Welcome to PetForums

Join thousands of other pet owners and pet lovers on the UK's most popular and friendly pet community and discussion forum.

Sign Up

Sudden change in behaviour / aggression in indoor Indoor

Discussion in 'Cat Training and Behaviour' started by Lydia Matthews, Apr 8, 2020.


  1. Lydia Matthews

    Lydia Matthews PetForums Newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2020
    Messages:
    1
    Likes Received:
    0
    Hi everyone

    I have never to my knowledge posted in an online community of any kind but I find myself desperate for advice writing to you from Bristol, UK at 4 in the morning! This is because of a recent change in my indoor cats behaviour I would say in the last 2-3 weeks, which is getting worse.

    Firstly, my cat is indoors due to a medical condition which in short means that he lacks muscles around his oesophagus and so used to struggle disgesting food. He lived in the shelter until diagnosed for 9 months. We've managed to wean him onto hard food which no issues for well over a year. He is 2 years in June. He is a very food orientated cat!

    Anyway, I would say that these changes have largelt coincided with me and my husband working from home because of COVID-19, however, I have been WFH in the past for a period of 6 months with no issues at all. This occasion is different. I've noticed the following changes:

    -No longer sleeps on the bed (without fail would always sleep on or next to me). This sounds minor but we had quite the bedtime routine which had him sleeping through the night. Sometime we would wake up to toys in the bedroom so assumed he was awake some of the night but never woken up before.
    -Some howling in the night near his food / looking outside (he is fed 4 times a day dueto his condition although we could review this as he no longer seems to have a problem with food)
    -Scratching carpet, A LOT! particularly under the bed (which is a completley new spot for him) but also wherever at the moment. I usually spray with water where possible but am unable to under the bed. I did wonder if it was attention based because I would generally scowl his name in frustration and get straight back to it.
    -Attacking me. He has always been quite fiesty i.e. attacking me whenever I was on the floor exercising which I assumed he felt was in his domain but it's always been manageable. However, he is now not so playful but is actually bruising me! It is only me and not my husband but that's quite 'normal' anyway. When I say attack his ears go down and he pounces. In the past this has been more playful and he seemed to grow put of this and started licking instead of biting when he managed to hold on. It is now completely violent. I wouldn't accept it if we had children, for example, and he would have to be rehomed.

    I am considering whether it is an environment change. I can't see boredom plays a factor because we are making a conscious effort to play more in an effort to wear him out. We have changed his food to Iams Indoor in the last month but he is always happy to eat it and his stools are of a good consistency etc so happy with the food we assume. His tray is also cleaned more often now we are home and able to do it shortly after use as that has caused him some stress before when it was dirty.

    I have had multiple cats (although usually outdoor) and I have never experienced 1. This level of aggression and 2. Such a sudden change in behaviour.

    If anyone has any idea of guidance I would greatly appreciate it!

    P.S. as I sign this off he is currently dangling off the nickel pulls for our blinds which again strikes me as attention seeking or boredom but I really don't understand!
     
  2. Bethanjane22

    Bethanjane22 PetForums Member

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2019
    Messages:
    254
    Likes Received:
    343
    Unfortunately I cannot offer any advice, but just wanted to come on and say you're not alone. My two cats have started fighting each other and showing aggression towards each other since the weekend. I'm not sure if ours has anything to do with us being home more, but it is very unlike them.

    I hope some of the experience forum members can come on here and give some advice xx
     
  3. chillminx

    chillminx PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2010
    Messages:
    27,444
    Likes Received:
    24,546
    Hello @Lydia Matthews and welcome :)

    I am sorry I missed your post before.

    This is quite a common problem at present. Cats love routine. Having the same routine day after day where everything happens at a predictable time is what keeps them happy. A change in their routine can make them anxious and insecure.

    Both you and your husband being at home 24/7 due to the COVID-19 lockdown may seem to you to be an insignificant change for your cat, but it is not, it is a major change in his routine. Not necessarily a negative change for him but certainly one he has to adapt to and get used to.

    If you and your husband were usually out at work all day, your cat has had the place to himself. It has been quiet and he has probably slept a lot or pottered around. I assume there is now activity in the house all day until you go to bed at night. That is a big change for him. He is less inclined to sleep all day because you are both home.

    And although you have worked from home in the past, your husband has not, I assume, so your cat may be finding your husband's presence in particular, in the house all day, every day, quite unsettling. Your cat has no idea why you are both suddenly home all the time. He may well think your constant presence at home is to keep him company, in which case he will expect you to give him more attention than usual and to play with him more often. On his terms.

    The fact your cat is scratching more (ie. scent-marking - (he has scent glands in his paws) shows he feels anxious and unsure about things. I definitely wouldn't spray him with water for scratching, as it is an essential part of his natural behaviour. If a cat feels anxious, scent marking is a comfort to them.

    Instead of punishing him with water spray, offer him more safe places to scratch - e.g. a scratch post in every room and plenty of scratch pads laid around the floor everywhere, several to every room. The cheap ones are popular. e.g.

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Cooper-Pals-375x120x25-Milimetre-Cardboard/dp/B07VWLYNFV/ref=sr_1_6?crid=3IE9KXA7GZ7NE&dchild=1&keywords=scratch+pads+for+cats&qid=1587509800&s=pet-supplies&sprefix=scratch+pads,pets,137&sr=1-6

    When he pounces at you while you are exercising it is probably because you are lying or sitting on the floor and he thinks it is a game. Maybe you could have a game with him first before you exercise. Timing is crucial when it comes to keeping cats happy with playtime . i.e. they want to play when they are in the mood for play, not when the human can find time to play with them.[ Kittens are much more accommodating than adult cats in this respect because they are always ready to play unless they are asleep! ]

    Are you feeding him set meals of wet food so he has something to look forward to ? The positive interaction between human and cat at the cat's meal times is important for the cat, as it confirms the bond between owner and cat in the same way that playtime does.

    The other thing to mention is that many people (and I include myself) are feeling anxious about COVID-19. e.g. We may have family members who are at high risk if they catch it, or we may be in the 'extremely vulnerable' category ourselves. The anxiety is understandable. Out cats being sensitive, intelligent creatures are like "barometers" for our moods. They sense our anxiety, they do not know what is making us anxious, and so they become anxious themselves.
     
    #3 chillminx, Apr 22, 2020
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2020
    lorilu likes this.
  4. chillminx

    chillminx PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2010
    Messages:
    27,444
    Likes Received:
    24,546
    @lorilu - your simile ("cats are like barometers of our moods") is so good, I borrowed it! Hope you don't mind :)
     
    lorilu likes this.
  5. lorilu

    lorilu PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2009
    Messages:
    12,064
    Likes Received:
    13,895
    What a lovely compliment! x And like you say I've seen a number of threads here and in other forums where people are suddnely having trouble with strange behaviors in their cats.

    My cats also experienced some stress when I was suddenly home all the time. It took them about two weeks to adjust. And, because I was extremely stressed myself it was even harder on them. Once I got a grip on myself, they started to feel better too. And Mazy cat wasn't the only one taking the Rescue Remedy!

    Now all is well for them, but I still have a lot of stress working from home (I hate it). I am mindful of not letting it over flow though. I hope.
     
    chillminx likes this.
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice