Just like humans, cats can experience trauma. This can cause a cat owner and his cat a lot of problems. Some traumatic experiences, such as abuse, cat-fights, being attacked, or similar stressful situations, may cause a cat to have emotional trauma, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety disorders, and even depression.
It might seem easier to help humans who are dealing with this problem as they can talk about it, explain the situation, and find strategies to work through it. While cats can’t talk, they can still express their feelings through their body language and behavior.
This is why it’s always important to monitor your cat’s behavior in order to understand what she’s trying to tell you. If you suspect that your cat is dealing with trauma, read the article and learn all about the 15 traumatized cat symptoms that every pet parent should know!
Here Are 15 Traumatized Cat Symptoms That You Should Know
Let’s take a look at the 15 most common traumatized cat symptoms that will help you recognize that your cat is dealing with trauma. Of course, if you notice some of these symptoms, it’s very important that you contact your veterinarian and seek professional help and advice.
1. Signs Of Aggressive Behavior
Aggressive behavior is one of the main traumatized cat symptoms. This is common behavior for cats that have lived in an abusive environment. They may show signs of aggression as a way to defend themselves from other animals or even humans.
This behavior may also occur in cats who didn’t have proper socialization as kittens. So, even if your environment is safe for them, they may be aggressive sometimes because they aren’t used to interacting with humans or other animals.
If there are spayed cats in your neighborhood making loud noises, this may trigger your cat’s aggression even more.
2. My Cat Trembles Most Of The Time
It’s not very common to see a cat trembling most of the time. Cats are usually calm, independent pets who are confident that they will be able to defend themselves. However, that doesn’t mean that they can’t be afraid of something.
You may notice your cat tremble when she’s in a place that reminds her of a traumatic time. So loud noises, such as car traffic for example, may cause trembling if your cat has been involved in a car accident or similar traumatic event in the past.
The important thing to do is to find out what causes your cat to tremble and try to avoid the triggers. For example, you can put her in a more secure environment, far from loud noises which won’t remind her of the traumatic experience. If that doesn’t help, then you should consult with an expert.
3. Fear Of Being Alone
If you notice excessive vocalization or see that your cat gets nervous when you’re leaving her, it means that she suffers from separation anxiety.
Maybe in the past, she was often left alone for a long period of time without food or water which led to trauma. Or perhaps she was frightened by thunder or something similar, and there was no one there to reassure her.
However, there are a few things you can do to prevent this. First, only leave your cat for longer periods when it’s really necessary. Then, make sure you leave your cat in a quiet, safe space. Also, you can provide her with lots of interesting toys that will occupy her attention.
You can also add cat trees and cat beds in the room, so that she has a warm and comfortable place to sleep. Most importantly, provide your cat with enough food and water, as well as a clean litter box, until you come back. This might help your cat stay calm until you get back home.
4. Sudden Changes In Temperament
A sudden behavioral change is one of the traumatized cat symptoms that needs to be taken seriously. If your cat comes to you, seeking your attention, and you start petting her and then she suddenly reacts aggressively, something isn’t quite right.
So, one moment she’s a lovely, friendly cat and the next she’s attacking you. There’s no need for an aggressive reaction if she’s the one that came to you first. This usually means that your cat is suffering from some kind of trauma.
A cat may react this way because she was traumatized in the past by excessive, hard petting, or even hitting. In any case, you should consult with a vet or animal behaviorist.
5. Loss Of Appetite
Loss of appetite can be a consequence of either stress or mental health difficulties caused by a traumatic experience. Of course, you should notice when your cat stops eating properly in order to prevent weight loss that can lead to serious health issues.
When stressed, cats can stop eating their usual food, and eat only treats that will help them survive. However, there’s also a chance your cat will stop eating at all and starve herself to death. Just as a cat stops eating, it may stop drinking water as well.
However, there are a few things you can do to make your cat eat again:
• Serve your cat warm, delicious, and nutrient-rich food.
• You can mix cat food with different supplements in order to reduce stress.
• Make sure that her water is always fresh and clean.
6. Weight Loss
Loss of weight is another one of the traumatic cat symptoms that usually follows after the loss of appetite. So, you should take action quickly when your cat stops eating as usual to prevent her from losing weight.
Weight loss can be extremely dangerous for your feline as it can lead to serious diseases including problems with the liver.
7. No Interest In Play
If you notice that your cat isn’t as playful as usual and that she doesn’t want to interact with you as often as before, then it might be time to think about it seriously.
Pay attention to your cat’s overall behavior, and if you notice any other changes, it means that it’s time to react!
However, before noticing other changes, you can try to attract your cat’s attention by providing her with interesting toys, or try to spend more time with her. If that doesn’t help, then maybe you should get advice from an expert.
8. Need For An Affection
A cat’s trauma may have several possible outcomes. We have already discussed a lack of interest in play. However, another possible outcome is that your cat will be demanding and needy for your affection.
They can become clingy, not leaving your side, and this could mean that your furry friend is afraid of experiencing the traumatic event again, and she’s coming to you for protection.
Of course, if you notice this behavior, you shouldn’t neglect it. It’s important that your cat feels safe around you and secure in her environment. Try reassuring her by petting or giving her treats!
9. Excessive Meowing
Traumatic cat symptoms also include excessive and loud meowing. This can mean many things. It can signal that your cat doesn’t feel safe in the environment, or she’s searching for you.
If she’s in a new environment, she may be meowing because she’s not familiar with the place, or other family members, and she feels she may be in danger.
Ensure that you always react when you hear this particular meowing. Remember to gently help her adapt to the new environment if you move houses or have any similar upheaval.
10. Increased Escaping
Traumatized cats are prone to try to escape, and that’s something you should really keep in mind! They want to escape in order to avoid traumatic events from happening again.
That may mean that your cat won’t be content to just escape to the backyard. She may go as far as possible to keep herself safe. Provide a safe, secure place where your cat can hide away when they want to.
11. Increased Hiding
Besides escaping, a traumatized cat may also like to hide. Maybe she’s hiding from you or other unknown people, such as guests, or other things she considers potential threats.
It could be that she has sensed danger and her natural instinct tells her to hide and protect herself. We may not always be able to sense the same things that our pets can sense. For example, my cat was in her cat bed and suddenly started to run around the house like crazy. After a few minutes she hid somewhere, but I couldn’t find her, and soon afterwards, an earthquake started.
The reason for that reaction is that she was stressed and wanting to protect herself. Luckily, I didn’t know what got into her otherwise I would have started to panic too!
12. Destructive Behavior Problems
If you think that only a dog can destroy your house, then you’re wrong! Destructive behavior problems are one of the main traumatized cat symptoms. This may include things like:
• Scratching the furniture
• Destroying curtains
• Eating plants
• Digging in the plants or litter box
It’s most likely that a cat will show this behavior due to separation anxiety. When you leave her all alone she doesn’t know when you will return. That may be her biggest fear, especially if she has been abandoned in the past and is understandably afraid of experiencing that again.
Make sure you provide your cat with toys and scratching posts that will occupy her attention while you are gone. Also, if your cat is friendly, you could try getting another pet to keep her company!
13. Inappropriate Urination And Defecation
Inappropriate urination and defecation may also be a sign of trauma. There are cases when a cat uses the litter box properly, but then suddenly stops.
It may be that your cat once had a bad experience while using the litter tray, and now she’s avoiding the litter box in order to avoid a repeat of the traumatic experience.
It isn’t surprising that a traumatized cat may start urinating around your house. There’s also a clear reason for that; while urinating, your cat releases pheromones which she uses to mark her territory. It simply makes her feel safer and gives a warning to other cats that this is her zone!
14. Sleeping Disturbance
A sleeping disturbance is one of the most common symptoms of PTSD in a cat.
Sleep disturbance means that your cat can’t sleep well, or sleep at all, because she’s traumatized, thinking about the event that caused the trauma. She may be unable to relax, as she is always ready to run away or defend herself.
That’s not good, of course. Always ensure that there aren’t other health issues affecting your cat’s ability to sleep before assuming it is trauma-related.
Always put your cat in a quiet and safe environment and provide her with familiar items and a warm comfortable bed in order to calm her down and promote sleep. If things get worse, then you should talk to an expert.
Monitor your cat’s body language so that you can react quickly if you notice anything suspicious that might signal poor health.
15. Avoiding Things Associated With Traumatic Events
Cats who experience trauma are more likely to avoid things, places, or even people that caused the trauma. In this way, they’re protecting themselves and avoiding potential danger.
For example, we discussed litter box problems, so a cat may avoid the litter box in order to escape a possible trauma.
Also if a cat was ever near a car accident, it’s most likely she’ll avoid cars. It’s the same with people, a cat will avoid people that harmed her, or she won’t interact with unknown people at all.
Possible Causes Of Traumatized Cats
Possible causes of traumatized cats involve bad events that they once experienced. Some of them are:
• Fighting with another cat or other animal
• Being trapped or escaping a trap
• Car accidents
• Bad experience with a veterinarian
• Injury and illness
How To Deal With Post Traumatic Stress Disorder In Cats?
In order to reduce trauma responses in cats, you can take better care of your cat by calming her and providing her with a safe space. If a veterinarian agrees, you can also give your cat supplements or medications, or use pheromone or essential oil diffusers that will help your cat reduce stress.
Another thing you can do for your cat is to provide her with perches where she can enjoy the sun. It’s also very important to give your cat cuddles anytime you can. Always monitor your cat’s behavior in order to react in a timely manner to any problems and spot any possible health issues.
So, here are some of the best methods for dealing with PTSD:
This method is one of the key techniques used by an animal behaviorist. The process of desensitization involves your cat facing the stressors that caused the trauma. This method requires careful exposure to be carried out in a calm place. Your cat’s fear will reduce after some time, she will realize that there are no bad consequences.
This process is also helpful if you want your cat to stop being afraid of something. It also involves facing your cat with things that caused the trauma, but this time you need to reward your cat every time she faces her trauma successfully. Eventually, the cat will understand it as something positive.
Cat’s Recovery Process After Trauma
A cat’s recovery process after trauma depends on both you and your cat and also on the type of the trauma they have experienced. If it wasn’t an extremely bad experience, your cat may easily recover. However, when we’re talking about serious trauma, it will take more time and patience for your cat to recover.
Of course, your feline can’t recover fully by herself. She needs your help and sometimes you’ll also need an expert to help you with it.
Can A Cat Forget About Trauma?
Cats will never forget about the traumatic experience unless you work hard to help your feline recover!
Do Cats Remember Traumatic Events?
Yes, cats can remember traumatic events. They may become a part of their long-term memory, and that is why they may avoid people, things or places which remind them of the traumatic experience.
How Long Does A Cat Trauma Last?
It all depends on the cat and how bad the experience was. Usually, if the experience wasn’t so bad, the trauma may only last a few weeks. In worse cases, it may last longer.
How Long Do Cats Remember Trauma?
Cats may remember trauma for many years. Sometimes, they may stop showing the symptoms of the trauma, but that doesn’t mean they have forgotten all about it. You can try using behavioral therapy in order to make your cat forget about the trauma earlier.
All In All
So, in this article, you can find 15 of the most common traumatized cat symptoms. Every cat owner should know what they are and what causes them in order to prevent serious mental conditions in your cat.
Besides that, there are several methods that you can use in order to help your furry friend to deal with trauma.
A cat’s recovery process after trauma may be complicated and long if you don’t help your feline. You can always ask for advice from your vet or other experts, such as animal behaviorists.
Ensure you react on time if you notice any of these symptoms, because your cat friend is so important to you and nobody wants their pet to suffer from fear or anxiety.