Drastic Change in Cats Personality after Being Lost

by Carmen
(Lexington, KY)

The Lovely SWAT in happier days

The Lovely SWAT in happier days

My two-year old female spayed cat, SWAT, disappeared recently and was away from us for 20 days. She was finally located thanks to a microchip we had installed when she was spayed. She had been moved over 200 miles away from where we live by a friend of a neighbor who thought she was a stray. We are elated to have her home, but are worried about her behavior. She looks healthy and has no apparant weight loss, fur loss, or coat changes. However, she was previously a very social and friendly cat who loved to be petted even by people she didn't know well. She loved to cuddle and would seek out people and, especially warm laps. Since she has returned home, she is very skittish and growls or spits whenever anyone comes close or tries to touch her. She doesn't seem to remember us at all. Nor does she seem to know her 11-month old son who is also part of our household. They were previously very close, playing together, sleeping together, and grooming one another. While he seems to remember her, she wants nothing to do with him and will also spit, growl and strike out at him if he tries to get close.

Is this normal behavior for a cat who has gone missing for some time? While SWAT was born to a feral mama, she was handled by people very early and has always been a social and friendly cat. Should we be worried? Is there anything we can do to help her return to her old self? We are keeping her indoors exclusively, because we're afraid she'll bolt if we let her outside at all in her current mood. Any suggestions you can provide will be helpful.



Answer by KAte
hi yes this is not unusual behavior. She has probably spent some time being very afraid and having to be on guard all the time. these feelings will take some time to subside.

I would do two things. firstly take her to the vets for a through checkup, just in case there is something which is causing her some discomfort and anxiety.

Secondly i would give her a period of confinement training where by you would also re introduce her son to her in a safe environment. this way she will have less territory to worry about and be able to calm down and she can get to know her son and you again in short bursts.

Please see this page about the introduction process


Also may I suggest that the family try to bond with your cat again using the techniques described on this page


It puts your cat in the driving seat and gives her time to find her confidence again in her own time.

Don't worry I'm sure that given a little time and lots of tlc she will return to her former character.

best wishes KAte

Comments for Drastic Change in Cats Personality after Being Lost

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Indoor cat found after 24 hrs.
by: Anonymous

We were convinced we had brought home the wrong cat.
Moe was a happy cat, well behaved, only used the scratching post and stayed on the floor and was afraid to step foot outside.
Now he is angry towards our other cat, jumps on the dining room table and scratches the couch and tries to get outside.
Its been 2 days and I have noticed some improvement and hoping he returns to himself.

I think the person above that found there outdoor cat to be more friendly and happy to be indoors after being gone so long has probably brought home someone elses indoor cat that had gotten out.

Cat missing for over 3 months now she's back
by: Anonymous

Our moggy had been missing for over 3 months, we assumed the worst had happened and that we would never see her again, however today to our surprise wondering in the garden we found her, I grabbed her a brought her inside. She was very confused and once she was In All she wanted to do was go out. She has been done so we know she's not pregnant but she has come back a lot larger than we last saw her, we now assume that someone has been keeping her and feeding her which we are a bit annoyed about because she is microchipped so you would think that someone would hand her in to see if she is missing. She has a tendency to wander off and come back weeks later. We are now keeping her in and trying desperately to get her comfortable inside but all she's doing is growling and hissing at the door. She still rubs herself against our legs and she will let us pet her, but she not the same.
Anyone have any ideas on what we should do? She's so unhappy at the moment and it's killing us knowing that all she wants to do is run away somewhere else.
Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you x

personality change
by: Tina

My cat was missing for a little over a month. She was pretty much a loaner and did her own thing. Now she meows if left alone, even if that means your sleeping. All she wants is attention and someone near her at all times. Is this normal?

Cat comes home after 7 weeks and is much nicer!!!
by: Josephine Bridges

Hi there,

My cat recently disappeared for 7 weeks and was found 14 miles away in another town! The bizarre part is previous to her going she was a naughty cat who always bit people she didn't know, wasn't very cuddly and certainly more of an outdoor cat (we had outhouses and she was the mouse catcher cat more than a domestic cat). However, she has been home for a week now and is much much nicer, very cuddly, not eager to go outside and friendly with everyone, is this normal?

All I can think is that maybe she was taken in by someone during the 7 weeks and its made her tamer, however when we found her she was very skinny like she hadn't been fed. We like the fact that shes more cuddly but concerned as she isn't behaving herself at all.

Any advice is appreciated. Thanks :)

i think she must be just so happy to be home and being fed again that she is showing her gratitude towards you. I wouldn't worry.

Lost but now back
by: Mitzy

Our less than 2 yr old went missing. She had been gone 12 nights and we just found her. She never hissed and was so loving before her ordeal. Now she saw one of the other cats and hissed at her. She is very thin and I will take her to the vet tomorrow for a check, but thankfully she is still affectionate and wants to be with me. I am confining her to a bathroom away from our other 4 cats until she is stronger and I know she is well. I hope others will be as fortunate. The loss and worry was one thing and now we have the worry and concern until she gets back to her new normal. I hope it will be a peaceful transition for the other cats who were just as happy to have her gone. ..All but one, who used to tumble around with her. He hasn't seen that she is home. She is too weak at this point. Any pointers are welcomed

by: Stilla

I have just recently been so happily reunited with my precious Diva. she too was gone for about 20 days! She was found only about 30 miles from our home. The hardest part was the fear of her survival on her own. We are experiencing extreme heat. I was sick worring about this little girl. Now that she is home - she seems crabby (rightfully so) but I have noticed her hissing & growling at our white boxer pup. Normally they got along wonderfully. She does not want to be held just comfort, food and a cool home. But I see Diva is not going to tolerate anything.
She was returned to us however, very skinny and so hungry/dehydrated. She is getting all the TLC we can give her. I ma going to today to purchase "Goats milk" sold at our pet store. The benefits to this milk is fabulous. Diva is 12 years old and vey small naturally. Any suggestions how to fatten her up and bring her more comfort?

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