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Phoenix's Avatar
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Cats owned: 2 cats black/white and one tabby
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06-02-2015, 12:34 AM   #1

Old emotional trauma keeps resurfacing


I noticed this from very early on with my Ebony: she's always seemed to get nervous when faced with someone in some form of uniform. She didn't used to show much fear around them (early on) but when Tom came to live with me she started finding them more frightening than she'd used to for some reason. I'm not sure why she seems to be so traumatised by the sight of a uniform, she even gets worried if I get called in for a job interview and have to wear my "job interview uniform".

This is what we know of her history: she was found on the streets with a litter of kittens (2 were still alive, the others were dead), the people who found her handed her into the rescue, we know she was injured at some point (when the vet xrayed her he found that her ribs had been broken at some point and managed to heal), she's definitely got emotional scars from being on the streets (she was obsessive over her kittens - checking and double checking on them in rescue), we think she had 4 kittens originally because for a long time we had this thing about keeping 4 of her toys in a safe place and feeding them like they were her kittens. We think she was probably punished for going on the bed because it's taken her almost a year to feel she can snooze on the bed without getting told off (for a long time she'd refuse to go on the bed if we were around but I did hear her jumping off the bed a few times when she heard us coming)

I've seen her run and hide when she sees anyone in a uniform, even when she's seen Tigger greet them and remain safe from them, she has got braver though about it since Tigger came here because she used to flee upstairs and hide, now if she sees uniforms she will run and hide but she'll stay where she can see them and what they're doing. When Tom was alive, both her and Tom would flee upstairs and hide in the bedroom.

We tried feliway in the old house (and early on here) but it hasn't seemed to have much of an effect on Ebony because she's absolutely fine until she sees a uniform.

I'm just wondering what I can do to help her overcome the scars of her past permanently? I just want her to be happy (which she is as long as there's no signs of any uniforms)



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angieh's Avatar
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06-02-2015, 04:14 PM   #2

Re: Old emotional trauma keeps resurfacing


That's a really tricky one - I am amazed that you think that Ebony can distinguish a uniform as such and that it traumatises her so badly. Cat owners know that their seemingly laid-back cats can become anxious and suffer from various stresses that are part of everyone's lives. I think that all you can do is give her plenty of hidden places where she can feel safe and it sounds as if Tigger is helping her wonderfully! It was the best thing we could have done for our little rescue, Kizzy, who I'm sure never had too much trauma (but how can I know for sure), getting Pip helped her certainly to learn how to play and be comfortable in her own skin.

Sorry I can't offer any better insights.



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Phoenix's Avatar
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Cats owned: 2 cats black/white and one tabby
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06-02-2015, 05:20 PM   #3

Re: Old emotional trauma keeps resurfacing


As I said in the OP angie, if she can't tell the difference between normal clothing and uniforms she wouldn't feel the need to hide from uniforms, but she does seem to feel that need. I'm not sure what happened to cause her to act like that towards uniforms but all I know for certain is at best she'll get a bit unsettled and keep herself away from the uniform, at worst she'll put as much distance between herself and the uniform as she can, putting her ears back as she's doing it and I have seen her basically "shutting down" from stress/anxiety because of someone with a uniform being too close to her for her comfort.

She is sort of okay with black trousers now (I've managed to coax her to have a look and a sniff at black trousers without anyone wearing them, she's still a little bit wary of them but she's okay being next to them to have a sniff if no one is wearing them.



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Cats owned: 4 moggies and 1 ragdoll
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Location: lancashire, UK
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06-02-2015, 07:08 PM   #4

Re: Old emotional trauma keeps resurfacing


I think like Angie says, it will be time that will help her overcome her fears. Barnaby lived in the alley at the back of some houses where the bins are for the first 6 months of his life. When we got him he was terrified of black bin liners, especially if I shook one out. He is OK now though. Perhaps uniforms have a different smell if they are made out of the same material, Could be just the black trousers. We have had many traumatised animals and the only thing we have done is to make sure the animal always feels safe and secure. Progress is rewarded with treats or cuddles and strokes. Our latest lurcher had been battered all her life, (5 months) and would throw herself on the floor and wee if we raised our voice for anything or approached her. She is now nearly 9 months and loves life. She is properly house trained, comes back when called and very rarely gets frightened. She has flashbacks now and again but is getting better every day. You are doing a fabulous job with Ebony and doing all the right things, it seems to me. She is obviously very well cared for and loved and that will be the way through her fear.



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Phoenix's Avatar
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08-02-2015, 09:32 PM   #5

Re: Old emotional trauma keeps resurfacing


Ebony was brave enough to go outside this afternoon before something scared her and made her run back inside <3

Not sure what it was that scared her this afternoon, might have been a person or it could have been next door's dog (unlikely to be the dog though because it was inside its owners house)



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09-02-2015, 04:12 PM   #6

Re: Old emotional trauma keeps resurfacing


What a brave little girl. I was just thinking, one of our cats, Swirl, is a very nervous cat. We have had him since he was 10 weeks old and nothing bad has ever happened to him but he hates loud noises and strangers.

Ebony sounds like she is getting braver every day.



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Phoenix's Avatar
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Cats owned: 2 cats black/white and one tabby
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09-02-2015, 05:57 PM   #7

Re: Old emotional trauma keeps resurfacing


Ebony's been with me for just over a year now, hopefully she'll get even more braver with Tigger showing her that the world isn't the scary place she thinks it is <3

She found a lovely sunny spot indoors earlier but it wasn't big enough for her and Tigger so they decided to take it in turns sharing it

What makes it even more surprising was the fact that my stepdad was doing work in the kitchen so there was loud noises coming from the kitchen but Ebony was happy to go as far as the hallway at the bottom of the stairs (she was upstairs)

idk if I'm antromorphising (sp)



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Phoenix's Avatar
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Cats owned: 2 cats black/white and one tabby
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18-02-2015, 12:34 PM   #8

Re: Old emotional trauma keeps resurfacing


We had a breakthrough yesterday, I had to wear my job interview uniform and a certain little girl had a sniff and braved rubbing against my hands while I was wearing the job interview uniform



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angieh's Avatar
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18-02-2015, 02:32 PM   #9

Re: Old emotional trauma keeps resurfacing


What a brave girl. Hope your interview went well.



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