Monday, December 3, 2012

Humans Aren't The Only Ones Who Suffer PTSD

After many, many years with my beloved cat, we lost him suddenly and due to malpractice.  I was devastated.  Months later, my grief made me adopt a new kitten, eight months old.  This is his story:

He was at the Humane Society and on the "kill list" when a local group adopted him, put him in foster care until he found a permanent home.  The lady that brought him in to the shelter said he'd been hanging around her house for a week.

We came across him by accident at a Petsmart during adoption day.  I didn't want another cat, but I was drawn to him and we left empty handed, but after much discussion with the family (everyone was totally against me adopting so soon) we went back a week later.  After finding he was still there, we brought him home.  We named him Brady.

He didn't leave the bedroom the first day and it took him three days to wander the whole house.  He'd spent at least half of his life up to that point in a cage.  Every sound made him jump (the ice maker, doors closing, a pan being placed on the stove), it broke my heart.  But the broom!  If I brought the broom out, he wouldn't come out from under the bed for hours.  Then it was anything stick-like I held.  The rolling pin, a bread knife, the spatula.  He was terrified.  So now I knew he'd been abused.  Beaten.

We took him to the vet immediately for shots, a check-up, and because he had at least one weird lump on his side; small, tender and he wouldn't let us look at it, kept scratching and biting us.  Turns out it was buckshot.  So we found out he'd been shot, too.  I was so angry.  What kind of #^%!#* does that?!?

We had surgery to have the bullets (pellets) removed.

After time, he came to paw, gingerly, at the broom as I swept.  He didn't jump out of his skin at every little noise.  He purrs and plays most of the time.

It's been a few months and he's settled in well.  He's learning to trust and feel safe.  He knows he is loved and has a permanent home where everyone dotes on him, plus another cat and a dog that adores and protects him.

Yesterday I was sweeping the kitchen and he was attacking the broom.  Laying on it. Rolling in the pile of debris I was trying to clean up.  I giggled, he played.  I giggled more, he kept being adorable, and it took me an hour to sweep the kitchen, cleaning the floor, then him.

He laid down in my husband's office afterward in the sunshine and took a nap.  My husband was at his desk and everything was normal.  Then Brady went from sleeping soundly to charging head first into the window trying to escape.  He rammed the window so hard we thought he'd break it.  He ran to a corner standing on his hind legs breathing heavy, crazy-eyed, and staring at the door.  I was terrified he'd hurt himself, but we didn't want to go near him too fast because he was so scared.

My dog must have heard the commotion because he came across the house, click-clacking his nails on the wood floors into the office.  As he got closer, Brady's eyes were huge, darting wildly, he was panting and staring at the doorway and then when he saw the dog, you could see relief flooded him.  He went to the dog and rubbed against him, seeking warmth, protection.  Then he spent the rest of the day under my bed.

He slept curled between my knees all night.  Not very comfortable for me, but I could tell he desperately needed that comfort and safety.

I felt guilty, because obviously the broom brought back memories of his abuse.  He may never get over that and flashbacks will most likely occur for the rest of his life.  I am prepared for that.

My husband says I have a knack for "finding animals that are broken and fixing them".  All of our pets have a tragic past, including the one we lost.  I don't seek them out on purpose, it just ends up that way.

Today, Brady turns one year old.  He will get extra love, plenty of attention, a chicken "cake", and I will not sweep for a few days until he calms down a little.  As a former military member and married to an active duty military man, I know all about PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).  You never really get over it, you just learn how to live with it.

Animals are capable of a wide range of emotions that most people don't understand or give credence.  I live with it, I see it, and I know that my "pets" are more than furry playthings, they are part of the family, my adopted children.  I don't dress them up or do weird things to them, but I treat them as kindly and special as if I'd given birth to them because I know they understand so much more than people may think.  They feel or love just as deeply as we do.

Remember that if you ever think of adopting.  They need a lot of emotional support because you don't know what they've been through, you don't know the baggage they carry and you have to be prepared to unburden them.  But if you have room in your heart and your life, please, bring one home!

Remember how Brady was abused, shot even, and how he needed me, still needs me, because he had a tragic start and needs many years to try and overcome that.

But the important thing is he has a real home.  I remind him every day that he is safe, nothing will ever harm him again...


  1. My fave cat ever always had issues, because he was born out behind a Sam's Club, and wandered in the shipping door as a very small kitten and got seperated from his mother and family. He spent the next week inside the store, running and hiding from people calling for him, and dodging forklifts and all manor of goings on. We finally trapped him, and brought him to my house. It was then that I knew that he needed me. From then on it was him and me through so many things. For his entire life he was scared of new humans. Once he got to know people, which took some work, he was comfortable, but even towards the end of his life, he would vanish when someone came over. He was named Ghost because he would vanish at that Sam's Club so easily. And he lived up to it, because I'd have friends over, and after a few hours they'd say, "Why do you have a cat bowl?" His passing was a loss to my world, but I know I gave him the best life possible, and he enriched mine beyond comprehension

    1. He was lucky to have you and I'm so happy you managed to bring him home. I wish more people would realize the care these babies need. Thank you so much for sharing! Losing my Butler was like losing my soul-mate, but I know that he taught me to love in a way that I can use to make Brady's life the best it can be and in the meantime, he is healing my heart.

  2. When we got married, my husband had 2 old cats and I had two dogs. He decided to rent his house to what seemed like a nice couple who said they'd care for the cats for a few days while we made preparations to introduce them to the dogs. The day after they moved in, my husband went to the house to check on the cats. He found Natasha, nearly dead, and Boris, hiding behind the dryer with his jaw broken in two places. Natasha went into renal failure, presumably from being kicked, and Boris underwent surgery to fix his jaw. My husband confronted the couple, who denied any wrong-doing. The vet would not confirm that the cats had been assaulted, but we knew that's what happened. It's taken a couple of years for Boris to get back to where he doesn't hide all the time. He's 16 years old now, very spry for an old cat, and now he lets me hold him. It was rough going there for awhile, as my husband watched both of those cats being born.

    1. Stories like that make me ill. We didn't take a vacation for ten years until I found someone I could trust to sit them at home. I'm so sorry you had to go through that, I hope Karma gets those people in the end!


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