Q: “I have a three year old female puddy who is a rescue cat and she has come leaps and bounds in the year since we adopted her. She constantly keeps me and my husband up at night meowing and scratching the wallpaper and knocking things off the cabinets to get attention from us. At first I was talking to her to try and reassure her that we were there but I think I have done the wrong thing as she isn’t getting any better. We are now wearing ear plugs at night so we get sleep as it is getting hard to cope with. How long will we have to do this for to get a result and are we doing the right thing? She still wakes us up even with the ear plugs. Please can you give us advice as we want Dune to be a happy cat who is relaxed. We do use a pheromone plug in but this does not seem to make any difference. Thank you.” – Sheryl B.
A: Three years old is young for a kitty (Was her birth date known since she was a rescue or is it an estimate?). It sounds like Dune is the only kitty in the home. If people work during the day then the evening is the time she has to be alert and active wanting to socialize, as often kitties will sleep during the day when people are not home, at least if there are no other animals in the family. In the evening, she is stimulated and also will want your attention. If it is only a few hours before bed time and people are cooking and/or watching television, then it is not focused one on one time, at least not as long as she needs. Cats can also be lively at night, especially when they are young. Is she free fed or fed restricted meals? Kitties who are put on diets or fed meals are often much more restless in general. Here are some tips and things to consider.
Play with her in the evening multiple times before bed. See How to Play with Your Cat so she can release pent up energy through stalking behavior, that can be rewarding through play. Otherwise, play may leave her more pent and frustrated. After playing give her a little bit of wet food, healthy treats, or meat. Play with her again later in the evening and then feed her a big meal. Cats will often play, eat, and sleep (similar to when or if they hunt). Get a heating pad and put it in a very soft comfy location where she likes to stay. Cats love heat and it may make her calm down. If she has many heated perches or cushy areas, fleece throws and beds to lie on, she will most likely relax, especially if these are on the bed. Stroke her in a way that calms her. Often cats like to be stroked under and around the chin and cheeks. They also like massage and stroking. If you cannot touch her or she is restless, desensitize her to approximations of touch and pair your touch with good things. If she is restless at night and knocking things over, kitten proof your room so that she has less things to get into and so there will be less noise. Have a few good scratchers in strategic locations (see Kitty Destroying Sofa with Scratching and Tips to Have a Happy Cat), and a few tiny mice, balls, and crinkle toys on the floor to direct her attention to the toys. If she does wake you up at night and you want to sooth her or settle her, bring her into the bed with you and pet her while you continue to rest or try to fall back to sleep. Do this a few times. Either she will begin to stay on the bed with you, or if she doesn’t want to be on the bed, she will eventually give up and maybe leave the room or play somewhere else. This often works, as long as you are consistent (and relaxed). Make sure to leave food out for her at night as well, so she may be calmer and less restless.
Q: “Our cat Bella – likes to run the house. She was mean and stayed away from us when my husband’s 21 yr old cat was still with us. Now we adopted a Doxie and she is always slapping or hissing at him. He knows she rules the house. Why does she have to keep reminding him? She is a sweet girl otherwise : )” Help, MMG
A: Twenty-one is a lovely age for a kitty and am sorry for your loss. Bella is most likely intimidated or afraid, not mean. Hissing is a defensive behavior. You may find this article The Hiss helpful. Bella feels threatened by your dachshund, even if your dachshund poses no harm. It also sounds like Bella was not very accustomed to living with other animals (you did not mention her age and if she was there prior to the older cat or came in as a newcomer). Please read Introducing Dogs to Cats for tips on how to get Bella acclimated to your new doxie.
Copyright © Alana Stevenson 2013
Alana Stevenson can be contacted through her website AlanaStevenson.com. She provides consultations by phone and Skype.