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Cats/My cat is suddenly afraid of everything


My boyfriend and I adopted a cat (1 year old) in September this year. He was given a clean bill of health by the vet, and after a period of hiding under the bed, assimilated into a happy, outgoing, playful apartment cat. He was entirely house trained, with no accidents whatsoever. I was forced to bring him to my parents house with me for the holidays (about two weeks) during which he cautiously but happily explored the house and played with the other cats. I brought him home with no issue. When I took out my suitcase to go for a trip a few days later (or so the incident coincided), he started freaking out. He was terrified of it, batting at it and jumping 3 feet into the air backwards. My boyfriend told me that while I was gone, he deteriorated. He now does not trust anything. His cat box and food are at opposite ends of the apartment, but he is so scared by the bed/my shoes/ a stray sock that he will not go between them. He holes up in the bath tub by his cat box, or at the front door by his food. Even in his comfort zone, he is spooked by everything, batting and jumping at formerly familiar items. To prevent him from using my doormat as a toilet (which he started to do), I've had to carry him back and forth. I've tried forcing him to leave the bathtub when he's hungry without me picking him up, but this only worked 1 day. He even seems to like me a lot less. He doesn't appear to be in pain or have vision problems.  What happened to my beautiful happy cat?

oh dear, your poor cat has a serious case of the fear. i have seen this before. Cats can be very sensitive creatures and they do not cope well with a lot of change.

Now reading your question, i think what may have happened is that while he was staying with your parents he had a nasty incident with one of the other cats, you may not have noticed this. but now he associates your suit case with this other cat, it may also smell of the other cat too. Now he thinks the other cat is hiding somewhere in the house and so is frightened by everything as he thinks he is going to be pounced on at any minute.

he needs a period of readjustment and the best way to do this is to shrink the area he has to be afraid of for a while. So i would keep in one room only for about a week . in this room , keep his litter tray, bed and toys etc. Over this period he will calm down as he has less space to worry about.

Also during this time i would suggest that you give the whole house a spring clean, even wipe around the legs of tables and chairs with a solution of bicarbonate of soda which is a great smell neutraliser. then just before you let him out again, rub him with a clean towels and then rub the towel on chair legs, door posts etc around your house to spread his scent.

I have a page about scared cats on my site which you may also find of interest.


best wishes Kate  


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Kate Tilmouth


I can answer most day to day cat problems encountered by owners. I have a good understanding of cat behaviour and problems which may arise from changes to their daily routine. I can advise on cat training including litter training and general day to day cat care issues. I am not a vet and therefore cannot answer medical questions.


I run my own cat website at and have been a dedicated cat owner for over 20 years. I have encountered many different cat problems and situations and feel that i have a good understanding of cats and cat ownership.

I am a platinum member of Ezinearticles where i write mainly cat related articles.

Educated to High School level and have since worked for many years in a customer support based environment, gaining vocational qualifications.

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