How to make an anxious cat more comfortable?

Jean Howard

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I currently have two cats in my home. Boodle, a 15-year-old long-haired domestic my mom rescued from the dirt roads of Boone when she was a few weeks old and caught in a storm, and Rex a 5-year-old Korat who we adopted when he was 3-4 months old from my old babysitter who takes in pregnant strays to help them safely give birth and get them and their babies forever homes.

Boodle is the queen B of the home. She's spoiled rotten by us and is definitely a lap cat who will do anything to cuddle, with no concern for her aching bones or laptops with very important work being done. Most of her time is spent eating, sleeping, more eating, watching cat TV, and biting her people's scalps. She's had 1 litter of kittens about 13 years ago (she's spayed now), but in no way did she carry on those maternal instincts. I've grown up with her as she was adopted while my mom was pregnant with me, and at that time we only had two other cats. Felix and Tommy, both her children who both sadly passed away years ago. Tommy to old age and illness, Felix to dogs which is why we no longer allow Rex or Boodle outside without supervision. (Although I am considering a catio!)

Rex is the complete opposite. He was the runt of the litter, affectionately named Peanut because he could fit in the palm of your hand when he was a newborn. He has sensitive hearing and is practically afraid of his own shadow. He spends most of his time in the attic, running around underneath the floorboards and falling into vents like a fool. (We've since covered all vents and made sure there are no holes anywhere he can fall into) He is most affectionate to me and mom, as my dad has loud work boots and is a big guy who towers over him. During the night he's cuddling with me or running around at ungodly hours and making me fret over him with meowing.

Here's where the problem comes in. When we first got Rex, Boodle bullied him. A lot. At first, they were kept on separate sides of the house, only brought together at mealtimes where they ate on either side of the door. Even still, Boodle would hiss at him and chase him around once they did meet. He did swat at her once, but that was really the extent of it. They've chilled out as the years went by, but still, things are tense. Rex avoids her when possible, even though they can still share a human bed and generally tolerate each other. And also Boodle will steal his food. This isn't out of malice, but because she eats a lot and he isn't there at mealtime to eat it first. While it's good for her because she needs to gain weight, it's a concern that Rex may lose weight because of this.

Whats some ways we can help Rex be more confident, or even help him and Boodle get along better? Is it still possible to socialize them with each other?

Im thinking of getting him a cat tower so he can feel taller and more secure, and get them both a better variety of toys to play with them more before meals to get out extra energy.

I'd prefer things like diffusers or fragrances are not recommended. We have an African Senegal named Sig whose cage is in the living room, and he's sensitive to things like candles, incense, and cleaning supplies.
 

FeebysOwner

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Hi. Somebody will typically try to take the dominate spot - and, it would seem, that Boodle has done that. The more submissive cat usually learns that is their 'lot in life', and for the most part it sounds like that has happened. This has been going on a long time, so making any significant changes will be kind of hard.

So, what is it about Rex makes you think he isn't confident in his own right?

The food? If so, try setting up different feeding stations for them so that Rex doesn't have to compete for his food. If they are both micro-chipped, there are door flaps that can be programmed for Rex's chip, and then Boodle couldn't access his place to eat.

The cat tower would be a great idea, and allow him some space of his own. Even better located by a window - and, you could add a bird feeder outside for his entertainment. There is also cat music (in lieu of diffusers) to help relax cats. Cat In My Arms on Spotify and elsewhere, RelaxMyCat and also MusicForCats are the most common examples I have seen noted on this site.

I am sure other members will come along soon with their own ideas as well!!
 
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Jean Howard

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Hi. Somebody will typically try to take the dominate spot - and, it would seem, that Boodle has done that. The more submissive cat usually learns that is their 'lot in life', and for the most part it sounds like that has happened. This has been going on a long time, so making any significant changes will be kind of hard.

So, what is it about Rex makes you think he isn't confident in his own right?

The food? If so, try setting up different feeding stations for them so that Rex doesn't have to compete for his food. If they are both micro-chipped, there are door flaps that can be programmed for Rex's chip, and then Boodle couldn't access his place to eat.

The cat tower would be a great idea, and allow him some space of his own. Even better located by a window - and, you could add a bird feeder outside for his entertainment. There is also cat music (in lieu of diffusers) to help relax cats. Cat In My Arms on Spotify and elsewhere, RelaxMyCat and also MusicForCats are the most common examples I have seen noted on this site.

I am sure other members will come along soon with their own ideas as well!!
Hi! Thank you for the advice!

I am considering setting up a separate food bowl in the attic once my parents finish fixing it to be their new bedroom, or maybe in their old room since he seems to like it so much! What I want most is for Rex to be able to come out during the day instead of hiding, so I'll definitely be working on getting him his own space. Im not too concerned with how he and Boodle act together, as there's never any aggression aside from the rare hiss if she is particularly grumpy, so that will probably be left alone unless it worsened. They probably wont ever be super friendly, but there's enough love from us to make up for it.

Thanks again! :)
 

FeebysOwner

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What I want most is for Rex to be able to come out during the day instead of hiding, so I'll definitely be working on getting him his own space.
I didn't realize he is hiding all day... Are there other locations in the home that Boodle likes? Perhaps, take some time everyday and entice Boodle to spend awhile in one of those areas, and then coax Rex out to spend some time without her. Maybe, if you have the cat tower up and let him get used to it, he might eventually consider taking refuge there when Boodle is in the same area?
 
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Jean Howard

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That could work!! My mom has been teaching me how to have him follow me around, and he likes me a lot. I think we'll have it in the living room next to the window, so I could bring him there to hang out and see it as a safe spot for him! It would be great to have him comfortable downstairs because with the construction I'm afraid it'll be too dangerous for us to let him up there for a while.
 
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