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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
We have three cats, two (5 and 7, male) ex-stray, and Teaza (3, ex-rescue, female). All get on and are socialised and friendly but Teaza is (was) the friendliest with us and outsiders.

Teaza has currently been kept in (4 weeks) on a hypoallergenic diet (Hills z/d) checking for allergies (she scratched a sore on her neck). She had a very cut down head collar to stop her scratching (only 1" deep, now removed).

All was fine untill 9 days ago. Then we heard a thump in the evening like something falling off a shelf. Couldn't find anything, but found Teaza on a chair in the hall. Walked down the hall and shoes made a scraping sound on the floor, and Teaza leapt about 4' in the air and took off to a windowsill. Some other noise then spooked her, she leapt 6' sideways, took off to the top of a cat tree in a bedroom.

Which is pretty much where she's been since. She will come down only for the litter tray but appears very wary of the floor, and won't come out of the bedroom. Food and water are on the nearly windowsill and chest.

We cannot work out what has happened. It was all so sudden. Anything can spook her, though the other cats seem to have a calming effect. We wondered if the thump might have been her falling for some reason and she is now frightened of the floor (which hurt).

We took her to the vet. Physically she is fine. The vet wondered if she might have had a fit and that caused a fall and disorientation. A blood test showed nothing though something to do with liver was slightly raised, and it will be rechecked in 2 weeks. She seems to have had a real fright and it has changed her behaviour.

Her behaviour now is really like at cat in a totally new environment, and super-sensitive with it - anything can spook her. It is a bit like what I imagine PTSD must be like - something - even apparently trivial - can trigger reliving a traumatic experience.

She was very slowly improving in that she would very carefully cross the floor and sleep on the bed, but yesterday that had a setback as she got seriously spooked again for no obvious reason and is back on the cat tree.

We are at a loss, and it is so strange and unlike her. We are wondering if anyone else has come across anything like this, and if so what caused it and what did you do, and did it come right in the end?
 

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Poor thing sounds terrified, I do wonder what happened.

Have you tried calming supplements like Zyklene, valerian based treats, and a diffuser like feliway? The vet told me they can all be used together, so might be worth a try. The valerian treats (I use Beaphar calming treats) have the quickest effect, though I wouldn't use them in the long run. Depending on the cat I usually see a reaction within an hour or two. The other 2 take a while to have an effect, (and it's more subtle) but are fine to use over long periods.
If you're in the UK, many pet shops sell the Beaphar ones, you could possibly pick some up today.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for your comments there. We have Feliway in place, and I'll look into the other two.

As to what happened, there are vet tests going on, but not showing much so far. The vet wondered if she might have had a fit or similar and hurt herself.

My suspicion is different: Early that morning a Monkjac got stuck in a gate down the road, and whilst we got the RSPCA and fire-brigade to release it (it was OK), for a time it made quite a racket. All three cats were spooked, but the other two were OK afterwards. I suspect therefore that it had a deeper effect on Teaza, and some sensory triggers (sounds etc) can suddenly bring it back, and she really spooks.

Just a guess, though.
 

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@nmw01223 Hi there, I would be really interested to hear of your progress, I too have a 2 year old cat who has gone from very assured and loving to terrified overnight. He is scared shitless of my partner, and although I am permitted to stroke and love him, he will spook as soon as he enters the house and flies back out the cat flap. He is now outside 24/7 pretty much. He comes in very occasionally to bolt down a bowl of food. When he does come in, and on the rare occasion he comes to me, he is always curled up tightly on my lap. I wish he felt safe enough to stick around. I have no idea what's caused this. He has a vet appointment Friday to go through the same tests as you, but please do some updates as this is a mystery to me!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Sorry to hear that and it sounds very similar - we thought we were alone. Not much progress, however. The blood test and blood pressure were completely normal apart from some liver number that was slightly high, and all that apparently meant was that something had upset the liver. This has a short half life normally, so the test was repeated and whilst the number was not normal, it nearly was, so it was assumed that whatever it was - possibly some infection - was gone.

The options then were wait and see, neurology - possibly leading to an MRI scan, or behaviourist.

The vet still thinks the likely cause is a fit or similar that gave her a real shock. I confess I am still not so sure, and wonder if it was a combination of the stress of being kept in, with a head collar to stop her scratching her neck, and then the final straw was the monkjac incident - ie PTSD, which apparently cats can get. There is no real evidence either way. It is possible an MRI might show something, but even so - what would you do then? In a way it is for academic interest only. The vet did say there was one condition it might show that is treatable (forget the name), but she didn't think it was likely to be that because she would expect to see ongoing (and increasing) physical symptoms, and there are none.

In a way, whatever the cause, unless there is some viable medical intervention, the treatment is the same.

So for now, with the vet's agreement, since there is some very slight progress (still won't leave bedroom though), we have decided to see how things go, doing things like setting challenge lines (from Jackson Galaxy's programmes and books) to see if improvement will continue. Even if so, at current rate of progress I think this is years, not months. We are also just starting to try Zyklene (no real effect so far, but only two days in), and failing that will next try valerian treats as was suggested above. The vet agreed with both but suggested one at a time to see what if anything works.

She wants to go out, but we haven't let her out because as you are finding, not at all sure she'd come back.

What next? If improvements continue, we'll keep going. If no real change we will probably try to find a behaviourist, and failing that, there's the neurology option. She will be back at the vet's in 2-3 months anyway for annual checkup, so that will be reassessment time, but of course if anything dramatic happens meanwhile, we'll be straight back.

So, not a lot to say right now, but please keep us informed if you come across anything, and we will do the same.
 

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@nmw01223 - sorry to hear about poor Teaza being so frightened. In the absence so far of any physical health causing it I'd be inclined, like you, to wonder if the frantic noise made by the trapped Muntjac deer was to blame for spooking her.

Cats are very good at making associations between different things and it may be that something else happened at the same time as the Muntjac's noise - e,g. perhaps an ordinary household sound such as a door being closed, or a washing machine running, and Teaza has associated them together in her mind. So although the Muntjac has been freed, the other noise that may have spooked Teaza is still happening, now and then. Often enough to keep scaring her...

Zylkene is very good at calming anxious cats. I use it for one of mine who gets anxious and upset by my neighbour's two neutered male cats. It has a gentle effect and takes a few weeks to see the effect. I give him a course of it for a month then stop to see how he is without it. It can be given longterm if necessary. Open the capsule and add the powder to her food.

The dose is 75 mg for a cat weighing up to 5 kg. But if your cat weighs around 4.5 kg it is OK to give her 75 mg twice a day. Being a supplement the exact dose is not crucial. Don't buy it from the vet btw, it is too expensive that way!

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Zylkene-75...203&s=gateway&sprefix=zylkene+,aps,132&sr=8-3

Another thought I had about Teaza's fear is Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome (FHS) . Has this been ruled out by the vet? However FHS is usually episodic and does not cause continuous symptoms as Teaza has. And it usually starts when the cat is a kitten. Though there are exceptions...

https://felinehyperesthesia.org/
 

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I've had a similar scenario with my cat. Over a few weeks she became more and more anxious and stressed. To cut a long story short we had two visits to the vet and then a blood test. She appears to be a very healthy cat. She's eating well and toileting well. But she won't go into any room in the house except the kitchen for food and litter tray and the upstairs spare room where she's sleeping. We keep her in at night as we always have. She spends all day outside in the garden though she has stopped adventuring over the fence as she used to. I can only imagine something spooked her big time probably outside somewhere. We do miss her being in the house, snoozing on the sofa etc but hope that by patient TLC she'll regain her confidence.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Well, helpful to hear others with similar experiences. Reading what everyone has said, it does sound more and more that the monkjac incident did it, or at least was the final straw.

Today I was drilling something (fixing another cat tree) in another part of the house, and Glenis said that in the bedroom,Teaza was definitely wary about the noise (the drill makes a whining noise).

We did wonder about Hyperesthesia, but it doesn't quite seem to fit the symptoms. She is now on the Zyklene, 4th day - one 75mg/day (she's a small 3.1Kg cat), from Amazon as suggested. No great effect so far, but maybe she is exploring the bedroom a bit more. Seems to sleep a lot, maybe more - but then with cats it is difficult to tell! She certainly wants to go outside (we used to call her Dora the explorer), but I don't think we'll risk that for now.

I think this is definitely going to be a long haul.
 

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When my cat started her change of behaviour she slept far more. I agree that it can be tricky to quantify cats and sleeping but she slept in the way that a person suffering from depression might sleep....if that makes any sense. Now she does seem a little more balanced.
 

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So, update from us, and a strange one!

Little backstory, we were participating in a study with Exeter University studying ways to stop cats hunting so much. Our part in the trial was giving our cats a high meat content food, like Lilys Kitchen which was something like 70% meat content. Anyway, long story short, we were on that for 13 weeks, we've just reverted back to our original food and low and behold... Moss is creeping back in more often and sleeping on the bed again occasionally. Although we are no where near normal this is a huge change in a short space of time. I have no idea about complex nutrition for cats, only the basics, so cant comment on what could have occured here but I am almost certain its got something to do with it...
 

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So, update from us, and a strange one!

Little backstory, we were participating in a study with Exeter University studying ways to stop cats hunting so much. Our part in the trial was giving our cats a high meat content food, like Lilys Kitchen which was something like 70% meat content. Anyway, long story short, we were on that for 13 weeks, we've just reverted back to our original food and low and behold... Moss is creeping back in more often and sleeping on the bed again occasionally. Although we are no where near normal this is a huge change in a short space of time. I have no idea about complex nutrition for cats, only the basics, so cant comment on what could have occured here but I am almost certain its got something to do with it...
D'you mean the Lily's Kitchen was not agreeing with her? Or she didn't like it? None of my cats would eat Lily's Kitchen, not even my boy who will usually eat any food offered!

Which foods are you giving her now?
 

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D'you mean the Lily's Kitchen was not agreeing with her? Or she didn't like it? None of my cats would eat Lily's Kitchen, not even my boy who will usually eat any food offered!

Which foods are you giving her now?
Well it could have either really!! He appeared to eat it, although didnt gobble it down, but then just ceased to come home to be fed! As soon as I reverted back to his original, Morrisons Tender Flakes, he is home to be fed at least twice a day now! Its a bit of a riddle! With regards to Lilys, He really hated the Lamb flavour, seemed to be okay on the chicken. My guess is it probably made him feel poorly, he was showing some odd behaviour while he was on it, very skittish and frightened of us, seems to be chilling out again now we are back to the normal food. Do you have any thoughts?
 

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@Cosmic706 - I understand Moss didn't like the lamb flavour LK, but if he was OK with the chicken flavour I am not sure that him not coming home for meals was anything to do with his diet. Unless you were leaving food down every day that he didn't like, so with no alternative on offer he was very hungry and went elsewhere for food...

The skittishness and fear of you sounds more like something to do with the environment e.g any changes in your home? Or he was not getting on with your other cat(s), or you had visitors staying? Or maybe a cat outside upset him and chased him away from his home.

Re: the Exeter Uni study, I am puzzled as to how one stops cats from hunting with a change of diet? :confused: Hunting is a basic instinct in carnivores, and in the case of domestic cats is not solely driven by appetite or hunger but by the movement, scent and sound of their prey (e.g. little rustling sounds in the undergrowth)

A well fed cat who hunts will still hunt prey but may not eat it, will just play with it, kill it, then leave it. A cat who hunts, and is fed at home on a high meat protein diet will continue to hunt to keep their hunting skills honed. One of my previous cats used to hunt small rodents every day but never ate them, just lined their bodies up on the patio. She was fed a high meat diet at home including raw meat several times a week, and had 4 meals a day.

Cats who have to hunt in order to survive are a different matter, but that won't apply to owned cats like yours who have regular meals at home.

The Morrisons food is well-liked by most cats for its scent and flavour. While not being a top quality food it is not too bad as it contains no grains (though does contain added sugars). With the Tender Flakes the meat part of all the meat recipes is mostly beef. (i.e. the chicken flavour has only 4% chicken).
 

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@Cosmic706 - I understand Moss didn't like the lamb flavour LK, but if he was OK with the chicken flavour I am not sure that him not coming home for meals was anything to do with his diet. Unless you were leaving food down every day that he didn't like, so with no alternative on offer he was very hungry and went elsewhere for food...

The skittishness and fear of you sounds more like something to do with the environment e.g any changes in your home? Or he was not getting on with your other cat(s), or you had visitors staying? Or maybe a cat outside upset him and chased him away from his home.

Re: the Exeter Uni study, I am puzzled as to how one stops cats from hunting with a change of diet? :confused: Hunting is a basic instinct in carnivores, and in the case of domestic cats is not solely driven by appetite or hunger but by the movement, scent and sound of their prey (e.g. little rustling sounds in the undergrowth)

A well fed cat who hunts will still hunt prey but may not eat it, will just play with it, kill it, then leave it. A cat who hunts, and is fed at home on a high meat protein diet will continue to hunt to keep their hunting skills honed. One of my previous cats used to hunt small rodents every day but never ate them, just lined their bodies up on the patio. She was fed a high meat diet at home including raw meat several times a week, and had 4 meals a day.

Cats who have to hunt in order to survive are a different matter, but that won't apply to owned cats like yours who have regular meals at home.

The Morrisons food is well-liked by most cats for its scent and flavour. While not being a top quality food it is not too bad as it contains no grains (though does contain added sugars). With the Tender Flakes the meat part of all the meat recipes is mostly beef. (i.e. the chicken flavour has only 4% chicken).
All good points! It was more an errant ponder about the food, as he has started coming home to eat again. Im in agreement that he probably didnt like the food full stop and decided to dine out on the wild side until something better was on offer!

The University study is funded by a charity called Songbird Survival and they are trialling all sorts of different methods in various groups, including bell collars, play, puzzles, high meat content food, etc. They are also studying the territory with GPS collars for some to see if anything changes. I think the same as you, but I guess if we are proved right it will be documented in the study. We are yet to have the results.

Back to Moss, we are seeing slow progress, he is less skittish and comes on the bed again. My vet recommended trying valerian spray to soothe him when he comes home so going to give that a go. Work wonders on my other cat when he was actually at the vet.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Sorry for the delay. An update on Teaza.

Short version: has anything changed after around two months? Maybe a tiny bit, but not much. She is generally a bit more relaxed, but she is still in the bedroom, mainly on the cat tree and windowsill, though we can get her to play and relax on the floor for up to an hour or so at a time.

We gave up on the Zyklene - didn't seem to have a noticeable effect. We are still giving her one valerian treat per morning and evening. Not clear if it has much effect or not really, maybe a small one. The thing that really has an effect - albeit very short term - is catnip. We don't use it a lot, but if she is looking especially wary, then a quick spray of catnip has an instant calming effect (she also has some catnip toys), and she'll roll over playing with whatever was touched by it. The other things that reassure her is a lot of stroking, and the presence of the other two cats, Bustopher and Mungo. Unfortunately they are not especially helpful and tend to wander off.

We spend quite a lot of time on the floor with her, making a fuss etc, and she can be quite relaxed then, playing and generally looking chilled out. But on her own - stays up off the floor. Doesn't like the bed much, either, but then, she never did, really. We are also gradually trying to increase her 'area' with the use of Jackson Galaxy's concept of challenge lines (The food has now made it to just inside the door - the other side of the room).

So, that is where we are at. My feeling is that there is an imperceptable improvement, but this is clearly a very long term situation - months or years. Whether we'll get her to the point where she can go out again is beyond the range we can see, but maybe in the end she'll be happy to use more of the house. We still have no idea of the actual cause. Nothing ever showed up in blood tests, the vet felt a fit or seizure was the most likely cause, but there was no evidence of that, and no such thing has been repeated. Physically she is, and always has been, fine. As I said before, my feeling is that the incident with the Monkjac was the final trigger, but what do I know?

The vet said the next medical approach was neurology and possibly an MRI scan, but suggested we see how things go. The alternative is behavioural therapy, but I gather it is likely that a behaviourist will insist that things like neurology etc are exhausted first. She goes back for an annual checkup in a couple of months or so, so if nothing else, it will all get discussed then.
 

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Thank you for your update. Your story has so many parallels with my cat. Like you I'm just trying things out day to day. My cat spends most of the day outside but over the last month she has been easier to encourage in at feed times. You mentioned considering using a behaviour therapist. We did this. We had to have a referral from our vet so the therapist could be assured that any behaviour issues were not down to underlying medical conditions. I completed a huge form giving as much detail as possible. The visit lasted about three hours out of which the therapist spent about 15 minutes with our cat. The therapist I think was a bit stumped and back on suggesting a couple of physical ailments both of which the blood tests had ruled out. She came armed with shed loads of handouts none of which really applied to our cat. I've read every website/blog I could find on cats and anxiety and the therapist didn't offer any insight that I hadn't already considered. I was hugely disappointed. I hoped she might be something of a cat whisperer! And the fee was high. So if I were you I'd consider carefully before you go down that route. I did wonder whether our cat had had some kind of brain damage but there are no signs of anything like that and I'm reluctant to put her through any more tests. I tried Feliway; not sure if it made any difference. Have been using Zyklene which I think has helped but that could just be a coincidence. I give her a mix of Valerian and catnip which she loves and I brush her fr about 20 minutes a of day. She's a short hair so doesn't need that much brushing but the massage seems to calm her. I feel as if she's got a feline version of post traumatic stress, though what brought about the stress I have no idea. I hope that one day she'll go back to being comfortable in the house. As of now she keeps to the kitchen and that's about it. I have started to give her her breakfast in the front room; I carry her in and sit with her. She eats it OK and then she's back out to the kitchen! I had hoped that it would be this kind of thing that a behaviour therapist could advise on but no. I'm sure there are some practitioners who are worth their weight in gold so maybe I was just unlucky but it was an expensive waste of my time and money.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Your story has so many parallels with my cat
Yes, everything you say sounds very similar indeed, in concept if not specific detail. We also thought PTSD.

Very interested in what you said about a behaviourist. What you describe is also what we suspected - we would not get much out of it. you That is the other reason we have not pursued it. Like you we've done a lot of internet research, and have found Jackson Galaxy's books and programmes interesting.

Glad to hear your cat is very gradually improving, and it gives us some encouragement too. But I think both experiences show how slow it will be.

We do something similar with food, and like you, we find after eating it (whilst looking around warily) she'll be back to safe territory. We use Feliway too.

So, we'll be interested how things go with you, and we'll post updates.
 

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Thank you so much for your comments. It's so helpful to know that we aren't on our own! The ' looking round warily' is so familiar. It's exactly what our cat does. I did wonder if a short spell in the cattery (she's been before in better days) might offer her a fresh start. We were booked to go away when this all started in May and cancelled as we'd yet to have the blood test and didn't want to send her off to the cattery just in case it was a physical illness. I wondered if a week away from whatever is distressing her in the house might find her coming back 'cured' but who knows. Yes I'll definitely keep posting and let you know how it's going.
 
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