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Abuse question

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
What are signs that a cat may have been abused in the past? I adopted Odo in June, and he seem so skittish and loving, that I wonder about his past. Odo is between 10 and 12 years old (I say 11 for simplicity). He was brought in to a high kill shelter and later transferred to a no kill shelter after a few weeks. He was very stressed in the shelter, and he ended up with mild anemia. That has since resolved, and he's gained back the weight he lost (plus a little more perhaps).

Most of the time, he seems happy around me, but there are little things that make me wonder if he was abused. He runs and hides in his "safe room" (where he stayed when I first brought him home) everytime I or anyone else comes in the front door. He also seems scared when anyone initially picks him up or puts him on their lap. I have to coax him out of his hiding spots. While he was eating this morning, I walked near him to pick up a paper bag and he hid in the bookcase next to his food dish.

He also talks constantly. Sometimes it sounds like he is calling or searching for someone or something. I try to call out to him sometimes to reassure him as to my location, but it's hard to do that when I'm sleeping. I've tried ignoring him, but he just seems more and more desperate. His thyroid levels are very normal, so it isn't thyroid-related. He does have diminished sight in one eye, plus he's cross-eyed, so could it just be related to not seeing very well? If he was abused, what is the best way to make him feel more at ease?
post #2 of 13
I hope your kitty was not abused when he was younger (it happens so often )

But if he was, he will appreciate a good schedule and soft talking. If you are very patient with him he may come around a little bit more....but he could also just be the shy type.
post #3 of 13
He may just be a skittish cat to begin with or was poorly socialized as a kitten. My girl Trouble is a very skittish cat and I have had her since she was a kitten, there are only certain rooms and places we are allowed to pet her (my bed at night being her favorite, she will hardly let me get to sleep) otherwise she runs when we approach her.
post #4 of 13
Originally Posted by Petnurse2265
He may just be a skittish cat to begin with or was poorly socialized as a kitten.
Yes- I think this is far more likely than abuse.

But in either case the approach would be the same- don't force attention on him, and don't be too excitable or noisy youself. Just "be" with him. Sit in the floor in the same room and read, or watch TV. Have yummy treats in your pocket and whenever he approaches set a treat down at armslength away- don't ask him to take it from you, just put it on the floor. In time he will get more and more comfotable around you.
And needless to say always be kind and calm and don't push him any faster than he is willing to progress.

Feliway spray might be something to consider. It is a pheronome based spray or "plug in" diffuser that helps cats feel less stressed, and many people have had good luck using it.
post #5 of 13
Thread Starter 
He does well with me most of the time, so I'm not overly concerned. He seeks out attention and sits on my lap. It's just those times when he flinches as I come near him that make me wonder. He was definitely someone's cat before he ended up at the shelter. He likes to be petted and rubbed and played with. There's just something in his movements (the way he darts away for no apparent reason) and in his eyes (he often looks worried) at times that makes me wonder whether someone hurt him in the past. It's not all the time, and he spends lots of time on my lap or chasing my other cat, but it's just enough to make me wonder.
post #6 of 13
he sounds just like the kitty i got 9 months ago now.
she does much the same type of things. It took her almost 2 weeks to come out of hiding. She still wants nothing to do with other people.
However with me, she is just fine.. come and sits next to me when i am watching TV or playing on the computer(she does not seem to like sitting on my lap) she will most of the time, sleep right next to me.

Once i hit her by mistake, she jumped at the some time i went to pick something up, and i hit her, she went and hide for couple of hours,
later she was fine. But if anyone else goes to touch her, she with do the side step thing. when i had people in the house putting in windows she was so scared that she was sitting in my lap shaking, & crying.

i hope with time she will get over it all, if not, who cares she is still my cat
post #7 of 13
Originally Posted by cloud_shade
There's just something in his movements (the way he darts away for no apparent reason) and in his eyes (he often looks worried) at times that makes me wonder whether someone hurt him in the past. It's not all the time, and he spends lots of time on my lap or chasing my other cat, but it's just enough to make me wonder.
Here's my opinion, and it's just mine- I don't really mean anything by it and don't mean to sound harsh.

I've been a groomer for 34 years, and I can't tell you the number of owners who bring in new pets and say they were "abused" because they act shy, or skittish. Some owners (I'm not saying you!) use this statement to excuse an animal from being judged as having a poor temperament, or not being socialized properly, or sometimes just being ill behaved. It is somehow an attempt to rationalize behavior they don't understand. It's an understandable misinterpretation of behaviors- it's just usually not true.

99 times out of 100 the pet just hasn't been raised in the best environment, and if you couple that with an over reactive temperament, or inherited shyness you can get some fairly wacky animals. And cats are weird enough even with perfect temperaments and impeccable rearing.

And it just doesn't matter anyway- it wouldn't change the way you treat him, or love him, or handle him- the approaches would be the same.

I would urge you to treat this cat as a normal, happy cat. He's an older guy, and has had a life long enough that he may have run into some less than perfect situations, sure. But transitions are more difficult for an older cat to begin with and he has been through a rough few months here.
Try and stop worrying so much about his past and concentrate on his future. There had to be a reason you chose him to start with, so let's look on the sunny side and celebrate the good things about him. Think positive thoughts when you are observing his behavior, not negative ones.

I truly applaud you for taking an older cat in- it is a great thing you have done. I am sure you will make his next years 100 times better than his last few, that's for sure. Two months is a really short transition period, so just relax and enjoy him.
post #8 of 13
Thread Starter 
I will continue to love and cherish Odo as I did my previous old boy, Spot. I may be just comparing Odo's behavior to Spot's, and that's why I think there is something wrong--I found Spot wandering, half starved, and hyperthyroid, and he was immediately loving, trusting, and relaxed. Odo is just a different cat, and I have to keep that in mind instead of assuming the worst in his previous owners.

Any thoughts on the meowing? I don't like to close my doors, as my other cat should be able to move freely from my bedroom to the litterbox to the food and water dishes. I would hate to have to shut Odo in a room by himself (especially since I don't think it would help, and that room shares a wall with my neighbors). I wish I spoke more "Cat" so that I could figure out what it is he wants when he hollers like that.

I should add that I don't sleep normal human hours. I work swing shift most of the time, so I usually don't go to bed until 4 am. Odo meows frequently throughout the night, though he seems to get louder the longer I've been asleep (though that could just be my perception). I always make sure they have food before I go to bed, but he often finishes it before I wake up (even when I put down extra food!).
post #9 of 13
I'm wondering this about my Molly, too. We found her in November of last year, when she was around 5 or 6 months old (she's at least a year old now). She's very mellow, docile, gentle, sweet, loving, etc. She has all the signs of being well-socialized (she was a little nervous around my dog at first, since no 6 pound animal is going to voluntarily befriend a 55 pound beast, but she's a quick learner and now she and Jake are great friends). The only weird thing is that she runs from people, and I don't think it's from play. If you walk towards her, she runs away. If you walk sideways towards her, she'll stay a little longer, but if you continue to head towards her, she'll run away. When you walk away instead of continuing to head towards her, she sees it wasn't your intention to go towards her. And once I swung a broom upwards (trying to manouver it around) and Molly went flying out of the room. And she's the most afraid of my dad, who has a tendency to "boom" around the house (heavy foot falls). So I think she might have been hit by whoever originally owned her, but I'm not sure if it was BAD abuse (like beatings) or the lesser kind of abuse (smacks when the cat does something "bad"). I guess I'll always wonder, there's no way to find out who originally owned her (we found her stuck in a tree and brought her home, put up posters, but received not a single phone call)
post #10 of 13
It is normal that cats hide or fear strangers, some dogs do that too. My cat tuty doesnt feel comfort with strangers at first esp. if i'm not around, but after a while he is ok and let them touch him.

post #11 of 13
I've had Daisy since she was apprx. 7 wks old. She came from a close friend so I KNOW she never suffered any abuse. We have no children, so she's never been "poked" at or experienced any abuse in this house either. She has the best life a cat could ask for. But outside of my boyfriend & myself, she's not big on "people". If someone comes over, she simply goes upstairs and comes out as soon as they leave. That's just the way she is. Nothing has ever happened to her to cause this behavior. She just likes who she likes. She knows us and she trusts us. I'm not always that trusting of strangers either. So I can't say that I blame her.
post #12 of 13
As for being vocal, it is a trait of being siamese or part siamese. These cats "talk" constantly. It is part of their genetic makeup. It is just the way they are.

It doesn't mean that he is hungry, bored, lonely, scared, or fearful any more than having a longer coat does. LOL He just likes the sound of his own "meow" and this will be how he is until he crosses the rainbow bridge.

just my opinion,

post #13 of 13
Thread Starter 
He just sounds so desperate at times. My boyfriend has a loud Siamese mix, but Odo's sound is different. I am used to his normal chatter, but it's when he sounds so scared or upset that I wonder what is wrong.
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