sneaking suspicion of cat abuse - Cat Forum : Cat Discussion Forums
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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 12-07-2013, 09:50 PM Thread Starter
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sneaking suspicion of cat abuse

For the past year my 20 year old daughter has lived with my mother in law while she is going to college. She has her cat with her, a male tuxedo. He was very sweet and loving when he went to stay with her. My MIL is not a cat person. She is one of those people with an immaculate house and she cares more about her possessions than she does any other living thing. She claims to love the cat, but I don't buy it. 6 years ago, she wanted to take in Taffy, my cat that we took in as a stray, because he did not get along with Beep, but she wanted to declaw him. All 4 paws. And I said "over my dead body" and then proceeded to tell her how awful a 4 paw declaw was, so anyway, this just goes to how she really feels about cats in my opinion. She likes them, as long as they sit quietly and don't act like a cat in any way, shape or form.

Well, Boots, I noticed several months ago started acting weird. He would hiss or growl at me as I approached him. He had never done this before. She told me that he cousin was over one day and saw him on the counter and literally threw him off the counter, not knowing that it was the place they fed him, because she has a dog, so I attributed it to that, maybe he was traumatized from the jerk cousin and what he did. Cousin lives far away, has not been back, this was months ago. He has gotten more fearful. On Thanksgiving day, Boots was limping and we looked at his paw, it was bruised. She said that maybe he had been near the stove and burned it, but that would not look like a bruise, I would not think. She mentioned that she may have accidently stepped on him a few days before. The next day he was not limping. But she acted strange the entire day, my MIL, like she was mad at the world and she was just "off".

I went to check on Boots yesterday, my daughter was working a long shift and my MIL was away for the weekend, and he won't even come up to me any longer. I sat on the floor near him and talked quietly to him and told him he was ok, and he didn't hiss or growl anymore...although he initially did when I walked in.

I just have this awful feeling that she is being abusive to him. I have ZERO proof of it. But I know what a shallow, awful person she is and how she cares about herself, and her possessions WAY more than people and certainly more than cats. My daughter is moving out (90% sure) by the end of the month, moving in with friends who love her cat, and are good people, huge animal loving people. I am going to tell her to just keep Boots in her room during the day while she is away, to not cause any problems with MIL. And keep his litter box scrupulously clean and give her nothing to stress over. Like I said, I don't know that she is doing this, I just know what kind of a person she is, and I believe she would. I believe she is unstable, and is stressed over things in her life, and she could be taking it out on him. I pray to God that I am wrong.

She has not taken him to the vet. He eats only canned food and he is peeing and pooping normally and no litter box accidents.

I have to ask, would him acting this way be a sign of abuse? And anyone who knows for sure that a cat has been abused, can you please tell me some signs? For one thing that stumps me, and my daughter, Boots does not growl or hiss at her. She acts like this doting, loving grandma when people are around, and acts like she just loves him, but I don't know if I buy it. Because then she complains about the litter box being disgusting. She makes my daughter use a Breeze litter box, because she won't have litter tracking in her house, and he is a BIG cat, so he has BIG pees, and the litter box gets disgusting smelling if you don't literally hose it out once a week and change the pellets, which are supposed to last a month, but it rarely does for her. Breezes do ZERO for odor control, so I think this is the main issue that ticks my MIL off, even though she refuses to let her use tidy cat or any other traditinoal type of litter because God forbid he get litter on the floor. And this woman literally vacuums her floor and mops it daily, so I think she could keep up on the stray litter tracking, but she refuses to let her have anything other than the Breeze.

I pray I am wrong. I pray my daughter is able to get out of here by the end of the month. I told her to do everything she can to keep his litter box immaculate and don't make any messes, and consider leaving him in her room to not cause any problems with this woman. I just don't trust her. If you met her, you'd think she was the most pleasant person in the world, but she is 100% fake. She would stab you in the heart for a dollar, and she would (and has) screw over her own children and family for money. I did not want my daughter to live with her, but it was her own decision.

I just want to really know, if someone is familiar with abuse signs in cats, would the cat likely be hissing and growling at her if she were hurting him? I just keep thinking she may be doing things to him without him knowing it is her. And she feeds him usually, because my daughter is at work or school, so he knows she is the food source.

I hope I'm wrong. I just feel like I have pretty good instincts and I'm feeling this is a real possibilty , that she is hurting him If I told any of my family members, they would say I'm crazy, so maybe I am. I actually hope that I am.
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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 12-07-2013, 10:25 PM
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In light of the situation, I'm a bit surprised your daughter is keeping him there with that woman. If it were me I would have either found a place for him to stay until I was in a situation where he was safe....or moved into a different living situation where my boy(s) would be safe. I sure as heck wouldn't be living with someone who I even SUSPECTED of hurting my boys.

They are my responsibility and I take that very seriously.
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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 12-07-2013, 10:35 PM
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Boots hissing and growling at you could be something as simple as your changing your laundry soap or other scent. On the other hand, if he is hissing at everybody, something is going on. Any chance you could take him for the rest of the month?
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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 12-08-2013, 12:55 AM
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The woman sounds sorta OCD if nothing else.

The cat could just be reacting to a different scent, the cat may be unwell, the cat could be traumatized from something she did by accident or any other number of things. My aunt's cat hissis at everyone. Blacky only likes select people. Jasper can act weird around some people, too. Probably stemming from the pitch of their voice... there's really no telling why a cat reacts the way they do. I knew a cat that hated me on sight and would go out of his way to chase me...

For his sake I hope it isn't as bad as you suspect. Perhaps if I knew the woman I'd be more inclined to agree ...

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Last edited by Carmel; 12-08-2013 at 12:57 AM.
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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 12-09-2013, 09:22 AM
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I agree it could be anything, maybe he is sick internally and acting out this way to save face, maybe he doesn't like his litter box, maybe he doesn't like the vibe you bring with you to the house (bc you are coming in with a vibe for your MIL).

I would be concerned if he used to act differently and now is hissing but what other body language signs does he show? Ears back? tail puffed? back hunched? cowering? What are the meows like? These are all things which could better indicate fear towards humans. How does he act when your MIL is around him?

When we rescued Sansa, she would hiss if you touched her sides (vulnerable spot and she didn't trust us). Maybe with the life changes for Boots, he doesn't trust you anymore because you're not around as much as MIL - who feeds him-.

I don't know, keep your eye on things and if they get really bad get the humane society force in to take a look.
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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 12-09-2013, 10:17 AM Thread Starter
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Maybe I am overthinking this whole thing, and because I don't have the greatest relationship with my MIL, that is making me think things. It could be, I thought that all along. I actually get along fine with her. She puts on a big happy face and acts like everyone is wonderful, when in fact, she has all sorts of legal problems and she is a very unethical person. I think all of those things make me lean towards thinking it is her causing a problem, when I have zero proof. And my daughter thinks I'm wrong, so I guess I'm alone thinking this.

He doesn't put his ears back, what he does is if you approach him he will just hiss and sometimes he will growl also, just a low, quick growl, and then stop. No puffed up hair or tail. And the thing is, he doesn't do this to her. She acts like she just LOVES him to death, which I know is an act, because she loves STUFF more than cats, and she has an immaculate house with nice furniture, and THAT is what is important to her. I sat on the floor and talked to him and he just looks at me, doesn't run, just a hiss now and then.

Maybe I'm way off. Sorry to trouble everyone with my story. We are all watching things, and she will be out at the end of the month. She is going to keep him in her room while she is at work or school.
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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 12-09-2013, 05:32 PM
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You know what, my future MIL was never an animal person. She would always complain about dog hair on her stuff, didn't like to touch them, and didn't want them at her house. My boyfriend moved in with her for college and brought his dog, and she adores that animal. Now, this dog has major problems in that he doesn't get along with other animals, was literally abused and kept chained by some homeless people who couldn't feed him. But you know what? Despite this dog being all messed up she genuinely cares for him, and kept him when my boyfriend moved out. He even has a small "old man bump" on his nose that sometimes breaks open and bleeds, and she wanted to know what she could put on it to make him more comfortable.

So consider this: yes, your MIL is very stuff possessive, but a lot of older people are that way because they consider their stuff their worth. Without their stuff they think they are worthless. This is very common, especially people who are at risk of losing everything.
But maybe she never let an animal into her life, and now she is finding that she really enjoys his company. She might literally enjoy his company more than you could really comprehend.

Even if she doesn't like him, she can't just pretend to like him when you are there and then be abusing him when no one is looking. He would be hissing or growling at her all the time, he isn't like a child that can be scared into playing along just because company is over. Yes, she might have accidentally stepped on him, but that happens to the biggest animal lovers, accidents happen. As for her being off the day after Thanksgiving, well I think that is just par for the course, especially if you are hosting a lot of people, that can be a bit overwhelming. It really sounds like you are trying to demonize this woman, and my guess is that the cat is picking up on your negative energy towards someone that might actually be very kind to him, or at least is his current meal ticket. It's great that you care about this cat, but if your daughter isn't worried, you should probably just let it be.
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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 12-10-2013, 02:32 PM
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Do you still have cats at home? It's possible that your daughter's cat can smell these other cats that she hasn't been around and that is why the growling.

I know that we spent about a month acclimating our existing cat to a new kitten in the family. Afterwards, every time we took the kitten to the vet, the old cat would hiss at him when we got back home as if we were bringing him in for the 1st time again. (I'm thinking the issue is that the old cat smells other cats on the kitten that got picked up from the vet and it takes a little time before the old cat recognizes him again).

Additionally, I've had a cat that had kittens, and someone down the street adopted one of the kittens. Several months later, I was walking down the street and my cat was following me and we encountered her daughter. But if you didn't know the history, you would think the cats were total strangers given the way the two started to hiss and growl at each other.
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