May 2009 Issue

Cats and Extreme Stress

Moving, living in a shelter environment and other changes can seriously traumatize a cat. Here's some calming help.

Two years ago, Alex McCarthy adopted a lively, affectionate kitten from a shelter in New York City. Alex, her cat Kit and two roommates lived harmoniously in a tiny New York apartment. Then Alex decided to move with Kit to an apartment of her own. "The day the movers came, Kit was terrified," says Alex. Once they were settled in the new apartment, Kit was never the same. She would only allow Alex to go near or touch her. When visitors came, she would run up and sniff them, then hiss. If they attempted to pet her, she would lash out at them with her paws. Sometimes, she even scratched them. Now itís people who are terrified of Kit. What happened to the sweet kitten? She may be suffering from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which can occur after a very stressful or frightening event ó just as it can with humans.

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