Scared / cautious cat. New owner needs advice.
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.