Is there such as thing as Feline Post Traumatic Stress Disorder? Yes… yes I can definitely vouch for the existence of FPTSD.
My wife’s friend, Lindsey, recently discovered this reality as well when she looked after our cat, Marbles, during the holidays. She blogged about Marbles on her website http://www.happyorhungry.com and even managed to post a picture of herself giving Marbles a “hug” (see the full post here).
I would like you to take a moment to look into Marbles’ eyes (and into her mouth). Is this an easy-going cat? Is this the kind of cat that meets you at the door, climbs happily up your leg, perches herself on your shoulders, and purrs into your ear-hole? The answer is no.
Everything was peaches and cream until…
Oh no… what’s that?!!
- Stomp loudly towards kittens until they run into the basement (see above).
- When they come back up the stairs and look nervously around the corner at you, stomp after them again and gleefully exclaim, “Kittens love this game!”
- When your legs get tired of stomping, replace stomping with broom-swinging. Continue to mix in the phrase “Kittens love this game” as needed.
Looking at the DSM-4 criteria for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, the following applies to Marbles [my additions are in brackets]:
- The person [or cat] has experienced, witnessed, or been confronted with an event or events that involve actual or threatened death or serious injury, or a threat to the physical integrity of oneself or others.
- The person’s [cat’s] response involved intense fear,helplessness, or horror. Note: in children [or kittens], it may be expressed instead by disorganized or agitated behaviour.
- Physiologic reactivity upon exposure to internal or external cues that symbolize or resemble an aspect of the traumatic event [i.e. convulsive hissing at strangers and attempting to transform oneself into a porcupine by spiking one’s hair].
- Sense of foreshortened future (e.g., does not expect to have a career, marriage, children [kittens], a normal life span, [or shows signs of paranoia regarding the freshness of one’s water].
- Exaggerated startle response [that allows oneself to defy gravity and dash up walls].
There are many other symptoms listed in the DSM-4 that Marbles fell short on; however, for all intensive purposes I am going to confirm the diagnosis of FPTSD. Having this diagnosis will allow her to access more services in the community.
American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (Revised 4th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.