Cats that have been abused can appear severely maimed and damaged all over their exterior. Some may appear to be in perfect shape on the outside, although all of the damage they sustained may be internal or emotional. Even though physical damage is bad, emotional damage is much tougher to fix. Cats who have physical abuse will still answer to a soft touch and soft voice, as long as they know that the abuse has come to an end.
When you have a cat that has been emotionally abused, you'll need to wait until the cat comes to you. You'll need to use patience, as the cat will be confused and not know if you plan to hurt him or not. If you take your time and let him know that you are nothing to fear, he will eventually come to you. When he starts to come to you, you can let him sniff you and pet him. After a while, he will learn that he can trust you and he will come to you when you call him.
Yelling, raising your voice, or using disciplinary tools such as flyswatters or water guns the wrong way can lead to emotional damage. If you continue to use the wrong means of discipline on an emotionally damaged cat, the cat can become mean or lethargic. When a cat turns mean, it's not always a bad thing. Meaner cats are easier to reach, as they still care a bit about what happens to them - while lethargic cats could really care less.
Cats that have become lethargic won't play, take treats, or respond to anything you say to them. With a lethargic cat, the ideal way to get him to respond is to bring in a companion cat. Over time, a lethargic cat will eventually look for attention, normally a scratch or a pat. When this happens, you should always use a soft voice and snuggle with him. Never raise your voice at this point, and make sure you let the cat know that his behavior is a lot better.
You should make slow movements around a lethargic cat, as he is still quite traumatic. Once he is coming around and letting you touch him again, he is getting back to his normal self. Keep in mind that it may take some time, which is to be expected with this type of situation. If your cat starts to get upset again or if you raise your voice, he will hide again. If you continue to use a soft voice and have patience, your cat will eventually get past this. If you get a cat that is lethargic, you should prepare yourself for a long and very intensive healing period.
Angry or mean cats on the other hand, will either fight and scratch with you, or simply run away from you. With mean cats, the best thing to do is use gentle treatment with a soft voice. You can never try to raise your voice or use strict discipline, as it will only make the cat meaner. Never attempt to trap the cat either, as trapping it will only make the cat react. If you take your time and let the cat know that you are there for him, he will eventually calm down.
Abused cats are truly a sad thing, although they are out there. Abused cats can be a sad thing to see indeed, especially those that were physically abused. Abused cats need a loving home and a loving owner who will give them the type of lifestyle they deserve. Always remember that if you are dealing with an abused cat - you should always be as gentle as you possibly can.