Harnesses and Confidence? - Cat Forum : Cat Discussion Forums
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post #1 of 15 (permalink) Old 03-02-2013, 01:29 PM Thread Starter
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Harnesses and Confidence?

This might be a dumb thread, but it's a thought. And I'm not sure if it should be in this forum or the behavior one.

My cat is afraid of everything that isn't my family and in our house. She hides when most strangers come, (my friends excluded, mainly just adults and men), she a bit jumpy, and does not do well in the car/having to go anywhere. She's almost 5.

Around us she is very friendly, vocal, and loves being with us, I can't leave the room without her following me, no matter what she's doing. She knows many tricks, and is easy to treat train. She has some problems, as she scratches the wall and couches and such, but what cat doesn't.

Anyways, it's her birthday next month, and I usually buy her a new collar or something, but I was thinking of getting her a harness so I could try and build her confidence going places, if only the backyard and the car. The thing is, I'm not going to live here forever, and I know my parents wont either, she's going to have to move sometime. I'd rather have her comfortable with being able to go somewhere in the car, the vets though she hasn't been there in a long time but emergencies can happen, or whatever. I would just like to find a way to make her not terrified of everything, I don't know if that would be a confidence builder or completely the opposite and make her more fearful. My mother's scared it will make her start darting out the door, but she's darted out the door on and off since we got her, and she gets MAD when you try to round her back in the door.
Any opinions, or if it's possible?
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post #2 of 15 (permalink) Old 03-02-2013, 10:39 PM
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For a skittish cat, I wouldn't use a harness. Some cats can wriggle out of harness more quickly than you could imagine. I'm a big fan of pet strollers, and a skittish cat would be safe and feel secure in one and enjoy seeing a change of scene. Just make sure you get one where the cat is zippered in it....some strollers are for dogs and are open at the top...that would not be safe for a cat. In the beginning until your cat is really used to it, I would stick with quiet streets and a park, and avoid any busy sidewalks or where there is a lot of traffic. A stroller with bigger wheels than 5 in. in diameter will go over rougher ground like grass better. Both my cats love to get outside in the fresh air and see new things and they feel quite comfortable in a stroller.

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post #3 of 15 (permalink) Old 03-03-2013, 12:24 AM
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A skittish, afraid of everything cat will not appreciate being taken out in a stroller, either. Just get yourself and opaque sided cat carrier for those visits to the vet or those emergency situations when the cat must be removed from the house for their safety. Covering the gate of the carrier keeps the cat from seeing things that will upset it and make it feel more secure when moved around. Instead, teach the cat to play with you using wand toys or string or yarn inside the house instead of taking the poor insecure kitty out in the big outside world.

When you do get that cat carrier, get your cat used to the idea of being put inside it and spending short amounts of time inside the carrier. If you have an emergency and need to remove the cat from the house, you do not want the cat to be fighting with you during the emergency about going into the carrier. Associate going into the carrier with special treats and coming out of the carrier when called with special toys and games. Doing this in advance takes the drama and worry out of crating your cat.
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post #4 of 15 (permalink) Old 03-03-2013, 09:57 AM
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Harnesses and Confidence?

My kitten is king of the apartment and not afraid of anyone (except my
Mother, but I don't blame him). I got him a harness, and we took a trip outside, and I saw himmelt into a scared wild animal. He was moving very low to the ground, head and tail down, and got back to the door as fast as humanly (feline-ly?) possible.

Moral of the story - there's no telling if it will or won't work until you try. His indoor personality may not reflect his outdoor personality!


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post #5 of 15 (permalink) Old 03-03-2013, 05:25 PM
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I would leave her alone. My cats love their carriers, play in them, sleep in them, but they still HATE being in them in the car. Why force this on her? My cats totally rule the house, I could care less about them becoming "confident" about going outside or in the car.

My cats were scaredy cats (age 5) when I moved last year. In my old place, they would run and hide if they heard people talking in the parking lot. Now I have company over quite often and it took several months, but they all come out now and want to be with everyone.

Plus, if she does take to going outside, you do run the risk of her wanting outside ALL the time. My friend who tried this regrets ever doing it, and stopped taking her cat out altogether.

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post #6 of 15 (permalink) Old 03-07-2013, 02:11 PM Thread Starter
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Alright, I'll leave her be then, I'll just get her a new collar instead. Thanks!

On another note, whats the best way to 'discipline' a cat? I need to get her to stop scratching the wall, she had two huge holes ripped on the wall, we got it patched up and she's got one of them ripped up again, my moms getting MAD. She does it if no ones paying attention to her when she wants it, which can go on for like an hour. We obviously pay attention to her, but it's not realistic to pay attention to her 24/7 and it's nice to be able to watch a movie or hockey game without having to pause it to try to get her to stop killing the drywall. We're really assuming its an attention seeking behaviour, as she used to tangle herself in the desktop computer cords when we had one and I wasn't paying attention to her.

I've tried loudly saying no, clapping loudly which she stops the first few times then ignores it, and squirting her with a spray bottle, which works always but is a pain because they're for my geckos and is a waste of water (I buy jugs of RO water for them so I only have a limited amount).

Is there a better way to get her to stop? She also goes away for toys and such, but I'd rather not reinforce the behaviour as has been.
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post #7 of 15 (permalink) Old 03-08-2013, 04:50 AM
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I would try buying a couple of those cardboard scratchers and putting them right next to the wall where she scratches. Most of them come with catnip to sprinkle on them.

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post #8 of 15 (permalink) Old 03-08-2013, 01:51 PM Thread Starter
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She has a big cat tree in the same room and a cardboard scratcher in the kitchen, I don't really want to encourage her to scratch near the spot, as the wall is ripped up and could resemble the cardboard scratcher. Wouldn't that just make her think it's okay to scratch that?
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post #9 of 15 (permalink) Old 03-08-2013, 03:22 PM
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No, I have at least two scratchers in every room in my house. When I get home, they each run to the nearest one in the living room and start scratching. Every once in a while, I'll think they're scratching the sofa, but I'll look over there and see that it's the scratcher next to it.

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post #10 of 15 (permalink) Old 03-09-2013, 06:00 AM
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There is something in that area of the room that has her instinctively marking that wall; some scent, probably. First I would disinfect the floor and everything around the area that she is scratching up. Then I would block her from getting to that area of the wall by either putting a peice of furniture there or just sitting something she cannot move in front of the area. Provide a scratching pad or post right by the wall that she is so enamoured with to give her something to scratch just in case she is still attracted to the area even after disinfection and blocking it. There is also a anti-odorant called Tap A Drop which is a powerful odor masker and remover and you could try using it directly on the wall.

Just like any other animal (and humans), cats don't do things for no reason. To us it seems like random behavior, but in reality, they are responding to scent and sound cues we cannot sense. The trick with eliminating unwanted behaviors to to find out what causes it (if possible) and to redirect their attention from it. It is often more often said than done, but it can be done.
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