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Is my kitty feeling left out?

Discussion in 'Cat Training and Behaviour' started by SezM, Feb 20, 2019.


  1. SezM

    SezM PetForums Member

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    I hope that someone is able to help or offer some advice as I’m feeling a little bit concerned about one of my young cats. Seven months ago we adopted two kittens from different litters, there was a week between them in their ages. We called them Hicks and Nimitz. Both male.

    Hicks was 1st to arrive and was with us for two weeks before he was introduced to Nimitz. He was two months at the time and a little ball of fun and affection, he would sit on my lap and would purr and sleep and we played together. When Nimitz arrived obviously they played together once they became used to each other. We in fact have been quite lucky in that we don’t seem to have had any behavioural problem between them, however Nimitz is more demanding of attention and as he has grown it is evident that he is much of a home body, he loves to cuddle and be with me always.

    Hicks however, I’m worried about. He started to become distant in the weeks that followed their cohabitation, and while we encouraged play and affection, Nimitz was ever present to try and to take it away. Nimitz would love to sit with us and have his belly stroked, where Hicks would go sleep upstairs on the sill and came for cuddles less and less. They also had difference in choice of play. Nimitz likes fetch or feather wand. Hicks loves leaves and feathers he can throw about. Never been interested in much else. We’ve tried laser pointer which he loves, but Nimitz is always there to jump in front of him for it :(

    Despite a lack of lap cuddles however, Hicks and I did have a ritual of affection up until a week ago. Hicks would like clockwork since about a week of being with us, come into our bedroom around 5am and would nuzzle my face, scent-mark it and sleep on my chest for a spell, and he would purr. It was our daily dedicated interaction. He would also join in the morning greeting. This has all stopped. He’s also stopped coming upstairs it seems, and has stopped sleeping in their mutual sleeping spot. He now has his own and prefers to be alone. He never lap sits, or comes for cuddles, tho still seems to love affection. Though I have noticed he’s also now stopped purring - though still seems to like it. I’m really trying to spend time with him and shower him with love.

    One thing that has changed is I bought some feliway friends around the time of the behavioural change on the recommend from the vet. I am concerned that’s done something? But if anyone has been a similar situation or has any advice it would be greatly appreciated. I’m just concerned he’s becoming more distant, feels neglected, left out: it’s making me so sad... it could also be his personality or a phase. He’s technically a teenager now, but at 9 months, I dont know. I’m wondering if his earlier displays of independence were not out of choice but because he felt over taken by Nimitz wanting everything and I feel a lot of guilt that maybe I should have done more. Is there anything I can do now? Thanks very much for any help you can offer. I just want him to have the best life.

    Sent from my iPhone
     
  2. Summercat

    Summercat PetForums VIP

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    Hi @SezM
    I remember you.
    It does seem that Nimitz may be pushing Hicks out.
    I don't have personal experience with this to that extent but I know @chillminx has given advice along these lines before and should be able to help.

    I have a three year old and a six month old. So far so good but the kitten does try to push his way in a bit.
    Where I can I set boundaries such as with wand toys, Jack the kitten now knows the routine that the wand goes to each for brief turns and I keep swapping who has a go. Before Jack would crash into Biggles in his haste to get the toy.
    Food I was feeding one up and one down in the kitchen but Jack would barge over to see what Biggles had. I would move him and/or hold him and now he waits by my feet till Biggles is finished to see what he had.
    He knows he will get to see Biggles dish and a turn with the wand.
    Not quite the same as your situation but I am trying to make sure they know there is enough of everything to go round and set routines.

    Jack isn't as demanding of human attention as your Nimitz it seems. I might while your OH or someone is home to occupy Nimitz seek Hicks out for a game he likes or cuddles.

    I learned from Chillminx to have enough 'resources' for all, beds, sleeping spots, litter trays and human attention.

    Not sure about the Feliway. Some recommend Pet Remedy but when my single cat was fearful Feliway worked for him, I think it builds confidence which Nimitz may have enough of.
     
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  3. chillminx

    chillminx PetForums VIP

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    Hello @SezM, I remember you too :)

    I am sorry to hear that Hicks seems sad and distant and this has got more marked recently. Any sudden change in behaviour in a cat, (becoming less affectionate, not purring, wanting to be alone more) should always be investigated as having a possible physical cause. Cats are very good at hiding pain and discomfort (due to their survival instinct) but it shows up in other behaviours.

    So I would get Hicks checked over by the vet. If the vet gives him a clean bill of health, then at least you can feel reassured he is not physically unwell.

    Btw, are both cats neutered? This is very important especially when keeping 2 males together.

    I think with cats who are housemates you often find one is much more assertive than the other. The assertive cat who loves human attention often results in the less assertive cat choosing to take a bit of a back seat with the humans. Over time, as they grow up, it can mean the less assertive cat retreats more into their own little world. While this is not so much a problem when cats go outdoors and can find other things to interest them, it is a problem for a cat who spends all their time indoors. Because there is nothing to take the place of human interaction, and so the cat can become withdrawn and unhappy. Our cats are sociable creatures who need plenty of human interaction - on the cat's terms. .

    I had a problem with my 2 boys who are brothers. I adopted them as rescues aged 16 months. They were still very kittenish and playful and played nicely together. As time went on one brother began monopolising my attention and pushing out the less confident brother. I compensated by making lots of fuss of the less confident one, particularly when the assertive brother was out of sight or asleep.

    It wasn't enough though, and what really made the difference is when my OH decided to make the less-confident boy his priority. In a matter of months my OH and the less confident boy had developed a lovely close relationship where the cat rushes to greet him when he comes home, follows him around the house and sits on his lap for hours at a time in the evenings. :) The cat still regards me as Chief Provider of Food, lol, and he does sit on my lap at times, but my OH is his Number One idol!

    I was lucky that there are 2 humans in the house so we could achieve this solution. I would never have managed to keep both cats needs met on my own. And I would never have known what a big need the less assertive brother has for affection and closeness with their own human and what a huge capacity he has for giving affection.

    As you live with another human being I recommend you implement such a system in your house. One of you focus more on Hicks and one focus more on Nimitz. It doesn't matter which way you do it, but if Nimitz is already very attached to you it would make sense for the other human to develop a close relationship with Hicks - including for a while, taking over feeding him several of his daily meals.

    Also, as Summercat mentioned, ensure there are multiple resources for the two cats so as to reduce the competition between them.

    Give them each a separate feeding spot out of sight of each other and do not allow them to share bowls or steal each others food.

    Provide at least 3 litter trays and spread them around.

    Several water bowls spread around the house.

    But, most importantly remember that human companionship and interaction are major resources for our domestic cats and I do think Hicks needs a very special relationship of his own with a human. :)
     
  4. Summercat

    Summercat PetForums VIP

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    @SezM
    Let us know how you get on. Hope things well.
     
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  5. SezM

    SezM PetForums Member

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    Firstly thank you guys for your advice, it has been good to read I feel for the most part I am doing the correct thing, however there are perhaps a few more changes that I can make.

    Nimitz is attached to us both, though I have been trying to pay a little less attention to him and a little more to Hicks - I have seen a little improvement in that he is coming back upstairs and sleeping on the landing. Last night I caught both cats are sleeping together in the spare room - I know that for the most part they interact well together occasionally play fighting but nothing too serious. I have stopped using feliway as I don’t feel this has helped at all.

    They have three cat litters - though they are not separated - however maybe moot now, as they both go out during in the day and tend to use the same part of the garden to do their business. They were both rescued and were neutered before they were two months which I actually thought was a bit rough but it seems that it’s kept their aggression down. As for food they both have their individual spots out of sight from each other however I am going to look at potentially getting a microchip feeder because they do tend to swap bowls halfway through eating and sometimes it can be hard to manage that situation.

    I think we will definitely try the approach of making one of us more dedicated to a cat over the other, the only issue is that I work from home so both cats interact with me on a daily basis which means that with being around me all the time it can be hard for me to juggle affections.

    That said Hicks just showed up I let him in the door gave him a big cuddle he was purring I gave him a treat and a fuss before he wanted to go back out again, he loves to be outside! I just don’t want him to feel put out and I know his capacity for affection- id love him to sit with us - which hasn't happened since he was tiny and now that the interaction in the early morning has stopped I really appreciate the advice because I’d love to get that back.

    Ooo and he just came back for another cuddle!

    Here’s some pics of how much my boys have grown...very proud of them ❤️
     

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  6. chillminx

    chillminx PetForums VIP

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    Aww, they're gorgeous! xx And your tabby/white boy is just like my Rupert! ;)
     
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  7. SezM

    SezM PetForums Member

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    He’s gone all distant again this evening :(
     
  8. chillminx

    chillminx PetForums VIP

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    If he has got used to taking a back seat he may need a lot of encouragement every day for a while.

    But in spite of me encouraging my Rupert every day there was no major change in him until my OH began to devote himself to him, one-to-one. He used to take him in the garden for games with the Purrsuit rod toy, or upstairs where his brother didn't often go. I think it was the single-minded focus on Rupert by my OH that did the trick.

    I notice now if my OH is out a whole day, or away a couple of days Rupert can tend to become quiet again, but he perks up in no time when OH comes home. I remember that OH used to force the pace a bit, which I didn't approve of, as I think cats should be free to decide what they want to do (within reason! ;)) e.g. OH used to swoop Rupert up and plonk him on his lap and hold him there until he settled. Rupert used to 'squawk' as he was swooped up, and I used to remonstrate with OH, but to my surprise Rupert got to like it. :) Quite funny really! Just shows, a more masculine no-nonsense approach can work better sometimes than a gentle feminine approach :D
     
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  9. SezM

    SezM PetForums Member

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    Spoke with the OH tonight - he’s going to take over Nimitz as much as possible and I’m going to fuss on Hicks. This evening I shut Nimitz out and had one on one time with Hicks with OH played with Nimitz.
    Then later I’ve picked Hicks up and had him on my lap for a tickle. He actually stayed for a bit... I shall persevere:) thanks all
     
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  10. chillminx

    chillminx PetForums VIP

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    Good luck. :) Let us know how things go? :)
     
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  11. SezM

    SezM PetForums Member

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    I’ll post an update in a week or so and let you know :)

    Nimitz knows what’s up - he’s being extra ‘Pay attention to me’ this evening!
     
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  12. chillminx

    chillminx PetForums VIP

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    Smart boy! He knows he has to protect his resources, so he will want to maintain the current status quo! ;)
     
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