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Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

I Need Kitty Help

Help Me, Humzoo!

I was never a cat person. I always thought that any animal that won't come to the door when I get home, doesn't come when I call, leaves the room when I enter it, can't fetch a frisbee and makes the house smell like cat pee is a waste of energy and space.

Until I met Joe...

Joe opened my eyes to the wonders of the kitten, and when we adopted Brin, I became a cat lover for good. She is such a cool cat. Personable, fearless and funny as hell. She's been a source of entertainment and snuggles ever since the day she came home with us. Fargo the dog has never taken a backseat to Brin in my book, but she became a perfect fit in our family. He loves her just as much as we do.

Then came Dakota...

He was a hopeless stray with a big heart, and a big dose of the hard knocks. He was beaten up by all the neighborhood cats, and most of the time looked like he'd been dragged through a mud puddle. We thought he'd decided to adopt us when he started showing up on the porch like clockwork every day at 5 oclock, and took a liking to Fargo, hanging out on the porch swing with him in the backyard. So, we took him into our home, wrestled him to the vet and invited him into our family...

But it has turned out to be a confusing mess that is beginning to make me have second thoughts about whether he belongs with us. So, I need help. Of course I want to keep him, but he's becoming the WORST kind of cat right now, and it's getting hard to deal with.

1. He stares longingly out the window at "the outside" and meows like he's in pain.

Ever since we've brought him in, all he does is act like he wants to go back outside. Whenever he gets the chance, he runs out the door, and it takes 20 minutes of coaxing with half a bag of cat treats to get him back inside.

When the weather is nice, forgettaboudit. He is at the window the entire day yelling "mmmmmeoooooooooooooowwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww" like he's being stabbed.

So maybe he doesn't WANT to be an inside cat... Maybe outside is where he really belongs. So does this mean we let him out and in when he sees fit? Even at the risk of being tagged by a car or attacked by a rabid stray cat? Even if it means bringing nasty cat-diseases and dirt and poop into the house to get on my furniture and my other pets? Is five weeks still not enough time for him to adjust?

2. He keeps us up ALL night meowing.

He doesn't want anything to do with me during the DAY when we're awake... but at night, and at 4 in the morning, he comes into the bedroom and sits on the floor yelling at us until one of us gets up. Then it calms him down for about an hour, and he's back at it again.

First we thought he wanted up on the bed. Nope. He just took off running when he saw us. Then we thought he was hungry... Nope. When we get up to feed him, he runs into the basement. Then I thought he needed to go to the bathroom, and the litter boxes were dirty. Nope... We clean them every night before bed, and he still keeps us awake.

It's like we have a newborn baby. We haven't gotten a solid night of sleep in a month.

3. He runs away and hides whenever I get near him.

I can count on one hand the number of times I've been able to pet this cat, and the only time I've held him was by brute force at the vet, and I have a scar all the way down my ring finger to prove it.

I feel like a pet should INTERACT with it's humans... but this cat doesn't even want to be in the same STATE as I am. It's really annoying. I figure he'd be used to me by now. I've only been feeding, coaxing and mothering him for the past year.

4. He pees all over my stuff.

It doesn't matter what we do, almost every morning I wake up to a puddle of pee somewhere in my house. It's disgusting and intolerable. At first I thought it was just nerves, but it's been five weeks now, and three litter boxes later... he needs to get over it and pee in the litter box. I am at a total loss. But I definitely will not tolerate cat urine on my furniture any longer.

5. He acts terrified of my other animals.

He must be bipolar, because one minute he's sniffing and nuzzling Fargo and Brin, and the next, he's sneaking through the room with a terrified look on his face waiting to get ambushed. He is just such a WUSS, he can't handle anything moving around him, much less a playful Brin and a bumbling, slobbering Fargo.

So, in closing...

I feel like I've put up with an awful lot with this cat... I don't want to take the easy way out by any means, and just get rid of him. In spite of his annoying habits, he's carved out a place in my heart, and Joe's too.

So I am shouting out a call for help to the Humzoo community and beyond. If anyone has advice, I would love to hear it.


Oh, Betsy, I feel for you so much. I can't help you, I'm afraid, but I can sympathize. I never liked cats either until Sally got one. Athena was my "grandcat" and of course I grew to love her. Now Sally and Andrew have four cats all together....and I love them all.

Recently we have been keeping two of their cats because Sally and Andrew are in the process of building a new house in their church. I cannot understand cats at all!!!!!!! Our two, Jenny and Samson, have been very well behaved for the most part but I still don't understand them. Sometimes they tolerate us; sometimes they run away when they see us. And I could go on and on!

I hate to say this, I really do, but it sounds like Dakota needs to go back outside for lots of reasons and for your sanity and maybe his too. I know that would be hard to do but you have legitimate reasons. And then see how it goes. See if he comes around and wants to come in again. Maybe it would work better if it were on his terms. I don't know. I'm not about to try to pretend I could guess what a cat is thinking or why they do what they do! But I think trying to find a good home for him is kind of silly because he already has a good home and he doesn't seem to appreciate or want it.

I think you've done everything humanly possible and that's a lucky cat to have your love and care. But maybe he's lived outside for so long that that's the life he prefers and he is miserable being inside.

Good luck with this, Betsy. You have my utmost sympathy.
!   Tuesday, November 30, 2010
I know very little about cats since I've been allergic to them since I was little so I've never been a cat owner. The first thing that came to mind after reading this was is he fixed?
soundchick   Tuesday, November 30, 2010
If he's not already fixed than he needs to be fixed.
I would allow him to be an indoor/outdoor cat or an outdoor only cat.
Jane   Tuesday, November 30, 2010
I'm going to ditto Jane, here. Be sure he's neutered because that's the responsible thing to do. Then, create a place outdoors where he can shelter, preferably up off of the ground a bit, maybe on a pallet (no flooding) - you can be sure it's somewhat airtight and water resistant; actually, one of those "dogloos" might work pretty well. Put an old dog cushion in there with an old blanket, since most cats like to burrow sometimes. You can always make the offer for him to come inside, but don't be surprised if he won't over time...our German Shepherd Dog, Kai, prefers to be outdoors. In fact, when we leave her and our Lab, Libby, for long periods of time indoors while we're gone, Kai will find things to chew; she's bored.

And if you end up deciding that he's "misplaced" with you and Joe as owners, don't feel bad about that. Bill and I had one of those; his name is Cornelius, and he's lived with my Aunt Sandy for almost ten years now - I guess Corny needed to come to us to find her! That's the way I think about it, anyway. Good luck!
Angi   Tuesday, November 30, 2010
I know that a lot of people believe that keeping cats inside protects them from the evils of the outdoors. I am not one of those people. We have two cats. Holly is 14 years old. When she adopted me, she was an indoor cat for 2 years. I don't think she had ever lived outside before and she didn't seem interested in being outside. When we moved to the mountains she 'escaped' one day and was gone for over 24 hours. I was so upset. But, after she returned my whole mindset on indoor/outdoor cats changed. I felt like maybe I was actually depriving her of her natural environment by keeping her inside. So, I started letting her out to climb trees and chase little animals. She seemed a lot happier. And she has been an indoor/outdoor cat ever since. I realize that she might have a shorter life because she could get hit by a car...but I feel like she has a fuller life because she gets to lay in the sunshine, chase things, and play whenever she wants. She is truly a free cat and is VERY happy.

Hobo is the other cat that adopted us. Hobo just showed up one day. He was a street cat that was abandoned by his old criminal owners. I remember he came around Halloween because I initially named him Trick. Hobo is such a fitting name. Hobo was a street cat and sounds a lot like your Dakota. I don't think Hobo would have ever tolerated being a strictly indoor cat. I never tried to keep him inside. He really only comes inside when it is cold or raining. We feed him and provide him shelter but he still prefers to live as a 'Hobo'.

So...long story long...
I think you should let Dakota out. He will probably just come and go. A really big bonus of having indoor/outdoor cats is that we don't even have a cat box. If they need to pee...they go to the door...just like our dog does. They much rather pee outside than in a box. My nose is so happy with this arrangement.
Spike   Tuesday, November 30, 2010
keep dakota outside. don't be that person your friends all talk about behind your back because your home smells like cat urine. i had a co-worker that brought in a stray and his clothes smelled like urine every day but he didn't notice the smell on him, he only noticed the smell at home. if he's been peeing in your home for over a month now, on the floor and objects, i imagine theres a good chance your clothes smell like urine as well.

from what you've written, i gather that this is an outdoor cat that you tried to have domesticated, it failed, now set him free. let nature take its course, your cat seems to prefer it that way as well.
Dave Rock   Tuesday, November 30, 2010
I never had luck with a full grown stray staying inside completely. As long as he has his shots/ flea/tick meds/ and is fixed, I would say he would probably be happier being an inside/outside cat. Keep some water outside for him but let him come in to eat. You may be suprised that once he gets his "freedom" back, he will want to be inside with you more. Think of it this way, he has lived his life outside and is used to it. Being inside, using a litter box, etc is a complete change. I think evenutally he will come around if you ease into it, I found a stray cat, Cleo, right by both of our apartments in Daytona. she did the same thing and she is an inside/outside cat now and always comes to us for food and attention. She knows we will take care of her.
Marisa   Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Thanks for the advice everyone (Hi Marisa!) ...

Side note, he's fixed. He was picked up by the alley cat program and released back into our neighborhood.

So, for you indoor/outdoor cat owners, what do you do when your cat comes inside covered in unspeakable horror? This happened to Dakota several times when he got in fights with other cats. I can't get near him to clean him off, and he gets it on my furniture.

I love the idea of him being outside and free to lay in the sun, but our neighborhood is a cesspool. He's more likely to be laying in a pile of garbage than the sunshine. Plus there are cars going 60 miles an hour down our residential street... and semis and buses and dump trucks.
Betsy   Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Betsy, do you know anyone in a rural setting, with barns and/or other out buildings, that would be willing to add another cat to the mix? This would make him strictly an outdoor cat, but in a safer environment.
Angi   Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Hi Betsy :-) I would say don't install a kitty door where he could come in and out as he pleased. One of you would have to let him in so you can check him first. My cats have a cat house (Scott loves to call it that) outside on our deck so no matter what they have shelter and a blanket to cuddle up in. And trust me, they get into all sorts of stuff. We actually got a large dog house but I would get Dakota a small dog house and put a blanket and towels in there. Also food and water to let him know its his space. Facebook me if you need anything! Ask Andrea, Scott and I take in all the strays. We now have two dogs and six cats (all of them stay outside most of the time, by choice now) but we live out in the country on 17 acres. Also, as for the cars/buses he has survived this long out there, unless you can find him a home in the middle of nowhere, he sounds like he is pretty tough and can handle it! Hugs!
Marisa   Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Our two were gotten as kittens but are indoor/outdoor cats now. We have a cat door on one of our low windows and they are very happy coming and going as they please. Plus, as Spike said, no litterboxes! But then we live about 200 yards from the nearest road...so traffic is not a worry.
Do you keep your basement closed from the rest of the house? If you could install a cat door on the outside basement door or window (if you have one) and just allow him to come into the basement it might cut down on the dirt but allow him to have a safe, warm place to sleep.
If that isn't an option I would make him a safe place to stay somewhere around your home and put him outside. You've done all you can do for him and he shouldn't be interrupting your sleep and home life in such a major way. Keep him fed, warm, up to date on shots, and try to spend some time with him each day. That's about all you can do.
sandd   Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Yeah, i'm not sure what to say about the dirt. Sometimes one of our cats shows up and is funky but they will let us handle them. Holly smelled like she rolled in a dead animal last week. Eww!
We live in the city too. There are trucks, trains, buses, redneck monster trucks, and everything else. We even have the school bus depot on our street. Hobo and Holly are very street savvy cats. Indoor cats aren't very street smart and tend to get hit if they get out. But your street cat is smarter than you think. Our biggest threat to our cats is a neighbor who thinks he has a "spiritual connection" with Hobo. He steals him on occasion. I know when he has been around him because Hobo comes home smelling like cheap cologne. Yuck! That guy gives him table scraps. He is the only reason that Hobo even crosses the street. There is no spiritual connection going on...just some table scraps and a street cat! HA!
We also have a feral cat rescue on the end of our street. The lady that takes care of them (who also loves spandex) has a bunch of those cat boxes with lids out there. No cat liter in them...they are just used for shelters. That might work for you too if you have one.
Spike   Wednesday, December 1, 2010
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