Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:
I live in a rural area where my cats would openly roam around and enjoy themselves together. One day, one of my cats (Sydney) didn’t come home. Weeks turned into months. We were devastated and had given up trying to find him after searching for so long. Last night, we got a phone call from the vet saying that they had him. We were so relieved and excited! It turned out that someone had taken him in. They had been treating him as though he was a girl cat, changing his name and overall traumatizing my poor cat! When they took him to the vet to get microchipped, the vet found a microchip that was registered to us and called us right away. We came to get him, but he just isn’t the same cat. The whole family is heartbroken and we don’t know what to do. Please help!
Thomas: Well, Emily, poor Sydney has definitely been traumatized by his adventure.
Bella: But being treated as a girl didn’t have anything to do with that trauma.
Thomas: We cats don’t have the same hangups about sex and gender as you humans do. We honestly don’t care whether you call us by a boy or girl name as long as you treat us well!
Bella: That said, the best cure for Sydney’s traumatic experience is time and patience.
Thomas: You can buy Feliway diffusers to help ease his stress.
Bella: We don’t know how available Feliway is where you live (from your letter, we surmise you’re from outside the U.S.), but they are often available through online shops as well as at pet stores and vets’ offices.
Thomas: If he’s hiding a lot, try boosting his confidence with some interactive play. A lot of cats can come out of their shells once they start doing some good old-fashioned hunting play.
Tara: I might come out of hiding if Mama plays with me.
Bella: Oh, we almost forgot: We’ve got a surprise kitty! Everybody, meet Tara. She’s shy and hiding, too, so she understands what Sydney is going through.
Thomas: Sometimes Tara gets growly, and that makes me growly. As much as I hate to admit it, we’ve even had a couple of scuffles.
Tara: I’m sorry, I can’t help it.
Bella: It’s okay. I’m kind of scared of you, though.
Tara: You? Scared of me? Oh, my!
Thomas: In any case, Emily — to get your Sydney re-acclimated to your house, try starting him out in one room so he can get used to his “new” home. Use the Feliway diffuser in that room, and engage in a few episodes of gentle interactive play every day.
Bella: What you’re going to want to do is try to coax him out from wherever he’s hiding, so don’t be too vigorous with the toy. Just wiggle it around a little bit and see if you can catch his interest.
Thomas: Make sure everyone in your family speaks to Sydney quietly and lets him approach them on his own time. Like we said, the best cure for a traumatized cat is time and patience.
Bella: We’d also recommend that you talk to your vet and see if he or she has any recommendations for helping Sydney get used to being back home again.
Thomas: And the moral of this story is, Emily would never have found her cat again if he hadn’t been microchipped.
Bella: Tara doesn’t have a microchip, so Mama and the group of people that rescued her had no way to trace her back to the person she lived with before.
Thomas: The people who found Tara did everything they could to locate an owner, but nobody came forward.
Bella: Anyway, Emily — like we said, Feliway will be a big help, as will confidence-boosting play, time and patience.
Thomas: What about you other readers? Do you have any tips to help Emily help Sydney recover from his ordeal? Please share them in the comments if you do.
Bella: And please give Tara a warm welcome, too.
Hi Tara! I bet that you’re every bit as wonderful as Bella and Thomas!
I wonder when Tara will be introduced to us with a nice picture ? Can’t wait to see the newest furry member of the family.
Poor little guy…
Personally, I’d feliway spray and give him his own safe room, and let him stay there for a bit while he gains his bearings with a piece of cloth with your smells in his sleeping basket, some toys and a scratching post. Just for a couple of days, or until you see the tail up when you walk in and he greets you. Then open the door, let him explore the rest of the house again. Once he is fully comfortable again, only then, open the door again for him to explore his outdoor territory. He should bounce right back ;)
I’d also wait with a vet visit (unless you’re worried about something) for about a week though, so he has a chance to catch up with his adventure and process it a bit. Vet visits tend to be stressful and his adventure already put him through the ringer.
Did you have a chance to talk to the people that rescued him? Maybe they can clue you in on what he was like during their time with him and how he was behaving. Sad to say but maybe he grew fond of them and feels that he is now in a strange home. I know cats can do that. I had an outside cat that I deeply loved and I even let him stay inside. But one day he didn’t come home. An add in the paper found him just down the road with an older couple who had no other cats (I had a few). They kept bringing him back and he kept leaving so eventually I let him go to them and just visited him once I a while. In time he should come around but if he goes out again I would not be surprised if he doesn’t come home. Don’t feel bad about it, cats pick us, we don’t always pick them. Or maybe he was forced to stay inside and feels odd about another place. Give him time and lots of love. Good luck.