Sunday, August 24, 2008

Feline groovy

Our cat, she is crazy. Seriously, she is out of her tiny mind. Well, that's assuming she had a mind to begin with. Ever since we brought her home from the shelter as a wee kitten, she's been nuts. Mostly in an entertaining, lovable sort of way, but not entirely.

Some of her less endearing behaviors include:
  • Refusing to drink any water that isn't running from a sink faucet. Preferably one of the upstairs bathroom sink faucets. This includes refusing to drink from the $60 fountain cat water bowl (with filters even) that we bought for her. She will refuse to drink water to the point of actually being dehydrated, even with a clean bowl of fresh water available to her. Also, the water must flow from the faucet at a certain rate of drip - not too fast or slowly. (Yes, we leave that upstairs tap dripping for significant chunks of time, despite the damage to our water bill and the environment for that whole wasting water thing.)
  • Peeping. This is the term we've coined for her incessant meowing. Well, not really incessant, but at odd hours of the day and night, enough to be very irritating. It never is because she needs anything other than company or entertainment, it is because she wants a chat or someone to wake up and pet her in the middle of the night. She meows really, really loudly, insistently and lengthily when she is peeping. In the middle of the night, I can eventually convince her to settle down next to me in bed and trade peeping for purring, which is obviously much preferred for being more conducive to sleep.
  • Impersonating the Tasmanian Devil (or as it's known in our house, "speed bullet train kitty"). She will tear around at breakneck speed, sprinting up and down the stairs, leaping onto and off of furniture and generally going nuts. This tends to happen in briefer spurts and is often a result of her deciding that her tail is out to get her, so she tries to outrun it. (She attacks it as well, and we know how well that works, don't we, cat owners? The tail always wins!)
  • Expressing her displeasure by peeing on our bed. That's right, I said peeing on our bed. This happens infrequently, but really, once is too frequently for anyone to discover a drying puddle of cat urine under the comforter, isn't it? She never pees anywhere else, other than her litter box, of course. This seems to happen for one of two reasons: when she feels her litter box isn't clean enough (so yes, we make a highly concerted effort to keep it sparkling fresh at all times) and when Kiddo has, in the cat's opinion, been annoying. Try as we might to keep Kiddo from bothering the cat, what the cat views as "bothering" is usually just the kiddo's attempts to play with her. It's just that our cat has never really been fond of Kiddo from the moment we brought her home from the hospital. (The cat is one year older than the kid, and therefore predates the kiddo as a member of the family by a year.)
She has other quirks, as well, like a fondness for water that is unseemly in a feline (she's been known to get into the tub while one of her humans are bathing or showering) and an insistence upon barfing up hairballs in the weirdest places, instead of on the linoleum where it is easily cleanable. (Okay, that last one may not be so much of a quirk as random chance - when one has to gack up a hairball, one has to gack wherever one is, be that curled up on the back of the couch or under the bed. I guess that one is more wishful thinking on my part...) She also has an obsession with being ON things: for example, if there is one tiny item, say a sock, on top of the bed, she will curl up on top of the sock, or if there is a piece of paper on the floor, she'll curl up on that. She also likes to be up high - some of her favorite spots (besides her bed on top of Hubby's tall dresser) include the top of one of the bookcases in the living room and on top of the kitchen cabinets. Now, our cat is healthy, spayed, active, kept entertained, well taken care of and none of her behaviors are anything related to ill treatment (unless you count the Kiddo's mere presence in the house as treating the cat badly), and other than the peeing on the bed thing, her irritating behaviors really aren't intolerable. That isn't to say that we wouldn't really enjoy some behavior modification, mind you...

And behavior modification is what I wanted to tell you about now. It seems (knock wood) that we have found something that calms the Crazy Cat down, drastically lessens the peeping and Taz-like behaviors and even lessens her insistence on dripping-from-the-faucet water. What miracle have we discovered? A little product called Feliway. Feliway is a synthetic cat pheromone, dispersed either via spray bottle or diffuser. It is veterinarian-recommended and purports to lessen undesirable behaviors (like peeing outside the litter box) with a high success rate. The pheromones it simulates are the "happy" ones, the ones that calm a kitty down. With our upcoming vacation (which will be the longest we've ever been away from Crazy Cat, though we have a cat sitter so it isn't like she'll be home alone, just not with us) and the fact that Kiddo isn't going anywhere anytime for at least another 13 or so years, I finally convinced Hubby that we ought to give the Feliway a try. (Hubby was a bit reluctant as this stuff is rather pricy.) I found the diffuser at a significant discount on Amazon and we ordered it. Our cat is one who gets a big reaction from catnip (or "kitty crack" as we call it where Crazy Cat is concerned) so I thought perhaps with her sensitivity to catnip, she'd be more predisposed to react well to the pheromones.

Well, it arrived last week and we promptly plugged it in up in our bedroom. (One diffuser covers a 600 square foot area.) Crazy Cat's bed is on top of Hubby's dresser, and we put the diffuser in the outlet right next to the dresser. It has only been a few days, but already we're noticing a marked change in the levels of feline crazy. She is much calmer, hasn't peeped in the middle of the night, instead choosing to skip the yowling and go right to the snuggling next to me and purring, and she didn't even freak out last night when the faucet was accidentally shut off (my bad - I was getting myself some water around 1am and wasn't awake enough to realize I'd closed the tap all the way). She even is much friendlier towards Kiddo - since we plugged the Feliway diffuser in, she's only hissed at Kiddo once, as opposed to "every time the kiddo walks within 2 feet of the cat" as before.

So, is Feliway the magical cure to our cat's insanity? I guess time will tell, but Hubby and I are pretty darn convinced! Woot!


Veggie Mom said...

Enjoyed reading about your Feline Feelings. We've got 2 kitties. One is 13, and acts her age; the other is 5, and still acts like a kitten. When the 2 of them get going, especially when the youngest picks on the oldest, it's pretty funny to watch! The little one, because she's black and white, is named Pepper; we also call her "Peeper" because of the funny little meows she makes.

Aubrey said...

Wow! Sounds like the magical cure. I hadn't heard of that before. When our cat is "peeping" (which is usually at 3 a.m.) it is because we forgot to fill his cat food before going to bed. If I ever start running into problems though, I know what I'm doing!!

Tara@From Dawn Till Rusk said...

Kids and cats aren't the best combination. My daughter treats our poor cat Lily like her own personal walking mewing toy. She sits stroking her gently and cooing soft words then suddenly turns and growls at her like a tiger and using her back like a drum.

Crazy Sister said...

I had no idea that cats could be like that. Or that you could drug them with such marvellous results!