Any tips on socializing scaredy cats? - Cat Forum : Cat Discussion Forums
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-11-2009, 11:43 PM Thread Starter
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Any tips on socializing scaredy cats?

I currently have two cats whose history I do not know. I'm told they may have been strays or abused, or neither or both. I've had them for over a month now. One cat is very social and will let me approach and pet it even when i'm not holding treats. The other will run away as soon as anyone is near, poops or pees whenever he's scared (up to 8 times a day), hides under the couch 99% of the time. My whole house smells like poop and pee, and its nasty under the couch.

They both know how to use the litter just fine when no one is around, but the scaredy cat just does it all the time. I feel like i'm spending all my spare time cleaning up after it. Any tips for making this cat less scared?
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-12-2009, 12:15 AM
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Re: Any tips on socializing scaredy cats?

Make sure your timid cat has lots of places to retreat to and feel safe.
Pet cubes, boxes, closets. Keep your home very quiet.
From what you described this cat was severely abused. The good news
is he will come around. It will take patience and love. He will sense both
from you. Let him come out from safe place for as long as he wants on his
own accord.

I wouldnt expect much from him. He needs a lot of time to heal
from what ever abuse he went thru. He wants to trust Im sure
but you will have to show him you will not force him, move
suddenly and grab him, or do any action that reminds him of
his past. You can tell what actions hurt a cat by their reaction.
Your feet, hands, sounds, etc. Once he trust you you will be so surprised
at his devotion and love he will give back to you.

They do have a Spirit Essence for the very shy, timid,
or fearful cat who runs from every little noise, or who lives
in the closet or under the bed.


With my eyes, they will be seen...With my voice, they will be heard....
With my hands, they will know comfort...With my action, they will be free...
~TNR and Rescue changes lives of animals.~

When the angels are busy God sends rescuers
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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-12-2009, 12:46 AM
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Re: Any tips on socializing scaredy cats?

I owe four cats myself, although I am a dog trainer, cats hold a special place in my heart. I had to train plenty of kitties to do the right thing, along with doggies.

I have two outdoor and two indoor cats. When I first move in with my husband, his cat was so skittish, she had the tendency to run away at the smallest sounds.

In order to gain her trust, before she had her dinner, I would call her by her name and give her treat.

I sat on the floor, near to where she was, and called her name. I averted my eyes from her and placed the treat on the floor, a little far from me, with my back turned from her. When she investigated, in a real sweet voice I praised her. I didnít touch her, until she own me. I'm sure you know, a kitty owes you when they rub their nose against you and rub on you. In kitty land, they are just stating that you are a part of their feline family.

I would suggest always sitting when you give the skittish cat a treat. So you donít appear so large to the cat. Place the treat far from you, just extend your arm as far as it goes, place the treat down, turn your back, cross your arms, and wait. As the kitty gets more use to you, kitty will come to you.

Also, you can ensure the skittish kitty is happy by passing by it and just placing treats where you walking. Bend down and place it, never throw it. Just to see if the skittish kitty will follow you.

Always use food before the cats eat dinner or breakfast.

If that fails, you may want to invest in kitty training. Sounds silly I know, but as a dog trainer, I have learned that the cats always run and rule the house. Sometimes I have to deal with the cat of the house, before I begin training the dog of the house.

Thereís no real extended information in dog training courses on how to deal with the cats of the home. So, I invested in Cat Secrets, which has been really helpful to me in my field when I go into people's home to assit them with training.

Donít get me wrong, Iím huge on taking our feline family to the vetís to ensure their health is in purrfect order.

You can go to your vet and take the kitty in for a checkup to ensure all is well. If all else fails, you can invest in Cat Secrets, that program has really helped me out with some tips on some scary kittyís.

Itís loaded with lots of useful information that will lead you to the correct method to really help your feline friend. Itís hard to tell someone how to deal with their beloved pet, if I canít observe the petsí behavior. An owner, or pet lover, knows their beloved pet more than anyone.

Cats can be taught.

I would suggest checking out

This trainer has tips on cats and helping them with kitty manners.

Good luck and let me know how it goes for you.
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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-12-2009, 01:01 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Any tips on socializing scaredy cats?

Thanks for the info i'm going to go try that. Wish me luck!
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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-12-2009, 08:40 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Any tips on socializing scaredy cats?

How long are you supposed to wait for him?

I put a temptations treat down in front of him and moved about 5 feet away with my back turned. I've sat down for about 2 hours now, and the treat is still there. Should I keep waiting?
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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-14-2009, 07:21 PM
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Re: Any tips on socializing scaredy cats?

I have a really shy cat too. Not with me though anymore but to anybody new coming over. She'll immediately run under the bed until they're gone. She'll sometimes even run under the bed if she just hears someone walking up the stairs to my floor.

Have you tried catnip?

I found that if I break out the catnip, shaking the container, open it up and let the smell come out she will come slinking out from under the bed demanding the stuff! She'll get relaxed enough to walk around even though other people are still around. I've heard catnip doesn't affect all cats but maybe it's something to try.

Also, the time of day seems to affect my cats shyness. Late night/very early morning she seems to be more brave than during the daylight hours. She won't go near the front door of my apt in the day but late at night she'll be brave enough to go out into the hallway and do a little careful investigating. Maybe if you tried socializing with your shy cat during the times his senses are more active, ( their natural hunting times) might have an effect?

Another idea (you've probably tried already), since cats are instinctual hunters you might try something to trigger that instinct over fear. Roll a toy or small crumpled up piece of paper in front of him or drag a string around. Try to keep out of site, like if the cats under the bed, stay on the bed so he doesn't see you so he'll only focus on the "prey".

Keep talking to him so he gets used to your voice. Try laying down on the floor on your back and if you can look at him squint and close and open your eyes. You can even try making friendly cat sounds, short little...mrat, mrat, mmmmmmmrat....ok,typing sounds don't work too well so, sounds like in this video!

Good luck, I hope he comes around soon for you!
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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-14-2009, 09:54 PM
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Re: Any tips on socializing scaredy cats?

Originally Posted by Sabala
...look at him squint and close and open your eyes. You can even try making friendly cat sounds, short little...mrat, mrat, mmmmmmmrat....ok,typing sounds don't work too well...
I know what you mean! I make little "mmmmrrrrrppp!", "mmmmerrrrrrrrt" and "Uuummmmmm-hhuummmmm" noises to my kitties to help them relax. It just signifies my being relaxed and everything it okay.

I have fostered, socialized and tamed many feral kittens and cats.
Tooting my own horn: viewtopic.php?f=22&t=56968
Anyhow, all of the truly feral adult cats were tamed outside, meaning it was the cat who dictated how close or far we could progress at any session with contact. By the time they were allowed to come inside, they were already comfortable with me handling them.

If I had to socialize adult cats indoors, I would confine them to a bathroom or bedroom with a few places to 'hide' and feel safe, but that I would have access to the cat at all times; no beds to hide under or anywhere the cat could get that I couldn't reach the cat if I needed to. I would always begin with visiting the kitty often and bringing tasty food treats. My fave is cooked and shredded chicken mixed with Cream of Chicken soup. My goal would be to feed the cat off the ends of my fingertips. If the kitty was too shy, I'd place some on a small plate and push the plate close to the kitty.

Once the kitty was comfortable eating with me near them, I would begin to try to pet them as they ate. I would keep pushing the kitty beyond its' comfort zones with handling, though I would carefully watch the cat to be sure I wasn't pushing it too far and too fast. This would progress to me petting the kitty and encouraging it to stand on my lap. I would sometimes hold it there for a moment before letting go. After the kitty was comfortable with that, I would progress to lifting it to my lap as I sat on the toilet or tub edge. Then to me lifting it from the floor to the toilet lid or bed. Then lifing it to the counter, then lifing it to my chest to stand and hold and then hold/carrying as I walk a few steps to a bed or counter to set it down. I keep the cats I am working with in the bathroom, until they will come to me or food consistently, before I would let them into the bedroom where they could hide under the bed.

You need to make forward progress, but you don't want to traumatize the kitty. I move through the stages I mentioned above fairly quickly, with my fosters who are in the adoption program, because they need to reach the point they can be handled by strangers so they can be adopted. My own adult ferals, I could take as long as it took. Malibu took me 5mo from TNR (trap/neuter/release) before she would let me touch her fur for the first time. Pretty took 14mo. Most took much less than Mallie and Pretty has so far been my most challenging taming/socialization project.

Some cats are just going to be naturally shy. For those kitties, after they are fine with me I don't really care how they act around company. I always give them an option to hide under furniture in the LR, office or BR when company comes over. Sometimes, if my guests stay for an extended length of time, the shy cat overcomes their fear and ventures out to meet/greet my company. This can take as short as a few minutes to as long as several weeks for some cats.

Anyhow, this is looking like a novel, so I'll end it here. Best of luck to you and your new kitties.
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