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Cat's irrational fear

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
My wife and I have a cat who is a little over ten years old. Within the last 4-5 months we have moved into a new 2 bedroom apartment. Madeline ( our cat ) took a couple days to get used to it, but we were surprised at how quickly she became comfortable living in our new home. She seems to be happier than she was in our old apartment. Until a few days ago when she developed a strange fear of the bedroom.

My wife was on the phone in the room, madeline was with her. ( madeline almost always sleeps with us in our bedroom and since she is people shy she usually retreats there when we have company ) My wife said she noticed that madeline was sniffing the carpet and acting strangely around the bed, madeline then became terrified of whatever it was she saw or smelled and backed herself into a wall. She was noticably shaking and when my wife tried to comfort her she darted out of the room like a bullet.

She hasn't gone into the bedroom for 3 days, we can't coax her into there. We can't seem to figure out what is freaking her out. Her litter box is in the bathroom connected to the bedroom and she won't even use it. Unfortunately she has chosen other places to go to the bathroom.

I'm really concered and I am hoping that someone may be able to give us some advice. We are going to thoroughly clean the room in the morning and clean the carpet. Maybe she just smells a previous owners pets???????
post #2 of 6
If there is a PetSmart near you, you might want to pay them a visit and buy a blacklight flashlight. Wait until midnight, go in your bedroom and turn on only this flashlight. The black light will make cat urine shine in the dark and chances are, you will find some old stains there. Buy a good enzyme cleaner and scrub all the spots you see.

I would also move her litterbox to someplace else for the time being. if she is not using it because of the smell, then try and find another private area where she can use it, inside a cupboard, or closet or something. It is odd that you have been there for 5 months and this is the first time she has found this scent. You could of also inadvertently brought something in from outside on the bottom of your shoe that has distressed her.
post #3 of 6
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the advice. I never would have thought of using a blacklight...

I should have mentioned this earlier too. The maintenance man had been in our apartment several hours earlier to fix a drain in the attached bathroom. I guess he could have brought in another animals scent or something.
post #4 of 6
I'll bet the worker brough in some bad smell. Try treating that area with an enzymatic cleaner. Perhaps whatever smell he brought in will be removed by the cleanser.

Once it has been treated, you can try gradually encouraging Madeline to enter the room. If she has a favorite treat, give her the treat about a foot outside the room, then give a treat a little closer and closer until she can stay in the room while she has the treat. This way she will think of good things (treats and lots of praise) while in the room.

Good luck!
post #5 of 6
In addition to all the above reasons, you did say she was people-shy. The plumber was a stranger and if he had pets, he very likely brought their odors on his clothing and shoes. Perhaps the carpet, being between his entry and the bathroom, caught the bulk of the odor in the fibers. Your cat may have suddenly realized that strange people could be standing around in its room of refuge. That would mean no place to hide. For a shy cat, it doesn't take much to freak them out. You didn't have problems in the beginning because you brought with you familiar-smelling clothes, furnishings, and even, perhaps curtains, linens, etc. Cats and dogs both recognize familiarity easily. Which is why when you give away a kitten or puppy, it is a kindness to also give a sock or a piece of blanket that has been in their nest with their mother, just to have in their sleeping area for the first few nights in a new place.

I hope you are going to tell us if the enzymatic detergent worked....?

PS -- Hissy, I knew about the blacklight, but had forgotten it over the years. Many thanks for jogging my memory.

post #6 of 6
I'd forgotten about the blacklight trick! You're a lifesaver! We've had to put up with this annoying cat urine smell near our front door since we moved in (wasn't our kitties) I've used febreeze I don't know how many times, thinking it was a tom that sprayed outside! I dug out my blacklight, plugged it in, and lo and behold, stains all along the wall near the front door! Ugh, will have to get some enzyme and scrub tomorrow. Thank you!
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