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Cat Advice (very off topic)


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Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
The hissing is when others come to the house.

Yeah, strange people can freak a cat out. Imagine being a small furry critter, and in come these huge things with their stomping feet and loud voices...

Do you or your guests force the cat to interact when there are strangers around? If someone roughly ruffles her fur when she doesn't want it, and she hisses and scratches that is NOT unprovoked, from her point of view. Does the cat have a quite place in the house to retreat to?

Do you keep her nails trimmed?

She mostly just meows (sometimes loudly) at my wife and me.

So... you were concerned that your cat might be feral. Meowing at people is not feral cat behavior. Cats don't meow much in the wild. Adult cats do vocalize at each other, but they usually don't meow. Meowing is more typically a behavior between a kitten and its parent. Domestic cats meow to get your attention, like they'd meow at their mom when they were kittens. It is totally normal - some breeds are extremely vocal.

She likes scratching furniture when I come home from work.

Cats absolutely need to scratch. It is how they keep claws healthy, provides muscular stretching, and is part of basic scent-marking behavior. So... what non-furniture surfaces do you have for your cat? Where are they placed?

The timing may or may not be interesting - she may simply tend to wake up from a nap when you come home, and it is just part of routine. But, there may be other things - scratching can be part of stress relief. Do your dogs get very active when you come home? That may make it loud and chaotic in the home, and the cat may be scratching to relieve the stress that generates - a physical way to blow off steam, if you will.

She hates being taken to the vet (or anywhere for that matter), so I'm not sure if the vet will be able to get a fair view of her behavior.

If you thought dogs are territorial, they have nothing on cats. They don't usually like going out and about from their territories like your dog may. Plus, the vet's office smells of every other animal that's been through, and many of them are unwell, or scared. So, big stressor, there. Lots of cats hate going to the vet.

So, you make a great point, for which there's a solution - get a house-call vet. They exist. They cost a bit more, but they may be a good option for you to get someone to come in an see her home environment, and her behavior in it.
 
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Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
A few other things to consider about your cat's overall stress level...

How often do you clean the litterbox? Is the litterbox in a quiet place where the dogs won't bug her while she's at her business? Where is her food left for her? Some place where people and dogs aren't rushing around?

You say she doesn't play with toys. What toy options do you offer?

You say she doesn't like cat trees. What kinds have you tried, and where have you put them? What interactions happen on or near the tree?
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
My wife notes: Also, if your cat has a behavior that concerns you that your vet can't see in the office, if you have a smartphone, you can take a video of it when you are home, and show your vet.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
I haven't had a kitten since 1989.

All mine tend to be affectionate. Current ones came from SPCA. Basically we went to the animal shelter and adopted the friendliest ones not the cutest.

Mooch 1 thinks he is part dog. Loves pats from strangers and the kids next door. I've seen him chase old ladies down the road for pats and scrounge pats from teenage girls up the road.

Mooch 2 is adorable. She loves laps and getting into bed with you. Very needy but hesitant around strangers at first.
 



AnotherGuy

Explorer
I realize this isn't necessarily about geek culture, but I know many of you probably have cats. My family has never really had pets, and I wanted to post my questions here as opposed to on other social media where I might be judged publicly.
So I've had my cat about 5 years. My ex-gf found her as a kitten on the side of the interstate. Over the years she's never really warmed up to people. She runs and hides, hisses, attacks unprovoked. She's ok with me, and about once a day comes to snuggle me.
Otherwise she destroys furniture, refuses to play with toys, she won't use beds, cat trees, etc.
Is it possible she is a feral cat? Did we make a mistake taking her in?
Any suggestions for her? We did get her spayed, hoping it would calm her a bit. She seems even more angry since (which was about 3 years ago). We have tried calming sprays, cat nip, leaving my clothes on beds and cat trees so she will feel more comfortable there.
I'm feeling guilty that she has a miserable life and that she's making life bad for my wife and our other pets.
My wife and I took on a rescue from a shelter just 2.5 years ago. Apparently she had had 3-4 homes before us and she was only 2 years old. She was extremely skittish and would hide under the bed. So for just over 3+ weeks I slept separate to my wife in the spare bedroom where the cat lay under the bed. I would talk to her or just sit and work on the laptop, until I eventually fell asleep. In the middle of the night she would creep out from under the bed and find a place next to me to sleep. This eventually became routine until she finally let me stroke her and wasn't as afraid anymore. It was a process. When I moved to our bedroom - she would then follow me there because she had grown accustomed to sleeping next to me. We had one older cat in all this and no kids (so this may play a role).

Fast forward to today, she is still skittish but now seeks out human companionship, mine predominantly but has warmed to my wife and even my mother when she visits. We can hold her for half a minute or so before she wants to be put down.

What I'm worried about in your situation is that years have gone by and her personality may have cemented. If I were you I would at night try my technique. Close the door with you and her in a room alone - have all the necessary (water bowl, food, litter tray) and just go to sleep. It will force her to mingle with you. Don't tease or irritate her and use a calm voice. She needs to build trust with someone.

It's work, but well worth it!
 


Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
In Britain we almost all let cats go outside. Sometimes they get killed, but they always seem a lot happier than any kept-indoors cat I've ever seen.

With respect, veterinarians don't generally buy that argument any more.

The average lifespan for an outdoor cat is 2 to 5 years in the US. An indoor cat will live 13 to 17 years on average. The outdoors is laden with parasites, disease, poisons, and injury from a variety of sources. In addition, owners of indoor cats are much more likely to see health problems developing early, and get them treated.

There is a romanticized view of the domestic cat as a wild animal, with "needs". They are no longer wild animals. They are domesticated. If you are spending a minimum of effort to make the indoors a good home for the cat, it will be plenty happy, and live in that happiness on average 3x as long.
 
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meltdownpass

Explorer
Realistically this is a moral question which leans heavily on your weighing of highly debateable terms like domesticated and Good. The appeal to authority doesn't bring anything useful to the discussion, and it seems unlikely to resolve philosophical questions that've been around for thousands of years.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Realistically this is a moral question which leans heavily on your weighing of highly debateable terms like domesticated and Good. The appeal to authority doesn't bring anything useful to the discussion, and it seems unlikely to resolve philosophical questions that've been around for thousands of years.

I think you misunderstand "appeal to authority".

Appeal to authority is when you take the word of an authority figure because they are an authority figure. This is not the same as taking the word of an authority figure because they have studied the issue and thus have information you do not.

Each of is merely human. We do not have enough hours in our lives to study all subjects. This is why we specialize in various areas - so that we can have access to skills and information we ourselves cannot build in our lifetime. If you really want to call this a moral question, then how moral can it be to make judgements on the welfare of another living being when with no expertise or significant rigorous study in that welfare?
 

Nellisir

Adventurer
I've only got a moment, but basically, everything Umbran has said.

Cats are HIGHLY variable. My gf has 4. My best friend (a vet) currently has 4 (she's had up to 6 at a time). I have 2 at the moment. They are ALL different. Mine are SUPER-social & friendly with me, and slightly social and friendly with other people. My gf's are all over the place. My friend's are likewise (and hers currently include two ex-feral cats).

Couple notes:
  • Your cat sounds a bit stressed and generally anti-social. Not at all feral. Some cats be like that.
  • You've got a wife and dog(s?). Cats often have a favorite person. My cats with me are basically like dogs. They follow me around CONSTANTLY. If I'm there, they're there. But if she's meowing at your wife, that's a big plus. That's kitten to adult behavior.
  • Cats have texture preferences. If she's not going for the climbing tree, try other products. Mine really like the roughness of sisal or jute rope. They're iffy on cardboard. They love my office chair fabric, for some reason, which actually appears able to take it. They also love my sofa, which can't.
 

Nellisir

Adventurer
Also, outdoor cats slaughter huge numbers of birds. Immense numbers. It's insane. And I've lost a cat to HPV, and another to a car, and most of the neighborhood cats are gone now because of the local foxes. One got nailed in our driveway last fall. I interrupted but the cat (a really BIG mean old neutered tomcat) didn't survive.
 

meltdownpass

Explorer
I think you misunderstand "appeal to authority".

Appeal to authority is when you take the word of an authority figure because they are an authority figure. This is not the same as taking the word of an authority figure because they have studied the issue and thus have information you do not.
I understand the appeal to authority perfectly fine. The point you're making is that because veterinarians study the biology of animals, that they are therefore authorities on ethical & moral matters. This does not follow.

It's certainly worth thinking about these issues and reading wisdom & philosophy to develop your own moral framework to inform your views of how you act in the world, and how your actions impact other beings. However it's not demonstrable to say that one or another approach is better in an objective sense, nor that there's any way we could determine "authority" in these matters.

Those who are wealthy in European or European-diaspora communities probably err on the side of keeping their pets safe. I know I do. That being said, we shouldn't gloss over that our fuzzy math of X quality of life and Y years comes from a particular moral framework that not everyone shares, and for good reason. Ultimately the relationship between a cat and its human companion is something that needs to be negotiated between them and I don't think it's altogether helpful to try to suggest any one solution is best.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
In NZ cats outside is kind of the default.

Nothing dangerous in terms of wildlife.

List two to cars over the years, one got sick from fighting but he had preexisting renal problems.

Current motley pair we have had 10 years. Not sure how old they are SPCA said 1-2. They were young when we got them.

Declawing is regarded as cruel here and not letting your cat out is regarded as unusual. Declawing is illegal as well.

One was a good hunter but mostly got introduced birds anyway the rare natives are no where close. He doesn't catch much now but he depopulated the neighbors mouse nest.
 

In Oz outdoor cats is the default too.

But it shouldn't be.

There's the additional dangers to the cat as folks have listed above.

There's also the predation on local species. It's a big problem here in Australia. @Zardnaar, do you think the reason the native species aren't anywhere nearby might be predation by cats?
 

Nellisir

Adventurer
In Oz outdoor cats is the default too.

But it shouldn't be.

There's the additional dangers to the cat as folks have listed above.

There's also the predation on local species. It's a big problem here in Australia. @Zardnaar, do you think the reason the native species aren't anywhere nearby might be predation by cats?
 

Zardnaar

Legend
In Oz outdoor cats is the default too.

But it shouldn't be.

There's the additional dangers to the cat as folks have listed above.

There's also the predation on local species. It's a big problem here in Australia. @Zardnaar, do you think the reason the native species aren't anywhere nearby might be predation by cats?

I don't live near the endangered species. If I did cats are indoors.

The feral get shot, trapped etc. The only native the cat gets is fantails and they're common enough.
 

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