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Help with Anxiety Problems?

This is a place to gain some understanding of cat behavior and to assist people in training their cats and dealing with common behavior problems, regardless of the method(s) used. Keep in mind that you may be receiving advice from other cat owners and lovers...not professionals. If you have a major problem, always seek the advice of a trainer or behaviorist!

  
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Jayne

Mr. Pesterlumps- Purrbucket- FluffyButt
 
 
Purred: Sun Mar 24, '13 11:15pm PST 
Jayne, my 6 year old rescue boy, has a lot of strange behaviors related to his anxiety levels that I can't seem to get a handle on.

Jayne is an FIV+ cat. Shortly after adopting him, Jayne had a classic panic attack and I rushed him to the vet. The vet did a full checkup and said he was healthy, just something related to anxiety. He has only had a few attacks since then, but I've never been able to pinpoint the cause of them. His attacks start with loud meowing, much like a cat who would be in pain. He usually finds a corner or hides in the cupboards. He goes completely limp and pants. I've found the fastest way to help him out is to wrap him up in my lap in a blanket and let him calm down. Usually within five minutes he's asleep in my lap, and then in another ten or so he wakes up and is back to his old self.

Jayne has a few behavioral issues that I'm sure are related to stress and anxiety. Jayne has a very bad habit of peeing in any of my clothing that gets left on the floor. He is otherwise a stellar litterbox user. I keep his box clean,I completely replace the litter every few days or so. So long as I keep any cloth that smells like me off the floor, he pees in his box. He does not pee in my fiance's clothing.

Jayne is also very, very nervous about people other than my fiance and I. He immediately hides under the bed or in our covers when people come over. He occasionally comes out if it's late enough at night and can be coaxed to say hi, but only on his terms and usually not for very long. He does not seem to be treat or toy driven, I've tried both to reward him for coming out, and it never seems to be enough motivation for him.

He is otherwise a lovely cat that I adore. Shortly after adoption he became a therapy animal for me, he is very good at helping me with anxiety and pain related to Fibromyalgia.

I'm just wondering what else I can try to help him with this problem. I have tried the "calming collar" with pheremones on it, but it hasn't helped and he's very good about slipping the darned thing.
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Beep

Butt-kicker of- all other cats
 
 
Purred: Mon Mar 25, '13 6:09am PST 
Wow, I have never heard had this issue, so I don't really know what I would do, other than try to keep the house a calm environment. Which I'm sure you already do. I have a cat who does not like anyone but his family and will flee the moment someone comes over, and he will stay hidden while they are here, but nothing like what you are experiencing. Poor Jayne. I have a cat that cannot be with my other two cats because she is extremely aggressive and the vet has suggested a low dose of paxil, but I'm not sure if I would consider that with your cat being FIV+. Btw, bless you for having a FIV cat, my biggest cat hugs ever to you. They need love and homes too. I'm hoping someone who has had this issue will answer your question so you can find out what worked for them. Keeping the clothes off the floor for the other cat that pees, as you know, is a must. My sister in law had a cat that did that, and would only do it with clothes, or a laundry basket of clothes, was available. I am a big believer in having extra litter boxes scattered all over my house, that way they have lot of options, it has helped with issues we have had here, and I have different types of litter in the boxes, it seems one of my cats prefers feline pine to other litters. This sounds silly, but soft music seems to really calm my cats down, they love it, especially classical music, just a thought. Other than keeping a calm household, I don't really have any ideas, so hopefully someone can chime in and offer some help for your poor scared kitty. I'm guessing that the cat was a feral and is maybe just completely freaked with indoor life and maybe it will talk a while to calm her down. My mom's dog is terrified of storms and will go bezerk if it even rains. Good luck figuring out what works.
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Jayne

Mr. Pesterlumps- Purrbucket- FluffyButt
 
 
Purred: Mon Mar 25, '13 11:22am PST 
I wonder too if he's a formal feral, but he is SUCH a sweetie with my fiance and I. Sleeps next to me at night so I can rub his belly while he falls asleep, lol. He was skinny, mite infested, and just plain gross when I first adopted him. Now he's at his goal weight and is sleek and shiny.

We live in an apartment and I try to not make loud noises or anything. He does like to sit in our window and look out, and I occasionally let him out for a few on my closed deck, but he seems to not have any interest in going back to the outdoors, lol.
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Monster

It's all about- me.
 
 
Purred: Mon Mar 25, '13 11:41am PST 
I wonder if his panic attacks are actually some form of seizure. Ask your vet about it.

As for his hiding from strangers, that's not an uncommon behavior. My 3 cats run for the basement when guests come over. My Siamese comes out in about 10 minutes because he's a very social animal, but the other two rarely do.
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Jayne

Mr. Pesterlumps- Purrbucket- FluffyButt
 
 
Purred: Tue Mar 26, '13 12:21pm PST 
When the first attack happened I asked the vet if it was a seizure, and she didn't think it was. It happens so sporadically and he recovers so quickly. He went months at one point between, then had two close together.

I am mostly concerned about his peeing in my clothing. I do use Yesterday's Mews in my boxes, which he seems to like just fine. He never poops outside of his box.
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Monster

It's all about- me.
 
 
Purred: Tue Mar 26, '13 3:22pm PST 
I would advise consulting with a cat behavior expert a la Jackson Galaxy. That's really the only way to see what might be bothering Jayne enough to make him mark your clothes.
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Jayne

Mr. Pesterlumps- Purrbucket- FluffyButt
 
 
Purred: Tue Mar 26, '13 11:12pm PST 
I will have to try that. He is a pretty happy cat otherwise. At the moment he's sleeping with his face up against our heater.
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Beep

Butt-kicker of- all other cats
 
 
Purred: Wed Mar 27, '13 4:20am PST 
I was thinking about your kitty with the anxiety this morning, as I was feeding my feral Arwen. I feed her twice a day, have been for a year now. At first, she was this cat that ran from everyone in my neighborhood, to the cat who would eat her food 10 feet away from me with one eye on me, and one eye on her food. She then moved up to eating with me sitting right next to her. At first she would come up to me but she would hiss and eat the food. Then she brushed up against my leg, but retreated if I tried to pet her. Then she let me pet her tail...but if she saw my hand coming towards her, she would retreat again. Now, one year later, she lets me pet her, scratch her chin, I can pet her while she eats. It has been a LONG time building the trust with her and she finally knows that I will not hurt her, but it took almost a year for us to get to this point. For months, it was just her brushing up against my leg and that was it. She will now brush up against my husbands leg, but she will not let him pet her. Occasionally, she will see a truck, that will terrify her...I'm assuming she thinks it is an animal control truck, and she will walk with her belly dragging the ground, run to a corner and shake all over. It is so upsetting to me when she does this. I have actually seen her do this and she gets so worked up she will pant. She will do the same thing if there is a helicopter nearby too. I can imagine if your kitty had been a feral that it will be a while before she is completely used to being indoors and to not be afraid of all the different noises she is not used to yet. My cat Taffy is terrified of the sound plastic bags make and tin foil being ripped off of the roll smile
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Jayne

Mr. Pesterlumps- Purrbucket- FluffyButt
 
 
Purred: Thu Mar 28, '13 12:14am PST 
I'm glad someone else is familiar with the panting behavior, especially as a response to fear. I do wonder about my boy because he doesn't exhibit the kinds of fear I'd expect from an undersocialized cat. On the contrary, I can pick him up like a baby and rub his belly and he'll just lay there in my arms and purr. I also can trim his nails without much more than just pitiful whining.

He does have some things he doesn't like. Men, for starters. Took him a little while to trust my fiance. Loud noises too, we had maintenance on our roof this morning and he came and hid under the bed covers with me. What's interesting is he also always perks up at the sound of the kids outside. I guess strays are just a mystery.
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Iba

World's Best- Kitten- Socializer
 
 
Purred: Thu Mar 28, '13 11:51am PST 
Speaking of your favorite cat whisperer and mine, Jackson Galaxy, he has some products with lavender and other oils that are supposed to have a calming influence. Once upon a time, Bath and Body Works also had a line of products with lavender, including a pillow spray. If you can find something like that and then use it on his favorite napping spot, you might see some results. Thundershirt is also now making their product for cats. I used to laugh, but I know several people who swear that their pets are WAY less stressed because of their Thundershirt. If the Thundershirt does work, you may try using it in conjunction with desensitizing him, i.e. while he's wearing his Thundershirt, introduce him to strange men, loud noises, etc. to see if he can deal with them better. I don't know if either of these suggestions will work, but this is what I've got off the top of my head.
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