Purring with rage
August 29, 2010 11:19 AM   Subscribe

Addendum to this question... will my cat become bitter and angry from being crated for so long?

I followed everyone's advice on the previous question and picked up a big dog crate for my hurt fuzzball (her sister has been spending a lot of time laying near the cage like that, but they don't really acknowledge each other if we put them in it together; we tried it hoping they'd comfort each other somehow). She was fine in it for the first few days (probably still too sore to do much), but she's started crying to get out. It's heartbreaking to hear, and of course I know I shouldn't let her out (the few times we tried it, her leg gave out after a bit, which scared her and caused her to bolt for the nearest high surface...not good).

Over the last two days or so, my partner and I have noticed that she's started biting more. She was always the type to nip occasionally (we could only pet her on her terms, you see) and, while we tried to curb this as much as possible, we also know it's just part of her personality. However, this morning my partner was cleaning up the litter she spilled in the bottom of the cage, and she tried to bite him. I reached in to pet her, and she bit me. These aren't little nips, either. We've been doing our best to give her enough attention and distract her with toys and such, but I guess that only does so much good when you're locked in a cage 24/7.

So, my concern is that this change in personality may be permanent. We were planning to keep her crated until her vet appointment the morning of September 2nd, but I'm concerned that, when this crate business is finally over, she won't be my (usually) sweet kitty anymore. Does anyone have experience with something similar? Or advice as to how I should handle it?

Possibly relevant information: her painkillers ran out on Friday evening. Could she just be extra bitey because her leg is sore?

Also, before someone asks, we have been gently stretching her bad leg occasionally to keep it from stiffening up, and she stretches it almost every time she changes positions.
posted by torisaur to Pets & Animals (9 answers total)
She's probably in pain, yes. Cats at many shelters are in much smaller cages for longer periods of time, and are generally fine and healthy and friendly again when they're out. Do you have any rooms that can be emptied for an hour a day, so she can have a bit more freedom but no jumping? If not, she will be okay until Sept 2, although you should try to get her more painkillers. If you sit and watch tv at night, you can try to keep her in the room with you then, if she's the kind of cat who will cuddle at that time.
posted by jeather at 11:25 AM on August 29, 2010

I do not believe cats and dogs can tell time--having said that--she will be fine after a gradual, but not premature, return to freedom and her usual routine. I am convinced our pets are much more adaptable than their owners. They do not hold grudges nor personalize anger and disappointment.
posted by rmhsinc at 11:33 AM on August 29, 2010

Regardless of whether she likes it or not, do what's best for her. Cats are pretty resilient so I wouldn't worry about long term affects of crating her on her personality, especially if it's only for a couple more days.
posted by TheBones at 11:35 AM on August 29, 2010

For comparative purposes, one of my cats, Disraeli (obligatory photo), had to be boarded for about five days for medical reasons. Dizzy promptly went on a hunger strike (they had to feed him by syringe). When I visited, he let me pet him, but refused to purr--and this is normally a very affectionate, super-cuddly, purr-y cat. Once I got him back home? Snapped back to his usual personality instantly. Which is to say: it's highly unlikely that your cat is going to hold a grudge.
posted by thomas j wise at 11:41 AM on August 29, 2010

Thanks for the input, guys... I grew up with dogs who were never sick a day in their lives. Not only did I have no experience with cats before I got these two, but I've never had to deal with a sick pet of any kind before! Forgive me if I seem to be worrying over silly things :)
posted by torisaur at 11:44 AM on August 29, 2010

Cats don't hold grudges, or at least not for long (ours "forgive" us for being gone for a long time after just a few hours). The biting is probably due to her pain and being unable to hide. She'll be okay. Un/related - if she gets more painkillers and they zonk her out, it won't take much to corral her in a safe way from things like stairs if you have any. When ours are out of it due to sedation from tooth cleaning or whatever, we try to keep them downstairs as much as possible, or at least supervise them as they ridiculously try to get upstairs. They aren't great about knowing that they can't make it up very fast or well, so keep that in mind if it's relevant.
posted by Medieval Maven at 11:46 AM on August 29, 2010

If cats do hold grudges, it's usually (in my experience) for a limited amount of time. For example, our girl Savannah, who was always Daddy's girl, would pointedly snub Mr. Adams any time we returned home after a week-long trip away from home (to visit Mr. Adams' parents in Georgia). Savannah was left in our house with one of my brothers staying over to care for her, so her basic lifestyle was not uprooted in any major way other than our absence. For the first 12 hours or so after our return, she'd shower me with rubs and purrs, which she rarely did otherwise, and wouldn't come to Mr. Adams when he called her in his "special" tone. But before 48 hours had elapsed, she was back on his lap when he was trying to work and snuggling under his chin whenever he sat down to watch TV.

Another anecdote - the late great Sparky was once incarcerated and catheterized at the vet's office in a cage for four days when he was suffering from Feline Urologic Syndrome. The vet encouraged me to come visit Sparky during that time, but the Spark stayed huddled in the back corner of his crate, and didn't purr or otherwise react when I reached in and stroked him. When we brought him home, he bolted out of his carrier and ran into the basement, where he hid somewhere for maybe an hour. Then, suddenly, he was upstairs in the kitchen meowing loudly and rhythmically "knocking" on the cupboard door with his front paws, indicating that he wanted some canned cat food.
posted by Oriole Adams at 12:00 PM on August 29, 2010

Given that the behavior change correlates with the pain meds running out, I would suspect that she needs more pain meds! Just because they ran out doesn't mean she doesn't need a refill.

And yes, she will get over this, but I might add some enrichment toys to her crate. Hide treats in them.
posted by biscotti at 1:23 PM on August 29, 2010 [2 favorites]

We had to do this with my old roommates cat for maybe 4 weeks once when he got a really bad abscess from fighting with a raccoon. Not only did we have to crate him but we had to give him shots of antibiotics and then pills. He was NOT happy (outdoor farm cat) and he let us know. I think he meow'd every 4 seconds for an entire month and he shredded everything in the cage a few times at first. He also bit anyone connected to the shots and made dramatic bids for freedom every time we opened the door. He was about 25lbs so could do some serious damage.

As soon as we let him out he went right back to being his old dopey, sweet self. Good for him because he wasn't the most popular animal on the farm at that point, to put it mildly. One of our neighbors had helped administer the shots for a week and he ran up and clawed her leg pretty badly the first time she came over after his release but that was about the extent of his grudge holding.

I, otoh, took weeks to catch up on the sleep I missed. I see why it's called caterwauling now.
posted by fshgrl at 5:16 PM on August 29, 2010

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