Originally Posted by Kitty00776
Ive tried giving her treats when im around but she wont accept them from my hand so i have to throw them to her. I pet her very gently and let her run away if she wants. I have tried holding her and petting her but she always seems to hate it so i stopped that. I try not to corner her or catch her unless i absolutly have to.
Is there anything else i can do that might help?
I think there is, but it will involve doing things she, and possibly you, *won't* like.
I foster, tame and socialize feral and poorly/un-socialized kittens and cats for adoption.
Our goal in the foster-situation before adoption is one of fast turn-over; if I take things slowly I am only able to help a small number of cats. If I force my attentions on the cats through this intensive program, I am able to help more cats through the year. We work to get results quickly and then keep the cat there at that plateau as long as we can so these behaviors become reinforced and set before the cat goes to the adoption center (and then we get new cats to work with
). I have an intense program I call Kitty Cat Boot Camp that I work the kittens/cats through.
Here is a link to my general overview: viewtopic.php?f=2&t=60586
Here are some sections about helping to socialize a domestic cat who needs more confidence and skills when being handled. If you are interested in using some of these techniques with your cat, I would recommend you please read the complete post in the link I provided as it has more information about cats, cat behavior and how to keep yourself safe.
I advocate pushing the cats' comfort boundaries little by little but being relentless and persistent in getting forward progress. You need to advance to make progress, but you have to watch the cat and retreat before you have reached the cats' threshold level of tolerance for the action. Watch the cat and continue to work up to their known limits, but then use your judgement to determine if the cat is ready to be pushed just a little further. In addition, you sometimes need to push a cat who has “stalled” in forward progress beyond their comfort zones to make that cat see and accept that what you are doing is good and not harmful. With this in mind, I feel it is important to mention how detrimental it is to allow a cat to call-the-shots without pushing them beyond what the cat believes is good enough. It is up to us to push beyond those barriers and show the cat a human/cat relationship can be better. Every cat who is fostered with me is worked through these progressions so I am assured of covering all areas and creating a confident cat who can become a family pet no matter what manner their adoptive family handles them.
Patience and consistency is key and always be reliable. Not like ‘being on time' reliable, but as in ‘the kitten can rely on you and your actions’ reliable. This is the beginning of trust and I work hard to maintain it with no back-sliding. I will speak gently to them in a low voice. Sometimes I even just hum nonsense sounds. Anything that is slow and soothing. I will blink my eyes at them, or catch their gaze, blink slowly and slide my gaze away from them. This seems to tell them: “I am not so concerned that I feel I need to watch you every moment I am around you. I trust you.” This gives them the message that they can also begin to relax. Another relaxing signal is a slow and deep sigh; “oh, ho-hum. This is boring and not at all exciting. Nothing to worry about here.” Food is also a great motivator and one I shamelessly use.
Kitty Cat Boot Camp Begins:
This is where I begin forcing my attention on them. I sit on the floor and grab them firmly (gently) by the scruff and place them on my lap, facing my knees. Then I hold them by the scruff and pet and rub them all over with my free hand. IF they begin to relax, I'll loosen my scruff hold and scrubble the fur at their neck to 'erase' the memory of me holding them. Then I let them move off my lap if they wish, though I continue to pet and ruffle their fur in a pleasing, massaging manner as long as they allow it.
The goal in this exercise is for them to walk, and not dart fearfully, away.
If the kitten is fearful and does not relax at all, I will only handle them for about 5-15 seconds per handling session. When I am done handling them I take them off my lap and set them close to the opening of the safe-cave and release them like it is no big deal. I do not watch them to judge their reaction because a direct stare is viewed by them as either predatory or confrontational. I know they may turn and look at me and I do not want them to see me staring at them with interest. I want them to learn that I will hold them, handle them, not hurt them but I will not hold them against their will forever because I will release them. Nothing to get worried or excited about.
The signal I am looking for when handling them are small signs of relaxation and I try to reward that by lowering my handling intensity, which encourages them to seek it.
As this progresses and you can see they aren't behaving in a confused manner when you set them away from you at the end of a handling session, try watching for signs of relaxing on your lap as you are handling them; they may raise their rear end when you pet them, they may unclamp their tail from being wrapped tight around their hind legs, they may move/adjust their feet on your lap to get more comfortable and they may rub their face along your scrubbling hand when you pet their cheeks. When they show you these relaxing signs, loosen your grip on the scruff hold, scrubble it as if you never really wanted to 'hold' them there and just make it part of the handling process.
The above process also works when handling poorly socialized adult cats.
The same rules apply: Advance/Retreat. You need to advance to make progress, but you need to retreat before you've reached the maximum tolerance level.
Begin by sitting near the cat and push closer each time until you are touching them. Sometimes I put them on my lap and will hold them by their scruff and scrubble/pet with the other hand. Again: "No big deal". Then I will set the cat away from me and ignore it. I don't want the cats scooting away from me fearfully, but I want them to know I was holding them and I set them loose again. When I am handling them, as soon as I feel the cat relaxing even a little, I loosen the scruff hold and scrubble their neck to 'remove the memory' of the hold and let them leave my attention/lap as they wish. No big deal and I don't keep looking at them to judge their reaction.
I want them to learn I will handle them and let them go, I will not keep them against their will forever. The signal I am looking for when handling them is small signs of relaxation and I try to reward that by lowering my handling intensity.
To get cats used to being handled/picked up, I begin by picking them up from the floor and placing them immediately on a low surface (cat-house, coffee table, couch, chair). I can feel them struggling to get down/away but I just hold them firmly as I lift them and place them where I want. It is a direct lift: floor to chair. Then I ignore the cat. I don't look at it to see how it is reacting, I just do it, it is matter of fact, then it is done and "no big deal". As I progress, I hold them in the 'lift' for incrementally longer periods before setting them on the surface.