Here is the second part of struggles with Frania. Make sure you read the first part of this post “My cat is mean! She is spiteful! But is she? Compulsive behaviors part 1” to get a full picture of the issue. Below I will describe steps we have taken to minimize Frania’s unwanted behaviors. We focused on resetting the biological clock, getting used to hunting sequences, playing with a laser and moving the scratching post in a strategic location.
I started from resetting Frania’s biological clock. Iza said that Frania usually sleeps the entire day and that is why she wakes up at 3-4am with lots of energy and to make use of all that energy she starts running, knocking things over and off the shelves (her favorite toy is a noise making rolling balls) and meows.
Fun fact: we need to be aware and remember that cats communicate with body language and marking but meowing is definitely directed at people. Adult cats very rarely use vocalization to communicate with other cats and if they do they convey fear or aggressive intents.
Since Frania sleeps throughout the day and releases her energy at night we need to make her tired during the day to force her to rest at night. Probably you play with her during the day but it needs to be done in a specific way.
They are called hunting sequences and they help the cat improve self-confidence, mental and physical capabilities and lessen the fear. They need to be performed around the same time every day so the cat knows well when is play time and when is rest time – it is like establishing a routine which should be introduced very early in child’s life. Cat, like a child, feels safer with the routine and we can plan our day better so it is beneficial for everybody.
In case of Frania, an adult cat, she should have two such sequences for example around 6pm and right before you go to sleep. The play should take from 10 to 30 minutes. Remember that the hunting game (another name for the sequence) needs to be attractive enough to make the cat wait for it with impatience. You need to figure out the most favorite toy: does she prefer a stick with bunch of feathers at its end flying over her head or maybe she likes when the feathers disappear behind the wall. And maybe she loves to chase a ball which she brings back to you to get it thrown again. Just remember that the sequence should be a titbit the cat waits for the entire day.
From my experience a stick with feathers is one of the best choices as it resembles a flying bird imitating a real hunting expedition with unpredictable movements of the prey. Out of about a hundred cats I teased with this toy none resisted the fun. Also, it is good because it has to be put away as the sharp endings of the feathers could hurt the cats’ throat so they cannot play with it by themselves.
Frania lives with her good friend Fiona so it is important to let them both have fun with the toy. If one of them is done but the second one hasn’t started yet or seems to want more continue – they both have to be satisfied and they both have to be tired.
When you play the prey gets away, then your cat catches it then the prey gets away again. So there is a chase, attack and killing. Good job!! The cat hunts and kills but …will not eat the feathers so it is good to plan a meal after the sequence. If one of the meals is scheduled for the evening serve it after the game. It will be a prize for catching the prey and perfect finish to the sequence.
I would like to point out that another common game, a game with laser, does not include the last phase of the hunting cycle as the cat will never catch the red dot. In the long run it will lead to frustration and inner tension so we need to make it one of the games and not the only game.
As far as the couch scratching is concerned I suggest changing the location of the scratching post – maybe it is too close to the wall or too far away from the window or in a rarely used room. It is good to put it close to the “crime scene” so next to the scratched couch. We can even cover the “favorite” side of the couch with a scratching post – not permanently but just for a few days to make it more attractive. In any other case I would recommend covering the couch with bubble wrap but it might frighten Frania so this solution will not work here. We have to focus not on shoving her away from the couch but to make the scratching post very attractive to her for example by applying some catnip to it. You could also organize the hunting sequence around the post or place some food tidbits there as prizes for good behavior. The post should become her watchtower, resting and playing place; her favorite place in the house. Also if we eliminate the stress factor the furniture scratching should lessen.
To sum up:
don’t scream, run, clap and don’t make sudden movements when cat does something wrong. If, on the other hand, she uses the scratching post, chases the feathers, waits patiently while you eat praise, stroke, speak to her in a nice voice, give her something yummy.
change her sleep time – two 15-20 minute sequences around 6pm and before you go to sleep, finished with a reward – a meal
close the door to the bedroom and do not react to meowing – if they have access to food, water, litter box and toys then they are fine and need to stop. When they notice that meowing does not attract your attention they will stop. It will be difficult but you need to be tough. I went through this myself and when I had doubts I was thinking to myself that they have everything they need and nothing wrong is happening to them so I can continue sleeping. After some time they stopped and waited by the door until morning for me to open the door for them.
ry to think of a factor or situation that could have stressed your cat. If we eliminate the stress factor the scratching, furniture biting and flower pots digging should subside. If you have any ideas write to me and I will try to find ways to eliminate them.
From what I know Frania started making progress from the very first day. Moving the scratching post was an excellent move. Also Iza discovered that the stress factor was most likely Iza’s little niece who loves cats so much she cannot stay calm in their presence. Unfortunately a problem like that requires a lot of work as it has been present in cat’s life for a long time and it is difficult to get it out of the cat’s head.