Q: My cat is going to be sound asleep, then suddenly it wakes up and flies from where it was and acts very scared. Is she afraid of the night?
Dr. Nichol: Your cat may have a sleep disorder, but we don’t want tunnel vision. Her horror when she is jerked from a restful sleep tells us that her brain responds with intense emotions, but the real problem could be somewhere else in her body.
Pain can come from almost anywhere. Cats with allergies can be startled by severe itching. Whether they are soundly asleep or just sitting still, they can suddenly run out of the room as if they were being shot from a cannon. A stab of pain from an arthritic joint or an abdominal cramp can turn your kitten from an otherwise gentle nap. It’s not peaceful; She has to feel safe.
The history of your kitten’s physical functions is important in determining the real problem. Can she jump as high as often and with ease as she did in middle school ballet? Is it as active as it was in its prime or has it become a kind of snail? Is she overexciting – is she licking her coat excessively? Is she missing hair anywhere? Does she vomit, or does she have loose or loose stools?
Any behavior, behavioral or otherwise, deserves a good investigation, which includes an assessment of the joints, palpation and listening with a stethoscope of a cat’s stomach, and a thorough look at the skin. This may include a microscopic examination of flakes of skin and scratches. A blood profile ensures that the function of the internal organs is up to date.
Night terrors could really rattle your kitten. Watch them for other reactions like being startled with noises or being afraid of creatures indoors or outdoors. If your cat’s health is just poor in all departments, we can help her get the healthy rest she needs using an oral medication such as melatonin or lorazepam. She needs to feel better quickly, so treating her symptoms is okay as long as we don’t leave anything to chance to find the cause.
Dr. Jeff Nichol, an in-residence trained veterinary behaviorist, offers face-to-face and telephone consultations, as well as Zoom (505-792-5131). Every week he shares a blog and Facebook live video to get the most out of pets and their people. Register for free at drjeffnichol.com. Ask questions on facebook.com/drjeffnichol or mail them at 4000 Montgomery NE, Albuquerque, NM, 87109.