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Glen Eytchison
May 21st 07, 06:32 AM
> Friends,

> I am not a cat person, but around five years ago we took in a small
> gray cat (which we named Nova) when her owners told us they planned to
> put her down. Nova was small and sickly. She had been part of a litter
> that had been rescued from the streets. Nowadays she is healthy and
> happy, but she drives all of us crazy. When she gets hungry, she meows
> and whines until I go stand next to her food bowl. Then she'll walk
> around the bowl five or six times, then (maybe) she'll eat. She is very
> cold and aloof, and doesn't like to be touched to much, but she follows
> me from room to room and is never more than a few feet away from me.
> For 15 minutes a day she will jump up on my lap and roll over on her
> back with her eyes closed while I rub her head and tummy, then
> immediately back to not wanting to be touched. She is around six now
> and barely tolerates our family members or anyone else who enters our
> home. She also hisses at my wife at least five times a day, but we
> don't understand why. She'll hiss at her while she's feeding her! Then
> immediately rub on her legs.
>
> Problem 1: My wife and I haven't been away together in years because no
> one we know will tolerate Nova and her eccentricities, and Nova won't
> eat unless someone she knows and trusts feeds her. Also, I don't feel
> it's right to leave her home alone for more than one day. She is
> running our lives and we are going crazy
>
> Problem 2: Seven weeks ago my wife was working in the patio garden of
> an unoccupied condo that we own, when three small babies fell out of a
> large plant. They still had cords attached and the crazy cat lady at
> PetCo said they were about one day old. She told us that they didn't
> have much of a chance. We went back to the condo, found the mother, set
> the babies inside the condo and waited six hours for momma to come and
> find them. We managed to trap momma in the house with the babies and
> for the last seven weeks, we've been going over twice a day to clean
> and feed the lot. The cat lady also told us to spend at least hour a
> day with the kittens so they would be accustomed to humans (so they
> would be adoptable). The momma cat has never allowed us near her, and
> we haven't pressured her. For the last week we have let the kittens
> spend the night at our house and we are very carefully allowing Nova to
> see them.
>
> We were thinking we might keep one or two of the kittens to be a friend
> for Nova but I am concerned for their safety. When they approach her
> she recoils, ears back, hisses, then runs away. We're making sure not
> to let them near where she sleeps, eats, or plays.
>
> So here is the question: Is there hope for Nova or is she just weird?
> Will a new kitten buddy help? Will I ever get my life back?
>
> I need help (and so does my marrage!!!).
>
> Thanks...


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Noon Cat Nick
May 21st 07, 10:08 AM
Glen Eytchison wrote:

>> Friends,
>
>
>> I am not a cat person, but around five years ago we took in a small
>> gray cat (which we named Nova) when her owners told us they planned to
>> put her down. Nova was small and sickly. She had been part of a litter
>> that had been rescued from the streets. Nowadays she is healthy and
>> happy, but she drives all of us crazy. When she gets hungry, she meows
>> and whines until I go stand next to her food bowl. Then she'll walk
>> around the bowl five or six times, then (maybe) she'll eat.
>

Clever. She's discovered that whenever she wants your presence for
whatever reason, the sure way to get it is to go to the bowl and ask for
food; after all, you're not just gonna let her stand there and starve.
And she's learned that if she keeps it up long enough, eventually you'll
show up.

My late cat Bijou once started hopping up onto the kitchen table. My
mother decided the way to cure that was to put him outdoors whenever
that happened. It wasn't long before he started getting up onto the
table *because* he wanted to go out. I solved the problem by slapping
the table with my palm, then picking him up, putting on the floor, and
walking away whenver he did that. Then he came to understand that
getting on the table wasn't going to get him a ticket to the great
outdoors. So he went back to his previous acceptable method of going to
the door and asking to be let out.

I don't know what sort of food you give Nova--if she eats just canned,
dry, or both, what she will and won't eat, etc. Knowing that would make
a difference in what I or others might suggest you do regarding this.

>> She is very
>> cold and aloof, and doesn't like to be touched to much, but she follows
>> me from room to room and is never more than a few feet away from me.
>> For 15 minutes a day she will jump up on my lap and roll over on her
>> back with her eyes closed while I rub her head and tummy, then
>> immediately back to not wanting to be touched. She is around six now
>> and barely tolerates our family members or anyone else who enters our
>> home. She also hisses at my wife at least five times a day, but we
>> don't understand why. She'll hiss at her while she's feeding her! Then
>> immediately rub on her legs.
>

She's the queen of the house, all right. She's emotionally
dependent--and controlling--toward you and your wife. Following you
around might be her way of letting you know not just that she values
your company, but that she needs, expects and requires it, and won't let
you deprive her of it, no matter how much "me time" away from her you
might need. (The whole food dish rigamarole is part of this as well.)

However, there's another, quite valid, way to view this. Humans give
cats the same things they get from their mother cat as kittens: food,
warmth, security, affection, comfort, companionship, fulfillment of
personal needs. Because of this, cat usually regard the people in their
environment as surrogate mother cats, and behave toward them
accordingly. This is the reason adult cats will perform kittenish
behaviors around their companion humans that they wouldn't do as
independent adults in the wild. Kneading and, BION, meowing are the two
most common. Kittens meow for their mother; once weaned and independent,
they cease. Kits also knead their mother's belly to stimulate the flow
of milk; that behavior is repeated around the people they associate with
daily, but never apart from that. So you could also take her shadowing
you as another regression behavior--she's following you just as kittens
follow their mother. (Again, the food dish issue can be taken in this
light.)

Not all cats are slopping over with affection for people. As a survival
measure, this is a good thing for them; it keeps them at bay from
potential harm. Remember, humans are the natural enemy of every animal
species on the planet, including themselves. So it's not unusual to have
a cat who's wary of people in general save for the one(s) it lives with.
Normally this is a trait taught by the mother cat during early
kittenhood. Nova might have already learned that to a certain degree by
the time you took her in.

As well, not all cats are attuned to long routines of petting and
cuddling. Many felines will enjoy a certain amount of it, then become
anxious and tell their companion person to knock it off. As innately
independent creatures, cats sometimes don't like feeling *too* cozy for
too long. With some of them, when they start to sense they're getting
too much of a good thing, it begins to unnerve them, that they're
getting to a level of bliss that threatens to compromise their instinct
to remain on the alert during their waking hours. So they decide they've
had enough, and let the person know it's time to call it quits.

FWIW, Nova actually seems to trust you on a level that many cats
wouldn't allow, by not just letting you, but actually wanting you, to
rub her tummy. Cats, as is true of many other animals, are very
protective of their quite vulnerable underbelly. A degree of trust is
shown if a cat exposes its belly to you. A higher degree is displayed if
the cat tolerates you touching or stroking that area. But asking for and
enjoying having you rub it--that's the jackpot of a cat's trust toward a
person.

As for Nova's Jekyll-and-Hyde attitude toward your wife--hissing at her,
then immediately turning affectionate--is something I've seen before. My
ex-wife's cat Moses did to me several times daily. He see me, hiss, then
come over and rub up against me. Yeah, it's confusing. I just put it off
as his way of saying, "I'm the King, and don't forget it, puny mortal!
Oh, and by the way, I love you a whole big bunch." (He also did that to
our cocker spaniel Lucie. He walk up to her, hiss right in her face,
then start licking her muzzle.) So as long as hissing is the only
aggression Nova displays to your wife, and if it's routinely followed by
a display of affection, I'd consider it small potatoes, although it
certainly is befuddling.

>>
>> Problem 1: My wife and I haven't been away together in years because no
>> one we know will tolerate Nova and her eccentricities, and Nova won't
>> eat unless someone she knows and trusts feeds her. Also, I don't feel
>> it's right to leave her home alone for more than one day. She is
>> running our lives and we are going crazy
>

Well, yeah, Nova is one eccentric cat, no doubt. Over on alt.cats,
someone brought up the idea of boarding her with a vet for several days
while the two of you take a long vacation, and seeing how she handles
it. When you get back, if you find out she at least ate while she was
boarded, that might be encouragement enough to have her boarded for a
longer period in the future so you and your wife can have a proper vacation.

If Nova presents problems that even the vet couldn't deal with, it's
time to consult with a feline behaviorist or psychologist. I know you're
both devoted to Nova, and that's a very good thing. But you can't let
that devotion and care and concern become the axis around which your
marriage is forced to turn. Nor should the two of you become driven to
be forced to choose whether your cat or your marital relationship is of
higher importance. Nova's behavior is what needs correcting. Find
someone who specializes in that field, or at least find all the
information you can on how to modify feline behavior. You and your wife
have done a lot for Nova. But you're husband and wife, and you deserve
time to yourselves.

>>
>> Problem 2: Seven weeks ago my wife was working in the patio garden of
>> an unoccupied condo that we own, when three small babies fell out of a
>> large plant. They still had cords attached and the crazy cat lady at
>> PetCo said they were about one day old. She told us that they didn't
>> have much of a chance. We went back to the condo, found the mother, set
>> the babies inside the condo and waited six hours for momma to come and
>> find them. We managed to trap momma in the house with the babies and
>> for the last seven weeks, we've been going over twice a day to clean
>> and feed the lot. The cat lady also told us to spend at least hour a
>> day with the kittens so they would be accustomed to humans (so they
>> would be adoptable). The momma cat has never allowed us near her, and
>> we haven't pressured her. For the last week we have let the kittens
>> spend the night at our house and we are very carefully allowing Nova
>> to see them.
>>
>> We were thinking we might keep one or two of the kittens to be a friend
>> for Nova but I am concerned for their safety. When they approach her
>> she recoils, ears back, hisses, then runs away. We're making sure not
>> to let them near where she sleeps, eats, or plays.
>

Re this situation, Sherry's advice to you over on alt.cats is sound, and
what I too recommend. Be aware that it could take quite some
time--months, even--until Nova acclimates to the kits. Length of time is
dependent on the temperament of the individual cat. And obviously, Nova
is quite a bundle to deal with in the temperament category.

HTH. Please let me know how things work out for you.