Shelter cat is broken and super depressed

Kwik

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Oh wow... I am so glad you took Cosette into your home. After 6 months of being in a shelter, locked in a cubby; she is so confused, terrified. We do not know her history, so she could have been abused, also. Or she is withdrawn because she is missing her previous owner, and home. We do not know. Did the Shelter give you any idea of a history? Feral? ABused? Dumped out?
Of course a lot of surrenders make up the story.

Geoffrey was kind of similar, when I adopted him. I was a volunteer in the shelter, so I had access to all his records. While he was vocal, and outgoing initially, I noticed him hiding the day, in a pillowcase-- We used pillowcases to cover the beds. I do not know if he had a good scare from a dog, visiting PetSmart or this was him, being anxious. My gut, is that it was his anxiety coming out.

I took him home. The first few hours were great. He was staying inside of the tub.. THEN, night came. He discovered the area underneath my bed, and cried all night long.. only running out to use the litter box and grab a bit of dry food.
This continued for weeks, months... Vet said he was fine.

I would spend hours with him.. either sitting on the floor, reading my email to him; lying on the bed trying to nap, or just reading.
Geoffrey kept me up all night long. Constantly crying, and having some loose stools... contributed to stress. I was bringing canned food to him, placing it under the bed, watched him eat.. he was completely meatloafed. His eyes were wide and his stance was that of a fearful cat. I tried wand toys, to no avail, to get him to play.. Treats.. nope.. I would make a trail of them, trying to lead him out from under my bed-- nope-- he stopped at the border of the bed..

Finally, I could not live this way.. I also tried some Zyklene-- OTC.. It is a natural anti-anxiety product derived from milk.. Did not help.
I had to ask the Vet for help. She prescribed Prozac. Yes, Prozac.. It helped.. I cannot tell you, I almost cried the day, I was on my bed, reading something on my phone. Geoffrey finally jumped up, and sat next to me--- looking in direction of the window.

Being desperate, I had to resort to using barriers to keep him out from under my bed: cardboard, books, wastebaskets, anything..
Geoffrey still found ways and the strength to move the barriers!! So, I decided that he needed to be under the bed; for his own security. I also tried to teach him to stay under my bedspread, as a 'tent"... just to get him out in the open..

I do not know what happened, but suddenly, he trusted me and his surroundings.. Yes, he was still on Prozac, was for a while.. but I eventually weaned him off of it.. It took months.. But now, he is my cuddle-bug, baby mind, crazy cat.. All he wants is his Mama.. He cuddles with me constantly..

Geoffrey now sleeps with me, comes out from my bedroom (His room), when I get up. After breakfast he goes back to my bed-- open top. At 2-3pm. he will come out, and sit on my lap, for cuddles. Until it is time to go to bed. We talk to each other-- in both languages: English and Cat.. He is my little baby boy.
Geoffrey will still run under the bed when someone comes in the apartment, rings the door bell, knocks at the door..
He still loves his 'tent'...
Things worked out..
~~
I do not know if the above helps, but... It takes time, and a ton of patience.
As being a prior shelter volunteer, cats always seemed to lie in their litter boxes for security. The smell seems to comforting to them.

Suggestion: Do you have a cardboard box or even a plastic container you can put on its side, to give Cosette a smaller place? She has been confined to a small cubby for so long. This may give her a bit of a shelter.. a smaller spot to be in. This way, she can feel as if she is hiding, but come out at her own desire. You can stay in the room with her, talking gently, reading. Another thought: the shelter's isolation room-- where cats stay until examined by a Vet-- has the radio on 24/7, to talk shows.. It gives them a sense of human voices, so they may not feel so alone. You could try that, also.
Also Catnip.. yes, catnip... a catnip cuddly toy-- or even some sprinkled catnip.. that is another trick from the shelter.

If, after a few weeks, you feel you need Vet interactions, as in: anti-anxiety meds, then by all means contact the Vet. It can be short term; just to get over this hump..

Good Luck.. and thank you for taking this poor soul in...❤
VAMama VAMama we all love artiemom artiemom and Geoffrey,her little cuddle bum. We are all here to support & encourage you and Im so glad you made your way to us all at TCS

One day someone will be reading Cosettes story and you'll be cheering them on with her beside you ,loving on you❤❤❤

Great to meet you and :welcomesign:to TCS:wave2::cheerleader::heartshape:
 

artiemom

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Also, you could keep her carrier in the room, so she can use it as a 'safe' spot; leaving at her own free will. This way, you can keep the door open.. and perhaps crack a bit of a window for fresh air..
 
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VAMama

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Oh yes hubby is very supportive of her. He's been through this before, so he knows how long it takes. The stinky room was a new one though and he can't let her lay there in filth. We have a rule that once we leave the door open at night, we don't bother her.

Hubby and I both grew up with strays around. Back in 2014 we saved an abandoned cat left to sit by the road. That was a miracle story where I wasn't supposed to be driving on that road at the time, but circumstances got me there, and I saw him. City shelter looked for his owner, no luck, so we took him. He spent a month under our bed. Eventually he socialized with us. However he'd been left in the sun on a hot summer day and it damaged him. He only lived for 16 months with us.

It took hubby years to get over him. Last year he was finally ready to discuss a new cat. He agreed to use tax return to pay for the up-front cost. We had a list of what we wanted; young adult, female, short hair, small/light, pretty. Early February I checked the city website. There she was, meeting all the requirements. They were begging people to take her. No adoption fee, and they even gave us a free carrier to bring her home.

During our greet time at the shelter, the employee was amazed. I lay down with her and looked into her eyes. Right away she seemed to like me. I tapped her paw, and she didn't move. The employee said she liked me more than anyone else who looked at her. They were very glad to send her home with me.

She's a gorgeous color. Looks black but is really charcoal gray.
 
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VAMama

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Also, you could keep her carrier in the room, so she can use it as a 'safe' spot; leaving at her own free will. This way, you can keep the door open.. and perhaps crack a bit of a window for fresh air..
The carrier is in the room on the bed. I thought about letting her to stay in there, but I'm worried we could literally never get her out, and she'd just sit there getting nasty. She has a dark corner and it seems to be enough.
 
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VAMama

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Update. Yesterday we cleaned her trail of dirty litter debris around the box. She got scared that we're taking her litter. She dumped a big pile on the floor (where it apparently belongs) and bunkered down inside the box to guard it. When I told her that wasn't acceptable, she went ballistic with fangs and claws.
 

artiemom

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poor thing.. She has been terrified.. Something really spooked her... It seems that it is going to be a long while before she comes around.. The Prozac may not be a bad idea, at this point.

Ok-- the carrier is out of the question.. I wonder about a storage box, placed on its side, may be something to try. A clear one may be the best-- so she can see out. This could be her 'safe' spot. Place a nice soft towel in it. and some catnip. You could also partially drape another towel around the open area; so she can peek out, when she wants to. It could encourage some type of confidence in her.. She could feel that getting accustomed to her new surroundings is up to her-- on her level. If she wants to hide, she can.. You can gradually adjust the amount of opening there is..
Does she have a kicker toy? That may help her also. and leaving a radio on, to a talk station.. just to get her accustomed to the new environment.

Things are my thoughts.. Things I would try... just suggestions..

Seems as if she was never socialized, or something really bad traumatized her. It is going to take a lot of work to get her out of this state.

If the carrier is on the bed, I think at this point, I would put it away. It may still smell of the Vets..
If, after this week, you do not see any progress, I would certainly discuss things with the Vet. I really think she is terrified of everything and everyone. She seems to need something to calm herself. Her emotions are strung so tight; that she does not know which end is up.
Hopefully, once she realizes this is her forever home, things will calm down.

Did you ever get her history? not that it means much, but it could help, a little. Was she Feral? A dumped cat? Any signs of abuse when the shelter got her? And, God Forbid a "bait" cat for fighting?? It is a possibility.. Something horrible happened to get her in such a state.

I really commend you for taking this cat. I know how frustrating it can be. Please do not give up on her.. If you do, she will definitely be put down.

Cosette, acting that way, about protecting her poops, is kind of a clue.. that she never had anything that really belonged to her. I am thinking she was abused. The poop is her security blanket. That is why I suggest a kicker toy, and a small mouse.. something she can somehow take comfort it.. Like a Yeow Banana or Trout fish.. Or a pickle catnip toy, most cats love this toy.

Try a wand toy-- Da Bird is great.. but, do it slowly.. and catnip may help..I sound like I am pushing it, but some cats respond favorably to it. It calms some of the cats down.. You could even add a tiny amount to her wet food.

I am not an expert at all.. but these are things they suggest in the rescue, which I volunteered with..

Things can turn around. I was so desperate with Geoffrey, that at one point, I was thinking of surrendering him.. but then I was told that if he came across as un-adoptable, he would be put down. I could not do that to him. I really thought he hated me. And would never come around. I kept him... calling him, my "Vampire" Cat... only coming out at night.
Right now it is almost 3pm. Geoffrey came out of my room and is sitting on the arm of my recliner, while I am using the lap top.. My sweet baby boy..

You mentioned that she is scheduled for a Dental. Is it imperative to have it done now? If not, I would not want to upset her balance. I would put it off for a few months. Give her a chance to acclimate more to the current situation, before upending her again..
Just my thoughts.

keep posting..
love,
Me and Geoffrey--- still on the chair arm.. waiting for my lap...
 
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VAMama

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Thanks to all of you for the support! She was with humans before the shelter because she knew how to eat and potty, but that's about all we can surmise. No signs of wounds or injuries. The interesting thing is, she seems to have gotten stuck mentally in kitten stage. She acts like a baby. It doesn't occur to her that she's even allowed to play or explore. She is totally confused by toys.

The vet wants her back in a month to monitor her weight. She was very malnourished. So skinny you can feel all her bones. Hair was dry and unkempt. Dandruff all on her back. Her teeth and gums look pretty bad, and vet worries it could impede her diet. The photo of me holding her was after the vet visit. Vets annoy her but don't particularly traumatize her.

I'm thinking I could get her a blanket and a cuddle bunny to keep in her corner. Something as her property she could have her smell on. Her corner is not visible from the door, so she has a lot of privacy. Good idea of taking out the carrier to remove reminders of the shelter. I need to balance making her cozy in her corner with not letting her wallow in poop.

She likes the vitamin oil I got. She'll lick it from my finger. Catnip is a great idea to try next.

I played some music for her today. At least it didn't seem to hurt. We'll do daily sessions.
 

fionasmom

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I'm thinking I could get her a blanket and a cuddle bunny to keep in her corner.
I have never had any cat refuse comfort like that. I have three TNRed ferals outside, two of whom actively dislike me, but they completely understood that there are beds and heating pads and will lie on them for hours.
 
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VAMama

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This is her setup. She likes to sit between the table and the litter, running under the table in emergencies. I held her for a moment to put the blanket down. As you can see she went under the table when I let her go. There's a catnip toy for her to check out in her own time. She didn't show any interest when I showed her.
 

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artiemom

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It sounds more and more as if she was abused... poor baby...Abuse does not always leave physical scars.. It is emotional trauma.
If she is stuck in early kitten mode, it will take a lot of patience to get her to "learn how to CAT"..
I had to do that with Geoffrey. He was so afraid of things: noises, sudden movements,.. He did not seem to know how to play. Even now, he is not good with a ball. One gentle bat and that is it. I even had to tell him it was OK to knead me and the blanket/towel. He was so afraid each time he tried. All he did was "Air" knead. I think he was punished for just regular kneading.

This is why I suggest the 'box' with a towel. Colette can see out, yet, she has her own shelter. It is not a matter of her staying stuck in the corner. She would have an option.

Playing music is good.. Some cats really respond to calm music; some to soft classical music.

IndyJones IndyJones No, catnip does to work on all cats.. but at this point, it is worth a shot. You have to try it to find out...

VAMama VAMama That is a good set up; however it does not give her any 'hiding' spots.. It is too out in the open. I am still strongly suggesting to get a box, a storage box, on its side, so that she has some Shelter! She is too much out in the open, for her to feel secure. This is another reason why she is staying in her litter box.. She needs someplace else to feel safe..
Even though her corner is not visible from the door-- She is not aware of that. Colette has been confined to a small cubby for 6 months. She has never had freedom, during that time. You need to tread slowly with her. She needs to slowly be re-introduced to a larger space. A full room is too much for her. She needs someplace where she feels she can hide and be safe..

Please get the clear storage box-- put it on it's side-- The soft blanket is a great idea.. Fleece throws are awesome for cats!! They love fleece. It is comforting to them-- kind of reminds them of their mama's fur..
Get a soft bath towel and cover part of the box.. It will allow Colette to come out on her own. Once she feels safe, with her own small spot for safety-- she will be more amenable to socializing. Just call it her "TENT" or 'HOME'.. OR JUST 'BOX'.. Once you name it, and it becomes a habit.. she will always know she has a safe place, to retreat to....

All of this is from my own experience and from what I have discovered that has worked for us....

I keep Geoffrey's carrier out, 24/7.. He uses it as his 'box' / his bed...
Keep the music, radio, Siri, Alexa going..
 

artiemom

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This is her setup. She likes to sit between the table and the litter, running under the table in emergencies. I held her for a moment to put the blanket down. As you can see she went under the table when I let her go. There's a catnip toy for her to check out in her own time. She didn't show any interest when I showed her.
She is looking for a place to hide.. Please get the box for her... and cover part of the opening.. She is desperately looking or someplace to hide.. she is terribly frightened.

I will be quiet now...
 

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I think the box is a great idea. :) I'm sure she'll appreciate the hiding place.
I own a boarding facility. Our cat rooms are spacious, and there is plenty of room to keep carriers in the rooms if the cats would rather stay hidden. Most cats abandon them in favor of a comfortable cat tree with a blanket draped over it. I'm looking at her set up and wondering if she would like a blanket draped over the table, temporarily, until she starts becoming braver?
If her teeth are bad, this can cause all kinds of physical issues, including grumpiness and self isolation. I am an absolute bear if I have a tooth ache. I just want to hole up and be left alone. They are the worst! If her teeth get cleaned and any necessary extractions done, you might see a huge change in personality much sooner, rather than later!!
She is a lucky little girl to have you. :hugs:
 

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After 6 months of being in a shelter, locked in a cubby; she is so confused, terrified.
:yeah:

The cat is just traumatized and beaten down. Suddenly, she was scooped up and taken to another place and she just has no freakin' idea what's happening. She needs time to understand that she has a home, now, and you're her human who's going to take care of her.

Just tell her... "This is your home, now, and we're going to take care of you."

Cats don't understand human language but they do understand tone of voice. If you say it like you mean it, she'll pick up what you're saying.
 

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:yeah:…and repeat. This will take patience. Good sign she’s licking stuff off your fingers. It might be good to softly read a book aloud you like, as if you were reading a soothing bedtime story to a scared kid. Stay low on her level if you can. She just needs to learn what love is.
 

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