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How can I get my cats to stop being afraid of HUMANS?

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
I live alone and seldom have any visitors and when my brother and his wife DO come up my cats panic - especially Missy. I think Missy was abused as she is really terrified of people and the same with my Siamese girl Kotton.

We went to Petsmart today for photos with Santa and all did OK BUT once back Missy saw my SIL and hid under the bed for the whole rest of the day!

I feel so bad for her and desperatly want her to not be afraid but have no idea how to let her know she won't be hurt now she is with me!

Heidi and her Kidties
My Dear Special GIRLS:
Corkie - DEAR Courageous Litta Miss Incredible SWEETHEART Tabby
Saint Lady Kotton - Dearest Sweetest Comforting LOVE of a Blue-eyed Siamese Girl EVER!
Missy - LOVING & feisty & God and catfriends kitty gift to me
Our WONDERFUL young PROTECTOR in a Spotted tabby boy body
With our, so desperately missed, BELOVED ANGELS :-{
Schatzi - BEST EVER TUXEDO Standard Poodle Boy & God's MOST LOVING ANGEL
Minnie -SUNSHINE SAINT, CALICO Girl - Heart of GOLD, & God's Most PURRFECT Angel
with AMIGO - dear loving Tom who almost was ours
The moon is my silver ~ The sun is my gold
Heaven will not Heaven be if my furbabies aren't there for me
post #2 of 12
Sierra is also afraid of others, and I, too, made the mistake of trying the photos with Santa a few years ago. This is something that will not be repeated! I have learned to respect Sierra's fear and don't put her in a position where she has to interact unless she chooses to do so. For instance, in the rare case we should have visitors, I explain whose coming over to Sierra and put her in the bedroom where she has all of her water, food, favorite toys, etc. before anyone ever arrives. I also ask the guests to speak quietly so as not to startle Sierra. After a while, I open the door and invite Sierra to visit if she'd like, this, of course, only if she is not acting afraid or hiding at this point. That way, if she chooses to visit, she can, but will not feel undue pressure if she would prefer to stay in her safe spot.
post #3 of 12
The kitten we adopted had a rough life before he came to live with us. I don't know his story, but I can guess from his reactions. He used to be abused by a man, being hit and having things thrown at him. It's just mom and me (I'm a girl) in the house, so it wasn't an issue. But when my grandpa, my uncle, or our male neighbors come over, Little One freaks out! (That's why we figure it's a man who did it.)

Treats went a long way to help socialize him. As soon as company (he's skittish around all strangers, but terrified of men) comes over, we stick the treat bag in their hands, and make them pass out treats to the cats, whether they like it or not. :evil grin: Over the past two months that we've had Little One, we've had more company that usual. Now he'll lay in the doorway and watch the action. Once he feels safe he'll come up and ask for a treat from our guests (he can't resist the temptation). Mind you, he used to hide the moment he heard a stranger, and wouldn't come out for about two hours after they left.

Our next-door neighbor is a cat lover who can't have a cat at the moment. (She's got a spoiled rotten dog and her elderly parents are living with her, so she wants to wait until she can give a cat the attention it needs.) She loves coming over to see my boys. I just love her! Anywoo, since she's comfortable with cats, we've asked her to brush Little One just for a minute or two when she comes over, it took a few visits of this, but now he comes running when he hears her voice. (I always wished this is what we could do at the animal shelter I volunteer at - pass out brushes at the door and tell people to make a friend!)

Mainly, I think a cat needs to learn that there are people who won't hurt them. It takes a lot for an abused cat to trust one person, and it takes even more time and work to get them to trust others.

I know there are a lot of people on this board who deal with strays and ferals. They know how to help a cat who has a fear of people, and I'm sure someone can give you other (and probably better) ideas!
post #4 of 12
It helps to not take your cats away from their comfort level. Although a picture with Santa is something you want, you have to look at it from your cat's perspective. Santa is a large man, with heavy black boots, a beard, a strange hat, and he smells like a bunch of people (or on pet day) like a bunch of pets. No wonder your cat freaked out when it was over, mine would have torn up Santa, and anyone else in the vicinity.
post #5 of 12
I agree with all said here, cats have a personality just like people. And need to be allowed to keep their comfort level. Mine isn't too fearful, but at times he is. And I honor that. LIke for some reason he doesn't like one of my friends, he gets really figety when he is here.

They may relax more with time.
post #6 of 12
Thread Starter 
Actually my Scared Missy and lover Benji did very well and Kotton ttoo, with Santa. Corkie just wanted out of there as she was certain he was the Vet!

It was my sister in law, who, being kind enough to come and do the Christmas tree, that freaked Missy out and when SIL tried to pet Corkie SHE (Corkie) freaked. She is used to my brother and will allow him to pet her as he loves her and SIL does not!

BIG problem is my Sister, whom I have not seen in years and whose husband recently died, will be coming in January and I hate to see Missy under the bed.
post #7 of 12
Your post is starting to make me really think about my own cat - Baylee has been with me for 3 months now and she's been really sheltered - the only outside contact she's had, other than the vet, is with my boyfriend (who she sees all the time) and a few times she met his roommate. That's it. So now that I think of your cat's reaction to seeing Santa, perhaps it would be a bad idea for my cat to meet Santa, since she's not used to meeting people to begin with - when you add other animals and a crowd to the mix, it could be bad.

The only thing I can think of, which is something I'm thinking about doing with my cat, is to get her used to meeting new people - slowly, of course. I've read several books where you get a person to come over, and just sit there talking to you, ignoring the cat. The next visit the person interacts more with the cat, and so on until the cat is used to the person. Does that make sense?
post #8 of 12
It would freak Rosie and Sophie out if i took them to see santa because their shy and nervous with people until they sniff them out.

I have to tell anyone who is a new visitor to my home to just let Rosie and Sophie sniff them, then slowly put out a hand for them to sniff, then as soon as they start giving their legs head butts they know their ok with them
post #9 of 12
Stories like this make me feel really sorry for the poor cats who people have treat so badly. They ae lucky to have found safe homes. It also makes me appreciate my Tux who, whenever I have guests, just walks up to them and drops on her back for tummy scratches. She is such a harlot!
post #10 of 12
I have one like yours. Daisy will hide away whenever anyone comes into the house. She is OK with us, but other people (even those she has 'met' before) are classed as Dangerous Strangers in her head. You can't force a cat to like people, all you can do is to provide an environment where the cat feels safe, and see if he or she will begin to trust again. I make sure that Daisy has plenty of places to hide, in every room, so that she can get herself to a 'safe' place if she needs to, and I spend as much time with her as I can. I have noticed that she is better when I am not working (in the school holidays) and have tried to use this as a Very Good Reason why I shouldn't go out to work, but sadly, that one didn't work.....

post #11 of 12
Maverick wasn’t really used to people and I felt sorry for her coming to such a big noisy house.

Whenever we had friends over or people I wanted her to meet I’d get them to sit with me in my bedroom (her special quiet room)with the door shut and just ignore her until she came out from under the bed. Once out my friend would give her a treat and play with her with a cat wand for a bit.

Maverick especially loves big groups of teenage boys (go figure) because my little brothers friends were always so kind and gentle with her when they came to visit. When they come over she’ll follow them around and be content just to sit and watch them for a few hours!

I think your best bet might be to try not to over comfort her when your sil is round. I heard that cats can pick up on your nervousness and if your trying to reassure them feel that theres something to be scared of.
post #12 of 12
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by millyanddaisy
I have one like yours. Daisy will hide away whenever anyone comes into the house. She is OK with us, but other people (even those she has 'met' before) are classed as Dangerous Strangers in her head.
Poor Missy even hides from ME! If she sees me walk in the door: off she goes to hide! If I stand up after sitting, off she goes to hide. I think I may try some of the bach flower remedies. I hate her to be afraid - especially of ME! <sigh>
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