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Stressed Kitty

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
I have a wonderful, sweet TigerTortie with a stress disorder and need to know if anyone can suggest ways of reducing her stress.

Here's some background:

First, and most important, Gracie's stress disorder is something that she's had since she was a baby, so it's not any thing that's causing stress. In fact, there are plenty of times that the things that will totally stress her out one day will not bother her one bit the next.

When she was only 6 months old, the stress resulted in a crystal or stone imbedding itself in her bladder. She had surgery where the doctor actually had to remove part of her bladder.

When she's calm, she's the most affectionate, snuggly, friendly, perfect little kitty. When she's stressed, she wont let me or anyone else come anywhere near her. Oh, and, of course, there's the lack of using the litter box.

There is only one thing that's come close to helping, and that's glucosamine capsules (I cant recall why that helps, but my vet explained it to me). The main problem with that is trying to pill her when she's not stressed out is bad enough, but when she's already stressed, pilling her is downright traumatic. It also makes her throw up.

I've also discovered when I dont have to work, she's much calmer. As much as I'd love to, I dont have the luxury of not working so I could stay home for her.

Does any one have any suggestions? I'm afraid if I cant find a solution, I'll be forced to find her a home better suited for her needs.

Thanks
post #2 of 23
Besides obviously enjoying your presense, is there anything else that you have ever found she seems to enjoy?

What is the surrounding environment, has this remained constant, or has it changed?

How old was she when you got her, and has she always exhibited symptoms of this disorder?

Spotz
post #3 of 23
Sounds like a highly anxious cat. There are alternatives for her to calm her down, such as certain Bach flower remedies, as well as talking to your vet about turning her medication into a paste you can rub on her ears. I will try and find the link for you that explains this.
Aspen or Larch are two remedies you might want to look into to keep this cat on an even keel. Because she is so sensitive to her environment keeping everything the same will help to reduce her stress as well. Feeding at the same times every day, not changing anything in the house that might upset her until the remedies have time to work to mellow her out.
post #4 of 23
Where is your computer located? Whenever I let my Siamese, Coco, or for that matter, any of my kitties in my bedroom where I have my computer, my kitties revert to complete love mode. It's almost like mind control. I don't know whether it's the sound of the cooling fan blowers or the processor frequency, but they all turn into lovable kittens.

I can relate your problems because I have a female who is always agressive and has benn since the first time she was born. She didn't even have her eyes open, and she was already hissing and spitting. I love on Sugar Cakes as much as possible, and it is helping because for awhile, we avoided her because she was so mean. Love is the answer, and try taking your kitty into the computer room.
post #5 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Spotz
How old was she when you got her, and has she always exhibited symptoms of this disorder?
Spotz
She was 8 weeks when I adopted her from Kindred Kitties (they have a fostering program). Even at that age, she was definitely exhibiting symptoms. Looking back, her sister was also at the pet store that day, and though she wasnt hyper like Gracie, she too, exhibited the stress that I've become very aquainted with. I almost didnt adopt Gracie because she was so hyper. But my husband really liked her, and asked me if I'd reconsider bringing her home. So, I picked her up one more time and this time, she was placid, and sweet and incredibly affectionate. She started giving me kisses and then snuggled herself under my chin, purred and promptly fell asleep. So, I just attributed the hyperness to the pet-store environment and her age, and assumed she'd mellow when she got older.


Quote:
What is the surrounding environment, has this remained constant, or has it changed?
Her surrounding environment has been consistent since we adopted her. We have another cat (a very sweet tortie who took Gracie as her own kitten since day one) and a Cairn Terrier dog, who Gracie actually met at the pet store and took an instant liking to before we even adopted her. Gracie is very playful and she and Maggie (the dog) play and chase each other around all the time. But the problem is when Gracie is in a stressed mode, Maggie doesnt know, and then her playing is maximum stress to Gracie. But it's been that way from the day we brought her home.

The first indication there was a real problem was when I tried to cut her claws for the first time. The act of trying to hold her still and do that utterly panicked and traumatized her. In the end I had to have her declawed because I couldnt put her through the trauma of having to regularly cut her claws.


Quote:
Besides obviously enjoying your presense, is there anything else that you have ever found she seems to enjoy?
I don't know if enjoyment is the issue. There are many things that she enjoys when she's not stressed that become additional sources of stress when she is in a stressful state. That's why I'm seeking ways of dealing with relieving the stress itself.

I would say there are two things that calm her. One would be the glucosamine if the pilling wasnt so traumatic. Sometimes when she's so tightly wound that I have to pill her anyway, I can tell she's grateful for the end results, but that's not something I can do on a regular basis without the remedy being just one more source of stress.

The only thing that consistently calms her is my presense. It's more than just enjoying my presence, I think she knows as long as I'm there, she's safe and that I will keep stressful things from her. A month or so back, I was home for a week sick and I've never seen her happier and almost completely stress-free. Anything else is pretty hit-or-miss whether it helps or not.
post #6 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by hissy
Sounds like a highly anxious cat. There are alternatives for her to calm her down, such as certain Bach flower remedies, as well as talking to your vet about turning her medication into a paste you can rub on her ears.
I've tried the Flower Essence, but I havent seen much of a difference. Could be the bottle I had was older and no longer effective, so I may give it a try again.

My vet suggested the paste idea too. I tried it with some kitty-prosac (which didnt work) but even if it had worked, it had the same effect as the pilling--the fact that I needed to hold her still to put the stuff on her ears became a trauma to her. It was also pretty expensive.

Quote:
I will try and find the link for you that explains this. Aspen or Larch are two remedies you might want to look into to keep this cat on an even keel.
Thank you. I will look into those.

Quote:
Because she is so sensitive to her environment keeping everything the same will help to reduce her stress as well. Feeding at the same times every day, not changing anything in the house that might upset her until the remedies have time to work to mellow her out.
I appreciate that advice, but in truth, this is the most frustrating thing about finding a remedy to her problem. The stress isnt caused by her environment, and aside from keeping the dog from chasing her when she's stressed, nothing about her environment (except my presense) has any positive effect on her either.

Gracie's disorder is an organic problem. Environmental factors only effect her when she is experiencing stress, much the way a woman with PMS will be stressed by things that normally are nothing. In fact, Gracie's problems may very well be some type of hormone imbalance.

That's why I have to target ways of countering the stress. When her stress level is alleviated, the environment is not an issue.
post #7 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Caspar
Where is your computer located? Whenever I let my Siamese, Coco, or for that matter, any of my kitties in my bedroom where I have my computer, my kitties revert to complete love mode. It's almost like mind control. I don't know whether it's the sound of the cooling fan blowers or the processor frequency, but they all turn into lovable kittens.

I can relate your problems because I have a female who is always agressive and has benn since the first time she was born. She didn't even have her eyes open, and she was already hissing and spitting. I love on Sugar Cakes as much as possible, and it is helping because for awhile, we avoided her because she was so mean. Love is the answer, and try taking your kitty into the computer room.
I have a laptop, so my computer is wherever I am. When I was home for a week sick, she'd curl up beside me, or occasionally on my lap (she never stays there very long) but I think it has more to do with me sitting for long periods of time that make that attractive and calming to her.
post #8 of 23
Well, your tortie sounds like mine. I've had her for three years and have other cats as well. When I saw her at the cat rescue place, they said she had a bit of an attitude, possibly from having (for medical neccesity) one paw declawed. (She has a deformed leg and the toenails were curling and growing back into her little paw). Anyway, she was very cute, left behind because of the paw when her siblings had all been adopted and fell alseep in my husband's hand. She has exhibited all the same symptoms and I've never had another cat with her temperment. I've heard the comment more than once, but my vet said that she acts like that "because she's a tortie". I don't have any other experience to base that on, but I've heard and read that tortie's can be very tempermental. She's also very lovable, but has driven one other cat of mine off with her frequent nastiness. Good luck.
post #9 of 23
Hey TortieMom...the problem will be with rehoming her that she may not adjust to a new person..even if they are around 24/7. I have a tortie...she is a lovebug as long as it's on her terms. I simply let her be and when she wants to be pet...she lets me know. Good luck finding a solution...please keep us posted.

Katie
post #10 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by TNR1
Hey TortieMom...the problem will be with rehoming her that she may not adjust to a new person..even if they are around 24/7.
Yes, I've thought about the same thing. Even if the home she was moved to was less stressful environmentally, I think removing her from the only home she's ever known could push her over the edge.


Quote:
I have a tortie...she is a lovebug as long as it's on her terms. I simply let her be and when she wants to be pet...she lets me know.
Gracie's the same way. Even when she's not stressed, she's still young and much more interested in playing and exploring than snuggling. But the stress is different and I can always tell the difference. When she's stressed, even when she's letting me pet her (and she's even purring) her tail is constantly flicking and she jumps at the slightest noise, like she's constantly being chased. It's so sad to watch and I can tell how unhappy she is.

When she's not stressed, she loves to be pet, she gives me kisses and washes my face and tries to groom as much of me as I'll let her (purring up a storm the whole time).


Quote:
Good luck finding a solution...please keep us posted. Katie
I'll do that. Thanks!
post #11 of 23
I had a cat with very similar symptoms (coincidentally, a tortie). Something that helped was a medication called Ovarid. It helps to even out any hormone imbalance there may be. Have you tried giving the medication crushed into a fine powder and disguised either in her normal food or in something like a teaspoon of yoghurt or canned kitten food? I know she gets more stressed because of having to give her pills but because she's getting her meds, she will become calmer and this effect should reduce over time. As a last resort, you could try Valium in the short term. Speak to your vet about these medications and see if they'd be appropriate for Gracie. Also, is she spayed? If not, getting her spayed may reduce her symptoms significantly.

Despite her nervous disorder, she sounds like a lovely cat.
post #12 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kumbulu
I had a cat with very similar symptoms (coincidentally, a tortie). Something that helped was a medication called Ovarid. It helps to even out any hormone imbalance there may be. Have you tried giving the medication crushed into a fine powder and disguised either in her normal food or in something like a teaspoon of yoghurt or canned kitten food? I know she gets more stressed because of having to give her pills but because she's getting her meds, she will become calmer and this effect should reduce over time. As a last resort, you could try Valium in the short term. Speak to your vet about these medications and see if they'd be appropriate for Gracie.
Thank you for this post. It helps knowing I'm not alone. I've already tried the kitty version of Prosac, and it didnt help at all. As for tricking her into taking any medicine ... it aint gonna happen! She's got radar when it comes to that. But I will ask my vet about the Ovarid.


Quote:
Despite her nervous disorder, she sounds like a lovely cat.
Thank you, she really is. She is so precious, and she's beautiful too.



Quote:
Also, is she spayed? If not, getting her spayed may reduce her symptoms significantly.
Yes, she is spayed. She was spayed at 5 months old. (The sugery on her bladder must have been at 6 to 6-1/2 months old). Do you think the Ovarid would still help? I think it's a genitic thing because her sister (full tortie) was exhibiting the same stress the day we took Gracie home.

Thanks again
post #13 of 23
Yes, do ask about the Ovarid. My Farris was spayed and the Ovarid helped a great deal. Do you think it would be easier to mix the medicine into a milkshake-like consistency with some water and kitten food and gently give it to her in a syringe? I don't know if she'd be less stressed with that. Also, you may want to investigate meds that can be given by injection by your vet and are long acting, eg. 2-3 months so you wouldn't have to give her pills. You're right, some cats are either just born with a nervous disorder or become nervous cats very early on because of some traumatic or frightening experiences as tiny kittens.

Yes, she is beautiful! You called her a TigerTortie. Would she also be called a Torbie (Tortoiseshell-tabby mix)?
post #14 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kumbulu
Yes, she is beautiful! You called her a TigerTortie. Would she also be called a Torbie (Tortoiseshell-tabby mix)?
I would think so. I've heard it both ways. I prefer TigerTortie because it's more descriptive of her markings and because the tabby in her is dominant.


Quote:
Yes, do ask about the Ovarid. My Farris was spayed and the Ovarid helped a great deal.
That's wonderful news. I'll definitely persue that.

Quote:
Do you think it would be easier to mix the medicine into a milkshake-like consistency with some water and kitten food and gently give it to her in a syringe? I don't know if she'd be less stressed with that.
I'm afraid not. Any method that requires me restraining her in any way sends her way beyond stress into an absolutely panicked state. I might be able to fool her the first time, but after that, definitely not, and all the work I've done to help her be more comfortable in just being held would be undone.

Quote:
Also, you may want to investigate meds that can be given by injection by your vet and are long acting, eg. 2-3 months so you wouldn't have to give her pills.
Hmm, that's an interesting thought. I didnt know something like that was available. I'll look into that too. Fortunately, Gracie has an excellent doctor.


Quote:
You're right, some cats are either just born with a nervous disorder or become nervous cats very early on because of some traumatic or frightening experiences as tiny kittens
Yes, both are possible in Gracie's sake. They were rescued, so there's no telling what they were rescued from. But often, the stray cats that are having litters are having multiple litters and they're having them too young and that can all kinds of problems.

My last two cats (litter mates) died within 6 months of each other. They were only four years old. Both had genetic problems. The female's immune system turned on her own body and the male just mentally snapped. My sister has cats from the same parents (different litter) and the male exhibits many of the symptoms my male did. I'm convinced it was the combination of the very young age of the mother and the fact that she had so many litters so close together (the owners kept trying to spay her, but she'd test positive for pregnancy before they had the chance)

Thanks again for all your help.
post #15 of 23
Thread Starter 
I've been home from work the past two days, and boy what a difference in Gracie. She's so much calmer and sweeter. She's like a different cat. In fact, all the animals are happier when I stay home with them.
post #16 of 23
That's great! As you've said before, it's not an option for you to stay at home all the time but it's good news that she's mellowed. Hopefully, she'll continue to stay that way and you can reinforce the calm behaviour when you are at home.
post #17 of 23
I've never heard of Stress Disorder before. What exactly are the symptoms, and how can you diagnose it? Willow is extra spookish, and she seems stressed out all the time (and it doesn't help that Buffy always pesters her at the wrong times). I swear there's also something wrong with her feet, because she refuses to let anyone touch them (could just be shy) but the top her her toes feel "sharp" too. Poor baby...
post #18 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aussie_Dog
I've never heard of Stress Disorder before. What exactly are the symptoms, and how can you diagnose it? Willow is extra spookish, and she seems stressed out all the time (and it doesn't help that Buffy always pesters her at the wrong times). I swear there's also something wrong with her feet, because she refuses to let anyone touch them (could just be shy) but the top her her toes feel "sharp" too. Poor baby...
I dont know what she has has a name, mostly because a complete diagnosis has not been made. (The cost involved in more testing is not something I'm able to do at this time).

What the vet told me after the surgery (which he performed personally) was what was imbedded in her bladder was not a calcium stone, but some type of enzymes that her body was producing as a result of stress. (I think I have that right). It had gotten so bad that the tissue of her bladder started to disintigrate. Thankfully, the surgery was completely successful, and she's not had any further bladder problems.

Anyway, he saw her quite frequently the first 5 months I had her, and there was no organic cause of the stress (thus the ambiguous label "stress disorder"). In reality, giving it a name wouldnt really help me much since no medication we tried helped. Hopefull, Kumbulu's suggestions will prove more successful.

As for her symptoms, they were difficult to recognize at first because she was a curious, rambunctious kitten when we got her. As I said in an earlier post, the first indication it was more than that was the sheer panic she went into when I tried to hold her still enough to cut her claws the first time. I'm pretty good with handling feral cats, but I'd never seen anything like how she reacted. The older she got, instead of the jumpiness settling down as it should have with age, it only got worse.

When she is normal, she's ultra affectionate, loves to snuggle, purrs a lot, constantly kisses my face and grooms me and my husband. Alas, that is not the norm for her.

I can always tell when she's getting stressed when she looks and acts like she's contstantly being chased. She jumps at every little noise and her tail is constantly twitching. The more stressed she is, the harder it is to get any where near her. She also starts to go outside the litter box (probably for fear of being trapped) But as I've said before, the very same circumstances that stress her one minute she's perfectly fine with when she's not stressed.

I'd take your little one to the vet to rule out something organic. If it's organic, the solution could be simple and permanent. I wish Gracie's disorder was organic. Even if it were expensive to cure, at least I could have it taken care of and she wouldnt have to suffer so much.

I hope I answered your questions. If not, let me know

Good luck
post #19 of 23
some of that sounds like Willow, but not quite as bad. She freaks out alot over alot, especially over things that are hollow (her biggest fear is the metal watering can). If you touch her and she didn't hear you coming, she'll freak out. She stresses out pretty easily too, it only takes the smallest things for her to stop being affectionate. Yeah, sometimes she's affectionate. If you just woke up early in the morning, she'll be rubbing against your ankles. But then again, I swear she's just sucking up because she's hungry, lol

She often pees outside the box, and I used to be certain that she either had diabetes or a blatter infection. She only poops outside the box if she's in a room and the door is closed (I watched one time, and she went to the door, paused as if considering her problem, and she turned and went under my bed, and just a few seconds later a bad smell came up). She used to pee alot, but lately she's been doing good. I haven't had her peeing anywhere she should be, but I have been watching her alot too. If she goes into one of my many boxes (all filled with books) I start staring. If I see her start to "squaddle" which means she's about to squat, then I jump for her and take her out of the room. Then its just a matter of watching her jog for the litter box. So she uses the litter box, but she doesn't hesitate to NOT use it if even the slightest thing doesn't go her way.

I want to get her checked out at the vet, but its kind of hard to get my parents to take our pets to the vet. Luckily, I have an uncle that's a vet, and my parents are always telling me we will be going to him next year (for Jake's shots), but I hate him (he has no feeling for the animals he treats) but I think I can make an exception just this once.
post #20 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aussie_Dog
If you just woke up early in the morning, she'll be rubbing against your ankles. But then again, I swear she's just sucking up because she's hungry, lol
That's so funny, Gracie is the same way. She is the sweetest when she's falling asleep or just waking up, but if you think about it, that's because those times are when she's most relaxed.

From what you've described, she sounds very much like Gracie. All the jitteryness is due to her not being well. If she's peeing all over the house, the possibility of diabetes is definitely there. Either that, or she experiences pain when she pees, and so she keeps trying different places hoping that place wont hurt (cats associate the pain with where they go. They dont make the connection that the pain comes from them) At any rate, you really need to get her to a vet.


Quote:
I want to get her checked out at the vet, but its kind of hard to get my parents to take our pets to the vet. Luckily, I have an uncle that's a vet, and my parents are always telling me we will be going to him next year (for Jake's shots), but I hate him (he has no feeling for the animals he treats) but I think I can make an exception just this once.
Yeah, my folks were like that too. But having had several cats, you learn that some things are just plain deadly. For instance, if you have a male cat you suspect of having bladder problems, if you dont take them immedately to the vet, they can be dead in three days. I waited longer than I should have to take Gracie in (mainly because I thought she was just protesting a less than emmaculate litter box). It almost killed her. The operation was also way more than we could afford, but we have a wonderful vet and they allowed us to pay it off over time.

I sympathise with your feelings of not liking your uncle's bedside manner when it comes to the animals he treats. I've had both types of vets, and I certainly prefer the type that dotes on the animals, but it's very possible that the fact that he doesnt get emotionally involved with the animals he treats helps him to be an excellent, focused vet. The only problem is you may not have the luxury of the time to wait until you visit him.

Have you talked to him? Does he know about her behavior and symptoms? If not you should at least talk to him. If you arent comfortable doing that, call a local vet, but get her some help.

Like I said, in my Gracie's case, her stress was causing a chemical reaction that was disintigrating her bladder. Had I not taken her to the vet, she would have died.

Quote:
So she uses the litter box, but she doesn't hesitate to NOT use it if even the slightest thing doesn't go her way.
I'm not sure what you mean by "if things dont go her way". Might be that she cant hold it any more (or at least it may feel like she cant wait).

Having said all that, I'd suggest something that might aleviate some of her stress. It's a liquid that you put into her water called "Rescue Remedy" and it should run about $10 for a bottle. I've used it and it does take some of the edge off Gracie's stress.
post #21 of 23
Thread Starter 
My heart is crushed to have to ask this, but is there anyone in the Milwaukee, WI area that would be willing to adopt my Gracie? Her physical problems are not going to get better in our home, and we just not able to give her what she needs anymore.

This precious, beautiful, loving cat needs a loving, quiet home (no kids, no dogs, no cats), lots of patience and TLC. She will need lots of patient care during the transition, but she will be more than worth it.



Please respond ASAP, we need to do something very soon.

Thanks
post #22 of 23
Maybe try adding a post in the SOS forum.
post #23 of 23
Thread Starter 
Yes, I've done that too. I just wanted to post it here for those who have followed this thread.

Thanks
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