Destination Feel

On last week’s new episode of My Cat From Hell, you saw Mufasa (a female Norwegian Forest Cat) go from being a real bully to living peacefully with her guardians Rudy & Andrea.

There was a lot involved in the transformation, and there always is, because each situation is unique in terms of the history and habits of each pet and pet guardian.  (More on how that transition was made in future posts.)

But Jackson has some super simple insights and steps you can take to create a more peaceful home for you and your cats.

Here’s Jackson:

What we had Rudy and Andrea do was basically rearrange their whole house to accommodate Mufasa, because that place could fit in a shoebox.  It was the smallest apartment!

And Rudy and Andrea used to live in a big place before they moved from Boston.  So it was a real bad transition for Mufasa.

That’s why I was so insistent that they open up that closet space for her.  Remember in the episode, I was pretty insistent – and they were pretty resistant – so I spent the entire time just trying to get them to open it.  When they finally did, I was just happy they had done it.

But we could go a step further pretty easily.

an economical, machine washable Fleece Pet Bed, perfectly sized for cats

And that is: make the space more of a destination.  See, what they didn’t do was actually create a “destination feel” in the closet.

Remember, they said that Mufasa went there to self-regulate her anxiety. It’s exactly what I suspected, so in that case, we would want more beds in there.

More things for her to own, more things she can get her scent on.

Remember in that short shot that you might have seen, there was just a cardboard box that she was laying on.

Why not make it something where her scent can be strong?  So she walks in there and feels a sense of belonging and ownership, which is something Mufasa wasn’t feeling.

That’s a step we didn’t see on the show, and I would have loved to have seen it.

It’s an easy thing you can do for your cats.

  1. Debi Wilson   August 2, 2012 at 10:47 am  

    Jackson,
    I absolutely love what you are doing to educate cat guardians. You are an angel for all the kitties of the world. I have been a cat lover all of my life; reading books trying to figure out what goes on in their little minds, but you my friend are incredible. I love love love your show My Cat From Hell, record all of them, and watch them when I can sit with my kitties and relax. I even got my “dog guy turned cat guy” husband to watch them. I enjoyed your book thoroughly and admired your ability to share your most intimate times of your life and the determination to work with Benny and his issues. What a guy.
    I have an 11 year old cat with an issue of separation anxiety that clings to me and cries all morning until she can not stay awake any longer and then takes her nap. I have to actually sit with her until she falls asleep otherwise she will cry cry cry. I believe her issue is due to her being the runt and her mother not able to take care of her. I may be off base, I don’t know. I mention my cat because as I am typing this I have to keep moving her off the keyboard – she has to be with me all her waking hours.
    Anyway I wanted this letter to be about you and your greatness. I thank you again for all you are doing for our sweet and wonderful cats.
    Keep up the good work my friend.
    Debi

    Reply
  2. Deidra varvel   August 11, 2012 at 11:27 pm  

    I have 3 male cats. They have all been fixed, and are 2 years old. One cat chases and is aggressive to one of the other cats. He won’t leave the poor cat alone. He likes the other cat. They were all raised together by me. Why this behavior?

    Reply
    1. Elke   November 4, 2012 at 10:51 am  

      I hope somebody replies to your post, because I have a similar problem. 3 cats, 2 males (6 and 4 years old), one female (5 years old), they got along for over a year, then the younger male cat started dominating and attacking the female cat. We have the female cat locked in a large room where the older male cat “visits” her and they sleep together. Whenever the younger male manages to sneak in, he attacks her. I saw one Cat from Hell episode and am trying to feed them together, after they play until they’re tired, sometimes it’s o.k., but not really. Any suggestions?

      Reply
  3. Tamiann   August 15, 2012 at 9:49 am  

    Hi, Jackson!
    I truly appreciate what you do for humans and cats alike… it’s truly great to see the transformations of the “Hell Cats” turning into sweet little kitties.

    I have a question: I had a sweet tabby cat for 13 years before she died. She was a stray that my husband befriended, and she became a very sweet lap kitty. In her old age, she developed pretty bad arthritis, and she couldn’t make it into the litter box, so she peed in the carpet next to the box. She has been gone for nearly 6 months, and I have tried many cleaners to remove the pee smell, but after a week or two, the smell starts to come back. On one of your shows you mentioned a product that you recommended to remove urine. Can you tell me what that is? I’d like to order it, and try it out.

    Thank you!!

    Reply
  4. connie kirkpatrick   August 18, 2012 at 2:17 pm  

    I have a terrorial prob with my cat lilliebears but its not another animal its my bf and his 2 kids!she soils on r bed sometimes she hasnt anywhere else so far!

    Reply
    1. Ellen   November 29, 2012 at 10:03 pm  

      Get rid o f the boyfriend before he says it’s me or the cat. If your cat has never aced this way before, something is wrong—she may sense evil in these people that is not apparent to you1

      Reply
      1. Ben   December 1, 2012 at 6:08 am  

        Never take a cat’s intuition about people lightly. As a teenager, I had a Siamese named MaiTai that didnt like two of my “friends” at the time. Turned out these two were bike thieves, felons at that. And one of them damaged his father’s car and tried to blame me. Simple investigation showed I didnt do it. In another incident 7 years ago, I was dating a girl my Siamese cat, named Savannah, fell in love with. I ended up marrying her.

        Reply
        1. Marilyn   December 22, 2012 at 6:22 pm  

          theres always the einrnovment experiment. for example you could put each cat in seperate rooms and test for like an hour or so. you could have one room with lights on and windows open with soft classical music playing..a relaxed, home-like einrnovment and in the other room no lights, quiet or disturbing music like a tense einrnovment. record their eating habbits (while in the rooms) and sleeping and things like that. i wouldnt make it too complecated if shes only 8 but it shouldnt be too hard. maybe do this for a week, 4 or 5 days? more ideas are online everywhere. sciencebuddies.com might have something if not try google-ing something like simple science experiment cats or easy animal science projects

          Reply
  5. Kes   August 19, 2012 at 10:52 am  

    Hi Jackson!
    I watch your show all the time, and I can truly say that it has led to a better atmosphere for my 3 cats. I’ve learned to see my apartment in a whole new light, and I’ve even purchased a foot tall cat tree, and several toys I’ve seen on your show…they love them!
    My question for you relates to how 2 of my cats interact. A little over a year ago I brought in a male kitten, to live with me and my 2 adult female cats. – all three are fixed now. He loves to play, always has, but gets rough and one of my girls can’t stand it, yet the other one plays with him often. I hoped it was a kitten phase, but he is over a year old now and it only seems to have gotten worse. He sees her more as prey now because she negatively reacts when she sees him (not always, but more often than not). She will growl, hiss, and often run away from him – he almost always runs after her – sometimes they get into it and the hair flies. She was already very sensitive, and so sweet, before he came to live with us, and he only seems to make her stress level rise. When she sees him I can see her anxiety level rise, even if she doesn’t growl or anything. And now she spends a lot of her time under the bed or on the cat tree to get away from him. She is the sweetest cat I’ve ever had and it breaks my heart to see her like this, especially in her own home! I try to play with them all, especially my boy, in an attempt to get his energy out – but I fear it has become more than a case of extra energy at this point. I don’t like to use this word when talking about my beloved cats, but he has become a bully and it makes me so sad. I try and I try, but he just won’t relent. Any suggestions to divert his attention away from her and to give her more confidence around him?
    Thank you!!

    Reply
    1. Kes   August 19, 2012 at 10:53 am  

      I meant to write 6-foot cat tree, sorry

      Reply
      1. Jen   October 3, 2012 at 9:52 am  

        I would try one of Jackson’s calming agents with your boy cat, or get something from your vet to keep him calm. Yeah, it seems he’s a little rough, and like children, they’ll always pick on the weaker ones. Can’t really boost up the confidence of the weaker one until the bully backs off. Just sayin’ . . .

        Reply
  6. MASS cat mommy   August 23, 2012 at 7:48 am  

    I have al alpha female that constantly stalks and attacks my hubby’s year old girl…I don’t know what to do…hubby wants to put mine down, not his of course…mine is 12 yrs.

    Reply
    1. Jen   October 3, 2012 at 9:48 am  

      Putting any animal down for the sake of making our lives easier is NEVER the answer. Remember the decision we make when we bring animals into our lives is also making the decision to make them part of our family. Don’t euthanize for the sake of ease.

      Reply
  7. Kendal   August 25, 2012 at 8:44 pm  

    Kes, poor little girl, for her sake I hope it gets resolved soon. She’s had her life turned upside down, from a safe and happy home to one where she now has to hide. It’s not always best to bring a kitten in with adult cats, too much energy. I hope you get some help and find some peace for for cats!

    Reply
  8. betty ingelsby   September 13, 2012 at 8:04 am  

    I have 2 cats (a 13 yr.old declawed, female black cat rescued from a shelter; i’ve had her for 8 yrs) and a 7 yr. old rescued cat who does have claws, who i’ve had for 2 yrs). the black cat had been fostered due to her inability to get along with other cats at the shelter; the 7 yr.old cat (dexter) has a damaged eye that cannot be fixed, but is an adorable cat. Batgirl, however, hates him. He has tried to befriend her, but she growls and hisses. Now, i think he is used to her hating him and so he attacks her at times, making matters worse. I adore both of these cats. I retired a lttle early from working due to health problems, and Batgirl was my saving grace. I adore her and she adores me. I did not want to adopt another cat, knowing how Batgirl was, but Dexter had been in the shelter for over a year and because of his eye, nobody was adopting him; I was so depressed about it that I decided to adopt him too. It is just not working out; but I can’t get rid of him or Batgirl. I have tried everything, but Batgirl just won’t accept him. There are peeing issues, which were occurring even before Dexter, but have increased. Dexter took over Batgirl’s spot at the head of the bed (between my husband and me), and Batgirl is at the bottom (if she’s there at all). I now go into the guest room half the nite, so that Batgirl can sleep by my head. I am totally devoted to both of these cats, but I don’t know how to help them get along. There have been a few big fights, but mostly it’ just growing and hissing (Batgirl). Dexter never hisses or growls. However, the fights occur when we are not home; therefore we rarely go anywhere on vacation because I worry too much. Any suggestions? P.S. Dexter is not attracted to the feather thing. I’ve tried. Batgirl will play with it, but only if Dexter is sleeping.

    Reply
  9. Amanda F.   September 16, 2012 at 9:39 pm  

    I have 3 cats. There seems to be a war every other week. My cats are all outside, sadly, due to my step-father’s dislike of all cats in general. Their ages and names are Princess-12 yrs.(Princess has other issues, which I know the cause of, but not how to address); Panther-3 (Princess’s son and best contender for her “throne”); Polly-2 (a younger version of Princess, before Princess developed issues, possibly a cause of the issues, also she is very chatty, purry, and sweet)

    Princess has been with me since she was weaned. She used to be sweet, loving, and amiable, but now she changes in an instant depending on mood or circumstance. A couple or three years ago she was hauled off, due to the fact that we could not afford to have any more kittens and I did not have the money to get her fixed. I did not agree to her being hauled off. Shortly after she was gone, I got a job and also another cat, Polly. About a year later, I noticed a cat that was always by the dumpster at work. Curiosity got the better of me and I went to look, finding Princess there. She recognized me and followed me, skin and bones, devastatingly pregnant. I called my parents’, brought her home, got her into the vet, and she has been home ever since.
    When Princess doesn’t get her way, she slaps at whoever, wherever, whatever is near. If another cat is on my lap and she notices she comes up all innoncent-like, lashes her tail (in annoyance) and slaps the cat with her claws. . Also, if she runs in and she is put out, if anything walks by or moves she slaps them, she has even done this to me in the past. I let my rat terrier out and Princess runs inside. I put her out and my dog comes back up on the porch, tries to go in, but Princess slaps her, possibly because she was the nearest thing around. Also, when I pick her up she gets happy, very happy and clings on for dear life, sinking claws into my shirt and skin, which is due to her being hauled off and possibly the two other cats vying for my attention. When Polly catches rabbits :’( or birds :’( (I wonder why they never catch mice!?) Princess takes it away and tries to claim it as her own catch.
    Is there anything I can do to help her? What would be the best course of action to take to break her little tantrums? I am trying to give everyone the same amount of attention, I work two jobs at the moment, so time is harder to find than I like.

    Reply
  10. Jen   October 3, 2012 at 9:38 am  

    NEED SUGGESTIONS AS TO HOW TO KEEP MY CATS FROM PEEING ON OUR DOG’S BED!

    This one’s got me baffled! Our cats use their litterboxes! We’ve now thrown away through two nice, big dog beds for our 6-year old Basset Hound, Fred. We couldn’t figure out why he suddenly didn’t want to sleep on them anymore, but we quickly figured it out. Seems one or both of our 2-year old female cats (both fixed) were peeing on his bed! Poor guy! Don’t blame him for not wanting to sleep on that thing! So we got him another one. Cats peed there AGAIN! WTH?!?!?

    Reply
  11. Amber   October 18, 2012 at 1:06 pm  

    I have 12 cats. I manage a stray colony in my neighborhood and do as much TNR as I can on my own. Over the years, I’ve brought in litter after litter of kittens and adopted them out. I always tell the new owners that if it doesn’t work out, to bring them back rather than take them to a shelter. And they have. Due to behavioral or health issues, they don’t want them and sometimes I get them back. And since they’re unadoptable for various reasons, I keep them. Then 5 years ago, I was at a gas station and heard a kitten crying. Someone had dumped off a perfectly good 4 month old female tuxedo kitten. Very sweet. Very affectionate. So I took her to the vet, had her fixed, shots, tested, and brought her home. I did the gradual introduction and discovered why someone dumped her. She’s EXTREMELY territorial. At least, that’s how I perceive it. Her first reaction to any of the others was to hiss and swat at them just for being in the same room with her. Some of them ignored her and these are the ones she gets along with. The others challenged her, and these are the ones she scraps with to this day. And they go out of their way to target and stalk her. She marks her territory when she feels threatened by them. Of course, as the numbers have increased (the limit is absolutely 12), the behavior has gotten worse. She’ll pee right next to a litter box. We have 9 litter boxes of varying sizes, shapes, covered, non-covered in different areas of the house. We use both clay scoopable litter and pine pellet as some prefer one over the other. I scoop them twice a day and totally change and scrub them out twice a week. They’re pretty clean. And yet she prefers puppy wee wee pads or the floor. And she’ll pee on any of the others’ cat beds. She’s even peed in our bed when she’s felt threatened. With us in it! And last month, for the first time ever, I caught her SPRAYING the laundry room door during a show down with the newest member of the fuzzy family. I really think it’s territorial. We’ve tried everything. We’ve tried giving her a room to herself (a room I spend a lot of time in). She cries and yowls until we let her out. And when she’s out, she’s either cowering and hiding, or fighting. We’ve tried various calming sprays, air diffusers, collars, etc. on her AND the others. Nothing. I’ve had her to the vet numerous times for tests and she’s perfectly healthy. Just ornery with the others. I can’t find her another home because if she’s peeing everywhere, someone else may take her to a shelter, dump her out or put her down. And if they have other animals, well, that’s won’t work either. And despite all this, she really is a very sweet, snuggly cat. So even though I’m normally against this kind of thing, I’m seriously considering some kind of medication to calm her down. Does anyone have any suggestions? Or experience with medications for “high strung” cats? Thanks!

    Reply
    1. MASS cat mommy   October 20, 2012 at 1:38 pm  

      we used fluoxetine, better known as Prozac…works ok but I chose not to have her too quiet…didn’t think that was fair…

      Reply
  12. Ben   October 20, 2012 at 2:04 pm  

    I have an issue with our neutered male Siamese cat. Hes about 7 years old, we got him at 1 and 1/2 years old from a cat rescue. We have two other cats (we had those before we got the Siamese), another male and a female. They are “fixed” too. Once in awhile, the Siamese sprays. It’s not always in one place, but there is one place he does most of the time when he does spray: Along the side of our bed, the side which I sleep. Any suggestions on how to stop it?

    Reply
    1. Maria Eugenia   November 7, 2012 at 7:22 am  

      Hi!!!
      im from Argentina im big fan of your show !!!!! I have the same problem as Ben i have 3 Siamese males cats but only one spray at my bed!!!!!!!
      Please i need help !!!!!!

      Reply
  13. Hannelore   March 13, 2013 at 1:35 am  

    My problem is I have cats that mark. I originally had 3 cats who were old and I started to rescue kittys of the streets one by one until I have 12 now,all im a span of 4 yrs, They all get along sort of. My problem that they are spraying,not all of them maybe 4 of them. I cant figure out how to stop it. I have 2 unfixed females and they are feral. I know i must fix them. But have no excuse for it. What can I do to stop ths. I laos have a kitty who has started to overgroom. It all started when I had a ear mite break out and had to give revolution. Anyway the overgrooming it either a food allergy or Hyperthesia,i think. The vet dpsent know which and wants to put her on meds for her nerves. I am giving her more attention but still overgrooming. She has licked the fur off of her belly. So….2 issues. 12 cat.2 unfixed and feral. Peeing everywhere. one overgrooming. Help…..

    Reply
  14. Joyce Richmond   April 19, 2013 at 7:01 am  

    Hello. My BF and I just rescued a cat from city kitties in Philadelphia. He is a young male. We brought him into our home because our cat Dusty died this past February. My BF felt her sister, Spot, our other cat, needed a companion right away. Spot is certainly missing Dusty. However, she is 5 and calm. Chip, our new kitty, is young. My BF feels Chip is bullying Spot. But, I see it as play. Although, Spot is hissing a lot and running away, she doesn’t hide and mostly follows Chip around. My BF is mourning the terrible loss of Dusty, so I believe he may be reading things into Spot’s behavior that are his feeling not hers. I am desperate to keep Chip and hopefully have the two cats become better friends. They have groomed each other and then, Chip will bite spot and the hissing starts. Can anyone give us advice, please.

    Reply

We regret that Jackson does not answer questions posted in the comments. This is due to his demanding schedule and the high volume of requests he receives. But most importantly, since he has not met your cat, it would be contrary to his approach for him to give specific personalized advice for your specific situation. That being said, general questions and issues are addressed throughout this blog, in his book Cat Daddy and of course, the show My Cat From Hell.

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