Rehoming throughts entering into mind again

mxphs

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Hi all

This might be a bit of a long one, i'll try and make it as succinct as possible.
I got my cat in June of 2022, so I'm coming up to 1 year now. Since he was about 5 months old, he's been persistent with meowing and nagging at me for completely unknown reasons, i started a thread about it recently. I've been able to live with it because there's been phases where he's less persistent with it. But it really affects me, and my work as I work from home and I have to call people as a part of my job and take appointments so I can't always get up and play with him.

I have tried toplay with him, to give him treats, get him to stay with me when i'm working at the table but nothing...works. His cries are becoming more an dmore desperate and he isn't giving up as early now and will continue to nag and nag until after 3 in the afternoon. There is nothing wrong with him health wise, i really think he needs more stimulation than I can give him. I really think he would benefit from beign with another cat, although I have no proof of this since I've had him since he was 3 months.

I have been driven mentally to some pretty dark places, i live with him and me, there is no one else here to share duties with. I often joke that this is just like single parenting. I'm starting to think about rehoming him again, but i feel racked with guilt because I do love him so much and he's such a great cat but I just don't think I am meeting all his needs. I live in a one bedroom apartment, so there is no options to build a catio or whatever, I cannot financially support another cat ( this could pontentially backfire as well even though i do think he could benefit from this)

I've been driven to my wits end with him, but i also love him? Is this just a part of owning a cat? I read and hear about so many peoples cats who just chill out, eat and sleep and thats it. Humphrey does that but then also has been nagging me for almost a year now. I have gone through times in my life with him where I've been catering more to him and putting my needs last in order so that he doesn't harrass me.

What do I do? Is it cruel to rehome?
 

KittenRescue

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He is still a very young kitten and he mostly like does need more exercise and stimulation. My older DSH used to cry all the time if i did not let him sleep in the bedroom with us at night, which led to many sleepless nights for me. I decided to bite the bullet when he was about one years old and got a kitten to be his buddy. I did not see them for 6 months other then during feeding time, otherwise it was little flashes of fluff balls running around together going crazy. At night they slept like little babies, he never asked to sleep with us at night time ever again because he spends all night with his little brother (that is them in the picture). Look, if you have the space and the ability to afford it, i would get a second cat. I would never EVER go back to having just one cat or even having just one dog, i think it is best to have all types of animals in pairs to give them a better quality of life.

If you cannot afford a second cat, then there is a solution to this problem. There is many charities that are looking for foster families that can give a home to a cat or a kitten while they cover all the fees involved (food, medical care etc.). This would be the easiest solution but also it would take the longest as you will need to do some research, call places up and so on. I think it is worth trying to do this as you said you love your cat.
Other ideas:
- Play for 30min before starting working then close the door and see how he responds
- Invest in some interactive toys that will keep him entertained without your help
- Search up cat videos for cats on youtube and see if he finds it interesting
- Invest in soft toys like mice, buy like 10 cheap new ones and only give them to him when you work
- Take him to the vet to check if he is crying due to pain

Rehoming is not cruel when it is done correctly, finding a family and reaching out to them yourself instead of leaving an animal in a shelter, doing the proper checks (home check) and questions with ensure your cat goes to a more suitable family.
 
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mxphs

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Has anyone had any luck with animal behaviourists???
 

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I understand that some cats hit a frequency that's like living with a colicky baby. ❣
At the end of the day, only you can decide if you've tried everything you're willing and able to try. And if you're at your limit for rehoming.

Personally, I would go through a rescue (not a shelter), as they check homes, unless I knew someone personally. I did this with my rats when I became too ill to care for them many years ago, and we had some housing issues at the same time. Some will list the cat on your behalf and you will still meet the needs. Others will move them to a foster home. I volunteered with the rescue formerly, and I got to keep up with my rats (the organizer kept two and another volunteer kept two), until they passed. Another consideration is luck of a good home. I recommend a rescue because they usually have a return policy if something happens to the owner.

None of us here can give you a picture of what shelters and rescues are like in your area. We have a few TNRs here so shelters are low capacity for cats. Some TNRs have actually been intaking from other large cities rather than just the surrounding towns.

As someone else with a "colicky" cat, it can be very draining.

I'm happy to help continue to brainstorm on the other thread if you aren't at that space yet.

You could consider a break (maybe boarding him for a few days), or talking to your vet about thunder-jacket or signs of anxiety which can also make for a vocal cat.
 
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mxphs

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As someone else with a "colicky" cat, it can be very draining.

I'm happy to help continue to brainstorm on the other thread if you aren't at that space yet.

You could consider a break (maybe boarding him for a few days), or talking to your vet about thunder-jacket or signs of anxiety which can also make for a vocal cat.
Hi Alldara, thank you for your lovely message.
Feels so good to know that other owners also get it. One of my really close friends has a cat who is similar, she takes him out to the park so that he can run around and even hunt for mice regularly and he will still return home and meow and meow and harrass her without stopping.

I love humphrey so so much and I know that we are bonded but when he tests my limits like this, I really start to miss the days where I didn't own him and could do whatever I wanted and have peace all the time. It was also a lonelier time however.

I'm definitely open to more ideas, I have to say i've basically done most of what people have suggested. Really thankful anyway for the suggestions though. A part of me believes that because i've tried all the 'soft' options im going to have to be more firm with him. Things like spray bottles, clapping at him etc.

How do you personally get through the days with your colicky cat?
 

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A few things, you said that you can't always get up and play with him. But you have tried stopping what you're doing (sometimes) and playing with him, and stopping what you're doing (sometimes) and giving him treats, if I read that correctly? If so, I'm wondering if he's thinking that the more persistent he is, the more likely you'll give in. Smart cat, but yes it can be draining!
Could you try saying something like "OK" when you're able to stop what you're doing to play with him, and something else like "no" or "in a little bit" and sticking to it when you can't leave your work? In time he should figure out that the word that means not now means it.
I have 3 cats, and they spend a lot of time snuggling together, playing together, and just hanging out together. I do think they enjoy one another. Has he been around other cats? If he's very social, you could always contact a cat rescue and offer to be a foster home, if you don't think that would be upsetting to him (or you).
 

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mxphs mxphs Being VERY VERY VERY heckin consistent. Both with the language I use and my behaviour and his schedule.

Cat calming things like music, catnip, etc. We didn't try a vest yet but are considering a "thunder-jacket".

If he's naughty while we work he gets "banned". (We close the door. That could be closed in to a room or closed out of a room in either case).

AAC buttons, so he could communicate better and we weren't guessing based on the scream.

A consistent outdoor schedule of 2 rolls on the balcony, once before work, once at lunch. One walk at the end of the day.

Recognizing that he needs some extra stimulation to settle sometimes like putting an electronic toy in a box for him to observe to fall asleep.

Recognizing that he needs less stimulation sometimes and closing blinds etc.

It's a weird balance. But basically if there's a lot of stimulation happening and he's screaming we fix it to less and vice versa.

Being very creative with enrichment do that he has something to "do" while we work. This has mixed results.

and last but not least: I made a decision that if he is screaming that it obviously means he can't find the couch. so I pick him up and place him on the couch. He usually runs but after a few weekend days of this, and some reinforcement of his AAC buttons, we are back to minimal screamies. I don't mind chattering etc or even coming by to get some attention (good eye break for me) but I can't do the screamies anymore.
 
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mxphs

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Hi guys

I’ve started hissing and saying SHOOSH really loudly every time humphrey meows and weirdly I think he’s already starting to get it. Not going to get overly excited yet as I haven’t sat down to work for an entire day but seems weirdly fast.

will keep you posted after I try it out on Monday during my work day

thank you so much for your replies as well, so good to have people to talk to about this who are like minded
 

egofailure

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Hi guys

I’ve started hissing and saying SHOOSH really loudly every time humphrey meows and weirdly I think he’s already starting to get it. Not going to get overly excited yet as I haven’t sat down to work for an entire day but seems weirdly fast.

will keep you posted after I try it out on Monday during my work day

thank you so much for your replies as well, so good to have people to talk to about this who are like minded
In behavioral terms, this is a punishment technique. (A stimulus change - i.e. an aversive sound like a hiss or shoosh - following a behavior (meow) that decreases that behavior (meow) under similar circumstances. If you're going to use this technique, be sure of a few things:

1) Respond this way at the highest ethical intensity every time. (As in every vocalization or every vocalization in the presence of the same stimulus, i.e. at your desk with your laptop out.) If you're not consistent and/or you gradually increase intensity, you will make the meowing worse by only intermittently punishing and/or building tolerance.

2) If the meowing stops and then suddenly "recovers," extinction (ignoring the behavior completely) would likely be as effective. This isn't as satisfying for humans, however.

3) Most importantly! Keep positive reinforcement (attention, treats, play) for appropriate behavior (approaching you without vocalizing or when not working (at desk, computer out) or relaxing on the couch VERY HIGH. Anytime a punishment procedure is used, there's a high chance of side effects (you become a conditioned punisher and your cat will avoid you). This is negated by keeping a ration of 5:1 (reinforcement to punishment).

I had to give Sasha ear drops for 14 total days (1 week on, 1 week off, and a final week on) after her first vet appointment. She wasn't happy with it. I noticed a slight change in her comfort towards me during the "on" periods, but she still kept approaching me, per usual, throughout the day. Why? My presence accompanies so much reinforcement in the form of attention, treats, and play, that it helps neutralize the occasional punishers.
 

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2) If the meowing stops and then suddenly "recovers," extinction (ignoring the behavior completely) would likely be as effective. This isn't as satisfying for humans, however.
I believe if I remember correctly that the poster mxphs mxphs had the same experience I did in that ignoring did NOT work and actually exasperated the issue.

There's actually a new study that indicates ignoring your cat can increase its stress levels. Scientists Might Have Found the Best Way to Catcall a Cat it's not a new concept but it's good to have some data backing up what some.of us are experiencing with our cats. The Case AGAINST Ignoring Bad Behavior • Feline Engineering


A hiss or shoosh sound is similar to what a cat says to another cat when they want something to stop. It's not really a punishment.
 

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I did something similar to what Alldora suggests with putting him on the sofa with one of my dogs, we'd just rescued him and he would spin in circles. I would grab him and hug him for a bit. After a couple of times he stopped the spinning. We later found out spinning was a stress release, that can feed on itself.

Have you taken your cat to the vet for a full exam recently? I realize he's been doing this for awhile, but there might be something slowly going off inside him that the vet could fix. Though he probably is a bit lonely since cats his age are hard wired to play like mad most of the time to get the survival skills they need.

We, too, found two cats easier than one, but you probably shouldn't add a cat if you're wanting to rehome. I suppose you could foster one about your cat's age and see what happened.
 

egofailure

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I believe if I remember correctly that the poster mxphs mxphs had the same experience I did in that ignoring did NOT work and actually exasperated the issue.

There's actually a new study that indicates ignoring your cat can increase its stress levels. Scientists Might Have Found the Best Way to Catcall a Cat it's not a new concept but it's good to have some data backing up what some.of us are experiencing with our cats. The Case AGAINST Ignoring Bad Behavior • Feline Engineering


A hiss or shoosh sound is similar to what a cat says to another cat when they want something to stop. It's not really a punishment.
The issue with such limited research like this is that 1) It does not account for the considerable research that has been done by experimental behavioral scientists, which has contributed to foundational behavioral principles and/or 2) Its findings are often extrapolated beyond the research's scope.

If your only "intervention" to unwanted/challenging behavior is ignoring it, it will never work. If your 4-year-old child screams to get food, ignoring him/her/them without reinforcing an appropriate alternative response, such as requesting politely and/or waiting patiently, stress will ensue. Why? Because there's still an unmet biological need.

Here's what typically happens when cat owners choose to ignore:

1) Their cat is meowing incessantly. Sometimes they ignore, sometimes they don't. This leads to vocalizing being reinforced (sometimes incorrectly referred to as "rewarding") intermittently. This schedule of reinforcement is the most addictive and challenging to fade, which is why the slots in Vegas are so successful as a cash-making business.

2) The cat owner then googles, "What to do when your cat is meowing too much," and they read that it's important to "ignore it."

3) And that's what they try! What's not taken into consideration, however, is the cat's previous learning history, i.e. the intermittent (sometimes) reinforcement of vocalizing. When behavior that has worked in the past suddenly stops working, we see the results of an extinction burst! In layman's terms, the living being now TRYS HARDER (frequency, duration, intensity). Have you ever wondered why vending machines have the "do not tip" warning on them? This is because when people are accustomed to putting a dollar into a machine to get a preferred snack and it doesn't work, an extinction bust occurs. They try HARDER ... and as a common side effect, they may also engage in frustration/novel behaviors. Yes, stress accompanies this response.

4) Lastly, during this extinction burst, the typical cat owner finally breaks and gives in. This now reinforces a new intensity of the behavior. The cat learns to START at a higher pitch/intensity because that's what worked.

I'm not much of a TV person, so I'm just now starting to watch episodes of My Cat from Hell, but I'm impressed with how well Jackson Galaxy understands behavioral principles. One thing he seems to be consistent with is:

THIS, not THAT!

Scratching meets a need. Scratch this (post), not that (couch).

Meowing for attention/chasing/aggression meets a need. Predictable/scheduled play times and providing attention when available is the THIS, excessive meowing/biting/scratching people is the NOT that!

Sometimes there isn't a "replacement behavior" you can safely reinforce, such as when a cat is trying to dart out the front door, which is located near a busy street. This is when Jackson uses a punishment procedure, i.e. a can that expels air when a cat approaches that area. The great thing about this? The canister is not held by a human, so the person does not become conditioned as a punisher in the process.

The variables that impact behavior are often complicated and when they are simplified for everyday consumption, much can be lost in translation.
 

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Research specific to cat behaviour, not behaviour in general is quite behind. It is only just starting to catch up.

After many many 8 + hour days of screaming, I'm not really surprised that ignoring a cat doesn't work. (Inc. eye contact as we were told that was rewarding the behaviour too)

If you think about it, the ignoring theory contradicts completely with the advice that a cat will go ahead and do what it wants when you ignore it anyway. Typical behaviour theories are done on dogs, people, monkeys and rats which are all different species. I agree more research is necessary, so at this time I don't think we should ignore the experiences people are having either.
 
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mxphs

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Hey all, thanks yet again for contributing to this thread. Every new post helps me with coping and improving my situation and really reiterates how wonderful this place is for cat owners to share their knowledge and support one another.

I did a vigorous play session with him this morning, he really liked it and appreciated it. Less meowing than usual yet again but he's way better on the weekends when i'm not at the comptuer working all day. Looking forward to seeing what it's going to be like tomorrow.
I'm thinking of incorporating 2 play sessions a day now, 1 in the morning before work and 1 at night both 1 hour or 40 mins long. I know that this is going to have to be the way (all of this, the meowing and harrassing) for the years to come in stronger and weaker bouts ebbing and flowing.

I just have to remember that the hard times actually do pass and he actually IS a really good cat a majority of the time. Always uses the litterbox correctly, doesn't destroy my furniture, great at the vet, has never messed up the house ever and is quiet throughout the night when im sleeping.

He's going through his teen years still, my hope is he really will be less dependent on me for entertainment when he gets older and will learn to play by himself. He's also a boy which means a higher play drive naturally. I'm defintely going to be continuing with the shooshing and hissing when he starts to get carried away with the meowing though and i'll update here for those interested
 

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I'm so glad that things are gradually improving in response to your efforts! Seeing improvement -- even in small amounts -- really can make a huge difference. I'm really happy for you two.

I realize that, sometimes, it also feels good to just vent without any recommendations/solutions rendered. I think this site can be used for that, as well!

As a single minimalist with no desire for kids, I used to make fun of my friends for adopting dogs. "They're so needy! What the heck do you want with a perpetual 'toddler'?" I'd advocate for them to get a cat or two, as my experience with them (way back when, knowing so little), was that they were so much easier.

Well, my Sasha, right now, is that 2-year-old. Holy needy! Despite numerous scheduled play-sessions, scavenger hunts, and copious attention, she's always vocalizing for something. Her independent leisure time, spent looking out the windows, occurs periodically, but briefly. And as soon as I get up? She's like, "What are you doing? That looks more interesting!" Sasha tires of toys quickly, and even our game of chase has to involve rotating 2-3 attachments. We don't stop until she's breathing as hard as a locomotive.

Just a few days ago, I closed the door to my bedroom for the first time to get some space away from her. Afterwards, I enjoyed a car ride for the same purpose. And, hey, Sasha handled both very well! Not seeing me "available" seems to help her relax on her own, similar to when I'm in the shower.

It also helps that she has does many of the positive things that your boy does. Sleeps through the night well, prefers to sleep in her own spots as opposed to my bed, doesn't engage in destructive behaviors, has never been aggressive towards me (aside from hissing during the first week), and is really coming along with clicker training. She goes in and out of her carrier on cue, and her first veterinarian appointment went smoothly! It really does help to focus on the good.

One last thing I'll add: This weekend, I introduced a couple of food puzzles to the equation, with really good effect. For a cat like Sasha, who vocalizes for everything, it was really hard for me to determine what she wanted. Was she hungry? Did she just want attention? Or play?

With this -- CATIT Senses 2.0 Food Tree Cat Feeder - Chewy.com -- I've now been able to always keep a little dry food out. If Sasha's hungry, she'll go over and work for it. This has eliminated vocalizing for the purpose of socially-mediated food access! And because it takes some effort to get, it helps enrich the environment, and she's not overeating, either.

So, in the AM, after her first meal and play session, when I'm on my computer (for work or play), I can more easily ignore her meows. They've been shorter -- as she's been going off to try for food or window shopping for birds for longer durations. Later on, when I'm available, I'll reinforce her meows with attention, as I know that's what she's likely looking for. Play sessions ONLY occur after her scheduled AM and PM food times.

Today has been the best day with Sasha thus far. I've relaxed home all day and enjoyed so much quieter, away-time, and chill, hang-on-the-couch-together moments than ever before.

Be sure to keep us all updated!
 
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mxphs

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Hey guys
Humphrey hasn't harrassed me at all today. This is the second day that he's somehow just gotten the point.
Didn't need to shoosh or hiss at him at all. Someone in my other thread mentioned maybe it has to do with not being fed enough. I think this might have some truth to it.

He seems to need to have some dry food available in his dish at all times for him to be at ease. I am mindful about how much he eats vs how much activity he does throughout the day (very little - none )
Will just need to keep the night time play time hour very consistent. But this is fine, i know this is his time to let loose some steam and i'm happy to do that because it isn't during work from home hours !
 

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I would suggest never giving treats or attention in response to nagging. Never, ever. That just teaches them that if they nag long enough they will get what they want. I finally learned that if I sat down in my chair to do something it helps to give my cat several minutes of undivided attention. Now, my cat does not like unlimited handling, so when I give her the attention she has usually lasted about 5 minutes, has her fill, and moves on to something else. Everybody is happy. If your cat can tolerate unlimited attention, this probably won't work for you.
 
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