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Cat Amnesia or other trauma?

post #1 of 2
Thread Starter 
[b]I NEED YOUR HELP!!! This is kind of long, but a really complicated situation: Help with my FOUND cat! Our sweet tabby (MISCHIEF) disappeared two weeks ago and after much searching we found him! Yay! We were so happy. He has unusual markings, may be part Bengal, and we were sure it was him. All the neighbors said it wasn't theirs and he came to our 15 year old son. Something is wrong though.
I feel (and so does the whole family) that he is definitely our cat. We've had him for 5 years. He was our 4th cat. He tolerated everyone who was here before him, but no cats that came after him. Here's what's happened the past coupld of years: 1) We got him a companion more his age 3 years ago (Kira, a tortie) since our other cats were all older. He hated her from the start, but she was slightly disabled and I feared no one else would want her. So we toughed it out knowing that "kids sometimes don't get along so well". He was somewhat disgruntled after that. He was kind of mad at me (like he knew "I" brought her home). He wasn't as snuggly and wouldn't let me kiss him much after that. About 22 months ago we relocated to the Sierra foothills. Things seemed fine except he never started getting long with Kira. I can't blame him. She constantly attacks him and anyone else that crosses her path. She also bites us after two seconds of petting if she doesn't feel like having attention. About 11 montha gao his other buddy in the household died. About 10 months ago the female "head cat" died. Since then the little Kira seems bent on ruling the house. Our oldest boy (Dusty) is very passive and never challenges anyone about anything. I think her attacking has increased. Mischief--the one who was missing--is sick of it. I didn't know what to do. His other buddy in the house died shortly before the dominant female. THEN, we were down to 4 cats when a very sweet young female (April) popped out of a dumpster I was walking by. She has turned out to be one of the two most affectionate cats I have ever had. She was comfortable immediately, and Mischief liked her, but unfortunately she seemed to learn from grouchy girl and was not nice to him, but didn't take him on like the Kira did.The days before he disappeared, a couple of things were going on: 1) We were getting ready for a city-wide garage sale and moving a lot of things around (tons of increased traffic and people in our town of only 500), 2) The grouchy girl (Kira) really laid into him 2-3 days before he disappeared, and 3) The newest arrival arrived pregnant and had babies the day before he left.
So, he had reason to be upset. It was like he had the final straw. When I saw him leaving he was running from me--avoiding kisses I guess. There was something about how he walked out of the driveway that bothered me. It wouldn't be totally unusual for him to be gone overnight, but that stretched into 2 or 3 days and we got worried. We walked the streets and put up signs & resistered with the humane society. We got a call that someone had possibly seen him (our missing posters had a color photo). We jumped up and went walking. It was just before dark. We called and called. As we were walking by a pickup truck with church pews stacked in the back I looked to my side and there he was (at least it looked like him), but he had a freaked out look in his eyes. He had been gone almost two weeks. I grabbed him, but he got away. We did more and more walking the streets. This past Friday night, my son spotted him and since he often slept with our son, I had him approach him talking to him. He was able to get him. I held on for dear life. He was starting to struggle and a neighbor came out and loaned us a carrier. He bit me (never before)trying to get away. I wouldn't let go and we got him into the carrier. Everyone agreed that he wasn't the two known tabbies in the area. If he was a neutered male I felt sure he was ours. We took him to the vet the next morning. After examining the photos in the scrpabook, we all thought the markings looked the same. A couple of neighbors said, "How can you be unsure if he's your cat?". I would have said the same thing, but I felt in my heart, denial aside, that he really was ours.
He was best freinds with the dog. He hissed and spit at the dog through the cage when we walked in the house. When I told my friend she thought it was strange that we had doubts too. I said, "Okay, thinking in "cat-years", lets say your 7 year old son had been gone for a year. Lets say you got him back but he seemed freaked out, you looked at him and knew it was him, but he wasn't comfortable with his surroundings and he had picked up a few strange habits. Wouldn't you figure he had just been through some horrible trauma?" That's how I feel about our cat. We have had him in my son's room for two days now, letting him feel secure. I have contacted the cat rescue organization where the tortie came from (3 hours drive) and they will take her back and place her in a ONE cat household with an owner who doesn't need a lot of attention from their cat. They are a no kill shelter, so I am not worried about her. I will miss her, but she's not happy here and if we have any hope of Mischief getting back to normal, she has to go. I CANNOT part with the one who just had the kittens, although I will find the kittens good homes instead of keeping one or two. We will have the new one, a 7 year old I LITERALLY inherited last year (oh yeh, that was another change) and my old guy (a 15 year old snowshoe siamese--Mr. easy going).
I would bet my car that this is our cat. HAS ANYONE HEARD OF A CAT BEING SO TRAUMITIZED THAT IT COMPLETELY CHANGED THE CAT'S PSYCHE???? I did some reading and one thing to check was a reaction to feline leukemia. It was unlikely that he had picked it up this past year since he was vaccinated, but we checked and it was negative. The other possibility was HYPERthyroid, which my vet suggested waiting to observe his eating and drinking habits over the next two weeks. It really seems to me that he was either tortured or the city-wide garage sale freaked him out with lots of traffic, and/or dodged cats and dogs he didn't know for two weeks since he gets overwhelmed easily.
post #2 of 2
Lorie, you will never know what hapened to Mischief during the time he was missing, though I really don't think he would have been tortured. Instead, he's been fending for himself in a loud, scary, bustling town he's not familiar with. No wonder he's frightend and upset. You've done the right thing with him. Keep him in a quiet, dark room with some classical music playing really softly. He'll need time to re-adjust and get his bearings again. Make sure there is somewhere in the room he can retreat to, like a 'cave' made from a box put on it's side, lined with soft bedding and a towel draped over the top so there's just enough room for him to get in and out. If you and others visit him in the room, speak softly to him, don't push contact and just sit with him. You can even softly read to him or recite a poem. What this does is instill confidence in him that you aren't a threat and he can trust you. He may take up to a couple of weeks to calm down. Good luck with him.
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