I think my poor cat is really stressed out...(14 Posts)
He bites at one paw in particular and it is now bald and his pads look raw. It looks like it has been shaved.
The vet said it is a sign of stress - I have bought feliway plug-ins, but we have been using them for a few weeks and he still sits there biting at his paw.
He has always done it.
Is there anything I can do to help him to calm down? He doesn't seem stressed in any other way, and is affectionate and a good eater (!) but this paw-biting is pretty awful.
(We are moving house for the second time in a year in a couple of weeks, so he will be facing some upheaval again, so if I can do anything which eases that, that would be good. But this is a long-term problem so I don't think the acute stress of the move will make it any worse than it normally is.)
Has your vet checked him for parasites?
Are there any other cats around?
No, they haven't checked for parasites - I'll ask about that. They have examined his paw really closely and can't find anything wrong with it though.
There is a cat next door, but my cat is a total brute and beat it into submission when we moved in - I never see it in the garden now, and don't hear any cat fights.
What sort of household do you have? eg quiet and ordered or a bit noisy with young DCs everywhere? Oh - and any other pet animals?
We are quiet and have a regular routine - it is just me and DH, and we don't have any other pets.
We have friends over fairly often, and he doesn't like that very much (I think he is very territorial and he is frightened of people he doesn't know well) but they just ignore him and he tends to take himself off upstairs to our bed - we don't force him to interact with them or anything like that.
Right. Just because he appears to be a bit of a bruiser doesn't mean he isn't anxious about meeting other cats outside - he could be a great hulking softie who has to screw himself to the point of going out and becomes fearful deep down of potential threats. (I had one like that once - he had a great conceit of himself but it wasn't through-to-his-bone confidence.)
Has he got an inside litter tray so that he can stay in if he wants? And will the new house have a chip flap so that no other cat can get in?
(I'm assuming he's neutered by the way?)
Yes, he is neutered.
He has a tray but doesn't use it much - he seems to prefer going out.
No other cats can get into either this house or the new one. We don't have a catflap and I don't think we'll put one in at the new house. I work from home most of the time and so I can let him in/out when he wants to. I leave him in the house for the day when I am at work, and then let him out when I get home. He is in overnight as well.
I think you're right - he looks like a total bruiser but he is a real softy at heart. He is definitely anxious about people so could feel the same way about other cats.
At the new house, I'd keep the tray - in fact I'd get another one for him as an extra - and maybe try to distract him if he tries to go out. (Unless he's quite desperate - in which case, if you have the time, I'd go outside with him for at least a little. He may think that at your current house, he has to protect his household when he'd really rather be a wingman.
Do you play games with him? I have a feeling that that might help even if only as one of the distractions. (And you'll have the new house confinement period to go through so games might be needed.)
You know, I think you might have hit the nail on the head here. He was really nervous about going out when we first moved here, and in the end we spent hours dragging a toy round the garden with the cat chasing it (cat's favourite game). After a while, he seemed more confident about going out on his own.
We have been really busy lately so the playing has tailed off - I'll make a point to do it every day.
I think he does perhaps feel a need to be protective - particularly of me. He often settles on my lap in the evenings, and if DH tries to kiss me or anything, he'll growl at him. The rest of the time he seems perfectly relaxed about DH, so I think it is something to do with protecting me from threats.
And the other day we were sitting in the garden in the evening, and the cat came out with us and then spent ages happily rolling around, before going to sleep on his back. We commented at the time that he never behaves that way if he's out on his own.
It sounds as if you and DH being out there relieved him of some of his responsibilities. May be worth trying some things with that thought in mind, anyway, so one for a discussion with DH in the context of moving house, I suspect.
Good luck anyway - and come back and let us know how things are panning out in the new place.
Keep him in for at least 2 weeks when you all move - gives him a chance to familiarise himself with his new core territory. Maybe give him some Zylkiene during this time - might break the cycle of paw biting. You can get it from vet or Amazon.
I know you're not keen on a cat-flap, but could installing a microchip one help him feel more secure? It's possible he may worry that he has to rely on his humans to open the door.
Even though he sounds like he's an alpha cat, he'll probably find it stressful having to maintain that position with the local cats.
Thanks for your advice Rubbish - I've ordered some of the Zylkene and I'll start giving it to him when it arrives.
Once we're in, I'll have a look at the catflap issue - it is slightly difficult because both of the back doors are upvc, and I don't want to let him out at the front, but once I've had a chance to have a proper look around, I may find a way round it.
Hopefully all of this advice will help me to keep him calm!
I think you can get a upvc panel with a cat flap fitted for your back door. If you're renting, keep the original panel and switch them when you move out.
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