How to get rescued cat terrified of being picked up seen by vet

DeenaHiggs

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Hi. I would welcome advice, especially from anyone who’s rescued a cat with an abusive past. This is further complicated in that Vera is my mother in law’s cat. My MIL is out of town every other week. This has been going on for about 6 years. She initially asked me and my husband to supplement pet sitter visits because Vera licked all the fur off her tummy. Our visits helped at first. But now Vera is 14 and she needs to see a vet asap. I have never known a sweeter or gentler cat - she has never scratched or bit or hissed at me once. But a while back my MIL tried to stuff her in a crate and Vera fought back like it was life or death. MIL is reluctant to rehome Vera because she thinks she will be lonely without her. I have built a lot of trust with Vera but it’s difficult to make enough progress when my interactions with her are so chopped up.
Every other cat I’ve known has been food motivated but Vera is also VERY suspicious of new foods. No matter how tantalizing she will refuse treats or fresh roast chicken, etc.

Vera is obviously depressed, taking to hiding more. When we visit she wants to be petted for 40-60 minutes non-stop, then she usually goes under the bed and then comes back for more. But if you move to fast, or there’s someone else in the room, she’s off.

Vera had had huge amounts of black wax in her ears, one ear much worse. We’ve been using Zymox Otic which helps a lot but aren’t usually able to get her drops 7 days in a row. She’s been constipated lately, which she was eating the peace lily plant to get fiber, but which also caused her to get sores on her mouth and to vomit. I finally just removed the plant since MIL wouldn’t and the sores on mouth are gone. We tried adding a little pumpkin Weruva to her food with extra water but heard she doesn’t like it. I suspect she is having serious dental issues as well. Butthe poor cat obviously doesn’t feel good, doesn’t play or run around like she used to and I also find her limping often. She also has a very productive sneeze and can get very congested

Has anyone had a super skittish cat like this and does anyone know a way to motivate Kitty without food treats? I have found vets who make house calls but they say if she’s that skittish they don’t know how they will be able to do an exam.
One vet gave gabapentin but it has a very strong flavor and this cat is super scared to eat anything that is different from her normal food.
Like I said Vera is terrified of being picked up. I have been able to pick her up once or twice when we’ve been playing, and I set her down before she had a chance to get upset. But usually I would also use a treat to reinforce. And after MIL tried to force her into carrier she’s extra paranoid.

Thanks for any suggestions. It’s so hard to see this cat suffer. My husband is trying to get his mom to rehome, we’d happily take her and have experience with elderly cats and giving meds, etc. But at least MIL is open to getting Vera seen by vet - it’s just a matter of how.

Also does anyone know of any good Kitty chill pills besides gabapentine? My other cat didn’t do well on it - made her kind of trippy one the worst way. I’ve ordered Zylkene but still not sure how I can get it inside Vera…thanks!
A feliway spray is very calming, vets use the plug ins all over their surgeries. Can you get behind the cat and put a thick blanket over her then firmly hold her and scoop her up then push her in to a carrier with your husband holding the carrier and swooping in with it? The cat might be stressed by this but totally worth it. The cat won’t be lonely without your MIL, she will be happy to be loved and have company and feel well in another home. Show your MIL this post you’ve written to help her understand how you feel, maybe if she sees it written down in black and white she’ll come to her senses
 

DeenaHiggs

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A feliway spray is very calming, vets use the plug ins all over their surgeries. Can you get behind the cat and put a thick blanket over her then firmly hold her and scoop her up then push her in to a carrier with your husband holding the carrier and swooping in with it? The cat might be stressed by this but totally worth it. The cat won’t be lonely without your MIL, she will be happy to be loved and have company and feel well in another home. Show your MIL this post you’ve written to help her understand how you feel, maybe if she sees it written down in black and white she’ll come to her senses
just to add why would she refuse to remove the peace lillies when they poison cats? seems a little sinister
 

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Below are rose gardening sleeves to protect from rose thorns. You may find they make working with kitty more comfortable. They come in colors, patterns, and are quite pretty. If you do not wear glasses go and buy some safety glasses or goggles right now. One swipe and she could unintentionally blind you in one eye. Buy the goggles to protect both of you.

1688675559130.png


Amazon.com : rose gardening sleeves
 
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Vanda’s Mom

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just to add why would she refuse to remove the peace lillies when they poison cats? seems a little sinister
I think some people get in denial. Her son gave her the plant and she just didn’t want to believe it was the cause. It’s very frustrating so that’s why I just moved it outside myself. We’ve started taking pictures of the poo then show her a chart of what healthy poo should look like. That seems to be getting through to her. That’s why I think if a vet talks to her about what is best for Vera she might listen. The situation is maddening. But we are determined to intervene for Vera asap - getting her a Vet visit one way or another is first step.
 
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Vanda’s Mom

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Below are rose gardening sleeves to protect from rose thorns. You may find they make working with kitty more comfortable. They come in colors, patterns, and are quite pretty. If you do not wear glasses go and buy some safety glasses or goggles right now. One swipe and she could unintentionally blind you in one eye. Buy the goggles to protect both of you.

View attachment 454080

Amazon.com : rose gardening sleeves
That is a super great idea. I have some goat skin rose gloves that would work great. And good call on goggles - haven’t thought of that and you’re right - it was just lucky the first time. 😺
 
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Vanda’s Mom

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you can use a live trap easily!
I have cat CBD that is magic!!
we will have to try trap if we can’t work out the carrier or home visit soon. Please let me know details on cbd and I’ll look into that. Thanks!
 
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Vanda’s Mom

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My small 7 pd cat has an extra large carrier so she can't grab it. Smaller the cat,bigger the carrier
OK, that’s what we were wondering. Next one will be bigger. Thanks!
 

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That is a super great idea. I have some goat skin rose gloves that would work great. And good call on goggles - haven’t thought of that and you’re right - it was just lucky the first time. 😺
If the gloves are kind of bigger and bulky they may scare her even more... just something weird coming right at her might make her freak out even more. Is there anyway u could take her in? With her being 14 rehoming her to a complete stranger could cause more stress than good. These are just a few things going through my head I'm sorry everything is kind of hard with this situation and hopefully you can figure out what will work best for everyone involved but especially Vera
 

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I've given this suggestion in a few other threads, which worked with my specific cat for his first ever vet trip. It may not work for other cats; but it worked for mine.

He was a stray that I rescued, and he was the friendliest cat from day one -- he did not mind being picked up at all -- but he fought like hell when trying to get him into a carrier. We ended up using a large cardboard box for that first trip.

He was already used to playing in a cardboard box, which may have helped. Also, we used a rather large box which probably felt less confining when lowering him into it. (And I made sure to punch air holes ahead of time, and also taped the box after he was inside so he wouldn't escape outside.)

This was a last-resort idea that happened to work for that first visit. After that, I acclimated him to a proper carrier over time.
 

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We use a carrier called a SleepyPod. It’s round and the top zips off. Tessa gets in on her own, Smudge is more of a challenge. But I do find it much easier than the regular carriers. And we’ve discovered at the vet (Tessa can wriggle her way out of a kitty burrito) - that she does better getting her shot while sitting in the pod with the lid off. Cats are so individual!
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IMG_9076.jpeg
 
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Vanda’s Mom

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If the gloves are kind of bigger and bulky they may scare her even more... just something weird coming right at her might make her freak out even more. Is there anyway u could take her in? With her being 14 rehoming her to a complete stranger could cause more stress than good. These are just a few things going through my head I'm sorry everything is kind of hard with this situation and hopefully you can figure out what will work best for everyone involved but especially Vera
You’re right about the gloves. My gloves are slim, but the plan will be for her not to see them as she’s scared of hands coming toward her already.

We’d love to take Vera and have offered before. I’m still hoping an educated outsider like a vet can talk with owner about how stressful this excessive alone time is and how it is affecting Vera, along with the health issues that need attention. Everybody on this site gets it and it is very helpful to get this support. We will be back over there in a week and can start implementing these ideas. I just got a listing of feral friendly vets for my area too. I’m with you, it’s Vera’s time to come first.
 

heatherwillard0614

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We use a carrier called a SleepyPod. It’s round and the top zips off. Tessa gets in on her own, Smudge is more of a challenge. But I do find it much easier than the regular carriers. And we’ve discovered at the vet (Tessa can wriggle her way out of a kitty burrito) - that she does better getting her shot while sitting in the pod with the lid off. Cats are so individual! View attachment 454090View attachment 454091
If the price of this poses an issue there is another kind here is the link
Nest & Go 3-1 Portable Pet Bed, Pet Carrier and Removable Waste Tray, for Travel with Cats and Small Dogs, Washable Super Soft Pillow, Grey with Handles, Holds up to 20 lbs. Amazon.com
I don't know about the product but it looks similar. If you can get either one of these it might help
Also the cardboard box is a good idea if it is bigger so she doesn't feel so confined??
There have been a lot of good ideas here I hope something works well for Vera. Good luck with everything
 
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Vanda’s Mom

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We use a carrier called a SleepyPod. It’s round and the top zips off. Tessa gets in on her own, Smudge is more of a challenge. But I do find it much easier than the regular carriers. And we’ve discovered at the vet (Tessa can wriggle her way out of a kitty burrito) - that she does better getting her shot while sitting in the pod with the lid off. Cats are so individual! View attachment 454090View attachment 454091
Thanks a bunch for this link. Yes I think this one looks super promising. I can’t wait to try it😺
 
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Vanda’s Mom

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If the price of this poses an issue there is another kind here is the link
Nest & Go 3-1 Portable Pet Bed, Pet Carrier and Removable Waste Tray, for Travel with Cats and Small Dogs, Washable Super Soft Pillow, Grey with Handles, Holds up to 20 lbs. Amazon.com
I don't know about the product but it looks similar. If you can get either one of these it might help
Also the cardboard box is a good idea if it is bigger so she doesn't feel so confined??
There have been a lot of good ideas here I hope something works well for Vera. Good luck with everything
Thanks Heather. I think this will fit nicely under the bed where she’s been hanging out. I appreciate all these ideas and links. It’s given us a lot of hope we can make things better soon for Vera❣
 
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Vanda’s Mom

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She might be more comfortable with other cats around. They can be a "bridge" to being more comfortable with humans. She might become less food-shy watching other cats as well.

A slow introduction to your cats could go very well.

The different style carrier might work. Once he got bigger, Magnus resisted a regular carrier. We got a backpack one. I've had many cats react better to a harness but they already tolerate being picked up so that won't work for you I think.

Oven mitts from the dollar store to pick her up.

How does she respond to catnip? Does it calm her? What about Feliway?

She might be hiding more because she feels unwell 😔.

You might try using her regular food to give the medication:
You may have to try the purrito method:
Thanks for your thoughts on integrating her into our household - I have wondered if it couldn’t work out positively as well.

Thank you so much for these great ideas. The videos are so helpful, especially the one about using the syringe for regular food and treats to get them comfortable with it (that person is an absolute genius and I’m going to start using that now with all my cats!). I got a little toothbrush just for brushing Vera’s face and she loves it. She grabs it and licks it, so I’ve wondered about sneaking some food on that, then maybe some food with medicine. Or maybe I can have the syringe there with food while we’re playing with brush and work it in.

Vera does like catnip when she’s not too stuffed up to smell it. The Feliway works well with my other cats so we’ve got the spray to start using with Vera.

I’m also concerned her recent increase in hiding is because she doesn’t feel well or is depressed or both. I really appreciate your support and great ideas😺
 

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That's a good plan about the gloves. Another one that I've used is to put the gloves out where the cat is and let her investigate them. Our considers them similar to any clothes thrown on the sofa or floor. Sit on it, claim it, ignore it.

The rose sleeves come in fingerless so you have more control if you want to scruff her, which you really can't do in gloves with fingers, and your palms, wrists and arm to above your elbow is protected. The ones I use are the fingerless ones. Yes, they can still get the fingers, but nothing is perfect.
 

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I have a cat that was at one time feral. He is very hard to get into a carrier. I got a great tip from the urban cat league.

You need a bathroom, A cat carrier, a pillow, and a cutting board.

Put the carrier on one side of the toilet. It the cat will hide behind the toliet you can use the pillow to gently push it into the covered carrier. Quickly slide the cutting board down to secure the carrier. Once the carrier can be moved secure the door.
 
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Vanda’s Mom

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I have a cat that was at one time feral. He is very hard to get into a carrier. I got a great tip from the urban cat league.

You need a bathroom, A cat carrier, a pillow, and a cutting board.

Put the carrier on one side of the toilet. It the cat will hide behind the toliet you can use the pillow to gently push it into the covered carrier. Quickly slide the cutting board down to secure the carrier. Once the carrier can be moved secure the door.
Sounds like it’s worth a shot - certainly smarter than our first try. Thank you 😊
 
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