Nervous cat and always sucking paws - Cat Forum : Cat Discussion Forums
 
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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old 08-23-2018, 10:56 AM Thread Starter
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Nervous cat and always sucking paws

My male black cat Indy I've had since a kitten along with his sister Sophie. But he still is nervous around people even me even at 6yrs now. I have to always approach him gently not to frighten him often and even then he quite often just runs off (although just before feeding he suddenly becomes quite affectionate!) and loves hiding in small places. I have accepted him for who he is, but is there anything I can try just to make him more comfortable around people? Basically to make him feel comfortable like he is before food, all the time, as I've never found that enigmatic behaviour in a cat before.

Also he is at his happiest curled up in his bed and sucking away at his paw (vet said he , he's done this since kittenhood and always feels at his happiest and has never grown out of it. It's really the only time he purrs, and the only time he will ever jump on my lap as he occasionally does to curl up and suck his paws on my lap Now I don't want him to lose that behaviour as it's when he's happiest, but is it rare to have a cat that only purrs when doing this? Is there anything I can try with him to make him purr like a regular cat, or should I accept this is who he is. I wish I could make him purr by stroking but unfortunately never have- the only times are indirectly when stroking him makes him start sucking paws again! I've been told by vets before that sucking his paw is harmless, but I just wanted some advice on the behaviour.

His sister Sophie is the total opposite of him, very affectionate and playful. I just would like to be able to give him more affection too.
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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old 08-24-2018, 11:20 PM
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Aww, what a great picture of them! Is that Indy's adorable little face hiding in a lampshade?

I don't think I've ever heard of a kitty sucking on a paw like that, but the image is adorable.

Though I've never had two kitties from the same litter, many people I know who do find that their personalities seem to be almost opposite, just like you find with human siblings. With kitties, it often seems that one kitty is outgoing and the other timid. Indy just seems to be a timid kitty, and his personality isn't going to change, though he may become less skittish as he gets older. Just keep approaching him gently as you already are. Chances are that if you try to force him to be less scared, it'll backfire.

He seems to have half of the personality of one of my kitties, and half of the personality of another. My Celia was just about the most skittish cat ever. She lived with me for 16 years, and I still had to approach carefully, and never with my palm down. Even if I put my hand out towards her palm up, she had to sniff it thoroughly before I could pet her. SIXTEEN years. She ran under the sofa whenever the doorbell rang and never came out when I had guests until she was about 11. Then she mellowed just a tiny bit and would venture out if I had a quiet person over and we weren't moving around.

But she had a huge purr and was a total lap cat. The cat who lived with her for 13 years was just not a purr-er. She never sucked on her paw either, so purring was *really* rare, and even then, it was pretty muted. It only ever happened when she was getting a really good scratching around her head, chin, and ears. She was very independent and also didn't seek out affection, though she liked to be right next to me. Like you and Indy, I just accepted that that was the way she was.

I understand how you feel, because I'd feel bad when she was sitting off by herself while Celia was climbing on my lap. But try to remember that your feeling bad that Indy isn't getting more attention from you is from a human perspective. Indy has shown you that he prefers not having the attention. He feels more secure hiding away, and kitties who feel safe are much happier than kitties who are stressed.

I do hope, though, that Indy will stop hiding and running off before 10 more years go by!
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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old 08-30-2018, 09:20 PM
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Just like a baby that sucks its thumb into toddlerhood and beyond, it is a soothing action that becomes a habit. I had one cat that used to suck on another cat's teat. I have a male Devon Rex now who was raised in a home environment by a conscientious breeder, well socialized, yet his favorite thing to do, only when he is sitting in my lap is to suck on one of his own teats while purring up a storm. He does purr other times as well, especially when picked up. He is not a nervous cat and enjoys strangers. He's done this from the time I got him as a 3 mo. old kitten and he shows no sign of giving up the habit and he's over 2 yrs. old now. It doesn't seem to do any harm, and it definitely is something a cat gets pleasure from.

For "scaredy cats" like Celia, often it is lack of proper socialization and gentle handling with people the first 3 mos. of their life, and can also have a genetic component as well....if one or both of the parents had a nervous temperament, it can be passed on to their kittens.

"There are no ordinary cats.";"Time spent with a cat is never wasted."~ Colette
"A loving cat can mend a wounded heart." ~ Unknown Author
Alkitotle aka "Alkee", "Lambie" (July 2/04 - Oct. 2/15) -- white Devon Rex
in avatar. "Always in my heart."
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post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old 09-04-2018, 09:30 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the replies, it feels more reassuring now that Indy's paw sucking habit isn't something I should look to change (in past vets suggested putting something strong smelling on the paw he sucks...no thanks). The only downside really is having to wash those paws as they can very grubby over time and he doesn't like it as you can imagine!

I will accept Indy for who he is, and not go seeking affection from him often, causes him to run away. He does let me stroke him when he's content in his beds, and it does lead to him paw sucking so that is his sign of affection I guess lol. He also lets me stroke him when I'm right about to feed him, so he isn't as nervous as some cats, even though he is scared of strangers. And occasionally he'll suddenly decides to leap on my lap to suck his paw for a few mins, so that is a nice surprise even if it can be very brief and only when he chooses

My other cat Sophie definitely takes advantage of the extra attention she gets from me. She jumps on my lap a lot and purrs away all the time. Only on the very rare occasion she wants to jump up but sees Indy on my lap, it is funny how shocked she looks and walks away in total disgust lol

No idea why the photo rotated, but here they are both happy in a cat tower I adapted!
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post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old 09-07-2018, 04:34 PM
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Very cute! well I turned my head sideways, and the cats look perfectly content.....I assume you've anchored down the basket and box securely? Cats love boxes for sure.

As far as trying to get "Indy" to be more outgoing to you.....when you approach him give him a little treat....pretty soon he may be coming to you rather than running away....worth a try!

"There are no ordinary cats.";"Time spent with a cat is never wasted."~ Colette
"A loving cat can mend a wounded heart." ~ Unknown Author
Alkitotle aka "Alkee", "Lambie" (July 2/04 - Oct. 2/15) -- white Devon Rex
in avatar. "Always in my heart."

Last edited by catloverami; 09-07-2018 at 04:38 PM.
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