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Old 03-14-2010, 03:49 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Scared Of Ceilings Fans and Storms! Help?

My oldest cat (11 years) Spazz is terrified of ceiling fans and storms. I'll split the stories into two different paragraphs so it's easy to read.

When Spazz was a kitten the people who previously owned him had put him on a ceiling fan and turned it on. I'm not sure what the outcome of the situation was - although, it couldn't have been good. Ever sense we got him, he's been absolutely terrified of them. If they're off, he's alright - but still wary about them. When I come in my room at night, and he's laying on my bed - I'll turn on the light and he'll see the ceiling fan start (before I've had time to turn it off) and he'll take off out of the room. The part that upsets me the most is that he'll try to avoid it at all costs. He won't walk under it, he won't go into a room if the ceiling fans on, he won't lay under it, etc. I've never really had any idea on how to fix this - because I don't want to force him upon it and make him even more afraid of it, and it's not like I can sprinkle food or catnip on it. :/ Does anyone have any ideas? We have ceiling fans in every room of our house, and my mom likes to keep them on.

We use to let our cats outside when we lived out in the country because we had this huge backyard with a stream in it, and lots of trees and everything - the cats just adored it. Well, when Spazz was around 3 or 4, he disappeared for a couple nights. On around the 5th night of him being gone, I was in my room and I heard this weird meowing sound so I went outside to look and see if one of the cats wanted in and Spazz was laying on the porch. His paw was bleeding, his mouth was bleeding, etc.. We rushed him to the ER vet, and the vet said that from the looks of his paw, it looked as though he had gotten his foot caught in a (fox) trap and he had tried to chew it off. In the end Spazz lost part of his paw and one of his teeth. He was in a cast for a long time (my sister still has the cast...it's weird..xD). Well, the 5 nights he was gone it had stormed the entire time, and ever since then he has been deathly afraid of storms. Whenever he hears thunder or sees lightening, he runs and hides under the chairs or the couches or anything he can get under. One time, I actually held him to try and comfort him and he actually pooped(for lack of a better word :/) in my arms. Now, I've never seen a cat get that afraid of anything. I've thought of taking him to the vet for maybe an anxiety medication for when it storms or something of the sort, but will they give a cat of his age something like that? Or is there anything else anyone can think of to help?
Thanks guys!
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Old 03-14-2010, 04:09 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Scared Of Ceilings Fans and Storms! Help?

Have you tried any of the cat calming products, like Rescue Remedy, Composure Liquid or Feliway?

I know cats that are on Prozac and other medications, so I would think your vet could prescribe something mild for him when you know there will be thunderstorms.

Poor little Spazz. He's had quite a life, hasn't he?
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Old 03-14-2010, 01:52 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Scared Of Ceilings Fans and Storms! Help?

I donít have a solution for the ceiling fan problem but I had to LOL when you said its not like I can sprinkle cat nip on them!

Your poor Spazz has been traumatized from that awful experience. Traps should be outlawed. They are so massively inhumane. I donít know if he will ever totally recover from his experience of those 5 days. Cats have loooong memories. I not a fan of Prozac or other anti depressant. My vet feels the same way. Iím a huge believer in Composure liquid. It wonít totally solve his fear but get his anxiety under control to a point where he can function and isnít terrified to work his way thru it.

I would just make accommodations for him when storms come. Like his own safe hidey-hole or a cat tent you put him in and sit by him to help make him feel safe. Be sure and communicate to him he is now safe. You will protect him. Communicate positive things donít bring up the past! I hope this doesnít sound too spooky. I just know it works from experience. Iíve seen other people do it with results too. Cats are very intuitive.
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Old 03-14-2010, 01:59 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Scared Of Ceilings Fans and Storms! Help?

I agree with Marie about the calming products she recommended and I think they would help with all of the issues you are having with Spazz. However, he may *always* retain a distrust, dislike and/or fear of fans and storms. In the case of storms ... allow him a safe place to hide until it is over. Shasta is our only cat afraid of storms and the ONLY place she wants to be when it storms is under my bed, and that is okay.

With the fans, that will be a different issue for him to overcome. When we first began letting Pretty into our house, she was still semi-feral at that time and the TV would freak-her-out. It wasn't the noise, it was the movement on the screen. She couldn't understand that the movement was only on the screen and it couldn't come into the room to get her. I would say it took a good 4 months before she finally began ignoring the TV. You may have to do the same thing with the ceiling fans. He doesn't like them and he avoids them. There is no way to de-sensitize him to them unless you keep him in a room with one on low and he cannot hide under things to avoid seeing it unless he just doesn't look or closes his eyes.
Yes, I agree the concept does appear cruel and I am sorry for that ... but truly, there is NO OTHER WAY to help him get used to them without bombarding his senses with them in some manner for him to get past the point of his fear and realize nothing bad has happened so he can learn a new way to behave around them. Keep in mind, that after a few weeks of the Composure Liquid and Rescue Remedy he should be a bit more mellow and accepting, but you will need to keep an eye on him to closely monitor if he *is* coming around to accepting/ignoring them or if they are simply traumatizing him further ... and at his age he may be too set in his fear of fans to accept them at all ... in which case you'll either have to be aware of that and manage the ceiling fans or let him avoid them in his own manner.
Best of luck,
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Old 03-15-2010, 01:51 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Scared Of Ceilings Fans and Storms! Help?

Thanks everyone.
Heidi that does sound like a good idea, although I wonder if it would be okay if I were in the room with it when I did that? I would want to be able to monitor him incase it gets to be too much.
I will try the calming products that you guys have suggested. Duh, I've seen them talked about so much on here that I can't believe I didn't even think about them in the first place.
Thanks a lot guys!
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Old 03-15-2010, 02:15 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Scared Of Ceilings Fans and Storms! Help?

I would absolutely make sure I was in a position to watch him and/or help comfort him while doing this. You *have* to be watching to know if this is something he can work through or if it is simply stressing him too much and you need to stop the desensitizing session.
Best of luck,
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Old 03-15-2010, 07:44 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Scared Of Ceilings Fans and Storms! Help?

Well, this kitty has some **** good reasons for his fears, poor fellah. This just shows he's smart.
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Old 03-15-2010, 10:53 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Scared Of Ceilings Fans and Storms! Help?

Wow, if I were Spazz I'd be afraid of storms too! The other suggestions are good, especially about making a little hidey-hole for him where he'll feel safe during the storm.
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Old 03-15-2010, 03:56 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Scared Of Ceilings Fans and Storms! Help?

You can try to desensitize your cat to thunderstorms. This is done by playing a recording of a thunderstorm starting at a low volume for a short period of time. As the animal becomes accustomed to the noises, the sound level can be gradually increased.

I also think it is important not to reward fear. Let your cat be scared yes, but no treats or cuddles or anything. This just teaches him being afraid is a good response and reinforces the behavior.
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Old 03-15-2010, 04:33 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Scared Of Ceilings Fans and Storms! Help?

Well,when Percy was a wee kitten,he slept right through 1 of the most spectacular storms on record. Fireworks,on the other hand... With cats it's PROXIMITY. Is his bed, etc, on the ground floor or higher? ON a ceiling fan? Even if the blades were made of wood,and going slow,he coulda got hurt!
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