Scared / cautious cat. New owner needs advice. - Cat Forum : Cat Discussion Forums
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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 01-21-2005, 02:20 PM Thread Starter
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Scared / cautious cat. New owner needs advice.

(Newbie alert.)
We took ownership of one our neighbour's cats at Christmas. They had two cats, and when they bought a dog, Dory (now our cat) pretty much left the house and started living in our wood shed. She became a true outdoor cat for about 6 months, hardly ever going inside. The neighbours asked if we wanted her so we accepted. She definitely knows where home is now - we had our first dead bird in the kitchen this week. She uses her litter box well, and we've got her into the routine of staying in at night. We play with her a couple of times a day with a feather toy to keep her active and stimulated, and reward her with treats by hiding them in her cat furniture and around the house so she can go hunting for them. I have my own playtime with her last thing at night before we close her in the kitchen and go to bed. She gets a handful of dry cat food, and half a tin of fancy feast wet cat food a day and she has a saucer of fresh milk in the morning, and access to a running water cat fountain all day (yes, we spoil her).

The thing I'm having a problem with as a new cat owner is that she's very nervous of anyone who isn't my wife or I. Any time we go to the front door, Dory bolts for the cat flap and is out. Sometimes even when we come home, we'll put the key in the back door, and she'll eject herself through the cat flap at high speed. And on occasion, she'll catch sight of me walking around the house, and the same thing happens - she bolts for the cat flap.

It was a worry last night because we came in and she darted for the cat flap, which was locked. She batted it with her head a few times and before we could open it, she freaked out and went and found the most inaccessible hidey hole to hide in downstairs. We left her to it and a couple of hours later she came out and seemed perfectly fine again.

Apart from this, and some occasional skittishness, she seems like a well-adjusted cat. Anyone have any ideas why she might be like this, or better still, what we might try to desensitise her to people coming and going?
Also - any ideas on how to help accustom her to sitting in my lap? She'll walk over me to get to my wife and then curl up and go to sleep, but we're having trouble getting her to feel comfortable sitting in my lap too.
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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 01-21-2005, 05:21 PM
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Wisconsin, USA
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Ha, ha, thanks for the alert! Welcome to the forum!

None of this is terribly unusual. Cats get used to the people they live with and many are afraid of strangers. If you have people coming to your house often enough, eventually they will get used to it realizing it's no threat. In the meantime, you just have to be careful, knowing she's likely to bolt, and take precautions.

As far as sitting on your lap, some cats just don't want to do it. And some just do it with one person. Just be patient, and if and when she chooses to sit on your lap in her own good time, make it a pleasant and rewarding experience for her.
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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 01-21-2005, 05:24 PM Thread Starter
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I guess I'll play the waiting game then and keep some kitty treats in my pocket for quick access should she deem my lap worthy
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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 01-21-2005, 05:42 PM
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Location: Dallas, TX
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I agree things sound quite normal. Remember, her life has been a bit topsy-turvey for a while. It'll settle down.

As far as the lap goes, take a look at how your wife is sitting when the cat lays there. I have found that my cats will sit with me when my legs are positioned a certain way but not others.
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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 01-22-2005, 03:54 AM
Join Date: Jan 2005
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I would have to agree with these two experts. It just takes time. My cat used to hide under the bed for hours when we brought him home. Now it's apparent that he owns the house and allows the rest of us to live there with him so he has someone to wait on him hand and foot.
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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 01-24-2005, 11:21 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the tips. I'll play the waiting game.
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