• StevenF

How to Help Her

I've mentioned many times that Chappy is kind of our problem cat. She is a sweet cat when it's just her and either Isaias or me, but when she gets around the other cats, she tends to freak out.

Chappy has always been an odd cat from the beginning. We used to wonder if maybe she had something equivalent to cat autism. Regardless of what causes her behavior, we have felt that maybe she has some sort of mental illness. Unfortunately, as she gets older, it seems to get worse.

Chappy always seems to be full of anxiety and fear. Sometimes she gets unnecessarily aggressive, even with Isaias and me.

She has gotten more and more skittish as she gets older. The slightest move will set her off.

She's always bitten and clawed much harder than she should, even when she is playing. She doesn't seem to understand how to playfully nip and claw. It's all or nothing with her.

She yearns for affection but also seems oversensitive to it. Or she will want us to pet her but will run away if we try to do so.

She doesn't particularly like being held. She is not a lap cat in any way, shape, or form. If we do scratch or pet her, she starts licking herself uncontrollably.

About six years ago, she started peeing in inappropriate places. This was before Grizzabella, Jasper or Franki were part of our family. At first, we thought it was Trooper because Trooper was having health issues at the time. But we eventually learned that it was Chappy, and unfortunately, the only solution we have found to get her to stop is to keep her confined to her room, where she doesn't pee, and then let her go out on supervised excursions.

Lately she has gotten really agitated during her supervised jaunts because she can smell Franki, and even though he and Grizzy are locked up while Chappy is out, she behaves as though they are present, growling, hissing, and panting as she picks up their scents.

When Grizzy first moved into our home, she tried to be friends with Chappy, but Chappy was terrified of her. Eventually Chappy attacked her, and now Grizzy is afraid of her. We haven't even attempted to see if Franki and Chappy can get on with each other. Chappy has seen him a few times and always behaves as though she is going to attack him. So I think it would end up being traumatic for them both.

We don't like keeping Chappy confined for long stretches, and I fear the isolation is only making her behavioral issues worse. But it also seems unsafe to let her out with the other cats, and we can't even let her out alone unsupervised or she will pee.

Isaias and I often take turns sleeping with her or just hanging out with her, and of course, we take her out when we have opportunities to do so. But it is hard to watch this anxiety-riddled cat not be able to cope with the many changes that have occurred in our cat family these past years.

We have considered getting a behaviorist to check her out and maybe offer some suggestions. We would have to get someone who would come here because taking Chappy somewhere else is always fraught with difficulty. She becomes so agitated, like a little devil, when we have tried.

I sometimes feel Chappy is so set in her behaviors that it would be difficult to help her break free of them. We have tried calming collars, calming room plug-ins, and many of the suggestions we have read online regarding problematic cats, but even the things that used to help seem less helpful these days. She is just a continually anxious cat, and it is hard to watch our baby so unhappy at times.

I really wish we knew how to better help her. It's very tough.

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