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Old 01-31-2013, 10:57 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Concerned about my parents' hissing/growling cat

So honestly... I don't know if this is about health or about behaviour, so I figured I'd put it in the general section.

My parents are concerned about their cat. The background of this is that the cat, Lucy, used to be their neighbour's barn cat. The neighbour died, and my parents didn't realize for quite awhile that the cat was still living on the property, so she was on her own for several years. She was never exactly a pet in the first place. By the time they met her, she had become semi-feral. For the past few years they've been feeding her and trying to socialize her, and she's finally at the point where she is willing to come into the house for a few hours at a time.

That's where the question comes in. Something is going on with Lucy, and we can't figure out what. Lately she's been coming in each evening around 6:30 or 7:00 p.m., eventually falling asleep, and then waking up. When she wakes up, she sits there growling, hissing, and twitching her tail. This consistently happens around 9:00, and lasts for an hour to an hour and a half. She does not display this behaviour at any other time. It's like clockwork.

She sometimes lets me handle her. It's iffy, she didn't tonight. Sometimes she does, though, and I checked her pretty thoroughly for injuries and found nothing. She does not appear to be ill.

She just... sits there and hisses and growls. Lucy does not appear to be growling at us, and will sometimes tolerate petting and even purr right in the middle of it when we interact with her. Then she goes back to the hissing and growling into space.

Lucy had a thorough annual exam on January 8th, and was pronounced in perfect health. All of her vaccinations are up to date. Taking her back to the vet is an option, but it's one I'd prefer to use as a last resort because she finds vet trips extremely traumatic. I'm also not sure what the vet could do for her since she doesn't have any actual symptoms, and was examined thoroughly very recently.

We're worried, though. Advice, suggestions, and armchair diagnoses would be appreciated.
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Old 02-01-2013, 12:18 AM   #2 (permalink)
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do you know how old lucy is? if she is getting older i wonder if she just gets confused when she wakes up and doesn't realize where she is. Since she isn't attacking you, doesn't seem that she is threatened but just is confused. Since your cat has recently been to the vet and had a good report doesn't sound like there is a phyical problem.what does worry me is the lenght of time it takes for her to settle down. I have a older cat who is gets confused in the wee hours after sleeping and he makes enough noise by his crying to wake the dead, but there doesn't seem to be anything phyically wrong (well nothing new anyway) i have just decided he is an old man. you could phone the vet's office and explain what is going on with lucy and see what they think. if its something to worry about or not. Good luck
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Old 02-01-2013, 12:27 AM   #3 (permalink)
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She is about fourteen. (My parents were able to get her vet records from when she lived with her previous owner.) So yeah, it could be an aging cat issue. I know fourteen isn't super old for a cat but she's had a pretty rough life.

It very well could be that she wakes up confused, because it's always after she's been asleep. Like you said, though... it's worrisome that it doesn't wear off very fast.

I'll call the vet tomorrow and see what they say.

Thanks for the suggestion. I think you may be right.
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Old 02-01-2013, 07:02 AM   #4 (permalink)
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I tend to agree that she is probably waking up confused, but to last so long is perplexing. Since it does not seem to be aggression towards humans, I think I would just give her space and let her work it out mentally. Sorry, I know it's not much help - I have no experience with this, except when I was cat sitting and the cat woke up to me petting after she had fallen asleep. The cat was so spooked that she bit me and I ended up in the hospital for a week. If it were me, I would not disturb the cat while she was growling and hissing, but that is just me.
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Old 02-01-2013, 11:51 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Yeah, she's definitely not being aggressive toward us. It's hard to explain... it's like when we talk to her or make eye contact, it actually snaps her out of it for a second rather than making her upset.

Generally we just talk to her from a distance at those times. We are always exceptionally careful to watch her signals about whether she wants us to approach or touch her (even when she's acting normal,) because she can still be a bit semi-feral at times.

I talked to the vet this morning and got basically the same response that was given here - she's probably just waking up confused, and it's unclear why it lasts so long. The vet did not feel it was necessary to bring Lucy into the office at this time, because she finds it so stressful and there's no obvious diagnostic that needs to be run.

Thanks for the advice.
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Old 02-01-2013, 12:56 PM   #6 (permalink)
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At 14 yrs., she may be a bit senile, it happens, but I think it's more than likely confusion after waking up, and being in a place with unfamiliar scents. I would just ignore her since it passes off, or alternately give her some catnip to nibble. It can have a calming effect.
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Old 02-01-2013, 11:04 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Just as a little update: Lucy fell asleep on my lap tonight instead of just on the chair, and when she woke up she was fine. No hissing or growling.

It seems like she is indeed just getting nervous about waking up in a strange place, and it takes her awhile to find her equilibrium. Having someone she knows maybe helps.
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Old 02-02-2013, 03:21 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Sounds positive.
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