So...... I'm normally the one dispensing advice on beahviour, but this one has me completely confused.
2-3 month old kitten gets dropped at the shelter. She's shy and reclusive and wasn't doing so well being fostered in the staff offices, so my husband brings her home to me. I take one look at her and I know she's dying. (It's a thing. I'm never wrong.) So I make her take him back so she can be under vet-supervised care. I'm right, and 12 hours later she starts vomiting and passing large amounts of tin foil. She miraculously makes it through that ordeal thanks to the vets being right there, but couldn't keep hard food down afterwards (they think from damage to her throat) and she wouldn't eat soft food. So the staff spends the next month or so force feeding her until she's doing better.
Problem is, she had "no personality". That's what the staff called it. She wasn't exactly scared, but she wasn't friendly. She'd just sit someplace all day long when there was people in the room. You could pick her up or touch her, but she would give no reaction. She would play with the other kittens when no one was around (they could see her through the windows), but never with a human being present. When there was, she was listless. Staff wasn't sure if it was health or behavioural, but seeing as how she wasn't adoptable and not showing signs of improvement they talked about putting her to sleep. I talked hubby into bringing her home again. (What's one more? sigh.)
First impression - she was feral. Her behavioual cues were all over the map. I was certain she was going to bite/attack by the way she held herself, and her ear and eye language. But she never did. In fact, she would look like she was about to attack (ears constantly plastered to the side of her head) when she was perfectly happy and content being petted. It was bizarre. For the first week I thought I was the one that was crazy.
She's gotten a LOT better with interpersonal communication. Ears forward and alert, working her paws, butt up in the air when she wants attention. She finally started coming to me for attention 2 weeks ago. (Prior to that the only way I could pet her and make her purr/work paws was to drag her out of hiding and give her attention. It wasn't exactly forced because she really liked it.) Two days ago she started coming to my husband, so we're making improvements. She wags her tail along the ground like a dog the entire time we're giving her attention. She's also become very mouthy (bite/lick/gum) with me when I pay her attention.
She's also really desperate to play with the other cats. She runs up to them and ducks under their chin and really wants them to pay attention to her. We spend as much time as we can watching her and leaving the door open so she can interact with them, but we can't risk leaving her out without supervision right now because of the -
The first week I had her home I caught her in the clumping litter eating mouthfuls of it. I couldn't believe what I saw at first, but when I went to remove her from the box, she growled (the only time I've heard her do that) and grabbed a giant mouthful of litter before I could get her away. It reminded me of a cat guarding really good canned food.
The vets are now thinking that the foil wasn't an accident (starved cat being fed on tin foil) but instead that she ate it on purpose. We have her sequestered in a bathroom with plain clay litter until we can get to the bottom of the problem since if she does have anemia or other nutrient deficiencies we don't want her to get a hold of something that could kill her in the main house. She had blood drawn two weeks ago, but they "can't find the results". (Don't get me started...)
And it's not just cat litter she's eating but also -
So the 'real' issue we're dealing with is her obsession with poop. She chews on it, and possibly eats it. (Probably related to the pica, I hope.) She plays with it, even though we have a bajillion toys for her when we're not able to play with her. In fact, it's her favorite toy ever! She carries pieces - they have teeth marks, so I know she's picking them up! - and puts them next to her food and water dishes. She also hides nearly an entire "sitting" in her bed so she can sleep on it.
She's not using the bathroom in her bed or anywhere else - these pieces are caked in litter so it's obvious she using her boxes and then removing them after. We try to clean them up as we find them but she's going at least 5 times a day so she gets to it before we can. The only saving grace is that they're nice normal formed poops so they're not making a mess everywhere.
Pica and poop obsession in cats is rare as it is. I know I can't really do much until I find out blood-wise what's going on, but I'm really to the point where I'm worried about her sanity. Cats sleeping on their own waste is so unheard of!!! I don't even know what to do to help her get over it. She waits until she's alone to do all this, so it's not even like distracting her or pulling the ole switcheroo with treats or toys would work.
She's becoming a short-haired cat. When she came, she was a long, curly haired Persian mix. It's been about a month now, and she's now a short-hair tabby with extra long hair running down her spine. It started under her chin - not hair loss, not hair thinning, it's true hair shortening. She was a short-haired kitten under her chin with super long Persian fur everywhere else, and it's spread outward from there. I've heard of short-haired kittens going long, but not the other way around! And she's not showing any signs of deficiency that would be attributed to coat problems - it's thick and beautiful and there's no bare or bald spots. It's just... short hair now.
If anyone can offer any advice about any of this, I would appreciate it. She leaves me completely bamboozled!