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Never had cat before - please help


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#1 donna&billy

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Posted 13 April 2012 - 08:32 PM

Good evening Not sure if you can help me. I have recently taken in a stray cat - he's a 6 year old domestic shorthair cat. He has been desexed and is now upp to date with vaccinations etc. He had been living rough for at least 6 months in our townhouse complex. He is happy to be petted - but seems to suffer from separation anxiety. If he is downstairs and we are upstairs - he cries until he has found us. He had been sleeping outside overnight in an insulated cat house - he spends all day sleeping as well. I became worried recently when i heard cats fighting and so started to let him sleep indoors (we've only had him 6 weeks) He is NOT litter trained and goes outside for toilet. Initially he slept on a cat bed in our bedroom - but wakes up at 0330am and cries until we let him out (then cries a few hours later to come back in). I don't know what to do about this. I don't know if it was because he was needing toilet? One time i let him out - but he just sat at the door looking to come back in again? I have two small children and the distrupted night is a problem. I do have a small area downstairs that can be shut off and he has his food in there. There is plenty of space for bed/litter tray and food, but small enough that he wouldn't get lost. I tried to put him in here once and he screamed as soon as i oened the door and i could hear him scratching and was worried - he would hurt himself - he would damage the door. So i let him out. Ideally this is where i would like to keep him overnight - but have NO IDEA how to go about it?! I do not know this cat's history - but a previous owner had him desexed and microchipped(unfortunately we can't contact his owners) so i am guessing he was well looked after once and is extreemly affectionate (although a bit scared still). At the moment i have resrted to putting him out to sleep at night - but this makes me sad. We live in Sydney, Australia - so overnight temperatures are rarely below freezing even in middle of winter - but it still gets really cold. I don't know what to do? we love the cat and want him to stay as part of our family - but need some help!!

#2 Rachelle

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Posted 14 April 2012 - 12:12 AM

Thank you for taking in a stray, you have done a great thing You can get an electronic plug in (similar to the ones that make your room smell nice) the is a feliway dispenser, this puts pheromones into the air which calm cats. It should work very well in the small room you are describing. You can get it online, or at your vets. You can get rescue remedy from your local chemist and put some drops in his water, rub some on his ears, put some in his food. This will calm him, some cats it works really well, others not so much. If you have an animal natural therapist, you can get drops similar to rescue remedy but a little stronger. I have some and find they work better than rescue remedy. You can speak to your vet about tablets to help calm him at night. You can talk to them about what they would recommend. If he has been a stray it will take some time for him to settle into a house. This time varies depending on the cat. Generally my rescues get used to it in a reasonable time, but I have found with older toms that it takes them longer. But with perseverance it can be done. I appreciate how hard it is with kids, think of him as a child who doesnt really yet understand what's happening, he has survived on the streets for a long time and these habits have to slowly be changed. The added benefit to being confined to a small room at night is that it forces him to use the litter tray and will train him to use it regularly. Patience and love and you will get there. Thanks again for helping him

#3 lynh

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Posted 14 April 2012 - 08:42 PM

Thank you for taking in a stray. He must have been horribly scared and is lucky to have found such a caring mum. I agree with Rachelle. Getting him to learn how to use the litter tray would be a good way to work towards stopping the early morning wake up calls, which is probably why he wants to go out. You could also try having a good old rough and tumble play with him just before bedtime, which might tire him out enough to sleep a bit longer. Bear in mind that cats' instincts are to hunt at night, and going out at this time may have been a habit from his straying days. Lots of people use Feliway and love it (expensive - and cheaper online than at the vet), unfortunately it doesn't work for everyone (like me...grrrr.......) :i: My cats all go to bed when I do, and often sleep later than me - they never wake me up - even Summer, who LOVES being outdoors in her harness and is VERY vocal about it, doesn't start shouting until she knows I'm awake (what a good girl! :signgiggle: ), so a routine CAN be established with patience. Best of luck and thanks again for loving this abandoned puss. Keep in touch.

#4 Catsfriend

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Posted 14 April 2012 - 10:11 PM

I agree with the above. Quick solution: 1. Lock him into a room with a litter tray (perhaps the room next to your bedroom). It can also be just a crate / I have some indoor "caves" which are about 1.0 x 0.6 m only, but offer just enough space for a sleeping place, a food & water bowl and a LITTER box. By now, every cat, even the most vicious & wild strays, found out very quickly what that spot was designed for. 2. Ignore his cries for a few nights. I know that's really hard to do. But I remember this was recommended to me when I had my first human (own) baby 24 years ago and I wanted her to 'sleep through the night without me having to breast-feed her'. So, if even human medical doctors recommend it, I think it can't be that bad for a cat either. ;) If he has no other option but soil his bed he will use the tray. After 1-3 nights it will be over and done. 3. Once he uses his litter box, open up the doors to your bedroom and to the outdoor freedom space. If he is smart enough to understand the lesson he will continue to use the litter box inside the enclosure. Good luck. I wished there was some gain without pain. Cheers, Romana
Breeder of Russian Blues and Whites in SA

#5 squirtle

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Posted 15 April 2012 - 02:08 PM

Have you considered a cat flap so your cat can come and go as he pleases? This will not resolve the litter tray problem but at least you won't be getting up and down to him through out the night. A friend of mine leaves her laundry window ajar for her cats to come and go. One was a stray and she used to get everyone up throughout the night or she sometimes got stressed just being locked in the house. They brought a cheap plastic dog kennel from a cheap shop and left it outside for the cat to use if she chose to stay outside and they filled it with big blankets to help keep the cat warm. Overtime this cat settled in and now spends most of her time in the house. Once she felt less stressed and settled she just used the litter tray with no one intervening. Keep in mind though all cats are different and this was a 12 month process.

#6 Pete

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Posted 18 April 2012 - 08:24 AM

Hi there, I can't agree more here... I remeberd when we 1st got Minka and the best advice was to confine her in the 1 room. In that room she had her kitty litter (which your stray cat might not be used to using) and some water and food thats not too close to the kitty litter. We would lock her in there at nights for about a week until she settled. She did meow and it was hard at 1st but as days went by she meowed less and for shorter periods. The bed would be heated using a hot water bottle wrapped in a towel and a small ticking clock. Minka is a indoor cat and would meow out to us if we walked out of her sight when we first got her. She knows our house very well now so she would only meow if we were opposite ends of the house. Good Luck!




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