Difficulties with "step-cats"; feeling resentful - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 7 Old 02-22-2013, 10:20 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi all. I guess I'm hoping for some advice, as well as a place to vent. Sorry this is so long.

 

To give you a little background about me and my feelings about cats: I love all animals. I had a super special cat from when I was 11 years old, who lived until I was 29. She & I had a great relationship; I was as close to her as any human (and I love lots of humans too, lol). I brushed her every day, scooped her cat litter daily (and when I had a picky roommate, vacuumed in front of it daily as well), took her to vet appointments regularly, cut her nails once a week, and spent lots of time hanging out with her and talking to her when I was home. She slept in my bed, she'd run to the door when I got home, she'd lie on my chest and we'd gaze into each other's eyes, she'd put her paw on my cheek when I was sad; in short, we had a wonderful, loving, mutually beneficial relationship. She certainly wasn't always perfectly behaved, but she seemed genuinely sorry when she upset me, and learned not to do certain things after a while. Even after her, I got along well with cats; I had a really irresponsible roommate a couple years later who adopted a cat in hopes that his 12 year old daughter, who didn't live with him full time, would take care of it; they both ultimately ignored it, and I cared for this cat, gave her attention, and finally got my parents to take her in after I moved away from there (I knew realistically that my life plans at that point simply could not include being a cat owner). I was pretty sure anyway that I didn't really want another cat; maybe a dog, someday, when I really had the time and energy to put into it.

 

Another thing: I have volunteered at animal shelters, starting in my early teens, and FIRMLY believe that adoption of an animal is for life.

 

Fast forward a few years. I'm sleeping at my soon-to-be husbands house. He has two cats. They're kind of weird, but he explains that they were rescues, and they are a lot better than they used to be. While we are sleeping, they piss all over my bag & clothes. He apologizes profusely, I say they were probably just jealous, and assure them that we will become the best of friends (because obviously, even though I personally didn't want cats, my husband adopted them, so they come along with him).

 

Fast forward a couple more years: I can't stand these cats. They have pissed on several things (which I have washed). After I did some research (note: I did the research, not my husband), we got a second  cat box; this helped somewhat, but they still piss on things. For this reason, I can't let them in the bedroom, and my 9 month old son's playmat has to be in our shared bedroom (in our 1 bedroom apartment). A little awkward when we want to have playdates here. The cats are not really affectionate. One mostly ignores us. The other like to sit with his anus pressed against your bare skin. Honestly, that is what he wants. If you try to adjust him, he usually just runs away. One of them likes to knock stuff off shelves on purpose; he also will occasionally bite or scratch if you annoy him. They puke on convenient places like the couch and the futon (maybe that's normal, but my cat never did that). They don't seem to care at all if they upset us. They are just not pleasant to have around.

 

Compounded by this is my husband's care of them, or lack thereof. It is totally different in every way than how I cared for my late beloved cat. Yes, he makes sure they have food & water daily, but that's where any kind of daily care ends. He scoops out their cat boxes ONCE A WEEK (ugh!). There is always cat litter all over the floor; we tried a mat, but they like to piss on the mat, and my husband rarely cleans in front of the cat litter. Of course I try to sweep as much as possible, but I don't always get to it daily, and there are always bits of cat litter sticking to our feet (which then ends up everywhere, including in our bed and on our son's playmat). He almost never cuts their nails, and they have really sharp, jagged nails; I am afraid for our son (who of course tries to grab them), and on the rare occasion when they are affectionate and stretch out a paw to us, it's usually met with a yelp of pain from us because of their razor sharp, jagged nails (this probably doesn't help with them wanting to be affectionate). He almost never brushes them, and there is cat hair everywhere. Right now, they are a few months late on their vet appointment, which will never happen unless I set it up. My husband doesn't really pay much attention to them at all. I suggested we get a new cat toy a few months ago; only I have played with it with them. No wonder they are not much fun to be around; from their perspective, humans just aren't very interesting or relevant.

 

I am so frustrated at this situation. We have a very energetic & demanding 9 month old baby; I really don't have the time, energy or desire to properly care for and socialize two unfriendly, behaviorally-challenged cats. As I said, I didn't even want cats; I didn't want ANY pet until I felt I was really ready to give it the time and attention it deserves (I figured I'd wait on the dog until our son was older). My husband and I have had several fights about this; he always ends up empathizing with me and promising to care for them better & socialize them more, but not much has changed. Giving them away is not an option. Giving them to a shelter would be their death warrant, and I am definitely not okay with that. As far as re-homing them - be honest, if you have read this far, would you want them? I'm tired of nagging my husband about this. And frankly, I don't want my son to grow up thinking this is how you relate to pets; I want him to experience the wonderful, mutually beneficial relationship that I had with pets growing up.

 

Anyone have a similar situation? Any suggestions? Thanks for reading.

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#2 of 7 Old 02-23-2013, 12:34 AM
 
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I sympathize with you. My husband came equipped with a problem cat. You don't says how many litter boxes total you have. It should be 1 more than the number of cats. It should also be scooped DAILY if you want any hope of them not eliminating improperly. We scoop our cats poop out every time he poops.
I know it's a pain in the ass to have to scoop 3 liter boxes daily but if your husband is unwilling to do it someone is going to have to or the cats will continue to spray. Are they fixed? If not getting them fixed might also alleviate the problem.
Do you guys have scratching post so that the cats can take care of their own claw needs. You don't really need to clip a cats nails they are generally able to take care of them themselves.
Good luck with the cats. Hopefully the relationship with them will get better.
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#3 of 7 Old 02-23-2013, 12:34 AM
 
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Double post
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#4 of 7 Old 03-05-2013, 07:14 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the reply, zoolife!

 

We have 2 litter boxes - I know 3 would be ideal, but living in a 1 bedroom apartment, I don't know where we'd put another. I've really emphasized the importance of the litter boxes being scooped every day, and my husband has gotten a bit better about that.

 

The cats are neutered, and they do have a scratching post. I think the main problem is that they were basically feral before my husband got them; they were indoor cats, but were just neglected in a basement with lots of other cats, and not at all socialized. So, they still pee on things; mostly fabric, and one of them doesn't seem to know what to do with a scratching post, even after several years.

 

Thanks for your well wishes!
 

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#5 of 7 Old 04-12-2013, 11:13 PM
 
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Sounds horrible. You are way more patient then I could be. I'm sorry no answers, just sympathy ...

Kids. I got two of 'em.
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#6 of 7 Old 04-12-2013, 11:51 PM
 
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They're most likely never going to change. You've been around these cats for how long? My guess is at least a few years now. Have they changed? It doesnt sound like they have, at least not in a substantial way. The problem with cats that were once feral or neglected is they lack the strong desire for cleanliness that well-cared for, domesticated cats have. I'n not sure why this is exactly but i've seen it and heard about it many times. They see nothing wrong with peeing everywhere and being unaffectionate, this is part of their temperament. I have never heard of cats changing their behavior unless they become really sick or old or traumatized. Its also possible that if they are two male cats they might be feeling the need to exert their dominance by peeing in other places other than their litter box, i've heard about that happening but i dont know exactly why they do it (and, yes, neutered males will do this too). In their case, it really sounds like this is how they were "trained" to be due to lack of actual training and proper care. If you had started caring for them as young kittens then there would have been a much higher likelihood of changing their behavior, but at this point i'd say there is very little chance of that.

If i were you, living in a small apartment with an exploratory baby and a husband who doesnt put much effort in to them, i would do what makes me the most comfortable. As harsh as this may sound, dont think in terms of whats best for the cats, think about whats best for the people. Your family is having to live with these animals in a tiny space that are unhygienic, not easily trainable, sometimes aggressive and just plain unpleasant to be around. Why would you want to put yourselves through this?? Its just not worth it in the end. If that was my baby, i would be concerned of him playing on fabric that had been peed on because its difficult to get potent cat urine completely out of fabric, no matter how good you clean it. I also would be concerned for his safety with cats who are not friendly--its very possible that they'll scratch him for no real reason. There are many reasons why they're not suitable pets for your family. This is also not a burden you need to carry. Being humane also means being humane towards humans. Its easy to forget that. As far as re-homing them, just explain the basics, you dont need to go into extreme detail. Say they were once feral so that people will have a general idea of what they're like--some pet owners like a challenge. In the end, though, i hope you do what's right for your family, even if it means taking them to a shelter. Your husband is not acting responsibly for the pets he adopted, therefore, its time to give them to someone who will. Marrying him doesnt mean you have to carry his responsibilities, especially if they are detrimental to your and your child's well-being.

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#7 of 7 Old 04-13-2013, 12:26 AM
 
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If they're peeing on everything, there's two things that should cross your mind.. is it a medical issue, or do they not like the litter? Is the litter scented? Cats do NOT like scented things. That may be why they were peeing on your clothes; maybe they had no smell in comparison to their litter box. Are the litter boxes hooded? While hooded might be fine for some cats, the majority seem to like their litter boxes without hoods. Hoods trap in odors, and they also severely decrease the area the cat has to step in order to use the litter box. Most cats will try to keep themselves out of the litter box as much as possible to avoid stepping in urine and feces. Ours will balance on the rim of the litter box if they feel they have to to remain clean.

 

If it's unscented litter, they may just not like the texture, period. Sometimes cats are fine with a type of litter for a while, but it slowly aggrivates them to the point that, one day, they decide they've had it.

 

You may want to look into Dr. Elsey's Cat Attract litter. It's soft, and as its name implies, helps attract cats(assuming it is not a medical issue), back to the litter box.

 

You mentioned they haven't been to the vet lately. Cats, if fed dry food, are always at high risk for urinary crystals and tract infections. ESPECIALLY boy cats because their urethra is so much smaller. If their aversion to the litter box isn't due to it being hooded, or due to the type of litter itself, they could have infections. This would also cause them to pee everywhere, as, whenever cats pee when they have an infection, they will associate pain with the surface they peed on. Also, it might explain the aggression if their bodies hurt.

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