Feline Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Did you know that animals can develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder? 

I’ve been a cat mom since 1990, & was oblivious to this fact until today.  My littlest guy who is around 7 months old, Punkin, suddenly attacked my dog, Dixie this morning after she accidentally startled him.  Thankfully, she is fine- his claws weren’t out.  He’s never done this before, & the whole incident upset him even more than her.  He was immediately sorry, which showed me the attack wasn’t meant to be vicious.  It all was very strange, & I wondered if it was possible he had a flashback.  A little searching online showed me there is such a thing as feline PTSD. 

I met Punkin at around 3 months old last April 23.  He showed up in a local lady’s yard, meowing loudly, looking for help.  I have no clue what happened in his life before he showed up in her yard, but I do know something unpleasant & involving a dog happened.  He’s been leery of Dixie from day one, in spite of her giving him her favorite toy upon meeting him.  Until today, I had no idea just how bad it was though.  I saw some odd behavior but for some reason didn’t think about PTSD.

Cats with FPTSD share many symptoms with their human counterparts such as an exaggerated startled response, hyper-vigilance, nightmares, a fear of being abandoned & depression.  Factors that can cause FPTSD are accidents, abuse (either witnessing abuse or being abused), being in a life threatening situation, abandonment or living in a shelter.  If your pet shows these symptoms, he or she may have PTSD.  It is usually diagnosed in dogs in the military or who work with the police, but it happens in other animals as well who haven’t seen military or police duty.

Also like their human counterparts, their symptoms can be managed, but not cured.  Keeping a peaceful atmosphere in your home, avoiding loud noises & creating a safe place with toys & something that smells like you are said to help.

As for my little man?  As soon as I finished reading, I picked him up & told him I understood, I love him, & that he’s safe here.  I also told him Dixie is no danger- she’s a wonderful dog.  I put him on my bed about 3′ from her.  He looked sheepishly at her, & laid down about 1′ from her, which is his norm.  I also told Dixie to please, try not to startle him, or he could attack again.  Hopefully all will be fine now…we shall see! 

It’s interesting though- things make sense now.  Punkin hates closed doors, or being left alone (even if only for 20 minutes to take a shower).  He’s very clingy with me.  We clicked right away- we just get each other so very well.  And, Zippy adopted him immediately & became an awesome daddy/protector/best friend. 

Here’s Punkin, snuggled up to his big buddy, Zippy.  🙂

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Filed under Animals, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Mental Health

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