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Cat suddenly scared of everything?

post #1 of 31
Thread Starter 

I literally just made an account 5 minutes ago because I'm really concerned for my cat.

My cat Momo is 1yr and 4mo old, she's a tortoise shell domestic short-hair, and today is the second time I've witnessed this activity, it happens very suddenly, and she acts jumpy, skittish, crouches low to the ground and stares at nothing like something is dangering her life. sometimes she gets her eyes on an object(like a hair brush) and she act likes she's never seen it before, she will slowly walk up to it, freaking out the whole time, when she gets close enough sometimes she will paw at it then jump away. If i try to talk to her or touch her when she's acting like this she acts like she cant hear me and that I'm someone she doesn't know, she runs away from me and her brothers. Just a moment ago, before i made this, she was staring at a brush intensely and i moved it maybe a cm she jumped four feet sideways away from the brush. Actually as I'm writing this she seems to be starting a new fit, currently she is crouched under the coffee table slowly taking her paw to the brush, swiping it and then pulling away. this doesn't just happen with the brush though, its anything that's near her while shes acting like this.

 

Another thing she does sometimes, is she will run around the house frantically, then stop to lick her back, and then take off running again, she will do that for 20 min to an hour sometimes, i think I've seen her do it 3 times.

 

are these two things connected somehow?

why is my cat acting these ways?

 

nothing has changed, same food, activities, same house.

post #2 of 31
Thread Starter 

Also, she does seem to have some sort of cat OCD, i don't know if that would cause this kind of behavior either?

post #3 of 31

Is she neutered (spayed)?  Have you thought about taking her to the vets, maybe with a video of the behaviour?

post #4 of 31
This sounds like Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome (FHS). There is a lot more info on this than there used to be.

Best case scenario, you may be able to control the episodes with a diet change. Foods that are full of artificial things, preservatives, dyes, grains and glutens and sodium nitrites have to be eliminated.

Worst case would be your kitty going on a medication such as phenobarbital to control the episodes.

There is a lot of area in between too. I'd start with a vet check up, including blood work, to make sure there is no physical cause, then work on changing the diet (depending on what you feed) and read up on FHS.

Welcome to TCS. Please let us know how Momo is doing.
post #5 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by Elizabeth093 View Post

I literally just made an account 5 minutes ago because I'm really concerned for my cat.

My cat Momo is 1yr and 4mo old, she's a tortoise shell domestic short-hair, and today is the second time I've witnessed this activity, it happens very suddenly, and she acts jumpy, skittish, crouches low to the ground and stares at nothing like something is dangering her life. sometimes she gets her eyes on an object(like a hair brush) and she act likes she's never seen it before, she will slowly walk up to it, freaking out the whole time, when she gets close enough sometimes she will paw at it then jump away. If i try to talk to her or touch her when she's acting like this she acts like she cant hear me and that I'm someone she doesn't know, she runs away from me and her brothers. Just a moment ago, before i made this, she was staring at a brush intensely and i moved it maybe a cm she jumped four feet sideways away from the brush. Actually as I'm writing this she seems to be starting a new fit, currently she is crouched under the coffee table slowly taking her paw to the brush, swiping it and then pulling away. this doesn't just happen with the brush though, its anything that's near her while shes acting like this.

 

Another thing she does sometimes, is she will run around the house frantically, then stop to lick her back, and then take off running again, she will do that for 20 min to an hour sometimes, i think I've seen her do it 3 times.

 

are these two things connected somehow?

why is my cat acting these ways?

 

nothing has changed, same food, activities, same house.

 

 

 

Hello and welcome to The Cat Site.  I am sorry your first post had to be with a problem.  We hope you get this worked out and an answer for your kitty.

post #6 of 31

Elizabeth, is this your first kitty?   I don't mean that in a rude way, it's just that nearly all my cats have displayed this sort of behavior at one time or another.  I always just though of it as 'cat stuff' and never even knew it might have a name.  While I don't want to make light of your concern, I do think I'd ask myself whether there seems to be anything really problematic for the cat about her behavior - does she seem actually frightened or in pain, or just like she's occasionally ... a trifle insane?   A frightened cat may hide, hiss, arch, puff up, squash down and bare its teeth, growl or sometimes even purr very loudly.  The intense behavior may go on for minutes or hours.  I never thought of the spiky fur leaping and batting/smacking behavior as fright, but more like stalking practice.  last night I gave Connor his first leaf of fresh catnip, he leapt away from it, stared bug eyed, smacked it hard a few times to let it know who was boss, and then cheerfully ate it. A frightened cat is an unhappy cat in my opinion, but a crazy cat may be perfectly pleased with itself, just not in a way that's comprehensible to people. -- there is also what I scientifically refer to as the Poop Dance; one of my cats would race madly from one end of the house to the other after having used the litterbox.  I'm sure there's some sensible explanation like it helps move digested food further down the intestines, but I always thought he was so happy to be rid of his poop that he was celebrating.  Cats are crazy.

 

I'd also check for fleas or other skin mites as an explanation for the racing around, then stopping to attack oneself behavior. 

post #7 of 31

I don't know about any specific disorders that causes that sort of behavior, but I'm inclined to agree with Bisbee that chances are there is nothing wrong with your cat. I say that because my kitty does the same thing but probably not as often or as long a time frame as yours. She is a neutered 3-year old grey tabby who goes nuts from time to time, chasing her tail or just attacking some object frantically. Every time she does that, I think she is nuts. 95% of the time though, she is calm . I don't know what causes my kitty to go into these episodic behavior and my other two kitties (get out of the way) would stare at her like she is nuts, but I take it that she is letting off some steam, running off some excess energy, basically having fun on her own. She gets her vet checkup annually and she is fine. She eats the same food as my other kitties, and she doesn't go into that mode that often, once or twice a day max, for a few minutes only so if yours go on for an hour? maybe best thing to do is get her checked by a vet to make sure there is no health issues that might cause that behavior.

post #8 of 31
Thread Starter 
Yes my cat is spayed.
Interesting, I'll have to do some research on that. Thank you:)
No, this isn't my first cat, I have three currently, her, and two boys, Kush DLH 1yr and Bear a 5 mo ragdoll. I have also had cats prior to her all my life with my parents. I have had Momo since she was 8 weeks old, I think I know what is normal behavior for my cat. I know how she acts when she's excited or happy, or just being crazy. This isn't her normal behavior, she in ginunenly scared and upset. Neither Kush or bear act this way. Yeah they all get hyper and run around and play, but this isn't play. She's scared of things she knows, and is around all the time. I wouldn't be asking such a question if it seemed like it could be normal behavior for my cat.
post #9 of 31

I did have a cat that used to attack his own tail (complete with skin rolling and screaming) to the point that he had nasty cuts by the base of his tail. 

he also had skin dermatitis / allergies and I kept bringing him to the vet to see what his issue might be  (we checked for fleas but there were none)

NOW i know the problem was due to his having a dry food only diet, though at the time, the vet kept telling me to buy sensitive skin dry food for him. I really wish I knew better  at the time (or my vet had told me!) and got him some wet food because that would have helped. I know because in the last year of his life, when he had severe constipation issues, I switched him to some wet food and most of these issues cleared up.

 

This *MAY* explain the frantic grooming / biting (if you are sure there are no fleas or other parasites)

 

As for the other description, it sounds like the cat is playing?

But can't say for sure without seeing what you're describing....

 

When in doubt, I'd call up the vet and just voice your concerns and see if they think it is something that you need to bring your cat  in for a checkup.

good luck!

post #10 of 31
Thread Starter 
That could be plausible for bitting and running around, but she refuses to eat wet food, I try all the time because i feed my other two cats wet food once a day for dinner, i feed them the purina pro plan wet food(and dry) and I get all kinds of varietys to see if she like a certain flavor, but she just sniffs at it then tries to cover it up. She also refuses to eat human food(it's not healthy anyways so that's good) but anyways, the point, the only food she likes eating is dry food. On top of that, it HAS to be chicken. She's a very picky eater.
post #11 of 31

how does her skin ./ fur look?

I would try to get her to eat some wet though, as I learned the hard way, that an all dry diet can cause some major problems down the road

 

I would also try some different brands other than purina to see if there is another brand she likes better.

My cat loves most wet food so he's not picky, but his absolute favorite is WERUVA Grandma's chicken soup flavor. It's grain free, which is good, and it also has a lot of moisture content so will be good for her. It's also supposed to be  human grade meat. I know it LOOKS just like a chicken stew and my cat scarfs it down.

post #12 of 31
Quote:
Another thing she does sometimes, is she will run around the house frantically, then stop to lick her back, and then take off running again, she will do that for 20 min to an hour sometimes, i think I've seen her do it 3 times.

This is a classic FHS behavior. FHS is sometimes called Rolling Skin Syndrome. It could be something else of course, but it may progress into self mutilation if something isn't done. Finicky or not, in addition to the vet visit, diet is the first place to start.

Yes it can be very challenging to get a kibble addict onto a better food. But it can be done.

Here's a site with some good helpful information on how to transition your cat to a better diet. Many of us have done it. It can take months, and a lot of patience. But it can be done. smile.gif

http://catinfo.org/docs/Tips%20for%20Transitioning%20PDF%201-14-11.pdf

http://catinfo.org/

There are many other wet foods out there besides Purina Pro Plan, to try. And there are many to choose from that do not contain a lot of harmful stuff.

Here are the first 7 ingredients of Purina Pro Plan chicken kibble

Chicken (chicken and poultry meal); wheat and wheat gluten and/or bran; corn gluten meal; soybean meal; animal fat preserved with mixed-tocopherols (form of vitamin E); brewers rice.

http://pets.purina.com.au/proplan/cat/proplanAdultChickenRice.asp

Any one of the six ingredients following the first could be aggravating Momo's condition.

While I would rather see a cat on any canned food than dry, you could start by switching her to a grain free low carb dry food such as EVO Ancestral Diet chicken and see how she does on that. Do any food transition very slowly. Adding a probiotic will help her body cope with the change.

http://www.evopet.com/products/1441
post #13 of 31
Thread Starter 

Redvelvetone-Her fur looks fine, although she always does seem to get a build up of dead fur by her tail. I think that's pretty normal though for cats? my boys though get brushed nearly everyday it doesn't seem like they do as much.

That's a good idea, i will try different brands, where do you get  WERUVA?

 

 

Otto-Thank you for all that information about transitioning a cat to a better diet, that's defiantly gonna help! I have been planning actually to change my cats food to better, more high quality brand besides Purina, but i just don't know where to start on trying to find a better food brand, there are a lot of companies that say they are the best, and then some are just way to expensive for me right now (I'm only in college you know? and feeding 3 cats is already is expensive since i refuse to buy anything of lesser quality). But of course, i want the best for my cat, and if i have too, i'll pay anything to help her be as healthy as she cat, she's like my baby, i don't want her to suffer in any way.

post #14 of 31

My Tucker has hyperathesia (FHS) and I actually had to self diagnose him from my online research.  None of the vets I took him to could tell me what was wrong with him.  I even called other vets to ask about FHS and many had never even heard of it.  Tucker started out with the same bizare playing.  I didn't think anything off it as I've had cats all my live and sometimes they are just a bit batty :o)    Well, one day out of the blue he had attacked his own tail to the point it was a bloody stump and it looked like I had murdered someone in my bedroom - blood everywhere.  Needless to say I freaked out, he's my baby.  After literally no sleep for about a month (we could not leave him be for a second or he would attack his bloody stump, so my hubby and I stayed up with him 24/7, taking shifts - no kidding) I gave in to bad advise from 2 vets and let them amputate his tail.   If your kitty gets this bad - DO NOT amputate the tail as this does NOT cure the problem!!  We finally (after 4 months) put him on amitriptyline.  He's been on it now about a year and a half and is totally back to normal.

 

I don't want to scare you.  Just wanted to let you know that the vets may not have a clue what FHS is or how to treat it.  So do as much research on your own on this.  

post #15 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tina23 View Post

My Tucker has hyperathesia (FHS) and I actually had to self diagnose him from my online research.  None of the vets I took him to could tell me what was wrong with him.  I even called other vets to ask about FHS and many had never even heard of it.  Tucker started out with the same bizare playing.  I didn't think anything off it as I've had cats all my live and sometimes they are just a bit batty :o)    Well, one day out of the blue he had attacked his own tail to the point it was a bloody stump and it looked like I had murdered someone in my bedroom - blood everywhere.  Needless to say I freaked out, he's my baby.  After literally no sleep for about a month (we could not leave him be for a second or he would attack his bloody stump, so my hubby and I stayed up with him 24/7, taking shifts - no kidding) I gave in to bad advise from 2 vets and let them amputate his tail.   If your kitty gets this bad - DO NOT amputate the tail as this does NOT cure the problem!!  We finally (after 4 months) put him on amitriptyline.  He's been on it now about a year and a half and is totally back to normal.

I don't want to scare you.  Just wanted to let you know that the vets may not have a clue what FHS is or how to treat it.  So do as much research on your own on this.  

I remember your Tucker. So glad to hear he's doing so well!
post #16 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by otto View Post


I remember your Tucker. So glad to hear he's doing so well!

Thanks otto!  It was a horribly stressful time and I'm so glad he is back to normal (with drugs and no tail that is)

post #17 of 31

Just wanted to say that was the reason I was asking - to see if you had cat experience, because for a new cat owner, lots of behavior that might seem strange is pretty normal, I figured that was the best place to start.  Sorry if I offended you, hope your kitty is doing better.

post #18 of 31
Thread Starter 

Thanks everybody for your post, Momo seems to be doing better for now, although i think i am going to take her to the vet soon, and see what they say, next time she has an episode i'm going to take a video so the vet can see how the behavior is. I am also buying different kinds/brands of wet food to see if she will eat any, still no luck though. 

 

Tina- I am so sorry to hear about your cat, that must have been very hard to go through. I hope though, if Momo does have FHS we wont have to give her medicine, i would hate to have to do that to my kitty.

post #19 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by Elizabeth093 View Post

Tina- I am so sorry to hear about your cat, that must have been very hard to go through. I hope though, if Momo does have FHS we wont have to give her medicine, i would hate to have to do that to my kitty.

 

Thanks, it was hard, but he's good now.  I hope Momo doesn't have FHS, but if it turns out she does and she gets really bad, don't be afraid of the meds.  I felt the same way and really resisted the idea of meds every day for the rest of his life, but I have to tell you, it turned out not to be a big deal.  He doesn't have any side effects from it, isn't zombied out and he is back to being my snuggle baby.   I'm certainly not advocating to put cats on drugs, but in my case it really wasn't a choice.  He was constantly mutilating his tail even after it was gone, so it was drugs or putting him to sleep (and no way was that an option!).  

 

Good luck with Momo and keep us updated

post #20 of 31
Thread Starter 

I got Momo to finally eat wet food! I've tried like a million different brands, and she has decided she likes natures recipe cat food. I like it too, it actually looks like something a person might eat, and it smells like real food too. I am also in the process of switching her dry food to "Blue" brand food, it actually is cheaper then the purina pro plan, but it seems like its a lot better food.

post #21 of 31

Hi - I see your last post was quite some time ago and I'm about to start a post about my cat with similar problems (bit a bit more severe due to a birth defect). How did your cat turn out?

post #22 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by boldzie View Post

Hi - I see your last post was quite some time ago and I'm about to start a post about my cat with similar problems (bit a bit more severe due to a birth defect). How did your cat turn out?


She has not posted or been on in the last 6 months.

post #23 of 31

You could try to send the original poster a private message.  Some people have their settings to where they get emails for private messages.  Maybe she will see your question then and can come answer. smile.gif

post #24 of 31
Thread Starter 

Oddly enough she suddenly started acting normal again, maybe there was just something wrong with where we were living? because when we moved into a new apartment she never had a problem again. it is really strange though because the last two homes we lived in she acted like that, but as soon as we moved into our current home she just stopped. I also got her on some high quality wet and dry food, around that time, as well so maybe thats what did the trick? i dont know but she seems to be better now so hopefully she doesnt start acting that way again.

post #25 of 31
Diet certainly can make a difference, I'm glad she's doing better, thanks for the update.
post #26 of 31

I've read all the replies here, and am still confused. 

You all seem to have a lot of good advice but the search phrase I used to find this thread was "cat suddenly is afraid of everything". 

FHS symptoms are: 

  • Rippling of the skin over the back
  • Muscle spasms and twitching
  • Twitching of the tail.
  • Cats may exhibit strange behaviors in response to touching such as tail chasing, biting at the tail, flank and sides, to the point of self-directed aggression. They run, jump, hallucinate, vocalize, and even turn around and hiss.
  • They may self-mutilate with extreme biting, licking, chewing, and plucking of the hair (sometimes called “barbering” or “fur mowing”). This behavior leads to hair loss and sometimes to severe skin lesions.

 

and Zoey seems to have none of that. 

I would be very interested to know if anyone has just the "afraid" symptom going on.  Zoey is a possibly 3-year old female, most likely neutered (the vet said most likely, since she hasn't had kittens).  She found me one morning in December after I'd seen her wandering around in the neighborhood for about 6 months, so I've only had her for 4 months. 

This behavior started about 3 days ago and hasn't gotten any better, but there is no panic or spasms or frantic running around... or any other of the above symptoms.  Just afraid.  Of doorways, my room, area rugs and corners.

Anyone out there who has had this happen, I would love to hear from you.

In the meantime, I will try a different diet.  Currently using Taste of the Wild food.

post #27 of 31

Hi

I just saw your post here and I had also posted about 3months ago with the same problem.  I received some advice from a couple of people who have or had the same problem.  My Kitty is now almost normal, and it took about 3 months she still gets jumpy over sudden noises but she is so much better 

Heres what I did.

I took all of her toys, food, and litterbox and put it in my room and gradually I would try and coax her out of the room, with canned catfood.  It was sad because she would really want the food but was so frightened she would just sit on my bed and meow.  I would play with her in my room and try to get closer to the door each time.  I also got a diffuser that was called something like a calming diffuser ( they are a bit expensive) they sell them at Petsmart.  Anyway I just kept talking to her when I fed her and gradually she calmed down and now she is pretty much normal.  She is also 3 yrs old and I got her at the humane society,  just be patient with her and she should come out of it when she feels that she won't be hurt. 

I also used to bring her out into the living room and sit with her on my lap, she tolerated it but not for long but I would make her have to get herself back to the bedroom.  Sometimes I would give in and have to carry her,   lol

I feed her canned fancy feast  12 in the morning nd 1/2 at night.

 

Keep me posted with any questions you might have and I will do my best to let you know what I did.  I know all cats are different but I just tried things that other people had suggested and it seemed to have worked.  

good luck to you and your baby.:rub:

post #28 of 31

Wow, thanks for replying right away! 

 

I will coddle her and see what happens.  It's great to know your kitty got over it.

 

I wonder what the heck set them off like that.  She was normal and ordinary and this just hit out of the blue over nothing.  Zoey is our only animal and there've been no visitors, loud noises.  All has been quiet.  She stays under the sofa mostly, but I coaxed her into the bedroom where she used to lay on the bed with her favorite chase toy but she wouldn't stay.  At least she plays and eats.

 

But I will change her food.. maybe try some Fancy Feast!  She's been eating health food ever since I got her with a little milk now and then, so that'll be a real treat for her.

 

When she comes out of it  /fingers crossed  ..I'll reply here again and let you know.  /hugs!

post #29 of 31

I would REALLY bring her to the vet. suddenly hiding out of nowhere could mean a physical ailment. she might have a bug or may have hurt herself somehow that you are not aware of.

post #30 of 31

I'll do that if she doesn't get all better in a few days.  She's slowly coming out of it, though.  Almost as though it was some kind of brain cloud, to quote a movie line. 

 


Thank you!

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