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Sudden Fearfullness

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
My husband and I have one 11 year old male cat. He's an indoor cat with no apparent health problems (eating, drinking and elimination seem normal; coat and weight is good).

He's begun to behave as if he were terrified. He won't come out from under our bed, except when we're asleep, then he'll leave to eat and use his box. He'll play, purr, roll over and stretch for petting--all from under the bed. If we see him when he's out, he'll scurry back with his tail between his legs. This has been going on for about two weeks. If he's blocked from getting to the stairway, he howls. He's also exhibited this behavior for 1 to 2 days following a couple of vacations we've taken over the last 6 months.

We've tried to pinpoint something that might have traumatized him, and the only thing we can think of is that (we think a couple of weeks ago) he slammed into my husband's ankles when he bolted around a corner. He did let my husband pet him in his usual petting area one day last week, but then hissed and ran back under the bed. I've tried coaxing with food, with only momentary success.

If anyone has any suggestions, I would be very grateful. I would hate to have him spend the rest of his life terrified.
post #2 of 7
Well, the first place I would start is a visit to the vets office. He could have something wrong with him. Usually this is a sign that something is not right. One thing that comes to mind is maybe he wasnt eating and drinking enough when you were gone. That can cause a few problems right there.
Second, something happened that either hurt him or scared him. A for instance. I have a cat who is normally a love, one evening she was doing the same thing. 2 days later we found a lump on her tail and it seems she was bitten by something. If the cat saw something, heard something that was traumatic, it put him into a state of fear. Usually they will do this right after the incident, so I am not real convinced of the ankle bump.
So, first I would take him for a checkup. If he is okay health wise, I would start with some Dr, Bachs rescue remedy. You can get it at any health/nutrition store. They get about 4 drops on the tongue as needed. During this time, just work with him. Sit and talk to him while he is under the bed. Take baby steps with him so he knows nothing is going to happen. It may be slow, but they generally come around.
It would be a good idea to have a geriatric blood panel done at his age anyway. Anything over 7 is geriatric.
post #3 of 7
I agree with Sandie (as usual).

If you need to give him the Rescue Remedy, I find that putting the 4 drops in a small amount of canned food is a lot easier than putting it directly on the tongue. Putting it in the food may be a little less traumatic than forcing it into his mouth.

Let us know what the vet says.
post #4 of 7
Thread Starter 
Thank you both very much for your advice. I'm planning to take Buckwheat to the vet--he's scheduled for a full checkup anyway--but I was wary of compounding his trauma by taking him immediately (he freaks when we go to the vet). I certainly need to rule out physical causes, but I'm pretty certain this is something psychological.

He is doing a little better today. He's progressed to staying in the bedroom or the basement, and behaves normally in those areas. He still charges through the main floor with his tail down, though, so I think something must have happened there we're not aware of.

If he's not more relaxed in the next couple of days, I'll take him in anyway. I'm not familiar with the Rescue Remedy; is that an herbal stress treatment, and is it specifically for animals?

Thanks again, and I'll let you know what the vet thinks. -KBL
post #5 of 7
Rescue Remedy is made up of flower essence. It is for both people and their pets. I must say, it works on both. It does not make them drugged up at all. It is not meant to be a sedative. It relaxes the nerves and brings on a very relaxed feeling.
I sure hope everything is okay with him. I know I was stressed out trying to figure out what the heck happened to my Rhiann. Please keep us updated on his progress.
post #6 of 7
Thread Starter 
I'm happy to report good progress. I used some of the Rescue Remedy last night, and I was able to coax him to his habitual "petting area" in the living room, where he played and explored pretty much as usual. He disappeared again when activity picked up in the room, but it seems we're moving in the right direction.

Thanks again for your help. -kbl
post #7 of 7
I am glad things are moving in a good direction. Just keep working with him and watching his habits. I am anxious to see how he comes along and how long it takes.
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