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Very loving kitty is now scared of everyone in the house.

  1. #1

    Unhappy Very loving kitty is now scared of everyone in the house.

    My kitty is about a year and a half old, adopted off the street when she was about 6 months, was spayed when she was around 6 months, and is in good health (although a little overweight). This problem has been slowly developing over the last 2ish months. At first it started out as her being afraid of everyone, my husband and I, along with our cousin who is technically her owner, and we're all around 20. She wouldn't come out from under the bed (her safe spot). But it got better, to where she started coming out and seeking out my husband and I, more than her owner. She would come up to us, love us, non-stop purring and rubbing up against our legs and laying by us 24/7.

    Then she started developing a bit of a fear, or more of a dislike I guess, of her owner, and to be honest he is not a good animal guy. My husband and I have a theory that he kicks her around a little because she is extremely afraid of feet, and wasn't when we first met her. We also hear him yelling at her and doing the "psssst" noise that scares cats. But then about 2 months ago she started to take a liking to him again and around that same time became extremely afraid of my husband. She didn't mind me, she did the whole "whatever I'm going to lay here and if you pet me feel free to" thing that cats do. But if she was in the same room as my husband and I, and he even so much as squeaks the chair he's sitting in, she would take off running to her safe place under the bed and wouldn't come out for a while. Then when she did, she'd peek around the corner of the bedroom door to make sure that he either isn't paying attention to her or he is gone. Then she comes out, but keeps a very watchful eye out for him at all times. I'm in the process of becoming a vet tech, and know animals a little better than most people, and my honest opinion is that she has an anxiety problem that is now manifesting because of triggers that he somehow triggered, so she associated only him with the bad feelings at that point and no one else.

    When she first started being scared of my husband, she wasn't scared of me at all, and was only slightly wary of her owner. But now about 2 months after this all started, its developed into her being afraid of everyone and everything. But it's not the kind of fear that makes her run to her safe spot or run away from us. Its the kind of fear that makes her crouch down in fear, tuck her tail, not move, and flinch a lot, like someone in the house is abusing her, although I know for a fact that no one is, which is what makes me think anxiety.

    My husband and I had a period where we fought a lot. A lot of yelling and throwing things on both our parts, which is why i was confused as to why she was only running away from my husband. But he knew she was scared of him and tried and tried and tried to let her know that he wasn't going to hurt her by only giving her affection, and positive feelings. We even tried ignoring her for weeks with no improvement. And now its gotten to the point where she is not only scared of him, shes scared of all of us. Well, I guess it's not so much being scared of us anymore. When she started becoming scared of everyone in the house and not just my husband, it turned more into extreme caution and wariness than fear. She has never hisses or spits at us. She just hunkers down, tucks her tail in, blinks and licks her lips a lot, and flinches like she is preparing to be hit, but she doesn't run and hide like she used to when it first started. It's gotten to the point where if shes using the liter box she'll stop mid poop and run under the bed if one of us comes within her line of vision, or if they don't get too close she'll stare into their eyes until shes done and then she'll leave the room or hide under the bed.

    Another side note that may help: my husband has bipolar I disorder, and I know cats can sense a persons feelings very well. When he was on a mood stabilizer, he and our kitty were so close that she would seek him out to lay on his computer, sit next to him in chairs, sit on his lap, beg for attention and treats, all that good stuff that's cats are supposed to do. But every since he stopped taking it was around the same time she became scared of him for no reason. Could it be his extreme fluxuations in mood triggering our cats anxiety? Our cat wont even touch the treats he gives her. He has NEVER hurt our cat. In highschool he would beat the crap out of people who abused animals. My honest guess is that she has been developing an anxiety problem, and the yelling that my husband did, along with the fact that he is the alpha male of the house and his emotions are only stable for short periods of time, just triggers the anxiety in her which would be why is she started being wary of him first, and now that the anxiety has developed enough to where she is wary of everyone in the house.

    What do you guys think? Could it be anxiety or another behavior problem, or someone causing her harm that we don't know about? And if so how can we help her out? Thank you for your advice and help in advance!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    If your cousin abused her at all in the past, whether it was physically kicking her, scaring her with hissing sounds, or yelling at her...she will always be wary, and prepare herself for more possible abuse. Sometimes, if cats are abused by a male, then they could have insecure feelings around all males. Maybe when your husband was on his meds, she sensed that he was relaxed and not a threat to her.

    Tension and anger in the household definitely affects all pets. If you two were also fighting, yelling and throwing things, it definitely made the cat fearful of everyone, and I can't blame her. I feel sorry for her that she doesn't even feel safe enough to finish going to the bathroom sometimes, that's so sad.

    The only thing I could think of that would help, is a more peaceful environment at home. If anyone like your cousin is still abusing her when nobody's around, she'll always be anxious and full of fear. Please don't take offense, but I'm just trying to be honest here. I don't think that any of the cat's behavior is unusual in that situation. I think that the behavior of those in the household needs to calm down a bit, for all concerned. If your hubby needs special meds, he should be sure to continue to take them, so he doesn't have those severe mood swings.

    My heart goes out to you and your kitty, and I hope things can mellow out at home, so she can start to feel secure and safe in her surroundings.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    I recommend you first take kitty to the vet for a complete check up. I think she has been abused in the household, but whether or not this abuse is still going on (in my opinion it most likely IS), the stress she is suffering quite possibly has made her sick, or she may have an injury from being "kicked around".

    A cat feeling ill or in pain always feels more vulnerable. In some cats this will make them more aggressive, but in others, such as this kitty, it will make them fearful. A cat who is too afraid to even have a poop...that is a very very unhappy cat.

    I don't normally advocate for rehoming except in extreme circumstances, but this to me sounds like extreme circumstances. This cat needs a safe quiet home, where no one "kicks her around". I think she needs to get away from that room-mate, and the mood swings and yelling, permanently.

    But whatever else you do, please, take her to the vet.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    I think cats can sense what people feel. So if your husband has been acting strange, I am sure it is one of the reasons that has attributed to her acting that way.

    Also, I agree with lorilou, that you should take her to the vet just to make sure no internal injuries arose from getting kicked. You'll never know, she might be in pain reason why she avoids everyone.

    If she is physically okay, there could be one more thing you could try. You could use a D.A.P diffuser and see how she reacts to that. This is a pheromone spray that usually works to lessen anxiety, stress and other nervous behaviors.

    For dogs, the D.A.P diffuser is called Adaptil. For cats, I think it's Feliway. You can also drop by their official website.

    I truly hope it helps. A friend of mine uses Adaptil and so far, it has worked for her.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    First of all, I commend you for having such compassion for the cat that lives in your house. Yes, I believe that she is really your cat, but I understand that your cousin is her legal owner. From your description of events, it seems like your cousin is still abusing her. As a result, she is afraid of males in general. I don't think that the fights between your husband and you caused her fear. My husband and I are both very hot-headed, yet deeply in love and committed to the prosperity of our family. We can be in an almost shouting match and as I look around the room all of our animals are chilling. Even our baby remains completely calm and actually nurses with no problem while we are arguing. I am sure that it is the same with your cat. She knows that you both love each other and love her, too. This is why she didn't run from you. Again, she was only running from your husband (I surmise) as a result of the abuse from your cousin.

    Regarding your husband's medication, I believe you are onto something. My cousin is schizophrenic and has been around animals his entire life. He loves animals and they love him in return. I lived with him for a time and he was very kind to my pets and his own. I did notice that when a bit of time would lag between his doses, all of the animals in the house would look at him in a funny way and avoid him. When he took his meds on schedule, they trusted him with their lives. As long as your husband stays on his meds there shouldn't be any problems.

    Here is the hard part. Clearly, your cousin is abusing your cat. As others have suggested, she cannot be around him for her own safety. If you must live with your cousin, please convince him to give her to a better home. I have done this before. At first the person is resistant, but if they have any shred of decency, they will relent. If you choose to go this route, try to find a specific home for her. This way, you know that she will be treated right and you can get updates and maybe even see her. Maybe you can give her to a relative with the understanding that it is temporary and for her safety. Once your cousin moves out, she can come back.

    Whatever you decide, she cannot remain with your cousin and he should be discouraged, kindly but firmly, from having anymore pets.

Please reply to this thread with any new information or opinions.

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