cat crisis, what can i do to help her

by irene
(lake charles,LA)

i rescued a kitten 4 yrs ago.we named her fred. her litter was killed by dogs and not sure what happened with mom. she was fine but scared of everything that she was unsure about. she isolated herself in my daughters room majority of her 1st year. had thought that she would come around. we ended up moving to another house and that is when everything went wrong. i knew she didn't feel safe but thought in time she would. we have lived her for 3 yrs and she has peed and marked everywhere. i clean it up or throw out what she has ruined and that is a long list of stuff. she ruined a whole carpet, peed on windows, peed on doors, marked wall everywhere. this last week she has peed on two chairs that she sat on, a mattress, peed and pooped in upstairs loft, and finally peed and pooped on top of kitchen cabinets where she practically lives. i have sprayed eucaliptis around to keep her away,putting lavender around,tried changing cat boxes. now, she is in the bathroom and i gave her a sedative. this last episode with cabinet i actually smack her for the first time which i know that didn't help. i'm not giving up but i don't know what to do. i've rescued several cats but fred is difficult. i have decided to get a cat diaper and a shock mat. this is harsh but what can i do. she would be happy if she could live in a room all by herself with little interaction. i'm going to take her to the vets to have a few tests done and get something to calm her. if you have any input please let me know. this might be the very first animal that i have given up on but its been 4 yrs.

RESPONSE:

I have been fortunate with my strays. My frightened timid cat, Chanel, was hiding under the shed after something happened to her mother. Hunger eventually made her venture out and we were able to capture her. She was 6 months old but looked like 3 months old because of no food. She was segregated from the other cats for several months while her feral tendencies lessened. I would sit in the small room with her and talk to her soothingly for 15 minutes at a time, and repeated the action throughout the day.

Eventually, her trust kicked in, and although she is still timid at 8 years old now, and the slightest unfamiliar sound sends her under the sofa, she has adjusted reasonably. However, I will be moving in the spring and I fear her security of this house, knowing every nook and cranny where to hide, that I may be facing a similar dilemma such as you describe.

Cats become attached not just to their owner but also to their surrounding, their security zone. When you take that away the typical reaction is inappropriate elimination nowhere near the litter box. Diapers are a temporary solution that sometimes becomes permanent.

However, the alternative is a cat behavioral expert. I expect to go his route if a problem crops up with Chanel after my move. I researched it somewhat briefly after seeing a TV interview with a renowned vet who was an expert. Then just a couple of years ago my sister-in-law told me she had tried one of the behaviorists with amazing and successful results.

So I don't have an answer to your question that is concrete, but you might try a behaviorist as I will after my move if issues crop up with my cat. I expect my other cats won't be happy for a while, but they aren't timid and will adjust.

I wish you the best of luck in resolving this issue.

Here are the links to the two pages that may be of the most help to you:

Animal Behaviorists

Cat Diapers




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