An opinionated feline in Edmonton, Canada who lived with a retired cat behaviourist, Greyce provided behavioral advice to cats in need until her death in July 2014. Because her entries are useful even today, the blog remains posted.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Cat over-aroused during play: Dash's update

Dear Greyce,

Here is a long overdue update on the progress my companion, Skeeter, and I have been making in adjusting to our new home. You recall that Skeeter and I were adopted at the same time, although we had not lived together before. Themselves thought it would be a good idea for me (a special needs cat who is anxious) to have a feline companion. (Interested readers can follow my story by viewing the blog entries listed at the end of this blog entry.)

Snuggles are always in order
I'm pleased to say that my relationship with Skeeter is a positive one - even though we have had and continue to have our moments of disagreement. Now Skeeter feels comfortable snuggling with me during naps, as you can see from the photo.

You may remember that I, in particular, was having problems: I was traumatized by that strange noise machine (I think it is called a treadmill), have difficulties with aggression (toward Skeeter and Themselves) from over-arousal, and from time to time took to peeing outside the litter box.

While all of these problems have not been fully resolved, I must say that I'm doing much better. Themselves are very conscious about exercising me (to help me reduce my arousal level) and ensuring that we all stick to a set routine and schedule, as much as possible, because I don't do change well. So you see, we HAVE been following your advice.

About that treadmill and my fear of unusual noises: I continue to take Star of Bethlehem drops (a flower remedy for past trauma) twice a day and my temperament has been very positive and even. No growling or hissing. Herself did run that noise machine in the basement while I stayed upstairs with the basement door closed. I was curious about the noise but handled the situation very well. Not like the very first time when I'd freaked out so badly.

Now about my peeing: I did pee on the stairwell recently - the first such incident in a couple of months. So even with respect to this, I believe I'm doing quite well.

As for my over-arousal and aggression: I still get over-aroused from time to time and will pester Skeeter; but when this happens, Themselves re-focus my attention with play.

I really come alive in the evening. Sometimes I've been so wound up that I have jumped on Herself and bit her leg - but only when I'm really aroused with play or I've been scared by a sudden, unexpected noise. When Himself has tried to separate Skeeter and I during an intense play session, I continue to jump and play on his arm.

As for what the future holds: The Feliway diffusers are not in use now, though I heard that Themselves may start them again. And Themselves have mentioned that we may try a weekend at the cottage, soon.

I'm not purrfect, Greyce: I still jump on counters and the dining room table - but that's another matter. I am also trying to learn to use a small toy in the kitchen to help keep my claws away from the furniture upstairs.


Dear Dash,

Congratulations on your excellent progress. Considering your purrsonality and issues, you are doing remarkably well.

In terms of your over-arousal and potential aggression in the evenings: Obviously you get wound up and let her rip!

Here are some possible alternatives: Now that you have light in the evenings, if possible ask Themselves to take you for some time the backyard in the evening BEFORE any play session. I know that Skeeter and you both enjoy your outdoor time. Some times just going outside and exploring is enough to help lower arousal levels. Then when you've had a good outdoor session, purrhaps you will be ready for play but less intense about it. And there is always the potential to have some of your play sessions outdoors, depending on the circumstances.

Are there other things you can bite when you get so excited? For example, I have a lovely bite and scratch toy that looks like a very large sausage. It is cloth stuffed with soft material and I love to put it between all four paws and bite and scratch the heck out of it. If this kind of thing appeals to you (and such things are available at pet supply stores), then just throwing that at you when you get too hyper might encourage you to nip at that instead of anyone else. If so, this might also be a good thing for Himself to do when he is trying to separate you boys from intense play. He could try to separate you using a thick piece of cardboard or corplast or even a broom and then divert you with this sausage. It MIGHT be worth a try.

Did you try those food puzzles I mentioned long ago? Some of use really enjoy the intellectual challenge they present and that helps us let off some steam.

I might be able to better advise you IF you could provide me with a bit more info on your current play habits.
What toys do you prefurr? How do your folks play with you? (details please) How long are your play session? How often do you have a play session?Do you have a snack afterwards?

I assume the Feliway diffusers may be re-introduced as part of your stay at the cottage. Just remember everything I've told you about adapted to new surroundings. I will keep my paws crossed that everything will work out well.

Best wishes,

To follow Dash's story, here are his blog entries:
Small Bits of Cat Urine 11/17/10
Cat Peeing from Over-Excitement 12/13/10
Introducing a Noisy Appliance 12/14/10
Introducing Cat Afraid of New Things 12/15/10
Shy Cat Starts to Swat . . .12/16/10
Update on Dash 1/26/11

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