Trauma On The Homefront

Scout and I suffered a traumatic event Thursday night. It was actually the worst day of his life since he came to live with me last year.

He’s a house cat. There are too many predators where I live to make it safe for him to roam freely. Instead, I take him out to the screened in porch to sit in his playpen or I hold him while we investigate flowers, watch birds or just sit and enjoy the day. But I have long wanted to leash train him so that he could walk in the grass and explore the world more freely.

He’s not fond of the harness but I strapped him in it Thursday night and we went out to the porch. He was doing ok, sniffing flowers and hanging out. But a loud vehicle went by and it terrified the little guy.

Mind you, the reason I have Scout is that he was a stray that got spooked by a noisy truck and ran into traffic. I scooped him up and didn’t have the heart to just put him back down in the street.

So when he was scared the other night, my sweet little house panther turned into a wildcat, hissing, biting and scratching while he lashed out at everything. He knocked over plants and snagged the table cloth before lunging at the screen and climbing toward the ceiling.

He even escaped the harness which is supposed to be escape proof.

I opened the door and he thankfully hurled his little body inside and ran under the bed for safety. I was left shocked, bloody and not sure what I had just witnessed.

If we had been inside, the noise would not have been been a problem. If I had been holding him, it would have been ok. But standing on his own four paws with the harness he hates and without my chin to tuck himself under, well, I was asking for trouble.

He hid under the bed all evening, refusing treats, toys and comfort. Even when he came out, he kept his distance as well as his eye on me at all times.

The whole darn mess is clearly my fault and I am not to be trusted. His message was loud and clear.

He’s still skittish. He’s still not completely participating in our routines. He’s still a little shaken up. Although he did help clean a closet last night and this little adventure did him a world of good.

As for me, the bleeding has stopped but there will undoubtedly be scars to remind me of this horrible incident.

Even when we coddle and adore our pets, we have no way of knowing what they experienced before they met us or how deep the trauma lies. I don’t know how far or how long he ran from scary noises before he ran into me but he clearly has PTSD.

While my world is quite large and I have no fear of what lies beyond my backdoor, he clearly does. I just never noticed because he’s happy in his comfort zone. His home is our house and wherever he’s in my arms.

I won’t do that to him again. The harness and leash will go away. If I can coax him onto the porch again, I’ll carry him around and we’ll chirp at the birds and sniff the flowers together. We will be happy in his little world.

The photo above was taken late Thursday night when he finally claimed his usual spot in the bed. Look how upset he is. That’s an expression I hope to never see again.