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post #1 of 4 (permalink) Old 02-11-2009, 04:06 PM Thread Starter
 
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Scared of our cat :(

Our cat is 4 years old and we've owned her since she was a small kitten. She seemed like a normal cat through her kitten-hood...able to play hide and seek with her, pet her, etc. But now that she's of an adult age it's gotten to the point where we're scared to pet her or even brush up against her lest we get our hand or leg slashed.

Now, she's never actually attacked anyone. But she's the type where you can only touch her when she wants you to and you WILL get smacked if she's not in the mood (or suddenly decides she's not in the mood!).

She is also extremely sensitive to noise. Any unusual or loud noises she will go into a state of panic. Lastly, she will sometimes hiss at you for no darn reason. A good example is if she wants to go out, she'll lead you to the door...and as you approach her from behind she starts hissing. It's as if she feels cornered or something and doesn't like it!

Very strange...it's a shame because she's a beautiful cat (she's a mixed breed but I always thought she looked a lot like a Maine-coon [BIG furry cat]) but it's gotten to the point where you can't trust her. My parents think the cat is literally "retarded", but I am wondering if she could use some sort of medication because whatever her problem is is definitely mental.

Any thoughts?
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post #2 of 4 (permalink) Old 02-11-2009, 08:32 PM
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Re: Scared of our cat :(

Welcome, and I'll try to help.

To me, your kitty sounds unsocialized. I don't mean to imply that she was ignored, but it does seem like she hasn't been consistently handled through her life and is generally distrustful of those around her. It also seems like perhaps something has happened to scare her and/or make her mistrust the people around her so she is constantly on the offensive to 'protect' herself from whatever contact it was that occured and frightened her in the first place. There are also medical conditions that make a cat's skin hyper sensitive to touch and this can create a cat who tries to avoid being touched when they aren't handled in a manner that doesn't cause them discomfort.

I would recommend reading some threads in the feral forum about socializing ferals and semi-feral cats. I foster and socialized feral cats/kittens for adoption. I have successfully tamed all ferals I have come across and they have all turned into great housecats. Usually MY housecats, but they are all good cats, regardless of their feral start in life.
If I had your cat, I would start by gaining her trust. Not looking her directly in the eyes, blinking my eyes at her (closing your eyes when looking at a cat, or looking at them, blinking and looking away, is cat-language for: "I trust you enough to NOT watch you every moment" and it helps them to relax). I would offer treats, like canned food served while I sit nearby. I would hand feed cooked chicken mixed with Cream of Chicken Soup. I would pick the cat up and place her on my lap, facing my knees and with a towel over my lap if I were afraid of her putting her claws out in anxiety. I would hold her by the scruff, lightly, but I'd still make her stay on my lap, and with my other hand, I'd slowly but firmly rub her head and shoulders for 5-15 seconds.
You have to watch the cat to see how long they can tolerate the handling. Some only a few seconds, some tolerate longer handling sessions.
If the kitty would relax, I would loosen my scruff hold and rub the back of the neck to 'remove the memory' of the hold and let her leave when she wanted. If she was too stiff and nervous to relax, I would (after the 5-15 seconds of rubbing) place her off my lap and let her go. It is important to NOT look at the cat when you release them. You want to act like it was No Big Deal at all. Sometimes the cat will run off a couple feet away, then stop to look back at you and sometimes they only take a few steps away. My goal, is to get the cat to stop trying to get away, and want to step off my lap and then step back on for more attention.

Anyhow, this was only a very brief description. Perhaps some others will be able to post some ideas for you, too.
Heidi



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post #3 of 4 (permalink) Old 02-12-2009, 07:45 AM
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Re: Scared of our cat :(

I know this works for dogs, but it makes sense to work for cats, too... If you want to approach a skittish dog, a lot of times it helps to do it sideways, looking away. It shows that you are not challenging the animal by coming at them directly and it shows that you don't care much that it's there.

When your kitty leads you to the door and you go to open it, try approaching her sideways, slowly - and really, I mean slowly. Take a sideways step and pause for a few moments then keep doing that until you get to the door. Leave your hands clasped in front of you and turn your head the other way. You can also try making a purring sound or saying her name softly. That might help her to see you as less of a threat to her space.

Wyn is a bad, bad kitteh. Good thing her person is a bad, bad girl... They get along great!
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post #4 of 4 (permalink) Old 02-13-2009, 03:54 PM
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Re: Scared of our cat :(

Quote:
but I am wondering if she could use some sort of medication because whatever her problem is is definitely mental.
Definitely ask your vet for Diazapam. It's the equivalent of Valium for humans. It worked really well for my favorite aggressive cat, Oliver. Now, he did go and attack and had to eventually be put to sleep because of the attacks. It sounds like your cat is just moody but not seeking out to attack. The Diazapam would really help calm her and make her less sensitive to noises. Oliver took it twice a day for 2 years and it worked well on him. At first, I was kinda sad because he seemed to just sleep a lot more but if he's sleeping, he's not attacking so I was happy!
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