Cat stress - any ideas please

Fluffypiglet

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Hi, I’ll try not to make this too long but will also try to share background in case it helps. We have a 14 year old cat that we acquired from a neighbour (with her blessing!) over 7 years ago. We’re 3 terraced houses up from the neighbour so exactly the same cat territory. She’d only had him a matter of months as she re homed him from her daughter. As neighbour already had two cats, ours moved himself out and in with us. He’s a ginger moggy and used to rule the road, often seen beating up other cats in the area. there are many many cats around the neighbourhood. In the last year or so another bully-boy cat has moved in, very large/fat and at least half his age! they appear to hate each other with a vengeance. I have discussed karma with ours as essentially new cat is what ours was like in his youth but I would like to try and find something to calm our cat and help him age gracefully (I.e. give up trying to fight).
He’s recently seen the vet for a full check up under GA (where it was discovered he had tonsillitis) and other than that and a tooth needing removal, he is essentially ‘fine’. He does have thyroid meds too. He does look a bit older than he should and vets believe he has a touch of IBS. vet was surprised that he was actually ok on investigation and we had discussed letting him go if anything sinister was found But despite looking like he was on the way out, he’s a reasonably healthy cat.
So some of his poor health we strongly believe is due to him getting stressed due to the cat situation. He’s spending ages outside on high alert. He has a plug in for anxiety in the house which obviously doesn’t do enough. We tried him with a liquid calmer but he hates it and so it probably doesn’t help keep him stress free with force feeding him a calmer! I have looked into various other remedies but unsure if they’ll actually help in this situation or whether I should speak with the vet? has anyone tried something (yucalm for example) to good effect? The other difficulty is that he spots stuff on his food, even if it’s supposedly palatable and won’t eat it! So I’m not entirely keen on buying lots of different supplements which then stop him eating. He used to be about 5.5 -6kg and these days is nearer 4-4.5kg. He’s lost his big cheeks and looks poor in his back end too.

We try and encourage him to stay indoors but dont force the issue, again as prefer not to cause additional stress. I worry that if we stop him sorting some sort of territory debate by keeping him in, it won’t actually help him if that makes sense. Oh and he hates using a cat litter tray - he will wee in it if he has too but not keen.

does catnip help calm them? he loves it so that could potentially help…. Anyone up for explaining cat psychology and any ideas how to help our old man become happier with the aging process?

thank you 😊
 

PurBee

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I feel your pain, having had similar territorial issues with male cats in the past.

We lived in a cul de sac type place once and there were many cats. The screaming at night was when the wars really broke out. Our male mostly stayed very near out house, sitting on the path, under our car, but other males would come from a few houses away and fight him on his territory. We ended up keeping him in at night, due to most scraps happening then. During the day with human comings and goings or cars the neighbourhood cats would be less active prowling for fights!

Many times i was out in the neighbourhood in my dressing gown at 4am trying to break-up cat fights and get my boy in!
Keeping him in at night really helped.

We then moved to a rural place, no other cats - yet still males would turn up here to fight him at night, so we employed the same in-at-night tactic and it worked. He was getting old then- 15yrs - but still insisted he needed to defend his territory. He never went to other properties to fight others, just defend his ‘home turf’. He died at 20 a couple of yrs ago.
He was neutered very young…all males ive had were - yet unfortunately that didnt prevent or lessen the territorial behaviour. He tended to be cornered by other very aggressive males, otherwise he would run in to safety.

I find cat nip gets males het-up and antsy…aggressively playful. Ive got a younger male now and he currently rolls around in the catnip plant ive got growing, then gets feisty and wants to attack my female. My other male chewed through a catnip spray bottle that leaked all over the carpet, which he licked up, while i was at work - i came home to find him completely gaa-gaa flaked-out on the floor. So its only calming if they OD on it!

All that could be done and worked was keep them in at night. Could you have a chat with the owner of the other male and see if you can both come up with a plan? If they’re fighting during the day mostly, is it possible for the most aggressive to be kept in from say 9am-4, while the other is out? Like a rota plan of freedom/lock-ins, that works easily alongside human in/out of house hours?
 

Fluffypiglet

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613
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West Sussex
I feel your pain, having had similar territorial issues with male cats in the past.]


We lived in a cul de sac type place once and there were many cats. The screaming at night was when the wars really broke out. Our male mostly stayed very near out house, sitting on the path, under our car, but other males would come from a few houses away and fight him on his territory. We ended up keeping him in at night, due to most scraps happening then. During the day with human comings and goings or cars the neighbourhood cats would be less active prowling for fights!

Many times i was out in the neighbourhood in my dressing gown at 4am trying to break-up cat fights and get my boy in!
Keeping him in at night really helped.

We then moved to a rural place, no other cats - yet still males would turn up here to fight him at night, so we employed the same in-at-night tactic and it worked. He was getting old then- 15yrs - but still insisted he needed to defend his territory. He never went to other properties to fight others, just defend his ‘home turf’. He died at 20 a couple of yrs ago.
He was neutered very young…all males ive had were - yet unfortunately that didnt prevent or lessen the territorial behaviour. He tended to be cornered by other very aggressive males, otherwise he would run in to safety.

I find cat nip gets males het-up and antsy…aggressively playful. Ive got a younger male now and he currently rolls around in the catnip plant ive got growing, then gets feisty and wants to attack my female. My other male chewed through a catnip spray bottle that leaked all over the carpet, which he licked up, while i was at work - i came home to find him completely gaa-gaa flaked-out on the floor. So its only calming if they OD on it!

All that could be done and worked was keep them in at night. Could you have a chat with the owner of the other male and see if you can both come up with a plan? If they’re fighting during the day mostly, is it possible for the most aggressive to be kept in from say 9am-4, while the other is out? Like a rota plan of freedom/lock-ins, that works easily alongside human in/out of house hours?
thank you, we have started locking his cat flap between 11pm and 3am which he does seem to be coping with so maybe we should try extending the time he’s in. unfortunately the owner of the other cat isn’t interested. Just cats doing their thing so leave them to it Type of thing. It really helps to hear that you had the same, it’s exactly what he’s doing - protecting his last small bit of territory! We’ve also put a cat flap in the fence in the back garden so it’s only him and the young cats from next door who he’s known since they were kittens who can now get into the back garden. He still seems to get on ok with them, just growls at them if they over step. so we’re doing our best to help him out. Just checking if Ive missed any other tricks!
interesting as well to hear about the cat nip. Ours usually goes dribbly and out of it for a bit but I wasn’t sure what it might actually be doing to him in the longer term if that makes sense.
 

PurBee

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thank you, we have started locking his cat flap between 11pm and 3am which he does seem to be coping with so maybe we should try extending the time he’s in. unfortunately the owner of the other cat isn’t interested. Just cats doing their thing so leave them to it Type of thing. It really helps to hear that you had the same, it’s exactly what he’s doing - protecting his last small bit of territory! We’ve also put a cat flap in the fence in the back garden so it’s only him and the young cats from next door who he’s known since they were kittens who can now get into the back garden. He still seems to get on ok with them, just growls at them if they over step. so we’re doing our best to help him out. Just checking if Ive missed any other tricks!
interesting as well to hear about the cat nip. Ours usually goes dribbly and out of it for a bit but I wasn’t sure what it might actually be doing to him in the longer term if that makes sense.
its difficult if the other owner isnt interested.

Commercial catnip sprays affected mine differently to the raw plant growing.…docile and playful/lounging about on the spray, yet feisty playful on the raw plant!
If yours chills-out on the spray, you could use that as a de-stress after a fight knowing it helps him. Check ingredients on the catnip you use, just in case there’s other additives in there that wouldn’t be so good to have regularly. I dont know of any studies about dose/longterm effects of regular catnip, its a good question.
Will we be seeing catnip addicts anonymous 12 step programs to return our moggies to sobreity?! 😁😂
 

Highmileagecob

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Feliway might help. It's a spray on calming agent which helps cats to feel more balanced and less stressed. Not sure which cat needs it though, yours or Dennis the Menace.
Cat nip might make staying in the house more attractive. One of my cats used to look stoned after rolling around on the kitchen floor after it had been bleached.
 

julesjoy

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You have my sympathies. One of mine ruled the neighbourhood, then one of the youngsters grew and wanted to take over, but my boy wouldn't let it go. As you say, he looked a manky mess from being on high alert and fighting all the time, many vets visits for absesses and the like later later. Thankfully we then moved house to a rural location 180 miles away, and he's looking a bit better now! Slightly extreme remedy though, sorry I don't have a better suggestion.
 

Fluffypiglet

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You have my sympathies. One of mine ruled the neighbourhood, then one of the youngsters grew and wanted to take over, but my boy wouldn't let it go. As you say, he looked a manky mess from being on high alert and fighting all the time, many vets visits for absesses and the like later later. Thankfully we then moved house to a rural location 180 miles away, and he's looking a bit better now! Slightly extreme remedy though, sorry I don't have a better suggestion.
I would very much like to move somewhere more rural but it’s not likely! It will definitely think twice about getting another cat in this environment, just too many cats in a small area. Things are improving with him being in for a few hours over night so hopefully we can keep him going with reduced stress levels.
thanks for everyone’s responses.
 

julesjoy

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I also have an indoor cat (not enough brain cells to manage outside) so that might be something for you to consider for future cats. For some cats it would be cruel, but some are quite happy. Glad to hear that keeping him in a few hours is working as a suitable compromise.
 

Fluffypiglet

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I also have an indoor cat (not enough brain cells to manage outside) so that might be something for you to consider for future cats. For some cats it would be cruel, but some are quite happy. Glad to hear that keeping him in a few hours is working as a suitable compromise.
Absolutely, I will def only get another cat if it is able to stay indoors and is happy to do so.
 

Fluffypiglet

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We hit a slight snag last night with the cat flap being locked. It’s a microchip one so he can get in and then it locks behind him and he’s safe for the night. unless the dumbass manages to leave the cat flap open…. So at 1.30am we woke to an almighty fight between ours and his arch nemesis, fat b*stard in the house. (FB because he’s absolutely massive and beats up our cat. If He wasn’t beating ours up, I suspect I’d rather like him!) Because the cat flap is locked no one can get out so fur flying as ours sets out to kill the interloper. Lights on, hubby and I trying to get FB out of the house. FB realised he had maybe messed up by getting cornered by a very cross old ginger cat and two dishevelled humans. Poor thing he was panting on the kitchen work surface before we managed to herd him out of the back door. We also had the front door wide open and all the lights on so goodness knows if anyone saw me charging about in my nightie! Ours allowed me to pick him up mid fight which was very good of him and made it slightly less noisy. ours spent the rest of the night on our bed nice and safe. I thinks he’s a bit sore this morning ☹️ Bloody cats!
 

Griffin

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Feliway plugins are good and my cats liked the spray. Have you tried valerian? You can get valerian pillows quite cheaply and they can have a relaxing effect on cats (mine loved snuggling a pillow). Have you thought about cat proofing your garden so he can go out but other cats can't come into his territory? It's very tricky, cats are such complex little creatures.
 

Cloball

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Ours got quite stressed for a while after we acquired him and got into a lot of fights. Keeping him in at night helped. We had feliway plug ins and pet remedy plug in, sprays and wipes our vet recommend using both we they act differently. In the end it all settled down when the new boundaries had been established.
 

Fluffypiglet

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We do have the pet remedy plug in already. Interesting that you can double up with feliway, thank you for that information. Weirdly cat seems rather happy at the moment. I assume that must mean we (all three of us!) won the fight against one fat black and white cat the other night?! Who knows but glad he‘s happier for now. other than the interloper issue I do think keeping him in seems to be improving things. It seems to stop him getting quite so obsessive.
 

Fluffypiglet

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Feliway plugins are good and my cats liked the spray. Have you tried valerian? You can get valerian pillows quite cheaply and they can have a relaxing effect on cats (mine loved snuggling a pillow). Have you thought about cat proofing your garden so he can go out but other cats can't come into his territory? It's very tricky, cats are such complex little creatures.
we can’t cat proof our garden effectively but we have done some things which are making it generally less attractive to other cats such as blocking a hole in the fence with another microchip cat flap and we have spikes along the top of the 6 foot fences on two sides (the garden on the third side has dogs!). Not perfect by any means but better than it was. I’ll have a look for a pillow in case he likes it! Thank you
 

Cloball

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Mine got into one fight and clearly lost as he was so sorry for himself. Few weeks later he came in bleeding but so happy and chirpy 🤦I like to think he won but I dread to think what the other guy looked like.
 

Fluffypiglet

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Mine got into one fight and clearly lost as he was so sorry for himself. Few weeks later he came in bleeding but so happy and chirpy 🤦I like to think he won but I dread to think what the other guy looked like.
Sounds famil! in his more active fighting days it took us a while to understand that not eating and generally looking like he’s got some terrible illness actually just was sulking because he lost a fight. Took more than one vet visit to establish that!
 

Fluffypiglet

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It is possible to put cats on antidepressants like citalopram, my SiL had a cat on it. Something to consider maybe and discuss with your vet?
.
Thanks, I thought I’d heard that was an option. I’m hoping it won’t come to that But helpful to know.
 

Juniper Jack

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Thanks, I thought I’d heard that was an option. I’m hoping it won’t come to that But helpful to know.
Could you ask your vet about Prozac for your boy? I have been trying to find out about it for my 17yo indoor girl. She is the reason I've been interested in this thread.
She does not care for catnip, unfortunately.

I wonder if the liquid calmer you tried was Gabapentin. My cat hated it and I feel the same way you do about trying to force-feed a calming med.
 
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