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Kitten behaving very scared and isolated

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
I adopted 2 kittens, sisters when they were 3 months old. It's been 5 months now and they have been showing very different personalities. One of the kittens, Ruby, is always very calm, people friendly and i guess "normal", the other one, Pirate, acts like a complete douchebag. When they were little, Pirate was, and still is, way heavier than Ruby. She eats a lot more, and competes for food (literally takes a chunk of food from the bowl and carries it to some corner and eats it all there). Whenever I try to pet Pirate, she always steps away and hides in a dark corner. While Ruby does fine with strangers around, Pirate would hide for hours until the coast is cleared. Now, she would hide in the cold basement all day and then sneak upstairs for food and water while people are not around. If anyone goes near her, she would run the opposite the way and hide. The worst is that she would struggle to get away even if someone tries to pet her. Is this just her personality? Did I do something wrong raising Pirate to cause her to be that way? What should I do?
post #2 of 7
You don't say where you adopted from but it could be just their behavior. I know a friend of mine (passed away now) who adopted several kittens who were being tortured. The 2 brothers eventually became very friendly cats, but the little sister was an inside "feral" cat - you would not touch her, or do anything with her. She would run as soon as you reached for her - was this way her entire life. The kittens were all raised basically the same but the little female never trusted anyone.
post #3 of 7
It's probably just her personality. There are some things you can do to make it smoother. For instance, it's never helpful to chase a cat down (unless they're in danger.) Try isolating her in one room and invite her to come to you by holding your hand out (I point my index finger) and letting her come to you. If she sniffs you don't pet her. Just let her check you out until she relaxes. Try doing that several times on different days before you move to pet her. Also, if you make eye contact with her blink slowly at her. That's a way cats tell each other that they're feeling mellow and happy.
post #4 of 7
You haven't done anything wrong - she's just scared and obviously it is going to take a lot longer to earn her trust.

Ultimately, that is what socializing cats is about - learning how to earn a cat's (or kitten's) trust. One kitty is more trusting than the other. It's a personality thing.

Here is an article written about socializing ferals, so obviously some of it won't apply. But the principals are the same. Help her come to associate you with good things and earn her trust by just letting her be. For now - let her be scared! You provide a roof, safety, food, water, a clean litter box, and medical attention if necessary - and right now don't think of her as a pet, think of her as a refugee that needs time to adjust.


I would recommend not looking her in the eye at first - cats see this as a sign of aggression. Definitely do NOT seek her out. DO try to be in the same room with her - but ignoring her. Sing. Iron. Read a book out loud. Fold laundry - whatever - let her get used to your presence in a way that you're just sharing the space.

Let her watch her sister enjoying pets, brushes, play time.

In the meantime, get two t-shirts good and sweaty. Put one under the food dish she eats out of. Then, at roughly the same time every day, put treats out on the other one for her.

You can try to "draw her out" with interactive play. Again - I'd stick to a schedule if possible. Cats REALLY like routine. But if she shows no interest - don't push it.

Never go after her. Never reach out to her. Let her come to you - and when she does, ignore her. Let her sniff you.

When you get that first head bump - that "I want you to pet me" sign - it'll all have been worth it.

But the most important ingredient in this process is time - and work on her schedule, not yours, and you'll be very happy with the results.

Good luck,

post #5 of 7
You haven't done anything wrong. That may just be the type of kitty she is, a bit more flighty. There are things you can do to help her be more comfortable. Go slow, talk softly....make special "Pirate & me" time to work with her.

Maybe invest in a Feliway diffuser or two....they can help calm her some. Look into Rescue Remedy, it might help.
post #6 of 7
Rescue Remedy and Feliway can both be purchased here (Rescue Remedy is a Flower Essence - it really works with some cats, not with others): http://www.catfaeries.com

post #7 of 7
You've been given some excellent suggestions. I have a cat very much like yours. I rescued him at 4-5 weeks old from our barn after his mother had disappeared. He is now over a year old and despite having been raised by us, he still acts like a feral cat. He's been showing dramatic signs of improvement over the past week... just out of no where. It's very encouraging for me!
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