Lola is my one and only family member who started off as a foster and ended up being adopted. She came to me because she had been adopted and returned to Austin Pets Alive four times in two years, and was a complete train wreck. She kept getting returned because she had severe anxiety, never coming out from under the bed if anyone was around. She also overgroomed herself, not just to the point of being mostly naked, but to the point of self-mutilation. She had several lesions across her abdomen, flanks, and back where she had groomed herself to the point of bleeding. And, no surprise, she was vomiting several times a day. Remarkably, even with all that vomiting she was also considerably overweight, mostly due to her inactive life style and a steady diet of dry, high-carbohydrate kibble. Nobody wanted a cat who hid under their bed, leaving piles of puke and blood and hair balls in the most hard-to-reach places.
That is, of course, until she met me. It took two months of persistent systematic desensitization, but eventually she came out from under the bed and let me pet her. As soon as she figured out that I was the source of delicious body massages and tasty snacks, she changed her mind about being scared of me. Then it was just a matter of introducing other people to her environment and making sure that they, too, were sources of noms and lovins. After a few more months, my scared little caterpillar had blossomed into a social butterfly.
Disappointingly, though, even after being switched to a high-quality canned food diet, her vomiting and overgrooming did not stop. Certainly, it was reduced. She was at least allowing most of her hair to grow back in, and she had gone down to vomiting once or twice a week. Nevertheless, both of these troubling behaviors persisted.
It wasn’t until I switched her to a completely raw diet, without any commercially prepared food whatsoever, that her vomiting and overgrooming finally ceased. And with the absence of those symptoms, she became a new cat: silky, fluffy, playful and energetic. I wish I had taken a “before” picture so that everyone could see what a wholly different cat she is now! She is living proof that cat behavior *can* change, and when put on a species-appropriate diet, these gorgeous animals can overcome a lot of the diseases and disorders that commonly plague them.
Lola’s favorite things to do are eating, cuddling, and creating cat caves out of the blankets on the guest bed. The bed is never made because she unmakes it as soon as I finish neatly tucking in every corner, but considering what she’s been through, I’m more than willing to let her take over the top of the bed instead of hiding underneath it like she used to. 🙂