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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-22-2011, 10:23 AM Thread Starter
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Timid Kitten...

Heidi, my very timid kitten, is in need of help. I want her to relax around people, but it's very difficult. When she's laying on the floor or couch and you walk by or sit by her she'll freak out and dart out of sight and if you try to pet her you'd better take it slow or she'll dart all the way to the basement. The only way I can get near her is if I take very slow movements. She does this to everyone who's in the house. None of her sisters have a problem with us so I don't understand why Heidi is acting this way. Nobody has done anything to cause this much fear in her. What can I do to help Heidi understand that we won't hurt her?
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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-22-2011, 10:39 AM
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Don't look at her directly. Always look away, or if you do look at her, blink very slowly. Try ignoring her- just sit near her and read a book or talk quietly. Try playing with a cat toy (ones with poles that have strings and toys attached are great) on the cat floor, not looking at her, and see if she gets interested.

Do you know anything about her life before you got her?
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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-22-2011, 11:53 AM Thread Starter
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She was born at our house. We've had her all her life because of that which is another reason why I don't understand the way she's acting. I thought by now she'd be used to us. I'll try avoiding eye contact as you've suggested.
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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-22-2011, 11:56 AM
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One of my younger cats was like this when I first got her. She had a very rough first few months of her life at a shelter & a hoarder's house that must not have treated her very well When I first got her from the shelter, she was very jumpy, and if she was on the floor you couldn't get near her to pet her. If she was up high then she loved the contact and pets though, and would start rolling around to get some belly pets. If I sat next to her on the couch I'd have to move very slow or she'd run off. Even if I did move slow she'd always be looking up at me like she wasn't sure what I was going to do.

My parents had a kitten that was from a feral colony that was the same way. She was very jumpy initially, and even if she was up high, she'd still run off if someone walked over to her too quickly.

My parent's cat has really warmed up to people though with all of the good human contact she's gotten. You can now bend over to pet her while she's on the floor, sit next to her, and she's just like the rest of the cats in their house now. Mine has come along nicely too.

The more good human contact your cat gets, the better If she's freaked out by people over top of her, try sitting on the floor in a room where she's at, and maybe have a cat toy with you to try to get her to come over and play by you. Chances are the toy will be too much to resist and the kitten will have to come over and smack it around a bit.

How old is the kitten?

Last edited by JohnMT; 02-22-2011 at 11:58 AM.
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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-22-2011, 12:06 PM Thread Starter
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Heidi is a part of a litter that's 8 months old. We have no record of what day they were born, but I know that they were born in July of 2010.
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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-22-2011, 12:54 PM
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I had to use the 'ignore them' method with my girls when we got them as they were very mistrustful of me and only wanted to be touched by my husband. I gave them space and treats and gradually won them over. One of the two was still extremely timid of anyone visiting us, but we always give her treats when someone comes over and she has come to be a lot more social.

I'd vote for patience and lots of play and the sweet essence of time should help. Has Heidi had any incidents that could have caused her to be fearful of people? Someone accidentally stepping on her tail or shutting her in a closet, etc? Maybe someone else in your house did something to scare her and you don't even know about it? That would certainly explain her fear. I had the reverse happen to me - Fern got herself stuck behind a piece of furniture with a cord wrapped around her neck, and after I rescued her she was a lot more loving towards me. That's not what you want to happen though!

~Diana, happy mom to Fern and Fergie
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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-22-2011, 01:17 PM Thread Starter
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Well, my brother is quite obnoxious when his friends are over and the other day he had some over. They brought fake guns that make an extremely loud popping noise when you pull the trigger. That could scare Heidi, but I've told him to stop and he doesn't listen and when I tell my parents how cruel he's being they say they'll do something, but never do anything about it. I think her fear has something to do with my brother's behavior. He enjoys scaring the other cats, but he never scares Heidi because she's already hiding. What can I do for poor Heidi if he is the problem?

Last edited by marie73; 02-22-2011 at 10:34 PM. Reason: font size
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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-22-2011, 02:33 PM
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If your brother is in residence at that house, I'm afraid there isn't much you can do. As long as he is loud and obnoxious it will scare her into being timid. You'll have to try behavior modification with your brother (keep doing something he doesn't like until he changes his attitudes towards the cats).

Another thing you could do (if you can) is to give Heidi a safe-zone where your brother is not allowed to go. If you have your own room, I would put a cat door in your bedroom door and keep the door locked at all times to keep him out if necessary. You can keep water, food, and a litterbox in here as well so that she doesn't need to leave if she doesn't want to. This is probably a good idea for all the kitties that they have a safe place to go where your nuiscance of a brother and his friends cannot go.
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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-22-2011, 03:42 PM
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Children who are loud and play noisily and have quick movments, and "enoy scaring the other cats" do frighten most cats. I agree with the advice you've already been given by raecarrow, to make your room or another one a "safe room" for her to get away from the boys. For whatever reason, your parents don't seem to want to discipline brother and his friends to play more quietly and not to use noisy toys, so it doesn't look like anything is going to change.
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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-22-2011, 08:17 PM Thread Starter
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It isn't possible to install a cat door to my bedroom since we live in a historical home and my parents aren't willing to destroy the old doors. However, there's a cat door already installed on the door to the basement. It was there when we moved into the house so we decided to put the litter boxes down there and the food down there. When I walk down to fill up the food bowls I always find the cats on the stairs. My brother rarely goes down there so I think that's already a comfotable spot for her. Heidi always runs to the basement when she's startled so I'm guessing she goes there for comfort. The good new is that I've seen a lot of improvement. I spent the day walking with strings tied to my pants so that they dragged on the floor (lol) so Heidi would chase them and eventually it worked. Now she's walking up to me without me asking for her to come near and she is asking for me to pet her at times. I never looked her in the eyes and she seems to like that. Could staring into a cat's eyes be a threat in their language?

EDIT: The sad part about my brother is that he's going to be 17 in May. That's just shameful.

Last edited by Kats4Evur; 02-22-2011 at 08:19 PM.
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