Question about a rescued abused cat

Mississippi

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Rescued a 1 year old male cat from a wretched woman who had abused him about 2 months ago. He was starved and had an obviously broken leg. We immediate took him to the vet. Vet said he had several fractures in his back leg that were healed. Gave him some meds and said he just needed a whole lot of TLC. My worries are that time has passed and he is loving and getting healthy but I am wondering if he has PTSD. If he thinks he might be in trouble or is startled about anything he flops on his side and just lays there looking terrified. Now he has began also pooping when he does this. It’s not something he can control or is even aware of when he does it. The flopping on his side happens several times a day but the bowel thing is not as often. Is cat PTSD a thing?
 

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kittychick

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I’m so glad you found this site —- it’s a great place for getting input & help with even the most off-the-wall cat issues, bc with SO many members, you’re almost certain to find someone who’s been in an almost identical situation!!

And I have to say — how compassionate it was to take that fur in (he’s adorable!) & get him straight to a vet. It doesn’t sound like he had much quality of life where he was — it’s highly likely you saved his life.

I strongly believe animals can have PTSD. And I’ve got 2 very personal tales that might help you. Years ago I worked at a no-kill cat/dog shelter, & a dog came in that had obviously been abused. X-rays showed she had multiple fractures that had never been set/cast, but had healed on their own. Many of the fractures were on her ribs, leading the vet to conclude the poor girl had been kicked - hard & often - in her ribs. She was a sweet, quiet lab/Samoyed mix, but those of us who worked at the shelter saw that while she was gentle with girls/women—- if an adult man came within 20 feet, she’d cower, tremble, and wet herself. And if a man raised a foot to step over something she’d get so terrified she’d try to bite. I ended up adopting her, and with a lot of gentle work, time, love, & boosting of her confidence —- she eventually was comfortable around men. But she was worth every minute of the work!!!

We also have a cat who was a “failed foster” because his life of abuse broke our hearts (he’s my avatar). He was at the end of a driveway stuffed into a hamster cage too small for him to stand up or turn around, in blistering sun w/o shade, and no litterbox, food or water for at least 2-3 days. The shelter owner learned of his plight & drove by, leaned out of her car & grabbed that cage. When she got him to our house to foster, he was so traumatized, hungry, thirsty & terrified that we had trouble coaxing him out of that godawful hamster cage into the giant dog crate we set him up in for the night. He huddled, shaking so much it rattled the crate (I slept in it with him the first night). He was matted, filthy, & winced every time I tried to touch him. He snuffles & snorts (still!)"$?.uug FCC like a bulldog or overweight 90 year-old man (the vet determined he’d had a horrid sinus infection at some point that wasn’t treated, eating away most of his sinus cavity). — destroying most of We’ve had him now for 8 years, & despite lots of love & work, he’s still the poster cat for PTSD. If the doorbell rings he still runs under a bed. When the postman comes, he still wedges himself behind the couch. If I drop a pencil, he flattens to the floor in fear. Once a repairman came in & our little guy was so terrified someone new was in the house that he ran upstairs & into my bedroom at top speed. Sadly - he was so panicked he didn’t see the door was shut & ran headlong into it, knocking himself out for a bit!!!! Believe it or not — he IS better then he was. And he is happy. We just do our best to minimize him being in situations that we know will trigger him.

Lastly, we’ve got a sweet little ex-TNR girl that does have a light case of CH but no PTSD. Inexplicably, when she’s really happy to see me or my husband enter a room, she abruptly drops to her side (like a dog trained to flop down suddenly & ‘play dead’ when someone says “bang”). It’s hysterical, & we have no idea why she does it!

Sorry so long (I’m a bad “story condenser” 🤷‍♀️ ). But I wanted you to know you’ve got a friend here —one who’s been through it & is happy to offer suggestions. I’d definitely read the article that Furballsmom Furballsmom suggested. My main suggestions are to try to be slow & deliberate in your movements around him, telegraphing them as much as possible...... to try to always speak softly around him, and to NEVER say his name loudly or in anger. I would be more concerned though about the seeming lack of bowel control. That’s concerning. I’d strongly recommend you have your vet give him a thorough exam, and think @Furballsmom’s suggestion of videoing it & showing it to the vet could also be extremely helpful!!!!

Keep us posted—-& hopefully the vet will have an answer about the bowels. But as far as the PTSD, the main thing (which you’ve obviously got loads of!) is love and patience.
 

fionasmom

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Absolutely dogs and cats suffer PTSD. While I do agree that letting the vet see if there is any physical cause is a good idea, this sounds like PTSD to me.

Years ago I rescued a dog who "lived" near my work who had been beaten by her owners. I saw the beating on their front yard one morning and had also observed that they were not feeding her and she had resorted to our feral cat feeding station in the parking lot for food. I managed to get the owners to let me have her. For the rest of her life which was 10 years, if anyone reached out to pat her she ducked her head because she never got over the knowledge that it might just as well be a blow as a pat. Ironically, she as fine with cats because their feeding station had ultimately saved her life but she was fiercely protective of me for a long time after her rescue fearful that she could be taken away. It is actually common with dogs who have been abused to become subservient as you describe your cat and to urinate or defecate to show that they know their place in the pecking order and do not mean to cause any problems.

I think your poor baby learned the flopping behavior as a response to his abuse, probably hoping it would not happen, and the uncontrollable bowels might go with it. He is adorable and you are an angel to have rescued him.
 
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