Our Goofy Cat Nekko

May 11, 2001

For the past few days one of our cats has been acting very strange. We had a party to celebrate my 40th birthday on Saturday. Between my brother's family, my parents and our friends from next door we had 14 extra people in the house (and out and in and out and in) for hours that afternoon and evening. Normally it's just the two of our two cats, Abby and Nekko and us.

Nekko doesn't much like changes to her routine. She is a cat of great will and usually gets what she wants through persistence. Having to stay hidden for so many hours must have been traumatizing for her. However, within a short time of the last guest leaving she was out exploring the scents and smells left behind.

Sunday morning she tried to jump up on our printer stand, which gives access to the neighboring desks. The stand is rather full as it also holds the TV cable converter box and a VCR. She has tried this path to the desk several times in the past with mixed results. Sunday was once again a failed attempt. Not only did she come tumbling down, as there was no place to land, but the remote, a cat brush, and a pair of scissors came tumbling down after her. She high-tailed it to the guest bedroom. We didn't see her again until quite late that evening.

It is normal for her to "bed lump" for hours at a time. She burrows down under the spread and sleeps there for 3 or 4 hours at a stretch. We weren't too concerned until that evening when we did finally see her again. Normally she announces her return to a room with a tribbling sound. That evening she slunk along the walls and when we noticed her she ran away to hide. She did make it to her food and water when we weren't looking but disappeared as soon as we called to her.

Needless to say we were both quite worried by this radical departure in her behavior. We thought she might have hurt herself in the fall so we found her hiding place and caught her. She hates this. Hissing and growling until she resigned herself to the indignity of being held. I carefully felt all of her limbs and tail. Those and her torso all seemed fine. She did allow herself to be petted for a few minutes before slinking off to hide again.

By Monday morning we had worked ourselves up to a fever pitch worrying about her. Deciding that we needed the reassurance of a vet we got the dreaded cat carrier out and went looking for her. Nekko is a master at hiding. She never hides in the same place twice in a row, and she finds very unlikely places to secret herself. The first time we caught her she was under the bed. The second time she was hidden between the pillows at the head of the bed, where the spread is held up anyway, and she didn't show. Crafty.

She fought going into the box, and cried piteously the whole way to the first vet's office. The girl there was not helpful at all. Rather than hear that we had a potential emergency she want to lecture us on all the shots Nekko would have to have before she could stay. When we explained that we weren't going to leave her and come back she seemed rather shocked. It was then we discovered that the vet himself wouldn't be in until 2 hours later. She did find another clinic whose vet was already there for us. Back in the car, more driving and more motion sickness for our poor cat.

Dr. Atkins was wonderful. He was very gentle with Nekko and very understanding of our fears. He felt that she was fine, if perhaps a bit traumatized by all that had happened to her in such a short time. He said if the conditions persisted for more than a few days we should bring her back for some more testing, otherwise she should be okay.

She stayed hidden most of Monday. And we left her to her own company thinking it was what she needed. However, by Tuesday evening we were starting to get concerned again. This was a cat who plopped herself down in front of you multiple times a day and demanded attention. Now we weren't seeing her at all. And when we did see her and spoke she ran away and hid. I did some reading on the Internet and discovered a page about feline depression. All of Nekko's actions seemed to match the description given. The cure was to lavish her with attention and praise. We hunted her down and spent about an hour just petting her and talking to her. She didn't resist and seemed to enjoy the contact. Later my wife carried her back out to the office area where all this began and Nekko allowed herself to be held for some time. Both of us praised her and talked to her. Finally she got down, but she didn't leave right away. Instead she sat with her back to us. We both agreed that she must be mad at our taking her to the vet. Eventually she went off to hide again.

This morning my wife got up to find Nekko sitting in the bedroom with her. Normally Nekko gets up on the bed and sleeps with my wife once I leave. When Nekko wants to play she stands on Michele until Michele gets up. Weighing in at 15 pounds this is a surprisingly effective technique. She followed Michele to the bathroom and then disappeared again. When Michele went through the living room Nekko was sitting in the sun, a daily ritual for her before the Trauma. She stayed there for a while and then went back to bed lumping.

We hope that with some more praise we'll get our precious, precocious, spunky, quirky, demanding little Nekko back.

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Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.