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Creating Positive Interactions

Posted: Wed Jun 08, 2016 1:08 pm
by LittlePenBigHeart
Our kittens are 4 months old. Our cat is 4 years old.

The cat has always been a sweet, affectionate, adorable girl, who loves to be picked up and held. She loves to play and headbut me, and she would sit at my desk, rolling all over my work in order to elicit attention. She was very bonded to me.

We've had the kittens 6 weeks now and our cat has changed completely. She's rarely affectionate with me and snarls at hisses whenever I try to pick her up. She's incredibly stand off-ish with me. She'll barely come to me for attention, the way she used to. She has little interest in playing. She doesn't wait outside the bedroom for me to get up any more. She's distant and aggressive and I don't know what to do about it!

My husband keeps telling me it'll calm down and she'll get better but she's getting worse and it's breaking my heart because it means she's not happy or relaxed in her own home. I adore my kittens but I'm wracked with guilt for doing this to her.

Can anyone recommend something that will help her to adjust? A way that I can help them all get along better and make her happier? All suggestions are welcome!

P.S - they already eat together perfectly well at mealtimes.

Re: Creating Positive Interactions

Posted: Wed Jun 08, 2016 1:50 pm
by Jacks
Hello there - this is a very strange situation. If they are already eating together fine, it would seem your girl is not actively scared of them or aggressive towards the kittens. Normally if a cat really takes against newcomers they will make that perfectly plain in the proximity of the newcomer/s - either through fear signals or aggression- or a mixture of both.

I can understand her being a bit aloof that you've added other cats when she was perfectly happy on her own - it is a big adjustment - but I can't imagine why she should be snarling and hissing at you in particular. I wonder whether you smell like the kittens? I know scent swapping is a popular way to introduce new cats, but something is upsetting her when you go to touch her. Is there anything else you've changed recently? Some of mine can't stand certain hand creams and will run a mile if I try to pet them when they'd usually be fine.

I would try Feliway plug in, if you haven't already, but hopefully someone else will have come across this.

If she's just sulking then it's likely to improve with time, if you act normal. Her reaction sounds so extreme I would worry that there was something else wrong with her, or something else had changed related to you, or that she's picking up on your feelings and anxieties and it's making her touchy as well. Of course there might be other aspects which you haven't mentioned - so a bit of detective work might be needed to analyse what has been going on for her.

Hope some others have ideas.

Re: Creating Positive Interactions

Posted: Wed Jun 08, 2016 2:10 pm
by LittlePenBigHeart
Thanks so much.

She really doesn't like the boy kitten, although she'll play a little with the girl. She swipes him repeatedly around the face on random occasions! She does it when he intrudes into her 'space' as well but sometimes she'll just go up to him, bat him round the face (no claws) 4 or 5 times, then walk off again. Poor little boy!! Although he doesn't seem phased by it at all, weirdly. She DOES snarl a bit at my husband as well, but she seems fine in herself.

I think you're right about the scent thing. We've been doing scent-swapping since before we introduced them to each other but she sniffs my hand, then rears back, as though she dislikes the smell. Since the kittens are rather like my shadow at the moment, I DO smell of them quite a lot.

Very occasionally, she'll be fine with me. She'll follow me into the loo and behave like herself again. She sits on the sink while I'm on the loo, headbutting me, then walks her front paws up the mirror over the sink while I wash my hands so she can headbut me. It's just that these days it really is only occasional. I'd say three or four times in the last 5 weeks.

It's weird though. Sometimes she seems pretty relaxed. She'll flop on the lounge floor, on her side, and doze a little. She seems fine. But then one of the kittens sniffs at her, she freaks out, hisses, lashes out and runs away! Sad, sad kitty!

Re: Creating Positive Interactions

Posted: Wed Jun 08, 2016 2:25 pm
by Kay
Could you shut the youngsters in another room for an hour each evening, and give your girl your undivided attention? Perhaps first change into some clothing you know doesn't smell of the kittens?

I really think she needs, at the moment, to be sure for a little while that she won't find her space invaded, or her fuss time interrupted and that isn' t going to happen if you don't arrange it

Re: Creating Positive Interactions

Posted: Wed Jun 08, 2016 3:26 pm
by Jacks
Good suggestion, Kay - and definitely the clothes change and hand wash!

Just another thought - although he's young yet the boy will need neutering and the girl spaying, of course. Cats can start reproducing very young. The boy will start to smell like a 'Tom' and your older neutered girl will HATE it. I recently took in an unneutered Tom (he was neutered the next day) and for the first 11 or so days he was really 'smelly' and the girls all hated him. Now he's turned back into a playful kitten and although they don't necessarily want to play with him they're so much more relaxed now and have accepted him into the family. It's taken just under 3 months for them to settle down.

Re: Creating Positive Interactions

Posted: Thu Jun 09, 2016 2:51 pm
by LittlePenBigHeart
Thanks Kay and Jacks.

And don't worry, they were spayed and neutered on 23rd May. Aside from the obvious risk of ending up with a new litter, we figured that the lack of spaying and neutering might cause a problem. Shame, really. It would have been so much easier if that had fixed things!!!

Will try shutting the kittens in a different part of the house for an hour each night. Got to be worth a try! Thanks. :D