Questions about cat behavior (newbie!)

lisalu

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(Mods: please don't merge this with my previous thread as you did last time, this is a new topic. Thanks!)

Anyway, I need some Cat Behavior 101. I never had an indoor cat before, and I've had this kitty (a little under a year old) for about a month since rescuing her from the outdoors.

She has gone from hiding and scared to come near us, to accepting pets, to being an almost dog-like companion within the course of a few weeks. Kitty follows me around during all her waking hours, plants herself in my lap when I sit down, and waits by closed doors until I come out. She waits for me in my chair when I'm not home. All that is fine, I enjoy it, but now she is getting a little more aggressive.

She's not aggressive in a hostile way, but seems to be asserting herself. She's hung out with me all day, playing around the room but keeping tabs on me. But as soon as I try to leave the room, she puts herself in front of me and swats at me. She is clearly trying to prevent me from leaving the room. Is this similar to "alpha" behavior in dogs, or is this a whole different thing? I know with dogs you are not supposed to let them precede you down the stairs or out the door but is it the same with cats?

Also, she likes to hide behind my chair and then jump out at me, which I suppose is the normal behavior of a young kitty wanting to play?

At night, when we go to bed and close our bedroom door, Kitty stands outside and meows, but the one time I tried letting her come in our room she kept pouncing on me, swatting me, nibbling on me, etc. She clearly wanted me to play, and didn't want to settle down, so we had to put her back out.

All this is to ask what "normal" cat behavior is as opposed to a Kitty being too attached to a person and/or behaving too aggressively. My take on it is that she finally feels comfortable enough with me to be a little more assertive and playful and if so that is a good sign!

Thanks!
 

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sivyaleah

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This sounds like very normal kitten behavior!

When our girl was a kitten she was quite high energy, especially as we were going to bed. There was one month or so where she'd get up on the bed and go wild, attacking us which is a kitten's way of playing. But of course, us humans don't think so!
My husband had a bad habit of allowing her to "help" him make the bed which contributed to this so I had to put my foot down on that "game".

As long as you are being consistent in your reactions eventually she will grown out of this. Make sure to never use your hands or feet to play with her or she will be learning your those are acceptable "toys" to play with.

FYI cats don't have alpha behavior - they are different than dogs. There is no dominant behavior between cats though certainly some can be more aggressive.

Last is she spayed yet? If not, this could be contributing to the behavior. But other than that it really is pretty normal "teenager" behavior. You can try doing a really good play period before your bedtime, and then give her a snack. That may help settle her a bit more since you will have already worn her out. I highly suggest Da Bird if you don't already have one.
 
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lisalu

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I'm taking her to be spayed this week. What started out as a hungry, lost kitty in my backyard has turned into quite a commitment with the $$$ to prove it - especially when you see adoption events where you can get a kitten that is spayed, vaccinated, wormed and chipped for only $50.
 

sivyaleah

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I'm taking her to be spayed this week. What started out as a hungry, lost kitty in my backyard has turned into quite a commitment with the $$$ to prove it - especially when you see adoption events where you can get a kitten that is spayed, vaccinated, wormed and chipped for only $50.
She may start to calm down once spayed. Hormones can really rev up negative (by our account) behavior.
 

Neko-chan's mama

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What helped my girl when she was a bratty teen was two evening play sessions, one about an hour and a half before bed and another half an hour before bed. Then she'd just sleep in bed with me. I'd also set out some toys on the arm of the couch and on the coffee table for her to knock down and play with.
 

vince

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The late (vigorous) play session is good, but if you can follow it up with her last meal of the day, that will help get her to sleep even better. Are you feeding her discrete meals or are you free-feeding?
 
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lisalu

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I feed her twice a day, dry food in the late morning and wet food in the late evening.

She is overnight at the vet tonight after being spayed. I hate to think of Miss Kitty being there alone and scared - do they keep the animals sedated for a while after the surgery?
 

vince

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I don't know about animals kept overnight, but they often give them an anesthetic that keeps 'em more or less drunk for some time. Often they're loopy for half a day. Looks worse than it is. If they are administered Propofol or something like it, they come out of it pretty quickly.

Any cat we've ever had (maybe a baker's dozen or so over the past 50 years) had no significant issues from being fixed. A few had a little pain for a day or two but otherwise, no trouble. Never had to use a cone, either. They all left the incision alone. Miss Kitty will likely be just fine when you go to pick her up.
 
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lisalu

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Thank you for the reassuring words. I've never been through a cat spay, so don't know what to expect. I picked her up a little while ago and she DIDN'T have the "cone of shame" so I don't know why some vets do that and others don't. I did order one of those little "onesies" from Amazon so in case she starts picking at the stitches later I can put that on her.

All I've seen of her since I've brought her home are those little green eyes glowing at me from under the couch!
 

vince

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They're always a little out of sorts when they come home from the vet. She'll be fine. At least you don't have multiple cats with the attendant non-recognition aggression issues. I usually have them bopping each other on the head and hissing for a day or so when one goes in the "shop." Once the patient gets to smelling like they used to, the aggression vanishes.

Let her come out on her own and it will be easier on both of you. It may take a day or two.

Keep an eye on her incision. It should not open up, weep anything other than maybe a drop or so of clear liquid and should not get red, "hot," or angry-looking. There may be a lump from internal swelling, but it will go away in a week or 10 days. Try to minimize jumping and aggressive play for a week or so until the incision heals.

Do you have pain meds to administer?
 
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lisalu

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No, I was given no pain meds for her. I hope she doesn't need them!

I was surprised by how much all this cost. Over $300 today, for the spaying, booster shots, and a second worming. $280 for the initial exam and vaccines. I don't know how people afford multiple cats! I thought I was doing a "good" thing rescuing a stray kitty, but the vet didn't give me any break for that at all.
 

sivyaleah

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Thank you for the reassuring words. I've never been through a cat spay, so don't know what to expect. I picked her up a little while ago and she DIDN'T have the "cone of shame" so I don't know why some vets do that and others don't. I did order one of those little "onesies" from Amazon so in case she starts picking at the stitches later I can put that on her.

All I've seen of her since I've brought her home are those little green eyes glowing at me from under the couch!
We used a onesie on our girl for the 1st couple of days and it worked really well. Thankfully she was fairly low energy that first week so we didn't have to worry much about her, nor did she even go after the surgical site.

However, she did develop a seroma a week later, which is a fluid filled pouch that the vet didn't warn us about. I guess it's common enough but Luna was our first kitten and first time dealing with caring for spay aftercare. It was the size of a golf ball. Didn't bother her at all and they recommend just allowing it to dissipate over time, which it did.
 

vince

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Truth be told, I don't think the last several I had fixed had any pain meds, either. They seemed to be fine. I just wondered if you had pain meds to administer, because you'd be asking how to get her to take them. Giving medications to cats often isn't easy.

Nobody said keeping a cat was cheap! The best deals are at shelters, where everything is generally taken care of by the time you take 'em home. One was neutered, came with a 10# bag of cat food and was microchipped, and all for $25.00. Such a deal! This was not a no-kill shelter, and perhaps he was "discounted" because he'd been there for some time and was going to get euthanized if nobody took him home. At any rate, he settled in right away and has been a good kitty all these years.

I have two more cats, and my regular vet seems to be a little cheaper, but it's still pretty expensive with three wellness checks, fecal samples and yearly vaccinations, plus the occasional trip to the vet for some other reason. Still, it would have been even more expensive if you'd not had her fixed and had to deal with some litters of kittens.
 
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lisalu

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Well this did not go well. Kitty came home 24 hours after surgery and seemed perfectly fine all day yesterday. She ate well (even more than usual!), drank plenty of water, used the litter box, and spent the day following me around the house, begging for love and attention as usual. She didn't seem to be in any pain at all, just walked a tad more slowly. But I prevented her from jumping on anything high (I hid her cat perch) and tried to keep her activity level as low as possible. Only a few times I saw her start to lick the wound and I distracted her when I could. Then this morning I noticed a few spots of blood on the chair she'd been sitting on, and when I finally got a good look I could see that the incision had opened up.

I am a first time cat owner, and not naturally good at ANY kind of medical issue (human or animal!) and now I am told by the vet I need to bring her back to have the wound cleaned and closed again. This was an hour before they closed and I couldn't get her into the crate, especially with trying to avoid further injury to the incision, so I will have to try again in the morning.

I can't say how much I hate this, how upset I am, and how I just don't have time to deal with it, not to mention the stress of it crating her, taking her back to the vet, seeing her go through another procedure, worrying about wound care, etc.

I want to say I didn't sign up for this (just trying to help a stray kitty!) but I guess I did.
 

vince

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You got the short end of the stick on this one, I'm afraid. So sorry for you and your kitty. This sort of thing does happen with some frequency; that's why the cone and onesie keep showing up in posts. That open incision is serious enough to warrant a trip back to the vet, but it's a common occurrence and kitty will be fine in the long run. You'll just have to deal with the cone or onesie.

There are posts and video links on this site showing how to get a recalcitrant cat into a carrier. I don't know of any offhand, but use the search function and I'm certain a suitable one will show up.
 
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lisalu

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Thanks. I'm just beside myself, I never anticipated all this when I brought a needy, hungry, homeless kitty into my house. Not only is it WAY more expensive than I imagined (but I paid it willingly) now my entire week has revolved around the spaying. Honestly, I am regretting I ever had it done because I have had to give up everything I'm doing this week to deal with it, and didn't even sleep last night worrying about my kitty - yes, I already love her!

Still haven't crated her, and don't know what to do at this point. :( (I think I've tried ALL the tricks, but I'm not good at this kind of thing even on a good day, not to mention when the cat has an open wound on her belly.)
 
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