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My very nervous and scardey cat.

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
My Milo has always been scaredy cat. I could tell the first time I saw him at the animal shelter when he was 8 weeks old. He wouldn't come up to the front of the cage so I could pet him. Rather he looked at me and started to knead the blanket in his cage. When I tried to walk away to see some other kittens, he started meowing with this deep funny meow that made me laugh. He was terrified when I brought him home and would freak me out by hiding so well that I could never find him.

He is almost a year old now. When it's just me, my dad and/or my boyfriend, Milo is fine. However, the moment someone else walks in the door, he can't run fast enough to hide. Last week my cousin came over and wanted to meet Milo for the first time. I manged to get him out from under my bed and carried him out to the other room. He was literally shaking when he saw someone new. I brought him back in my room so he wouldn't be upset anymore.

He's also not the cat that likes to be held. His body tenses up, he spreads his toes, and his tail is rigid. The only person he really likes is me. Every night when I lie down to go to sleep, he jumps up and has to knead my arm for at least 5-10 minutes before he decided to lay down. It's almost like it's compulsive since I can't interrupt his "happy dance" or he has to start over. He also wraps his paws around my arm and "hugs" me. It one of my favorite bedtime routines.

I know being nervous is a part of his personality, but is there anything I can do to help him?
post #2 of 8
Your baby will probably always be nervous and a little weary around strangers. Some cats are just like that. BUT there are some things you can do to make it a little less severe. When you have people over, trying luring your cat out and letting the visitor give him a little bit of kibble, a nice treat, or any special toy that he likes. That way he associates new people with good things. Just continue to work with him and be very reassuring. Maybe letting them pet him (and ooh and ahh over him of course) while he is in the safety of your lap or arms? It's a very gradual process and like I said earlier, he probably won't ever be the cat to come and rub the ankles of any visitor. Just be patient and try to make him more comfortable, but never rush him or force him to stay when he's obviously very uncomfortable. That will just reinforce his idea of non-momma=bad. Good luck!
post #3 of 8
When you know people are coming over, ask them for a towel or piece of clothing that they've used ahead of time. Then put that cloth near Milo, maybe where he sleeps, so he gets used to the smell. You could even try rubbing it on him to make him smell the same as the visitors. It probably wouldn't work well to do this with all visitors, but maybe with friends or family who come over on a regular basis.
post #4 of 8
I don't try to make Chester do anything he is uncomfortable with. When he hears someone at the door he usually heads to the closet in my room. That is his safe place.

If I have one or two people in and they are relatively quiet he may come out to investigate. Other times when there are more he will stay in the closet until they all go home.

If it's one person and he is used to them he will come out and greet them on his own terms but usually keeps his distance.

I don't let people go after him and try to lure him out. This upsets him too much. He has only scratched on person in the four years that he has been with me and that was because she was invading his safe place.

He also does not like being picked up or handled. I wish he were more huggable but I've come to accept that this is his nature.
post #5 of 8
I agree with Cheshire - it's best not to force it. The idea Goldy has is a good one, for regular visitors. Ask them for something that smells like them that they don't mind giving up for a while, and let him get used to "new" people smells by leaving treats out on them for him every day. This will help him associate them with good things.

Otherwise, just to help his overall skittishness, you can try buying flower essences "Bach's Rescue Remedy" is a good one for kitties like this. You can also buy Feliway - either the plug-in or the sprays.

But forcing him just won't help. Flowerbelle is seven now. We only tried to bring her out to meet someone once, and she freaked so bad we've never done it again. Now that Gary's mom has visited for a week or two and stayed with us every year, Flowerbelle will come out 2 or 3 days into the visit - but otherwise she is nowhere to be found.

You're a love for adopting this scardey boy who needed you. But if you want a kitty you can "share" with others, perhaps adopt a second cat? Maybe an older kitty that they know for sure is people friendly. If you have frequent visitors, maybe Milo will eventually come to understand they don't want to hurt him. But other than those few ideas, I don't think there's much to do but just let him be him and understand - he loves you.

Laurie
post #6 of 8
It's always *possible* he could come around with time; your cat is still young. I have a cat who is about two and a half years old. He was terrified of us when we brought him home at 10 weeks, and it took a couple of months before he warmed up to me, the keeper of the cat food, let alone our friends. My vet told me he would probably always be the sort of cat who hides when we have guests.

Today, I can't say he's wild about strangers, but he's much better than he used to be, and he sometimes lets our guests pet him. Unfortunately, I can't offer you any advice, because I didn't do anything to cause this transformation! The only thing I can offer is that I think the more guests I have, the less upset he seems to be about it. I agree with the other posters, though: one has to be patient and let them approach strangers on their own terms.
post #7 of 8
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by LDG View Post

You're a love for adopting this scardey boy who needed you. But if you want a kitty you can "share" with others, perhaps adopt a second cat? Maybe an older kitty that they know for sure is people friendly. If you have frequent visitors, maybe Milo will eventually come to understand they don't want to hurt him. But other than those few ideas, I don't think there's much to do but just let him be him and understand - he loves you.

Laurie
I love my scaredy cat. When he was at the shelter as a kitten, I knew he was mine from the funny way he meowed at me when I tried to walk away from him to see the other kittens. It was almost like he was saying, "No, you already found me meowmy!" I feel so lucky at night when he cuddles up to me and "happy dances" until he falls asleep. I feel like we have this special secret bond. I do have a second cat, Teddy, who is is a ham when people come over. Teddy is so social and everyone loves him. They all call Milo a wimp... but I love my little wimp.

Thanks everyone for the suggestions, I'll try them out and see if they work. Milo is such a loving kitty. I feel privileged that he chose me to show that side of him.
post #8 of 8
My Minka (and Leo to some extent) is the exact same way. My friends always joke that I am lying about having 3 cats and really only have 1.

I've just accepted that this is how she is. Although one time my brother stayed for 3 nights and she was so darn lonely she finally came out! We couldn't believe it!

I really think you shouldn't force it. If there is someone that comes over frequently enough that you cat can bond with him/her, it may be worth trying. But for company in general I don't think your cat will ever be used to that.
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