Is my cat struggling to settle into new house?

Discussion in 'Cat Training and Behaviour' started by marko2002, May 19, 2015.


  1. marko2002

    marko2002 PetForums Newbie

    Joined:
    May 19, 2015
    Messages:
    6
    Likes Received:
    4
    Hi all, first post so be gentle :)

    We recently moved to a new home and took our 7 year old dog and 12 year old cat with us. In the old house the cat would normally be let out at night to go do what cats normally do at night but in the year or so before we moved she would regularly whine and cry underneath our windows and would result in us having to get up to let her back in. Sometimes we wouldn't bother if she didn't go out at night and instead just leave her to settle. Her age was a contributing factor to us trying to accommodate her needs and obviously the older she becomes the less likely she'll be interested in straying all night, or at least that what I assumed. However, we were in a bit of a no win situation, because if we didn't let her out at night she would cry and whine in the early hours of the morning, and if we did let her out at night she would cry and whine to get back in after only a short while.

    Our old house was an upper cottage flat meaning it had stairs as soon as you entered the front door so was particularly annoying to negotiate early in the morning to try and accommodate the cats in/out demands!. When we moved to our new house it was without stairs, something we were glad of and it meant it was much easier to just open the door in the good weather and let the cat come and go as she pleased.

    However, having been in the house a few months now, and after a seemingly easy first few weeks for the cat settling in it was to become a major problem. Now, during the day the cat sleeps somewhat easily but at 4am it's the beginning of a grinding wail that wakes everyone up in the house and if left would likely wake our new neighbours too, something I'm obviously keen to avoid. When I get up to see what's happening she prances around, sometimes even going back into the living room where she sleeps and when I try to clap my hands in an effort to shirk her outside (thinking this is what she wants) she will often run behind the couch and refuse to come back out. Returning to bed, it's not any longer than about half an hour and the situation repeats itself. She reappears with a droning whine and I get up to try and pop her out and she'll run away from me and hide again. I've even just opened the front door and left it open for 10 minutes to see if she would venture out and sometimes she does. However, half hour later she's doing the same droney whine that can't be ignored, so I have to get back up and open the door. Often, she'll just stand there whilst I ask her if she's coming in, and often she'll just turn around and walk away. I'm literally at my whits end with this and unless we can do something about it I'm afraid I'll probably have to part company with my cat as it's keeping me awake all night and I'm virtually useless during the day.

    Even right now as I type this, it's a relatively nice, sunny day here in Scotland, and I've left the door open for the cat to come and go as she pleases, and she's sitting on our path outside our house (about 6 foot from the front door) whining. She will often jump the fence into the neighbours garden too and again, just sit there whining. During the day it's not so difficult to ignore as there are other noises around, but during the early hours of the morning it seems to loud because it's quite.

    Any advice on how to go about starting to resolve this behaviour is greatly appreciated.
    Thanks in advance
    Marko
     
  2. Wiz201

    Wiz201 PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2012
    Messages:
    6,319
    Likes Received:
    802
    Do you have a cat flap installed? I'm wondering also whether she's got used to getting your attention and she's got you wrapped around her paw so to speak. I presume she's neutered otherwise this whining could be calling behaviour whilst in heat.
     
  3. marko2002

    marko2002 PetForums Newbie

    Joined:
    May 19, 2015
    Messages:
    6
    Likes Received:
    4
    Hey wiz, thanks for the reply, and no, no cat flap installed, and yes she was neutered many years ago. As for her becoming used to me responding, I'm not sure, because as I say, even with the door wide open to the world, she'll just whine anyway, seemingly for no reason whatsoever. She did this just 5 minutes ago and I looked outside and she's basically sat on the path in the sun almost nodding off so I can't really understand what is the cause of this behaviour. We didn't notice this excessive whining in our old house, she did it as I say but it seems to be a lot more frequent in the new house and it seems to be a lot more grinding on us too, probably because in the old house she did it for obvious reasons, i.e. to get in/out but in the new house if I get up to open the door she can often just run away so I can't put her out and if I manage to put her out she wails as if she want's back in again but then turns away when we do open the door!! ??. Puzzling !
     
  4. chillminx

    chillminx PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2010
    Messages:
    15,905
    Likes Received:
    8,498
    Hi Marko, welcome to Pet Forums:)

    It's possible your cat is trying to tell you something is bothering her. She is entering her senior years and is at the age where chronic health conditions can start developing (e.g. chronic kidney disease, hyperthyroidism, high blood pressure) and therefore I strongly recommend getting her health checked by the vet as soon as you can. All of these conditions can be managed successfully with medicines.

    The other possibility is that she is feeling quite insecure and unsettled after the house move and is still adjusting. Cats love routine and familiar surroundings (their own territory) and older cats in particular may not find it easy to adjust to major changes in their lives. Perhaps when she cries in the night she is not wanting to go out but wanting reassurance from you that she has not been abandoned in an unfamiliar place. Also bear in mind that as they get older cry cats often at night perhaps because they feel lonely when the house is quiet.

    I don't know if you've always provided a litter tray for her in the house, but if not, then now is the time to start doing so. At her age, if she has no cat flap provided, it is too much to expect her to hang on all night, and not providing a litter tray could lead to 'accidents' which would not be her fault at all.

    Nor should a cat aged 12 be shut outdoors at night, where she could get badly chilled if the weather is wet or cold (often the case in Scotland! ;) ) The best solution would be to install a microchip cat flap for her use in the daytime and then shut her indoors at night with a litter tray provided. If the cat flap is not possible for some reason then she needs a litter tray provided 24/7.

    Rather than allowing her to roam the house at night and disturb your sleep I would start settling her at bedtime in one room, e.g. the living room or kitchen, with all she needs for the night, e.g. cosy bed, preferably off the floor away from draughts, a dish of food for supper, her water bowl and a large litter tray. Perhaps leave a radio on playing soothing music. If the weather is cold have some heating on in the room all night (e.g. an oil filled radiator on a low setting). All these things will help her settle for the night and feel safe. However, as she has not been used to being contained in one room at night you may have to be very patient and persevere for several weeks to get her to accept this innovation. But it may be too late in life to get her to accept it anyway. Still worth a try though.

    What may help her to accept being contained in one room at night would be if you could sleep in the assigned room with her for a night or two. Perhaps this sounds like asking too much of you, but the fact is your cat has reached the age where she now needs a bit more love and care than she needed when she was younger. Like all of us, as we get older, she is no longer as resilient as she once was, and at that stage in life we all really appreciate a bit of extra kindness. :)
     
    Ang2 and Sacremist like this.
  5. marko2002

    marko2002 PetForums Newbie

    Joined:
    May 19, 2015
    Messages:
    6
    Likes Received:
    4
    chillminx, some great points well put. Just to answer some of the queries you raise ...

    That's something I will be arranging asap

    Very possible I guess but it confuses me why she seems to turn away from me or even hide when I do get up!

    Before we didn't, she was always an outdoor cat but as I say, in her senior years we've not pushed for her to be outdoor at night and since that started to happen we have always provided a litter tray which she does use. She has even used her litter tray THEN started whining.

    In the last year or so we've allowed her to stay in doors at night, and have provided a litter tray, but it doesn't seem to stop her wanting out, especially in the early hours of the morning.

    This is my fear - we love our cat dearly, and although we appreciate she has needs and her time of life is awkward for her, doing nothing will result in us being wore down, and tired to the point of distraction - I think she could be a little too long in the tooth to be rehomed, and unless we knew the person well we wouldn't want to rehome her, but if she can't settle and is unhappy, I'd hate the thought of her spending the last years of her life in some distress or discomfort!. I'll certainly try all the options and in the first instance consult a vet in case it is something which can be medicated :)

    Thanks again for the great advice
    Marko
     
    chillminx likes this.
  6. Sacremist

    Sacremist PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2011
    Messages:
    3,151
    Likes Received:
    1,254
    Have you considered the possibility that she's developing dementia? Constant whining can be a sign of dementia.
     
  7. marko2002

    marko2002 PetForums Newbie

    Joined:
    May 19, 2015
    Messages:
    6
    Likes Received:
    4
    Hopefully once we get her along to the vets this can be either confirmed or rules out :)
    Thanks for the heads up
    Marko
     
    Sacremist likes this.
  8. marko2002

    marko2002 PetForums Newbie

    Joined:
    May 19, 2015
    Messages:
    6
    Likes Received:
    4
    Hello everyone, and sorry for the length of time it has taken me to respond, i actually forgot all about this thread and only remembered I posted it after searching for the subject once again.

    It's been about two years now since we moved and unbelievably the cat is pretty much still the same!. We did have her to the vets shortly after my initial posts and she got a clean bill of health and the vet explained it could just be taking her a little longer than normal to settle and although i feel she isn't quite as bad as she was, we still have the issue of her whining for no obvious reason, pacing around the front door seemingly to want in or out again.

    We have placed a litter tray for her at the front door also but then she has soiled in our living room even with the litter tray present, then other times she will use the litter tray and it's always cleaned and fresh litter. Again, early hours of the morning she can start wailing, up and let her out then sits on the path wailing again, prancing around seeking something that we can't figure out, then she will use the garden to relieve herself or jump our fence and venture into neigbours gardens but she still prances and wails which we can't figure out.

    We have tried making beds for her besides radiators which she won't use, but instead chooses a corner to sit in or hogs the dogs bed for a while, other times she seems settled and content and we were advised to try disturbing her during the day if she does settle to try and ensure she sleeps at night but i felt this was a tad cruel and even giving it a go didn't have the desired result because she then seemed to kick off even more during the day and was still unsettled during the night. We did confine her to the kitchen for a few weeks, litter box, dry food, comfy bed and drinking water and although we didn't hear her wails she did soil the floor on more than one occasion even with the tray present. Leaving the door open a few nights meant we then heard her wails and cries which woke us and again, letting her out she wailed after a few minutes then refused to come back in which means we're having to tempt her back in with food only for the whole issue to start again!!.

    We are at the point now where we feel the only realistic option is rehoming her because we feel she just isn't happy here, we have a fence surrounding our small garden which she doesn't seem to want to jump to go further, but we have seen her do it, it's just she seems not to want to do it willingly. Instead she sits wailing and i cant help feel she seems restricted and closed in by it all, I've even seen me walk down the path and open the gate for her and she runs out but then ten minutes later she's outside the door again wailing and trying to let her back in is the usual run around.

    She is an older cat and it troubles me to rehome her but we have literally tried everything to pacify her and nothing seems to be working, we had thought of just keeping her because she is so old and the chances are she probably doesn't have much life left in her (although she is still fit and well, physically) but I don't know if we're being cruel by keeping her if she is unhappy , it's a real dilemma and if I knew she would be going somewhere open and where she could roam freely (if indeed this is what she wants) i would let her go but as i say, we've had her for many years and i don't really know if it's kinder to try and rehome her or keep her in the hope she's not as unhappy as she seems?!

    Any further comments or suggestions gratefully received :)
    Mark
     
  9. Charity

    Charity Endangered Species

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2013
    Messages:
    13,753
    Likes Received:
    19,762
    Did you discuss with your vet the possibility of her having dementia as was suggested? If this were the problem rehoming her wouldn't make any difference to her behaviour, in fact, she might become more distressed being in another strange place with different people. From what you say, she wails wherever she is, in or out, so this makes me lean towards this. If, in other respects, she is fit and healthy, then she could live for another 5-6 years. If she has freedom and can get into a neighbour's garden but chooses not to, makes me think space isn't actually an issue here. Are there other cats in the vicinity which she might be reacting to? I would speak to your vet again about possible senility as there are medications which can help with this.
     
    chillminx and Lurcherlad like this.
  10. chillminx

    chillminx PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2010
    Messages:
    15,905
    Likes Received:
    8,498
    Hello @marko2002, I am very sorry to hear things are no better with your cat.

    As you say, it's now 2 years since you moved house and your cat is aged 14, so she is now a senior cat. I am afraid I have to agree with Charity, it does sound as though your cat may be suffering from dementia. The fact she has not settled in the new house, wails constantly, is displaying symptoms of anxiety and confusion (from your description) are all very indicative of dementia. I had a senior cat years ago who had similar symptoms.

    I am afraid there is no way you could possibly re-home a cat with dementia, it would be an unkind thing to do to, even assuming anyone would adopt her (14 year old cats being very hard to place with adopters anyway). With dementia she would not have the ability to settle in to a new home or adapt to living with new humans and it would be a hugely stressful experience for her.

    I believe there are medicines which can help manage feline dementia. Certainly these days there are medicines or supplements that could calm your cat, help reduce the anxiety levels. She is a confused old lady, and needs as much help as she can get.

    Your cat needs to be contained in an area where she feels safe. I would not allow her to go outdoors any longer, as she could come to serious harm due to her judgment being impaired. I would choose an area of the house that is easiest to clean, perhaps the downstairs excluding anywhere with carpets or soft furnishings, and confine her to that with her food, water, litter trays, beds etc. At bedtime, settle her as best you can in one room with some tasty food, a radio playing classical music low, and close the door, then close your bedroom door.

    Provide as many open litter trays as you have room for (4 if possible) but bear in mind that your cat may still have 'accidents' where she doesn't use the tray. If she persists in using one spot, place a tray there. Clean any urine stains thoroughly with a stain remover such as Bio Tex which is very effective and also smells pleasant. Removing every trace of urine odour prevents the cat regarding the spot as her toilet and going back there repeatedly.

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Bio-Tex-St...e=UTF8&qid=1492775381&sr=1-4&keywords=bio+tex
     
  11. chillminx

    chillminx PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2010
    Messages:
    15,905
    Likes Received:
    8,498
    @marko2002 - I keep thinking about your cat today. Please let us know how things go?.
     
  12. marko2002

    marko2002 PetForums Newbie

    Joined:
    May 19, 2015
    Messages:
    6
    Likes Received:
    4
    Hi and thanks for the reply, I didn't mention dimentia specifically to the vet but he did explain because of her age she may just decide to be cranky, particularly after the house move but as far as I'm aware they took bloods and ran tests so I'm not sure if that would have been something they would have checked for specifically, otherwise they were satisfied there was nothing else going on with her health, but i can only go on what they tell me obviously.

    My thoughts now though are to take her along again and specifically ask regarding her mental state, if it is what we think then at least there may be an answer and hopefully a solution to the issue, as i say we assumed her clean bill of health included everything, but it's definitely worth checking again in case this was something that wasn't looked at previously. Obviously, i will update the thread once i have more info, hopefully next week :) thanks for all the concern and advice once again
    Mark
     
    Gallifreyangirl and chillminx like this.