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Damaged cat advice

Discussion in 'Cat Chat' started by Ray Ferrier, Feb 22, 2021.


  1. Ray Ferrier

    Ray Ferrier PetForums Newbie

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    Hi All

    I’m looking for some advice regarding two damaged cats I adopted exactly a year ago today.

    Some background.

    Pam and Spicy.

    They were both found and put into a shelter at about 3 months old and although they bonded with each other they aren’t sisters.

    It’s been a slow process.

    Pam has settled more. She will take treats from our hand. Allow us to stroke her (but only in her room), And will sit on the sofa a few feet away. She will also sleep on a rug next to our bed overnight. She likes attention and summons us to her room for some wand play and fuss.

    Spicy is more damaged. She wont allow us to touch her and will only allow us to get within a couple of feet of us. She will relax on her cat tree in the same room as us.

    Both seem happy and will sit on their trees or the window sills watching the birds outside. They play with their toys and enjoy themselves as long as we give them space.

    It’s been a long process and we’ve put in a lot of effort to get to this stage.

    That was until last week.

    The time came when they needed their vaccine boosters.

    Unexpectedly Spicy was easy to get into the cat carrier. She was dozing in one of the cat igloos and we simply snuck up and put the carrier over the door. Once she was aware of what we were doing she had no choice but to go in the carrier. She wasn’t happy, meowed for 5 minutes constantly and was trying to get her leg out of the carrier. After that she went silent and hid as far back as she could.

    Pam on the other hand was alerted by Spicy’s Meowing and was like grease lightning after 10 minutes I gave up and just took Spicy to her appointment leaving my wife to carry on trying.

    Covid wise I dropped Spicy off explained her situation and said I’d return in 10 minutes with or without Pam. As it turned out when I got home Pam had made it on top of a Bookcase and was hiding and looking petrified.

    So I went back to the vets to collect Spicy.

    The vet announced that they’d managed to do the vaccination but hadn’t managed any other examination as Spicy was uncontrollable and had bolted around the vets room. She also said that any further procedures would need to be done under anaesthetic as Spicy was so terrified of being touched.

    Since then neither of them will stay in the same room as us. If one of us walks in the room that’s fine but both of us and they dart.

    Pam won’t let us touch her and Spicy flattens her ears and goes on alert if we are near.

    They’ve stopped playing on their trees and have mainly retreated back into their room. I feel like we’ve lost months of bonding.

    Spicy needs to go back in 3 weeks for a booster and Pam still needs to go in, twice. First off I’ve got no idea how I’m going to get them in cat carriers.

    All of my previous cats have been vaccinated and under normal circumstances I wouldn’t hesitate to get them vaccinated. I’m just wondering if the trauma is worth it with these two?

    Any help and advice. I’m at a loss.
     
  2. ewelsh

    ewelsh PetForums VIP

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    Hello and welcome

    Firstly well done for taking on these lovely ladies, they have obviously a loving slave.

    Don’t beat yourself up over the reactions of the cat carrier, any cat can behave like this even without a history.
    I think your vet is over reacting, I think anaesthetic is rather harsh. So moving forward you can buy calming tablets to hide in foods a few days prior, I use Zylkene a lot of people use this before an intended appointment. There is even sprays you can spray on to bedding the car and carrier. So that is something worth thinking about. The other option is to have the vet come to you! More expensive I know but might be worth it for the first years.

    Your girls will settle in a few days with their normal routines. Pop on classic fm as music does calm cats.
     
    #2 ewelsh, Feb 22, 2021
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2021
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  3. Calvine

    Calvine PetForums VIP

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    @Ray Ferrier: I would not describe them as ''damaged'', but they may well have been feral before they were ttrapped and taken to a shelter. I had one who really was nervous and highly strung (no idea why, she was the kitten of a litter produced by a stray whom I adopted: seven kittens, all absolutely friendly and confident . . . apart from Jezobel who was so, let's say, strange, that she was nicknamed ''Lady Jezobel Bonkers''). What I found worked very well on her and which can be bought online without prescription is a gentle sedative called ZYLKENE (good old Amazon). There are other non-prescription sedatives that other people may be along shortly to recommend. You could test it on them, (it's a palatable powder which goes in the food) then practise getting them into the carrier once sedated. I used to give it to Lady Bonkers for a couple of days before taking her to the vet and it was very useful. You won't have lost months of bonding, believe me, they will soon forgive you!!
     
    #3 Calvine, Feb 22, 2021
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2021
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  4. Ray Ferrier

    Ray Ferrier PetForums Newbie

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    Thanks, I’ll give Zylkene a go.

    I’ve already tried Feliway and a Beaphar calming powder but they didn’t work. I’ve also grown catnip and got them a cat grass tray. They just take time.

    Oh and classic FM does work, it’s on in my house most of the day. Cat TV as I call it is the best, I’ve set up a series of bird feeders in the garden and they can sit for ages on the windowsill ‘hunting’ the birds.
     
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  5. ewelsh

    ewelsh PetForums VIP

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    Have a good google about Zylkene you may need to have them on it for a while.

    Classic fm on daily here too :) your doing everything possible for happy cats, this was just a blip so you will find a way to help your girls. I hope the Zylkene help.

    Do your vets offer quiet times or cat areas? If not it might be worth you finding a new vets who are more cat friendly and understanding
     
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  6. Ray Ferrier

    Ray Ferrier PetForums Newbie

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    I’ve had feral cats, strays and week old kittens before from highly strung, viscous hunters to lap cats. These two are something different.

    Something bad has happened to Spicy. She was found feral but it was later discovered that she had already been spayed. She’s terrified of hands in particular and also women. As far as I know since the shelters vet gave her the first set of jabs a human hand hasn’t touched her, until this last trip to the vets and that would be a year. The shelters theory was that she was separated from her mother, spayed too early and was maybe hit by her previous owner. Then was dumped.

    It’s sometimes soul destroying to see the look of fear in her eyes if I walk in a room and surprise her.

    But then I’ve also managed to get her to watch tv with me, purr on the sofa with some treats and enjoy things. When she doesn’t know I’m not looking she can play like most other young cats I know (I set up security cameras to keep an eye on them).

    Pam is also jumpy but I don’t get the impression she was abused. She seemed to adopt and look after Spicy when they were found. Both on the same day and put in a shelter together.

    Ironically Pam is the most easy going of the two, but if a stranger comes into the house she freaks and will hide. Whereas Spicy treats everyone with the same distance and will watch strangers from the same distance as she would us.

    I’ll certainly give Zylkene a go. I need to keep trying things until I get a solution of some kind.
     
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  7. Ray Ferrier

    Ray Ferrier PetForums Newbie

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    Supposedly the vets is the best in the area, every single one of the people I’ve asked have advised the same surgery. As for having Cat areas, the vets are running under Covid protocols so you are summoned in from the car straight into the vets room. Other than in the car park it was just me, Spicy, the vet and her assistant.
     
  8. SbanR

    SbanR PetForums VIP

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    @Ray Ferrier is it your intention to eventually allow them outside, and if so, when?

    So they would only need 1 jab, not 2.
    Spicy has had it, so does not need to go back in 3 weeks for a second.

    Pam wouldn't need to be done for a while yet. There is a 3 month grace period before the whole course of vaccinations need to be started from scratch.

    Unless I've totally misunderstood your post.
     
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  9. lorilu

    lorilu PetForums VIP

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    All your hard work seemingly down the drain, so sorry! I would carry on as you have done and eventually you will get back the trust you have lost. You've done enormously well with them so far.

    Since they are indoor cats I wouldn't bother worrying about any more vaccinations for now.
     
  10. Charity

    Charity Endangered Species

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    I agree with @SbanR, if they were vaccinated from scratch last year at the shelter or you had it done then they should only need the one booster vaccination this year.

    Under normal circumstances I would say I don't suppose your vets do home visits if another needed so the cats wouldn't at least have the trauma of getting to the vets? However, at the moment that's impossible I expect.

    I think, frightened as they are, letting them out may not be a good idea as they possibly would just run away or, at best, not come indoors when required..

    I think the Zylkene would help, one of my cats who is nervous is on this and it does make a difference.

    I'm sure you can build up some trust again providing they don't have any negative experiences as you seemed to be doing well with Pam at one stage..
     
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  11. cheekyscrip

    cheekyscrip Pitchfork blaster

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    I say spare her the vaccines for now.

    Just let her be...
     
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  12. Babyshoes

    Babyshoes PetForums VIP

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    If the Zylkene doesn't seem to help (the effects can be subtle in some cats, give it a month) you can also try Yu-calm. It's fairly similar but some of mine react better to it than the Zylkene. It's also palatable and can go on food or in a tiny saucer of lick-e-licks.

    For a quicker calming effect, Beaphar does a calming treat with valerian. I know they're not the best company, but these treats seem ok, and get to to work within an hour or two. Don't use their calming spot on though, I've had it cause a bald patch.
     
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  13. Douglas’ Dad

    Douglas’ Dad PetForums Senior

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  14. Douglas’ Dad

    Douglas’ Dad PetForums Senior

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    I was thinking that. There are vets still doing home visits in London. They wear PPE etc.
     
  15. Calvine

    Calvine PetForums VIP

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    I had an epileptic boy, controlled with Phenobarbital, and he had to go to the vet once every three months simply because it was a controlled drug. Without fail, he had a fit in the car (never at any other time). I was the one who had to suggest to the vet that he give me something to give him an hour before we set off; he was very reluctant to do it and refused several times, but eventually agreed to let me have a valium tablet (think he was fed up of dealing with a cat who had pooed his pants in the carrier during a nasty fit). Anaesthetic is a bit extreme (and probably unnecessarily expensive).
     
  16. lorilu

    lorilu PetForums VIP

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    Had to look it up, ever heard of it. It's l-theanine. So far rescue remedy works for my fear aggressive cat.
     
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  17. Mynnie the Moocher

    Mynnie the Moocher PetForums Newbie

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    You're doing well. Round here you have to do a hostage-style handover in the carpark, you're not even allowed in the building. I had to take my two extremely nervous ex-rescues for their jabs at the end of last year, as I was introducing a kitten who came from a horrendous background and didn't want to take the chance. I have no idea what happened on their second visit, but my girl was absolutley traumatised and I can't so much as touch her basket without her hiding for several hours, even now.

    OP, if they're indoor only, I wouldn't bother with the annual booster jabs if it's so traumatic for them. My vets were actively advising against them for my two (indoor only) until I explained the addition of the crack-house (literally) kitten.
    I have some success with Zylkene, but I don't like the Yu Calm - I've tried it on all 3 of mine now and it's given each of them horrible diarrhea(sp?).
    I've found that Feliway makes my big boy more nervous than he is naturally, so I've switched to Pet Remedy and have better results. You can smell it, but it's one of those smells you get used to - I actually rather like it now!
    Can you try leaving their baskets out all the time and leave a few treats in there? It would get them used to them and may help to prevent such a severe reaction for the next time you need to use them? Maybe give them a spray with Pet Remedy/Feliway too
     
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  18. Ray Ferrier

    Ray Ferrier PetForums Newbie

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    My original plan was to let them go outside but the way they spook im not sure they would be safe.

    I had also thought about building them a cat run but if that means more vaccinations then i think itll be best for them to stay inside.

    As for the vaccines the vet said that theyve been vaccinated as indoor only cats so that is the one booster but theyve never had the vaccine for an out door cat and that needs a primer and a booster.

    I'm seriously considering dumping the booster.
     
  19. Ray Ferrier

    Ray Ferrier PetForums Newbie

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    Thanks, I've already tried the Beaphar Valerian one and it didn't have any noticeable effect. Ill give Yu Calm a look as well as the Zylkene.
     
  20. Ray Ferrier

    Ray Ferrier PetForums Newbie

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    Thanks for the advice.

    We had the carriers in their room for a week before hand and were liberally throwing treats in them.

    They're still avoiding us and Pam off her food a bit. Spicy seems to have rebounded quite well but Pam looks like she's plotting my demise when i walk in the room
     
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