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Tips and Tricks for Managing High Prey Drive

SirenSong

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Hey guys. As I've been going through a lengthy reintroduction process with my cats, I feel I have noticed a real pattern.

I only let them both out together when I am around to supervise. I have noticed that, as long as they're both calm, neither has a problem with the other. They pass each other in the hallway (a little warily, but nothing crazy), they can go about their business as usual ... sometimes, one or the other gets the zoomies and will just take off running up and down the whole house. This doesn't always instigate anything, but Journey may go full hunter mode. The thing is, it doesn't look like "attack mode" as much as it looks like she wants to play. The problem is, Belle really doesn't appreciate the type of chase/pounce play that Journey seems to want to instigate. It has happened a couple times where Journey and/or Belle will get the zoomies. They'll both run around like crazy (not chasing each other ... just both jumping and running) and if they get too close, Belle gets scared and might arch her back/hiss. This has only ever happened twice and both times, Journey backed off right away. It was very obvious Belle was saying that's enough, I'm done playing now.

That being said, sometimes Journey thinks it's really fun to stalk Belle. Belle will be just minding her own business and I will watch Journey as she goes full slink mode. She'll go hide behind something and tamp her feet and wiggle her butt like she is getting ready to pounce ... I always intervene before Journey gets a chance to do anything but I'm realizing that most of Journey's behaviour seems more like poor socialization and inability to play appropriately (even though she grew up surrounded by other cats). If that's the case, my focus should be more on draining Journey's energy and satisfying her prey drive more than anything else. I have toys and I play with her as much as I can, but I feel like I need more for her. I need her to feel like she doesn't need to "hunt" any more because Belle doesn't think hide and pounce is a fun game. I've heard of people having fake aquariums or leaving fish videos on the tv for their cats to "hunt" on their own.

I have "da' bird" and I have lots of bouncy balls and stuffed mice and balls etc ... but what else do you recommend for draining the energy of an animal with a high prey drive and who tries to instigate "inappropriate" play? I really feel that keeping Journey's hunting desires satisfied will go a long way towards keeping peace in the house in the long run. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!
 

FeebysOwner

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There are 'kicker' toys that are about the size of a 'cat body pillow', used for cats to attack as if they were prey. If you are around enough when Journey is beginning her 'stalk Belle' mode, you could gently toss a kicker toy in between the two and see if Journey would re-direct her attention to it instead of Belle. Many have pockets to place cat-nip in, if Journey would like that. Here is just one example:


1571677224699.png
 
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amethyst

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It sounds like you have two cat of with different play styles and energy levels. You can try making a obstacle course/race track through your house, basically set up tunnels, cat trees, boxes, etc, and then have her chase a toy (like da bird or other wand toy) that you drag through it. That does require you to also physically run through your house too though. Other thoughts in addition to what you already have are, ball and track toys, toy car tracks (like matchbox cars or remote control cars), also puzzle box toys with treats or toys inside that they have to fish out with their paws, kicker toys that they kick and pounce on, that's about all I can think of off hand.
 

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I had this problem! Whenever Dante (R.I.P.) got bored he would jump on my other cat & bite him right between his shoulder blades! The only thing that calmed my hyper punk down was outside time ‘hunting’ birds. When Dante didn’t get his outside time he would start hunting his brother 🙄

With my current hyper punk Jackie he gets 1-3 hours outside in his harness every day. His brother (black) & sister love being outside every day to! Since I know how to handle Jackie’s hyperness with outside time a couple play sessions every day, I view him as an angel!

Dante in his ‘bird blind’ : 0AE8E405-5378-48AE-AC8C-B170AB52A255.jpeg
 

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SirenSong

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All great suggestions. Thank you!

It does seem that I am able to distract Journey when she's in "pounce/hunt" mode. I successfully distracted her with Da' bird a few times. A little RC car would actually be great! I'll have to try that. She really does love to play and gets herself all riled up. I have tried taking Journey outside on a harness a couple of times but she is NOT receptive to it. She gets really scared.

Belle is definitely much more chill than Journey and her play drive is much lower, but she has been playing a lot more lately than she used to. Still not nearly to Journey's level though. I am hoping to find a way to get Journey to play throughout the day, even when I'm not home, so if anyone has any suggestions or recommendations for toys that maybe move on their own or can be put on a timer ... I'm not sure if anything like that exists but it seems like Journey's energy requires more than the 15-20 minutes of da' bird time that I'm usually able to give.
 

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If you can I would do one of those window cations or securely install a cat proof screen in one window (or better yet pay a professional to instal one.) Then you can let them see/smell outside through the window, hangs couple of bird feeders & bird bath in view of the window. That way Journey can explore at her own pace.

I swear by kitty holster harness for ease of putting on/cat’s comfort. First you get them used to wearing the harness (give treats while they are in the harness &/or a treat when you remove the harness.) Then get them used to grabbing a leash around inside. (I recommend a long leash, Jackie has a 26ft lead. My mom bough nylon rope .... about 20ft with a metal clip from the hardware store.) Lastly you sit right outside the door and let Journey explore the door at her own pace (just look at your cell.) If you want to ‘walk’ Journey just follow your kitty around, walking a few feet behind them. I’m lazy so I just clip Jackie’s leash to a patio chair & untangle him as needed (the clever jerk has learned I come running if he meows.) Also as your other cat Belle explores the back yard confidently Journey will gain confidence outside.

What reassured all 3 teen kitties when I harness trained them was leaving the sliding glass door open so they can run back to safety whenever they wanted. For my kitty Jackie (one of the 3) I leave my sliding glass door open when we go outside. When I walk him inside my apartment building hallways (on my floor) I leave my front door propped open. Jackie knows he can always run home (though he does get impatient while waiting me to unlock my door after a car ride.) Praising him when he goes to unfamiliar places and letting people from my building give him treats helps him to not be afraid.
 
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SirenSong

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LOL Danteshuman. I was so confused for a minute because here, it's pretty well winter already and certainly too cold to be able to count on being able to gallivant outside ... but you're from California, so now it makes sense. I'm in Calgary ... it's cold here in October! I think my heating bill automatically went up when I thought about a catio just now ... 🤣

That being said, I have gone through the whole harness training gambit with Journey. She will walk on the harness and wear the harness and be on a leash inside with no problem. I have left her with access to outside (with the harness) for hours at a time and she just won't go near the door. I definitely can't rely on outside time to drain her energy. I need something that I can do with her inside that is engaging enough for her to do for extended periods of time by herself to drain her own energy while I'm working. Da' bird is fun for all of 5-10 minutes, then she gets tired of it. She will chase a laser pointer for about the same amount of time before getting bored.

Has anyone tried the MouseR?

 

danteshuman

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Rotating interactive toys, puzzle feeders & hiding treats or toy around the place. I think a bird watching window with a bed or cat tree by the window so they can look out (open the window during warm weather days.) Journey can still watch the birds.

The heat is a pain. It is 90F here today and on hot days I have to take Jackie out at 6-7am!
 
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SirenSong

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They do both have cat trees to watch the birds in the trees out the window. It's definitely not enough for Journey. She needs real, active, running her brains out, play time. I will try a puzzle feeder but I'm afraid the only treats Journey would actually think to sniff out would be too smelly to hide around the house. She's not really food motivated because that would make my life far too easy lol.

I will try a puzzle feeder but I really don't want to be leaving cat food/treats around the house that I don't think she'll eat.

1571774344573.png


hahaha
 

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A favorite in my house when I can't play (like while I'm cooking dinner). I take a small motorized cat toy that runs on watch batteries (similar to a hexbug). I cover the living room floor with sheets of newspaper and let the toy run loose under the paper. The cats love it. They hunt it down, shred the paper, make a mess...but they have a great time and it's easy cleanup. Bonus that l can be in the kitchen with no kitties underfoot while I'm cooking.:)
 
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SirenSong

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A favorite in my house when I can't play (like while I'm cooking dinner). I take a small motorized cat toy that runs on watch batteries (similar to a hexbug). I cover the living room floor with sheets of newspaper and let the toy run loose under the paper. The cats love it. They hunt it down, shred the paper, make a mess...but they have a great time and it's easy cleanup. Bonus that l can be in the kitchen with no kitties underfoot while I'm cooking.:)
Genius! I'll have to try it ... although I don't get news papers ... I'll have to stop and get some of the free ones. I did find out yesterday that Journey will absolutely run all the way up and down the hallway across the length of my house to get Da'bird so we had a nice 20 minute play session yesterday. She was breathing hard afterwards so I think I managed to tire her out.

One thing I noticed, Belle is still very wary of Journey. Even if Journey is 100% focused on a toy and playing, if she runs too close to Belle, Belle will swat and hiss. Never anything more and they always both recover almost immediately. Journey continues playing and Belle just walks away but still. Something to watch for I suppose. I have been managing to play with both of them in the room. I think Belle just needs some more time to realize that she's not being targeted anymore.
 

BelovedMania

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Hey guys. As I've been going through a lengthy reintroduction process with my cats, I feel I have noticed a real pattern.

I only let them both out together when I am around to supervise. I have noticed that, as long as they're both calm, neither has a problem with the other. They pass each other in the hallway (a little warily, but nothing crazy), they can go about their business as usual ... sometimes, one or the other gets the zoomies and will just take off running up and down the whole house. This doesn't always instigate anything, but Journey may go full hunter mode. The thing is, it doesn't look like "attack mode" as much as it looks like she wants to play. The problem is, Belle really doesn't appreciate the type of chase/pounce play that Journey seems to want to instigate. It has happened a couple times where Journey and/or Belle will get the zoomies. They'll both run around like crazy (not chasing each other ... just both jumping and running) and if they get too close, Belle gets scared and might arch her back/hiss. This has only ever happened twice and both times, Journey backed off right away. It was very obvious Belle was saying that's enough, I'm done playing now.

That being said, sometimes Journey thinks it's really fun to stalk Belle. Belle will be just minding her own business and I will watch Journey as she goes full slink mode. She'll go hide behind something and tamp her feet and wiggle her butt like she is getting ready to pounce ... I always intervene before Journey gets a chance to do anything but I'm realizing that most of Journey's behaviour seems more like poor socialization and inability to play appropriately (even though she grew up surrounded by other cats). If that's the case, my focus should be more on draining Journey's energy and satisfying her prey drive more than anything else. I have toys and I play with her as much as I can, but I feel like I need more for her. I need her to feel like she doesn't need to "hunt" any more because Belle doesn't think hide and pounce is a fun game. I've heard of people having fake aquariums or leaving fish videos on the tv for their cats to "hunt" on their own.

I have "da' bird" and I have lots of bouncy balls and stuffed mice and balls etc ... but what else do you recommend for draining the energy of an animal with a high prey drive and who tries to instigate "inappropriate" play? I really feel that keeping Journey's hunting desires satisfied will go a long way towards keeping peace in the house in the long run. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!
I have a similar situation with 4 cats in the house. The female siamese loves playing with wand toys, loves cuddling and grooming with the others, but is NOT into playing physically with the others. The boys usually try to play with the girls, and the girls tell them no way. Eventually, they'll growl, hiss, or lightly bat and after a few tries, the boys get the hint and give up and play with each other. It has never turned into a full blown fight with hair up, fur flying, blood, or getting real loud...but still, I feel for both sides. When I see it start, I'll pick up one of the cats, pet them and move them...and then I'll bring out one or two wand toys to expend their energy. Problem solved. One other toy Ive had lots of luck with is this big orange plastic thing with 3 tracks on it. Each track has a ball, and the boys LOVE smacking those around.
Ive heard good things about those little battery powered mice, but id check the toy after each use and put it away when you arent there to monitor ONLY because it does have batteries in it.
I wish you much luck! If you find another solution, please let me know. Ever since I started feeding more raw, I've noticed an uptick in their energy. I also wont get a 5th cat because I know itd tip the scales too much and cause some major issues.

:)
 
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SirenSong

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I've been making an extra effort to make sure I play with Journey lots and it really seems to help. There's even been a couple instances where Belle seems to want to join in! She's still a little tentative but she will often have a couple zoomie runs while Journey is playing and Journey stays focused on the toy. We've come a LONG way from two cats who couldn't even really be in the same room comfortably, and now they're comfortably playing in the same room.

I am SO happy I decided to give them another shot at getting along. We aren't where I want to be YET, but we are closer than we've ever been :woohoo:
 

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