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Thread: Skittish Cat Help Needed

  1. #1
    Super Member MaggieLou's Avatar
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    Skittish Cat Help Needed

    I'm hoping someone can give me some advice. We have a year old cat that we got when she was about 4 months old. Her mother and littermates were all feral. We took her sister and her. The sister has tamed up mostly but Mischief is still skittish and won't come to us. She will take treats from my hand occasionally though. Any thoughts on how to help tame her? She is very skittish and will take off if you get close to her. I've seen some medications in the pet store to help calm cats. Do any of these work/help and if so please share the names? They are indoor cats and I don't let them outside. TIA
    Margaret

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    Patience, patience, patience. Just continue what you're doing and let her come to you. Even cats who are not feral, can be very independent. I had a cat "Jetta" was very independent. You couldn't just go pick her up. She was that way for the 4 years I had her. She got outside twice and had to litters. We eventually gave her to a lady who had a huge house and lost her own cat. She took Jetta and Lea (who we thought was Leo at first). She just let them be themselves. As long as Mischief is using the litter box, that would be my only concern. She should eventually join in play with you and her sister.

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    Power Poster nativetexan's Avatar
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    the more you can handle her, the better. we took in a mama and her two girls. one stayed in the garage while the others came in the house to eat. I figured the timid one would come around in her own good time. Mistake! Now, six years later she's much, much better. Still a timid cat though. Her mama had a second litter in our house (her boyfriend visited her before we could get her to stay inside) and one of that litter was very timid. Even though those were handled as soon as mama would let us. Lots of talking to kitty, petting and calmness around her. I pet my Rosie every day many times a day. I pick her up behind her front paws and pat her tummy, leaving her back feet on the floor. Then I do that and pick her up cupping her back feet. take her to the door to look out, talking to her all the while.kiss her ears and let her down gently. This all takes time. But do not give up. That essential bonding is missing since you couldn't get to handle her earlier. Rosie lets me pet her while eating now too. Good luck. Oh and Rosie was named Buddy first because we thought she was a he. The Vet informed me she was female so she became Buddie Rose. Big for a girl and mama wouldn't have anything to do with her really. . I did try some calming stuff at Petco but it had no effect on them. Mama is a nervous cat but loves to be petted. I take her and her tiny dtr outside on leashes. They love that!!
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  4. #4
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    I think some cats are just plain timid/shy.

    As someone else said, if the cat is eating, drinking, using the litter box, and not being vicious - if it lets you pet it now and then, I think things are going well.

    Some people prefer not to be touched. Maybe some cats prefer minimal handling?

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    Super Member MaggieLou's Avatar
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    pretty cats, nativetexan.
    Margaret

    "If the devil could dance in empty pockets, he'd have a ball in mine."

    Life is a coin. You can spend it any way you wish but you can only spend it once.

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    Super Member MaggieLou's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bearisgray View Post
    I think some cats are just plain timid/shy.

    As someone else said, if the cat is eating, drinking, using the litter box, and not being vicious - if it lets you pet it now and then, I think things are going well.

    Some people prefer not to be touched. Maybe some cats prefer minimal handling?

    Part of the problem is she isn't always using the litter box. I have two litterboxes for them and cleaned regularly.
    Margaret

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    Life is a coin. You can spend it any way you wish but you can only spend it once.

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    Maybe set out another litter box?

    We had one cat that urinated in one box and defecated in another one.

  8. #8
    Super Member MaggieLou's Avatar
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    I already have two litter boxes. I don't really have room for another one. I don't think Mischief is using but one. I think Fluffy uses both depending on her mood.
    Margaret

    "If the devil could dance in empty pockets, he'd have a ball in mine."

    Life is a coin. You can spend it any way you wish but you can only spend it once.

  9. #9
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    You could try the Feliway plug-in diffusers. They tend to have a calming effect on cats (and can help with the litterbox issue, especially if you keep one near the litterbox). They can get pricey because the range is small, but we found it helped our cats with a house move. Here is a link to one on Amazon:
    http://www.amazon.com/Feliway-Plug-I...dp/B000WHUOEI/

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    Super Member MaggieLou's Avatar
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    Thanks for the link. I'll have to try it. The reviews were mostly positive. It seems most people used the spray instead of the diffuser. I don't have an outlet close to the litter box so the spray might work better.
    Margaret

    "If the devil could dance in empty pockets, he'd have a ball in mine."

    Life is a coin. You can spend it any way you wish but you can only spend it once.

  11. #11
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    I didn't even know Feliway comes in a spray! Seems it would be more cost-effective. One of the reviews said it lasts longer if sprayed on pieces of damp fabric. Good luck!

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    Senior Member Elise1's Avatar
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    I don't know how to help with the litterbox problem but I bet you can get a lot of expert help at the Cat Site, http://www.thecatsite.com/f/

    Best of luck.
    "Be brave enough to be who you really are.

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    Power Poster lynnie's Avatar
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    Patience, my princess on high ZOEY was a born ferrel, it took her about a year and a half to be normal, if there is normal for a kitty. so loving and compassionate she is, whenever i'm sick or on bed rest after surgery, she's with me. it took some time and being kind and patient, she finally trusts us, she's three now. she's indoor and enjoys the outdoors thru windows and her throne, (yes, she has 2 tiaras). I can't imagine life without her now. what a difference three yrs make.

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    I have 7 indoor cats now - all were feral and all were rescues. Only 3 will come out when other people are in the house. Four hide until everyone strange goes home. All have different personalities and all have decided they like living in the house and they love my husband and me. One who came in last year didn't let us get close to him outside but then he broke his tail and his leg, could hardly walk so came to us for help. Each cat in affectionate in their own way. It may take a while but this kitty will eventually come around. She may not be as outgoing as the other cat but that is ok.

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    Feliway can help with nervous cats and depending on what is causing the litter box issues, it might help with that. I'm assuming she is fixed, if not having her altered could help. If she was a true feral it will take a long time for her to ever get really comfortable with humans. Is she curious about you? Will she stay in the same room with you? Does she meow? If so, then she just needs time and a little pressure...she has to take treats from your hand or allow you to pet before she gets fed. As for the litter box, if she is spraying, it's territorial and she needs to feel safe and/or cats are spraying outside and she is marking her territory. If a cat goes to the litter box and it hurts, they will avoid in the future. If they can smell where a cat/dog/human has went before, they will cover which makes cleaning up with an oxy or enzyme cleaner vitally important. I currently have 7 cats, one of them has to have a covered box, the rest prefer open. A box must be big enough for the cat and if other cats attack one while using the box, they will avoid the box in the future. I have read about kenneling cats to retrain them to use a box, it takes about 2 weeks and if you think it might help, there is a lot of info on line. If I could determine which one uses the throw rug now and then, I might try it. I think I know and I truly wonder if he is developing a form of kitty Alzheimer's. Good luck.

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    Super Member slk350's Avatar
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    My sister had 2 part Persian cats she got as kittens, brother and sister. The male was very loving and friendly, the female very timid and ran away from everyone (except my sister & her husband). He was twice the size as her. They lived almost 20 years, she lost them both over the last few years. My cat I got at the Animal Rescue as a tiny kitty doesn't like to be held much, unless he wants to be. Was very shy as a kitten. But, he's not un-sociable.

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    Purina has a cat question section on their website.

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    Super Member Weenween's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MaggieLou View Post
    I'm hoping someone can give me some advice. We have a year old cat that we got when she was about 4 months old. Her mother and littermates were all feral. We took her sister and her. The sister has tamed up mostly but Mischief is still skittish and won't come to us. She will take treats from my hand occasionally though. Any thoughts on how to help tame her? She is very skittish and will take off if you get close to her. I've seen some medications in the pet store to help calm cats. Do any of these work/help and if so please share the names? They are indoor cats and I don't let them outside. TIA
    I don't know but we have a male kitten 1/2 grown and will eat or scratch you death also he come and eat but cannot pick him up but his mom is our very very tame cat, but lord knows he ain't.I sure would like to know what works also.
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    Super Member Snooze2978's Avatar
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    My sister has the same problem as you. Took in a couple feral kitties from the same litter that found their way into her garage during the winter. The brother is tame as can be but the sister will not come near you. My mother after a couple of months has gotten her to enjoy being brushed but its hit and miss with her. Time is the only thing you've got going for you. In time she may feel comfortable enough to become one of the family.
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    Super Member MaggieLou's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the replies. I guess patience is going to be what it takes. My DH can't understand why she won't tame up. He once had a feral cat that he tamed up in about a week so he thinks this one should too. I keep telling him all cats are different. Fluffy, the tamer one, follows me like a shadow and will rub up against my legs. Usually Mischief is trailing behind her a few feet. Since they are following me around I guess they will eventually become tamer. I'm wondering, Fluffy seems to be the alpha female if that affects anything.
    Margaret

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    Life is a coin. You can spend it any way you wish but you can only spend it once.

  21. #21
    Super Member RugosaB's Avatar
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    I used to have kitties, but now have 'the dog for people who like cats," basenjis.
    They ARE very catlike in their demeanor.
    I have one that's a little shy, but I've noticed, they respect their established hieracrchy, and are easier to live with when we do too. A lot tof times her behaviors come acrooss as shy, but if you really look, she's just doing what the higher ups have signaled she do.
    Eating, she waits, petting she waits, getting nails trimmed, SHE can go first LOL

    I've never had more than one cat, so maybe cats are the same way? Is she getting a signal from the other to hold back?

    The way we've dealt with this is to always involve the shier one in the petting, or attention of any kind. The alpha learns that it's ok to pay attention to both, the shyer one learns, "Hey, alpha says it's ok, I like it!"
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    Power Poster nativetexan's Avatar
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    also, my Rosie wouldn't let us near her in the beginning so I used a fly swatter to pet her!! seriously. She lovely it. that way she got some loving and no hands touching her. Once in awhile I still use the fly swatter. Poor girl really wanted some attention. her mom never gave her any for some reason. They all get along in their own ways now. This morning I got Rosie up on her hind legs and petted her tummy and then slid her up onto my knees. She didn't know it, but she was on my lap!! One day she may get up on her own while i'm down here on the computer. she considers anyone in a chair half way safe. can't pick her up for the Vet if you're sitting down!

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    Many 'experts' state that kittens must be handled by humans before they are 5 weeks old if they are to be social cat. Personally I think as long as they are not hurt or scared by humans you have until they are at least 12 weeks old, if not longer. Of course unless they are born where they can be observed constantly, it's difficult to know just what has happened to them. My neighbor's tom brought a pregnant feral (about 6 months old, non-vocal, very shy) to me to feed, when the kittens were about 8 weeks old she brought them close to my house, then she started going inside to eat. I finally was able to get her and all 3 kittens in the house and started working with them. The 2 orange males were very shy and they took a lot of patience, the dilute tortie has yet to meet a stranger and was friendly from the first. I believe their Mama had been cared for when she was young, I can't prove it, but she did become a very friendly, non-vocal, inside cat. All of them became friendlier after they were fixed, the most skittish...well it took him 2 years before he would climb on a lap. For treats and wet food, he had to tolerate being touched, we had to watch that there were no sudden moves, no loud voices and he eventually began to trust.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MaggieLou View Post
    Thanks for all the replies. I guess patience is going to be what it takes. My DH can't understand why she won't tame up. He once had a feral cat that he tamed up in about a week so he thinks this one should too. ...
    It's quite possible the cat he tamed in a week wasn't actually feral. If you go to Alley Cat Allies they have lots of good information and it can help you determine if the cat you are watching is scared or feral. Not all homeless cats are feral, some are strays, some have been dumped and after being on their own for awhile it's hard for us to know what might have been done to them. Some regain their trust, some never do...even if they become tolerant of humans.

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    Someone dropped 2 kittens on me 3 yrs ago. Domino is the outgoing friendly cat, follows me everywhere. Tiger is a beautiful cat, but he is the poster boy for "Scaredy Cat". He does drive by petting. Jumps in my DH lap, gets a stroke or two, then jumps to my lap for a couple more strokes. On occasion, he will sit in my lap.
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