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Can you re-socialized a skittish/scardey cat?

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
I rescued Fifi from my backyard 2 years ago and I love her to death. She is still scared but mainly during the day. At night, she is the most affectionate, head bumping cat anyone can ask for. Is there anything that I can do to make her less scared? She uses her kennel as her safe zone but I have taken that away so that she doesn't have to go there whenever she gets spooked. Her brother Toby always tries to play with her but she always hisses at him. I know hes not trying to hurt her because she never shows any signs of abuse. Is there anything that I can do or try out with her so that she isn't such a scaredy cat anymore? Any advice would be welcomed!

Fifi

post #2 of 21
Some cats ARE shy...

Had you tried with a Feliway diffuser? Could help here, and cant hurt.

Im not sure it is a good idea to take away her safety place.
How is she reacting? Is it any better?

I myself think it is better to give her a couple of alternative hiding places. Cat igloo or such.

Pity she isnt good friend with her bro. But perhaps the Feliway diffuser will help here too.
post #3 of 21
I agree with the pp, I would not take away her safe place, and I would suggest getting some feliway, also keep in mind that cats have all types of personalities just like humans do. I have some very skittish kittens right now that we are working hard on socializing. It takes time and lots of patience! Good luck she is beautiful
post #4 of 21
Thread Starter 
Yes, I have tried the Feliway diffuser. I temporarily had taken her hiding spot away just to see where she would go and she just seemed too scared so I obviously gave it back to her. I just wish I could do something more to make her less scared ya know.
post #5 of 21
Thread Starter 
She may just be shy like Stephanz said. She is so loving at night when I'm on the computer with my gf and myself but during the day time....she is just so scared of me. I don't understand why after 2 years of complete love and affection.
post #6 of 21
I would be happy to help you gain her trust. You can PM me if you like. I have been socializing strays and ferals for a very long time.
post #7 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by GrooveRite View Post
Yes, I have tried the Feliway diffuser.
Feliway often works almost at once. But some reports it can take a couple of months before it really helps. So it would be on the second fill up, not the first dosage...
post #8 of 21
Fifi is so cute. I had two resident cats one female, one male brother and sister, when I brought in two feral males, both brothers from my backyard. They were 6 months old and their mama taught them well to be afraid of everyone and everything. I did the usual introductions, kept them apart for awhile. My resident male wanted to play with them but my resident girl was afraid of them, always spitting at them. What I did was, I would sit where she was on the floor and swing very gently a rubber spider on a string attached to a stick. They all got curious about it and would each try to swing at it. They wouldn't get close to each other but they were very curious about this thing. Little by little every day I did this for a while and Cinnie the one who was afraid got use to them and while she doesn't pal around with them, they can sit close to each other companionably. I'm sure it doesn't work for everyone, but it did for my guys. Good luck.
post #9 of 21
Thread Starter 
Thank you everyone for your kind advice!

Aswient, I caught Fifi and Toby in my backyard when they were first I'd say about 7 weeks old but when I had caught them.....bare handed mind you....my gf couldn't take them to her house so we released them in my backyard after having them in my house for the weekend. 2 weeks later, my gf inspires me to re-capture them but that she will help me take care of them and I ended up catching them again but this time, it was a tad harder. Their sister was the elusive one that I REALLYYY wanted (because or her beautiful markings) but she ended up being too wild so we let her go. I had her a year later when my neighbor asked me to get her fixed but she jumped out my window and went back to where she wanted to go I suppose. My Russian neighbor takes care of all the cats that come into our yards and I've helped him TNR all of them.

The complete litter.....
Toby, Fifi and Misha (my neighbor has her)

post #10 of 21
Oh they are soooo adorable, what sweet little furballs they are.
post #11 of 21
Patience is key!!! Love her for who she is and not what you want her to be...
These are words that I have lived by for the last 8 1/2 years with my little girl Lexus.

I saw Lexus outside across the street in the dead of winter (minus 40 degrees celcius) about 8 1/2 years ago. She was about 5 months old. I kept an eye on her for a while - watching if she had an owner. The only owner I saw her with was a neighborhood cat that I'd see her playing with. I started feeding her but she would never come near me. She was feral/stray. It took me about 1-2 months to get her into my home. She was absolutely terrified but my 3 year old male made it much easier b/c she absolutely loved him from day one. But that love for him definately did not roll over to me unfortunately.

One of the most important things I learned over the years is DO NOT force her into anything she is not comfortable with. When she is ready she will do it on her own. Another piece of advice that has worked for me is when I come into a room abruptly I do not look at her in her eyes (or she absolutely flips out and runs in terror). I spent many hours sitting in the same room as her and talking to her. Slowly moving closer to her over time. Gaining her trust. She would never sit on the same couch as me and I can now say in the last year she will come and sit with me and let me cuddle with her without Bishop anywhere near us. Although, she follows Bishop around like a puppy. And Bishop follows me around so this helped out alot!

She is such a special little girl and we have come so far together...

Give her time, love and patience and she will come around. Maybe not at your pace but she will :
post #12 of 21
Aw, what a cutie.

Do you mean that she gets very attention-seeking at night when you like down in bed or on the couch? That may be because she feels safe because you're in a submissive position. One of my cats does that (he'll also do it if I lie down for a weekend nap),, and after 9 years it's pretty much the only time he'll seek out affection and attention, except to briefly stop by and say hello off and on the rest of the time. He's not as skittish as he first was but he's not a lap sitter and he gets uneasy when picked up.

Thing is, you don't know what happened to her before she was rescued. So just let her do what she does over time. And I agree with the idea of giving her "her safe spot" back.
post #13 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Denali View Post
Patience is key!!! Love her for who she is and not what you want her to be...
Patience I do have but you may be right that I want her to be something that she may not want to be right now. I will let her be but I just can't help trying to see if I can make her feel less scared. Easier said than done.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Denali View Post
Another piece of advice that has worked for me is when I come into a room abruptly I do not look at her in her eyes (or she absolutely flips out and runs in terror).
Fifi does the same exact thing as well! I can't help but be surprised most of the time when I come home to find her in the living room and she looks at me with this look of dread and fear. Now that I think of it, I do look straight at her which is why she bolts as soon as I start talking to her and moving her way, lol. Thanks for the advice!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Denali View Post
Give her time, love and patience and she will come around. Maybe not at your pace but she will :
I know its a work in progress and she will most def come around....at her pace not mine, lol.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brokenheart View Post
Aw, what a cutie.

Do you mean that she gets very attention-seeking at night when you like down in bed or on the couch? That may be because she feels safe because you're in a submissive position. One of my cats does that (he'll also do it if I lie down for a weekend nap),, and after 9 years it's pretty much the only time he'll seek out affection and attention, except to briefly stop by and say hello off and on the rest of the time. He's not as skittish as he first was but he's not a lap sitter and he gets uneasy when picked up.

Thing is, you don't know what happened to her before she was rescued. So just let her do what she does over time. And I agree with the idea of giving her "her safe spot" back.
Not when I lay down, just around evening time when I go on the computer in my room. See, shes not scared of me in my room.....ONLY when shes in the living room. If I abruptly move in my room, she will bolt so I usually move slowly so she doesn't get spooked.

She was born outside in my backyard. The only tramatic experience that I know that she has had is when I caught them. Fifi peed and pooed on me when I caught her bare handed. Someone told me its because they actually think they are going to die. I've felt bad about the way I caught them but I feel like I have more than made up to them with the love and support I provide them. They eat better than I do, lol!

I only took her safe spot away for 1 day once to see what she would do and I saw that she was uneasy and more scared so she will always have her safe spot where she feels safe.


This is what I find on my bed every night after I take my before bedtime shower......
post #14 of 21
Their position in this last picture shows trust, they normally don't show their tummys if they feel threatened. Its a very vulnerable position. So I think you are doing everything right. Just give her time. She'll come around. You have some cute cats there.
post #15 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by aswient View Post
Their position in this last picture shows trust, they normally don't show their tummys if they feel threatened. Its a very vulnerable position. So I think you are doing everything right. Just give her time. She'll come around. You have some cute cats there.
Bang on....cats do this because they feel they can trust us!!! They are so absolutely adorable and precious... Lexus loves her belly rubbed - but I didn't know that until the last 2-3 years...when she lets me rub her belly I know this is a sign that she trusts me.

Aren't kitties precious...both Lexus and Bishop sleep with me every night. I sometimes even find Lexus kneading on me!!! We've come a LONG way together and it's all been worth it
post #16 of 21
What a great picture! Thank you for posting it.
post #17 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Denali View Post
I saw Lexus outside across the street in the dead of winter (minus 40 degrees celcius) about 8 1/2 years ago. She was about 5 months old. I kept an eye on her for a while - watching if she had an owner. The only owner I saw her with was a neighborhood cat that I'd see her playing with. I started feeding her but she would never come near me. She was feral/stray. It took me about 1-2 months to get her into my home. She was absolutely terrified but my 3 year old male made it much easier b/c she absolutely loved him from day one. But that love for him definately did not roll over to me unfortunately.
This sounds like the same problem I have. My two current furry roommates are sisters and very skitty. I adopted them from my aunt and uncle's farm where they were basically feral when they were about 8 weeks old...I rushed the adoption a bit, catching them rather than letting them slowly get used to me, because I was concerned about their health. Ringworm, tapeworms, cats on the property randomly getting sick and disappearing...they needed to see a vet, and once I had caught them to take them to the vet anyway, I wasn't going to release them back into the wild.

Anyway, up to 8 weeks, they had practically no human socialization. I've had them for about three years. Panther has adjusted to me and likes when I pet her, but is fearful around new people. Squirrel is my real problem--she tolerates me being in the same room, which is progress, but doesn't accept any interaction other than playing with a laser pointer. Squirrel's social behavior has gone up and down--there've been times when she would let me pet her, though it's always had to be her approaching me, not the other way around. Any time I'm out of town, it's like starting all over (the obvious solution to that would be to never be out of town, but I'm also in a long-distance relationship, and all my family is out of state, so, it's going to happen sometimes). Another possible reason she's had a setback lately is that our other furry roommate, Chilsa, an older cat who was very social with humans therefore set a good example, passed away a couple months ago.

I'm usually good with animals--my boyfriend's dog, who doesn't like anybody, curled up in my lap--but I'm at my wits' end for what to do for Squirrel. I know from her reactions to other people that I'm the human she trusts most...and once when I was moving a long distance and stopped in a motel overnight, I found her under the covers with me the next morning...but it's hard to just be patient for so long, with results so few and far between, when all I want to do is cuddle my cat.
post #18 of 21
Quote:
but it's hard to just be patient for so long, with results so few and far between, when all I want to do is cuddle my cat.
I know - I feel your frustration. I used to go and sit in the same room as Lexus (even if she was under the bed) just so I could be near her. Hoping she would come running over to me She'd come over on her terms over the years as well. But if I'd move suddenly or go at her too quickly she would run. I was lucky that I had Bishop over the years to cuddle but a part of me wanted to cuddle with her too. The change in her DID NOT happen over night. And she is still not a "normal" cuddle cat. When she is laying with me and I smother her too much she will get up and walk away. But she does love it when I rub her belly

Once I learned to accept her for her unique qualities and the love she had for Bishop (and accepted she was not your typical cuddle cat) - then she started to trust me more. 8 1/2 years later and she still runs when people come over. But will venture out if she feels safe. She actually will let people pet her. That always warms my heart when I see that.

I take Bishop and Lexus out to my parents cabin every summer and she hides alot of the time she is there. But she loves the big windows and patio doors. I believe this helped her get closer to me b/c she was so friendlty to me when I'd come and visit her hiding. Now she'll venture into the living room at night and when no one is around (except me). One day about 5 years ago I had her and Bishop outside on their leashes. The neighbor came over (and didn't know how much of a scaredy cat Lexus was from sudden movements). He came at her with a box and that was it - she took off - leash and all....I was terrified because all there is are bushes and bushes every where and wild animals. I freaked out - we searched and searched for her for hours. I knew in my heart that all the calling in the world was not going to get Lexus to come out to me. It wasn't going to happen - especially with other people around. The only thing that saved Lexus was her red leash. My dad went down the street (about five houses down - widespread) and was looking for her and talking with the neighbor when he noticed a red leash under a shed. It was her...thank goodness! I never let her out of the cabin at the lake now....

Privately contact "Hissy" above - she has had much experience with ferals/strays. She may be able to help move along your situation.
post #19 of 21
A mini-celebration: Squirrel got close enough that I was able to touch her for a second earlier. Then she skittered back a few feet but didn't completely take off. Later, I was able to walk past within a few feet of her, without her getting out of the way. I think it's partly because I've been playing with her through the laser pointer more lately--she's gotten used to coming to me to ask me to get it out.

She's got me trained: she gives me the treat of coming up to me, and I do what she wants and get the laser pointer out. Cats are smart!
post #20 of 21
Quote:
A mini-celebration: Squirrel got close enough that I was able to touch her for a second earlier. Then she skittered back a few feet but didn't completely take off. Later, I was able to walk past within a few feet of her, without her getting out of the way. I think it's partly because I've been playing with her through the laser pointer more lately--she's gotten used to coming to me to ask me to get it out.
Woohooo....that is something to celebrate!!!. I know it may seem like such a small step to you but it was huge to squirrel. But I'll tell you - it is a step in the right direction. This is how it began with Lexus....keep on playing with her and talking softly....sounds like this will help build trust.....

Last Friday I was sound asleep in bed and woke up suddenly to find Lexus standing on my chest....that was the first time she has stood on me in bed....I don't know why she was on me (maybe I was making wierd noises while I slept and she was worried???) but it was a new experience
post #21 of 21
Thread Starter 
Well, I've been giving Fifi the silent/ignore treatment and shes been seeking my attention oddly enough, lol. I have also cut back on leaving them dry food out all day since they are both gaining A LOT of weight so I'm portion controlling what they eat. They are still getting their wet food at 7pm when I get home from work but they are waiting for me at the door as if to say.....Sheesh, thank God you're home..... FEED US!!! lol Fifi is very vocal now and doesn't seem to be too scared since hunger seems to outweigh her fright, lol. Some progress I suppose
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