Cats/Irritating Cat Behavior
We are going to be having a baby within the next several months, and my wife has become concerned with a few habits my cat has developed over the past few years. He is about 5 or 6 years old and is neutered, but he still has all of his claws. When he was about three, my sister moved in and got a kitten, but they got along pretty well. After about a year, they left. I only mention that because I know how changes in environment can effect behavior.
Anyway, here are the problem behaviors. one issue is that he keeps us both up at night. He tends to climb on our stomaches and knead against us, or he will lay up against us, and we will subconsiously (in our sleep) move away from him...then he will move closer, and we wake up in the middle of the night cramped on one side of the bed. He also tends to wake us up by simply getting up and moving around at various times throughout the night. We sometimes lock him in a room at night to get some sleep, but he clearly does not like this and I honestly feel really bad doing it.
The next problem is more of a concern for the baby. My cat is somewhat aggressive, and does not like strangers generally (especially males it seems). He won't go out of his way to attack someone usually, but if someone approaches him, he will grown and swat at them (usually without use of his claws). What is strange, however, is that he will often rub up against people's legs he doesn't know, and then he'll yell at them and swat when they reach down to pet him! Again, he rarely uses his claws, but he is very clearly angry when he does it.
The third issue is his constant meowing. When we come home from work, and when we wake up in the morning, he meows like crazy! sometiems its clear he's trying to just get attention, but other times he will do things like meow to have us let him out onto the porch only to immediately turn around and meow to get us to let him back in (over and over).
If you have any advice on what we can do to help with any of these issues it would be much appreciated. I have the thought that it may be because he is bored or not getting enough attention and perhaps getting a second cat would help, but I'm afraid he would just make the new cat miserable or even hurt it (he's very large, and obviously can be aggressive). If gettinga new cat is plausable, would we be better off with a male or female? Kitten or adult? Thanks!
Firstly can I say getting a new cat would definitely not be the answer and indeed could make things worse. cats are not pack animals like dogs and are quite happy to be on their own as long as they have lots to keep them occupied.
it sounds to me like he could be bored cat just due to the fact that he can't do all the catty like things their instincts tell them to do like climbing, hunting and stalking etc. A cat that goes outside gets all this stimulation naturally via their environment but an indoor cat needs to have this stimulation provided for him. I'm not sure if your cat does go out side or not, however please can I ask you to see my web page about keeping indoor cats entertained etc here
The meowing and nighttime wanderings are problems many cat owners suffer ( my own cat will wake me up at night from time to time, but then we have decided that this is OK for us, so we give her full access to all the house at night.)
unfortunately as night time is the main time cats are most active this is when they get bored and want attention from us, so we have to make a decision to either keep them out of your room at night or put up with it. If you do keep them in their own room at night, again it is important that they have plenty to keep them happy. Also i find that by playing a run around game with them about half an hour before bedtime and then feeding them just before that they tend to settle down more during the night.
I have several other pages which you may find of interest regarding your cats issues which you may find of help
Can i also say that it is quite normal and common for new mothers to be, to become anxious about their new baby and their cat. However generally it is unfounded. It is very unlikely that your cat will attack a baby as they only do so in defense. If you introduce the cat to the bay things as they arrive in the home and also the baby under supervision for the first few times this will allow the cat to become familiar with the new scent etc.
As the child grows there may be the odd occasion that they get scratched if they upset the cat etc but this is normal behavior and will teach the child about cats and how to treat them etc, (scratches are rarely bad)
It is important for your cat that they have their claws as it gives them balance and helps them climb and defend themselves. Declawing can be very painful and is akin to having your fingers amputated at the knuckle, so I beg of you not to consider declawing.
My web site has lots of other information that may be of interest of the coming months re bonding with your cat and general cat behavior etc. i hope the information can help to waylay your wifes fears.
best wishes Kate