My cat needs therapy

Our cat, Dusty, has had some kind of trauma recently. We believe it started Sunday, possibly when a bag was kicked off the end of the bed and landed on her. Now she is terrified of the ceiling fant. Well, that’s the conclusion TheLadyLion and I have come to. The fan has not been on until now and whenever it is she runs out of the room or hides under the bed. TLL thinks that she looked up and saw the spinning fan before she was clonked by the bag. She said “Now she associates the fan turning with portents of doom and strange things falling on her from out of the sky.” Bloody Shakespearean that is. At any rate a warm spring is approaching and leaving the fans off is not an option. Does anyonehave a suggestion on how to de-traumatize our kitty?

I dont own a cat but maybe I could offer a suggestion…

The cats scared of the fan, and runs off when its turned on, so why not coax her back into the room, use treats or something, and make her see that the fan isnt going to hurt her, do it enough times then surely shed get used to it.

Use “positive re-inforcement” techniques. Go to the store, and buy some soft kibble cat food treats that you know she likes, or some soft cat food. Make sure it’s not something she gets everyday. Or, just get a supply of something like deli turkey or some such that she LOVES. Again, make sure it’s something that is a rarity in her diet.

Go get a small quantity of her treat and put it nearyby in the room with the ceiling fan, then go get the kitty. With the fan off, pick her up, pet her, croon to her, and turn the fan on. Stroke her and comfort her, then shut the fan off, and give her a treat, praising her for being brave. Start out holding her, and increase the time she’s around the fan in your arms, then slowly try to get her used to the idea of being around the fan while it’s on, and she’s not being held.

If she’s terrified of being on the ground at first, turn off the fan, and have your SO come help you out. (Take turns being the “bad guy” in this sub-step) Pick kitty up, comfort her, set her down, crouch by her, stroking her, and have SO turn the fan on, try to get the kitty to be out in the open with the fan on, for longer and longer periods. The point of this is to try to get her to realize that it was a fluke, and the fan is not the cause. Reward her each time. This will take time and patience to do, I don’t know how long. Very gradually decrease the amount of treat, and petting she gets once she’s starting to get acclimated to the fan, but do give her “random” treats and cuddleswhen she’s been especially good, or even just because. Hopefully this will help her get over her newfound phobia. Good luck.

This technique seems to be working for our poor kitty. She came to us as a foundling waif, when we took her in she was nearly dead from the fleas on her. We got rid of them, wormed her, and generally gave her food, water and “mothering”. She is terrified of wide open spaces though. She will tremble and cry, and bolt for the house if we try to bring her outside. Oddly enough, she’s leash trained. We take her outside, at night so there are no cars, or bicycles to spook her, and coax her to sniff and explore. When we bring her back inside, we give her a treat. She didn’t want to leave our bedroom at first, (the place of safety she was brought to, where she was fed and brought back to life) but this past weekend, she actually left the room and explored the rest of the house a little on her own with no coaxing from us, and she’s avidly looking out the window now. I think she’ll largely be an indoor cat, and will probably only want to be outside on her leash. This is ok with me, as long as she’s not so fearful. That’s just not good for any living thing.

As an afterthought, has kitty been scratching it’s ears more lately, or seemed off balance? It might have extra sensitive ears due to ear mites or something. I know I can’t really stand to have the car windows opened when going down the highway if my sinuses are plugged because the pressure change hurts my ears. Kitties are sensitive to pressure changes. Make sure it’s not something like that too.

Point of order:

If the cat has claws and/or teetn, you DO NOT want to be holding it when something (such as a fan) terrorizes it.

My vote: give the cat its own inviolate space (a box on a shelf away from people works). Then leave the fans on until it gets comfortable with them.

Um, Extraneous I’ve used this method with a young kitten that really is TERRIFIED by cars etc. Granted, with her I wear a long sleeved shirt if I’m going to be taking her outside during the day on her harnass. Even my kitty never blindly bit though, she did startle, and rake as she bolted for the house and “safety”, but that’s slowed to her tensing up and yowling, then if she’s in my arms jumping down and bolting for the house. This kitten is actualy terrified of cars too, her heart races, she trembles, and all she wants to do is get to safety. She’s slowly learning not to be so fearful. I don’t mind her being wary of cars, just not downright scared of them.

The reason I gave such detail, is because the cat shouldn’t panic and blindly claw when the fan is turned on if she is being held by someone she loves. (Because being held, constitutes “being safe” in kitty’s mind.) That’s not what’s spooking it. What spooks it is the thought that the fan can make something can fall on it when it’s “unprotected”. (As in, not under something etc.) Being in “mom” or “dad’s” arms qualifies as being “safe” so it won’t panic. Kitty may tense, but that’s what the crooning and stroking is for. Maybe put on a denim jacket the first time you try it, if kitty REALLY fears the fan. You know her best Padeye. Good luck in helping her get over her fear.

She has claws but I’ve trimmed her fronts which makes her much less dangerous. I didn’t think you could do that but the people at the shelter showed me what kind of trimmer to get. It’s like scissors with a rounded opening between the blades rather than a nipper. She doesn’t claw vigorously on her post so her claws were getting so long they would not fully retract. She was perfectly okay with me trimming the tips and didn’t fight at all.

I have been trying holding her as I bring her into the room. I find the old Vulcan nerve pinch to work wonders. Pinching the scruff of the neck won’t make a cat passive but the reflex relaxes them enough to help.

Thanks for all the help, I know there isn’t any magic bullet and we’re already doing a lot of what has been suggested. She’ll have to get used to it as her food bowl and water are in the bedroom.