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New Cat Anxious Meowing

Discussion in 'Cat Behavior' started by rosegold, Feb 20, 2018.

  1. rosegold

    rosegold Thread Starter TCS Member Alpha Cat

    Feb 1, 2018
    Hi everyone, I've had my new kitty Chilli for just 3 days now. She is a 3-4 year old NFC. I'm a first time cat owner so I'm a little new to all this. Overall I think she is settling in okay, but I do have some questions about her incessant meowing.

    I work in the afternoon/evening (1pm-9pm) and am generally home the rest of the day. From the time I get home from work and all through the night, she is perfect. She is happy to see me but not overly clingy, we have a long playtime and then dinner, and then cuddles before bed and no problems during the night (she either sleeps with me or plays quietly by herself). She is using the litter box, scratching post, and eating and drinking without any problems. She has several hiding spots and higher perches that she uses, and she generally likes to just hang out with me.

    However, from about 8am to 12pm, she becomes very active/anxious and will wander around the house meowing loud and long cries. This is after she's already eaten and played in the morning. During this time she seems very unhappy/upset (big pupils, low tail, ears back) and is disinterested in playing, petting, food, or any comfort. She will sometimes meow at my closet or try to look in new places as if she wants to explore my apartment, but isn't satisfied by anything.

    During her "good" time in the evening, she meows a little bit but it's very different - much quieter and more purr-y and chatty. I don't mind that at all. But the morning meows are very constant and whining. Personally I'm fine with just ignoring the sound, but I do feel a little bad for my neighbors as I live in an apartment with thin walls, so I'm worried about a future noise complaint if she continues this long-term.

    So obviously 3 days is nothing, and she's still adjusting! I'm fine with just waiting it out, if that's all it will take. I know that her previous owners had two other cats that she got along great with, so she may be missing them as well as her humans. I guess my questions are--

    1) Is this normal for a new cat? Should it lessen with more adjustment time?
    2) What should I do during this time? Ignore it 100%, try to distract her, invest in some calming products, give her reassurance, something else?
    3) Is there anything else I should change or do to help her adjust faster?
    4) I might make another post about this later, but... getting a second cat? Give me your thoughts.

    I would love to hear any feedback. She's an awesome cat overall, but I really want to help her feel more comfortable and calm in the mornings.

  2. FlufficaMagnyffica

    FlufficaMagnyffica TCS Member Kitten

    Feb 20, 2018
    You sound very sensible and will be an excellent Cat Mistress.
    You also sound like you are identifying the main reasons why she might be doing this Meow thing.

    No this is not normal for a new cat. By that I mean that new cats don't ALL do this. But they all have ways of showing they are feeling the tensions of a new situation. Be glad this isn't piddling in corners or worse! Some scrat furiously at furniture, or bite, scratch unexpectedly - you're getting off lightly.
    Re the neighbours I suggest a polite note through their door/s to explain and say it is expected to settle down soon.
    I think missing her previous friends is the least likely reason. If that affected her it would show up in the evening.

    It could be that she has an accurate body clock that tells her when the time is approaching you are going to abandon her at 1pm. That's what it will seem like until she gets used to it. Cats have a strong sense of routine and will often object to any changes in the Right Order of Things so she could easily have picked up your work hours.
    You have suggested calming products. Good idea. I've used gadgets you plug in an electric socket that give out a smell that calms cats. That might help.
    You could also try overfeeding her just for this difficult period. When we or they have full tummies we are more placid. So try a feed timed for the problem hours. Add small snacks of heavier food, bits of cooked chicken, prawns. She will go for these even f not really hungry.
    (You'd have to later ease her out of it as she'll expect Treats Morning to continue! Gradually reduce how many treats.

    One test that will help a lot is what happens on a day you don't go to work. Does she calm down after the usual Depart time passes and you're still there? If so that's good evidence it's indeed your Departure that triggers her anxiety.
    You could try leaving clothes you have worn for a few days on a chair/ on the bed for her to nest on. Your smell will be reassuring. (As a messy person I do this anyway but if you're tidy you might need to do it specially.)
    Dangle toys - things that hang, feathery things that move even if you are not there, might help to entertain her when alone.

    Introducing a new friend is another whole set of problems I'm afraid though perfectly manageable. Do get advice here on how to manage it.
    danteshuman and rosegold purraised this.

  3. rosegold

    rosegold Thread Starter TCS Member Alpha Cat

    Feb 1, 2018
    @FlufficaMagnyffica Thank you so much for your reply and advice - this is all really helpful!

    It very well could be some anxiety about me leaving for work, in combination with still adjusting to the new environment. It seems like she bonded to me unusually quickly (the previous owners were shocked and pleased to hear she wasn't hiding and shy 24/7 for weeks, as she did when they first got her!), and my apartment is very small and quiet, so it's understandable that she would be insecure about me leaving.

    The meowing dwindles down about an hour before I leave, but she's still not quite herself and usually goes to hide so she's hiding when I leave. There's no way to know how she does while I'm at work--I'm a worried mom all day because of it!--but like I said, she's totally calm and affectionate when I get home. I'll definitely see how she does this weekend when I don't work. The overfeeding treats is a great idea - I'll perhaps push her normal breakfast time a little later too.
    danteshuman purraised this.

  4. rosegold

    rosegold Thread Starter TCS Member Alpha Cat

    Feb 1, 2018
    So you were spot-on about the separation anxiety! I talked with the previous owner and she said that Chilli used to only do these meows in stressful situations like traveling or going to the vet, but had started doing it more often after they moved and after they rehomed their other cat. She would do these loud, anxious meows at the door and around the house whenever someone left, and would stress when they were getting ready to go. The previous owner agrees that Chilli will likely settle down as she gets used to my routine and learns to expect when I come and go. Actually, she is doing much better today because I've been sitting around and relaxing this morning--yesterday when I was up and busy doing household chores she was much more stressed.

    So, a follow-up question... What about the times when I do need to go somewhere in the morning? Will she just have to get used to occasional inconsistencies in the schedule?

    I admit it makes me very unhappy to think about her feeling so anxious while I'm at work all day. :(
    PushPurrCatPaws purraised this.

  5. Minxrat

    Minxrat TCS Member Adult Cat

    Nov 15, 2017
    Southampton, UK
    I had this with my Poppy, so much so that I got another kitten. This doesn't work for everyone, and I'm sure there are times that Poppy is not thanking me for it!! But I know she has company. I used to leave at 7.30am and get back at 6pm. It was just too long and I felt so bad for it. I stopped going out in the evening during the week so she would have company! I've started using Bach Pet Rescue Remedy to relax her a little as Milo makes her a little anxious, but she will get more used to him (he's quite bouncy and she's a quiet little princess).
    danteshuman and rosegold purraised this.

  6. Etarre

    Etarre TCS Member Alpha Cat

    Jan 25, 2018
    I think it's possible that you're still building trust with Chili. She obviously likes you and enjoys her new home, but it would be reasonable for her to wonder if you're really going to come home every night. Since it's a new situation for her, I think that keeping to your regular routine as much as possible for her first few weeks will help reassure her that you will always come home to her eventually, even if it's not right 'on time' always.

    My previous cat would stress out when we went on vacation if her catsitter didn't come at the same time every day. She also noticed shifts in our work schedules, late nights, etc. and objected to them. So I think that FlufficaMagnyffica is right on about this:

    I'd give her some more time to establish a sense of security with her new living situation before you think about introducing a new cat into the mix. She may need a routine and trust-building with you rather than more change at this point.
    rosegold purraised this.

  7. PushPurrCatPaws

    PushPurrCatPaws TCS Member Top Cat

    May 22, 2015
    It could be that it is not necessarily separation anxiety with you, since you and she are just new to your relationship and patterns. What I mean is, it could be that in her previous home, there was a specific pattern or specific events that occurred during the time-frame of 8 am-12 pm on a daily basis that she REALLY got used to and is expecting to keep happening. Have you checked with the previous owner what exactly were the habits of the humans in the house during those hours each day? Or what were her own habits during those hours each day? Maybe that is what it is. She is looking for certain things to occur (or, yes, certain people or animals to be around her at that time of day), and she is stressed and crying about that. Or she could even be looking for a favorite bed she slept in at the old household or a nook near a window she liked to sit in. Cats are pretty routinized beings, certain daily patterns really do become habits for them and give them comfort and less stress.
    rosegold purraised this.

  8. rosegold

    rosegold Thread Starter TCS Member Alpha Cat

    Feb 1, 2018
    I’m happy to say things have gotten steadily better each day! Yesterday we only had two very short meowing episodes and otherwise she was relaxed and lazy all day. She seems to respond best to affection and reassurance versus being ignored. She has also found a consistent favorite spot on the couch that seems to calm her down, so I invite her over there and sit on the couch with her for a while if she’s feeling stressed.
    Minxrat, PushPurrCatPaws and danteshuman purraised this.

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