (you might eat breakfast at a different time on the weekends, but if you play with him every day after breakfast, he'll figure out the pattern) or after giving a signal that says it's time to play or get pettted. (Best, really. Mine know it's playtime because I get out toys, even if we don't use them, and also quickly learned that if I put a blanket over my lap, they will get petted if they get on my lap while the blanket is there, so it makes them jump up. They are allowed on my lap at other times, too, and sometimes get petted or sometimes ignored or pushed away, but if I only petted them with the blanket there, they'd stay off me at other times, mostly.)

The time of day, routine order, or signal is a cue to the cat. Just ignore the behavior when it occurs without the cue. If you break down and respond to the behavior after it's been going on long enough to drive you nuts, you'll be training him to do that annoying stuff longer and harder, and training him to think (correctly) that he can cue you into doing what he wants.

Eventually he's going to learn that your attention is in adequate supply and will be offered on a regular and predictable basis, and that all he needs to do is wait for your cue to get it.

This may take a while, because he learned things from his previous owners, and because he's probably acting anxious and OCDish because he is a cat and just experienced a major life-change. There's a homeopathic quack-seeming remedy you can buy in health-food stores called "Bach's Flower Essences RESCUE REMEDY" that works very well for mellowing out anxious cats. And me, as it happens. Put a couple of drops in his water if you want to try it.



pakled
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26 Sep 2008, 9:12 pm

I know it's crazy, but sometimes, it's another cat. With 2 cats, they bug each other (or just glare).

Cats want attention. Just wait until they figure out how to get in front of your monitor...;) been there, done that.



Brook-lynn20
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26 Sep 2008, 9:17 pm

My cat never wants attention, at least from me. I honestly don't know why I love that spoiled cat so much. She loves everyone else but me. She only meows if she's hungry.

And the link: LOL. This is one of my roommate's favorites! She loves Mean Kitty and sings it in our room all the time



johnners
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27 Sep 2008, 12:41 pm

@Electric_Kite: Many thanks for the information. I had an inkling that cats learn routines, just like we do. The advice you give sounds great, and I'll try and apply it, but I know it may well go to pieces when he runs me ragged again.

He has been good the last couple of days, though the weather has been in the 90s (hot for September here in California) and he likes the windowsill in this weather.

@Brook-Lyn20: I sort of know how you feel. All the cats I've had before have been at best indifferent or at worst violently opposed to any human attention except feeding and letting in and out. This is definitely a first, a cat that wants attention! I'll just have to get used to it!



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27 Sep 2008, 6:19 pm

johnners wrote:
@Electric_Kite: Many thanks for the information. I had an inkling that cats learn routines, just like we do. The advice you give sounds great, and I'll try and apply it, but I know it may well go to pieces when he runs me ragged again.


Cats learn routines and keep their own routines. They like sameness and a sense of control. One of mine will actually have a sort of kitty meltdown if there's a change she thinks is big. She'll hide inside my armchair and cry. Last time it was because I came home four hours late and then didn't greet and feed her, but rushed about moving my potted trees back into the living room from outside, to stop them freezing. The cat's whole 'my guy came home' routine was disrupted, and so was the geography of the living room. So scary.

I like this book called Don't Shoot The Dog! by Karen Pryor, which is about a training technique that works on everything, is fun to do, and is firmly rooted in science. There are also articles about it on her clickertraining.com website. The stuff I said is in there, and more. It's helpful with the not getting run ragged stuff, for me. By repeatedly studying it I can predict behavior better, and rehearse in my mind how to respond to it and make myself ready to be patient and not get freaked out.

Cats are actually wizard bright, and can learn all sorts of wonderful stuff (look for "Moscow Cats Theatre" clips on Youtube), but they don't pick up on social-signals well the way dogs often do (a dog would be worried about you freaking out in the bedroom, the cat is still thinking about himself and how he wants your attention) so you have to train them in a more ordered fashion. They don't naturally have 'you do as I say' relationships with each other. A dominant dog has a 'you do as I say' relationship with subordinate dogs, and they cooperate together, but a dominant cat has a 'you get out of my way' relationship with subordinates. Cats are quite social, but they almost never work together.



beentheredonethat
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27 Sep 2008, 11:20 pm

Most people don't realize that cats have very deep feelings. Right now, I'm working on a new computer. My cant knows it's time for me to be in bed, and for her to be curled up by my head. She is not a happy animal. In fact, I will probably put this down and go to bed, because that's where she is used to having me.

But on a bad night, when I'm down and the world is closing in on me, there is the cat, curled up next to me, possibly the only being in the house who needs me or is willing to put up with me. She pays any attention I give her back four times over.

Don't hid from her. Remember, cats usually only live for 20 years. Enjoy your cat. Actually, enjoy the cat. She is not "your" cat. Her care has been entrusted to you. The more she gets used to you and you get used to her, the harder it will be for you to imagine being without her.

I wrote to a friend of mine the other day...."Sorry, cat climbed over the keyboard, sat down in front of the screen....climbed back on the keyboard and pushed the send key, and now she's sitting on one of the printers with a very satisfied look on her face."

He wrote back and said "I know the look well." Mine does the same thing.

Good luck, and enjoy your little being. She will give you back exactly what she gets from you.

Btdt



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28 Sep 2008, 1:09 pm

You write so nicely, beentheredonethat! :)


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johnners
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09 Oct 2008, 2:28 pm

Here's an update. He was pretty good for a while, but in the last week he has made me feel so bad. I just don't care any more. I have a constant headache and am beginning to feel depressed, I don't have any drive.

Today was particularly bad. I got up with my wife at 6am. The cat was already waiting outside the bedroom door, mewing. I wanted to sit and have a cup of tea while my wife got ready for work, but he kept sitting by his shopping bag looking at me as if to say "right, let's play now". I ignored him, and he got up and started walking precariously along the mantle shelf. After my wife went to work, I tried to watch some TV, but the cat was getting into everything. I found myself getting extrememly stressed and went back to bed, slamming the bedroom door behind me. I woke up after three hours of deep sleep. The cat was scrating at the door. I went out, hoping to play with him for a bit to tire him out, but he just drove me wild. I sat and tried to ignore his constant mewing. He then climbed up on a table and knocked over a table lamp. I saw red. I snatched him up, shook him and shouted in his face. He wasn't expecting that, and raced off to the bedroom. I would have left him there, but I heard him knock over another lamp. I gave up and just sat in the chair, wondering why this has changed my life so much for the worst. .

I've never, ever had a cat like this. I just dont' give a f**king fig any more. My wife loves him to bits, but he's all curled up and cute most of the time she's home. I'd like to get rid of him now, but I can't. What can I do?



tdgkf
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09 Oct 2008, 2:32 pm

Someone I went to school with threw his cat against a wall, then the cat beat him up and sent the kid to the hospital for a week. True story.

Also, that same kid picked his nose so much that he eventually literally picked a hole through to his other nostril.