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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!

~ Emily

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 sits on top of a place where Tara is hiding

Hi, Tara. Are you in there? Can I be your friend? ~ Thomas

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.