Unusual Cat Behaviour

Animal: Cat

Pet Symptoms: We adopted our cat as a kitten from a family who were clearly not looking after him. After a while we realized he was totally deaf (he is white and ginger). At this time he was vaccinated etc and going out but would often come back injured from other cats as he clearly could not hear them hiss. After a few weeks he was hit by a car and was severely injured. We put in a lot of effort in nursing him back to health and he has a number of pins in his joints. We took the decision to keep him as a house cat. We built a secure pen with soil etc at the side of the house and we have a reasonable sized house. To be honest he never really seemed mad keen on going out again after his injury. Occasionally if a door is left open he will go out and usually comes back injured from a cat. Recently my son watched a programme about house cats and taking them out on a harness. We recently started doing this and chester seems to enjoy it. However we think it has disturbed him psychologically as he now stands at various doors howling in the middle of the night and at points during the day. We now don’t know whether to keep taking him out or to go back to just keeping him in and letting him out of the side where he actually seemed perfectly happy

Our Advice: It sounds as though he has had a pretty traumatic life thus far. If he has been in fights every time he goes outside I think you’re right to look at keeping him indoors as there is very little we can do to stop cats fighting outside of neutering. Another consideration if he has been in a lot of cat fights would be to talk to your vets about having him tested for FeLV and FIV – which are viruses cats can get through close contact and fighting respectively. They can take up to 6 months to show a positive result after infection so any recent fights would potentially not show if he had picked up one of these viruses until 6 months after the injury. Both of these conditions are relatively serious and there is little we can do to treat, but in a lot of cases they can be managed. There is a clinic test called a snap test that can be done on a small amount of blood in most vet clinics and takes about 15 minutes to run.

A basic blood test to rule out any underlying health problems would be of value too – liver and kidney health and thyroid levels would be worth checking to make sure he is otherwise healthy.

If all of these are ruled out and he is showing unusual behavioural symptoms then you could try medications or supplements to help with reducing stress, or calming and see if these stop the unusual behaviours he has started showing. Feliway is particularly good and available without prescription as a plug in vaporiser, or there are other products like kalm-aid or zylkene which help to reduce stress in cats and can help with some unusual behavioural changes. If they aren’t effective and all the health issues are ruled out, then there is also the option to ask to see a behavioural specialist. This consultation would usually be more expensive than a normal first opinion vet visit but is usually a lot longer and may take place at your home environment in some situation. Qualified veterinary behavioural specialists aren’t common, but if you go down this road it is worth talking to your vets about who they recommend or if they can find you a local qualified specialist.