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Old March 5th, 2011, 01:08 PM
nightowl nightowl is offline
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Need advice for cat's behaviour

My cat, just about to turn two, was born to a feral litter in a barn. The litter wasn't discovered until the kittens were about 5 months old.

My cat has been an indoor cat since I adopted him at 6 months, although I walk him on a leash and harness when I can (he won't always let me put it on him...it takes some coaxing). He is very shy and will run and hide from strangers but cuddly with me and friendly with close friends who visit often. He loves finding new hidey holes.

A week ago we moved into a new home. He explored room by room at his own pace and was doing fine. That is, until three days ago when my cat discovered a grate that wasn't secured properly and got into the cold air return vent of the heating system. I couldn't get him out of the vents until 8 hours later when my landlord could come by and open up the ducts.

Ever since then, he's been meowing insistently and pawing at the grates, trying to get into the vents. He usually starts at about 3:30 am and continues non-stop until 7 or 8 am. Loud, insistent, gutteral, extremely angry and distraught type of meowing. Three days later and there is no signs of stopping. When I try to soothe him during these sessions he's even hissed at me, which he typically never does.

I hate to take his "safe space" away from him, but it's not really "safe". He has a cat tree and I have placed cardboard boxes all over the house and in closets, but he won't even look at those, much less hide in them. (These were in the house before he got into the vent.)

Is there anything I can do? I know the general advice is to ignore excessive vocalization but it's awfully tough to do when he's so upset and keeps at it for hours and hours. Thanks in advance for any input!
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Old March 5th, 2011, 01:13 PM
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Can you close of the room that has the escape grate in it? Ok, never mind. I see you said grates. Not just one.
Could it be there are mice in the house? Maybe he found one or two on his adventure into the dark. The only thing I could suggest is to block off the grates but seeing as that would make your house very cold not a good idea.
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Last edited by 14+kitties; March 5th, 2011 at 02:26 PM.
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Old March 5th, 2011, 03:52 PM
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Can you put something in front of the grates? like a chest of drawers and leave enough gap for the air to circulate, but that he can squeeze behind?
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Old March 6th, 2011, 11:11 PM
nightowl nightowl is offline
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Thanks for the suggestions! There are two grates in particular that interests him and one I can definitely block off with a chest of drawers or something. I can't believe I didn't think of that earlier! Duh.

The other one is in a fairly narrow hallway, so it wouldn't be feasible. I haven't seen any signs of mice, and he doesn't seem to be in hunt or pounce mode.

This morning, the meowing and pawing was only from 5:00 to about 8:30 am. So maybe it is abating and I just need to be patient and wait it out? That's what I'm telling myself anyhow.
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Old March 6th, 2011, 11:43 PM
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Can of air or a squirt bottle.. or both.. every time he does it spray him or blast the air. Don't make any contact with him otherwise though! Don't look at him or acknowledge his bad behavior. Just spray and that's it.

I'm going to say there is probably mice or something interested in there and that's why your kitty wants in.

I would also say apply some sort of spicy or smelly stuff around the returns.. I'm not sure if that would work if it goes into your air supply though.. but I'd put some really stinky hot sauce on a paper and lay it over the vent area and maybe that would deter him?
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Old March 7th, 2011, 08:50 AM
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Originally Posted by 14+kitties View Post
Could it be there are mice in the house? Maybe he found one or two on his adventure into the dark.
Originally Posted by kathryn View Post

I'm going to say there is probably mice or something interested in there and that's why your kitty wants in.

I have to so agree with the above. If this cat survived on it's own for 5 months, then even the sent of mice and being a perfect place to look for mice, will drive your kitty a little crazy . My Rose is like that and yes, we have mice between the stone and the house sheathing and she will sit and stare at the outside stone. She will also pounce in 2 feet of snow and dig and dig looking for the voles that tunnel through the snow. She will do this until she absolutely can't stand the cold and will go running back in.

Hopefully putting something in front of the vents is going to help.
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