November 08, 2004

Curious George: MonkeyCatFilter Having indoor cats. Complaining indoor cats.

Recently I moved into a new apartment. I have two male cats, both neutered. They're mostly indoor cats, but back when I rented a place with a yard, they got to go outside occasionally (until one of them got into a fight). They haven't been outside in half a year, however. Lately one of them has been getting a lot antsier. He has started to meow a lot, and I can't figure out what he wants. I start petting him, but he keeps meowing whilst purring. I try playing with him, which he'll do for about 2 minutes, and then start meowing again. I make sure that there's plenty of food and fresh water, and that the litter box is clean. Lately he's started waking me up in the morning by meowing and stepping on me, which he hasn't done in the past. He also sits by the apartment door a lot, pawing under the crack, reaching for the doorknob, and meowing. I know he can hear/smell the other goings on in the apartment building, and I'm sure he's curious... but I can't let him out roaming the halls. Part of me feels bad for even having indoor cats, that they should be out frolicing in the fields, but in an apartment, that isn't an option. The other cat is much more laid back, he meows occasionally, but no more than normal. So Super-meowing cat has a playmate when I'm not around, I make sure there's toys lying around to keep him amused, and clear window space for him to sit at... I'm not really sure what else to do. I like my cats, but the constant meowing is starting to really get on my nerves, almost to the point where I dislike my cat more than I like him. I don't want this to be the case... So any of you out there with cats, please help me out.

  • simple answer - get the cat a leash (and 'collar' that fits around their chest rather than neck to reduce stress for the cat) and take him for walks. You'll have to train him a bit to get used to the idea of being on a leash but should satify his desire to get outside and calm him down. (hopefully) Some info here My thinking is the opposite on outdoor vs indoor. You can't always watch over a outdoor cat and evil nasty things happen to them (lost my beloved cat 'chubby' to poisoning because we would let him wander around unsupervised when I was a child - since then all my cats have been indoor ones)
  • I have no advice for you, unfortunately. I also moved two cats from an indoor-outdoor life to an apartment-life. That was seven years ago. The calmer of the two dealt with the change by becaming a blimp while her sister, a skinny nervous type to begin with, became positively neurotic... meowing and complaining pretty much constantly and unable to settle down. Even when she purrs her tail lashes. She's not very into toys, but the one thing that does seem to help her release nervous energy is a nice new scratching post. I'm sorry to say it never stopped. I've learned over time to tune it out and with age she's mellowed quite a lot, but she's still a difficult cat. With regret and a guilty conscience I've had to institute a closed bedroom door policy... she'd wake me up otherwise. I try to give her enough attention in the evenings after work and before bed, but I'm sure I fail. I'm a dysfunctional pet owner. [On preview, I've never tried putting either cat on a leash. I'm not sure how well it'd work out in my busy Brooklyn neighborhood... and I suspect Perch would freak out.]
  • Yeah, I also live in a busy neighborhood, so I don't think the leash idea is going to work out... Idest, I prefer having my bedroom open to them, but I hope it doesn't come to having to close it. I've been meaning to get them a scratching post for a while now, or just make one... any that you'd recommend?
  • watch the door as you come and go. not to freak you out but we had a cat like that here that got out and never came back. the other one took over for the meowing, i think its a response to my loud roommate though. she sits at the bottom of the stairs, by the front door and just yells. (the cat, not the roommate, he yells from the top :-) I hear what you are saying about disliking the cat more than liking it. She never tries to get out though and if we do let her out or take her out, she sniffs around for a minute then goes and waits to be let back in. cats on leashes are really fun at first. my ex-gf had one, and the poor cat would just try to get as close to the ground as it could get, like totally splayed out flat, not knowing what the deal was. it did finally get used to it. My mom lives on a busy road and tried to let the 3 cats out on leases tied to the porch. one of them is happy that way, the other 2 weasel their way out of the harnesses as soon as you turn your back. thats how we discovered that Blackula could climb chain link fences! on preview: man i can ramble.
  • wander, my cat likes this type of post. They do need to be replaced fairly often. I've often wished I had the time and energy to create a cat house like this one.
  • Hectorinwa- You have a cat named Blackula? That is AWESOME. Idest- That looks nice and.... $40??!! I don't have that much money for a scratching post, but I'd like to get one. Guess I'll go back to figuring out how to make one. That cat house is pretty neat, though. I wonder what the cats think when they're climbing all the ramps and stuff.
  • First thing you should do is take the meower to the vet, to rule out the possibility of a medical problem. Any sudden change in vocalization can indicate an illness - perhaps brought on by the stress of the sudden change in circumstances. The fact that he's more interested in meowing than in playing makes me think that this could be a pretty likely possibility.
  • Cats are much safer indoors. I suspect that the problem is that you haven't replaced the stimulation they were used to outside. This is relatively simple to fix: invest in some good cat toys (like a cat dancer), build or buy a kitty condo that they can climb on and hide in, get a window seat for them (they make hammocky things which attach to the window sill). The problem likely isn't that you've turned indoor-outdoor cats into indoor-only cats, it's that you haven't made their indoor environment interesting enough for them.
  • And I agree with mechagrue about getting a vet check done just in case.
  • You can get them cheaper... or make one... like they did in the cat house. I think they started off by wrapping a pole with sisal. If you haven't got a pole, you can find directions for making your own post here.
  • Cats want to know what's outside the door. If you try the harness idea, he'll sure as hell find out. He may like the leash, and decide the leash=outside idea is palatable; or decide that outside sucks bad, and then he may settle down inside. Either way, you can't really lose, and a cat harness is less than $10, so it'd be cheap to try.
  • or he may have crystals in his urinary tract. Male cats are prone to that. I'd take him to the vet.
  • I can appreciate your issues. When I moved to NYC, I knew that my cats would never see grass again. Thankfully, they haven't been as vocal about going outside as your cats. However, both of my cats will go through phases of "yelling" for no good reason. Once it was when there was a mouse in the house, and the other times where when my ex-bf was moving in, and then eventually out. I think it was a reaction to having their routine changed. But they eventually settled down. Bribing them with wet food early in the morning seemed to help. I don't know if you have access to a fire escape or other outdoor space, but this is one thing that I am saving up for for my cats is a Kittywalk that I can put on the fire escape when the weather is nice. If the leash thing doesn't work, you could always try a stroller.
  • Be aware that cats in multi-story buildings will reflexively jump at birds from open windows or balconies even though they're aware they are extremely high up. (Apparently, they'll have a good chance at surviving a few stories or so, and, counter-intuitively, a decent chance of dozens and above, but in between, not at all.) Best to have screens and the like I think.
  • That's the joy of the Kittywalk... it's completely enclosed.
  • Sounds like a medical problem rather than a frustration with being indoors. But supplying a source of interest is a good idea. Kittywalk is good idea. Or give the cat to someone who can give it a good home.
  • (Ah. Sorry, should have followed the link. Rude of me.)
  • As long as we're talking scratching posts, when I got my current cats, I went through several different posts (some rather expensive) but the cats were indifferent to all of them. Then I had a genius flash of inspiration, went to the craft store, bought a big swatch of remnant upholstery cloth, and used that to wrap the post. They love it more than anything. I once had a cat who loved to scratch natural bark from real logs. It was a little messy, with all the bits of bark littering the carpet around the log, and it looked a little weird to have a log tipped up against the living room wall, but hey. Lesson being, if your cat turns up her nose at her scratching post, keep trying different materials until you find something she likes. (And always rub it with catnip!)
  • Posted in the other thread but bears repeating here: Free-ranging (aka outdoor) cats kill millions of birds every year and perhaps billions of small mammals, including threatened and endangered species. If you care at all about wildlife you will keep your cats inside.
  • I echo what PatB and Nostril said. Neutered male cats are really succeptible to urinary tract problems (My cat Houdini -- who bonded to my dad, the cat hater, so when I moved the parents got to keep him -- eats special food for this and is kept super perky). Cats can't say "ow!" and they have too much pride to get sad puppy face, so when they're sick they might just meow a lot.
  • What both PatB and timefactor said. Cat owners are often in denial over the dwindling numbers of somgbirds in North America and their own cat. The romantic idea that cats are soemhow entitled to run free is North America is about as sane as importing rabbits to Australia, and is having equally catastrophic effects on native species.
  • Thanks to everyone for the responses. I'll be attempting to make a scratching post when I get the chance. I'll also do more reading up on the crystals thing, I'm glad it was mentioned as it would not have been something I thought of. As for the outside thing, back when they could roam outside, I felt bad when they killed other small animals. I guess what I meant was that sometimes it seems weird to have domesticated cats at all, and that they should be running around in their natural habitat. Not necessarily outside in the U.S. I do realize that most domesticated cat breeds wouldn't exist without having been domesticated in the first place, but hey, that's a whole 'nother quandary.