I own a traumatized cat who has special needs. She was born to mostly feral cats, i.e. cats that have an owner who doesn’t spay/neuter them, leaves them outside, doesn’t interact with the cats, and provides their feline colony with less food and water than it takes to support them. She and her family lived downtown on a busy road.
All of that to say that when we first adopted her, Kuno was afraid of both cars and people. I worked with her to develop her trust in people, and maybe I’ll write about that later, but we haven’t really made progress around cars. This is important because when I need to transport her, I need to use my car.
Today, I had to drive her for 20 minutes to bring her to my new home. I can’t keep her in a cat box during drives because she class the bars until she bleeds, and I can’t really let her roam free because she gets everywhere in the car- pedals, dashboard, steering wheel… Everywhere. It’s always difficult for both of us. Her yowling in terror and me trying to calm her verbally while driving as fast as I can to get where we are going. (I don’t really speed much, but I just try to take the smartest route.)
So, we made it. I let her hide in the footwell once the car was turned off, so she could have a few minutes of pause. I picked her up and carried her in, squatting down and letting her sit on my lap until she was ready to move to the floor.
I have tried to show her things- the litter box, the food dish, etc.- but she followed me to the master bedroom and hasn’t left our bathroom and closet yet. So I accepted it. She has tuna fish in the bathroom; her cat tree lets her reach the shelf in our closet so she can sit 6 feet in the air; there’s a cat bed on the shelf; the litter box is in the bathroom; the bathroom window is open so she can see and smell the outside world.
It’s all that I can do: just provide what she needs, come when she calls, and empower her to explore her new environment. The rest is up to her.