Saturday, December 24, 2016

kitty issues: a house in chaos


Well, maybe not total chaos, but certainly not the status quo.

Ever since we moved to the new house in July 2014, someone has been spraying various rooms in the house.  We discovered it's Thelma and Max. We don't believe it's anyone else, but it could be; we have a lot of cats and it's hard to catch them in the act.  It's extremely frustrating and embarrassing.  Just when we think we've found all the spots and cleaned them, we discover another one we missed and it's usually when we have company.

As you may remember, we added Marty to our household in late October. He came to us as a foster kitty and we adopted him in mid-November. Things were fine for the first three weeks or so, and then someone starting peeing on the couch. Since I have multiple cats, I couldn't figure out who it was. I suspected Leia or Louise, as they seem to both be pretty much living on the couch since Marty came.  We had to put on our detective hats to figure it out. We tried bringing Leia upstairs to our bedroom at night and leaving Louise downstairs to roam free. Each time we did that we usually didn't find any wet spots in the couch in the morning; however, we sometimes found one, which meant it could be someone else. After trying this several times without conclusive results, we decided to buy a wireless security video camera. Yup, we bought a security camera to catch he or she in the act.  Desperate times call for desperate measures. (Have to say, it's strangely addictive to watch the cats on camera. Verdict?  They're a lazy bunch of animals who do nothing during the day except sleep.  To be fair, though, the camera is in the family room only, so I'm not seeing the full picture.)

Leia, before the arrival of Marty.
We caught the culprit the first night:  it's Leia. We figured it was, but didn't really want to believe it. She was in a multi-cat foster home prior to coming here and was fine with all the other cats here when she arrived, so it seems so strange that all of a sudden she's constantly on her guard, growls and hisses as soon as she sees Marty, and is now living in the family room exclusively. I just don't get how one cat, Marty, could turn the tide so completely. My thought is that he reacts to her diva-ness, which makes her react negatively. And he seems to have more energy that she does, which could be another issue. He might be looking to play, but she sees it as aggression and reacts accordingly.

So, how have I been dealing with this? Mainly bitching, moaning and being frustrated. Then... First, I started using Rescue Remedy.  It's a water additive that supposed to help calm cats. People usually have varying degrees of success.  It didn't work that well for my cats, although I did see a slight reduction in aggression between a few of them. Didn't help with spraying and peeing, though. Then, I bought Feliway plugins. They're like Glade plugins, but they emit feline synthetic pheromones, which are supposed to help relieve the cat's stress, which in turn reduces or eliminate spraying, marking, and tension. I'm using the Comfort Zone and Multi-cat formulas both in the same room. I bought the spray, too, which you spray in areas where the cat has marked.  I've noticed a dramatic decrease in spraying from Thelma and Max, which is quite nice, but no change on the peeing. Next I tried NatureCalm 24/7 collars on Marty, Louise and Leia. I tried to put one on Thelma, but that did not go well at all. It didn't go well with Louise, either, but we wrapped her tightly in a towel and eventually got it on her. I don't see any real different with any of the cats, but I'll leave them on for awhile longer. No change in the peeing. As a matter of fact, I caught Leia on camera again this morning.

That brings me to my last straw, which is to try medication on Leia. I talked it over with the vet and she feels I've done as much as I can do on my own and with the help of OTC remedies and gadgets. I called today and they're going to consult with the doctor on Monday to figure out which meds to try first. Apparently there are several. Some work almost immediately but can make the cat pretty dopey and lethargic. Others take 4 to 6 weeks to start to see improvement, but shouldn't affect her overall personality.

I'll report back once we figure out what to try and give it a chance to work. I really hope it does.  Not only do I hate having to constantly clean the sofa (so glad I bought an upholstery cleaner!!), but I hate that this friendly, outgoing kitty who once roamed the whole house has become one that confines herself to one room and one piece of furniture. She'll come down on the floor to eat, drink and poop in the litter box, but she basically lives on the couch the rest of the time. And I can't fault her for the peeing on the couch, as I know she's just protecting what she deems to be safe territory.

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