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Dr. Deb
Dr. Deb, Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 10141
Experience:  I have been a practicing veterinarian for over 30 years.
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i have had a rescue cat for eight years.she was originally

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i have had a rescue cat for eight years.she was originally shut in a building and even now she panics if shut in a room.under stress she sprays in the house (have learnt to live with this.) problem is i am moving to a first floor apartment with only a small outside balcony,can she learn to adapt to this. at the moment she has a freedom to roam at will.
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Vet
Expert:  Dr. Deb replied 3 years ago.

Hello, I'm Dr. Deb.

I recently came online and see that your question about Funny hasn't been answered. I'm so sorry that you've had to wait for a response,but if you still need assistance, I'd like to help if I can.

I do have a few questions to ask first, if you don't mind:

1. How much time does she currently spend outdoors?
2. Have you ever prevented her from going outside when she wanted to? If so, how did she behave?
3. What sort of view does the balcony have?
4. How do you plan to prevent her from jumping off of the balcony?

There may be a delay after I receive your answers since I have to type up a response to you and I may be offline at the time you respond. But I'll get back to you as soon as I can since I'm on the computer some part of every day.

Thanks for your patience. Deb

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi Dr Deb ,Funny spends many hours outside especially during the day .when we move the small balcony is enclosed with glass but a determined cat could jump off ,something i hadnt thought about. when i have tried to keep funny inside she does become distressed and panicky - the view from the balcony is green open space. At present we have a private secure garden to which we gain access via patio doors which during nice weather are nearly always open - however when the kitchen door which gives access to to remainder of our house is closed she will not enter our large kitchen. - I therefore have to open this door and she will freely enter through the patio doors into the house. - Likewise when in any other room we have to keep the door open otherwise she becomes distressed or starts to panic. - as for the balcony we have not thought of any preventative measure. I feel it would not be possible to re-home her due to her problems not that this is an option for me to consider. - I feel you are my last hope for a solution - thanking you in anticipation - Carol

Expert:  Dr. Deb replied 3 years ago.

Carol:
I'm so sorry that I've been off of my computer for most of the day (I was scheduled to work at my veterinary hospital) and have just now seen your response to my questions.

This is a really tough situation and I can understand your worries about Funny. In general, cats don't like change very much and it sounds like she has enough "baggage" that such a drastic change for her will be quite an adjustment.

The fact that the balcony is glass-enclosed and has a view of open spaces is good but I don't know if it will be enough if she can't actually enjoy romping outside. I also fear that she may find a way off of the balcony if she's determined enough. Not knowing the exact set-up, it will be difficult for me to advise you how to secure it to prevent her from escaping...something I assume you very much want to do...but bears consideration.

As to ways to help her adjust to her new circumstances, you might consider Feliway which is a natural pheromone and intended to reduce stress and anxiety. The product is available in a diffuser, spray and wipes. It's can be purchased here in the States at many pet/grain stores or online.
Another option, if she enjoys Pounce-like treats, would be Composure Chews which are the oral equivalent of Feliway. They also can be purchased online...at least this is the case here in the States.
Not all cats will respond to these products but many of them will so would be worth trying. I would wipe her carrier (let the product dry for about 10-15 minutes) during the transport and already have a diffuser in place when she arrives. I would feed her Composure Chews the day of the move as well.

You might also consider Melatonin which can have an anti-anxiety effect on some cats although it can make some of them a little drowsy. The dose would be 2-12 mg once or twice a day. Nature's Bounty is a good brand since quality control issues abound with supplements..which you may already know. I would also start this supplement several weeks prior to the move since it can take time to build up in the system for some cats.

I would be reluctant to give her anti-anxiety drugs such as Prozac but this may be something to consider for the short term if her phobias completely overwhelm her.
This may be something to discuss with you vet so that you have the drug on hand if she goes into a full panic attack.

I hope this helps and provides several options for you to consider. I also hope that Funny will surprise us both and acclimate with as little stress as possible. Deb

Dr. Deb and 2 other Vet Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Dr Deb,


Thank you for your help and advice - This is going to be a move in and watch this space situation as i have in the past tried Feliway but with no success. We will try and source the composure chews.


One last question do you think it is cruel to try and confine to a house a still active outdoor cat at this age in her life.


 


Carol.

Expert:  Dr. Deb replied 3 years ago.

Carol:
You're more than welcome.

I, too, have had questionable success with Feliway (as have owners with whom I've talked) but it does appear to be effective in some cases which is why I always at least mention it.
Same with Composure Chews, unfortunately: you won't know if they will help until you try them.

Your additional question is a difficult one for me to answer since I see both sides of the argument. It basically comes down to quality of life issues for me. In most cases, I think that outside cats can adjust to a change in their circumstances such as this situation especially if the alternatives are untenable (euthanasia for example). But, it can be challenging to say the least for some cats.
I don't think it's cruel, though.

I'll be wishing you the best, Deb

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