Help with my skittish cat... - Cat Forum : Cat Discussion Forums
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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old 12-19-2010, 01:12 PM Thread Starter
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Help with my skittish cat...

Hurley was homeless/feral at 6 months old and we took him in 9 weeks ago. He has made lots of progress (wouldn't let me pet him at the start), but he is still extremely skittish. He will come out desperate for attention when it's mealtime and occasional other times.

I get so confused with him because when my wife and I go to bed, he will just sit at the foot of our bed and stare at us. He will often stare at me like he wants something, but when I move towards him, he runs under the table. He let's me pick him up, but it's more of a "freeze" and he seems so stifled with fear he just goes with it and sticks his claws out. On certain occasions he seems to enjoy me holding him, but only if I am extremely still, any sudden movements frighten him.

We love this cat, but we wonder if he is better suited for an elderly lady who wouldn't want much contact with him. We are planning on having kids sometime down the road and I'm not sure if he will ever develop to trust humans and be gentle with our children. I also reallly want a dog in a few years and I know Hurley would be tramatized since other animals are probably predators in his eyes.

He is now about 9 months old, sweet and gentle, but he just doesn't seem to completely trust humans.

What is the best thing to do? Should I ignore him and only let him make the move at all times? OR should I try to little by little pick him up and pet him?
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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old 12-19-2010, 02:53 PM
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He's only 9 months old so you have plenty of time. Let him come to you. Talk to him but don't approach him. It may take weeks but he will likely come around.
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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old 12-19-2010, 04:45 PM
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My Ricky was a feral kitten that I took on as a foster last year. He was about four months old. He is now about 1 1/2 years old. I adopted him myself, because I don't think he will ever be completely trusting. The fact that he trusts me as much as he does is why I love him so. Disrupting his life and sending him somewhere else (even now) would be utterly and permanently traumatic, I believe. I know who he is and I continue to be very patient with him. To this day, he runs from me if I try to pick hime up, unless he is in one of his "safe places" (the kitchen chair where I feed him his favorite treats or one of his sleeping places). I still have to approach him slowly and talk to him. Amazingly, though, when I am sitting at the computer, he is almost always on my lap, purring and head-butting and as calm as any cat could be. When I carry him, he tenses by folding his legs in and curling his tail tightly (but no claws out). I sometimes think he's come as far as he ever will; I hope for more progress, but if this is who he is, I'm just thrilled that he's come this far.

Like Ricky, Hurley is confused and just needs your patience. I've worked with several ferals, and the kittens between 4-6 months seem to be ones who take the longest to socialize. They're old enough to have learned to be wary, but not old enough to have gained the confidence to adapt and trust. I hope you have the patience to gain his trust; you really have had him for so short a time. If you do decide to rehome him, please just be sure you find that special person who understands the journey ahead.


Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in his shoes. That way, when you criticize him, you're a mile away and you have his shoes.

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post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old 12-19-2010, 06:58 PM
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Lucky we got straight from a tnr, trapped at a dumpster at 6 mos. old. (There's that magic 4-6 mos old!) We've had him now 7 months. He hates loud noise, plastic or paper rattling, or sudden movement. And he also really just tolerates being picked up. Sometimes more, sometimes less. Puts his teeth on my hand when he is uneasy, sometimes running them up & down my hand/wrist, but never biting, light as a feather. Sort of scary, tho. However, he is making forward progress, from a terrified feral, who first showed his interest in contact by throwing himself down facing away from me when he wanted to petted, to rubbing us, laying by the couch, following me from room to room, now sleeping on my side of the bed (when no one is in it), all kinds of little I accept you signs. Look for them. Let them happen. You haven't had him long. As long as he isn't feral agressive with you, I wouldn't worry.
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post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old 12-20-2010, 02:53 PM
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Captain Jack is a stray I trapped 2 months ago. He was already wary and skittish when he was hanging around outside my house. After he was indoors, he was still skittish and would start at the slightest thing. Would run and hide as well. Lucky he isn't aggressive. In fact, he's very passive. He's never bit or scratched me.

You have to work hard at trying to gain his trust, you have to be very, very patient. I have only succeeded in recently in picking him up, but for a few seconds at a time.

I find spending time to talk with him or even spending time with him really helps. He used to run from me, but now sometimes, he'll actually greet me at the door or come find me.

I think he's going to your room to find you. Just like Jack, he wants to trust you and be friends, but he's unsure and still scared. He's also still a kid, not even full grown yet.

He doesn't sound hostile at all. I think it's more of a case of if your future children will be gentle with HIM.

Dogs and cats can learn to live together in the same household. I have one dog and two cats. They have their days, but on the whole, they get along fine.
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