Help me keep my cat
June 9, 2009 3:29 PM   Subscribe

My husband has given me a deadline of two weeks to keep our cat from waking us up at night. If I can't change her or find a home for her he will insist on giving her to a shelter. (alternatively, if you live near Ft. Wayne In and would like to adopt the cat)

Our animal control shelter kills animals and no-kill shelters in the area are not taking more animals.

She cries at night and wakes us up. I sleep through it easily and have not considered it to be a big deal but last night my husband got frustrated and decided that she must leave. On the revelation that no one we know wants her and all the no kill shelters are full, he has given me two weeks to stop the behavior or she'll go to animal control.

We've had her for a year, she's now three years old. We have tried ignoring her: I think in part she meows just to entertain herself. We've tried punishing her by spraying her with water (she doesn't mind a little water) and completely dousing her in the shower (she may or may not settle down for one night, but starts the next night, and getting up multiple times a night to douse her is more disturbing than her behavior). Plus punishment is a possible issue if she's happier to get negative attention than to be ignored.

I am considering getting her a shock collar for small dogs. I want to know if this will harm her physically in any way, she is a smallish cat and weighs 8 pounds. I would normally not consider this a humane treatment at all. I feel like this is a last resort to save her life.

I love this cat, please help me help her.
posted by Niomi to Pets & Animals (130 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Oh, my God--wtf is the deal with your husband?

I mean, if your AskMe is about helping you keep the cat---how can he be so callous about something you care about, that he'd let it be killed?

The cat sounds bored and might need a cat friend, or even a dog friend, but I'd hesitate to recommend bringing any other animals into a household where you get told to straighten up and fly right or you'll get gassed.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 3:31 PM on June 9, 2009 [16 favorites]

Response by poster: Getting another animal isn't an option.
posted by Niomi at 3:32 PM on June 9, 2009

Do you have a basement that you could put a spare litter box in? Put some food and water down there and lock her up for the night?

I don't like the idea of the shock collar.

Can't your husband wear earplugs?
posted by royalsong at 3:33 PM on June 9, 2009

You don't mention whether or not she's fixed.

The overwhelmingly likely prospect is that she's in heat. There is no amount of punishment that will stop her from crying if she has hormones coursing through her little body telling her that she desperately needs to mate.

Getting her spayed will usually stop this. And it'll make her a hell of a lot happier if she doesn't have to feel these crazy feelings.
posted by koeselitz at 3:35 PM on June 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

completely dousing her in the shower (she may or may not settle down for one night, but starts the next night, and getting up multiple times a night to douse her is more disturbing than her behavior). Plus punishment is a possible issue if she's happier to get negative attention than to be ignored.

I am considering getting her a shock collar for small dogs.

Please give up on changing the cat's behavior, find a new home for the cat, and refrain from purchasing or adopting another pet. You are not qualified to be an animal's caretaker. This is a serious response and I am saying this with good faith and good intentions.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 3:36 PM on June 9, 2009 [96 favorites]

Response by poster: I obviously did not include enough information. She's fixed. We live in a studio apartment. We've locked her in the bathroom but that does not contain her noise, especially since she will get louder and more upset when confined.

She also cries when I take a shower.
posted by Niomi at 3:36 PM on June 9, 2009

what about putting it in a cage outside at night.
posted by Flood at 3:36 PM on June 9, 2009

Is the cat free fed or are there scheduled feedings? Our cats bothered us every morning because they wanted food (and one had a weight problem, so free feeding wasn't an option). We got an automated feeder and this helped cut down on the bother in the morning. Occasionally I'll forget to refill the feeder and I still get the cat reminder in the AM though...
posted by curse at 3:37 PM on June 9, 2009

To be clear, her life is not "at risk," except in the sense that your husband (and you, by complicity) are putting it there.

Cats are cats. They don't train easily. They don't often associate punishment with the behavior that inspired it. That's not their failing -- it's their catness.

The shock collar? Awful idea. You're right, it's not humane. Dousing her in the shower? Equally inhumane. See above, about not associating punishment with bad behavior. You're basically just simulating drowning for her, and she has no idea why. Hell yes, she's going to wake you up in the night. Out of spite, if nothing else.

The one thing I can think of is separating the cat from your bedroom. Shut the door. This probably won't work, because she won't understand why the door closed and will work tenaciously to correct the situation. That will just make your husband madder, I suspect. You could try crating her, but since she's not a kitten, that's a little cruel. Cats are active at night. Confining her during the night is nothing more than cruelly bending her natural instinct to your husband's demands.

You could also try Feliway. Some people rave about it.

Honestly, it sounds to me like your cat would be better off in another home if your husband is so inflexible when it comes to cat quirks. Even if you stem this one, you've got a lifetime of baffling cat behavior to look forward to. What will he do then? Will the cat always be one threat away from heading down to the local euthanasia depot?

If he ends up winning, please at least do some footwork to find a local rescue organization, a giving family, or an SPCA chapter. That cat does not deserve to die just because your husband is an ass.
posted by mudpuppie at 3:39 PM on June 9, 2009 [13 favorites]

Optimus, I think you're being a little extreme.

She's at her ropes end trying to find a way to please her husband and keep her beloved furry family member. Especially when she has as little as two weeks. The shock collar is a bad idea, but you noticed she asked - instead of just going ahead and doing it.

As for dousing her cat in the shower.. what's inhumane about that? Wet cat is no fun, but far from harmful to the feline.

Also, if your cat is fixed and still meowing - does she look like she has Siamese in her (large ears in proportion to the rest of her head)? Speaking from the owner of a part Siamese cat, I know they like to talk/cry.
posted by royalsong at 3:41 PM on June 9, 2009 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: We feed her in the evenings before we go to bed. Dousing in the shower is not what I made it sound like, her head does not go under the water. It's just that spraying she does not care about, so we are increasing the amount of water.

I want to rehome my cat but I am finding it difficult. Training her, even cruelly, seems better than death. People don't seem to get it. I am looking but right now her only rehome option is a shelter that kills.
posted by Niomi at 3:42 PM on June 9, 2009

Do you have cat toys out on the floor? At night, our cats will carry their toys around in their mouths and meow in this weird, loud, plaintive, creepy way. I would try picking up cat toys before using a shock collar.

I guess generally I would try to figure out why the cat is doing this. Hungry? Lonely? One of our cats, I swear, gets "lost" in our apartment and cries in a similar, but slightly different weird way to the "I have a toy in my meowth" cry. A lot of times when this happens, all we have to do to get her to shut up is call, "Here kitty kitty!" and she will come running into the bedroom, jump on the bed for some sleepy pets, and then settle down and go to sleep.

Has your cat had a full vet check up lately? She might have a UTI or some other malady that is invisible to the naked eye but bothers her at night. Definitely call your vet to at least ask about why a cat might do this, and to get a professional opinion about the shock collar. You might explain your situation, too, and the vet could possibly help you find a home for the cat.

I don't mean to pile on here, but sending the cat to her death seems outrageously disproportionate.
posted by jennyb at 3:45 PM on June 9, 2009

How about earplugs?

I mean, seriously, if the cat doesn't modify its behavior, perhaps the humans might modify their behavior?
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:46 PM on June 9, 2009 [4 favorites]

I'm with A Terrible Llama... You need to have a serious talk with your husband about his attitude towards this other, living thing in your life that you care about other than him. What is he going to do if you have a kid and it cries at night? Ask that you give it away or have it killed?

Cats will meow, and wake you up at night. If she's crying at night, is she too cold or too hot? Have you talked with your vet about the behavior? It could be a form of separation anxiety. Try giving her a blanket or towel that smells like you, to comfort her (like you would a small child). Or try putting a cat bed in your bedroom (tell your husband he can bloody well cope, and LIKE IT). If that doesn't work, your vet may be able to proscribe something to help her relax at night. Does she have enough toys to play with? Enough room to wander around in? These can all be sources of anxiety for cats.
posted by strixus at 3:46 PM on June 9, 2009 [4 favorites]

If it comes to that, here's a page with list of no-kill shelters in Indiana. (Scroll down)
posted by mudpuppie at 3:47 PM on June 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

Optimus, I think you're being a little extreme.

She's at her ropes end trying to find a way to please her husband and keep her beloved furry family member. Especially when she has as little as two weeks. The shock collar is a bad idea, but you noticed she asked - instead of just going ahead and doing it.

I'm not interested in a debate - I want what is best for this woman and this cat. I know she is "trying to find a way to please her husband and keep her beloved furry family member," but these two desires are mutually exclusive. This cat will always be a nuisance to them, because they do not understand cats and they do not know the basics of animal care and training. A cat raised in a home where the owner's first response to undesirable behavior is various types of punishment - water, electricity, confinement - will turn out to "misbehave" more and more. It's either now or two months from now or a year from now, but there's no way in hell that cat is living out a peaceful happy life in that home for the next decade.

Everyone - cat, husband, wife - will be better off if they find that cat a better home.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 3:49 PM on June 9, 2009 [42 favorites]

Okay, to focus on your question more, now that I've vented my horror:

Flyers at work seem to do okay for the people I work with anyway, I've seen like three. People who are emotionally invested in animals are more likely to help if they know you.

Second, food co-ops usually have bulletin boards and are filled with crazy cat ladies (and gentlemen) with soft, soft hearts.

Put together a good flyer explaining the situation, with a picture, and post it where people either know you or you can be a little more assured that the people themselves don't suck (I'd be worried about a service like Craig's List, that you might get someone who shouldn't have a cat.)

And the last thing I will say is that I think your husband's callousness is cause for concern, not just for the cat, but in general.

Good luck to you. I hope you find your cat a good home.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 3:49 PM on June 9, 2009 [2 favorites]

There are alternatives to animal control. Have you put in an ad on craigslist? Your local newspaper? I got two of my cats this way.
posted by heavenstobetsy at 3:50 PM on June 9, 2009

Training her, even cruelly, seems better than death. People don't seem to get it.

The methods you suggest, while cruel, do not involve training.

I honestly think the only real solution here (unless you can find someone to take the cat) is going to be for your husband to change his approach. If I were in a relationship with someone who issued this kind of ultimatum, I would be having serious second thoughts about the relationship. If things go the way he proposes in two weeks, I don't see how this could be anything but extremely damaging to you.
posted by advil at 3:52 PM on June 9, 2009 [4 favorites]

I also think you need to find a new home for your kitty. Like mudpuppie said, cats are weird. Even if you manage to stop this issue, there will be some other behavior issue, or the cat will backslide and wake you up every night for two weeks, then mysteriously stop again (I speak from experience). I'm not judging you, but it sounds like you are not in the right place (either mentally or physically) for a cat. I have three cats that I love, but in a studio apartment? Never. I don't think I could handle that either. Good luck.
posted by Rock Steady at 3:52 PM on June 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

A shock-collar or dowsing with water isn't go to result in a quiet cat - just a traumatized one. It's basically torture - there's no connection in the animal's mind between what you're doing and what they're doing: especially if the mewing is because they're distressed in some way. Given that every time she expresses her distress you punish her, it's not likely to get better.

That distress might be from hormones, or boredom, or loneliness, or wanting to know you're there, or even just being afraid of the dark - you need to work out what it is, not try to metaphorically beat it out of her. She might just be missing you - if she cries when you take a shower, maybe it's separation anxiety. This can be worked through, no problem. But punishing her for it is not the way to go - and if that's the way your husband sees it, for god sake rehome the animal. The cat won't miss him.
posted by DangerIsMyMiddleName at 3:52 PM on June 9, 2009 [5 favorites]

I have to agree with Optimus Chyme. Dousing your cat in the shower for punishment? Are you serious? I don't know of any evidence that punishment works for cats.

Is your cat allowed to sleep in bed with you? Does your cat have enough food at night? Is your cat's litterbox clean? Do you play with your cat during the day so that it is tired at night?

This post is really upsetting - your husband is being unreasonable, and you are being unrealistic in you expectations of cat behavior.
posted by shrabster at 3:56 PM on June 9, 2009

You cannot train a cat in 2 weeks. Instead focusing on brokering a compromise with your husband. You need to get him to accept the cat in the house under the condition that you are actively seeking a new home that won't kill it.
posted by milarepa at 3:56 PM on June 9, 2009

Response by poster: I am searching for a new home for the cat. I can't find one that I don't know won't kill her. If this is the only place that she can stay that will not kill her, I have to take drastic actions so that she is allowed to stay. Compromise with my husband is unlikely if not impossible. I have promised I will work my hardest to get her to change.
posted by Niomi at 3:57 PM on June 9, 2009

get a loud air purifier for the bed room.. the fan noise will quickly become white noise and you'll not hear the cat (my kids can be cheering through a red-wing hockey game literally 8 feet from my bed, on the other side of the wall, and I don't hear a thing).

keep the cat out of the bedroom..

the water and collar won't change the behavior...

and, then work on finding a new home for the cat, I agree that your household isn't a place for any being you can't control 100%.

and... don't have kids, at least not yet, they are more annoying than cats!
posted by HuronBob at 3:58 PM on June 9, 2009

You can always try giving her away through Craigslist. Make sure you put a picture of her at her cutest in the post and ask for a rehoming fee of $10. (Even though you're desperate to find her a good home, even a small rehoming fee is a very, very good idea.)

You also should ask your husband to wake you up every time she starts meowing. Maybe your husband wouldn't get as frustrated if you were the one who had to deal with her behavior, instead of him... If it's your cat, mainly, and yet you're the one getting a good night's sleep while he's woken up and pestered, of course it's a situation that will leave him angry.

You also may want to check out some books on cat behavior problems, such as Think Like A Cat. It may help you understand why your cat is frustrated and what you can do to change her behavior. From the way you have described your attempts to deal with her meowing, it sounds like you either do not have any experience dealing with cats or have never had a problem cat before... Either way, you just don't seem to have the appropriate tool set yet for figuring out your poor kitty's problems.

Have you asked a vet about it? A vet could probably give you some advice about what's up with your kitty and what you could do to help.

Now, I have to say, I find your husband's ultimatum completely grotesque -- you shouldn't have to condemn a creature you love to death just because he's a little frustrated. At the same time, however, if the two of you are living in a studio apartment so small that the cat can't do anything at night without you guys being disrupted by it, it may be better for her if you can find her a new home.
posted by Ms. Saint at 4:01 PM on June 9, 2009

Is your bedroom door closed at night, or do you let kitty into your room when you sleep? She might just want to be near her people.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:02 PM on June 9, 2009

Not going to be a popular response, but...can you put her outdoors at night? (Get her chipped first, of course)

I know, I know, but a million cats survive it every night (I know some don't), maybe this one will, too?
posted by tristeza at 4:02 PM on June 9, 2009

Ideally another cat would be the right solution, as it would give cat #1 most of the attention it wants, but, yeah, I would not recommend that here.

As an owner of a cat that likes to whine at night, the best solution I've found is a white noise machine. It makes it easier to sleep, muffling the whining. But, even better, the cat has started to catch on that the white noise machine means that it's sleep-time, and that he's not going to get a whole lot of attention. So the whining has been all but eliminated.

You have to work with cats, not punish them. Get them used to certain routines and make up cues, like white noise, that they can associate those routines with.
posted by hiteleven at 4:04 PM on June 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

The point is that you WILL NOT get a cat to change behavior in two weeks. It's basically impossible. Racing against the clock to try to change its behavior is waste of energy that would be much better spent trying to find it a living situation that won't result in it being put down for simply being a cat.

I know what it's like to be woken up every night by a cat, but giving it to a kill shelter is just crazy. No matter how stubborn your husband is, and boy does he sound stubborn, I guarantee your cat is 100 times more stubborn. Work on changing your husband's mind in two weeks to at least keep the animal from being slaughtered.
posted by milarepa at 4:05 PM on June 9, 2009 [2 favorites]

I'm with Optimus. Your cat needs something, she's trying to tell you, and you punish her. Cats respond to positive reinforcement much more readily than to negative reinforcement, so you can spray her all you want, even put her in the shower, which is a godawful non-solution, and it's not going to fix the issue.

If you have a bedroom door that closes (I see you said Studio apt, but that's a broad class where I am from, close the door. Put the vacuum, or even a hand vac, outside the door, run the cord in, plug it into a surge protector, turn the SP off, turn the vac on. You can use that to show that noise=bigloudthing and she won't associate it with you or with getting your attention and she MIGHT STOP. But she might not. She's a cat.

Your husband, I hate to say it, needs to grow up. It's a cat. She cannot reason the way you can, and she just wants attention and love.
posted by Medieval Maven at 4:10 PM on June 9, 2009 [3 favorites]

All these commenters speaking of bedroom doors: this is a *studio* apartment. I think the only door is the bathroom. And please try leaflets in the workplace or Kijiji ads or something. Sounds like your home is not suitable for any being that has a mind of its own.
posted by fish tick at 4:13 PM on June 9, 2009

Playing until you tire them out doesn't always work. I cat-danced (a toy) my crazy boy during an entire performance of Messiah on the radio (mentioned to give you an idea of duration). It did no good.

I sympathize, and I am single in an efficency apartment. I have a charming, handsome, and incredibly difficult male, part-siamese cat. He knocked a large tube television to the floor, just by example. There are many examples I could cite. I got him a companion, and that helped a lot, but not completely. This is clearly not an option for you.

Recently, I put his cat bed in the bathroom. He already likes hanging out there, anyway, especially in the tubs. He's been going in and plopping down on the bed.

Then I started carrying him in when I retire at night. He heads straight for the bed. The other cat sleeps with me, and she's a lot happier, too. We had a problem with her using a plant a night, but now she wakes me if she has to go.

You don't have enough time for this option, but if you do it in a reduced time frame, it might work. A fan will help with the noise.

Notices at the vet can help you rehome.

I used to have a bad view of those who rehomed, in general. But I know the "wit's end" feeling. My late kitty was wonderful. My current girl is, also. But if I'd had this boy as a first pet, I don't know that there'd be any more. I've been afraid to rehome lest a new owner send him to the shelter and then he goes down.

But I am single. I am so sorry. MeMail if you like.
posted by jgirl at 4:13 PM on June 9, 2009

Punishment doesn't work. Do not use a shock collar.

Seek the help of an animal behaviourist or find a new home for the cat. Dowsing it, locking it up and punishing it is not going to stop it making a noise.
posted by fire&wings at 4:14 PM on June 9, 2009

Have you considered exchanging your husband for a less-monstrous one?

Ok seriously this time: buy the jerk some earplugs, tell him never to threaten your cat's life again or he will be a divorcee.
posted by mullingitover at 4:14 PM on June 9, 2009 [16 favorites]

Let's edit this. Let's say that the husband is suffering extreme respiratory distress due to a severe allergy to cat dander.

What do you suggest? Nose plugs?

It's the husband's home, too. Being awoken every night FOR A YEAR is simply not healthy or acceptable and sleeping with earplugs is dangerous, especially in an apartment.

The cat must go.
posted by bz at 4:14 PM on June 9, 2009 [23 favorites]

I'd renegotiate with your husband about his time limit, and get to work. There are a lot of books out there about trying to train your cat. If you can show your husband good faith perhaps he will reconsider. I'm fairly confident that you can find a home for the cat, so I don't consider its life to be in danger.

I'm glad to hear that you're taking his concerns seriously, though. Pets are pets, and if they are having a large negative impact on your quality of life (and quality of sleep is central to quality of life), then you need to find a solution ASAP. Were I married to a person who didn't take this seriously, it would cause me to reconsider where there love really lay. Rhetoric aside, anyone who would seriously jeopardize a marriage over a cat is a monster. So, good for you for taking his ultimatum to heart, although I hope that he loosens it.
posted by OmieWise at 4:15 PM on June 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

Only one tub in this efficiency. Not used to typing on the laptop.
posted by jgirl at 4:16 PM on June 9, 2009

Oy. While I don't agree with your husband's response, I do feel his frustration. My cat also wakes me up at night, frequently, but I put up with it because she's my cat and I love her. My husband sleeps through it usually, but I wake up from a) her banging on the door to be let in (she's indoor/outdoor), and b) incessant meowing (for food or just attention). It can be really annoying, but it's just regular cat behavior. Some nights she doesn't wake me at all, other nights it's multiple times.

I advise taking all steps to find a new home, as suggested above (Craigslist, flyers, etc.) In the meantime, take her to a vet to rule out any medical issues. Play with her lots during waking hours, maybe she will sleep through the night. Get her a soft bed (ours is fleece lined, and we set up high so she lord over everyone). Ask your husband to wear earplugs, and try out the white noise machine idea. These things are just be temporary solutions until you find a home for her, as it really doesn't sound like your husband is willing to put up with cat behavior, and your place sounds too small for them to coexist.

Also, I hope you are strong enough to put your foot down on this "two weeks or die" garbage. I would give him the benefit of the doubt and say he was tired, cranky, and hyperbolic, but you seem to take him at face value. You need to advocate for your cat and tell your husband you agree the cat needs a new home as soon as possible, but if it takes longer than two weeks, so be it. Come on, woman.
posted by JenMarie at 4:22 PM on June 9, 2009 [8 favorites]

I have to take drastic actions so that she is allowed to stay. Compromise with my husband is unlikely if not impossible

I find it chilling that you are perfectly willing to consider "drastic actions" such as meaninglessly torturing your uncomprehending cat by using a shocking dog collar, but that compromise with your husband is totally impossible.

If you are so convinced that no place will take her, and that even if some place took her in you'd somehow not be sure if they just went ahead and killed her after going through the trouble of adopting her, and you're so willing to inflict pain for no good reason to the cat, it may be better for everyone if you just let the cat go, even if it is a kill shelter. Or just drive her a long way from home and let her out, then drive away.

I'd honestly sleep better tonight if I thought that cat went to a peaceful, if entirely too early, sleep, rather than thinking of you trying to force your husband's unreasonable demands on an animal that has no way of understanding what you want, by essentially torturing the cat. I just find that horrible.

Of course it'd be a million, trillion times better to get your husband to see reason, but you say that's absolutely impossible. It would be so much better to find someone to adopt her, but you already seem convinced that's also impossible. I don't think torturing the cat to "save" her is quite the compassionate act you think it is.
posted by splice at 4:24 PM on June 9, 2009 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Yes, studio apartment is one room, only other 'rooms' in our apartment is a door and a bathroom. I lived with another cat in a studio for years and as she was much mellower than my current one I did not anticipate this issue at all. It is an error on my part.

My husband is a much lighter sleeper than I. He had complained for a year that the cat was interfering with his quality of life for a long time, but since it did not bother me I did not take him seriously. Frankly, at this point the ultimatum is so strict because I have been unsympathetic to him up to this point. If he cannot get any rest until she dies, is that fair to him? Please do not pick on my husband. He does not want to see the cat harmed, he does not even want to see her go, but he *needs* something to change. His quality of life is suffering and I have not noticed probably because I did not want to. I feel the responsibility for this issue lies with me, and not with him, since I never took him seriously.
posted by Niomi at 4:26 PM on June 9, 2009 [7 favorites]

Find a friend or a relative to keep the cat while you and your husband start couples therapy.
posted by infinitewindow at 4:34 PM on June 9, 2009 [12 favorites]

Tristeza, we had an outdoor cat who did fine for his fourteen-year life (mind you, we got him as a stray kitten). We now have an indoor cat, and I would NEVER leave her outside all night.

My first cat was used to being outside. He had the skills for the outdoors. My current cat does not.

Additionally, you have to take into consideration where they live. Cats are prime targets for owls, hawks, coyotes, foxes, etc.

I have no problems with outdoor cats (fixed, of course). But I have a MAJOR problem with sending an indoor cat into the wild after years of domestication.
posted by litterateur at 4:36 PM on June 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's not impossible to find someone to take your cat. Please talk to your husband about the two week time limit. You may find someone tomorrow, or it may take a month. It's OK to have to give away your cat. Tell your husband that you are serious about finding it a new home - at this point behavior modification is not a viable option. Also, enlist him in finding your cat a new home. If he's been living with this for a year, he can wait for an undefined, shortish period of time.
posted by shrabster at 4:39 PM on June 9, 2009 [6 favorites]

So what was the problem with earplugs? Earplug technology has been good enough for the millions of people who suffer from loudly-snoring spouses, I don't see why they would be vulnerable to the plaintive cries of your kitteh.

Also, I fail to see how the logic in the upthread claim of earplugs being 'dangerous.'
posted by mullingitover at 4:40 PM on June 9, 2009

What kind of cat is it? Some are simply very vocal and won't be re-trained (siamese). Also, what does your vet say about this behavior?
posted by blaneyphoto at 4:41 PM on June 9, 2009

Agreed that you need to re-negotiate with husband, and both of you need to work together to find a compromise here; perhaps not having done that is how the situation's gotten this bad. That there hasn't been a concerted effort before now to do something about the cat's behaviour has got to be pretty frustrating for your husband. However, threatening the cat with death if you can't achieve what would essentially be a cat-training MIRACLE in two weeks is callous towards both you and (especially, of course) the cat. Hopefully he's speaking out of tired frustration and either isn't now planning to follow through with this, or when the day arrives realises how such an action is going to impact on (if not the cat) you.

Given he's suffered interrupted sleep this long already, could you get him to agree to a longer "grace" period? One in which there's actually a CHANCE that a good effort at training the cat could have some effect and/or a home or a place at a no-kill shelter could be found? If he really just seems to be too exhausted to consider anything, could you discuss with him boarding the cat somewhere a few nights so he can get a couple of good nights' sleep with a view to discussing it after that when he's feeling a bit more himself than just angry and frustrated? Surely down the track once he's back to feeling normal he'll regret having been responsible for the death of an animal....
posted by springbound at 4:43 PM on June 9, 2009 [3 favorites]

Think about not being able to hear at all in a building full of other dwellers.
posted by bz at 4:44 PM on June 9, 2009

Piling on here--Have you talked to the vet? I mean, this seems like the logical first step. They might find something that will tell you why your cat meows all night. You need to talk to them anyway about helping you find a new home for the cat. Call them ASAP.
posted by ishotjr at 4:45 PM on June 9, 2009

Okay, how about this compromise -- Agree the cat has to go. That's pretty clear. Even if you solve this particular problem, you've got 15 more years of "problems" to deal with. If each is met with the same ultimatum, this cat is doomed from the start.

So the challenge here is to work on rehoming the cat, to a no-kill shelter. If your husband can give a little on the two week deadline, guarantee him you will get rid of the cat, but on your terms, with that term being a "no-kill" scenario. In exchange, you work diligently on finding the cat a new home. Get onto no-kill shelter waitlists. Look into no kill shelters in neighboring areas. Sometimes shelters will put up listings on for you, even if they can't take the cat themselves. Look for private shelters; poke around for lists in your area. Not all advertise all that much, but they can be found. Put your story up on craigslist -- hell, point to this thread if need be. See if you can find a sympathetic vet who has room to board the cat for a while, or if they have any ideas. Post a new thread next week to see if mefites can help you with other solutions. This situation is not impossible, not yet.
posted by cgg at 4:46 PM on June 9, 2009 [3 favorites]

Does she exhibit these behaviors during the day?
Is this behavior new?
Have you tried fatiguing her before bedtime? A laser pointer moving until the cat is exhausted does wonders.
When is her last feeeding?
Are there other pets in your building (does she smell something new or disturbing at night?)
posted by filmgeek at 4:48 PM on June 9, 2009

bz writes "Think about not being able to hear at all in a building full of other dwellers."

Where would one obtain these mythical earplugs which render a person deaf? The standard earplugs you buy at Rite-Aid, et al, muffle noise by 20 or so decibels (which is enough to moderate snoring and meowing). They don't make a person unable to hear fire alarms.

So, the answer: earplugs. OP, can you either click the 'Best Answer' button or explain why these can't save kitteh's life?
posted by mullingitover at 4:52 PM on June 9, 2009

You have at least two weeks -- if you discuss it with your husband when he's not sleep-deprived, you could have better luck negotiating an extention. Is craigslist popular where you are? There may be a cat-loving stranger who will take your cat in.

In the meantime, your husband still has to sleep, and you may be able to turn that to your advantage. Get a white-noise machine and some very effective earplugs. This review could help; the most effective earplugs are toward the end, and they're cheap. Keep in mind that some types don't work well if they're not inserted correctly. If your husband can sleep well with the white noise and the plugs, he'll have no cause to send your cat away.
posted by wryly at 4:55 PM on June 9, 2009

By the way, it seems to me that it's certainly not about deadlines or discipline—this is a cat we're talking about, for heaven's sake. (A shower? Not at all damaging, and on the whole quite humane, but I imagine she was one pissed-off cat!) And even if it were possible to train a cat to do something it doesn't have at least some desire to do through a rigorous program of careful punishment and reward—it's not, but even if it were possible—it seems almost certain at this point that, since the cat continues to cry and howl, despite the furthest measures of discipline you're willing to go and despite you veritably making its life hell as much as is humanely possible…there is something else wrong with this cat.

Since you sound quite desperate, I assume you've tried putting it outside your bedroom door and closing it; since you've tried that, and you still heard the cat, it seems to me that this crying is unnaturally loud. Speak to a vet.

Otherwise, since your husband seems unwilling to try to understand the thing, well, maybe it should go. There are humane ways to do that, too; other people have said as much.
posted by koeselitz at 4:55 PM on June 9, 2009

It's not impossible to find someone to take your cat. Please talk to your husband about the two week time limit. You may find someone tomorrow, or it may take a month. It's OK to have to give away your cat. Tell your husband that you are serious about finding it a new home - at this point behavior modification is not a viable option. Also, enlist him in finding your cat a new home. If he's been living with this for a year, he can wait for an undefined, shortish period of time.

Yep, this is really it. Rehoming clearly sounds like the best solution (though I think it's fair to see if noise-reduction tools, like earplugs and/or a white noise machine, might work as a last resort in the meantime), but there's no guarantee that you can do it in exactly two weeks. Please inform your husband that you are absolutely taking active steps to rehome the cat, but that he will NOT be taking it to a kill-shelter on his own 14 days from now.

If you truly believe that you can't actually say/do such a thing vis-a-vis your husband, I submit that there may be underlying relationship problems that are not cat-related.
posted by scody at 4:58 PM on June 9, 2009 [15 favorites]

White noise machine.

It will help drown out the noise and may actually soothe the cat. My cat did the same thing for eons, and yes, 'moonMan threatened to make me find alternate living arrangements for her, but the white noise machine really changed our lives. She no longer wakes us up in the middle of the night every single night. Honestly. Give it a week or two. It worked on my famous dick of a cat, it might work for you.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 4:59 PM on June 9, 2009 [2 favorites]

I'd also suggest making up a bunch of flyers and taking them to all the vets within, oh, a half-hour's drive of your place. They will likely have a board for you to post it on, and if you find a really sympathetic one, they may even offer to take him in and rehome him for you.
posted by Rock Steady at 4:59 PM on June 9, 2009

I've had success with a Feliway diffuser for one of my more obnoxious furbles.

Either that, or DTMFA, and I don't mean the cat.
posted by zerokey at 5:02 PM on June 9, 2009 [3 favorites]

Is your cat scared of loud noises? If so, try keeping a can of pennies by the bed. When she starts acting up, shake the can loudly. You can also try this with other sounds that cats hate (crinkling plastic bags, shaking a set of keys).

In the meantime, invest in some ear plugs.
posted by hooray at 5:03 PM on June 9, 2009

Reading the comments: Seriously. The white noise machine.

I was in the very same issue with my cat and my partner. She woke him up every night, I slept through it because I was used to it. We got a white noise machine to drown her out when it started getting too cold outside to use a fan. The fan never actually made her shut up, but honest to Dog, once we got the white noise machine, something about the cat changed and she hasn't been a consistent dick (in the middle of the night at least) since. Give it two weeks. It might not work with your cat, all cats are different, but it saved my fat lard (the cat) from having to be re-homed.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 5:03 PM on June 9, 2009

A cat raised in a home where the owner's first response to undesirable behavior is various types of punishment - water, electricity, confinement - will turn out to "misbehave" more and more.

Or, alternatively, it will do what my cat did, which was to be sprayed with a squirt bottle two or three nights and then never wake me up at night again.

I say this, not because your philosophy isn't a happier, more loving ideal, but merely because it has caused you to make a blanket generalization which occasionally differs from observed reality.
posted by roystgnr at 5:04 PM on June 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

No, no, of course you can't shower the cat or use a collar. The cat may be bored and stressed. A white noise machine is a good idea. There's a website where you can download white noise to play on a computer.

Studio apt., and you both probably work. Spend regular time with her, playing with string and toys. Spend regular time petting her and chatting with her. But she may just be a cat that cries at night.

If need be, maybe a full "no kill" shelter would let you adopt an older, mellower kitty, and take your noisy kitty.
posted by theora55 at 5:10 PM on June 9, 2009

Or, alternatively, it will do what my cat did, which was to be sprayed with a squirt bottle two or three nights and then never wake me up at night again.

There is a significant difference between being sprayed with a squirt bottle and being picked up, placed in the shower, and pointlessly soaked. One is immediate negative reinforcement, which works in some instances with some cats in some scenarios, and the other is time-delayed punishment, which never works and will introduce new behavioral problems.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 5:15 PM on June 9, 2009 [2 favorites]

Have you tried using your flickr/twitter/livejournal accounts to find a new home for this cat?
posted by blaneyphoto at 5:15 PM on June 9, 2009

Nthing the request for more time. Sadly it would be better for all involved that the kitty goes, but a two-week time frame for finding a home for an adult cat is simply not enough. I am also a light sleeper so I sympathize with your husband and it doesn't sound like his request came out of the blue so I don't think he's a monster. But . . . I do think it's within your right to demand as much time as it takes to look for a new home for kitty, as she is basically a family member. Show him that you're trying -- let him see you making flyers, posting ads online, etc. Were you given any idea of when you would be able to get your kitty into a no-kill shelter? Can you get her on some kind of waiting list? If they indicated it would be one to two months, maybe you can talk him into waiting that long. He might be happy(er) just knowing there's a definite end to the sleepless nights.

In the meantime, I definitely recommend the white noise maker/air purifier idea. I have found that simply turning a fan on can block a lot of noise. It won't be perfect because kitty's right in the room, but it should be an improvement.

Another idea -- if your husband goes along with the extended time plan, perhaps you can treat him and yourself to a couple nights away at a hotel. I know you live in a studio apt (ie, are poor), but you could probably find some good deals in this shit economy. It would also provide some opportunities for romance :) I don't know about you and your husband, but having a cat meowing and watching me during sex would not be a turn on.

posted by imalaowai at 5:15 PM on June 9, 2009

. . . Oh, my God--wtf is the deal with your husband?

. . . husband is so inflexible when it comes to cat quirks.

. . . your husband's callousness is cause for concern, not just for the cat, but in general.

. . . in a relationship with someone who issued this kind of ultimatum, I would be having serious second thoughts about the relationship.

I'd like to speak up in defense of her husband.

I have a beloved cat who has shared my home for seven years. He's quiet at night.

But if crying at night was just something he did as a part of his personality, I would not expect my partner to accept it as a quirk. I would not expect or want him to use earplugs, nor would I be surprised if he insisted I do something to eliminate the annoyance.

That cat would have to stop it or get out.

If it were true (and I find this one hard to believe) that nobody could be found to give the cat a home, and the only option was a shelter that might humanely put him to sleep, uh, I guess the question really is:

What is more important: my husband, or feline rights?
posted by General Tonic at 5:17 PM on June 9, 2009 [11 favorites]

With this husband, no, not an "older, mellower" cat. Older cats (young ones also) get sick, they throw up constantly, lose their hearing (and thus get *really* loud), they have urinary problems, they develop dementia-like problems, they require expensive care. My late kitty had me at my wit's end late in her life with all of these problems. But, I miss her so much.

Taking on a cat or a dog is 15 years of your life, maybe more.
posted by jgirl at 5:19 PM on June 9, 2009 [2 favorites]

People mentioned earplugs but the issue with them is that they exert pressure from inside of the ears and that becomes uncomfortable with time. I would not want to use earplugs for more than half an hour. However, there are things that look like large over-ear headphones that block the sounds and are much more comfortable. The ones I have and am happy with (although I don't use them when sleeping and in fact at this time I don't use them at all because I don't need to), anyway, the ones I have are called Leightning II. They were about $25 or $30. Something like this may be a good interim or even permanent solution. If you have other noise coming from outside your husband may even like to use these even if cat wasn't noisy. HTH!
posted by rainy at 5:32 PM on June 9, 2009

Err, I just want to add that they'd probably only work if he likes to sleep on his back... on the side, most likely they won't work..
posted by rainy at 5:33 PM on June 9, 2009

Your husband has been trying to get through to you for a year. The ultimatum is unreasonable but I can understand his frustration. It's just a pet. If pets are so important to you that you tune out the opinion of the guy you chose to marry, then you shouldn't be married. If your husband is important to you, then give up the cat. Try putting it on craigslist or something, or putting an ad in the paper.
posted by Happydaz at 5:34 PM on June 9, 2009 [7 favorites]

Find a friend or a relative to keep the cat while you and your husband start couples therapy.
posted by infinitewindow at 4:34 PM on June 9 [2 favorites -] Favorite added! [!]

I wish I could favorite this a million times. Your husband set an unreasonable, arbitrary time-limit for you to resolve this problem, or the cat gets gassed. He doesn't offer to help you in any way. Has further convinced you that the situation is all your fault (he should have been looking into white noise machines, earplugs, etc and giving them a try)

Sounds like emotional abuse to me. What would happen if you ever develop sleep apnea and snore? Or have a fussy baby?
posted by I'm Brian and so's my wife! at 5:37 PM on June 9, 2009 [10 favorites]

This is a heartbreaking situation, but I think this is as much about control & anger as it is about the cat, who is definitely the victim here. Let me explain, when I met my wife, she had a cat and a dog. I wasn't really an animal person, and both annoyed the everliving shit out of me. The dog had to sleep in the bed and the cat was up and around all night. When we moved in together, after a few months I told her that the cat had to go. The dog worked very hard to gain my affection, and once I learned to deal with him, we were fine (and now best friends). The cat, however, remained itself and it wasn't my cat. I didn't ask for it, I didn't want it, and so on.

This was my line of reasoning, you see. But really, the problem was between my wife and I and the difficulties we were having making co-habitation work. Years later, with the cat gone, and with the underlying issues having played out in excruciating ways, I'm very sorry that I made my wife get rid of the cat when it was things that *she* was doing that made me so angry. The cat was simply one way I felt I had at the time to regain control over a difficult living situation. This is not the kind of thing that getting rid of the cat can solve, because it's the thing that makes the cat the problem to begin with. Luckily we got the help we needed even if the cat was ultimately the victim.

So, while I think you might want to consider finding another home for your cat, I think you also might want to consider what else might be going on in your relationship that this cat has been made the locus for. Maybe it's nothing, but maybe, like for my wife and I there were significant issues on both of our parts that needed addressed far more than the cat. Just reading the tone and general pathos of your question and follow-ups kind of makes me feel like this cat is just the tip of the iceberg. If nothing else, you are both obviously under a tremendous amount of stress, so much so that an animal has created an ultimatum situation. Good luck to you.
posted by mrmojoflying at 5:38 PM on June 9, 2009 [13 favorites]

can you put her outdoors at night?

I hope, if you live in a studio apartment, that your cat can go outside - can you leave a window open now that the weather's a bit warmer? Give her free rein to go in and out at night? That might help. Otherwise - yeah, you need to find a new home for this puddy, and advertising ("sweet cat free to a good home") at the vets/ Craigslist/ the local paper/ flyers in letterboxes and on poles are your options.

Your husband can take some valerian or kava kava or valium or Nyquil or weed before bed and wear some earplugs until you find a home for the kitty - killing the cat for your convenience shouldn't be an option.
posted by goo at 5:39 PM on June 9, 2009

What is more important: my husband, or feline rights?

He gave her an ultimatum that her pet will be sent to its death if it cannot stop causing her minor annoyance. Compromise is "unlikely, if not impossible". This is not a loving spouse, this is the villain in a fairy tale. That can't be a healthy relationship.
posted by DecemberBoy at 5:39 PM on June 9, 2009 [8 favorites]

To me, the earplugs suggestion is absurd. An argument that they'll alleviate meowing but not someone pounding on your door trying to warn you is ridiculous.

They work for snoring because snoring is a regular and rythmic sound (first hand experience, here). Attenuate the harshness somewhat and one can sleep, sort of. It's the irregular sounds that wake a person and especially a light sleeper. A fire alarm, screaming... even distant screaming, general out-of-place sounds and I include cat meowing amongst those, are irregular and prone to waking a person without regard to sound pressure levels. So, effective earplugs will be those that nearly eliminate all sound and I, for one, would be very uncomfortable sleeping without my sense of hearing.

If the husband is anything like me, once awoken I cannot go back to sleep. It is a miserable experience and I cannot sympathize even a little bit with those who take the side of the cat. Not even one weensy iota. By my way of thinking, it is a far more significant indication of an underlying problem in the relationship if the person sides with the cat over the husband's need for an unimpeded night's sleep.

The indignation and outpouring of sympathy for the fucking cat appalls me. It's a pet and is rightfully far down the importance scale from the well-being of the people who are its hosts.

I have a friend who is severely asthmatic and whose wife refuses to part with their two cats even though his doctor insists that they must go. I got to tell you, that is a marriage doomed. Her priorities are very wrong.

Same for this scenario.
posted by bz at 5:39 PM on June 9, 2009 [14 favorites]

causing her minor annoyance

causing him
posted by DecemberBoy at 5:40 PM on June 9, 2009

What is more important: my husband, or feline rights?

I think you have phrased this wrong -- it should be "What is more important: my husband's arbitrary and inflexible two-week deadline in the face of full no-kill shelters, or feline rights?" I think just about everyone who gave this kind of response probably thinks the cat should definitely go (alive) to another home.
posted by advil at 5:43 PM on June 9, 2009

(By the way... I adore cats)
posted by bz at 5:44 PM on June 9, 2009

The indignation and outpouring of sympathy for the fucking cat appalls me. It's a pet and is rightfully far down the importance scale from the well-being of the people who are its hosts.

Right, so it has to die? The OP has told us that her husband has given her the option of finding a place for the cat in 2 weeks or essentially killing it. If he's put up with it for a year (and she hasn't indicated that he's done anything to help himself sleep during this time) he can wait a few more weeks until she finds somewhere that doesn't involve killing the cat.
posted by goo at 5:47 PM on June 9, 2009

Um, people? Everyone who has spoken up in defense of the cat and who have called the husband a callous jerk has failed to notice something.

She has been ignoring his pleas for help with the cat for a fricking YEAR. A YEAR of sleep deprivation. Where he can't go sleep on the couch. Because this is a studio apartment. And only when he put his foot down and said "cat has to go", did she care to do anything about this situation.

Yes, poor cat. It is a pretty sad situation. And, frankly, I think this cat WOULD do better re-homed with others who would perhaps put up with his noise at night or give him more attention during the day. But everyone telling her to DTFMA? I'm more inclined to suggest that HE dump HER. How callous and insensitive can you get to ignore someone's pleas for help for so long???
posted by jeanmari at 5:57 PM on June 9, 2009 [22 favorites]

For the love of Pete, don't dump your husband for a cat. That would be silly.

I'd do whatever I could to fix the problem, then find a new home for the cat even if it takes a little longer. You obviously respect your husband's fed-up-ness with being woken up, so tell him he's got to respect the fact you'll handle it without killing the cat. Period. Not the end of the world.
posted by shopefowler at 5:57 PM on June 9, 2009 [3 favorites]

Your husband set an unreasonable, arbitrary time-limit for you to resolve this problem, or the cat gets gassed.

Devil's Husband's Advocate: Is there any chance that he set such a short timeline, with such a severe consequence, because he thought it was the only way to motivate you to do something about the cat? You say he's been dealing with it for over a year and that he's complained to you about it, but that you more or less dismissed his complaints because the cat's behavior wasn't bothering you. Maybe he's being an ass about it because being polite about it wasn't doing anything to fix the problem.

My suggestion: make a concerted, sincere, and obvious effort to rehouse the cat. If your husband sees you finally taking his complaints seriously, he may be willing to give you the time it's going to take to find your cat a good home.

I agree with the others who've said it's too late to try and change the cat's behavior (and it may not even be possible, given an infinite amount of time).

(On Preview: what jeanmari said.)
posted by elfgirl at 5:58 PM on June 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

Claiming the cat has to die is a hysterical response but piling all the sympathy upon the cat, who is the offender in this case, is, in my view, very misplaced.
posted by bz at 6:01 PM on June 9, 2009

To me, the earplugs suggestion is absurd. An argument that they'll alleviate meowing but not someone pounding on your door trying to warn you is ridiculous.

The idea is for the husband to wear the earplugs on a short-term basis, until the cat can be rehomed. The OP doesn't mind the cat noise, so she doesn't have to wear the earplugs--if the fire alarm goes off in the next few weeks, she'll hear it.

The indignation and outpouring of sympathy for the fucking cat appalls me.

I think you've made your position very clear. Also the cat, who is the offender in this case is just nuts.

Yes, it probably makes sense to rehome the cat. "YOU HAVE TO DO IT IN TWO WEEKS OR OFF TO THE GAS CHAMBER IT GOES" is pretty inflexible.

On the other hand, the OP's just ignoring her husband's legitimate complaint for a year is also fucked up; OP, if you'd started looking for a new home for the cat months ago, even weeks ago, you wouldn't be in this situation.

Is it any wonder everyone's sympathy is with the cat? The cat is just being a normal cat--the humans are being really dysfunctional humans.
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:19 PM on June 9, 2009 [8 favorites]

It seems that you're only focusing on finding a no-kill shelter or changing the cat's behavior. Since neither of those seem to be viable at this point you need more options. Here are a few unorthodox ideas the I haven't seen mentioned based on the premise that nothing is more important than the life of your cat and your relationship with your husband.

1) Shift your sleeping schedule. Stay up at night while your husband sleeps so that your cat isn't alone. Do this for the rest of the cat's life or until a shelter becomes available.

2) Hire a cat sitter to do this in your stead. Find someone you trust and pay them a nominal fee to read a book in your apartment and keep the cat entertained from 12am to 6am. Do this for the rest of the cat's life, until a shelter becomes available or until you run out of money.

3) Pay a service to do this for you. Board your cat in a professional kennel every evening for the rest of the cat's life, until a shelter becomes available or until you run out of money.

The point is to expand your range of possibilities beyond your existing pool of non-viable choices. Consider the merits of taking on extreme inconvenience or debilitating expense in order to preserve your cat's life and your relationship with your husband.

Or decide to sacrifice one for the other.
posted by Jeff Howard at 6:20 PM on June 9, 2009 [2 favorites]

The cat isn't the offender. It doesn't have the brains to be an offender. The wife is, for not having taken it seriously for a year; the husband is, for instead of escalating in some normal way went from polite requests to "that's it, it's over" in no time. Yeah, it sucks to be woken up at night, and it sucks to not be taken seriously, but this is not the way to handle it on his end either. You both need counselling to deal with the weird attitudes you both have. Ignopring a year of complaints? Refusing to compromise at all? Threatening to kill the cat?

That said, on kill shelters: look, they don't *want* to put cats down, and they don't do it willy-nilly, they try to get them homed first, but if they don't euthanise some cats, they fill up, and then people just toss their cats out to be roadkill or starve to death or killed by wild animals, which is even crueller. Sadly, the stats for adoption for cats tend towards abysmal, especially for non-kittens, and for black cats. (I do not know what your cat looks like.) It's not ideal. Many shelters allow you to put your name down, that you will take the animal back before it is euthanised. You should enquire into this.

Try a white noise machine. Try feliway. Try playing with her a lot at night before you go to bed, and when you wake up, and whenever you have the chance. She sounds very bored. Try the cat dvds. While you're trying all this, look for a new home, because nothing is guaranteed to work. Also, insist on a longer time frame to fix things, given that you are working on both getting her quiet and finding her a new home at the same time.
posted by jeather at 6:26 PM on June 9, 2009 [4 favorites]

It's a lost cause at this point, but MeTa.
posted by kingjoeshmoe at 6:37 PM on June 9, 2009

I also have a cat that meows quite a bit at night and will scratch at the door/launch herself at the door to wake us up, and my husband is a light sleeper. I didn't notice it nearly as much as he did because I am a heavy sleeper and because she was my cat when we got together so I was used to her. The husband also hit the wall one sleep-deprived morning (though not as much as yours), and then we started working on solutions. It was a process, but he felt much better once he knew I was taking charge of it. Things we did to help this problem:

1) Sleep with a fan on turned on high- we already had a fan on, just not on the highest setting. My husband ends up sleeping much better and tuning her out more with this. Additionally, we took a few steps to make sure he sleeps better as well (less caffeine before bed, etc.). As a side note, having been to grapefruitmoon's house, I can tell you that the white noise machine is incredible and I would highly recommend that solution. We might end up- the husband still can't stop talking about the white noise machine and its great sound.

2) Giving the cat a feeding just before we got to bed. In our case, the cat meows because she perpetually thinks she's hungry. She gulps all of her food down immediately no matter how much is down, so free feeding doesn't work. Instead, we got her on a schedule so that she eats early in the morning, after we get home from work, and just before we go to bed.

3) I'll get up and feed her early in the morning and go back to sleep. Even with her more regular feedings, she gets hungry earlier than we get up, so if I hear her meowing, I'll get up and feed her and then go back to bed.

4) We also started waking her up when she would sleep in the early evening (she tends to take a 6 p.m.-ish nap) so that she would be tired later. I ended up finding this suggestion on a website, and it really does help. We keep her active when she wants to nap in the evening by playing with her, or even just waking her from her nap and putting her on our laps- but it helps change her sleep cycle.

These things helped the problem quite a bit because her primary reason for meowing is because she's hungry. If she's meowing after she's been fed, usually she wants to come in the room, curl up on the edge of the bed and go back to sleep.

As someone who has had cats her whole life, I will tell you that cats are by nature nocturnal creatures, and more likely to be active later at night, and that training them is difficult but you can definitely work to modify their behavior. Additionally, cats are all individual so some are more 'talkative' than others, some more sensitive to your moods (mine tends to howl more at me if she knows I'm ticked off at her), and some will just ignore people.

Figuring out what you can do to meet your cat's needs better as well as help your husband still sleep IS possible, but it will take a bit of work and patience. Communicate with your husband and work together so you're both consistent, and make sure that he knows if things do not start improving that you'll work to find the cat another home. After all, as much as he's not coming off in a good light here, no sleep-deprived partner ever does, and it sounds like he really does not want to drop the cat at a kill shelter, he just wants to know that SOMETHING is going to change.

Articles I referred to when I was dealing with this problem:

posted by questionsandanchors at 6:41 PM on June 9, 2009 [8 favorites]

He does not want to see the cat harmed, he does not even want to see her go, but he *needs* something to change.

Then the solution is to do away with the deadline, and BOTH OF YOU work diligently to find a new, suitable home for the cat EVERY DAY until you find one. No "I can't." No excuses. You can. Get on the horn, get on all the websites, ask everyone. Take whatever energy and time and research you were going to use on finding some crazy way to train her not to meow in two weeks, and use it for new home research instead. Don't stop until you find the right home for her.

If you really think his unreasonable ultimatum is your fault for ignoring his requests for a year, then fine--let the punishment fall on you, in the form of constant work trying to find a new home until you do--instead of letting it fall on the innocent cat.

And I don't care if I was the worst wife in the world--if my husband got rid of my pet without my permission, he'd be lucky if all I did was leave him. And that'd be a lot more about what that meant about the relationship than putting a pet above a person. ('Course, my husband would leave me before he'd leave our cat).
posted by lampoil at 6:50 PM on June 9, 2009

I'd like to know more about the cat so we can maybe understand why it is crying at night. With more information we may be able to find a better solution.

What kind of cat is it?
Has she always cried?
When, how long and how often does she cry at night?
What exactly makes her stop - petting, attention, food, treats?
Does she cry at other times, like during the day?
How much play and attention does she get?
Does she have access to dry food all the time?
Does she have any toys she really likes? I once had a cat that could keep himself amused for hours with a piece or string or a ball made out of aluminum foil.
Does she have a perch where she can look out a window?
posted by 14580 at 7:09 PM on June 9, 2009

Maybe Prozac (for the cat)?
posted by sad_otter at 7:37 PM on June 9, 2009

I have 3 cats and I can't sleep at night without earplugs or a large fan running, or both. I don't mind doing it because I love my kitties more when I'm not feeling impotently furious after being awakened at 3 AM by bumps and cries.

Your husband might think that earplugs are uncomfortable or something, but now I use them even when I'm sleeping somewhere else -- I sleep so much deeper with all the background noise filtered out. They're magical.

Has he tried them?
posted by hermitosis at 7:37 PM on June 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

I have a cat that I've been trying to rehome for some time now (a stray I adopted who is too aggressive with my other animals even though she is quite lovely with people), so I am sympathetic to that aspect of your situation -- it is very hard to find a home for a "problem" pet sometimes. That being said (& I'm sure someone's suggested this but after scrolling through the first twenty or so responses I got depressed), the fact is that it'll be difficult to change the cat's behavior, especially in two weeks -- she's already learned that her meowing will get you up, so if it doesn't work right away, she might just try harder. I've had annoying cats before & am familiar with this routine. Here's what helped me -- a box fan in my bedroom, set to medium or high speed. Loud enough that it will drown out annoying cat noises (especially if they are shut out of the bedroom), but not so loud that I'll miss my alarm in the morning. Maybe your husband will try to be a little bit flexible about this.
posted by oh really at 7:39 PM on June 9, 2009

I would nth the suggestions to talk to your vet -- rule out any medical reasons that the cat is so vocal.

But some cats are just more vocal and high-strung than others.

We've had (and sometimes still have) similar problems with our cats and have tried a combination of approaches. Our cats are also rehabilitated feral kitties who had a hard time going to an all-indoors life (which I really believe is safer for them). But they were clearly going a little insane in the membrane and taking us with them, so we got a cat door, get them all tagged up, and let them go in and out at will. That helped the "bad behaviors" A LOT.

Also, for a while, we medicated our one cat with some anti-anxiety meds. Elavil, specifically. While I know it's a slippery slope to give drugs to another creature to make your life easier, when your options are so limited, a medicated cat might be a happier (and still alive) one.

Best wishes -- I sympathize with your situation.
posted by pantarei70 at 7:47 PM on June 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

Maybe a heated cat bed near your bed, maybe with one of those stuffed toys that rumbles or twitches to simulate a sleeping companion? Oh - and get a shock collar for your _husband_. Put it on him and stick him in the shower. Do this every time your husband lays down ridiculous ultimatums, and eventually he'll stop...
posted by Death by Ugabooga at 7:56 PM on June 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

If the cat is the same one as on the Flickr stream that corresponds to the name you have listed on your user page, I don't think you'll have a problem finding a home for her. She's adorable.

Night yowling - yeah, cats are nocturnal. After my own dear feline has a particularly satisfying litterbox visit, usually around 2am, he likes to make two or three mad dashes down the hallway, with some wild yowls thrown in. Because, you know, he's a CAT. You can't train that kind of thing out of them.
posted by HopperFan at 8:05 PM on June 9, 2009

NOBODY has suggested TALKING TO THE VET? At the very least, telling a vet "If I can't shut this cat up in 2 weeks it dies" might uh, get SOME help.

There is also an operation to take the cat's voice box out. Awful, yes, but if it's that or death...
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:21 PM on June 9, 2009

Okay, they have since I hit the post button. Sigh.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:22 PM on June 9, 2009

I spent 2 years being woken up 2-3 times every night by our first cat in a studio apartment, two things happened:

1) the cat got a little older and calmed down a bit
2) we got a kitten whose mission in life is to play with the first cat and thereby leave us the fuck alone while we're sleeping, i think we got lucky but two cats is decidedly easier that one in our book.

The problem seemed to be that I was my cats whole world, his best buddy and it was impossible to convince him that his best friend shouldn't be interested in playing at night when he was the most charged up and naturally active, and he likes reactions whether they are bad or good.

We nearly turned him over to a shelter and I can completely understand your husbands sentiments, it's hard. Horrifyingly hard, and when you reach that point where you're so sleep deprived and frustrated you have to draw a line in the sand to know there's an end to it somewhere down the road you're pretty much our of options or rational things you can try already.

With that said the fix in as much as there was one was another cat, and it was quite a leap for us to make with the experience we were having with the first one and our sleeping.

The waking up won't stop without some sort of stimulation or occupation for the cat, they are looking for attention and something to do anyway they can get it.

Your best bet if you can't get another cat based on my experience would be to find another home, it might be hard, it might take more than 2 weeks but in the end the difference between 2 weeks and months search after a year is pretty negligible.
posted by iamabot at 8:23 PM on June 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

Mr 26.2 doesn't like it when my beloved cat Toby cries in the morning. If Toby cries, I get up and bring the cat to bed with us. This takes me out of our nice warm bed for minute or two while I find Toby. It's worth it because it's makes for a peaceful morning for all three of us. Losing a few minutes of sleep is an easy trade because I love Mr. 26.2 and I love that cat.

I'll be honest with you. I wouldn't put up with anyone threatening to take my cat to animal control for simply being cat. Your husband is being cruel to you and absolutely heartless to that poor cat.
posted by 26.2 at 8:27 PM on June 9, 2009 [2 favorites]

Questionandanchors' advice is right on. I was going to link to one of the same articles. I, too, have had cats all my life.

Generally speaking, punishment sucks as a teaching method. Punishment alone, without other interventions is the absolutely worst way to teach anybody anything. Not only is your student less likely to learn, they're more likely to dislike you.

Cats, in particular, do not learn from punishment as humans see it (or dole it out). In order for a cat to learn to associate a behavior with a negative consequence, the consequence must be so immediate as to be instantaneous. In order to use punishment to train your cat not to meow at night, you would need to stay up all night for many nights in a row, water gun cocked and loaded. It is not necessary to sleep deprive yourself in order to deal with this behavior.

The absolute easiest way to deal with this problem is to get another cat. But you said that isn't a possibility and I believe you.

Cats are nocturnal creatures. They prefer to be awake at night. You, the rational thinking human, can manipulate her environment and activity level to the extent that she will be convinced to change her sleeping pattern.

I bet you $10 it will get better, (literally, if you seriously try this and it doesn't work, I will send you $10) if you apply all of the following interventions. NO CHEATING!

1) Ignore it. Every time you sit up in bed at 3am, look at your cat and say something intended to relate your displeasure at her nocturnal behavior, she gets what she asked for: Your attention. She does not understand or interpret your annoyance. All she knows is that the human is now paying attention to her and talking to her. She thinks, "This time, this one time, will be the time that the human gets up and plays with me (or feeds me). She is either hungry or bored. That's it. She's not meowing just in order to annoy you. Annoyance isn't even on the radar of her understanding.

2) Increase your playtime with the cat. I'm talking, 15 minutes out of every hour that you're at home with her (if you both work during the day). Maybe 15 minutes every other hour if one of you is home all the time. Vary, according to daily schedule fluctuations. Get a feather-on-a -stick and a laser pen light (the best cat toy investments since rolled up aluminum foil and paper bags). Vary playtime activities throughout the day. If you are NEVER home and can afford it, hire someone to come in and play with your cat a couple of times a day. If neither of these options is a possibility for you, you might be SOL.

3) Never go to bed without filling the food and water bowels. My cats always have a full bowel. I've only ever had one fat cat and that's because my mom fed her soft food (which is gross and should only be used in medical emergencies).

4) Don't let her sleep after 6pm. You live in a studio, she should be easy to keep track of. If she's napping, wake her the hell up. Play with her or love on her, but don't let her nap. Don't startle her, or yell at her for napping, though. Just wake her up.

5) Don't reward meowing at ANY time of the day. Never attend to her when she has demanded that you do so. Only fill her dish when she's quiet. Be the one in charge of when playtime begins and do not play with her when she is being overly vocal.

6) Get a scratching post, train her to use it during the day, for a couple of days in row, by sprinkling it with cat nip. After she's figured out how cool scratching posts are, put it in the closet and only bring it out at night. If she likes to chase balls get some quiet soft balls, and only put these out at night, too.

7) Buy some Rescue Remedy. Use as directed in her water bowel every evening.

That's about it. It's enough, but if you commit to the steps above, your cat will decrease her nocturnal meowing within 10-14 days. A bit of warning: following the above steps in a half-assed way, or stopping too early because it doesn't seem to be working will result in failure. In particular, stopping too early can result in an increase in the behavior. The steps must be continued daily for at least 20 days. You can relax a bit after that, but you must maintain your cat's daytime activity level.

Her nighttime crying is never going to go away entirely. I'm warning you of that now. Even after she's good and trained, you'll occasionally be awakened by her in the night. She's a cat, after all. But it can get better. Tolerable, even.
posted by dchrssyr at 8:27 PM on June 9, 2009 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: I really did not anticipate and apologize for the mess this thread has become. I included personal details in hopes of imparting a sense of urgency, because "your cat is just quirky" responses would not be helpful to me. Instead I got responses on how not only is the cat just quirky but accusing myself or Husband to be sociopaths. There's more responses arguing about whose fault this is than there are helpful suggestions to my problem.

Our cat is a happy and friendly cat. She is not abused, tortured, and spiteful. She's not being water boarded, we simply used the sprayer as a giant squirt bottle since a smaller amount of water is not a deterrent for her. My husband is not a vicious cat killer. Animal control sends shelter animals to the SPCA, they are not running a Holocaust of cats, but she would likely live in a small cage attended by caring staff members that are low on resources so she would eventually be killed to make room for new cats with more hope of adoption if she were not adopted. They have kept cats for several years, but this is not the life I want for my kitty.

The current solution I am going to work with is to become more aggressive and consistent with a squirt bottle (unfortunately we could not afford the US military, automatic water boarding electric squirt bottle) and we're trying Feliway. We're looking into putting her on Prozac, first suggested to me by the clerk who sold me the Feliway which I am the most optimistic about. We are doing this while seeking out a new home or no-kill shelter.

Ear plugs aren't a good solution since they only dampen noise. He used to wear them to sleep before we met. The inconsistent noise differing from the constant background still wakes up Hubby. Someone commented on this already but I cannot find it right now due to how long this tread has gotten.

Some responses to specific questions people have asked me:

She's a calico, short hair, female, 3 years old. She does not resemble an oriental cat in bone structure nor does she have a wedge shaped skill.

Usually she is okay 4-6 hours into a night and gets restless around 4-6am. The shelter's original name for her was Mona. (we should have known!) Often I will pet her and she will settle down awhile. Hubby has been trying more frequently to punish her while I am unable to. Inconsistent handling of her behavior is probably why she hasn't changed.

She also cries for food. She's fed at a set time regardless of when she meows unless we are out late which does not happen frequently. Vet told us 1/2 cup of food a day, if she gets that amount of food she still begs for it. She's not a fatty (she was when we got her) but she's not as lean as other cats either, I'm certain she's not being underfed. The food is high quality.

She gets plenty of play and attention. I feel like she's my main source of entertainment many days. She likes "bird stimulations", something suspended with feathers.

She has a perch where she can look outside. I think she would be a happier cat with more space or with an enclosed area where she can go outside safely. We adopted her from SPCA (part of why we chose her is because she had been waiting for a long time, and we wanted to home a cat less likely to be homed somewhere else) where she had been an outdoor cat previously.
posted by Niomi at 8:43 PM on June 9, 2009 [4 favorites]

"Vet told us 1/2 cup of food a day"

That's really not a lot at all - I think that would be while you were trying to get the cat to lose some weight. Feed her again at 5am.
posted by HopperFan at 9:05 PM on June 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

Often I will pet her and she will settle down awhile. Hubby has been trying more frequently to punish her while I am unable to. Inconsistent handling of her behavior is probably why she hasn't changed.

Yeah, you're right there.

Know why gambling is so dang addictive? Because you never know when you're going to win -- even if you've lost ten times straight in a row, there's still that chance that you'll win next time! Right now, your kitty is a gambler.

Take a rat and put him in a cage with a lever. Whenever the rat pushes the lever, give him a piece of cheese. Every single time, if he pushes the lever, he gets a piece of cheese. He'll get conditioned to expect a piece of cheese whenever he pushes the lever, and he'll specifically try pushing it in order to get cheese. Now, stop. When he pushes the lever, give him nothing. It won't take him long to figure out that pushing the lever will no longer get him what he wants, and pretty soon he'll stop.

Take a different rat, and put him in a similar cage. Only give this rat a piece of cheese once every three times he pushes the lever. It'll take him a bit longer to figure out the pattern than the first rat, but he'll still get it sooner or later. He'll specifically push the lever in order to get cheese. When you stop giving him cheese, however, it'll take him longer to realize the cheese is gone. He'll keep pushing the lever longer than the first rat did. After a while, though, he too will stop.

Third rat, similar cage. But, this time, only give him pieces of cheese at random intervals -- no set pattern. Sometimes, he pushes the lever and gets cheese, sometimes he gets nothing. He'll still figure out that lever = cheese, but he won't be able to expect it in the same way the previous rats did. When you stop, he'll keep pushing the lever... And keep pushing... And on and on and on, for an absurd amount of time. He'll keep going because, for all he knows, the next time he pushes the lever will finally be the time he gets cheese. Sure, eventually he'll stop, but it'll take him forever to do so.

Right now, your cat is in a situation like the third rat, and you are the cheese. It will take her a while to figure out that the situation has changed, and her figuring this out will depend entirely on you behaving in a perfectly consistent manner. It will take longer than two weeks, but it can work. All it requires is you and your husband diligently ignoring her or chastising her immediately when she cries.

You may have already known all this, and you may even have a better understanding of the conditioning experiments I'm vaguely describing than I do. But, even so, it can't hurt to remember it in this context.
posted by Ms. Saint at 9:13 PM on June 9, 2009

Just please, please, please, do not take the solution someone suggested of driving her somewhere far away and letting her out of the car. I'm not sure that was suggested seriously, but I have fear.

Being euthanized at a shelter is far superior to being lost, hungry, confused, and probably run over by a car.

But yeah -- try the white noise machine. We had a noisy cat, and he loved the white noise machine so much that he'd go to the bedroom, ask for it to be turned on, and then fall asleep by it for hours. Worth a try.
posted by OolooKitty at 9:17 PM on June 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

Vet told us 1/2 cup of food a day, if she gets that amount of food she still begs for it. She's not a fatty (she was when we got her) but she's not as lean as other cats either, I'm certain she's not being underfed. The food is high quality.

....Erm, most adult cats need a full cup of food a day. Check the packaging (hey, it may say different), but...the last time I checked the packaging on my cat's food, it said a full cup.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:18 PM on June 9, 2009 [3 favorites]

I sympathize. My cat used to cry and scratch at the bedroom door at night. If we let her in, she'd stampede across the bed relentlessly. We tried water, noise, ignoring her, timed feeders. Eventually, we just had to put her outside at night because weeks and weeks without sleep was making us crazy.

She's mellowed out with age and can now stay in at night without all the ruckus, but that took years.

There's drugs that might help...Prozac for kitties and such. Never explored that route, though.
posted by lunalaguna at 10:07 PM on June 9, 2009

That your cat cries at night and when you're in the shower tells me that she's lonely. As you can't get another pet I'm hoping for you that you can find her a home with another cat owner so she has a friend.

Cats can be trained with positive reinforcement. negative reinforcement (i.e. punishment) doesn't work on cats, end of story.
My two cats were trained from a feral street pack to be good house citizens and beacons of ridiculous love, so I know a little from what I speak.

For positive reinforcement, find a positive alternative to the bad behaviour and reward it. For example, to stop my cats clawinf the furniture, I put a scratching post in the same room and gave them affection whenever they used it, and picked them up and put them next to it if they started to scratch anything else. Very quickly they learned to scratch the post and nothing else, because then they got petted and that made them happy.
And I second third and fourth the rule of CONSISTENCY. Cats are smart. If you let them win once, they'll always remember they have a chance... I trained mine to obey certain rules because they learned that they would never, ever get their own way - even if it took me two hours to get the cat in a carrier, cat would eventually go in carrier. Second time only took half an hour and the third time they trotted right in.

One thing I would recommend doing is buying a bag of dried catnip. Crumble a teaspoon or so onto her sleeping area half an hour or so before you go to bed. If you're lucky, she'll go cat-crazy and play for a bit (I hope she has toys) and then fall into a deep, stoned sleep.
posted by Billegible at 10:48 PM on June 9, 2009

I'm going to ignore everything that's been said in this thread to offer the following advice from my heart:

- Lack of sleep, especially chronically, can turn perfectly normal people into raving lunatics (myself included);
- Your cat's life should not be forfeit due to your negligence in finding your cat a new home or your husband's sleep deprivation lunacy;
- Since you have, essentially, completely failed each other and your cat in maintaining a happy and healthy home environment for all three of you, I strongly advice you get your cat to a no-kill shelter or a friend's house immediately, and/or let your husband spend money to stay at a hotel for three days so he can catch up on his sleep, then start your relationship anew sans cat.

THat is all. Anything else is just further negligence.
posted by davejay at 10:57 PM on June 9, 2009 [2 favorites]

(er, advise.)
posted by davejay at 10:57 PM on June 9, 2009

You and your husband are not sociopaths. Your husband has the right to a certain quality of life, which the cat is currently denying him. You have ignored your husband's building resentment of the cat over the course of a year (right?), leading to a difficult patch in your relationship with him.

No one is ignoring these concerns, no one is suggesting that they're not difficult problems. No one is suggesting that your cat is "quirky"; rather, they are suggesting that it is just a cat doing normal cat things.

I think what the majority of people are suggesting, and what I hope you're not ignoring, is that your expectations are not reasonable in this situation. In the previous posters' experience, and in mine too, your cat will not be able to adjust its behavior in the space of two weeks. I hope your cat does learn to shape up in two weeks, but it seems unlikely. I think the suggestion is that it's time to formulate a plan 'B'.

Your description of your cat's life at home sounds wonderful and caring, but it's a little bit at odds with the points that everyone is reacting to. I'm afraid you may have misinterpreted their comments.

Soaking the cat in the shower was not the next natural progression of squirting the cat with a water bottle. The lack of empathy it portrays you having for the cat (and not because you made the cat wet, that's not especially a big deal), is why I think people have suggested that you not have pets or children. Again, even though cats don't like to be wet, soaking a cat is not torture. It's the escalation and apparent inclination to punish that people are responding to.
posted by olaguera at 11:00 PM on June 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

And I should add, lacking empathy, to whatever degree, does not make anyone a bad person. I don't think that you are a bad person. And I'm sorry for joining in the pileon here--I feel genuinely guilty for it--but I felt compelled to post after reading your last response.
posted by olaguera at 11:05 PM on June 9, 2009

I think your cat is hungry. I've known a couple of people over the years who did the 1/2 cup high quality food/vet thing. The cats were always hungry and begging. One of the people gave in and the cat became overweight. The other switched back regular cat food (not store brand) and the cat was healthy/regular weight. The brand my friends were using was higher in fat (Iams about 10 or 15 years ago for the curious among you) than regular cat food.

I know I'm being cynical but vets make a lot of money selling high end cat food. If the choice is between dropping the cat off at a shelter or risking it being overweight, I'd risk overweight. Buy a decent brand that the cat likes but doesn't love. This will help keep the cat from over eating. Save the high quality stuff for treats. You might try a timed feeding dish and set it for 5AM. Hopefully it should distract the cat for a while and let your husband get more sleep.
posted by stray thoughts at 12:10 AM on June 10, 2009 [1 favorite]

The cat is hungry. Feed it. Better fat than dead.
posted by LarryC at 12:31 AM on June 10, 2009

I leave dry food out for our cats all the time. I've only had one who would overeat and get fat. If you give her wet food or treats then don't do it in the morning. My cat's get it at random times so they won't wake us up in the morning because they expect to be fed.
posted by 14580 at 3:01 AM on June 10, 2009 [2 favorites]

I think feeding the cat more food is really worth a try, but I caution you against getting up and feeding her when she meows at 5 am. One of our cats, when she was probably about a year or a little less, used to like to get under our bed and drag herself around by her claws, then do circuits around our mattress, in the middle of the night. We tried distracting her with food so we could get her out of the bedroom and close the door and she learned, "Hey! Clawing this mattress makes those giant hairless cats bring me food! Wheee!!!" Obviously this did not stop the behavior, because we basically trained her to claw at the mattress when she was hungry.

I honestly can't remember exactly how we got her to stop. I think it was a spray bottle. This cat is also really flighty, so just a good, loud "STOP IT DAMMIT" scared her into stopping in the short term. She also just kind of grew out of it.

So, yeah. As a human formerly belonging to a 20 pound cat who died of old age when he was almost 21 years old, and 22 pound cat who died when he was nine of illness unrelated to being a fatso, I can assure you that fat cats are A-OK, so it's no biggie if your cat gets a little tubby, especially if it turns out that's why she's crying!
posted by jennyb at 5:25 AM on June 10, 2009 [1 favorite]

If your cat is begging you to feed it, which sounds possible based on your follow-up, I would look into getting an automatic feeder. We had a problem with our cats being UBER OBNOXIOUS about being fed - we got the automatic feeder (which is not silent, but I don't hear it anymore, either) and they STOPPED harassing us, because they stopped associating us with getting food. It's practically a miracle. You can set it up to dispense down to 1/4 cup per session per day of food, but be aware - if the cat is still hungry, she will still beg, the begging might just change. We have this automatic feeder. I am not exaggerating when I say it's a god-send.

An active adult cat should be getting 2 to 4 ounces of dry food a day; an inactive adult cat should be getting slightly less (1.7-3.2). I think your cat is hungry.
posted by Medieval Maven at 5:32 AM on June 10, 2009

When I lived in a teeny apartment, my cat went a bit insane and started running laps while meowing. Is moving to a larger apartment an option?
posted by The corpse in the library at 6:37 AM on June 10, 2009

Vet told us 1/2 cup of food a day, if she gets that amount of food she still begs for it.

Did he/she specify what kind of food? Even if this is an appropriate amount of food for your cat, maybe the kind of food you're feeding her just isn't filling enough? (Kind of like how a cup of lettuce won't feel as filling to a human as the equivalent amount in cheeseburgers.) So maybe try a more filling food, or keep with your current food in greater quantities, because maybe she's just hungry. (The automatic feeder sounds like a great plan.)

Animal control sends shelter animals to the SPCA, ..., but she would likely live in a small cage attended by caring staff members that are low on resources so she would eventually be killed to make room for new cats ...

The "making room" option usually occurs much faster for owner surrendered animals, just as an fyi. Much faster, as in days, not weeks or months. (Hopefully Ft. Wayne's a.c. has a little more flexibility!)

Please don't send her to a.c. before contacting me first (via MeFiMail or my regular email address in my profile). I may be able to help you find a rescue, if it comes down to that.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 7:05 AM on June 10, 2009

where she had been an outdoor cat previously.

Let her out at night. We adopted an adult shelter cat, and for the first few months she would paw the at the mirror near our bed every night and drive us crazy. We started letting her outside when she wanted and the mirror scratching was never a problem again. We all grew old together.
posted by and hosted from Uranus at 7:29 AM on June 10, 2009

Get a feeder with a timer. Feed her a half-cup during the day or evening, then set the timer to release a half cup of food sometime overnight. You might have to experiment with the time to get the best effect.

My brother has a feeder that drops food at set times, and the cats can be found waiting, staring at the feeder near the appointed time, not sitting on the bed meowing or pawing them awake.
posted by mikepop at 8:14 AM on June 10, 2009

In between the noise, there is actually some good advice here. We found a white noise machine was extremely helpful when we had a similar issue years ago. It is also possible that your cat is simply hungry and an automated feeder might be helpful. I also happened to be on the phone with my wonderful cousin who is a vet and she said that very small doses of Valium are often very helpful on cats with this issue. She suggested that you might do better to start with this than Prozac. Your vet should be able to help you understand the merits of the various medical approaches. It might take longer than two weeks but if you both are working on a concerted plan to improve things your husband might feel more willing to compromise on the deadlines. Good luck.
posted by Lame_username at 8:16 AM on June 10, 2009

Also, by the way, the appropriate training collar for a cat does not deliver an electric shock. It vibrates. Cats find this vibration quite annoying. Done properly (pressing the button nearly instantaneously with the unwanted behavior) a vibrating collar is effective and humane. It should be used as a last resort, but using it does not make one a monster and some of the OMG tone of the replies in this thread are unhelpful at best. The notion that cats can not be trained with negative reinforcement is not supported by the facts.
posted by Lame_username at 8:27 AM on June 10, 2009

Oh, man, just leave food out all the time - who cares if she gets fat, it might shut her up, she's probably just damn hungry!!
posted by tristeza at 10:17 AM on June 10, 2009

Leave food for it all the time, and let it outside. You can't expect an outdoor cat to just become an indoor cat, because you want it to be.
posted by goo at 10:28 AM on June 10, 2009

Ack - internet issues. I meant to append - especially in a studio apartment!

Overall it seems to me that:
- you need to work on your communication with your husband, and your respect for his needs - counselling may be helpful (although at 19 I think it might just be an issue of learning to live and grow with each other);
- you should feed the cat more, and let it outside; and
- you do need to negotiate with your husband, his ultimatum isn't reasonable despite how little sleep he's getting (asuming you've exhausted the no-kill shelter/ rehoming options). If the kitty is still causing sleep deprivation a month after you've started feeding him properly and letting him out, then sure its time to find a new home.

Good luck - I hope it all goes well for you, your husband and your puddy.
posted by goo at 10:46 AM on June 10, 2009

Fill the food bowl up again at night time before you go to bed. 1/2 cup is not very much food, and though it might be *enough* to keep her from starving, it might not be enough to keep her from going hungry a few hours before feeding time. We keep the cats' bowl filled up all the time (it's a dry feeder where food falls from a canister into the bowl beneath). None of our cats are overweight.

How does your husband react when the cat wakes him? You say you mostly sleep through it, so does he get up and take care of the cat, punish her or ignore her? It sounds like he is not just sleep deprived, but made to take responsibility for the pet that you wanted.

I love cats, I have three of them, and we all love them, but I would consider myself the "primary caregiver" for the cats. Your husband likely thinks you should be the one getting up and dealing with the cat. If you don't want to leave extra food for the cat before you go to bed, you may need to set your alarm for early in the morning, get up and take care of the cat, and then go back to bed.

Obviously, this puts more of a burden on you. The best alternative would be a bigger place but since you can't move and none of your friends want a pet, rather than getting rid of the cat, you might just have to make some sacrifices yourself. At the very least, you could try changing your own behavior before writing off your pet.

Some people are saying to you, "What happens when you have kids?" Obviously, animals are not children. A reasonable spouse is not going to have the same reaction to his child as he does to an animal! So, is your spouse a reasonable man? You need to ask yourself--is this a good man who is just fed up with not getting his sleep? Or part of a bigger problem with your relationship with your spouse?

Some people seem to think that there are control issues. Well, you can judge that best. I think what has some people wondering is the, "compromise is not an option" part of your post. Why not?
posted by misha at 11:07 AM on June 10, 2009

Well if you're still looking, I had a noisy cat and it was resolved by allowing him to have access to food all day. He's a big cat, but not dangerously so and he has not gained weight since being allowed to eat as he chooses. Some cats are just meant to be big (and big cats may live longer). He also likes attention but will settle for access to the food bowl. He doesn't eat as much now that he knows he's not going to be "starved" (from his perspective).

I also must say, animal control is not this evil entity that "gasses" or "Holocausts" cats willy nilly. I got my cat from there (same as the OP) and he had been there for quite a while because he was a little older and big and meow-y. He's extremely friendly and now quite laidback, even with a dog that likes to harass him (so long as that dog doesn't touch his bowl!).
posted by Danila at 4:07 PM on June 10, 2009

I've never known a cat who slept through the night. The one I have now is almost 3 and he is just now calming down to scratching on the side of the bed only once a night. That's if I feed him before I go to bed and he gets his run of the crazies back and forth. Before that, he was padding on my head, running around knocking stuff down, just generally being a spaz.

So now I feed him before bed, and my husband, who has to get up and pee anyway, gives him a little scoop of wet food when he scratches. In return, I don't complain about cat food gravy on my counter or the seat left up or wee on the bathroom floor. The cat eats, then I assume he plays, because he leaves whatever toy of the moment in his food dish.

We had a farmhouse full of cats when I was growing up and it doesn't occur to me to follow a vet's advice on feeding my cat. My cat has a dry bowl of food, a little wet here and there (a forkful or 1/4 a can). He's not overweight.

Maybe ask your hubby to elbow you if you're sleeping through the noise and get up and give her a little treat & play then go back to bed till you figure out where she'll be living?
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 4:29 PM on June 10, 2009

Here's the best solution I could think of while reading your post. Give the cat back to the shelter you got her from!!! The shelter I work at requires this if the cat does not work out at their home, no matter how long it's been. This site is awesome and will be very helpful if you keep your cat!

I didn't find anything on her site about your specific problem with the yowling but there's plenty of information I'm sure you're never heard before. I've had cats my whole life and was doing a lot of things wrong (like dry food diet, not cleaning litter enough, improper size of litter box and litter, etc). Any of these can be contributing to your cat's behavior problem.
The biggest thing I see from what you've posted is the food amount. I'm not talking about 1/2 a cup, I'm more worried about how many calories are in that half cup. I was feeding my cats a very high quality, expensive, grain-free, dry food (Acana) and then one of my male cats got a urethral blockage. That is when I started researching heavily as my vet was not great at explaining things to me. I've now switched all three cats to a wet food only diet, and they each get at least 175 calories per day. The above website gives great suggestions to what brands of wet foods are the best (I use a mix of Wellness and Merrick) and gives a chart of each brand's amount of calories per flavor. If you do a bit of math, you can calculate how many calories your cat should be getting based on weight.
I feed my cats 2.5 oz (I weigh it) twice a day. Because I was getting the same response, being woken in the morning so I could feed my starving cats, I feed at 8am and 10pm. Makes the night easier and they don't usually remember they're starving until I get the food out of the fridge in the evening (I mix it and keep in a tupperware) and put the container in hot water, then they get food 30 min later.

Regarding your situation with your husband; I can relate. When my boyfriend and I got our first cat, a female, when we moved in together 5 years ago, she was peeing on things. He did not give me a time line, but said if we can't solve the problem, we'd have to find her a home. That is when I found Dr. Elsey's Cat Attract litter and we solved that problem, but it was difficult and scary. (litter box aversion is the #1 reason cats get surrendered to shelters). When my 1 year old male peed on a towel right in front of us (but nothing was coming out) I knew this was something different. The vet confirmed he was 100% blocked and could have died within 24 hours of toxin poisoning. Please make sure you're cat is not meowing because she's in pain. Cats do not present themselves when they're sick, you have to be diligent and pick up on it by behavior. Cats, especially female cats, can have cystitis for a long time before they get blocked (females rarely get blocked like males though). The vet cat test their urine for crystals to rule this out. It's painful and can cause a whole range of symptoms, like mewling/yolwing/meowing.

In your case, it sounds more like the kitty is lonely. I know you said getting another pet is out of the question and since you're cat is 3, it might be a very tough transition for your cat if she's like my female kitty.

A white noise machine works for me, as I live in an apartment and am a very light sleeper (wake up appx 3-5 times a night for various reasons) so I can understand the frustration of your husband.

Spraying the cat can help but rarely does. Bathing the cat won't help, the cat can't connect the two occurrences. Shock collar is not appropriate for a cat, EVER. But a lot of people think about this when they have a bad situation with their cat. Putting your cat outside won't fix the situation either as the cat will probably just howl outside and there are lots of other dangers and diseases that come with your cat going outside. Most shelters will not adopt to someone if they let their cat be an outside cat.

I hope the above has helped anyone who reads this. I think the majority of cat owners are ignorant of cat nutrition and behavior and have unrealistic expectations of their pets. I'm not passing judgment on you, just a general observation of what I've seen in my own life (including myself!!!).

Good luck and I really hope everything works out.
posted by catvolunteer at 12:45 PM on September 26, 2009

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