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The Cat's Meow => Cat Care Corner => Topic started by: sonnyvincent on January 02, 2017, 02:00:17 AM

Title: Terrified New Cat
Post by: sonnyvincent on January 02, 2017, 02:00:17 AM
Where to begin...

I have an old elementary school friend whose mother was trying to rehome a cat and was going to take her to a shelter. I volunteered to take her in and look for something permanent for her. The shelters around here are high-kill, and the private shelters are full.

Anyway, when I went to get her I was told all they know about her is that she is spayed and fully declawed. She had been there for 3 weeks (the previous owners were supposed to bring her "records" but never did). The other cat, who looked to be close to 18 pounds (and fully clawed) was apparently "torturing" the cat. Which is why the mother was planning to take her to a shelter. The cat was hiding under a chair and it took a bit of wrangling to get her and in the carrier. She was fairly quiet on the way home.

Once we got home, I noticed some balding behind her ears. And fleas were visibly crawling across her face. She was SO mad. Growing and screaming and hissing. I have her in a bedroom and I set up a private area for her in the closet (with the middle sliding door open). She was ok there but any time she saw a person she would growl. And I've read cats behave this way when they changed homes. Considering this is her third place in 3 weeks, I can understand.

I just couldn't let her sit covered in fleas and whether it was the right choice or not-- I decided to give her a Dawn bath. Clearly she'd never had a bath so she didn't know what she was getting into. The really sad thing is she was actually quite quiet during the bath. No screaming or growling or hissing, an every now and then "meow". But when I was lathering the dish soap, I think she actually liked how it felt :( She was probably suffering so much.

She only started being vocal again when I was working on towel drying her. I did my best and took her back to her safe area. She wouldn't let me comb her, and I decided she'd been through enough. But she's still got fleas crawling across her face today :( I'm taking her to the vet as soon as I can get her in.

I feel so bad for this little cat. I have no idea how old she is. She's small. She's orange, and doesn't have any spots on her nose so she might be young (my old boy didn't get spots until he was over a year old). Of course not all red cats get spots. But hopefully the vet can help with that.

I can't imagine how vulnerable she feels, not having her claws. One of my other cats came to me a few years ago; also fully declawed. And he, too, had a hard time the first few days. And this poor girl; she's been terrorized for 3 weeks by a cat 2.5 times bigger than she is. I don't know why they didn't confine her or the other cat, at least until she found a different home. Makes no sense.

Anyway--- I'm considering just keeping her, especially after how traumatic this has been for her. Don't want to put her through that again. I do have other cats, though, and I'm worried the experience is going to make it so she can't deal with other cats. Of course I can't know that yet. So I can cross that bridge when I come to it.

I got a calming diffuser (the name escapes me) and have it in the room she's in, but I know it can take a week to start having an effect. Is there anything else I can do for her? I sleep in that room, and I know that sometime in the night she came out and used the litterbox. So that's good. When I'm in the room I'll talk to her, and I have her food/water sitting on a tshirt that smells like me (I read somewhere she will eventually think of my smell as a positive thing). Does the classical music really help? Or is that just for feral cats?

I have to take her to the vet which is going to really upset her, but she's miserable with those fleas. I have to get her tested for illnesses, and try to get ahold of my friend's mom and try to track down the original owners.
Title: Re: Terrified New Cat
Post by: Been to the Mountaintop on January 04, 2017, 12:18:14 PM
Thank you for all you are doing for the poor fur baby. So sweet that she tolerated the bath.
Title: Re: Terrified New Cat
Post by: Alpha1 on January 06, 2017, 11:01:27 AM
Thank you for what you are doing, we need more people like you. I can't imagine what the poor baby is going through, I hope everything turns out fine.
Title: Re: Terrified New Cat
Post by: Marybelle on January 06, 2017, 05:02:50 PM
You are awesome!  :)  Thank you for caring. 

Talking softly and quietly to her is a good thing to get her used to you.  The shirt under her food bowl is also a good idea!  When I have a skittish kitty, I will sit low down (on the floor or a low stool) and read to them.  This keep eyes off them (which can seem threatening), and gives me something to say other than "What a pretty kitty you are.  You are so sweet.  What a good girl." etc. 

It's good that she's coming out to use the litter box.  That's actually a positive sign that she's not completely scared out of her mind.

The Feliway will help, but yes, it can take time.  In the meantime, keep things routine as much as you can.  Cats thrive on routine.  So feed her at the same time as much as you can, go to bed at the same time, etc.  Give her a chance to figure out that the change is done for a while, and she's okay. 

She may be fine being introduced to the other cats. but you'll need to take it very slowly.  Jackson Galaxy has great tips and advice, as well as a how-to:

Good luck!

If you catch her looking at you, give her slow blinks!  This is cat for "Hello, I like you, you're safe with me, and I'm safe with you".