If you are new to my blog, there are a couple of relevant things you should know before we get to Kai’s behaviour modification program. Firstly, I live in the Philippines where it’s common to have domestic staff and drivers. It’s not exploitation, which I also address here in my article on Linked In; it provides fulfilling employment to locals who would otherwise not be able to support themselves or their families. My helper Lyn is an absolute wonder, and intrinsic to my household. She has a good job with me, is well paid and loves her work.
Secondly, the issues around Kai’s behaviour reached an intolerable level over recent weeks. He has been bullying Lulu for some time, and was previously a significant factor in Maxi being rehomed after he made her life so unhappy. He’s still part feral and is easily stressed. He displays a lot of territorial behaviour and pees all over the place. His territorial peeing instigated territorial peeing by Lulu, Chico, Pip and Asha.
To address the fighting and peeing issues, I have tried the following:
- Calming collar
- Feliway atomiser – in the room in which they sleep, in the lounge and kitchen
- Feliway spray on their beds
- Pet Rescue Remedy in their water
- Separating Kai and Lulu overnight
- Spirit Essences
For 9 cats I have 13 litter trays in various locations using two types of litter. They each have their own food bowl and are fed over a wide area several times per day. They have 4 water fountains inside and one bowl outside. They have an enclosed garden with a cat flap for access from 6am – 9pm, and two catios at the back of the house with cat flaps for access 24/7. They have an abundance of nice places to sleep, cat condo’s, high perches and climbers and lots of toys. What they don’t have is enough of me. I am the scarce resource.
Over the last few months, the peeing has become worse and the fighting with Lulu escalated. One day Kai decided to show Chico who was boss, which started a round of fighting between those two – this time with Chico as the regular instigator. The stress in the house surrounding Kai has become palpable and the peeing worse.
Lyn cleans my house from top to bottom 5 days a week, yet it was starting to smell like a toilet. I have a black light to highlight the pee areas after dark, and was horrified to find stains on the walls in almost every room. I had to take some action. Kai had a full physical and dental examination and there is no physical cause for his behaviour.
In discussion with a friend who had suffered similar issues, she shared her experience putting her cat on prescription medication. I consulted with several vets in Cebu and my former vet in Manila, but none could advise me on the medicine, so I had to go it alone. I was able to buy Fluoxetine over the counter in Cebu, which is Prozac, a popular antidepressant for humans. I was only able to buy 20mg capsules; my research showed that 10mg was a standard dose for a cat.
I proceeded with caution, without the oversight of a vet. Breaking the capsule open, I gave him 1/8th of the powder mixed with some cream cheese, which is quarter of the recommended dose. There were no adverse reactions, so I increased the dosage to 5mg, which is half the recommended dose. After a few further days, I increased it to the full 10mg dose. Lyn decided to try giving it to him without the cream cheese and managed to get the powder into his mouth, but the second day of this he figured out how to salivate to eject it. I’m also not happy with this – I’m sure it’s very bitter tasting. I’m trying to find Fluoxetine in tablet form instead of capsule as this will make it easier. In the meantime, my next technique is to use a syringe with the powder mixed into tuna water.
At the same time, I moved one of the Feliway vaporisers into my bedroom, as Kai sleeps with me at night. This is causing a bit of jealously amongst the kitties, but I’m hoping once there is some long-lasting behaviour change in him, he may be able to move back into the cats’ room at night.
So far it’s been a week, and Lulu has been playing in the lounge room near Kai today. And yesterday I caught him grooming Tully – something he’s never done before. Last night Asha tried to pick a playfight with him and he didn’t rise to the bait, so I think the medicine is working.
Putting a kitty on prescription human anti-depressants is not something I wanted to do or would recommend. And I certainly don’t recommend anyone takes this step without the guidance of a qualified veterinarian. Unfortunately, I felt I had no other option to preserve my sanity and the health and well being of all the kitties in my care.