Moose was a cat who was marking so much, his guardians found little patches of pee around the house - up to 40 times a day!
Kimba was nicknamed "The White Tornado" for his crazy-making behavior - literally ricocheting off the walls and making life crazy for his fellow house cat and his guardians.
Read below for extensive commentary from Jackson on this episode of My Cat From Hell.
Also, Jackson shares the holistic remedies he uses for cases like these in this companion post.
Moose - just protecting his turf
Moose was in the Top 3 of the Biggest Pee-ers I have ever seen. As a matter of fact, Laurie and Pat said 40 times a day, they were finding little squirts somewhere.
If you take a look at the opening package of the episode where my camera person caught Moose going from the bed - peeing across the room in sort of a urine rainbow against the opposite wall - this kind of thing was happening every day!
There were a number of different facets in addressing Moose, but the most important thing was definitely [that] time was not on my side. Pat was fed up, Laurie was exhausted.
This was the classic case of threats from within and threats from without. So you know, we have neighborhood animals. These guys live in the foothills. Everything from bobcats to coyotes, to other cats wandering around. Yes, there were outdoor neighborhood cats in these foothills...which is suicide. But, be that as it may… um…
There were a couple of traumatic events with Moose but he was also just very reactive, very sensitive. Moose was also one of those cases where chemically, he was really unbalanced. I did have him put on fluoxetine, and that did help a lot. Now, it also needed to happen where we eliminated the threat from without in the form of sealing up areas like the garage door, where he was smelling other cats coming into the garage. Or, as I was backlighting the outside wall, we found immense amounts of pee on the retaining wall which Pat insisted didn't exist.
Here's a nifty bit of inside mojo: I was insisting that Moose was peeing on the toaster, coffee maker, above the dishwasher because there was something going on outside that wall. That's why we built the catio out there to help expand his confidence. In the meantime, we found out two very important things. One is that when they did a kitchen remodel a few years ago, they never sealed up this big hole in the wall that went under the dishwasher, and from there, mice and rats were coming in and out on a regular basis. So that was a big deal. It's one of the reasons Moose was peeing in that area.
The other thing they found after I left for my last visit was a bobcat sitting on that retaining wall where I found the pee. Yes, a bobcat. So, knowing that that was the size of the predator outside that wall, that tells you why the response was as extreme as it was.
Black lighting outside the house is a really great idea if your cat is peeing under windows, by doors, marking that territory, saying "This is my castle, this is my moat." The best thing that you can do is to black light outside your house. We did that with Tony the cat as well. It didn't make it to air [into the episode] either but this tells us who's out there, who's doing what, and you can clean up outside as well [and] also, put out things like Scarecrow to keep those animals away. That was a big component.
The other thing, you gotta remember with a reactive cat like Moose was that when he had that lizard in Kristien's bedroom, it wound him up, it got him overstimulated, like starting to play with a cat using a laser pointer and then dropping the ball in terms of play, [when] he is completely overstimulated. She [Kristen] goes to grab him, hold him, he says, "Hey, I'm stimulated." And claws her in the face. All the parents see is blood on their child's face. What we're not seeing is the true mojo, the fact that Moose was saying "Hey, I'm overstimulated." We just see the traumatic results of that overstimulation.
It also points out how important it is to take a step back away from the cat, and realize that nothing that Moose did was random. Heightened? Reactive? Sure, but not random.
Kimba - talk about the energy of youth!
Really a pretty straightforward case, and there's not much in-depth about this, except that it does tell you that when you're dealing with a one-year old cat who is just really high energy like Kimba is, he's telling you loudly and clearly that you're not giving him enough.
If you take...
- Remy, a 16-year old cat, not the perfect playmate, getting beat up
- the fact that he's fallen off the balcony before
- that Michael is always finding a way to have to climb up to the roof to save Kimba who has gone to the top of their building…
- the fact that he goes around the quote racetrack destroying everything
- the blinds
- Michael's belongings on his desk
- and at the end of the day there's also scratches and bites
Kimba is letting you know loudly and clearly that he's not satisfied. He's saying, y'know, "Let this energy out of my system!" He's not trying to irritate you, he's trying to send you a message. Once that message was received by Liz and Michael, things got better in a hurry.
We reclaimed the racetrack. The racetrack was a source of destruction and it was a term that Liz and Michael used to sorta make fun of the situation. I wanted to reclaim that and use the concept of racetrack as a positive. And that's why we created "rest stops" and "pit stops." Places where Kimba could alternately play and crash out when he was tired.
But we had to really get him moving on that racetrack. Both Liz and Michael worked really hard on that.
Also what played a prominent role in the show was the concept of the boil and the simmer. Watching someone make pasta was the inspiration behind that. How you bring the water to a boil, put the pasta in, and you immediately turn it down and let it simmer. And maybe you'll bring it back up again right before you serve it. The concept is that you don't want a cat to hit that peak of exercise and stay there. Remember, cats are built for speed, not distance. So keeping them running around for 15 minutes is not what you want.
You can get them panting for 3 seconds, 5 seconds? That's plenty. Now you can bring them down a little bit. And then bring them back up. And down. And the concept is that as soon as they get a little tired, you let them pant it off, then get back in the game. It also shows you that you're going to hit the land of diminishing returns. When you first start to bring up the cat, play-wise, to a boil, the cat will then come down and they'll be right back up again. And then, you'll maybe have 5 minutes, then the next time you boil and simmer you got 3 minutes, then one. Then your cat's exhausted. And that's exactly what you wanted to do.
We saw a lot of good come out of the situation with Kimba. Both by doing the boil/simmer, and secondly by affecting the environment itself by putting up toys like the Fling-ama-string in the racetrack. The third was affecting the environment of the outside by taking the fact that we had a balcony and just enclosing it, fencing it in. And of course, getting the buy-in from Liz and Michael was really important. This is what made Kimba a pretty big success.