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Old February 25th, 2012, 02:08 PM
Kiir Kiir is offline
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Can cats have PTSD?

Hello everyone!

I have a rescue cat that I've been assured hasn't been abused, but his behavior tells me otherwise. His name is Spot and he's half-siamese, though he only seems to have picked up the talkiness and length of the breed.

He was about three or four when I got him and the lady who was fostering him said that he'd been adopted and brought back FOUR TIMES already! First when he was a kitten, they thought he was a girl and named him Glenda. When the people who had him took him to the vet, they found out he was a boy. They neutered him and took him back to the foster lady, saying they'd really rather have a girl cat.

The second time he was adopted by a woman, but her mother became very ill and she couldn't care for him, so she brought him back after a few months.

The third time he was adopted when a woman and her husband came to adopt a cat that looked like her recently deceased cat. The husband was completely in love with Spot, but when the wife realized that just because her new cat LOOKED like her old cat, it didn't mean he WAS her old cat, she took them both back.

The fourth time was sort of like the second, the person lost their job and couldn't care for him anymore so they brought him back.

And then there's me.

When I got him I noticed right off the bat that he had some very strange behaviors. When the rescue lady brought him over, he made an immediate beeline towards my other cat, Kanin and tried to hide UNDER him. Kanin would try to back away but Spot just kept closing the gap, until Kanin just sat there and let Spot huddle against him shivering, while giving me a look like "What the hell, mom?"

I managed to move him into a bathroom I had set up for him to acclimate in without getting lost in the rest of the house. Weeks went by and he wouldn't come out of his linen closet. I'd tried everything I could think of, leaving the main bathroom door open so he could see into the room, tossing him treats and wet food, I sat in there every day for a few hours and read softly to him but nothing worked.

Finally Kanin had enough of missing out on perfectly good cuddle-time and insisted on being let into the bathroom. I figured why not and let him in. Immediately Spot came out and started eating. He wouldn't let me near him but it was progress!

Fast forward about a year, Spot is much better, but there's still some big things that worry me. He's doing good, he talks ALL the time and just yaps about nothing, he brings me stuffed animals and toys (he has a huge collection now because I'm an enabler and it's adorable), and he sleeps cuddled up against me at night, and SOMETIMES he even sits in my lap at the computer.

But he's still very very afraid. If I move to pet him too fast, he cringes and freezes, then bolts. If I walk into a room and look at him, he'll freeze and wince. If I move to pick him up, even if I've moved very slowly and loved on him first to calm him down, he goes completely stiff and gets wild-eyed. He never growls, but once I was clipping his nails (which can be traumatic for him, but he likes to grab my shoulder and pull, so he NEEDS them trimmed), he got my finger in his mouth and I could see he THOUGHT about biting me, but decided it was a bad idea.

He's come a long way though! If he gets scared (which is often), he climbs in my lap and hides his face against my arm and shivers. He's come to the point where he'll let my friends touch him for short periods of time as long as they move very slowly and I'm nearby.

So aside from sharing his sad tale, my question is this. Is this Post Traumatic Stress Disorder? And I feel like I'm missing something big I could be doing to help him. His history is all I know and that's just word-of-mouth so it might not even be accurate. Does anyone have experience with this sort of thing and maybe an educated guess as to why he's like this?

Also a pic, cuz pics are awesome. Spot is the grey one on the right, Kanin is the black one on the left.

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Old February 25th, 2012, 08:53 PM
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pbpatti pbpatti is offline
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Oh my, they are adorable . I do not know alot about kitty behaivor but it sounds like you are doing everything right. Welcome to pets. I am sure that there will be someone along who can give you some more insights. Have more pics????
It Is What It Is
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Old February 25th, 2012, 11:56 PM
lindapalm lindapalm is offline
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I think you've come a very long way with Spot, he sounds like he's really happy he's finally found a home. I have a cat that does the same thing, jumps when you move too fast, if you mention his name he runs, etc. He refuses to be picked up, and don't even think about doing his nails. He's a very loveable cat on his own terms, which we've accepted. You've done a great job on your cat, and maybe that is going to be his personality for good, which doesn't sound too bad.
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Old February 26th, 2012, 10:50 AM
Choochi Choochi is offline
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It has been documented in war dogs so I don't see why not in cats.
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Old February 26th, 2012, 11:46 AM
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sugarcatmom sugarcatmom is offline
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Honestly, it sounds more to me like Spot has a feral background. He may not have actually been abused, he just didn't bond or form any positive relationships with any humans early on in life. I think the progress you've made with him is amazing! I have a semi-feral (I say "semi" because she loves HER people, but she's terrified of new people) and almost 2 years later there is still no way I'd be able to trim her claws. She's never sat on anyone's lap, and if the doorbell rings, she bolts to the basement to hide in the furthest darkest corner she can. I can only pick her up for a max of 5 seconds, and only if we're in the kitchen. But oh how I love her!!! She was never abused but was most likely born outside, or tossed outside as a kitten.

So you're doing great with Spot, and I have no doubt that over time, his bond with you will grow even more. It's great that you also have Kanin - that has no doubt helped give Spot more confidence. What a sweet couple they make!
"To close your eyes will not ease another's pain." ~ Chinese Proverb

“We must not refuse to see with our eyes what they must endure with their bodies.” ~ Gretchen Wyler
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Old March 1st, 2012, 07:54 AM
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sandyrivers sandyrivers is offline
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your cat Spot


My cat Tonali is now5 years old, I rescued her from the alley,when she was about 3 weeks old, where she was ''somewhat being taken care of'' by a family that had 2 dogs, 2 cats and a bunch of ferrets... The family itself was very disfunctional, police going there at least once a week...
I braught Tonali home, she was covered in her own poop, skinny and was very constipated, she had issues using the litter box, was not at all socialised with humans, and would spend most of her time hiding behind my couch...
I spent many nights sleeping on a mat beside the couch just to be close to her and let her know someone cared for her and was there for her. I would play guitar and sing to her like some parents do to their children to put them to sleep.
I don't think Tonali was 'abused'' per say, by her previous humans, who did have the best intentions in mind... but her circumstances were not ideal to say the least!
She was also very young when i rescued her, and she did not have her mother to take care of her and teach her the basics...I still have to clean her nose, remove poop from her behind (she is a long hair cat), help her clean her eyes and wash her face with a face cloth when needs be...
Sometimes, cats that were removed from their mothers at a too young age have such issues.
Do you know when your cat was separated from his mum?
Perhaps this is the source of his anxiety, as it is probably the case with my Tonali...
I have 8 cats, and every time i feed them canned food (they have dry food at will) I still must make sure that Tonali is fed alone, she will refuse to eat if other cats are around, she will just sit by her plate and growl... I need to put a special litterbox just for her in my office so she has her own space to do her business.
She will not cuddle or come close to me if other cats 'could be around', so i make sure that 4 times per day, for 20 minutes, me and Tonali have our own time to cuddle and play.
Playing together was an important step in us bonding, she loves to chase the lazer pointer, and likes her 'fishing rod toy' that i dip in catnip!
When she is alone with me, she is the cuddliest cat and acts very normal, but if other humans or animals are there, she will just go to 'her spot'; which is my pillow, or the back of the couch where I sit, and lay there, somewhat, my smell seemsto comfort her.
It seems that your cat did go through some hard times, being adopted and returned so mant times may have made him ' lose faith in humans' a bit, but from what you say, he did some major progress! It is a good thing that he found you who will be there for him for the rest of his life.
I know this may sound weird, but reassuring him by telling him that you will always be there for him, and will never abandon him like he has been in the past may be very helpfull to him. I personally believe that cats can understand us...
Perhaps he is like kids who were shipped from one foster home to the other, perhaps all this made him a bit reluctant to trust humans... And yes, it could have affected his personality.
But he seems to be doing good inspite of his troubled past.

Keep up the good work with him, patience and love goes a long way.
So nice that you are there for him!
Keep updating his situation, and if you have pics...it would be nice to see the lucky boy!

Helper to:
Cookie July 1st 1999 f/ RIP July 31st 2008 -cat
Tonali June 3rd 2007 f -cat
Elphin April 21st 2008 m -cat
Stibule(Gino,Airell,Katla,Rasta)June 6th 2009 f- cat
Gino Ferrero April 8th 2010 m -cat
Airell Awenn Awnfenn Ep Berrth April 8th 2010 f- cat
Katla Chilam Balam April 8th 2010 f- cat
Rasta Farian Marley April 9th 2010 m- cat
Chipcat-Filou found June 12th 2011 (Ocicat 6months old) f-cat
Jane the Snow Cat rescued Dec27th 2012 f- cat

Last edited by sandyrivers; March 1st, 2012 at 08:06 AM. Reason: add info
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Old March 1st, 2012, 08:23 AM
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Love4himies Love4himies is offline
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Wow, I didn't think there was another kitty like my Rose, but after reading about your Spot, there is!

I agree with SCM, it sounds like Spot is from a feral, or at least a semi feral background and did not have the close human cuddling that completely domesticated cats have. The other thing that is possible is that Spots momma was feral and she passed on her distrust of humans while Spot was a kitten. I do think that he may have been in a cat colony, where his mom trusted other cats, but not humans, hence him running to Kanin for support (Rose does that with Jasper, she is from a semi feral cat colony background).

I think you are doing a great job and just let Spot come to you. Kudos for being able to clip his claws , that is a long way from being so scared. I still can't pick Rose up, but she will cuddle me all the time.
Cat maid to:

Jasper, male Ragdoll ?? (approx 10 yrs)
Rose semi feral, a cpietra rescue, female tabby (approx 7 yrs)

Sweet Pea RIP (2004?-2014)
Puddles RIP (1996-2014)
Snowball RIP (1991-2005)

In a cat's eye, all things belong to cats.-English Proverb

“While we are free to choose our actions, we are not free to choose the consequences of our actions.” Stephen R. Covey
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