Missing Cat in rural area after Tornando gone 3 weeks

I'm concerned. Will our lovable 6 year old male neutered cat return to normal? A tornado took out the barn he lived in as an inside only cat just over 3 weeks ago. Finally, he was found, 3 miles from home. He was scared, with some injuries, but we took him to veterinarian and he thinks all injuries were superficial and gave us meds. We can pet him on his head, only on his terms!

But he is hissing, growling, and biting. Never has he ever even hissed at us or our dog in his life. He has always been a great cat who act's more like a dog. I'm sure there’s no telling what he endured while he was gone as we live in the country. But he's alive and we want so much for him to be himself again! Do you think he will?

I am so very sorry to hear that both you and your kitty have gone through a time of such stress.
It can take quite some time for your kitty to readjust after such a traumatic event, but creating a calm environment, especially through your body language, can help.

You are correct that you will likely never know what your kitty experienced while he was missing, but it is clear that he is very frightened. Your body language in response to his fear and aggression is going to play a critical role in helping him. Continue to approach your kitty only on his own terms, even if that means just scratching his head when he allows it. And, even though it can be difficult, do not to pull away or flinch when your cat bites or scratches. Doing so can actually increase his fear and aggression. Most cats will stop biting or scratching a hand, for instance, when the hand isn’t pulled away. Similarly, if there is a loud noise or sudden movement in your home that seems to scare your kitty, such as your dog barking, try to react calmly, possibly laughing quietly and shrugging it off. The more calm you are for your kitty, the more likely he is to feel more peaceful and at ease.

You may also want to try using feline pheromone products such as Feliway, which can help to reduce cat stress. And, if the behavior continues, you can discuss the use of mild sedatives with his veterinarian to help relax your kitty as he is readjusting to his environment.

Best wishes,
Dr. Neely

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