Cat Having Nightmares- Where Do We Go?

As most know, I have a Blue Persian which lost a leg to a dog attack last year.

Since then the backyard has been cat proofed in that three legged cats cannot escape- and while not impossible, it is unlikely a stray cat could get in.

Since the attack, the Blue Persian (BP) has had regular nightmares. He would be sound asleep and then start meowing pretty loudly but still asleep. Generally, go and wake him up and sit with him for a few minutes and he would be right.

Last night he was asleep outside in the protected backyard while we were inside. There was a hell of a lot of noise sounding like a cat fight. I went outside and found him in the dark as he tried to jump up on the side fence which is about six feet high. He got up but couldn’t hang on and slid back into our yard. Just as well as the drop next door is deeper and onto brickwork.

Strange thing is that there was no sight or evidence of another cat. And the BP is not a fighter- he has never had a cat fight since we had him. All I can imagine is he was having a nightmare and had imaginary cats chasing him. Certainly when we got him he was not hyped up- it was more like he had just woken up.

However, what can we do? I guess the vet could give him valium but that seems like overkill. It is the first time he has done such a thing in a physical fashion. I could treat it as a one off, but if he does escape the yard he is pretty defenseless and I think we could kiss him goodbye.

Here’s an idea, try making him an indoor-only cat.

Thanks Lyn for closing the other thread.

Sierra, I would love him to be an indoor cat. However, the difficulty is that he turned up here as a stray about two years back. He has since become more and more relaxed about being indoors and being confined to his backyard (that was a small challenge) but I don’t think at the moment he would tolerate being locked up all the time. His background is outdoors.

We are working to him being inside however.

He’s a cat. You shut the doors, he can’t get outside. If he’s too stressed by it, you speak to your vet about sedating him lightly until he gets used to it.

He’s lost a leg to a dog attack from being outside. You’ve attempted to catproof your back yard and obviously that isn’t working if he’s having night terrors and still trying to get over the fence.

Either he stays inside or he will get out and get attacked again, or get lost or injure himself again. Those are your options.

I was actually more hoping there would be some suggestions (which may yet come) about how to deal with nightmares rather than putting the cat is a straight jacket.

He is a cat. You can’t take him to therapy.

You can put him on drugs and you can contain him. Those are your options.

Yes, in a perfect world the cat should be an indoor only cat. But there’s life at any cost, and then there’s quality of life. Until we find a way to speak Cat fluently enough to explain why not being allowed out is better for him, we have to balance what’s good for the cat’s longevity with what keeps the cat safe but also sane and happy. I think Cicero is doing a reasonable job.

To answer the original question, Cicero, I think your best bet may be an animal behaviorist. You could try getting some low level tranq. from the vet, but a true behaviorist might have some ideas for you as to how to modify his environment or schedule to help him out, or even have suggestions on better meds. (OK, medications for those of you picky about ‘cutesy’ shorthand :rolleyes: )

Poor kitty :frowning: How horrible for him! He may just plain outgrow them, but in the meantime I hope you can find a way to help him settle. Have you tried Feliway? It’s supposed to prevent stress marking, but it might help with night terrors. They also make a compression vest for dogs and the smallest might possibly work for a cat?

Anyway, good luck. It’s awful to see them so scared & stressed and not be able to fix it :frowning:

He’s not doing a very good job of either, seeing as leaving the cat as an outdoor cat has led to him losing a leg, and the cat is still exhibiting signs of distress. When will it be time to keep the cat indoors? When he loses another leg? When he breaks a leg falling awkwardly trying to escape over the fence? When he escapes the yard and gets hit by a car?

Pheromone therapies only work (if they work at all) when the spray can be kept in contact with the animal - i.e. in an enclosed space, not out in the yard where it gets marked over by other animals, washed off in the rain, dissipated in the wind.

Build a cat run. Won’t help with the nightmares, but would make for a safe outdoor environment.

But the cat is NOT outdoor only and is having the issues indoors too. So if the house is a calmer environment (via pheromone) perhaps then the cat will acclimate more readily to being indoors, which sounds like the OP’s ultimate goal just not in one fell swoop. Cicero said that the backyard had been modified, and the cat IS contained - it’s not like he’s wandering down Broadway all alone.

I have 9 cats, 6 are indoor only and three are reforming barn cats. Of those 3, I have one who is a totally different, unpleasant, and unhappy cat indoors. Believe me, I tried. She will now come in on her own when the weather’s bad, and will put up with being brought in for short periods when I know weather’s coming but she doesn’t. But when she wants out, she will destroy things to get out (screens, doors) pick fights, cry incessantly, go off her food. That is not a happy life, and my job is to keep them as safe and healthy and happy as I possibly can. I’s a juggling act, and every cat is different.

eta: And yes, a true cat run is a great idea!

Possibly BP misses his buddy, which is stressing him out. I’ve heard good things about Feliway. About the only other thing that I can think of is to try to wear him out before he goes to sleep.

My meezer girl will occasionally wake up thrashing, but that’s because she likes to sleep in windows with Venetian blinds in them, and if it thunders, it scares her and she thinks that she’s Trapped. She fights the blinds, loses the fight, wakes up to realize that she’s been fighting inanimate objects (like this ever stops cats), gets embarrassed, and stalks off to do some Composure Grooming.

I have to ask the OP – this cat was attacked by a dog. You’ve never seen him fight another cat. Yet you have tried to cat-proof your yard, and you imagine your cat dreams of being in fights or chases with other cats.

I don’t get it.

If you must let the cat outside, then stay out there with him until you bring him in. That way you can fend off predators and soothe him if he has nightmares or gets frightened. Given his injuries, it’s not surprising that he still needs extra care and attention.

Maybe you can start him on a schedule where you keep him indoors except for regular yard visits in the morning and evening.

Win. I’m totally stealing this. :smiley:

I second an animal behaviorist, bonus points if you can find one who specializes in cats. I’d start with your primary care vet and ask for a referral.

Feliway may also help. My cat used to lick the fur off his belly – I’ve been using a Feliway diffuser for about 3 months and his fur is growing back. It has limits, though – he’s still an obsessive licker (he licks me if I hold still for too long – he’s just a high-energy cat and always will be), he just licks himself less.

Also, it may be a matter of time more than anything. I don’t think being mauled is a memory that will go away too quickly.

I like Merneith’s suggestion. I have mixed feelings about a cat run (unsupervised), because if a dog got up to the fence, your cat is going to feel like a sitting duck and like there’s no where for him to run to escape, which would obviously set you back a whole lot.

A cat run with a cat flap door in and out of the house.

That might work, but if the cat gets panicked he might not remember where the one single exit is. Likely he’d try to/want to run in a straight line directly away from where the dog is.

To be clear, if someone were out supervising, I think it would be a good solution – that person can chase off any dogs that might come around before they get to the cat run. Or if you are absolutely sure that a dog couldn’t get into the back yard.

What don’t you get? After he came home from the vets I cat proofed the backyard so he couldn’t get out and other domestic animals can’t get in. He has nightmares which are possibly connected to his experience- they may not be.
What is your question?

My question is why this concern about other cats, real or imaginary, but no mention of dogs? Why would you assume your cat was having nightmares about cats rather than dogs?

It’s rather trivial, I know, but I thought it quite odd.

As a longtime cat owner I’m wondering if he’s dreaming about chasing and killing prey animals.

They are cold blooded predators at heart.

I think he meant ‘cat proof’ in the sense that you ‘child proof’ a room to make it safe for children, not from them.