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Cay destrusctive behaviour - at the end of my tether

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Cay destrusctive behaviour - at the end of my tether

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WolfSong2000WolfSong2000 Forumite
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Okay, to give a little background - just over a year ago when I was in Canada (got back to UK in March this year) I adopted a cat from a rescue. He basically picked me (walked over to me and lay down on the bag I had just set down as soon as I entered the room). I had never had a cat before so was careful to enquire with the agency as to cats temperament and whether he would be suitable for a first time cat owner. I was assured he was a very sweet and easy-going cat and would be no problem.

In a nutshell, the rescue flat out lied to me and this cat (who I've called Moose) is a nightmare cat from hell. He has deep seated behavioural and emotional issues and whilst he *can* be sweet and affectionate he can also be very aggressive for absolutely no reason (I have multiple scars to attest to this).  The best way I can describe it is like he is the cat equivalent of autistic. He doesn't appear to recognise body language in other cats and if he gets overstimulated he has full blown meltdowns/tantrums.

I got him a carefully selected second rescue cat for company and the second cat, Jasper, is an absolute sweetheart and has done a lot to curb the first cats aggression which is great. I'm no longer randomly scratched/bitten until I bleed (before I would literally just be sat watching TV minding my own business and Moose would come up and attack me for no reason).

Unfortunately Jasper, on rare occasions, likes to stick his paw under a door and scratch the door. This historically has been when the door is closed between myself and him (e.g. I've been in the bathroom). Moose picked up on this and has taken it to a whole new level.

At night both cats are locked in my kitchen (and have been since I moved into current rental property). At first all was okay, then Moose started scratching on the door first thing in the morning (I assume wanting breakfast). I've attempted ignoring him, adding various deterrents (anti-scratch tape, vinegar, lemon juice, etc) but nothing has worked and he's now escalating and scratching as soon as I go upstairs to bed. He's not hungry as I feed the cats right before I go to bed.  I am now getting up 6-10+ times a night to try to discourage him as if I ignore him he damages the door. It's seriously affecting my sleep and after having 18 months of disrupted sleep at my last place due to noisy neighbours and then Moose pawing at my bedroom door first thing in the morning I just can't take it any more.  I can't let him in my room as he "hunts" overnight and bangs about which is incredibly disruptive and also Jasper, the other cat, for whatever reason has started tearing at the carpet at entrance to the bedroom (even when door is open) so can't be left there unsupervised.

Both cats are indoor cats. They have 3 scratching posts (2 sisal, one cardboard) and a cat tree. Also plenty of toys.  I spent in excess of 2k bringing them both back to the UK from Canada as I worry that if I rehome Moose (which I am sorely tempted to do) he will be abused and/or put to sleep due to his behavioural issues.  Plus he and Jasper are now completely bonded.  I used all my savings moving so can't afford a behaviourist and not being able to sleep properly is beginning to affect my work. I'm self employed so this affects my income and things are bad enough already right now.

I'm just at the end of my tether and don't know what to do. Deterrents don't work. Feliway doesn't work.  What else can I do?
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  • carefullycautiouscarefullycautious Forumite
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    Cats like to be out and about and it appears that he is bored and not getting the stimulus he needs.  l had a cat flap to allow mine free access which worked fine. The rescue could only go by what he was like whilst with them so I do not think they would have lied to you. Have you seen the series 'My cat from Hell' on DPlay the guy works with cats that appear to have behaviour problems. He has resolved many cases. Have you also thought about getting some advice from the rescue charities in this country who may be able to help. On line cat forums would also be a good place to start.
    Cats are not interested in static objects ie toys lay on floors posts etc. A toy that is used frequently in the above series is a feather on a long stick which stimulates hunting  when you play with it.
    There are many different things you can do to enrich his life.



  • FireflyawayFireflyaway Forumite
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    I know you say the cats 'hunt' in your bedroom but it sounds that restricting their space is probably the problem. I'd leave the doors open. At first it might be disruptive but once they know they don't need to paw the door to get your attention they might be more content just to roam about. Even If they are freinds, having them shut together in one room might be stressful and having a litter tray near food can be upsetting to some cats. 
  • SilvertabbySilvertabby Forumite
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    House cats shouldn't be confined to one room.  They'll get incredibly bored.  And destructive.
  • edited 3 May at 3:43PM
    KxMxKxMx Forumite
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    edited 3 May at 3:43PM
    Might Moose be better suited as a farm cat? 
    He'll be fed and monitored by the farm staff, have shelter, alongside unlimited hunting and enrichment opportunities. He can run wild to his hearts content. 
  • donnac2558donnac2558 Forumite
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    You say you have toys for him, do you actually play with him?

    Cats enjoy hunt, pounce and kill play so you need before bedtime at least 20 minutes of hardcore playtime.  Tire them out.  I suggest go on youtube and watch Jackson Galaxy demo how it should be done.  And don't lock in one room
  • Trina90Trina90 Forumite
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    With the door.. you say you've tried deterrents.. but have you tried Ssscat? It is a can of pressurised air that is motion censored. One of my cats had a habit of peeing by our front door. This is the only thing that deterred him. 
    Mortgage started 2015: £150,000 2016: £130,000 2017: £116,000 2018: £105,000 2019: £88,000 2020: £69,000
  • WolfSong2000WolfSong2000 Forumite
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    Cats like to be out and about and it appears that he is bored and not getting the stimulus he needs.  l had a cat flap to allow mine free access which worked fine. The rescue could only go by what he was like whilst with them so I do not think they would have lied to you. Have you seen the series 'My cat from Hell' on DPlay the guy works with cats that appear to have behaviour problems. He has resolved many cases. Have you also thought about getting some advice from the rescue charities in this country who may be able to help. On line cat forums would also be a good place to start.
    Cats are not interested in static objects ie toys lay on floors posts etc. A toy that is used frequently in the above series is a feather on a long stick which stimulates hunting  when you play with it.
    There are many different things you can do to enrich his life.




    The rescue knew about his behaviour and admitted it to me after I adopted him.  I have tried playing with him each day - lots of different types of toys including his favorite toy (a very specific toy on a stick). He plays for 5 mins tops then "sulks" and walks off/refuses to engage. I've tried playing with him at different points throughout the day and before bed. Makes no difference.
  • WolfSong2000WolfSong2000 Forumite
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    I know you say the cats 'hunt' in your bedroom but it sounds that restricting their space is probably the problem. I'd leave the doors open. At first it might be disruptive but once they know they don't need to paw the door to get your attention they might be more content just to roam about. Even If they are freinds, having them shut together in one room might be stressful and having a litter tray near food can be upsetting to some cats. 

    I can't leave the doors open as they start ripping up the carpet in corners by doors. I've probably already lost a chunk of my deposit because of this and I cannot afford to lose more.  The kitchen is a big room - they have a bed each, cat tree, food is as far away from litter tray as possible and water is also away from food and litter tray.
  • WolfSong2000WolfSong2000 Forumite
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    House cats shouldn't be confined to one room.  They'll get incredibly bored.  And destructive.

    When I am home they have the run of the house. If I am out and at night they get locked in the kitchen to limit their destruction.
  • edited 3 May at 5:12PM
    KiKiKiKi Forumite
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    edited 3 May at 5:12PM
    I know what it's like to have cats with behaviour problems; I have two of my own that I rescued from a shelter after two years.  Well done for taking Moose on.

    It sounds like you're trying to get them to adapt to your lifestyle, though, and that won't work.  Being indoor cats they need a LOT of room and access, and you're confining them to one room at a time when they are most active.  This is just a recipe for disaster!  And you're getting up to stop him - which is even worse.  It's like having a young child - they will get your attention that way!  I would bet my mortgage they are doing this out of boredom.  

    I don't think you can resolve every problem at once.  I would:
    a) Stop shutting them in the kitchen.  It's obviously not working.  You're up 6-10 times a night already, so it can't possibly be worse in terms of sleep.  If you wake up once a night because he hunts in your bedroom, so be it.  It's better than what you're currently going through.
    b) Forget about Jaspar tearing up the carpet - just let it happen for now.  He will stop, eventually.
    c) Put earplugs in when you go to bed.
    d) LOTS of energetic play during the day, and before bed.  What do they like to sleep in?  Put those beds / that material / whatever it is, far away from the bedroom.
    e) Put a Feliway plug in in your bedroom, or burn some Valerian in an incense burner - obv not whilst you're asleep.

    (The alternative is to stop going to them 6-10 times a night.  It will be hell for a week or so, but it might get them to stop.  Not sure it's fair on the cats, though.)

    Don't find excuses not to do these things (I say that kindly, as someone who was in the same position as you!), just do them, and let it run for 4 weeks.  The first few nights they prob WILL wake you up, because it's a novelty.  But they will calm down.  Stopping a cat from getting into a room is the surest way to make them want to go in.  And once they see how boring it is, over time, they will settle.  But with cats it is always time that is needed.  You won't get a quick fix.  I bet, that within a few months, once you've stopped restricting access your house will be much calmer.  You just need to prepare yourself that it won't be overnight.

    But I do know how you feel. One of my rescues turned on her son once I got them to mine.  I had to separate them completely a week after getting them.  The son was devastated, as he has developmental problems, doesn't like people, and only ever knew his mummy.  It took me three months to reintegrate, and at night the only option was to have mummy cat shut in with me so boy cat could start exploring the house and putting his own scent around without fear of attack.  I'd wake up several times a night when she ate, or used her litter tray in my room.  It also stank!!  But I got through it, sleep-deprived, and all is now well.  Once you know the right actions, you just need to stick them out, but finding the right actions is really important, otherwise you can create more problems.

    I can recommend a brilliant behaviourist who helped my cats.  I think her telephone rate is £50 for a consultation.  She did a home consult with me, then phone ones, and her advice changed my cats initially within 3 weeks, and then it was a slow journey over a couple of months more.  If you want her details, DM me.  I have nothing to promote, she's not a friend or anything, but she was excellent.  She specialises in cat behaviour, especially rescues.  If nothing else, she will be able to tell you what definitely not to do, and what to do, and then all you can do is try it for 1-3 months.  

    I would just encourage you not to rehome just because Moose is noisy at night; not just yet.  There are far worse behaviour problems than scratching at a door.  All they are doing is playing when you want to sleep, it's actually not that bad - but when you're so tired, I appreciate it's hard to see that.  If you have to get to the point of rehoming, I can recommend somewhere that take cats with difficulties that won't put them down, but the fact that you're here asking means you're obviously prepared to give it longer and see if you can get it to work.
    ' <-- See that? It's called an apostrophe. It does not mean "hey, look out, here comes an S".
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