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Have you ever had a timid cat?

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
I got a new kitty about 1 and 1/2 weeks ago from a lady that could not afford to keep her any longer (she had 3 cats and 3 dogs). She's doing very well, and my resident cat is really coming along with the new addition. In fact, he's gotten over the hissing and has even tried to initiate play with her (he is used to being around other cats and is really playfull).

The only thing is, this new cat is very timid. The cat is a female, 1 yr 3 mo old and I just got her fixed Tuesday.

Apparently her timidness is not because she's new to me and my apartment. She was very timid with the previous owner as well who had had her since she was 6 weeks old. For example, whenever someone tries to pet her or reach out and touch her, she hunches down. However, when you do get to pet/touch her, she absolutely eats it up. She also exhibits similar behavior with my resident cat. She doesn't seem afraid of him, until he tries to play with her. If he's just sitting or standing around, she'll come up to him and sniff him and they'll even touch noses.

So, I'm just wondering if any of you have had a cat that was like her and did he/she eventually get over it?

I'm not going to pushing anything on her and I'm just letting her be herself and if that's how she will always be, that is fine. I just hope she gets braver because I'd think it would be more fun to not be so fearful.

post #2 of 9
Most kittens unless they are handled early in life, don't know what to do about people who need to pet them. If you have a litter, and you are handling them, and snuggling with them and getting them used to human touch, they are absolutely the most wonderful cats growing up. But other kittens either born outside, or born to neglectful cat parents don't have a clue what all this touchy feely stuff is all about and respond typically as you describe.

The best way to get this cat used to you is just to ignore her, until she initiates contact with a head bump or two. She is just conflicted and also still a bit overwhelmed by the major change in her enviornment. I would keep your other ccat away from her as well for awhile anyway. What seems like no time at all to us 2-3 weeks can seem an eternity to an overwhelmed cat-
post #3 of 9
I took in a litter of 4 kittens from a man who gave almost no contact when they were young. The alpha female E-Z (because she was so easy to tame) is now a clinic cat at my work (a vet's office) and adores people and attention. The shyest of the 4 was Trouble (she bit through my finger on the first day I had her) came home with me because no one else could get close enough to touch her. Well Trouble is coming up on 2 years old now and will only let me touch her in certain rooms of the house, and spends the rest of the time running from my husband and my daughter. At first I thought she was still so scared that she wanted attention on her terms, but after watching her it has become a game. Trouble will lay on the couch or bed just a foot away from my husband, but if he goes to reach for her she bolts, then stares at him like he broke the rules. Trouble is not like my other cats, who will follow you around and let anyone touch them, but her personality is unique. Give this new cat some time, she may never get over her shyness completely, but she will settle in.
post #4 of 9
You also have to make any contact you give the kitty positive. Maybe some tuna flakes, interactive toys, a sweaty shirt under the food dish, letting her come to you EVERY time. This may bring her closer to you, or it may just be her personality. Give her more time to get to know you and trust you.
post #5 of 9
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the replies! It sounds like from what has been said, this cat's first few weeks were what has made her like she is.

The cat is just over a year old and has been with the previous owner since she was 6 weeks old. From what I understand, she was rescued (I think with her mother) with cat food stuck to her and not in the greatest of care. She might have also had ring worm (the previous owner mentioned this cat, or maybe it was a different one, cuddling up to her and her being afraid she'd get ring worm from her). The good news is she's in perfect health now per my vet.

Right now, I have been more or less leaving her to herself and so has my resident cat (she likes my bedroom and he likes my living room). My mother has two ferals and a stray and has made great progress with her's. So I learned from her to let the cat initiate contact on his/her terms and make that interaction as positive as possible.

She does come around and makes contact with both myself and my other cat. She'll even try to jump up in my lap and has slept slightly under the covers on my chest and on my shoulder at night. It's just that when I pet her, she seems to cower for the first couple strokes. She was also like that if I'd walk by her, but she seems to be getting over that. It's almost like someone has hurt her in the distant past and it takes her a couple strokes to know that I'm not going to hurt her. I'm pretty sure it wasn't the previous owner, so maybe it was those first 6 weeks.

So, it sounds like I'm doing the right thing, I just need to keep all interactions as positive as possible and maybe keep the cats separated for a bit longer.

All this seems strange though because there were 2 other cats and 3 dogs, plus the owner and her daughter in the house with this cat and she was like this in their home. But, then again, I'm a human and a male at that and she's a cat.

Thanks again for the replies!

post #6 of 9
My kitten, BabyGirl is timid, even towards me. Her and her sister, Hoshi are my first cats...but I am trying my best to make her more comfortable with me.
post #7 of 9
My cat Misty is very very shy. When I was looking at the cages at the adoption place, all I saw in her cage was a kitty bed, turned upside down. I looked closer, and saw a paw sticking out. Apparently the volunteers always had to be sure that she had a bed to hide under.

Anyway, I brought her home and for about 3 weeks, I never saw her. She hid under my dresser and would only come out to eat and use the litterbox when I was asleep. Finally though, she warmed up to me and now loves to get into bed and be petted.

However, she is still always nervous. She hunches when I start to pet her, but then gets into it.

I guess my advice is just to be patient. Misty will probably always be shy and a bit nervous, even around me, but you can tell she's happy and healthy and that's what counts.
post #8 of 9
I have a couple of shy cats that interact with me on their terms. They are littermate brothers, born in the rafters of my garage to a feral mom. I started handling them the minute I discovered them, and brought them inside the moment they started eating food (their mom was terribly feral and I needed to separate them from their mom). After 8 years, they still run and hide from strangers, and keep their distance from us unless they want attention. Eightball is a sucker for my lap the minute I sit on the sofa or the reclinter. Tigger sleeps snuggled up to me every single night.

On the flip side, I also have a cat (Pinky) that was also born to the same feral mom that we didn't handle when young, and didn't catch him until he was about 4 months old (he is now about 5 years old). He is highly sociable with strangers and ourselves.

Hissy's advice is absolutely right that you have to handle kittens when they are young, but some cats are simply more shy than others. It's probably too soon to tell how your girl will fit in over time, but agree that you should let her come around when she is ready for it.
post #9 of 9
You also have to keep in mind that she has been through a lot in the last few weeks. She was over a year old when she got spayed, so she has had to adjust to changes in the hormonal levels in her body. She left the home she had known most of her life. She met a new cat and a new person who are both more interested in her than she is in them. If she is letting you pet her this soon, I bet once she gets used to all the changes she will be a nice kitty to have. Becky
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