Many of us have been through traumatic events in our lives. Examples could be surviving a life-threatening situation, suffering from abuse, or losing someone close to us. This can cause all kinds of emotional trauma in people, including anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
But did you know that cats can also experience the same mental traumas? That’s right, cats can suffer from emotional turmoil if they face traumatic events. Common examples include abusive home environments and neglect. However, even getting attacked by a predator, having a close call with a motor vehicle, or cat trauma after a fight can cause long-term upset.
In this article, I run through several emotionally traumatized cat symptoms. These will onset after the event or accident, but they might not manifest right away. I also offer advice on how you can provide emotional relief and get your old cat back. Remember, if in any doubt, always contact your veterinarian for a professional opinion.
What Are the Causes of Emotional Trauma in Cats?
Just like humans, cats can suffer from emotional trauma. This could stem from an isolated incident or event or illness. In other cases, it is a result of trauma sustained in their younger years. They cause our pets to become more fearful of us and everything else in their environment. Below are just some of the possible circumstances that can cause these deep-rooted emotional issues:
- Abuse and/or abandonment by a previous owner
- Thunderstorms and hurricanes
- Road traffic accidents
- Fights with cats and other animals
- Lack of socialization and exposure to “scary” stimuli in younger years
Note that there is no saying that all cats that go through trauma will experience emotional symptoms. Some cats that go through any of the above events might be completely fine and unaffected. Yet others can develop a range of mental conditions. Most commonly, cats that face traumatic events will suffer from PTSD or anxiety. There is no way to know how a cat will respond to a situation until after it has happened.
What Are the Symptoms of Emotional Trauma in Cats?
Due to our language barrier, cats cannot possibly communicate what they have been through previously. Therefore, noticing the signs and symptoms of trauma can be the only indication that your cat has been through a tough situation in the past. It is important to learn these traumatized cat symptoms so you can begin to understand how your cat is feeling.
Even if you are aware of an incident that happened to your cat – such as a catfight or car accident – learning the symptoms of trauma is still essential. As all cats cope with situations differently, these signs can help you understand how your cat’s feeling. Only then can you get them the help they need.
Below are the most common emotional trauma symptoms in cats that you might spot:
1. Increased Attachment & Clinginess
Let’s imagine your cat recently got into a bad fight. You took them to the veterinarian and got all of their injuries treated. A few weeks after the accidents, you find yourself asking “Why is my cat so affectionate all of a sudden?”. This is a great example of mental trauma. Although all your cat’s physical injuries have been treated, they’re still suffering emotionally from the event.
By being increasingly affectionate, your cat is seeking your reassurance more than usual. They have become clingy. They’re scared that they’ll end up in another fight and get hurt. They’re probably still re-living the experience in their head. As your cat’s favorite human, many become attached to their owners following an incident. This is one of the most common symptoms to might see.
This is exactly what happened with my cat after she got into a fight with another cat. She didn’t want to leave the house much and became very clingy. I let my cat sleep between my legs at night and stayed with her while she ate her meals. I gave her as much comfort and love as possible. If you notice an increased attachment, you can do the same to help reassure your frightened kitty.
2. Aggressive Behavior
Aside from becoming attached and affectionate, traumatized cats can become aggressive. This is often the case with felines that have been abused in the past. When living in an abusive environment, many cats will lash out at their abusers as a means to protect themselves. This aggressive behavior can still manifest, even though your cat is now in a safe environment.
Interestingly, aggressive behavior is also common in cats that have had poor socialization in their younger years. They aren’t used to interacting with humans and other animals, thus perceive it as a threat every time. Their aggressive tendencies will usually heighten if there is another trigger around, such as stray cats outside or loud noises nearby.
3. Fearful & More Easily Startled
You will often see that a PTSD cat becomes more fearful and jumpy. They might get startled by situations or events that never used to bother them. Say, for example, your cat was in a road traffic accident. There would have likely been loud noise at the scene, such as car horns and whirring engines. As a result, your cat might now be hypersensitive to loud noises, such as fireworks.
Aside from being increasingly jumpy, your cat will show other signs that they are in a near-permanent state of fear. You might see your cat trembling and shaking. Their state of fear is causing all the muscles in their bodies to tense up and start to quiver. Again, this could happen frequently or just in response to specific stress triggers.
Cats shedding more than usual is another common sign of fear. This is a normal physiological response for a worried cat. So, if you’re wondering “Why is my cat shedding so much?”, think back to recent events. Has anything happened that could have scared them? If so, this is likely the reason why they’re suddenly losing a lot of fur.
4. Sudden Mood Swings
I have already said that traumatized cats are more likely to be clingy, aggressive, and fearful. But another sign of emotional trauma in cats is that they will flick between these extreme emotions and other “normal” moods quite suddenly. One minute your cat might seem happy and content, but seconds later they’re trembling or attacking you.
These mood swings can leave us super confused and on edge. We don’t know what our cat is thinking from one minute to the next nor how they are going to behave. This is a sure sign that something isn’t quite right with your cat. They are not in control of their emotions and don’t know how to react to normal situations. They’re clearly not being themselves.
5. Reduction in Appetite
Loss of appetite is one of the most common symptoms of both stress and illness. This extends to mental illness that comes from traumatic experiences. This is because an anxious or PTSD cat will be in its “fight or flight” mode. In other words, there is a ton of the hormone adrenaline pumping around their body. This hormone causes cats to focus on survival from threats, rather than eating.
Without the right nutrients, you’ll notice your cat is suddenly lethargic and weak. Depending on how much mental trauma your cat is going through, a cat can even go as far as to starve itself to death. Indeed, a cat not eating and drinking for 3 days is at severe risk of death. They can become extremely malnourished or even develop liver disease.
Therefore, you must step in if you do notice a loss of appetite. Some things you can do to encourage your stressed and worried cat to eat include:
- Making their food smell better by heating it up
- Sticking to your cat’s food preference, be that wet or dry food
- Choosing gourmet cat food that entices your kitty
- Opting for calorie-dense food so that every mouthful counts
6. Failure to Use the Litter Box
Unfortunately, another common traumatized cat symptom is failure to use the litter box. Many owners become confused when their cat seemingly suddenly forgets how to use their litter tray. But PTSD, stress, and anxiety are all likely culprits. This can happen even if your cat has been happily using their litter box for years.
This is common if your cat associates the litter box itself with trauma. Examples could include being ambushed by another animal as they attempt to eliminate. Or perhaps a medical condition caused them extreme pain when urinating. For instance, obstruction of the urinary tract or stones in the bladder. By avoiding their litter box, they’re hoping to avoid these situations happening again.
In other scenarios, your cat will purposefully urinate elsewhere around your home to spread its pheromones. These are chemicals made by your cat that smell unique to them. They are used for marking territory and claiming ownership. Thus, they make cats feel more secure and relaxed. Eliminating outside the litter box is a coping mechanism for the emotional trauma they’re facing.
7. Destructive Behaviors
Unluckily for you, bathroom accidents are not the only issues you could be facing. It is also common for worried cats to exhibit destructive behaviors. Examples include:
- Excessive scratching at your furniture, curtains, or carpet
- Digging up the soil from all your houseplants
- Chewing non-food items in your home.
In other words, destructive behaviors are classed as anything that makes your house a mess. This symptom is common for a range of emotional traumas but is specifically known for being one of the prominent cat anxiety symptoms. In particular, it manifests frequently in cats with separation anxiety.
Separation anxiety is a specific form of anxiety caused by neglect in the past. Cats fear that they will be abandoned and left alone to fend for themselves. Their destructive behavior is their way of getting their owners’ attention and ensuring they’re not forgotten about again. It is a heartbreaking thought and worthwhile making your cat feel as loved a humanly possible.
8. Withdrawn & Increased Hiding
Many cats suffering from PTSD will hide for extended periods. Some will only venture out of their hiding place in the pursuit of food or water. They might avoid human interaction entirely and become withdrawn. This is because when cats hide they feel safer. They are quite literally tucked away from any dangers and threats that might approach them.
Usually, this hiding behavior will happen in response to a trigger that frightens your cat. For example, they could hear a noise that startles them. Or perhaps there is a new person is in your home that they don’t yet trust. They’ll flee the scene quickly and hide somewhere out of reach. However, extremely distressed cats might hide more permanently, even with no stressful triggers nearby.
9. Excessive & Unprovoked Vocalizations
Excessive vocalizations are one symptom of emotional trauma in cats that you simply cannot miss. A highly vocal cat can be loud and frustrating, especially if they are meowing loudly at night. More often than not, traumatized cats will make yowling crying sounds instead of friendly chirpy meows, making the racket even worse!
If your cat is vocalizing due to trauma, they will be non-stop. Moreover, their vocalization will be unprovoked. In other words, there is no real reason for your cat to be meowing. They have been fed, have fresh water, have been shown love and attention, have had their playtime, yet they still meow. They are meowing for no other reason than to get your attention.
And why would a traumatized cat be seeking your attention when they have everything they could wish for? Well, it’s for the same reason they might become overly clingy. They need your reassurance, constant comfort, and support. This is common in PTSD cats, but cats with separation anxiety are typically the most vocal of all.
10. Sleep Disturbances
Sleep disturbance is one of the most common PTSD cat and cat anxiety symptoms. Your worried cat cannot get their mind to relax. They’re be thinking about the traumatic incident and their mind will stay in its alert mode. As a result, it will be impossible for your cat to fall asleep. They may appear restless and start pacing up and down.
It is important to help your traumatized cat sleep for both of your sakes. Your cat needs sleep so its body and mind can recharge and remain healthy. And you need your cat to sleep so that it doesn’t keep you up at night. If they’re not sleeping, both of you are suffering! Try to create a calming environment for your pet and speak to your vet for further advice.
When your cat does finally drift off, pay attention to its body position. There are some distinct cat sleeping positions when sick you should be aware of. It is good to know these so you can be aware of any underlying illnesses that could be impacting your cat’s mood and emotional state even further.
11. Extreme Escapism Behavior
The final traumatized cat symptom I am going to talk about is extreme escapism behaviors. Now, it is normal for cats to hide or act startled if they become stressed. For example, a fireworks display might have your cat feeling a little on edge. They may take refuge under your couch and wait for the noisy show to come to an end.
However, traumatized cats will take these escapism behaviors to the next level. They will go to extreme lengths to avoid going anywhere near an emotional trigger. They will frantically flee the scene, perhaps even scaling walls or jumping to places they shouldn’t. In other words, they’ll be acting over the top and a little crazy.
How Can You Help Cats with PTSD & Anxiety?
If you notice signs that your cat is suffering from emotional trauma, it is important to help where you can. Firstly, this will reduce any unwanted behaviors. Examples include urinating outside the litter box, destructive behaviors, or aggression. More importantly, it will help to improve your cat’s happiness and standard of life.
Unfortunately, there is little research into treating emotional trauma in pets. Mental health issues are notoriously difficult to diagnose and treat. However, there are more generalized methods that are used to treat stress, anxiety, and depression in cats. Here is a look at these methods in more detail.
1. Providing a Safe Space
If your cat is suffering from emotional trauma, the most important thing you can do is offer them a space in which they feel safe. Establishing this calm environment is critical in helping them deal with the incident and return to their usual happy selves.
Here are some ideas for creating a calming space that your cat will love:
Pheromones can go a long way in lowering stress levels and helping cats relax, and so pheromone therapy can be effective Of all the pheromone products, I love pheromone collars. And pheromone collars for cats do work to calm felines! It could be worthwhile purchasing one and seeing if it helps. As they are attached to your cat, they’ll have this calming scent with them wherever they go.
If you’re not keen on the idea of collars, there are a range of other pheromone products that might suit you better. Examples include pheromone diffusers and sprays. Diffusers are plugged into a socket and release pheromones into one room only, whereas a spray can be used wherever you like. However, it will need to be reapplied regularly for full effect.
Within their safe space, cats need to have plenty of objects that will keep them mentally stimulated. Food puzzles are a great option as your kitty will really have to think about how to solve them. Providing plenty of toys and other sources of enrichment is another great idea.
By offering these things, your cat will have something new to focus on. This can help divert their focus from their traumatic experience. They are essentially functioning as a distraction from whatever else is going on in your cat’s mind. Plus, toys encourage exercise and help you keep your cat’s physical health in check. Meanwhile, food puzzles can encourage a stressed cat to eat more food.
Within the safe space, you’ll need to provide plenty of hiding places. This may seem counterintuitive – won’t giving your cat places to hide make them more inclined to retreat and withdraw? But actually, it isn’t. Cats need places to hide to feel safe.
This is because when cats feel overwhelmed, they can resort to these hiding spots and calm themselves down relatively quickly. A lack of places to hide has the opposite effect, causing cats to become more stressed. Therefore, hiding spots are non-negotiable! Most cats prefer hiding spaces that are higher up, so cat wall shelves work well. If not, other options include:
- Cardboard boxes and shoeboxes
- Store-bought cat condos or cat houses
- A bookcase for your cats to climb
- Blankets under your couch or bed
İf your cat already has a favorite hiding spot, can you make this room their safe space? For example, if you always find your cat hiding in your wardrobe, can you make your bedroom their safe area? Where possible, always do so.
2. Desensitization & Counter-Conditioning
Another way to relieve stress, anxiety, PTSD, and any other emotional traumatized cat symptoms is through behavioral therapy. In particular, there are two methods that behavioral therapists often recommend. These are desensitization and counter-conditioning, defined as follows:
- Desensitization: The process of exposing the cat to the stimulus that they are scared of. This needs to be done gently and in a safe environment. Exposure to the stimuli can gradually be increased over time. Your cat will eventually learn that no negative consequences happen in response to the stimulus and will gradually fear it less.
- Counter-Conditioning: This is the process of changing your cat’s emotional response to a positive one over time by providing a positive feedback association. For example, you can give your cat a treat, a pet, or a play every time they face something that they fear. Over time, this will change the emotional association with the stimulus to a positive one.
Desensitization and counter-conditioning work extremely well when paired together. You would ensure your cat is in their safe space, then introduce the stimulus that acts as a trigger. At the same time, reward your cat with a treat. Continue to do this, increasing the exposure to the stimulus every time. Eventually, your cat will no longer suffer from the emotional trauma caused by the trigger.
When using behavioral methods such as these, it is always best to do so with advice from your veterinarian or an animal behavior specialist. If you carry out the techniques wrong it can make your cat’s fears and trauma far worse. Always speak to a professional before attempting any therapy at home.
3. Prescribed Medication
In some cases, providing a safe space and implementing behavioral therapy isn’t enough. In these cases, your veterinarian may recommend pharmaceutical intervention. This is usually recommended alongside behavioral therapy and the use of “safe spaces” for best results.
The precise drug combination will depend on your vet’s diagnosis. But clomipramine, fluoxetine, and amitriptyline are more commonly prescribed. It might take a few attempts to get the drugs and dosage right. With these medications, you will not see instantaneous results. However, you should start to see a gradual improvement after a week or so of treatment.
Also, bear in mind that these medications may have side effects, such as your cat sleeping more than usual or losing its appetite. As there is an overlap with these side effects and traumatized cat symptoms, it is sometimes hard to determine their effectiveness. Pay particular attention to the improvement of emotional symptoms, such as aggression, clinginess, and withdrawn behaviors.
MY FINAL THOUGHTS
Emotionally traumatized cat symptoms are varied. Behavioral changes are common, such as failure to use the litter box and other destructive behaviors. Changes in temperament are also often noted. Traumatized cats can be more clingy, aggressive, fearful, or withdrawn. In other words, they simply aren’t quite themselves.
If you know the source of trauma, (such as cat trauma after a fight) it is often easier to help your cat overcome their fears. Yet in some cases, this isn’t possible. You don’t know everything your cat has experienced, either before you owned it or while they are exploring the outside world. And there is no way that your cat can communicate this to you.
If you think your cat is suffering from PTSD, separation anxiety, or any other kind of emotional trauma, speak to your veterinarian. They may recommend behavioral therapy or pharmaceutical treatment as mentioned above. They’ll also be there to help you deal with your cat’s unwanted and sporadic behavior so the two of you can live happily again.
Brenda Hildreth says
I adopted a two year old cat from the local ASPCA, which appeared very normal and friendly on my “get acquainted” visit. She was spayed on the day I picked her up from there (their policy). After a 30 minute trip home she was not ready to come out of the carrier so I didn’t force her., leaving the door open. she exited after I went to bed and has been in hiding ever since. I know the room she is hiding in, and I feed her there and keep a litter box, regularly cleaned, there. But she can’t be happy living in such a fearful state and I certainly am not happy not having a cat that I can play with, pet and SEE. I have tried to be very patient, talking to the unseen cat as I bring her food, but it’s been all most 3 months since I got her and I am exasperated. A pheromone difuser is to be delivered today from Chewy and I’m hoping to see some results. Any more suggestions?
I admire you for adopting a cat and for being so patient and even buying the pheromone diffuser to help. I am sure that your talking to your cat helps as I think they must like the sound which is soothing.
Speaking in a gentle voice is calming I have read as I had anxiety with my cat and found it hard to deal with and understand. I also think that your presence, just sitting in the room and speaking gently to her even though she may not see you, your presence must be helping as though it does not feel like it to you, I think it is helping to de-stress her and help her to adjust and not to feel alone.
3 months is a long time and I really admire you for sticking with it. There are videos on you tube about how people dealt with this problem, and maybe this will help along with some forums online. So all I can suggest is to stay when you bring her food and talk to her for maybe 20 or 30 minutes in a soft voice and sit near where you think she is hiding and sit nearer on the next visit and maybe a soft toy she can cuddle or blanket for her to rest on and keep on with it, leaving the door open so she feels she can escape.
Also, a box for her to hide in as she adjusts may help calm her down. As the diffuser spray works. If this does not work maybe some pills from your vet to help calm her down which can be put into her food may help with her anxiety. I am impressed that you have tried for so long and feel for you with the constant lack of progress and how upsetting this must feel, but please keep at it, and with the diffuser and maybe advice or medication from a vet, she will improve and heal.
I wish you and your precious cat all the best. take care of yourself too, and try not to take it as a rejection which I did as she is simply stuck it seems in a trauma state and not able to respond to you and bond with you if she were not suffering. You are doing a great job to be taking care of her and it can take a long time to heal, as who knows what she may have suffered. I know one lady who had a deep bond with a cat who responded to her in the end but it took her months of sitting near her and then nearer to gain the poor animals trust and gave the poor cat the only love she had ever had. So keep on as she still need you and you are making a difference, though it may not feel like it. I think human wounds take a long time to heal so maybe it takes animals wounds a longer time to heal too. I am sure she is grateful to you for giving her a home and food and talking to her. All the best and I would love to find out how things go for you and your cat.
Are you playing with your cat? Are you sitting next to her and talking to her in a very sweet voice, calling her name? Are you blinking at her slowly while smiling? Do you have loud noises at home? Do you have loud music? Cats get scared easily by noise or high traffic. Do you have a string on a stick your car can chase? How is the diffuser working? Is it helping her relax?
Laura Morris says
Just my own experience with feral kitties and cats. I personally suggest feeding at the same times every day but when you do stay in the room sitting until they come out for the food. Don’t move or talk or even acknowledge the cat. Stay there until she comes out to eat. Then progressively very very slowly once she seems to get used to that situation closer to the food bowl and keep upping how close you sit each time. Eventually when she seems relatively comfortable with that. Try reaching out and touching the back of her head. Just once. And progress with that. She may startle and run away just stay there and don’t pet her again til the next day. It has worked for me with many many outdoor kitties. Also, when she eventually gets more used to you I’ve found lasers can lure a cat out if she’s comfortable enough to play. Maybes lure her into a room where she can’t hide under a bed or somewhere you can’t get her. If you’re able to pet her or pick her up without her freaking out and clawing you I’d suggest confining her to a smaller room like a bathroom with everything she needs so she can get used to finding comfort and food associated with you. If she’s comfortable enough to be playful those long wand toys do wonder for loosening a cat up to get it to warm up to you.
Nicky D says
OMG now I think I’m a bad cat owner… This is my first kitten and I love the little fellow but I already like hit him so many times just because he never leaves me alone and just does annoying kitten things. To me, it sounds like you just got a rotten cat unfortunately. I could be wrong but some cats are just not interested in any type interaction with others. (Just like some humans). However, Im sure how ever you choose to proceed will be the right way to go. Your patience/kindness is impressive.
Elaine D says
You hit a kitten? Because it annoyed you? Words fail me.
And there is no such thing as a ‘rotten’ cat, only rotten humans.
Hi sorry for the long post but I need some advice. Our rather active and boisterous kitten went for two weeks into the cattery in February whilst we went on holiday when we returned he was really poorly with a temperature and after 4 vet visits he is on the mend and eating ok, pooping and weeing ok but he’s a totally different kitten personality-wise. He no longer thunders down the hall, doesn’t swipe your ankles, hardly ever talks and we have not heard him purr at all since we’ve been home at the end of Feb. He wasn’t a cuddle bunny anyway but now he doesn’t even come and sit with us for breakfast or dinner. He is 9 months old. He will play when prompted so could it be that actually he’s moved on from that boisterous stage and this is how he is or am I missing something else? I’m totally stressing and am short of taking him back to the vets for a blood test but would that tell me anything, what if he’s really traumatized by what’s happened. He does seem to get on better with our other cat now and on,y jumps on him occasionally. I really don’t know what to do?
debbie feingold says
after 1 year, our rescue cat sometimes is terrorized by a trigger so take my thoughts with some skepticism. the inviolable safe space, not pushing it, quiet talking, play are all good in my experience. i haven’t seen any suggestion of training. training my cats to do simple “tricks” like sit, down, etc has seemed to give them self-confidence, so i am trying it with Mandy. i am continuing because she loves it, comes to mew to request it when nearing the time we usually train, leading me to where i keep the training things (target stick, hoop to jump through, pad to sit on, snuffle pad, egg carton to scoop treats out of, etc). so if it isn’t de-traumatizing her at least it is providing her with some real fun in addition to usual play, brushing, etc. if you try, go very slow, stick to doing tricks she seems to like, don’t do any tricks she doesn’t, always follow her lead, never scold, always encourage, praise, and give high value rewards – i.e. the treats she likes best, limit time to 5 minutes at first and don’t train if it isn’t her cup of tea. do some reading on how to train cats before beginning. good luck.
My cat was attacked by some dogs, which doesn’t cause many severe wounds,but he was very shocked and behaving in badly. We thought that he recover from the anxiety but after 1 hour he passed away.
Marianne Mata says
I think I have traumatized my cat. He is about 14 or 15 years old. I have been fighting covid. I’m a covid long hauler. Well Bear (my cat) had started pooping outside the litter box. I’ve had him since he was 2 days old. Well he pooped outside litter box again. So I picked him up and took him over to it. Didn’t push his nose in it, but got him to smell it and know that this is what I was unhappy with. Then smacked him on the bottom 2 times. Didn’t hurt him they weren’t hard pats. Anyway, he hasn’t come out of hiding since then. He is coming out now to eat. When we have dinner he comes out to see what we are having. I know we shouldn’t but we give him stuff from our plate. When he is done he goes back to hiding. He is throwing off different vibes. He will be coming out from the couch and see’s me and runs back. But he will come in the bathroom with me and loves up on me. He will be purring the whole time. I’ll pick him up and he will sit on my lap purring. He doesn’t flinch or tries to get away. He is giving me mixed signals.
This is the first time I have ever smacked him. He was a social cat. He is the best cat I have ever had. Never once in 15 years have I been upset with him. At night he would get into bed with me and my husband. He cuddles up to my head. No more. I’m sitting here bawling while I write this. I know my time with him will be coming to the end. He is 15. I am begging please oh please help me get my cat back. Thank you. Marianne.
debbie feingold says
i believe never, ever punish. say no in a firm, calm voice (for other infractions but nothing for this out of litterbox behavior). don’t make any fuss at all or even show displeasure – we all have to eliminate and want to do so without physical or emotional discomfort. it is very unlikely that bear has just forgotten or been too lazy or something like that. if bear is there when you discover, say in loving tones, “oh, bear, i can see you are having some problem; i’m going to try to make things right because i love you and you are my beloved cat” – if you say it sincerely bear will probably catch your meaning. before you do anything get health checked out by best vet you can find. provide at least one other litterbox in safest place you can find or devise. try a choice of litter. but see vet asap as this behavior may reflect urinary or other infection or disease. good luck to you and bear.
Marianne Mata says
I broke my cat.
Ahmed G says
Same same same :((((
I have a cat that when I first got her I thought she would be good company for my first feline. When she got to my home she also hid for 3 months i was so frustrated. Not only did she hide but was in a room where the furnace was and she went behind it so I was afraid she would get hurt or break it and then the whole building would be out of heat. On the day I had decided to give her back I told my first feline to go tell her she’s going back as kind of a joke and believe it or not my cat went into the room at she came walking out behind her. I shut the door and trapped her in the room with me I just kept saying it’s okay in a gentle voice and eventually she started to trust me. Although she runs whenever anyone comes into my home she is so loving towards me. Don’t give up on your cat I now have 3 they all get along she still won’t get to know anyone else but I wouldn’t trade her for anything.
I think my cat may be traumatized by seeing his brother die. He was home alone when it happened and he has become much more clingy, often has toilet ‘accidents’ and he gets very vocal at night (at the same time every day – 4:48am).
It has been 2 months now and the behavior hasn’t changed. Often either my boyfriend or myself sleep on the couch to keep him calm, personally I’ve also started suffering from insomnia. We’re exhausted and desperate for answers.
We’ve tried ‘medicinal weed oil’ that was prescribed to us by the vet. She said he seemed totally fine (he’s very calm during the day btw) and didn’t think we needed to try anything else. He’s never been very playful, and all he wants when he’s upset is cuddles. I’m not sure he’d accept a collar, ao any other tips are welcome!
debbie feingold says
try pheromone collar. try Feliway diffuser. try Zylkene. give love and all the cuddles he is asking for. hang in there. i had cat who grieved very seriously for 3 months, then bit by bit became less sad but took at least a year to be enjoying life again. try also any play or games he likes, brushing, and a lot of loving talk. seeing a sibling die when you don’t understand why would take any human a long time to recover from, so why would a cat necessarily be less affected by such a thing? good luck; you are doing the right thing and i admire your care and concern. good luck.
Ahmed G says
My cat was totally fine with strangers until one day we had over 20 people in my apartment (which I was against because We have a cat) and people wanted to see the cat and We didn’t know that carrying her from her hiding spot (under the bed) and letting strangers see her would traumatize her for life. Since then she doesn’t like to be petted, she hides whenever there’s even one stranger in our house, she’s very very very anxious when the door bell rings and I feel terrible. Idk how can I help her, it’s been over a year and we don’t really force her to meet anyone new anymore unless it’s by her choice. But I miss my cat 🙁 i want to pet her and cuddle with her:(
Hi, With most of these comments and in my own experience it’s saying give it time. As well as don’t do something like that again to your cat. Every time your cat jumps from a noise or anything tell them in a reassuring voice that they’re okay and you’re right there. you need to become their person again w trust
Last night, our cat was outside and we suddenly heard her screaming and went to see what happened. We think she was attacked by a wild animal. Anyway, after about 10 minutes of called her and offering treats, she finally meowed – she was way up in a maple tree in our backyard. We coaxed her down (in the dark) and finally she came in. Whatever went after her scratcher her ear, her left front leg and maybe her ribs (though there is no mark). She has been so scared ever since. We are going to get her some painkillers, some treats and hopefully with time, she is calm again. Poor thing… We have been here for about 7 years and she has never had any troubles outdoors. Any advice on how to get her calmed again? She is with me on a blanket in my office while I work. She liked my office.
Angie Adam says
I realise you luv your cat but “smacking “ any living animal is so wrong QUESTION? Elderly relative missed the toilet or messed themselves would you follow that up with violence? Do you realise how old your cat is? Felines get Dementia too. FIRST SIGN? INCONTINENCE. This kitty has loved you from birth. Imagine their confusion! Take the fur-ball to the vet for advice and hope no one reports Animal Abuse.
Oh my word, it’s somewhat of a relief to read this. I adopted Juno about nine months ago. She had been tossed out of a moving car, and the woman behind the car was already a pet foster home and thankfully stopped and cared for her until I came along. I already had two cats, and, unfortunately, one of them is just as jumpy as Juno. They would fight all the time if I didn’t keep them separated, despite multiple efforts to slowly introduce them and then reintroduce them. Ultimately, I’ve just allocated them their own space, and they rarely see each other. The fights I wasn’t quick enough to stop have compounded the trauma.
Juno is very, very sweet but will scratch and bite sometimes out of the blue. Sometimes, I realized, it’s because she’s trying to grab your hand, like “Don’t leave me!” Others, it’s a mood swing I can’t track. I think she was adopted as a kitten during the pandemic to a family who knew nothing of training cats and who then threw her out when she got big enough for her claws to do damage.
Anyway, on top of it all, I got a little robo vacuum over a week ago. My jumpy, sensitive boy got used to it right away, and, though I thought Juno was okay, nay, it BROKE her. Nothing happened, it never came near her, but she will not go into the living room anymore. She’s EXTRA super jumpy and has to tap objects with her paw, as though she fears they, too, will come alive.
She remains in the guest room, where she was anyway to avoid fights with my other cat (though she would come out when I was home to supervise them). I was already using Feliway diffusers, and now I give her extra cuddles and gently carry her into the living room at least once a day. She always has the option to run back into the guest room when she needs to but gets a lickable treat every time she’s in the living room. My hope is she’ll keep staying longer and longer until she feels safe again.
After reading this, I think her initial trauma–not only being literally thrown out of her home but in a suuuuper scary, dangerous way–has given her very real PTSD. I worry sometimes about whether it’s fair to keep her in the guest room (which does connect to a bathroom and a smaller bedroom, but still) or have her live in a house with another animal when they’re hostile to each other, but I’m not going to put her through the trauma of rehoming. I don’t know. It makes me cry sometimes, thinking about her little life and all she’s been through, just to live like this, but she does have a ton of toys, a window perch, lots of cuddles, and regular treats, in addition to a human mom who adores her, so maybe she’ll be okay. I’ll get her a calming collar, too.
Kathy Stark says
I took in a young female cat that her owner re-homed baca use of another cat in their household would attack her. The cat I accepted was living in fear. I put her in my bathroom. She his the first month. Now she sits in an open cupboard when I go in and clean out her litter box and replenish her food bowls and water dis. While I am in the bathroom I speak to her softly, I don’t know if I should open the bathroom door to see if she will hide somewhere in the bedroom or keep the door closed to the bathroom? I am on a walker in my bedroom, What should I do?
I have a cat who I have lived with for over 3 years and known for 4 years. She belonged to a friend who did not want to take her to their new house, so I got her. We have become very close – she is very snuggly and affectionate. She had some aggression issues at first and was quick to scratch when she was upset, but she has gotten over that and learned other strategies to use when I do something she doesn’t like (i.e. she will vocalize and I will stop the upsetting behavior).
And then 2 days ago she viciously attacked me. I had just started crying over an unrelated issue when she launched herself at my face and scratched. She kept attacking me again and again until I finally escaped the room. I left the apartment and went to a doctor and eventually had to get 4 stitches in my face. I have about 70 scratches throughout my body – most small, but it still demonstrates how vicious the attack was.
When I got home that evening I noticed that she had a hurt paw and took her to the vet the next day – she had a broken nail. I do not know if the broken nail happened before, during, or after the attack. She is more or less back to normal and we have pain meds to help her with the nail, but now I’m traumatized by how she attacked me. My best guess is that her paw was already hurt + she was stressed from the fact that we moved 3 weeks ago, but even then her attack on me seems over-the-top. She has moved before, and been in other stressful situations, without lashing out like this. And previously, she would always come over to comfort me when I cried, not attack me.
I’m wondering if there is underlying trauma as well that made her react so extreme. She was adopted as a kitten – I do not know her origins – and then the first person who adopted her quickly couldn’t keep her and left her with my friend. My friend loved her, but was quick to yell at her and could be somewhat neglectful (didn’t change her water frequently, refused snuggles, etc.) I don’t think she ever attacked anyone like she did me, though. Is it likely that something in her past, combined with stress and pain in the present, caused her to lash out so badly? I’m really shaken – I loved this cat so much but I’m scared to be around her now. Any advice would be appreciated.
Nicky D says
Now I know some of you don’t like to hear this…. But it’s absolutely the Truth… My kitty was being soo naughty all the time and I tried being nice and rewarding him and he just kept getting away with more and more until I finally said f*** it. And I hit the heck out of that little kitten. ALMOST IMMEDIATELY after he healed he has been the perfect little angel and my very best friend forever. I’m not promoting hitting animals… But I do think that “REWARD ONLY” “NEVER PUNISH” stuff is honestly just not effective for every pet. I would encourage to try the PETA way first if possible!
Angry Cat Mom says
After he healed?? For God’s sake, how bad did you beat him!
Corina Pocius says
Thank you for the info. I adopted a senior cat who was abused. I give her cat nip. My heart just breaks for her.
Hi I’m worried about my baby,he’s a 5 year old tuxedo cat,I was doing a castor oil pack on myself and he jumped in my lap cuz he likes to lay on the heating pad,I was petting him and I noticed some castor oil on his fur,I looked it up online and the info is so conflicting,I rushed him in to give him a bath and he really flipped out climbed the shower curtain and was howling,the bath lasted about 2 mins he scratched me up pretty good,I got him dried off but he’s now skittish any loud noise and he freezes,he is sleeping alot and not his usual happy go lucky self,I have been petting and brushing him alot and talking to him reassuring him saying I’m sorry,I just feel awful .what can I do to help him ?we have a pretty strong bond so it’s important to me,he had never had a bath before,I called the vet to make sure about the castor oil and he said it probly wasn’t enough to harm him so the bath was probly unnecessary..I feel awful 🙁