Kitty and so much stress.

AustinPRDad

TCS Member
Thread starter
Kitten
Joined
Aug 4, 2020
Messages
9
Reaction score
14
Had Kitty for about 3 years now and he’s been skittish since early on. In May, I moved from my Apt to a house. Kitty found his safe spot in one of my bathrooms, so I left him there. His food, water, gate, and pillow all in there and after 2 days of moving and family helping, he came out and quickly got acclimated to the new digs. He was even more social than ever, actually sleeping on my bed and coming up to me for head rubs. Then a week later, disaster. He was always going out on the balcony with me at the apt, then following out on the patio at the house. He wandered out through a hole in the fence and was gone. I searched for him every night and found him 3 weeks later. It took him about 1 hour to realize he was back home. Only now, he was a lot more scared. No toy playing, no bed sleeping, and he would only be visible from time to time. Otherwise he would sleep in high places I assume to avoid my dogs that have been around him since I got him. 2 weeks ago, I went to my dads house and stayed overnight. I left Kitty with 2 cans of wet food, and his dry feeder totally full. He has been eating a lot since his rescue. When I came home, he was totally a different cat. He hides out all day and night. When I left, he would perch on the window sills and watch birds all day, and now he doesn’t come out of the closet unless I pick him up and take him to his food. Then he eats like he’s outside again, then runs back into the closet. He’s not hiding like he was, but clearly the closet floor is his safe spot. The only time over the last few days, he comes out when I’m awake, is when I take a shower. Then he comes out does a low stressed meoowwww, and seems like he’s looking for me in the bedroom. It’s almost like he’s waiting for me to pick him up and take him to food so he can go back into hiding. Is this normal behavior for something like this happening? Could he be sick or something? I’ve never had a skittish cat, nor one that got out and recovered after being out in the weather and I’m sure petrified beyond belief. Is there something I can do to calm him?
 

Jcatbird

TCS Member
Top Cat
Joined
Dec 5, 2017
Messages
6,767
Reaction score
34,420
Location
Southern U.S.
I am so glad you found him! I’m so sorry you are both going through this. It is not unheard of for a cat to be sort of traumatized after a scary experience. Cats really don’t like change. This baby has just had his fill right now. Give him a very set routine for as long as you can. Keep reassuring him that you are there and all is okay. Let him set the pace but do what you can to encourage him. There are calming products you can try. Feliway difusers work for some. Soft music works for others. There is cat specific music that can be found online.
Although I suspect he is very unnerved by all that has happened, a vet check could be in order. Have you checked him for any bumps, bites, injuries? Does he eat, drink and go to the litter box okay? Is he neutered? If not, another cat could have scared him. Neutering does seem to calm them down a great deal. Hormones in an unneutered cat can accentuate being nervous. It’s part of the survival instinct in cats and having been outside, those would have really kicked in.
I keep a nightlight in for scared kitties and for some, I keep the radio on low during the day to give a steady sound to drown out any sudden noises.
The process I use when I bring in a feral could help. Food is a great tool! I use Gerber 2nd foods all meat baby food, canned chicken Brest in water ( make sure it doesn’t have added ingredients like onions or garlic! ) canned tuna in water or whatever cat treat your baby loves the most. Sit or lay on your back on the floor near the food dish. Lay quietly as kitty eats. Don’t focus your gaze on him. Staring is a sign of aggression to a cat. Talk softly and in a confident tone. “It’s okay kitty. I’m here.” Repetition of speech, feeding, pet time, bed time etc.. Steady routine. Announce yourself when you are going to approach. Nothing sudden or loud but still move confidently. No fear.
Scent is another reassuring thing. You can put a shirt or blanket with your scent on it wherever he prefers to be.
You can also try sitting inside the closet on the floor with him. If he finds it soothing, you can try brushing or combing him there. If he is physically okay, you just need to give him time to understand that he is safe again. I would not let him go back outside again either. I’m afraid he would really be scared again.
Be patient and allow him the time he needs to understand that nothing else is going to happen. He is home, safe and loved. If he does need a vet check you can ask the vet about calming medicine. It might help him get past some of the nervousness.
I’m sure others will be along with more tips but write back if you have questions. Please do keep us updated. Hang in there! :hugs:
 
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #3

AustinPRDad

TCS Member
Thread starter
Kitten
Joined
Aug 4, 2020
Messages
9
Reaction score
14
This is all great advice. Thank you so much for replying. He is eating well when I feed him wet food. He just kind of reverted over the weekend and I felt like something happened, but he was in the ac all day. Maybe just got scared being alone? I just checked the litter box that’s still in the gated laundry room, and he’s still doing his business. I think he’s still sneaking out late at night and he’s got at least 3 water bowls around. When I found him, he lost a bunch of weight but was not lethargic in any way, he was too smart to trap and I had to grab him. He pretty much kicked my ass. I just feel like I’m the only one/thing he trusts right now and he’s uncomfortable. The other thing I forgot to mention is he really doesn’t like me messing with his hidey holes. Before the weekend, he was chillin on top of my entertainment center in the bedroom. I put his pillow on it and he wouldn’t go on it, moved to behind a box, in a corner. There were wires and cables he would lay on, so I moved them so he could lay on the carpet. Nope, he abandoned there. I don’t want to disturb the closet because I think he thinks I’m kicking him out.
 

Furballsmom

Cat Fan especially Black Cats
Staff Member
Forum Helper
Joined
Jan 9, 2018
Messages
26,893
Reaction score
36,374
Location
Colorado USA
Along with Jcatbird Jcatbird 's excellent advice and suggestions, you might try getting a heartbeat toy or even a ticking clock muffled with a towel wrapped around it for him, near to his closet. These are often suggested for orphaned kittens but can be a calming influence for adult cats too.
 

JulieHarr

TCS Member
Young Cat
Joined
Jun 22, 2020
Messages
53
Reaction score
144
Sorry to hear about your kitty. I've also used Feliway Diffuser and it worked great on my kitty after surgery. Petco usually has them on sale.
 
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #6

AustinPRDad

TCS Member
Thread starter
Kitten
Joined
Aug 4, 2020
Messages
9
Reaction score
14
Looks like today my whole closet is his safe space. Last night I also read some of Jackson Galaxy’s tips for wallflower cats. I was doing this wrong by leaving water in the closet, and food and water in other places than his eating zone (laundry room). I’ve changed this but still had to go get him to show him where his wet food went to. I also started to play relax my cat on the bedroom Alexa while I work. Something freaked him out while I was gone, or he stopped fully trusting me to protect him. As he eats, he keeps looking behind him. Maybe it’d be better for me to move his food and water to the wall behind the open, but gated door?
 

felinelover2

TCS Member
Young Cat
Joined
Apr 22, 2020
Messages
45
Reaction score
69
Poor Kitty. It sounds like they had a terrifying experience during their escape and being alone (or a sound or smell they heard while you were gone) may have triggered some PTSD. Agree with others, Feliway and/or other calming agents, soft music for cats near his closet to help drown out noises. I actually would leave the food, water and litter close to him right now and give him a couple of weeks. After that you can start gradually moving them further away from his hiding spot and see if he responds by gradually moving further away from his space.

If he doesn't improve after a few weeks, it may be helpful to speak to a vet as this is a case where some temporary medication may help Kitty's high anxiety. Also maybe there is mild sedative vet can recommend, if you do need to be away from the house overnight again, to avoid something re-triggering Kitty's traumatic past experience.

Good luck and I hope Kitty feels better soon, poor thing.
 

Furballsmom

Cat Fan especially Black Cats
Staff Member
Forum Helper
Joined
Jan 9, 2018
Messages
26,893
Reaction score
36,374
Location
Colorado USA
I actually would leave the food, water and litter close to him right now and give him a couple of weeks.
I would leave his things near to him as well - J Galaxy notwithstanding because a wallflower cat, which is a cat who hides on a regular basis as part of their personality, isn't your cat. Your cat experienced something within the previous short timeperiod that has frightened him badly.
 

Jcatbird

TCS Member
Top Cat
Joined
Dec 5, 2017
Messages
6,767
Reaction score
34,420
Location
Southern U.S.
If he doesn’t want anything disturbed, I certainly would not change anything. He needs time and , as I have observed , cats just don’t like a lot of changes. Trust your instincts and what you observe with him. I hope you won’t need to leave him alone for long any time soon. He really seems to need you around. He really trusts you. You’re doing a great job at understanding his signals to you. I hope he gains more confidence each day. The one other thing I thought of is that you could add a litter box back in the areas he liked previously. An extra box means he can deposit his own scent there which would be reassuring to him. Sort of relating his safe territory.
 
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #10

AustinPRDad

TCS Member
Thread starter
Kitten
Joined
Aug 4, 2020
Messages
9
Reaction score
14
You all are awesome! All yesterday and today, I’ve been playing the calm my cat Alexa music for him. He’s kinda chilling out a little from that. My diffuser is ordered and should be here tomorrow and that’s great advice on the 2nd litter box. I reverted a little today and put water in the closet. He is sneaking out at night and using his regular litter box, but he is for sure scared of the dogs. He absolutely hates me picking him up, but now he kind of expects it. It means there’s wet food so he deals but if the path is free of my dogs he wants down and goes into the laundry room. When I moved his food a bit away from the wall, he eats and can see the only opening but I don’t think he’s drinking enough. He wolfs down his wet food, then bolts to the closet. I’m going to try putting down a cat hole (I got from ikea and he was using before I went on my overnight) somewhere protected. Also, I had my teenage kids here over the summer. He was very trusting of them, but when I left on my overnight, I had to take them back to their moms. Think that might be adding to his stress?
 

Furballsmom

Cat Fan especially Black Cats
Staff Member
Forum Helper
Joined
Jan 9, 2018
Messages
26,893
Reaction score
36,374
Location
Colorado USA
Think that might be adding to his stress?
Well, granted that it's a change, but probably not compared to whatever else happened to him.

The music doesn't need to be going 24/7, let him have some quiet time inbetween :)

he is for sure scared of the dogs.
I personally think something very bad happened at the house, either inside or outside. Please help him out and give him his food and a litterbox in a location nearer to the closet so that he doesn't have to worry about the dogs.
 
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #12

AustinPRDad

TCS Member
Thread starter
Kitten
Joined
Aug 4, 2020
Messages
9
Reaction score
14
Thank you for the reply. I agree with all of your perspectives and advice. I’m not playing the music 24/7, it’s mostly during my work hours since I’m working from home with the covids going on. Generally he is chillin during daylight anyway. Before his escape, he was a wallflower and actually I filled in a cat behavior analysis to help locate him when he did escape. He was skittish to begin with and this is why I was so worried when he got out. The dogs are probably worrying to him, but they follow me around 24/7. There’s definitely something that happened in his mind, while we were gone. He only had visibility to the back yard, and my fence hole he got out of was fixed. Jumping or climbing critters can get in but nothing actually happened to him inside the house. He was fine and his usual not so social self the day we left, and doing his low moowww from the bedroom door as soon as I got home.
 

Furballsmom

Cat Fan especially Black Cats
Staff Member
Forum Helper
Joined
Jan 9, 2018
Messages
26,893
Reaction score
36,374
Location
Colorado USA
doing his low moowww from the bedroom door as soon as I got home.
awww :purr:
Jumping or climbing critters can get in but nothing actually happened to him inside the house.
Is it possible that something did, and the dogs went crazy like dogs do, barking and scrambling from window to window... Since he's skittish by nature that would definitely cause him to be frightened especially since his confidence was shaken from his earlier time outside.

In any case, maybe you can put the dogs in a room temporarily for a few days when you're working with/feeding your shy boy, so that he begins to feel a little more comfortable and confident.

Do you play with him?
 
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #14

AustinPRDad

TCS Member
Thread starter
Kitten
Joined
Aug 4, 2020
Messages
9
Reaction score
14
Sorry, I don’t think I made this clear in typed text. That’s the hard part on forums, my bad... when I left for the overnight, I took the dogs with me. I don’t have a doggy door or anyway for anything to get in or out of the house. Kitty was by himself and that’s where I believe the trauma came from.
 
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #16

AustinPRDad

TCS Member
Thread starter
Kitten
Joined
Aug 4, 2020
Messages
9
Reaction score
14
The 2nd part I used to play with him when I was at the apt. I have a kitty fishing pole he loved. He has a chirping bird toy, and some puzzle toys but he hasn’t been interested. Understanding the timeline of the move. He was here in the new house for only 2 weeks, then escaped. He was gone for 3 weeks and 1 day. I saw him twice before being able to get close enough to grab him and bring him home. Then he was home for a month and a half, and acting fairly normal as he was in the apt. I got him home on a Sunday around 11:30pm, and picked up my kids the following Friday on a turn around trip. I was gone about 7 hours and the dogs were home. He was fine when we got home. He was actually chillin in my 16 y/o bedroom (which is not normal for him anyway) about 2 weeks into their stay. They were here 40 days, then we stayed at the lake overnight and I took them back. This overnight trip and maybe them not coming home is where I saw the rapid change in his behavior. I put his cat hole in the closet and going to try a toy in there. I’m about to put a camera in there as well.
 

VoidIndigo

TCS Member
Young Cat
Joined
Jul 17, 2020
Messages
36
Reaction score
62
Location
New Hampshire
Something to think about, because you mentioned he may not be drinking enough... I've been through a bit over the last few weeks and trying to get Milo to drink more. From what I'm told, if they are eating a primarily canned-food diet, they are getting a lot of water already. You can (and I do) mix a little water into the food. If you do that, and it doesn't cause an eating problem, you should be pretty much ok. Milo gets more than enough water (judging by what's in the litter box) now and I hardly see him drink.
 
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #19

AustinPRDad

TCS Member
Thread starter
Kitten
Joined
Aug 4, 2020
Messages
9
Reaction score
14
Thanks for that. I put his ball toy in there and he was definitely eyeing it when I’d spin it around. He’s my spoiled baby. He gets 2 cans of fancy feast grilled seafood (all he would ever eat) and has Purina one salmon dry in a free feeder. When I got him back, he was wanting 3 cans a day which was fine because he lost so much weight. Now he’s back to 2 cans. I put a camera in the closet to see how active he is when I’m not looking.
 

Furballsmom

Cat Fan especially Black Cats
Staff Member
Forum Helper
Joined
Jan 9, 2018
Messages
26,893
Reaction score
36,374
Location
Colorado USA
He’s my spoiled baby. He gets 2 cans of fancy feast grilled seafood (all he would ever eat) and has Purina one salmon dry in a free feeder. When I got him back, he was wanting 3 cans a day which was fine because he lost so much weight. Now he’s back to 2 cans.
oh, this is terrific to hear - I'm so glad he's back to normal eating! He sounds like a great cat :)
 
Top