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View Full Version : Inheriting a cat with, ahem, issues...



Perks
11-24-2010, 06:06 PM
Okay, so I just got off the phone with my sister. Her household has inherited a cat because one of the roommates' father passed away. It was a very unfortunate situation because he was dead for several days before anyone realized it. (It's been about ten days now since the body was discovered.)

So, the cat was traumatized by not being fed at the very least. (Who knows what she thought about her owner ripening on the floor.) Then she was moved twice locally, then took a four hour car ride to her new home. Understandably, she's a bit skittish. She's not eating or toileting really at all as far as they can tell. My sister is the resident cat person and most of the care duties will be hers. She also has a six year old daughter.

There's no kind way to say this - this long-haired cat smells faintly like a dead body. My sister a) doesn't know if this is a harmful thing to either the cat or the people, and b) doesn't know if she should attempt to bathe this poor, boggled kitty herself at home, scaring her even more, or if it would be kinder to take her to a groomer.

What do you guys think?

cray
11-24-2010, 06:09 PM
it'll wear off.

Yeshanu
11-24-2010, 06:22 PM
I'd try brushing her first, to see if that got any of the smell out, and also to bond with the cat.

If it doesn't get the smell out, it might be better to take her to a groomer. Then at least she won't associate the new family and the home with the trauma of being bathed.

Other than that, kindness and gentleness will help her recover somewhat from her trauma.

Bmwhtly
11-24-2010, 06:23 PM
Let it get used to being there first, that ought to help it to calm down.

Plus the pong will probably fade once it calms down and starts eating properly.

But bear in mind I know none of this for sure.

cray
11-24-2010, 06:24 PM
are you dure, ben?
you don't have any dats?

Perks
11-24-2010, 06:25 PM
Cray, you're an assbucket.

So the smell of decomp doesn't actually contain enough decomp to make anyone sick, right?

seun
11-24-2010, 06:31 PM
Give the cat a brush and affection - if he's up for it. If he wants to sod off instead of being stroked etc, then let him. The smell should go once he's washed himself a few times. Do the usual things like feeding him regularly so he knows when meal times are, and let him hide when he wants to.

ETA: I just noted the cat is a girl. But I can't be arsed to change all my he's. :)

Maryn
11-24-2010, 06:34 PM
No, you don't bathe a cat unless it's got toxic material stuck to its fur. Washing them removes necessary oils from their fur and skin.

The unsavory odor, like all others, will be groomed off and wear off.

House cats traumatize pretty easily, and the moves probably were worse for her than her owner's death, especially if she's an indoor cat. She knew this one world, and it has been replaced with a completely different world with different giants in it who may not be benevolent.

The cat is likely to hide when anyone in the house is up and about. This is normal. Your sister should probably do several things for her
Minimize traffic through and use of the room where the cat is hiding, so the environment is calm
Place a small dish of familiar dry cat food in the room, near where the cat hides if she knows her location
Place a bowl of water there, too
Before going to bed, place a small amount of a familiar canned cat food near where the cat is hiding, and remove it (eaten or not) in the morning
Place a litter tray in the same room but well away from the food and water
After several days, an adult should be in the room doing something quiet, like reading, and occasionally talking aloud in that calming voice you use with babies and scared animals.
A really frightened animal doesn't want to die. She'll probably creep out in the dead of night long enough to eat a little bit, and use the litter box if she needs to. The predictable adult's presence in the room can increase until the cat ventures out, which usually happens within a week to ten days.

Maryn, with experience with feral cats

Bmwhtly
11-24-2010, 06:36 PM
But I can't be arsed to change all my he's.Yeah, I know that one.

Perks
11-24-2010, 06:39 PM
Thanks guys, I'll pass on this info.

seun
11-24-2010, 06:43 PM
Definitely don't force the cat to do anything she doesn't want to. She'll just tell you to bugger off.

writernow
11-24-2010, 07:18 PM
One of my cats got into something funky-smelling once. Didn't want to go through the potentially dangerous operation of putting a clawed creature into soapy water, so figured out another way. Out of cat's sight, I spritzed the outside of a pair of old winter gloves with white vinegar, then thoroughly stroked and petted the kitty. A friend of mine used my technique with her cat, but since her cat is very high strung, she also got the kitty high by putting a plate with crumbled catnip in front of it while she did the vinegar-glove petting. Vinegar helps neutralize other odors. Never tried it with dead body odor, but worth a try.

Susan Littlefield
11-24-2010, 07:45 PM
Okay, so I just got off the phone with my sister. Her household has inherited a cat because one of the roommates' father passed away. It was a very unfortunate situation because he was dead for several days before anyone realized it. (It's been about ten days now since the body was discovered.)

So, the cat was traumatized by not being fed at the very least. (Who knows what she thought about her owner ripening on the floor.) Then she was moved twice locally, then took a four hour car ride to her new home. Understandably, she's a bit skittish. She's not eating or toileting really at all as far as they can tell. My sister is the resident cat person and most of the care duties will be hers. She also has a six year old daughter.

There's no kind way to say this - this long-haired cat smells faintly like a dead body. My sister a) doesn't know if this is a harmful thing to either the cat or the people, and b) doesn't know if she should attempt to bathe this poor, boggled kitty herself at home, scaring her even more, or if it would be kinder to take her to a groomer.

What do you guys think?

First of all, take the cat the vet for a check up. Explain to the vet the situation. The cat may have lain next to the owner after he died. Animals will do this. The cat needs a bath. You guys should not give the bath, because then you will be tagged as the bad guy. Let someone at the vet's office do it.

Give this cat plenty of love and care. I can see why she is so upset. She is grieving the loss of her lifetime friend, plus she was not able to get the nutrition that she needed. It's going to take her awhile to recover. However, with a six year old and plenty of love around, I think she'll do just fine.

PS. Can you tell I'm a real cat person? :D

Susan Littlefield
11-24-2010, 07:47 PM
No, you don't bathe a cat unless it's got toxic material stuck to its fur. Washing them removes necessary oils from their fur and skin.



I would say lying around a dead-for-ten-days person qualifies as the exception to giving a cat a bath. I would just have a professional do it.

amyashley
11-24-2010, 07:58 PM
I am with Maryn. I have fostered lots of cats, many of which have had issues.

Do not bathe her.
Do not take her to the vet.
Do not try to brush her or handles her of she is trying to hide.

Just give her space, a litterbox and food in the same room, and be in there for a while each night. Explain to the little girl that the cat is very shy. Have her pick out a toy of hers that she can "give" to the cat to keep her company while she is sad. She can come in at the time when the adult is in the room and explain she's brought the toy, leave it and leave. Remind her to speak quietly (like the cat is a sleeping baby), and that as long as she is very quiet and very patient the cat will be her friend someday.

It may be a good idea to allow he little girl to do her homework in the room or to color on the floor. It will allow the cat to become accustomed to the child. Also, rolling pens and crayons are interesting things for cats. As long as the girl has a focus that isn't the cat she should be okay, and the cat needs to know all the family members.

The stink will fade. You can also get CAP (Cat Appeasing Pheremone) a plug -in mister like an air freshener from your vet. It is used for stressed cats. It has no odor. It is made from a manufactured pheramone that mimics the pheremones produced by lactating cats.

Wayne K
11-24-2010, 08:13 PM
When she lets you pet her, brush her. She'll probably like it. If she doesn't, use the brush like a toy, make her ike it, and when or if she does, she'll let you brush her. Treat it like a treat and cats will usually like something

Wayne K
11-24-2010, 08:14 PM
The bath, you're on your own. I dont bathe cats because I like my hands

tiny
11-24-2010, 08:33 PM
What a terrible thing to have to go through.

I hate to say it... I talked to my hubs who was a medic and he says the cat should be taken to the vet and bathed. Then he rattled off a couple of long names that sounded not so good for humans. (To be honest though he's a bit of a germaphobe from working in a hospital, don't tell him I said that).

I honestly wouldn't want to do it. I'm not big on taking my cats out of the house because they get so freaked out. But I'm not sure if it's a good idea as she probably went to him for comfort and possibly came in contact with bodily fluids.

Whatever you guys decide just give her time.

CheyElizabeth
11-24-2010, 08:52 PM
They make cat bathing wipes, like baby wipes. They smell great and you can wipe the cat clean while bathing it. Also, sometimes you just need to leave a scared cat alone and it'll come to you when it feels like it.

-Chey,
Owner of 3 pain in the butt cats and one awesome stray.

Williebee
11-24-2010, 09:01 PM
Over the years we've taken in a lot of strays. Sometimes I think my wife is just waiting for the chance to ace me so she can become that "old cat lady".

Not knowing what killed the gentleman gives cause for concern. The odds that the cat is still carrying around something contagious and dangerous to other humans on its fur is, well, unknown to me. But if the cat has been relocated for longer than a few days, that ship may have sailed.

I'm with Maryn and AmyAshley on this one, but wishy washy enough to call a vet for advice.

Perks
11-24-2010, 09:10 PM
Not knowing what killed the gentleman gives cause for concern. The odds that the cat is still carrying around something contagious and dangerous to other humans on its fur is, well, unknown to me. Ah, that's a good point I didn't make. What happened to the man was not contagious.

I'm not a pet person, so I know that my first instinct would be to have her at the vet or groomers for a bath and start her rehabilitation after the rot was washed out of her hair, but I do appreciate that she's been through a lot, poor little thing.

cray
11-24-2010, 10:11 PM
Over the years we've taken in a lot of strays. Sometimes I think my wife is just waiting for the chance to ace me so she can become that "old cat lady".

Not knowing what killed the gentleman gives cause for concern. The odds that the cat is still carrying around something contagious and dangerous to other humans on its fur is, well, unknown to me. But if the cat has been relocated for longer than a few days, that ship may have sailed.

I'm with Maryn and AmyAshley on this one, but wishy washy enough to call a vet for advice.


a cat catching anything from a human seems very unlikely.
a human catching something from a cat...yep.



cray, just guessing.

ajkjd01
11-24-2010, 10:16 PM
I totally would have her at the vet. Of course, I would have a vet check of any animal I was bringing into my house, to make sure that there wasn't some veterinary issue that needed dealt with quickly. (Not to be crass, but it's not like the former owner can tell you if there are small issues that should be watched.)

I'm more likely to take her to the groomer than to use the wipes...because I'm not sure what they would lick up from their fur after the wipes, and I'm not sure what she would be licking up out of her own fur. Best to make sure, and have a professional do it. I'm not big on bathing a cat, myself (I prefer my hands unshredded, thanks), but I think there are times that it is required. This is one of them; if nothing else but so that I would unconsciously know that the cat was clean, and would not hesitate myself in trying to socialize the cat.

And CAP therapy has not worked on my little feline anxiety kitty. I don't think it works on all of them. Worth talking to the vet about. They may think that it isn't enough, or there may be some other issue contributing to the stress level.

I'd take her to the vet and the groomer all on one day, preferably one right after another, so that it's one big stressful trip, and then it's over, she's clean, and home, and can start her rehab.

And the vet may have specific advice on this.