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A little down due to lack of sleep and time for myself with a new kitten

Discussion in 'Cat Training and Behaviour' started by Ellie1010, Dec 9, 2020.


  1. Ellie1010

    Ellie1010 PetForums Newbie

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    Sorry for this very long post......
    I bought my tortoiseshell kitten in July 2020 having thought about getting one for nearly a year but wanting to read up on what was required and what she would need. I have also never owned a pet before so this was an entirely new experience for both of us,

    When I went to look at and collect the kitten, she looked tiny. Really tiny. I saw her near her mother and siblings from outside the owner's window and all of the kittens looked small, but she looked smaller. The seller insisted she was eight weeks old but as I drove her home, I just kept thinking she is so tiny. I pulled my car over enroute home, and texted the seller to ask if the kitten really was eight weeks old as I would be taking her to the vet in a couple of days time and they would confirm her age anyway. He insisted she was eight weeks old and dug his heels in to say she would be nine weeks old a few days later.

    I took her to the vet and they confirmed that she was about five weeks old. I was so upset and felt really awful about it. Since this time, I have made sure her needs come first. She has gone from 300 grams to nearly 2 kgs. She is up to date with her inoculations, worming, monthly flea treatments. I took out a Complete Care plan with the well known vet company and also took out pet insurance. I made sure she has the best kitten quality kitten food and litter and my house has become as my son calls it "an amusement park" for her - cat trees, hammock beds, radiator beds, kitten caves, covered boxes, scratching posts, etc.
    In the first four months of her life, I took her everywhere in the car. She has a mesh backpack pet carrier which I placed in a pet booster seat and realising that her scampering around the car whilst I was driving was not a good idea, I bought a kitten body harness to attach to her booster seat. The reason I took her out with me (which she actually liked as she loves looking out of the car window) was because I read that kittens should not be left alone - it is unfair unless you have another kitten for her to play with. So I'd take her out with kitten food and water in the car - puppy training pads in case she had an accident (which she never did) and her blankets. Only in the last month has she decided that going out is not for her. She is five months old now. I feel better leaving her at home to go to the supermarket now.

    I absolutely adore her. I would be deeply upset if anything happened to her which is why I am reluctant for her to become an outdoor cat, but I also feel a little down sometimes because I am so exhausted with very little time to myself. I am working from home which has become virtually impossible because she meows to play whenever she is awake and I do play with her a lot. I try to tire her out and she'll fall asleep for a couple of hours and then cry to play again.
    This is how my days goes. She will wake me up at 7.30am even if I have gone to bed at 3am (due to working). I will feed her fresh food and water, shower. We'll play until 9,30am when she will sleep for two hours and then she will awake, reject the newly opened food (that morning) - cry for new food. She will not eat stale food by which I mean food which has been in her bowl for two to three hours. The rest of the day is me trying to get work done whilst the kitten literally catnaps (she will only sleep in the room I am working in - she even wakes up and follows me to the bathroom when she hears me going up the stairs. So it's eat, play, sleep repeat throughout the entire day. She will cry if I don't play with her and try and focus on my work. She will try and jump on the computer keyboard when I try to work. It is just quite difficult.

    I am often opening three to four different pouches a day. In the beginning she was eating Wainwright's kitten food recommended by the vet. She ate this very well until she was about three months old, then refused to eat it. I moved to Hills, then Purina Nutrisavour, then James Well Beloved, then Applaws and I did this because from the very beginning she will eat the food and then a week or two later rebuff it. I also provide different bowls for wet and dry food and I keep the bowl separate and also well away from the cat litter. Today she decided she wanted to eat Iams and not James WellBeloved. I gave her half the pouch in the morning, and by the afternoon she did not want the other half which was re-sealed and not stale. I then had to open a tin of Cannagan which she ate half of. She is asleep now but when she wakes up in the next hour or so, she will want a different food and if I try to ignore her she will cry.

    A lot of the time I am shattered. Really tired. I thought about getting another cat/kitten which sounds counterintuitive but I wanted a friend for her and for her to become socialised to other cats. My arms, legs, back wrists and hands are shredded from her biting me. No, I do not encourage her to bite my hand or use my back as a springboard for jumping onto the fridge freezer. I have tried the yelping and the stern no. It really does not work. I will never let her go or re-home her. Never. But I am due to get her spayed in January 2021 and wondered whether this will calm her down a little. Or should I just get a second cat for her to play with?
     
    #1 Ellie1010, Dec 9, 2020
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2020
  2. chillminx

    chillminx PetForums VIP

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    Hello @Ellie1010 and welcome :)

    If your kitten was 5 weeks old when you got her in July then I assume she was born in May or early June and so is now 6 months old. This is quite late to have a female cat spayed, and I wonder whether some of her constant demands on you are because she has started coming into 'call', (heat) regularly as she will be sexually mature by now.

    Is she booked in for early January for her pay? I wouldn't leave it any longer than that.

    Behaviour that you would see while she is in call (in heat) would be rolling on the floor, standing with her bottom raised, crying a lot, climbing on you, rubbing against you, asking you for affection. If she is showing this kind of behaviour then having her spayed would certainly bring an end to it.

    But if she is a naturally lively kitten with loads of energy, who loves interactive play time with you, then spaying will make no difference to her. ,In that case what will calm her down is her growing up. This will happen all too soon...and by the time she is 9 or 10 months old I would expect her to spend less time racing around your home all day long.

    It is lovely that you have bonded with her so well and gave her the care she needed when she was separated from her mother far too young. Without your love, care, patience and encouragement I doubt she would have coped so well without her mum at such a young age. You acted as her substitute mother - which is brilliant!

    However she has become a bit too dependent on you and her behaviour is controlling your life and is impinging on your ability to have time for yourself. It also sounds as though she has become quite demanding about her food, and this may be another way that she exerts control over you. Cats can be very bossy with their owners sometimes. ;)

    The way to resolve this is to start giving her a little more independence. It will be healthy for her development to be a little less focused on you all the time.

    I am not suggesting you start letting her out wth the freedom to roam where she likes. For one thing she is quite young still, and for another if you live in an area that has roads and traffic, or neighbours who dislike cats in their gardens then it is best if she is not allowed out to wander where she pleases.

    The solution is some form of outdoor access that is safe for her. e.g. a cat-proofed garden or a cat enclosure. I have cat proofed my garden with special fencing and my youngest 2 cats have always been restricted to the garden, They are aged 7 now and love being out in the garden, especially in the warm weather. Knowing my girls are safe in the garden is a relief to me, though in fact I do live in a pretty safe area (a quiet cul de sac in a fairly rural location, not near a main road) and there are very few cats in the area.

    If I were you I would not consider getting another cat at this stage. Your kitten is very dependent on you and I think she would probably strongly resent another cat. She wants you all to herself. I think the priority is to loosen the "apron strings" in a kindly way, so your kitten has the opportunity to develop a bit of independence. I am sure she will then be less controlling of your behaviour, less demanding of your attention and less fussy about her food.

    Also, if you are wanting more time for yourself that is another sound reason for not getting a second cat. The more cats you have, the less time you'll have for yourself. Believe me it is true! Cats do not always want friendship from cats they share a home with, they may far prefer the company of their humans.

    You may be interested to look at the pinned thread on cat enclosures and cat proofed gardens. Quite a few forum members have these as you will see if you read through the thread.

    https://www.petforums.co.uk/threads/cat-runs-cat-proofed-gardens.211361/
     
    #2 chillminx, Dec 11, 2020
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2020
    Ellie1010 likes this.
  3. AnnabelLee

    AnnabelLee PetForums Newbie

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    Hi Ellie, you and I had remarkably similar experiences. A tiny kitten brought home that was meant to turn nine weeks very shortly, in my case the vet said five weeks was the absolute limit of how old she was.


    I too tried very hard to give Persephone everything she needed/wanted, playtime, food, etc. And the three-five month old period was *exhausting* because she wanted to play constantly, wanted to be cuddled, and so on. Eventually, you have to work out whether you want to live like that for years because that's what you're setting up ahead of yourself, and that your cat only knows the life you give them. In my case, my flat sale fell apart due to COVID three months after I got her, and I got caught up in the EWS1 issue all late summer, and have no idea when I can give her an enclosed garden (she has access to a balcony)


    One, I found she's slowed down significantly over the last couple months - she was spayed at 5.5 months - and that with routine and with expectations, she demands less. So if I have a routine of play first thing, at lunch time, at set time each day, she knows to expect that (and bugs me then) rather than all day. I also have her want to be with me at all times, my work desk is big enough in my spare room that I have a basket on half of it, and if she bugs me she gets picked up and put into her basket repeatedly until she either jumps off to find something to amuse herself with (she's very keen on paddling/splashing in her water fountain) or she'll settle down and knead her blanket and snooze, because I've shown I'm not going to give in and cuddle / play when I'm working.


    Sometimes, I've found, it's easier to just shut the bedroom door and go in and take time for myself. In this COVID world, you can't be as out as you would otherwise be as you build up their independence, so actually time apart is good for her for separation anxiety. So long as she knows what to expect, and you have a routine, and she's getting what she *needs* even if it might not be everything she *wants* then I've contented myself that she's a happy, healthy cat with enough toys to stock a pet store, and all's fine. I hope that provides you some reassurance that it's possible to get past this, even with a tiny kitten that you've mothered through the tiny stages.
     
    Ellie1010 likes this.
  4. LittleEms

    LittleEms PetForums Senior

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    Hi,
    I got two kittens a few months ago and I also didn't realise just how time consuming and life-taking-over they would be! Of course my two can and do amuse each other a fair amount through the day, but they are very demanding of me at certain points through the day. It is exhausting and sometimes frustrating so I sympathise.
    I think sometimes you will just have to shut her out of a room you are in for a bit and just take some time. I have to do it with mine occasionally and after a few minutes of scratching they wander off and either chase each other around or settle down and nap. It feels mean, but its not! If you don't have a proper routine yet re feeding and playing times, maybe try and create one, this has helped us greatly.

    Also if you can, take Chillminx's advice and set up some cat proof outdoor access. I am sure it will amuse her enough for you to catch your breath if you can make her something.
     
    Ellie1010 likes this.
  5. Helen Urie

    Helen Urie PetForums Member

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    I felt the same way with my first kitten, and he too was super picky with food. Often found myself putting a buffet out. Loved him to bits but I felt guilty when I left the house, etc. I did let him out for a short while but unfortunately a neighbour started feeding him and luring him away. This person could not be reasoned with and I made the decision to keep him indoors (& leash train him).

    Then someone who was a fellow cat owner said "happy owner, happy cat".

    You need to look after yourself. So put in earplugs and sleep. Its ok if your cat is hungry for a few hours. Play with her lots before bed, then feed her a high protein, low carb food before you plan to sleep. I would remove dry food overnight as it has a lot of carbs and could be responsible for the random burst of energy.

    If she tries to play with you in the middle of the night, you need to ignore her. It takes about two weeks for a cat to learn a routine. You will get there.

    But I totally understand your position, covid times are tough and I too have been working really long hours. Everything is harder when you are exhausted x
     
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  6. Helen Urie

    Helen Urie PetForums Member

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    Oh and like the above poster mentioned, I have a catproofed outdoor space for my two new kittens. Happy balance for us both.
     
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  7. Ellie1010

    Ellie1010 PetForums Newbie

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    Sincere apologies for the very late response. You would not believe me if I told you that this was the first time I have had to sit down and respond properly. I no longer even have the time to respond to emails in length this is how it is getting. So she was about 5 weeks old when I bought her in late July, so you are right she is about six months old. When I bought her she weighed about 300 grams - had constant diarrhoea - the vets prescribed prebiotics on a few occasions but now her weight has increased. The vet receptionist was the person who advised not to get her spayed until she weighed more and that was back in about November, then the earliest appointment they had was January 13th but I have managed to find another highly rated veterinary practice and she will now be spayed on the 5th January 2020. I will be happy when this happens because every night for the past few days, she cries to go out at night. She managed to slip out of the front door yesterday evening at 11pm and it took ages trying to coax her from underneath my car where she simply wanted to sit.

    In terms of being on heat - no she is not. I have spoken to vets and other people about this as I thought it would have happened by now, but was told it depends on the season and if any male cats are in the area. She is not "rolling on the floor, standing with her bottom raised, crying a lot or climbing on [me]", She rubs against me but has always done this and her desire to get out last night was because she likes to smell and sniff the grass and hide under my car which she has done on a few occasions even when younger. Generally, she is scared of outside and just wants to peek, observe, then run back into the house - aside from last night.

    Recently, I bought her some more toys - the feathers and furry things on the fishing rod - which worked for about a week until she looked at me with absolute amazement the other day when she realised I was the person holding and controlling the rod - rather than it being autonomous. For a while, this really worked as she was happily panting with excitement and tiredness, but the amusement seems to have worn off.

    I am hoping that the neutering will calm her down a bit. Over the past week she has stopped trying to wake my up in the early hours of the morning and just sits on the top of the wardrobe and watches me. Me trying to work is still an issue - alongside her fussiness over food. People have told me to give her one food and stick to it, but she really will not eat it after a week. She will simply not eat if you try and offer it to her. So in the morning she eats Iams chicken in gravy kitten food - about two thirds of a pouch.. By the afternoon, she is not interested in this food, so I have to give her another brand James Wellbeloved wet kitten food - turkey in gravy - and she eats about half a pouch of this. By the evening, she will not eat either of these, so I give her a can of Canagan wet food with prawns, duck, vegetables or salmon and she will eat the entire small tin. But she will not eat this food alone... or the other foods. She turns her nose up at dry food. I would love to just feed her Canagan but she is so funny about it all. When I first bought her the only food she would eat (this was through trial and error I realised this) was Purina Proplan Junior but she will not look at this now. I literally have about five or six different kitten foods in my house. The only thing she seems to have taken to throughout my cat ownership is the 100% puffed sweetcorn cat litter but even that was problematic in the beginning.

    I no longer take her out in the car with me and before she decided that she did not like it which was recently - she really liked it. I had a pet booster seat, a mesh backpack cat carrier and it was secured to the car seat, with her in a harness and a long leash so she was not constricted. I would tell her I was going out in the car and she would jump into the backpack carrier and I would take her to the car and she would contentedly look out of the window and often sleep after a while. I would bring her food, and a travel cat litter tray and water which she never used . But, I am glad that she decided she no longer wants to go out as she now runs off when I say "car".I have started to take her out for walks with just her in the backpack and she seems to like and be fascinated by the outdoors and the smells and noises. I go out by myself a great deal but the needing to play with her for hours is a constant - for her. Yesterday, for example, I was still in my nightclothes at 12pm - unshowered as when I woke up she cried to play. She is sleeping now - for a few hours which is unusual - hence me being able to write this response.
    Thank you all for your advice - it is much appreciated
     
    #7 Ellie1010, Dec 31, 2020
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2020
  8. Ellie1010

    Ellie1010 PetForums Newbie

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    Also excellent advice about cat proofing the garden! Thank you. and thank you so much for your responses in general - makes me feel not so alone.
     
  9. chillminx

    chillminx PetForums VIP

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    @Ellie1010 - what you say about a cat's sexual maturity, calling behaviour and most usual months for being in call (on heat) are broadly true, there are some exceptions, which I think it is worth being aware of.

    For example cats are 'induced-ovulators', i.e. the actual act of mating induces ovulation. Every time a queen copulates during her cycle, an egg travels to her uterus to meet the male cat’s sperm.

    With most entire female cats it's usually apparent by their behaviour when they are in call (on heat), but there are some cats who are "silent callers". if your kitten is a silent caller you would not know when she is in call/on heat.

    While it is the case most kittens are born in the months from March to October, it's not unknown for queens to have 'heats' between November and March. My 2 youngest rescued (female) cats had to have their spaying ops postponed until the age of 7 months due to both having health problems before then. One of my girls had her first call in the October that year and called every couple of weeks until she was spayed in January. The other kitten called for the first time in the November that year and called every 3 weeks until spayed in January. (I live in the UK, where hours of daylight are shortest in November and December).
     
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