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Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 16311
Experience:  Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
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Hi. My cat has always been an outdoor cat and he sometimes

Resolved Question:

Hi. My cat has always been an outdoor cat and he sometimes spends all day outside, only coming in at night. However yesterday he seemed very scared when he came home and is now refusing to even go out of the door. He has been in all day and hasn't even used his litter tray. He is eating well and seems well in himself but he is just petrified of going outside. Should I be worried?
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Vet
Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 3 years ago.
Hello, my name is***** and I have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian. I'd like to help with your concerns about Billy and his fearful behavior today.
I suspect that he ran into something outdoors yesterday that terrified and as such he has no interest in going back out for now. The fact that he is eating and drinking normally means that he likely isn't physically injured. It's possible that whatever occurred happened when he was eliminating and thus he may have released everything he had at that point and doesn't have anything left, and he may be a little afraid something will happen to him if he tries to go again.
We cannot hope to get his behavior back to normal until we can get him feeling less anxious.
For now I would put his litter box in the quietest area of the house where he feels safe to get him using it again.
To help ease his stress you can try using Feliway sprays or diffusors. These are synthetic pheromones which mimic those produced by cats to mark areas as safe, and many cats find them soothing. Start by using either of them in the room he has chosen as the safest, and the room that his litter box is located, and as he starts to feel better you can use them in room with the cat door to encourage him to try and go outdoors again and explore.
You can also use pheromone calming collars along with the spray or diffusor. See this link for some examples: http://www.amazon.com/Sentry-Behavior-Pheromone-Collar-Inches/dp/B0026JAKWG
If these measures aren't enough you can try a homeopathic calming oral medication called Bach's Rescue Remedy along with the pheromones. See this link for further information: http://www.bachflower.com/Pets.htm
This is safe to use even in cats that go outdoors as it is not sedating.
Don't push him to leave, let him come to the realization he is safe and is feeling confident enough to go out again.
Best of luck with your fellow, please let me know of you have any further questions.
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