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Scaredy Cat

Discussion in 'Cat Training and Behaviour' started by jan19230, Sep 16, 2013.

  1. jan19230

    jan19230 PetForums Junior

    Sep 28, 2010
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    One of my cats is worrying me in her behaviour.

    She was born to a feral cat in our barn, one of three kittens. Her brother left home, her sister was sadly hit by a car, and last year, we had to have her mother pts as she had severe hyperthyroidism and despite tablets and a special diet, she wasn't getting any better.

    Anyway, the remaining cat, who is now 8 years old and spayed, has become scared of just about everything since we moved house last year.

    I am the only one she will come to and she is now terrified of my husband, who has never done anything to scare or hurt her.

    When we moved, within three days, she was set upon by our neighbours thug of a cat, but suffered no physical damage. My other cat does torment her, but in previous years, she would stand her ground and give as good as she got. Not so, now.

    She spends all day upstairs on our bed and won't come down until the evening. She will only go outside if I am there, but she is so tense, even the moths fluttering about frighten her. I have to feed her upstairs, so she has her biscuits, meat and water in our spare bedroom.

    She has also started peeing in specific places on the carpet upstairs and in the spare room, despite having a litter tray which is cleared out each time she uses it and washed and refreshed regularly. For the carpet, I do mop up what she has done and have sprayed the area with Feliway, but a few days later, she goes back there again. Normally, when I use the bathroom in the evening, she will use the toilet (yes, a comical sight), while I am brushing my teeth, but the other night while I was brushing my teeth, she walked up to the bath and pee-d up the side panel and all over the floor.

    In the evening too, she cries a lot until I go to bed where she cuddles up and settles down until around mid-afternoon when she cries until I go upstairs and sit with her for 10 minutes to settle her.

    She always had a very good appetite until last year when she became very fussy about what food to eat, and I did worry she was going the same way as her mum, but I have now found a food, biscuits and meat, which she will eat every scrap, so that part is now OK.

    She gets very little exercise now, but occasionally she will tear around the landing and bedrooms for about 10 minutes. I have brought her toys to scratch at and play with, but she runs away from them. I tried to tempt her with a cardboard toilet roll the other day and she was almost climbing the walls to get away from it every time it moved.

    So I guess what I am asking, is from a friendly, confident, barn cat, why has my cat now developed this neurosis being scared of everything and peeing in inappropriate places.

    Any clues or advice please, as I am just about at my wits end.

    Taking her to the vet will be the very, very last resort, as I know that this will freak her out even more than she is already and I don't want to cause her that stress unless it is absolutely necessary.

  2. chillminx

    chillminx PetForums VIP

    Nov 22, 2010
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    Hi Jan,

    I would think all your cat's timidity and anxiety are as a result of the move , when she left her safe known territory where she felt comfortable, to a place where she felt lost and insecure. She may have found the change overwhelming and because of this has not managed to adjust. I think you need to go back to square one and gradually acclimatise her to her new environment. Treat her as though you have just moved house.

    Personally I would never have let her out of the house only 3 days after you had moved. She needed about 3 to 4 weeks confined indoors at the new house to establish her territory and regard the new house as her home. This is an important process for all cats to go through if they move house, whether it is with their present owner, or if they have been adopted by a new owner.

    When she seems fully confident in the house, going from room to room without fear, only then do you allow her outside, first of all on supervised visits, with you there. Only later when you are sure she feels comfortable outside, and can stand her ground with any strange cats should you allow her out on her own.

    So for the moment, a safe room of her own, with her litter trays (provide extra trays as she is having toiletting issues), water, food, bed, toys etc, and then work from there, being prepared to take several weeks or even a couple of months over the process.

    Feliway plug-in diffusers in her safe room might help too. AS also would a course of Zylkene, a supplement which is good at calming cats stressed by territorial issues. Give for a month to see any benefit.

    Zylkene Capsules - Priced Per Tablet - 75mg - Animed Direct

    As she is weeing away from the litter tray she may have a touch of stress-related cystitis. If you see her squatting and not passing much urine, then she may have a UTI which needs treating by the vet with antibiotics. Female cats are more prone to these than males.

    In any case, it is advisable with ALL bladder (or kidney) problems to cut out the dry food (or drastically reduce it) as dry food is the worse thing for bladder and kidney problems. Feed wet food only, to which you add a little water. This dilutes the urine and makes it easier/less painful to pass.

    Spend as much time as you can in her safe room with her. Play with her or just sit on the floor and read to her. Leave a radio on when you are not in the room, so she does not get too used to silence and being alone.
    Ask your OH to do the same -- sit with her and talk to her or read out loud.

    It will take time and patience but I am sure you can help her regain her confidence. :)

    Please let us know if we can help any further? :)
  3. jan19230

    jan19230 PetForums Junior

    Sep 28, 2010
    Likes Received:
    Hi Chillminx

    Thanks for your reply. I would agree with you that my cats problems are related to the move and if I had had my way, she would have stayed in for more than a few days after the move, but being a part feral cat, she needed to be outside and I spent a lot of time walking around with her while she got used to her new surroundings. However, as she normally did, she decided as it was a very hot night, to stay outside one night, and that was when she had the encounter with the neighbours cat, and I think this is what has caused her to be so frightened. It didn't help that two weeks after we moved in, we had a house full of visitors for nearly two weeks and she obviously felt she had no "safe place" to hide.

    She has had free reign of the house since then, but chooses to stay upstairs on our bed and her litter tray and food are in the room opposite. I have had to stop her going into the spare room with the beds as she not only peed on the carpet in several places, but also on the beds. She likes to be in the attic too, but again, despite having a choice of three clean litter trays, she was peeing up there too.

    It is not just the odd small bit, so I know she does not have cystitis, it is a full bladder wee. I will try and get hold of a feliway plug in, but as we live in France, I have not actually seen them at the vets or in any pet stores. I can buy the spray here, but is hugely expensive. I will look for a plug in when I'm next in England and will have to buy an adapter as well. I'm not sure the Zylkene can be sent to France or whether I can get it here, but will have a look for that when I'm in England too.

    I spend time with her when I can, but that is not always possible. She will not come into the lounge as the other cat has claimed that as her territory, and outside in the garden is also our other cats territory. Beyond that, is the neighbours cats territory and as he is a bruiser of an "intact" male, he is quite intimidating and has even squared up to both me and my husband. I have seen him in action with our other neighbours fenced in doberman and the dog is scared stiff of the cat and always seems to come off worse. Even the neighbours call him a "blaggard".

    When I do spend time with her, I talk to her, stroke her and lie on the bed with her where we do have a nice cuddle and she does eventually settle down. Today, I gave her one of my soft toys to play with (removing the button eyes first), but she reacted with nervous licking of lips and shied away from it. So I sat with her and talked to her and even stroked her with the toy until she did eventually sniff at it, then ran away. As for leaving the radio on for her, I can't do that as she seems to have developed a hate for noise. At the old house, she would sit on my lap and watch telly with me, but we were watching the Ospreys on Springwatch and she panicked when they made any noise. She now seems to hate any noise and jumps even if I cough or sneeze.

    Her new dry food is put down in a measured dose for her weight, but I am again thinking about changing it to the Chat D'Interieur or the special food for urinary care as she is not going out any more and I am assuming that this food contains a different set of nutrients she needs.

    It is very upsetting for me to see her like this as she is a very affectionate cat with me, but for the last year, since we moved into this house, there have been so many issues with her behaviour, and after all this time, I would have thought she would have settled down, but she seems to be getting worse.

    Our other cat is what I would call a domestic cat, born in a house, to a domestic cat mother and she has no issues at all despite having had the same trauma as the part feral. I know that no two cats are the same, but she has been through the same as the part feral and is fine.

    #3 jan19230, Sep 19, 2013
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2013
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