Originally Posted by toonces33
Somewhere I was reading that it isn't good to maintain direct eye contact at this stage, and that extending a hand to her would be seen as threatening. Does this match your experience?
Yeah, I have found that to generally be true. Of course, not all animals react in the same ways, but there are various patterns and you have picked up and pointed out two major ones. This makes me feel good because I feel it shows how receptive and perceptive you are to the cat.
The eye-stare is usually seen by cats as being predatory and threatening. To get around this, I will sometimes catch the cat's gaze and then sort of 'slide my eyes down/away' and/or blink slowly at the cat and turn my head away. This is 'cat speak' for "I trust you enough to NOT watch you every moment you are near me". Success in taking baby-steps forward is if you can blink at the kitty and get them to blink back at you
because they are telling you that they now don't feel the need to be wide-eyed and wary when around you. Another physical cue to help everyone relax is to take a big breath and let it out, like an "oh, ho-hum
" bored sigh. (sighing is only done when we/animals are not on 'high alert', so this is another signal to allow the cat to relax
The hands coming near, that is just threatening to them because it is invading their personal space and it usually causes them to either retreat or defend.
I would recommend putting this cat in a bathroom or small room with only ONE 'hiding place', and that hiding place must be a place that you control and have access to at any time in case of emergency. This doesn't mean you disrespect her space, but I feel you do need to have a place where she has absolutely NO place to make herself inaccessible to you. You allow her one place to call her own and feel safe within, that you have easy access to, and you begin by "bearding the lion in its' den".
I begin by using a chicken mixture and place some on the ends of my fingers and stick my hand into the cat's "safe place" and offer it to them. I do not take my hand all the way to them, I go in about halfway. They can hiss, swat, yowl or do whatever...but when they begin to smell the delicious food, it usually wins out over their defensive behavior and they will come forward to taste/eat the food. Eventually, feeding the chicken 'treats' in this manner, they become more comfortable and will move towards the front of their safe/cave in anticipation of more delicious food.
Would you be interested in me sending you the Kitty Cat Boot Camp program that I compiled?
There is a lot of information I would like to share with you, but it is too much to put here, and it would be time consuming for me to break it down and post it in little pieces.
Let me know if you would be interested.