Anxiety affects us all. Some more than others. Animals as well as humans.
I’ve been living with Sookie’s brand of anxiety since 2010. I was willing to accept that she viewed me as an axe murderer intent on killing her, or…petting her gently. I’m pretty sure that she just sees Leatherface doing his chainsaw dance every time I walk towards her. I’ve accepted this because she and Miles love each other and watching their interactions is worth all the soft pets in the world.
However Sookie’s resent aggression as a reaction to Olivia’s presence in the house, is now affecting Sookie’s relationship with Miles. This, I cannot accept.
We went to the v-e-t today. In typical Sookie fashion, she had burrowed under the blanket in the carrier before we even got out of the driveway. This is not an aggressive or brave girl. Once in the exam room, Sookie ran along the counter to wedge herself behind a stack of books, pressing against the wall, hoping to be absorbed through it and out of the office. It did not help that we could hear another cat shrieking from a separate exam room. Sookie stayed pressed in the corner as the vet tech and I discussed what I was seeing at home.
After the initial exam, Sookie tried to shove her 12 pounds in to the smallest possible space underneath the counter. She did not want to talk to me or sit on my lap. The vet noted the same “frozen” response that I get at home whenever I manage to pick Sookie up. No physical reason emerged as a cause, and Sookie’s blood work came back looking fantastic. So it really is her kitty psyche that is a mess.
I walked away with a sheaf of reading material, some suggestions to modify behavior, and a prescription for human anti-anxiety meds for my cat. Birdie is now the only one in the house who is not medicated for something
(KNOCK ON WOOD!). She is the poster child for reason and normalcy. In other words, we’re screwed. I hope Bird can hold it together.
One of the suggestions for Sookie was a break away collar with a bell to prevent sneak attacks on the other cats. I always thought that Sookie was pretty straight forward with the smacking and screaming, but I’m not the cat specialist. During the first hour, the persistent jiggle of her tiny bell was enough to give ALL of us anxiety. Plus she still jumped on Olivia and smacked her around. I think Sookie was trying to work out how to run away from the ringing thing on her neck. Best solution: group nap.
Unfortunately, her mood seemed to have worsened after the nap. She did not want to move from a corner behind a chair. Toys did not help, I was back to axe murderer status, and she did not come for food which is unheard of in our house. I finally acquiesced two hours later when I found her on top of the furnace in her safe “vacuuming spot.” No vacuuming had occurred. I climbed up on a chair and removed the collar which I think was causing more upset than anything else. She said she immediately felt better about life.
Just like with people, it will take about a month before we see effects of Sookie’s ant-anxiety meds. Depending on those results with her little brain chemicals, this could be a short-term “chill out” option or a life time commitment. I hope that walking in to find her cuddled in a pile with Miles this afternoon was a good sign of things to come.