[From Tufts June 2011 Issue]
Inherited Siamese acts demanding
Three years ago, I inherited a then-10-year-old male seal point Siamese. When my sister’s husband died, she felt that she could no longer care for the cat due to the fact that he was very close to the cat and she never really cared for him. The cat is an indoor and outdoor cat, and he still has his claws.
When he moved in with me and my mom, he began clawing furniture in the living room, which is something he did not do with my sister and her husband. He also began jumping on the kitchen counter and sniffing around. If food is there, he’ll knock it on the floor and then jump down and eat it.
I feed him canned cat food, mainly Fancy Feast. I did notice he started this counter jumping shortly after our veterinarian suggested that we only feed him once daily and not twice. I read in a back issue of Catnip that Siamese like high places like counters. In trying to curb this behavior, I started to feed him twice a day to see if he’d stop. He has not. Do you have any advice?
Jo Ann of Baltimore, Maryland
Dear Jo Ann: Feeding cats two or three times daily is preferable to providing one large meal. Did your brother-in-law feed him canned food or did he always have a bowl of kibble available? Is he strictly an indoor cat at your home? If so, the indoor only lifestyle may not be stimulating enough for him. If that is the case, environmental enrichment and daily interactive play sessions with you should fulfill his need for activity and attention.
Speaking of attention, did your sister’s husband spend a lot of time with the cat? Are you providing similar types and frequency of interaction? Finally, all cats like high places, not just Siamese cats, so the breed has little to nothing to do with why your cat is counter surfing. Most likely he is counter surfing in search of food because he is accustomed to being fed more frequently, a different diet and/or because he is bored and lonely.
Siamese cats are known for their gregarious and affectionate temperaments so if your cat feels ignored or lonely, the behaviors you view as problematic simply may be an expression of his discontent. Acknowledging a disgruntled cat’s “complaints” usually solves the misunderstanding between humans and their feline companions. Good luck finding a happy medium with your friend. In time you may develop a bond more special than you currently can imagine.
Alice Moon-Fanelli, PhD, CAAB
Animal Behavior Consultations, LLC
Brooklyn Veterinary Hospital,