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Pets Suffer From Anxiety & Depression Too

Posted Nov 03 2010 2:05pm

I didn't want to do it... put my sweet baby girl (errr... cat) on an antidepressant.  After all I don't like that I'm on them.  When my vet first told me that my cat has severe anxiety and wanted to put her on Prozac I thought she was nuts!  Not nuts about the fact that my cat could have anxiety, but nuts about putting her on the very same drug that I had taken!  I opted for a more natural way of dealing with it first (and with my vet's blessing) by using Feliway ,  but when that didn't work I reluctantly gave in and took my vet's advice and started her on Prozac.  So far it's been day three - so it's too early to tell if it's working or not.

My husband and I already had one cat and he's very happy and healthy.  We got him as a kitten, so we raised him and know that nothing traumatic ever happened to him.  When we decided to get another cat (so that our first one would have a buddy) we were going to get another kitten because - well - they're just so darn cute!  However, once we went to check out all the kittens up for adoption, my mind was made up once I saw her.  She wasn't a kitten but rather a cat - roughly a year and a half old.  She had the biggest and sweetest eyes I had ever seen!  Once we made eye contact I KNEW she was the one.  My husband was disappointed because he loves kittens and was really looking forward to getting another one.  My thought though was that everyone wants kittens - and therefore the older cats don't get adopted as fast.  We read what they wrote about her and it broke my heart.  It said she was found at a campground and that she was shy and needed lots of love.

I immediately asked to see this cat and to hold her.  Once I held her in my arms, that only sealed the deal for me even if my husband wasn't on board.  I knew I was going to get my way because I immediately felt like she belonged with us.  My husband reluctantly gave in and of course loves her to death - it's just that he had his mind set on a kitten.  Regardless - we adopted our cutie and brought her home within a couple of days (after the background checks were done).

I really should have done more research before bringing her home because I wasn't aware that our first cat would be so upset about the new one.  Let's just say they didn't hit it off.  Although it's better now, our first cat still is aggressive towards her, but it could be just the way he plays.  She's a loafer and he's very energetic.  He loves being outside (we let him play in our backyard only under our supervision - we don't let him roam the neighborhood - I would be too worried about him!)  We felt that our new cat was jealous and wanted to be outside too - but every time we tried to take her out she would claw away at us wanting back inside.  If she's sitting by a door and we happen to walk by she scatters away thinking that we're taking her outside.  Obviously we've learned that she's content staying indoors.

I can't help but feel sad when I think about what happened to her those first couple of years of her life.  We know that obviously she wasn't treated properly and that most likely she was abandoned.  She has a number of issues (such as peeing in our showers and tubs - even though she DOES use the litter box).  It was frustrating, but it didn't anger us - we just now have to keep the doors to our bathrooms shut.  There's nothing she can do that will ever make us give her up.  Nope - she is stuck with us for the rest of her life!  Then things started to progress where she started to eat the fur off of her legs.  That's when the vet said she needed to go on meds and that's when we tried the Feliway.

We thought that over time the two cats would be more comfortable with each other and that our love for her would calm her down.  And she has made progress.  She used to NEVER like being held - now she loves it.  I know it's because she trusts us.  When my husband gets home from work she finds his lap in 2.2 seconds flat! :)  She is definitely more at ease, but that didn't stop her anxiety.  When my little nieces and nephews come around she hides.  If they try to go anywhere near her she hisses (her hiss is "all hiss and no bite"!)  If any of the kids are older (around 7 or 8 years old - she doesn't have a problem).  We're very protective of her and never let the little ones tug or pull on her - we try to let her know it's "okay" - and the kids gently pet her - but in the end we decided to just let her be when the kids come over.

Now she's taken to chewing off all the hair on her belly!  I couldn't believe it when I saw it!  This time when I took her to the vet for her yearly exam and they saw her stomach they said "she looks like she's shaved and ready to go for surgery!"  Obviously she has issues and this time I agreed... Prozac it is.  First they did blood work to see if there wasn't some other issue that could be causing this, but when the tests (thankfully) came back negative we went the Prozac route.  While waiting for the blood results I paid closer attention to her and noticed things that I had noticed in the past but never thought anything of it until now - I noticed that she could be peacefully sleeping - all curled up - but any slight noise would make her jump - where with our other cat he's oblivious.  I started to feel bad for not doing this sooner since I know what it feels like to live with anxiety.

My husband was against it (as I was at first) but we're giving her her meds and hopefully this will help ease her anxiety.  I just want her to live a happy and carefree life.  I don't want her to always be "on guard" - after all - she's a CAT - she shouldn't have to worry about anything!  I'm just happy that she's no longer in whatever environment she was once in and that she's now in our loving home where the kisses and nuzzles are endless!

For more information regarding stress, anxiety, and depression in cats here's a good article.

For those of you with dogs, click here .

"Animals are such agreeable friends - they ask no questions, they pass no criticisms."
~ George Eliot ~

"Lots of people talk to animals.... Not very many listen, though.... That's the problem."  ~ Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh ~

"Our perfect companions never have fewer than four feet."  ~ Colette ~

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