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Pepper is six, spayed, and declawed. We bought her from a shelter as a kitten, and she has been our only cat ever since.

For nearly the past two years, she has had problems with obsessive cleaning--licking and biting her neck and upper stomach into a bloody mess, and giving her entire coat a very nappy, stressed look. This worsens and nearly diminishes in waves--for the moment, it doesn't seem to be a severe problem. We've taken her to the vet on several occasions, the result being a new non-allergetic dry food and several (over time of course) shots (she just had one a few weeks ago--perhaps why her cleaning habits have improved). At one point, she did actually have fleas, but I'm pretty sure that only worsened an existing problem, not caused.

She's always been quite playful, in fact, I fear that as a kitten, we played with her too much (and/or perhaps with too much intensity), using our bare hands more often than I think we should (now of course, we only interact with toys, a chasing finger under the blanket, etc., and not as agressively).

Even though her cleaning has improved, she still is one stressed out lady. She hisses and growls whenever anything doesn't go her way--she just hissed at me because I gave her two 'pounce' treats, then put them away (her eyes intently said she wanted more). Sometimes, walking past her in a small space will invoke her to bat, grab, and/or bite people's feet/ankles.

Her posture is slightly less than perfect, although with no other cats around to compare to, I see that as, unfortunately, natural. Her muscles are tense and rigid, and she is ever so slightly overweight. She also inhales/exhales in very rapid, short breaths through her nose whenever she is nervous, confused, etc.

I fear she doesn't get good enough exercise, as her endless nights of chasing the yarn ball from one end of the house to the other have dwindled (either by herself or with us throwing it, she used to bring it back to us in her mouth), and she seems altogether less energetic. She does enjoy being petted, and will sit on people's laps for hours at a time, but even then sometimes she will hiss if you shift your position, pet too much etc. Last night she climbed up and quite dramatically collapsed on my lap, exhaused from a day of her own craziness.

Basically, she just seems 'frazzled', and it makes us all so sad to see her distressed as much as she is. My family calls her 'disturbed' and hopes that the vet visits will ease her symptoms, but I know there has to be more we can do. She needs to relax, to feel comfortable and confident again, and as much as I think a companion would be/have been wonderful for her, I don't see her as being even remotely open to a new feline any time soon. Any suggestions, stories, links, etc.? What can we do for our baby?
 

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I am sorry to hear about your little ones problems. I do not think playing with her to much is the reson for her trouble. Do you use cat nip or have cat nip scented toys? We had a rescue a couple years ago that we fosterd that had a reaction much like this to cat nip.
 

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Well, if she came from a shelter, who know what the poor baby went through prior to her living there and finding a home...sounds like she's had it rough, and is suffering from a lot of anxiety issues.

If I were you, I would look into using flower essences with her. Many people swear by them...they've been known to help with anxiety, depression, behavioral problems, etc. One that is consistently raved about has been "Rescue Remedy."

I will look up some information for you, as I personally have never used them...but I do know a lot of folks on line who do.
 

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Well, if she came from a shelter, who know what the poor baby went through prior to her living there and finding a home...sounds like she's had it rough, and is suffering from a lot of anxiety issues.

If I were you, I would look into using flower essences with her. Many people swear by them...they've been known to help with anxiety, depression, behavioral problems, etc. One that is consistently raved about has been "Rescue Remedy."

I will look up some information for you, as I personally have never used them...but I do know a lot of folks on line who do.
 

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Here is a good resource on Rescue Remedy, the essence combination I feel you should try first, if you're interested in trying it out...I've heard MANY positive things about it, and know that many people have had excellent results in their animals from using it.

http://www.rainbowcrystal.com/bach/floweran.html

You never know...her problem sounds emotional/stress-related to me...which is not uncommon in shelter animals. This does not mean that shelter animals don't make wonderful pets (personally, I feel they are the BEST pets), but sometimes they come to their new homes with a lot of baggage...and unfortunately have experienced enough trauma in their former lives that they are very distrustful of anyone for a LONG time, sometimes forever. It's not your fault, and it isn't like she doesn't know that she is loved...she's just seen some rough days, that's all, in my guess-timation.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks all for the advice.

--
ShellyBear: we've never given her catnip, I just don't feel too good about it

ForJazz: no, for presumed allergies

wookie130: rescue remedy sounds like a great idea; your avatar is a cute attack
 

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hieronymus said:
ForJazz: no, for presumed allergies
I did read that the first time -- but the reason I asked is because my cat got a steroid shot for a presumed skin allergy. It had a medical name, but it was basically a steroid. I was just curious.
 
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