Traumatized cat: symptoms and therapy

A major fright or accident can cause cat trauma. A traumatized cat shows symptoms that indicate anxiety and stress. How you as a cat owner can tell whether your pet may have had a traumatic experience and how you can help him can be found here. Dilated pupils, applied ears and a crouched posture indicate a traumatized cat - Shutterstock / Pashin Georgiy

Trauma in cats can be both physical and mental - the term "trauma" comes from the Greek and means "wound". This guide, however, focuses on the psychological trauma. A traumatized cat is initially in shock, which manifests itself in symptoms such as a rigid, crouched posture, open eyes and dilated pupils. Therapy should take place as soon as possible after the traumatic event - otherwise there may be late effects such as an anxiety disorder, aggression and other behavioral problems.

Causes of psychological trauma in cats

The reasons for trauma in cats are varied and not always easy to recognize for the cat owner. Possible causes are, for example, an accident or mistreatment that deeply unsettled the animal and caused him great pain. Poisoning or burns can also cause trauma. Sometimes it is a sudden loud sound like a thunderstorm or New Year's Eve fireworks that frightens the cat so much that it shakes their trust and traumatizes them. However, it does not always have to be a unique experience that leads to trauma. A traumatized cat can also be the result of years of neglect and uncertainty.

Some cats are more prone to trauma than others. For example, animals that are generally emotionally stable recover faster from shock than unsafe cats that were separated from their mother too early or do not know a loving home. But also here applies: Every cat is different.

Traumatized cat: recognize symptoms

In the first moment after the traumatic experience, the affected cat shows symptoms of fear and stress. The release of stress hormones signals the body that it should stop all functions that are not essential for survival. This can be seen from the following signs:
● Freeze
● dilated pupils
● Increased salivation
● tremor
● Retracted tail
● Ears on
● Squat posture
● Or: cat hump and fur

The traumatized cat also appears absent, no longer responsive, and appears to be standing completely next to it. If she can, she looks for a hiding place and makes herself very small, invisible as possible.

If a trauma has set in cats because it has not been treated in time, behavioral problems can occur. For example, the traumatized cat develops an anxiety disorder, can no longer be touched, becomes aggressive or shows compulsive behavior such as excessive grooming, which leads to bald spots and skin wounds. Litteriness and anorexia are other possible symptoms of a cat trauma.

However, it is important that you always consult your veterinarian for an accurate diagnosis. If you notice any changes in behavior or any abnormalities in your cat, go to the veterinarian so that they can check whether there is a physical cause, an injury or illness. Only when organic causes have been excluded can psychological injuries be considered and treated as reasons.

What scares cats and why

Fear is an important part of the survival instinct for cats and all other living things ...

This is how trauma can be treated in cats

To heal a traumatized cat, you need a lot of love, understanding and patience. Give her the time and space she needs to regain confidence and recover from her trauma. Show your velvet paw that you are there for her, but don't impose on her. You can also try to lure them out of the reserve with games, gentle persuasion and quality food. Only stroke it when it comes to you.

If this is not enough, you can have your veterinarian recommend a good cat psychologist and an animal healer. The cat psychologist is very familiar with behavioral problems and knows how to give your cat new confidence. The veterinary practitioner can, for example, prescribe Bach flowers to soothe your cat or help her relax with acupuncture and acupressure.

Preventing traumatic experiences for cats: tips

Unfortunately, some traumas such as thunderstorms, fireworks on New Year's Eve or sudden loud noises when something falls over in the household cannot be avoided. But you can help your cat to maintain her basic trust in the world so that such moments of fright are not so easy to get off track. If you adopt a cat privately, from the breeder, from the farm or from the animal shelter, make sure that it is allowed to stay with its mother and siblings for as long as 12 weeks.

You can also make sure that the kittens grew up in a loving, clean and cat-friendly environment and had the opportunity to get used to everyday noises, other animals and strange people. Also set up your cat's climbing facilities, a scratching post and hiding places at home, play regularly with her and educate her consistently, but lovingly, without violence and shouting. You can find more tips on how to make the environment cat-friendly in our guide "Environmental Enrichment: Improving the Living Environment for Cats".