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stuffed animal fixation

This is a place to gain some understanding of cat behavior and to assist people in training their cats and dealing with common behavior problems, regardless of the method(s) used. Keep in mind that you may be receiving advice from other cat owners and lovers...not professionals. If you have a major problem, always seek the advice of a trainer or behaviorist!

  
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regulus- torvus- catulus

197046
 
 
Purred: Tue Feb 24, '09 11:48am PST 
regulus, a 3 year old male black maine coon, started to fixate on a stuffed platypus a few months ago. by way of background, it was about 4-5 months after we moved house and 3-4 months after we added two new cats (both are females, about 4 mos old when they moved in). there is also an older 10 year old female he has lived with his whole life.

here is a picture of the platypus: http://www.bearst.com/images/webber.jpg

we initially brought it to the cats to try to get one of the kittens to suck on it instead of herself. she was weaned very very early (a rescue) and nursed on herself quite a bit for months.

she did not take to it, but regulus did. typical behavior is as follows:

after my husband comes to bed at night (i sleep earlier) regulus finds the platypus on the first floor, puts it in his mouth and meows like crazy. long, plaintive loud meows that go on and on. slightly muffled from the platypus.

usually, one of us is awake or the howling meows wake us up. we call down to him reassuringly and tell him to come upstairs. he quiets down and comes up, usually chirriping and trilling on the way. he puts the platypus on the foot of the bed and will usually lay nearby.

in the morning or early afternoon he will go back upstairs, fetch platypus and bring it down to the first floor for the day. typically, it ends up in the dining room near the kitchen or in the kitchen (which is where they are fed).

occasionally, he will put it on the couch or in one of the cat beds. for the last couple of nights, he added a new behavior, and brought a dishtowel up and lay it next to platypus at the foot of the bed.

none of the other cats go anywhere near platypus. it's starting to smell a little and the faux fur is kind of crusty from all the saliva from him carrying it around. i am afraid to wash it or take it away.

more background:

regulus is extremely high strung, easily upset and frightened. he almost never comes downstairs when company is over (quiet or not). he hides under the bed or watches from the top of the steps. he is very meticulous about grooming. he is reluctantly affectionate, saving it for the middle of night where he crawls between us to cuddle.

he also carried one of the new kittens around in his mouth when she was little enough a few times and then stopped when she was about 5-6 months old.

just over a year ago he lost his role model, the oldest male (obi wan cat nobi). this was very hard on him as he very much respected and looked up to the older male. for the first few nights after obi wan was gone he was very upset and even destructive.

due to this and his overall scaredy demeanor i make sure to set aside extra time every day to hold him (if he assents), pet him and talk to him in a high, gentle voice giving him reassurance and compliments. my husband does the same.

sorry this is so long, everyone i've talked to has never heard of this kind of behavior before and i'm a little worried. it's cute and sweet but also very strange.

any input, advice, feedback or help would be very much appreciated! shrug
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Howie

Me, Me, Me!
 
 
Purred: Tue Feb 24, '09 1:46pm PST 
My Howie does the same thing, and has since he was 6 months old, with a rabbit fur covered "snake". He carries it around, and if he gets up in the night (he sleeps by my pillow), he will put it there in his place. He always meows loudly when he carries it, and often drops it at my feet, and then waits, looking for approval. He will also drop it in the food bowl when he wants to claim it as his. I will even ask "where's the snake?" and he will go get it.

I did ask the vet about this behavior years ago, and he says it's a "security blanket" thing. There's really no harm in it. He was a very teeny baby when he was found on the street, and he uses this toy as a form of comfort. I've had to stitch it up a few times, but other than that, I leave it alone. I consider it a cute, harmless quirk.

What's the harm in letting your kitty have it? If it makes him happy, then let it be.
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regulus- torvus- catulus

197046
 
 
Purred: Tue Feb 24, '09 2:13pm PST 
it's not necessarily bad behavior i want to stop, just a little alarming. the drawbacks are that he wakes us up in the wee hours with the meowing, and i'm pretty sure the neighbors can hear it too (we live in townhouses).

mostly i wanted to see if other cats did this and if it was a sign of a serious behavior issue or something.
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Khina

Don't breed or- buy when shelter- pets die
 
 
Purred: Tue Feb 24, '09 2:19pm PST 
Khina has a little stuffed goose that she does this with. She used to do it every morning very early with the plaintive meowing and bringing the goose up to the bedroom. Now it's just every now and then that she remembers how much she loves her goose.

I have run it through the washing machine and it hasn't bothered her. In fact she seems to have a renewed interest in it once it's clean.

I've never had a cat with this behavior before and the meowing definitely freaked me out at first because it's so loud and sounds so sad. But it seems like it's just a little make believe game of hers and it's her favorite toy. I think your guy is fine.

edit: There is a picture on Khina's profile of her with her goose.

Edited by author Tue Feb 24, '09 2:20pm PST

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Howie

Me, Me, Me!
 
 
Purred: Tue Feb 24, '09 2:22pm PST 
My vet said that unless kitty actually gets so possessive that he gets violent when you try to take the stuffy away, then it's OK. Make sure the stuffy's eye's aren't loose, and that it isn't losing stuffing.

I live in an apartment, and I've always been amazed that my neighbors can't hear my noisy kitties. But when you think about it it's not much louder that a noisy TV show. When my kitties get noisy, it's always for a reason, even if they just want you to pay attention to them.

Have fun with your platypus!
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Cowboy

The Battle Of- Texas 2010- Winner!
 
 
Purred: Tue Feb 24, '09 3:16pm PST 
Many years ago, when I had Holly, and just moved to NY from TX, and
lived with a family for a little while, until I could get my own place.

She would go into the lady's bedroom, and bring all the stuffed animals, one
by one, into my bedroom, and put them on the bed. Kinda funny, to watch
her carry each stuffed animal, some bigger than her, down the hall. Put
them back in the lady's room, next day, they were back in my room. big grin

When I brought Bumpurr home at 8 weeks, and the 2 kittens home at 8
weeks, give them little stuffed teddy bears, about their size, as toys, and
a security blanket, to replace their brothers and sisters. Each kitten and
Bumpurr have their own bears, they know which is theirs, and only play
with them, and the little bears, go with them in their carriers, to shows, and
in the show cage. big grin

Smokey, who was dropped off at my barn, at about 12 weeks, and is now
3 yrs old, still to this day, and every day, gets on the bed, and kneeds each
and every bear on the bed, I collect stuffed bears. big grin

All the show bears get washed before each show, and the bears on the bed
get washed in rotation. The people at the laundromat, love it, when I
bring in the bears. big grinbig grinbig grinbig grinbig grinbig grinbig grinbig grinbig grinbig grinbig grinbig grinbig grinbig grinbig grinbig grinbig grinbig grinbig grinbig grinbig grinbig grin
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Isabelle

Do I smell- treats??
 
 
Purred: Tue Feb 24, '09 3:49pm PST 
Isabelle has a large wool mouse that she does this with (kind of). When it's "night-night time" she almost inevitably will grab the mouse in her mouth, come to the bedroom door or by my side of the bed, and meow the most pitiful meow you've ever heard. smile Now, she normally never meows, and I mean NEVER, so when it emerges it sounds something like a cross between a hoarse smoker and a congested kid coughing. The first time I heard it I thought she was choking (and sometimes still double check to be sure she's OK).

But anyway, she does this until I tell her to come to bed. Then she drops the mouse, and snuggles in. No idea what that's all about, but it's part of our routine. So far, the mouse hasn't begun to smell though. big laugh
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Sheba

Murrrr
 
 
Purred: Wed Feb 25, '09 12:04pm PST 
I bring stuffed animals into the bedroom at night too. My moms think that I may be offering them prey because I was once an outdoor kitty and quite the huntress. I was put on prozac due to other OCD behavior, and since that time, I bring stuffies less frequently. If your kitty is high-strung, maybe he would benefit from some feliway? I think in general, bringing stuffies by itself, is not a behavior to be concerned with. If you start pulling your fur out like me, well then it is time to go to the vet.
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♠- KILLER- ♠

DIVA with a- heart of gold!
 
 
Purred: Wed Feb 25, '09 3:52pm PST 
i have stuffed animals t0obig grin. i have a regular teddy bear and one made for cats. i used to do this alot the first year home. mom has som stuffed animals and i used to drag them into the livingroom at night. when i got my own they'd end up on mom's bed. i would chirp and trill too. i did it moreso as an only cat. my sisfurs keep me too occupied i guess.
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Sarge (In- Loving- Memory)

Hey you, pay- attention to me!
 
 
Purred: Wed Feb 25, '09 6:41pm PST 
If you're worried about the stuffed animal getting all dirty. Try washing it when he's not looking. Most can go in the washing machine. I have a leather stuffed mousie that I had since I was a foster. Once every few months I'll carry it upstairs and meow like you do. Everyone else will play with MY mousie too, but that's OK. We're all family. Even the foster. My Daddy doesn't have any stuffed toys, but we wish you luck.
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