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Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Veterinarian
Category: Cat
Satisfied Customers: 16311
Experience:  Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
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This is a cat behaviour question, I'm hoping you might have

Customer Question

This is a cat behaviour question, I'm hoping you might have some insight on, I'll start at the beginning. I have a 14 yr. old cat named Jenga who was my first ever cat, I fell in love with her when her mother-(a stray, who I'd let in a couple times) brought her into my apartment and dropped her on the floor in front of me. After a couple years I got another kitten I couldn't say 'no' to, her name was Joon. Things were volatile for a bit till they began to tolerate each other. Joon was a very tiny cat, a pastel calico which I think you call tortoise shell in the U.K (she was orange black and white,) Jenga is a calico (again this is opposite of America, she is a mottled grey , white, and a small bit of creamy ginger.
There was great (huge!!!) stress for them in bringing them to the U.K from America. And this is when Joon claimed me for herself and follow me from room to room, sitting on me wherever I landed, always standing between Jenga and I to ensure Jenga stay away. It was heart wrenching, but I did my best to spend time with Jenga, and play with her etc. Jenga seemed very independant, content to be on her own much of the time and didn't seem to mind.
Joon died a few months ago, and it's been a very sad, heartbreaking time. I began to coax Jenga to come upstairs with us to sleep at night. I've been giving her lots of TLC, play time etc.
Now, she is behaving just like Joon...following me from room to room, always needing to sit on my lap, lay on me when we sleep, crying out to know where I am..very needy. I'm curious to know what this behaviour is about, or where it stems from. Is it normal? She used to be attached to Chris , my Husband, now she doesn't hardly notice him. I would just like to know your opinion as to what's going on?
Thanks! laura
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Cat
Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 2 years ago.
Hello, my name is***** and I have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian. I am sorry to hear that Joon passed away a few months ago, my condolences on your loss.
I think there may be a few reasons for what you are seeing with Jenga's behavior.
Though Joon may have been physically tiny, it sounds like she had a very large, vibrant personality and was likely the dominant cat in your home. Jenga learned that to keep the peace with Joon she couldn't have the same sort of relationship that she had once had with you, and became closer to your husband as a way to fulfill her need for human companionship. No disrespect to your husband but animals in a home often sense who "runs the show" with animal care and thus is the prime person to attach to, and you are seen as that person by your kitties. When Joon died Jenga may not have been comfortable approaching you initially, but once you sought her companionship she quickly moved back into her old role of being "your" kitty again. Without any fear of reprisal she feels comfortable getting as much attention from you as she'd like.
The other possibility is that Jenga may be developing some health issues that she is asking for help with. Cats commonly develop hyperthyroidism as they age. This is a tumor in the thyroid gland that overproduces thyroid hormones. This causes cats to be more on edge and sometimes anxious, thus they seek comfort from their owners. It also gives them more energy, sort of an adrenaline rush, and increases their metabolic rate, thus they become more chatty asking for treats and food and more active. Eventually it can cause weight loss, and it is stressful on their organs, including the heart and can lead to hypertension. If Jenga has not had a physical examination and blood tests checked to look at her organ function and thyroid levels in the last 3 months that should be done.
Best of luck with your girl, please let me know if you have any further questions.