How Do I Encourage How Do I Get My Cat to Feel Safe in Bed Again, After Repeated Kitten Attacks?
October 29, 2011 3:26 PM   Subscribe

How Do I Get My Cat to Feel Safe in Bed Again, After Repeated Kitten Attacks?

Lumi the cat alway used to sleep with me. Then we adopted Kissa the smaller cat as a kitten, who started attacking Lumi whenever he tried to settle into bed. (This lasted a few months, now they're the best of friends.)

After this period of bed attacks, Lumi stopped sleeping with me. (One other relevant incident was that, in trying to get away from the kitten, Lumi once fell out off the bed quite hard when a blanket slid off.) In general, Lumi is also quite skittish (he's a rescue cat who was found in the woods near starvation).

So, at the risk of being a stereotypical sensitive new-age guy cat owner, I'm wondering how to get Lumi to feel safe sleeping on the bed again? (While I'd enjoy it, it also seems like would be good for him, as he needs a certain amount of physical contact each day and can't really get it just through normal pettings.)


posted by Jon44 to Pets & Animals (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
For my girls, it just took time - nearly a year, as I recall. (Mine still cordially loathe one another, so yours might recover faster.)
posted by restless_nomad at 3:28 PM on October 29, 2011

Please be aware that cats also change this kind of behavior without apparent rhyme or reason, so that his behavior may now be what he prefers. Beyond placing him on the bed a few times, I would resist trying to force him to do too much.

Also, cats are kind of like the opposite of Close Encounters: if you ignore him, he will come.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 3:38 PM on October 29, 2011 [5 favorites]

Have you tried hanging out with Lumi on the bed while Kissa isn't around? Where has Lumi decided to sleep instead? He and Kissa might be curling up together somewhere, unless Kissa is sleeping in the bed now.

It is also very true that cats will change behaviors for no apparent reason.
posted by Mavri at 4:31 PM on October 29, 2011

it sounds kinda like kissa was claiming the bed as his (her?) territory. whenever we adopt a new one, this takes months to a year to settle down.

most cats don't like change in routine, so it'll take them a while to try new things or feel comfortable in others' claimed territory. sometimes, it never changes—our 16-year-old has never liked our really sociable, really alpha youngest, and that's not changed in the two years the younger one's been with us. there will never be a détente with those two. but if kissa and lumi are pals now, they'll probably both be back up on the bed eventually. it'll have to happen on lumi's own terms though.

awesome names, by the way.
posted by patricking at 4:33 PM on October 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'm sorry to say that if the bed has become contentious turf this may be the new normal. In my experience, turf reshuffles happen when furniture moves/changes or when new cats come into the picture. I've actually gotten rid of a desk chair that became a war zone for kitties, but that was because they wouldn't stop fighting over it.

Seconding that it's possible that Lumi is getting some loving/contact needs met with Kissa if they're pals now. Since my eldest cat died a year ago last summer, both of my cats have become more human-sociable. You may be going through the same thing in reverse instead of seeing a situation where Lumi is afraid of being on the bed.

Even if Lumi wants to be on the bed again, you'll need to let Lumi make a decision about when to try. Just defend Lumi if Kissa refuses to let Lumi stay. You are the boss of kitties and they don't get to run each other off because of kitty grumpies. That's what I tell mine, anyway.
posted by immlass at 4:48 PM on October 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

just sprinkle catnip all over everything and them sort it out cato y cato.
posted by ian1977 at 5:03 PM on October 29, 2011 [3 favorites]

Where does Lumi sleep now? Is there a cushion or blanket or anything that he likes to sleep on? You could try putting that on the bed. My cat will sleep anywhere as long as her favourite dressing gown is lying there too.

Another thing to try is keeping Kissa out of the bedroom and the door shut. It will mean you'll have to open the door whenever Lumi wants out, which could get annoying, but he might be able to sleep if he knows he's protected by a closed door.

And finally, try snuggling with him on the bed during the daytime, maybe?

I think time will solve the problem anyway. My cat was getting ambushed by neighbourhood cats at night in the laundry room that her cat door was in, and it got so bad she wouldn't go into that room at all. Then we changed the cat flap so that it only let her in and out (microchip recognition), and it still took a couple more months before she seemed to feel safe going in there again.
posted by lollusc at 5:44 PM on October 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

My girl cat changes her routine all the time. Right now she's in a "I want to spoon you all night" mode, but it'll switch to a not sleeping on the bed in a few weeks probably. So it could just be a phase.

Since they're such good friends, it looks like they enjoy sleeping next to each other. Try to get them both settled on the bed a few times. What works for me is putting them on the bed, gently making them lie down then letting them get up. They'll decide it's their idea after a bit of preening and lay back down in the same spot.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 5:46 PM on October 29, 2011

Cats like to sleep with their humans because human bodies are warm. (And because they love us lots and lots, of course. But they really are like furry little heat-seeking missiles.)

Thing is, a cat's body temperature is higher than a human's. So if Lumi now has another cat to snuggle with, as in your picture, he may simply not need your body heat any more.

It's possible that if you want one cat on your bed, you'll have to accept two cats on your bed. Decreasing the temperature in your home could encourage them to go there for extra warmth.
posted by Perodicticus potto at 6:26 PM on October 29, 2011

Feliway is the standard go-to for stressed cats, particularly in multicat houses.
posted by Trivia Newton John at 6:29 PM on October 29, 2011 [3 favorites]

Foolish human. Cats will sort this out. They shall be ever so cozy. It make take time, however.

If you survive this, count yourself lucky. You have no fur.
posted by stubby phillips at 6:51 PM on October 29, 2011

We have a fleece blanket that attracts our cats like a magnet, and they seem to want significant amounts of "red blanket time" when the weather gets colder. We even keep it on the bed over our comforter/bedspread because they love it so much (we used to put it under, until we noticed that they'd gravitate to any little fold of red blanket they could find, even if they had the whole rest of the bed to choose from). Maybe Lumi (and Kissa) might like one of those.
posted by dlugoczaj at 7:10 PM on October 29, 2011

Heated mattress pad.

But be careful- my cat knows how to turn mine on, so depending on the evil geniusness of your cats you may have to unplug it when you aren't around to supervise.
posted by dogmom at 10:17 PM on October 29, 2011

Nthing that routines may just change, and be patient. My cat went from sleeping on the other side of the bed, to sleeping in her cat bed in another room, to sleeping on a towel on my dresser to back to sleeping on my bed. (With a mandatory 4 am lying down ON me)

Have you tried just picking her up and putting her on the bed at bedtime? Stupid question I know. But sometimes that sort of thing acts like a physical reminder to my cat that she CAN do certain things. (She's not real bright)
posted by Caravantea at 7:20 AM on October 30, 2011

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