I think my cat was traumatized.

heaviside

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Hi everyone, yesterday morning around 8am I let my cat, Prince, outside to explore (it's also part of his routine, he and my other cat go outside for a few hours every morning then come back.) At around noon, I noticed that Prince hasn't returned but never thought much of it because he tends to be more of an outdoor cat, and on nice sunny days he also likes to be outside longer than usual.
It wasnt until around 4pm where I started to grow worried because this is the first time that he's been out for so long. I figured something was wrong because when he's out for long periods of time, he always comes back to eat and drink water, then go back outside. But he hasnt been back since I let him out. I spent the rest of the evening trying to look for him around the neighborhood but wasn't able to find him.
After losing hope and jumping to the conclusion that maybe someone stole him, it wasn't until 11pm when he finally appeared on my porch waiting for me to let him in. When he came back I noticed he was really dirty and his face was sorta scratched up. He didn't have any major injuries aside from one of his nails from his front paw was pretty torn and busted.
What worries me most is how different he seemed in terms of behavior. When he came home he was super tense and would flinch at any sudden noise. He also wasn't able to fall asleep for a while because he kept waking up to any sort of noise that you would make. He's also a very affectionate cat (especially with me since I'm his favorite) but this time he was pretty distant and while he didnt mind receiving affection, he preferred to be alone which was red flag for me because when he always comes home after being outside, all he wants to do is sleep with someone. I thought this would all go away the next morning but he's still acting like this. This morning, he only went outside for less than an hour and quickly came back and didnt go out anymore today at all. He also spent most of his day sleeping as well. I feel so devastated as it kinda feels like he's had the life sucked out him, and whatever happened to him when he was out yesterday feels like it traumatized him as he's still acting tense and distant even right now as i'm typing this. Any tips on how I can help my poor baby come back to his old self? I feel like such a bad cat owner for not knowing what to do.
 
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heaviside

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Another thing that I forgot to add is that he's also a very talkative cat. He's always constantly meowing as a way to communicate what he wants but ever since he came back he has not meowed at all. At first I felt like maybe his voice was very raspy after probably meowing all day (I feel like he was stuck in something) but now I'm concerned on whether or not this can also be caused by his changes in behavior.
 

Caspers Human

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Sounds, to me, like he got into a fight with a wild animal.

Possibly a raccoon or something. If it was anything bigger than that, he would've been a goner. Cat vs. raccoon would be a pretty tough fight. A good sized coon can easily take down a cat but if the cat knows how to fight, he could survive but he would be pretty scratched up.

I don't know whether this is true but, since it's spring time, there are lots of animals coming out of hibernation. Although coons don't hibernate like other animals do in the winter, they do hold up in burrows or similar places. Your cat could have run into some other critter that just woke up from its winter nap.

It could have been a domestic dog. If it was a coyote or a hawk or eagle, Prince probably wouldn't have survived unless he was able to escape and run away to hide.

Again, this is all conjecture. We'll probably never know what really happened. I'm just going from experience and from information in your post. I'm from Pennsyltucky and I see things like this on a fairly regular basis. Most of the time, the cat ends up the loser...either severely injured or dead. Whatever happened to Prince, he was lucky.

I suggest to keep Prince indoors, full-time, for at least a week or two, until he has had a chance to recover and for you to decide whether he has sustained any injuries that you haven't noticed.

Check Prince for bite marks, ASAP. If you find any, get him to the vet, post haste! If he was in a fight with a wild animal, rabies is a real possibility.

Beyond that, just let him be until he calms down. He'll probably come back to normal after a while but it could take time.
If he was in a fight, it could take weeks for him to come out of it.

Thoughts and prayers be with you and hoping Price makes a speedy recovery. :)
 

flybear

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sadly the life expectancy of outdoor cats is very much reduced ( like 2-3 years vs 15 plus years) ... just this week alone I spotted three deceased cats that were traffic victims in my area - and we do not have an overly large cat population... Cats encounter wild animals, other cats ( and once they encountered an aggressive, territorial cat in the neighborhood this fight will happen again ) , dogs and not so nice humans and this is likely what happened to yours. There is a high chance that you will loose an outdoor cat prematurely. Believe me ... most cats are not stolen ... they die or get injured to the point where they don't make it home - I have to be blunt here but the safest place for your friend is with you indoors or in a cat proofed catio or backyard. I would get your baby to the vet asap and make sure there are not any injuries or diseases transmitted and update vaccinations if needed - I am sure Prince will recover in time. Give him lots of love and space ... chances are that he hurts somewhere and therefore won't be quite as affectionate and maybe hide.
 

gilmargl

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This is my case of a traumatised cat: Lilly suddenly decided she wanted to stop being an indoor-only cat and at about 13 years-old started breaking out through insect barriers. One day she literally flew out and attacked a much larger cat who'd "trespassed" into our back yard. I was told they were rolling about in a ball of flying fur and screams. When I arrived home and tried to find her, she was nowhere to be seen. The next day I caught sight of her in the bushes but she refused to have anything to do with me and disappeared again.

When she did come home (probably hungry) she was very quiet and wouldn't let me handle her. She had previously always enjoyed sleeping on laps. Eventually, she did allow me to touch her, I found a huge gash on the underside of her body. No blood, just a long split (for want of a better word). I took her to the vet who managed to examine her all over for injuries and found 3 or 4 gashes which had to be stapled.

She recovered and became friendly again, but only lost her love of escaping when CKD caused her to prefer to stay at home.

Perhaps, as Neko-chan's mama Neko-chan's mama suggested, a thorough check-up by a vet, is your best way forward. I am sure Prince will return to his normal friendly self, once any wounds have healed and he's got his confidence back.
 

CntrldbyCats

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I second taking Prince to the vet sooner rather then later. Disease transmission is always a concern, although pretty rare and hopefully Prince is vaccinated for the serious ones if you let him go outside.

But when a cat gets into a fight with an animal like a racoon or another cat and is bitten, those type of injuries can be very hard to detect as they are just tiny teeth marks that often don't even bleed and are easy to miss with an untrained eye.

Any animal, but especially racoons and cats, carry lots of nasty and dangerous bacteria in their mouth.
If the skin was broken by a tooth, that little hole scabs over trapping the bacteria in the wound which turns into a painful and potentially dangerous abscess if left untreated.

The good news is that if caught early, abscesses are easily treated with antibiotics.

Being less affectionate, jumpy and sleeping alot COULD mean he is just recovering from a traumatic experience but it could also mean he feels unwell and is fighting an infection somewhere.

It doesn't take long to get sick from a wild animal bite.

I do hope your Prince is back to 100% physically and mentally ASAP. Let us know how he is doing soon.
 
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