Night time disruptive behaviour- any advice?

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Damiens mum
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Night time disruptive behaviour- any advice?

Post by Damiens mum » Wed Dec 03, 2014 1:14 pm

Hi All

I have an indoor neutered oriental male called Damien, he is 18 months old and last May my partner left us and since then I have been fighting one behavioural issue after another, from him biting me to being very loud.

His breed means he is loud sometimes but now that I am his only human he is alone a lot more and then only has me so there is less going on at home even when I am in.

I am trying everything, we play, he has enough food, I fuss him, he walks outside on a harness (I live in a flat) my parents pop over (he loves them). He rushes up to me the moment I get home and I have to cradle him in my arms and cuddle him, he purrs and pushes his head against mine, he is gorgeous.

We were at the stage where he would wake me at 2am or so and I would put him in the lounge with his food and bed etc and shut him in, then go to bed with earplugs as he would complain loudly for 10 mins before settling down and hearing him meow stresses me as I worry he is upset. His latest trick is to meow the moment I turn the light off and then stop me sleeping and I am reluctant to shut him away at bedtime as he spends 8am to 6pm on his own so it seems cruel to shut him away overnight too but I need sleep this can't go on and I can't even contemplate re homing him, it would be cruel and I love him, he has been through so much this year and we have got through it together and I can't abandon him like my partner did to us.

I have made sure he has food at bedtime, clean litter, his favourite blanket is nicely folded. I play with him lots all evening, I have a feliway plugged in. I don't know what more I can do, I am worried he is unhappy or anxious, but maybe he is bored? Does anyone have any suggestions on what I can try? I have read about squirting them with water but it sounds mean especially if something is wrong.

When my partner first left I spoke to the vet and she said that cats are very adaptable and he would re adjust and be fine, maybe he is still readjusting, but it mas now been 7 months.

Any advice or support would be appreciated, I want to get through this but its hard when you are exhausted.
Thanks
Sarah

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sarie
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Re: Night time disruptive behaviour- any advice?

Post by sarie » Wed Dec 03, 2014 1:41 pm

Hey Sarah, I'm really sorry to hear about your situation with Damien. I've always loved Orientals and wanted one myself but I avoided getting one because I'm out of the house all day on weekdays and I read that they're more like dogs in their personality and require a lot more human company than other breeds. I wonder if the change to more alone time could be a large reason as to why Damien has become more unsettled due to his need for company.

You're right, I certainly wouldn't squirt him with water to address behavioural issues. This is often suggested by people who are misinformed. Squirting with water is a good deterrant to stop a cat from doing something such as jumping up on a specific item of furniture or going somewhere they shouldn't but it must be done correctly (i.e. the cat must not see that you are the one squirting them) but it's absolutely not a good treatment for behavioural issues and will often make them worse.

RE leaving him alone in the day, you could perhaps look at leaving him a radio on for company and getting him some good interactive toys that don't require a human. It's a tough one as I leave mine all day too and I've never been sure what to do for the best however, in my case I have two cats so I have the comfort of knowing they at least have each other for company.
You can get DVDs for cats but given I'm out of the house so long I never wanted to go down that route as I don't want to leave my TV on all day, I guess they're good for people who're out for a few hours at a time but 10 hours seems too long!
There are a lot of good toys on the market for cats to amuse themselves and lots of articles online about how to keep indoor cats amused when they're left home alone. If you do a google search hopefully you'll get some inspiration.
I've put up some shelves on my walls to give them places to climb to, got them some indoor cat grass, got them treat dispenser balls and I occasionally hide treats and scatter catnip about the place. I also leave the radio on sometimes and I have a few toys I know they enjoy including a small ferret tunnel (they somehow fit inside it!) some hair ties, ping pong balls, scratchers and a cat-it play n' scratch that I sprinkle with catnip (they go nuts for it). Every cat has different preferences but these are the things mine like the most :)

Another possibility is another cat for company, but this is always a really tough one to suggest as sometimes it can be the right thing but in other cases it can make behavioural issues even worse. It's a tough one and something worth thinking long and hard about as it depends on your own personal circumstances and your own understanding of your cat and his personality and behaviours. If you do decide to consider this then make sure you do plenty of research on introductions before you do it so as to minimise your failure rate as there are right and wrong ways of doing introductions. The wrong way often results in cats/kittens being sent to rescues for reasons that could've been avoided with the right introductions.

Do you have any family nearby who could pop in to see him occasionally during the day when you're out? Even just for half an hour could make a difference.

Sorry I can't help more but I really hope you manage to work things out with him as it sounds like he's pretty stressed right now and obviously you are too as a result!

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Re: Night time disruptive behaviour- any advice?

Post by Willowgill » Wed Dec 03, 2014 9:17 pm

Hi Sarah - so sorry to hear your problems. I know how distressing this is as we went though it a lot with Maxie when we took him to our apartment on a weekend. He spent all night wandering around crying loudly and wouldn't settle at all so I got no sleep. Sadly he was old, blind and not well which is not the case with Damien. Have you actually let him have access to your bedroom during the night? Would he sleep with you? I know this isn't always the best solution but he's obviously missed you all day and might settle better if he was with you. What is he like on a weekend when you're home with him - does he still cause a problem on a night? Alone all day for a young active cat is quite a challenge so anything which will beat his boredom will help. A selection of toys with catnip in them, food hidden in different places, a water fountain for him to play with and vantage points he can sit and look out of the windows on might help. I know a second cat might be a temptation but it doesn't always work out and you might find yourself even more stressed trying to cope with fighting if they don't get on.

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Re: Night time disruptive behaviour- any advice?

Post by Damiens mum » Thu Dec 04, 2014 10:25 am

Hello

He is indeed very dog like, he plays fetch, comes when called and follows me round and "helps" (hinders) with everything from taking the washing out of the machine to the washing up and cooking, where he sits supervising me.

Thank you both for your advice, it just helps knowing there are people to talk to. The good news is that my mum stayed last night and Damien let me sleep all night, which confirms to me that he just needs more company. He woke me at 5.30 like normal and we had our cuddle and he trotted off to potter around the flat until getting up time.

My parents are local and my dad has offered to pop in more often in the day. I have one of those treat dispensing balls (when I can find where he rolled it to whilst getting the treats out) so I can make more effort with that. I am hoping the bird feeder I put up will soon attract birds and he does have a cat tree which he sits on to look out of the patio doors and I have plants for him to look at. He also has a row of shelves to jump up on and one by the ceiling in the corner with a blanket on so he can sleep up high- he also has access to the top of the kitchen cupboards (its an open plan lounge kitchen) so my plan is to get a few more shelves so he can navigate most of the room vial the shelves.

I think I will try your suggestions of indoor cat grass and the radio, and a colleague at work leaves a plug in night light on for one of her cats which stopped the cat crying at night.

He does have access to my bedroom, he used to sleep in a little bed in the room with us every night, but since my partner left he now prefers to sleep on an folded up sleeping bag in the back of the hall cupboard. I wish he would sleep in with me. He used to sometime curl up by my shoulder and sleep but he hasn't done that for a while either.

I will keep going, just having a good night sleep helps!
Thank you for listening.
Sarah

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Re: Night time disruptive behaviour- any advice?

Post by greenkitty » Thu Dec 04, 2014 11:39 am

It sounds like a case of over attachment/separation anxiety to me, he's obviously unsure of things now your ex has moved on and I'm not sure how you can solve it, you seem to be doing everything right! I wonder whether putting an old jumper or t-shirt in his current sleeping spot would help, if he has the comfort of your smell with him at night he may not feel the need to play up, just a thought!

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Re: Night time disruptive behaviour- any advice?

Post by Damiens mum » Fri Dec 05, 2014 1:20 pm

Update:

I tried the radio, he also had a visit from my dad in the day who bought him a radiator bed which he LOVES. Dad also found the cat bed heat pad they had spare and I put it in Damien's cat bed with a jumper of mine and put it in my bedroom to try to tempt him to sleep there, I don't think he did but he is such a nosey thing the bed and heat pad had been investigated and pulled it out of the bed. He did let me go to sleep!! he woke me at 1am loudly meowing so I put him in the lounge like usual, but I woke at 4am naturally and let him back out and he purred, sat on my chest and then went off to potter around before rushing back in when the alarm went off!

A success for now! Just being left to go to sleep by a contented cat is all I want. Fingers crossed for tonight.

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Re: Night time disruptive behaviour- any advice?

Post by sarie » Fri Dec 05, 2014 1:25 pm

Ahh that's a great update, I have everything crossed for you that you're onto a solution for him so he's more contented, it sounds positive :) !

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Re: Night time disruptive behaviour- any advice?

Post by AhmedUK » Fri Dec 05, 2014 6:41 pm

It's so good to see you are caring so much about him, a very lucky cat indeed.

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Re: Night time disruptive behaviour- any advice?

Post by KittyCatKate » Fri Dec 05, 2014 10:33 pm

We were at the stage where he would wake me at 2am or so and I would put him in the lounge with his food and bed etc and shut him in, then go to bed with earplugs as he would complain loudly for 10 mins before settling down and hearing him meow stresses me as I worry he is upset.
I would like to point out that you NEVER want to do things like this because it reinforces the behavior. He is getting rewarded for waking you up and you are letting him have his way. I know it sounds mean, but you don't want to spoil him like this because it will lead to him waking or wanting to wake you every single night.

Here is a post on anger issues : http://purrfectlove.net/2014/07/why-you ... ittle-cat/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
And feline depression : http://purrfectlove.net/2014/08/6-signs ... epression/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

They may help. Found them on Twitter.

Try not to stress out because your stress can stress him out.

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Re: Night time disruptive behaviour- any advice?

Post by Damiens mum » Sat Dec 06, 2014 2:53 pm

Hi, yes I appreciate what you are saying but I'm sure if you are familiar with how loud an oriental cat meow is and I need sleep to be able to function at work. When I do ignore him he will eventually go away but comes back 2 hours later and this repeats itself and I got to the end of my tether with tiredness. This is why the balance is quite hard to strike, its hard to know how to sort him out in the most successful and kind way and also be able to go to work. I don't speak to him or pick him up I just walk to the lounge and he races after me and I shut the door.

Good news though is that last night he didn't disturb me- I think he enjoys LBC on the radio!

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Re: Night time disruptive behaviour- any advice?

Post by Crewella » Sat Dec 06, 2014 7:21 pm

The best thing to do is set up a week two where you can plan to stick with the programme. Ignoring him really will work, but it will be a painful couple of weeks and you do need to be consistent. Each time you give in, you'll undo the good work of about 10 previous times that you stuck with it! It will be worth it for a much more peaceful future, though. Good luck!

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Re: Night time disruptive behaviour- any advice?

Post by Raggie mummy » Tue Dec 09, 2014 11:48 am

Hi

I was actually relieved to read your post, not that you are having issues of course but in that I am going through something similar with one of my cats and I am at a loss of what too do. I have 2x Ragdoll rescues housecats that I have had for around 4 years, they are both 5 and boys, one is a Raggie / tabbie mix - Sammy. He has always been 'sensitive' but probably this year is the most healthy and affectionate he has ever been, he has a good appetite, cuddles on the couch and likes to nap on my bed at night. They get on well - not BFF's but no major issues and are alone for most of the day as I work. They have access to my bedroom at night and we have play time in the morning before work and in the evening. Plus the last few months I have had feliway plug in.

My Raggie is an angel and sleeps through the night, the Raggie Mix Sammy is a nightmare - he's always been disruptive at night but the last month or so just won't sleep, he wakes up 3 or 4 times a night with loud meowing, lots of frantic scratching on my limo bathroom floor (he is neutered) and wandering crying. he won't use his tray unless I get out of bed and go into the bathroom with him, but he doesn't just cry when he needs the toilet. If I shut my bedroom door he is fine (or maybe I can't hear!) but then the other cat paws at the door to get in. Also as they are alone all day I am reluctant to keep them locked out.

If I am home during the day either working from home or weekends he never cry's, he has no blood in his urine and is rubbing his face on doors etc so cat happy.

After reading the other comments I have ordered a plug in nightlight incase its that, I'm sure its an attention thing but as you say its so loud, I'm slightly worried about my neighbours hearing him and I'm not getting any sleep at all.

Would anyone have any suggestions on anything else I can try ?

I absolutely adore him but I'm struggling with the lack of sleep !!

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Re: Night time disruptive behaviour- any advice?

Post by Damiens mum » Tue Dec 09, 2014 4:59 pm

Hello

I am having a much better time with Damien now, I put it down to a combo of more company (my dad has been popping by for an hour in the day when his shift pattern allows it), we got D a radiator mounted bed that he adores, I have been playing with him gently before bed in my bedroom, just using a dressing gown cord to get him to swat at it on the bed and then brushing him before switching out the lights. I have food for him in the bedroom, just a bowl of his normal Royal Canin, and putting some fresh wet food out when I go to bed- he is a grazer so won't overeat. I am trying to make him feel more welcome in my room as he stopped sleeping in there with me when my ex partner left us.

Raggie mummy- I completely understand how you are feeling and when you are being constantly woken up it is so hard and you worry that something is wrong so it is also hard to ignore them. I am finding it is working though, mine is a clever little b*gger so he catches on quite quick.

I had a revelation that the problems with Damien and sleep started when the clocks changed and suddenly I am getting home from work in the dark and I wonder if this was enough to upset D, especially after all the other upset and maybe your Sammy is also affected by this. I don't feel like I am in a position to offer advice as I am following what others have advised me but it is starting to work- last night he didn't meow once until 6.30am, I was astonished and had the best night sleep for weeks and weeks!

I would try a nightlight as a colleague at work has Burmese and one of them cries and wanders round and now they have a plug in light their cat is much calmer. I was going to get one but I don't know if I need to now.

I think the best thing has been getting support on this forum as I felt so alone and desperate but just being able to let it all out has helped me loads.

Sarah

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Re: Night time disruptive behaviour- any advice?

Post by Raggie mummy » Wed Dec 10, 2014 12:27 pm

Hi

Thanks for your reply.

That's a really good point with the clocks changing.

Hopefully the nightlight will arrive this week so at least he is not In darkness till I get home, I've ordered a radiator bed and will also get a radio ... at this rate he will have more belongings than me!

last night was bad - even my other cat wouldn't get of bed this am as we had so little sleep!

I'm glad you are seeing improvement - please keep me posted and I will update you too.

If anyone else also has any suggestions please let me know.

X

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Re: Night time disruptive behaviour- any advice?

Post by andrewh1973 » Thu Dec 11, 2014 8:03 pm

Damiens mum wrote:
Good news though is that last night he didn't disturb me- I think he enjoys LBC on the radio!
I'm also glad to hear you're seeing progress, my cat Arnie, just a "regular" moggy in relative terms, has similar issues in terms of being needy and demanding attention. But he too likes LBC at times and more so, he likes Classic FM - give that a go and see if it helps at all! Good luck and it's great he's got such a caring owner who tries so hard to help him!

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Re: Night time disruptive behaviour- any advice?

Post by Nettybags » Thu Dec 18, 2014 2:21 pm

I have enjoyed reading these posts as I never get more then three hours sleep a night as my cats doing everything from pulling my hair to fighting to get me out of bed .
I have a night light ,feliway plug ins , toys , food timers , food puzzles my house really is a cats house .
With Thomas it is pure attention seeking if we go out for a day I have to have a friend that cat sits or he vomits ...we always leave radio on . Luckily hubby works nights and I do days so he's only alone for a few hours a day .
My husband thinks they play me like a fiddle and as good as gold for him .. When they fight in front of him for him to get up and feed them he just says no way !! And they go to bed .
I know that I am to blame as I give in all the time , is it too late to break the habit ?


From the cat lover with bags under her eyes as big as suitcases !!

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Re: Night time disruptive behaviour- any advice?

Post by Damiens mum » Thu Dec 18, 2014 2:42 pm

Hello

Things are improving with Damien, he has all but stopped meowing the moment I switch the lights out but does occasionally meow in the middle of the night but thanks to the support and advice from everyone here I now have the will power to completely ignore him and miraculously he does eventually give up and goes off to sleep in his favourite spot in the cupboard. I haven't given in and shut him in the lounge to get some peace to sleep for about 2 weeks now and he and I are both happier.

One night this week he was frantically meowing after I switched the light off and I did get up because it sounded urgent and he seemed to need reassurance, I brushed him for a couple of mins whilst still in bed and he then went off happily and left me all night.

Nettybags- I don't think it is ever to late to break the habit as they are clever little things, give ignoring them a try, but I have found you need to be resolute. When Damo was bad, he was good as gold for my mum and then a nightmare the next night for me so I think it can be behaviour directed at one individual that they are particularly attached to. I don't think the radio or the plug in or anything makes as much difference as changing your responses to their behaviour. Also I read that they get bored of toys and puzzles if they are available all the time so try rotating them and see if they take more interest.

Sarah x

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Re: Night time disruptive behaviour- any advice?

Post by greenkitty » Thu Dec 18, 2014 3:09 pm

Sounds like you and Damien are happier now and he has accepted his new routine. I'm a light sleeper and have to shut my guys out of my room, one is a door scratcher so they're shut in downstairs now overnight, they've accepted this is how it is and we all sleep well :)

You must feel amazing after 2 weeks of good sleep!!

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Re: Night time disruptive behaviour- any advice?

Post by Nettybags » Thu Dec 18, 2014 3:16 pm

I think I'm going to use this Christmas holiday to try ignoring them of a night . They are the most wonderful cats so affectionate and loving but I think my lack of sleep is making me ill .
It sounds like you have had a great result with Damien
This is the best forum for us cat people ..
Thank you for taking time to reply x

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Re: Night time disruptive behaviour- any advice?

Post by psmithaitchison » Mon Jan 05, 2015 6:34 pm

Just posted about a similar issue, before I found this! (post is below)
I'm going through a similar thing and half way through the golden two weeks to change his behaviour. We are both exhausted but I've made myself ill, with anxiety, about him being out all the time, and not knowing where he is, so I figured it's worth a try :(
psmithaitchison wrote:Hello eveyone. My five year old male (neutered, chipped & vaccinated) cat has always been allowed to come in and out as he pleases ( no cat flap though) and we've been guilty of free feeding. i.e., re-filling his bowl whenever it's empty!)
We moved house to near quite a busy road, in February, plus there are building works going on, in our building, going on nearly a year, now. This has resulted in him going out before bed time, when it's quiet, and not wanting to come in again until it quietened down, the next evening. I'm worried about him being out all night, especially now it's colder so we've done some research and decided to implement a proper feeding schedule, to facilitate him going out in the evening,and coming in before bed time and then staying in all night. We're half way through the recommended two week programme of playing with him, feeding him and then letting him sleep but he STILL wakes about 3 / 4 am, wanting to go out. He'll use his tray if he needs the loo but he yowls and scratches the furniture for attention. We've had a week of sleepless nights and we're exhausted.
I just wondered if anyone had any successful stories of similar situations, or advice. We're totally ignoring his night-time scratching and miaowing but I'm just not sure it's going to get us anywhere :(
We've also checked and he has no underlying health issues, so it's purely behavioural.
r

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Re: Night time disruptive behaviour- any advice?

Post by Damiens mum » Thu Jan 08, 2015 5:15 pm

Hi All

After the Christmas break and me being around a lot for 1.5 weeks I have now gone back to work and Damien is a nightmare at night again.

It is clearly because he is attention starved and got used to me being home.

The trouble is ignoring him disrupting me at night is no longer an option because his new trick is to purr loudly and bite me- he always did this when he was over excited but now he has discovered that this gets instant attention he is using it as a night time trick. I can't ignore him because it hurts and he starts kind of gently and gets firmer and I have a good few scratches on my arms from his teeth- not full on bites but its still hurts. He won't sleep in my bedroom and seems like a lost soul, it is breaking my heart.

So now I am stuck in a catch 22 as I can't ignore him, so I end up shutting him in the lounge at night so this makes it all worse because then he has less attention.

I am so angry at my ex for leaving and doing this to Damien and I, Damien was so happy with 2 humans in his life.

The things I have tried just don't make a difference when he all he wants is love and attention.
I have called the vet to get some advice and they are going to call me back.
My dad reckons another cat will help but I think it could be a complete disaster in a 2 bed flat and I can't afford another one to be honest with my mortgage. Although Damien loves my mums cat on the few occasions he has boarded at their house when I am on holiday it is different to having another cat. Another cat would also need to be a house cat- it is fraught with difficulties.

I am wondering if there is any prescription medicine he can take to relax him and make him feel happier, does anyone have any experience of this?

He is good as gold when I am up it is only at bedtime and overnight.

I am feeling very stressed again now.
Sarah

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Re: Night time disruptive behaviour- any advice?

Post by greenkitty » Fri Jan 09, 2015 9:46 am

Have you tried Feliway or Pet Remedy plug in diffusers or the Zylkene capsules which can be sprinkled on his food? There are also the Bach Flower Remedies which I have used with some success.

Cat Chat also has a behaviourist, she might be able to help with some suggestions and she might also be able to suggest which Bach remedies to use..

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