Cat Forum banner
1 - 20 of 21 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,513 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I've had Cap'n Jack for approx a year and a few months now. At first, he was so skittish things like putting on a coat in front of him frightened the bejezus out of him. Naturally, I had to work a long time b4 I could touch him, pick him up etc. I only got him to accept nail trimming in the recent months. He's only started to accept my mother (who's constantly at home with him) touching him within the last half year or so.

I don't have ppl over because of his skittishness but last week I had a friend over who sat in the living room. He was so frightened that although he needed to poop, he didn't use his litterbox in the connecting dining room. Instead, he hid in the basement and pooped on the carpeting ...right next to the litterbox. It was a bit runny. (He had severe diarrhea when I first got him. Probably out of fright.)

My mom told me after I left with my friend, he came right out of hiding and acted like nothing happened so that's an improvement. He used to hide for at least an hour or more.

I read on here how others have rescued strays or ferals and they've managed to adapt well within a few months. Do you think Cap'n Jack's going to be this way forever? I also wonder what his background is to make him this way. He didn't have any signs of physical abuse when I found him. What could have turned him into such a 'fraidy cat? Could it be he's just born this way?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,138 Posts
Per your post, he has improved some.

I have Lily over a year and have been gone 4x when someone else took care of the cats & she still hides when anyone comes over. Lily isn't as terrified as Jack though.
Harli hides, too but I think it's because of Lily. Harli doesn't rush upstairs at the sight of someone different. I think they must have learned this from kittenhood. (Lily was 11 months & Harli was 1yr, 3 months when I got them.).

My prior cat Sophie was adopted as a kitten and was friendly to pretty much everyone.

Once last week, I came in from the garage with packages & my purse was hiding my face. Lily didn't recognize me and growled & was preparing to run away before I put everything down.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
594 Posts
I think with some cats its just a personality thing. Lickorish is super-skittish and runs and hides whenever anyone comes over, which isn't too often. We've only had her for about 3 months now, so probably too soon to see if she'll get better. She did hide from my hubby for over 2 months, but is getting over that and now he can pet her if she's on a bed or perch with an escape route (but not on the floor). Part of it is making their home feel safe and secure and that they can get away if they need to. Lickorish feels much safer when she is up off the ground. When the housekeeping crew comes every other week, I move her little house into the closet and she'll hide in there until they leave. Squeek went into the closet too last time, but previous 2 times she stayed on the bed with her little ears dropped down looking like Yoda. So cute! Squeek will hide when someone comes to the door but then I see her peeking out to see who it is.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,669 Posts
I think skittishness is a learned behavior as well as may be genetic. Learned if the cat was born to a feral queen....to have a quick "startle response" is a good survivor trait. But I've had a couple of very shy cats in 18 yrs. of breeding that seemed to be born that way, even tho the stud and queen were calm outgoing cats. Their upbringing was the same as their litter mates who were outgoing and calm temperaments, but these two did have the startle response and would hide from strangers. As individual cats they were quite loving to me and my kids (not so much to hubby tho) but disappeared at the sound of the doorbell or a strange voice. Some people are high strung and jumpy and it could have a genetic base.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,513 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
*slaps forehead* you're right! Duh. I should have realized it's just like ppl where it could just be a genetic thing.

In that case, I'm also wondering if I should 'push' him to accept ppl visiting so he may benefit from socialization or continue having a 'no guests over' policy. Not sure if it's the same with dogs and cats since I was able to socialize Rocky the dog and reduce his self-anxiety. But I don't want to cause him undue stress. Whenever I look at him lounging in his bed or being happy and comfortable enough to play with a toy, my heart melts and cries. I think of what his life must have been like out on the street and I just want to provide him with the most stress-free, comforting environment to live out the rest of his life.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,181 Posts
I don't think you should have no guests over, he'll never improve that way. But he does need to feel safe when they are over.

Torri is the same way, she doesn't like people over. She's ok with one or two, but any more than that and she gets upset. She likes watching guests when we have one or two over, but she doesn't want to be touched. I handled this by at first giving her a safe room. She would be in her room with the things she needs to be comfy for a while (litter box, water, toys, scratch post) and she could stay there. This way she could hear the guests voices, but have no fear of anyone looking at her (which shy cats don't like) or trying to touch her. I would go in and give her a snuggle once and hour or so, explaining to my guest what was going on, or sometimes just pretending I was going to the bathroom.

Once she showed no signs of nervousness I briefed one of my friends on what to do. I got lots of Torri's favorite treats, and went in to snuggle her. I had my friend come in with me, but she didn't look at Torri at all, and sat on the floor reading a book with her back towards us. I did this a few times until Torri was showing interest and sniffing her back. At this point I would have my friend hold treats in her hand, and still face another way. When Torri would eat the treats we would work up to petting.

Now Torri is ok with a few of my friends, but it's slow going. She does keep improving, but the big thing is trust. She trusts me to pay attention when she's out and guests are around, if she feels uncomfotable I put her back in her room. It works wonderfully. Now she even feels safe enough to show off her trick in front of a few of my friends!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
388 Posts
We've had Milky for 5 months now. He was always skittish since we got him. I wasn't sure if it was genetics or we frightened him or what, but he gets very skittish every night around the same times. Before bed time he just goes all freakish and takes to the hills the first chance he gets every single night. Some nights can be better but mostly every night he will do this. What's the reason???
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
709 Posts
We've had Elliot since he was a 6 week old kitten. He is the most skittish, afraid kitty I have ever met!

He was well socialized as a baby, but just never got over his fear. He still hides/runs from noises, etc. He's almost 5 years old, and will just FINALLY start coming into our living room in the daytime (normally only an all lights out, midnight venture).

It does get better, I think - but I'm not sure how fast or how much. Each kitty is so different!
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
2,847 Posts
Blaze was a feral kitten so he was skittish for a very long time, most of his life really, learned behaviours from kittenhood are hard to break - he lived on the couch for the first few months. However I think if we'd had more people over it would've helped him learn to socialize. He used to be scare of the sound coats make, plastic bags, and anyone he didn't know really well he'd hide from (it'd take several months of them visiting weekly for him to start coming around them). Blacky was a semiferal cat that I tamed, but her problem was that she didn't trust people due to her experiences with them I think so after learning to trust her home and the people in it (two years or so; the first time inside she bolted out a broken window!) she became trusting of anyone that came into the home. She still doesn't trust people outside except a select few.

Some cats can more ot less never change while others take several year, others may take a very short time. Sometimes it's just genetic. You've already made progress though so keep working at it, as long as he feels comfortable in the house without strangest then it's time to have people over more often. At first you will likely run into problems but in the long run he should get used to at least certain people and become a more wellrounded cat because of it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,446 Posts
Muffs has always been skittish, although she's much better now than she once was. When I first adopted her at 12 weeks, she would jump at every little noise and would hide under the coffee table when anyone came over.

She's now almost three. She's still a bit of a scaredy cat, but she's gotten a lot better. New or very loud noises still scare her, although she's fine with the regular noises these days. She tends to hang back when new people come over, although she no longer hides. But it's been baby steps all the way.

I wouldn't fail to have people over because of Jack, although I wouldn't force him to interact with new people or let them approach him either. Just let him set his own pace. That's essentially what I've done with Muffs.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,446 Posts
I'd have more guests and sometimes play loud music. You'd be surprised how fast he will get used to habitual guests.
There's a lot of truth to that. I wouldn't have more guests or play loud music, because I'm not too fond of guests or loud music! :smile: BUT, last summer I renovated my home. I had workers coming and going, using loud equipment, including jack hammers. The girls were absolutely terrified the first week and spent all their time hiding. By Week 2, they settled down a bit and came out of hiding, but were still a little stressed. By Week 3, they took everything in their stride...especially Muffs. I was really proud of how she handled things. So, if you like guests and loud music, go for it!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,513 Posts
Discussion Starter · #13 ·
There's a lot of truth to that. I wouldn't have more guests or play loud music, because I'm not too fond of guests or loud music! :smile: BUT, last summer I renovated my home. I had workers coming and going, using loud equipment, including jack hammers. The girls were absolutely terrified the first week and spent all their time hiding. By Week 2, they settled down a bit and came out of hiding, but were still a little stressed. By Week 3, they took everything in their stride...especially Muffs. I was really proud of how she handled things. So, if you like guests and loud music, go for it!
I don't like guests or loud music either!

But it's encouraging to hear the progress everyone had with their kids. My biggest concern with guests over is my #1 fear that someone will let one of them out. I had it once where they were in the cat room, I had my back turned, my aunt left the cat room and left the door open. I'm lucky they didn't bolt out before I caught that. I have nightmares of them bolting for the house doors and never coming back.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
22 Posts
I have a now 5yr old Apple Head Siamese - Mia. The breeder I got her from also bred Tonkinese - I told her I wanted 1 of each and waited until she had litters of each that were as close together as possible (16 days apart) so Mia was raised with her "brother" Jules. Jules has always been outgoing, friendly, fearing nothing. Mia was somewhat timid from the get go (14wk old) but she played like there was no tomorrow and still does. But if the door bell rings she heads for the closet! Sometimes even loud noises on tv will send her running. If anyone comes over she hides in the masterbedroom and will only come out at night after everyone had gone to bed and then I have caught her sneeking upstairs to see who is in her house! We have a litter box in the master bath and we just feed her in the walkin closet until the company leaves and within minutes she's back to normal - its like she knows they are gone. The longest we had ever had spend the night company has been maybe 3 nights in a row Until this past August we had 2 family members stay with us for 14 days...Mia had seen them because she had come out a few times and looked out the window at the family members sitting on the deck but would then run back to her safe room. Well on night 7 we are all at the kitchen table - Out parades Mia! Everyone quit talking immediately and She walks right into the kitchen and jumps up in "her" chair! and just sits there! Within a few minutes she's walking around their chairs and letting them pet her! I about fell out in the floor! The next day she's in the floor with the visiting family "helping" them sort through family pictures! and she even laid on the bed and took a nap with my sister-in-law! SO apparently Mia's breaking point is 7 days. We figured Mia decided they apparently weren't going to get out of her house - so she might as well make the best of it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
18 Posts
My Cat Noodle used to be VERY shy, and she would always hide, even from us! Now shes to the point where shes usually the first one to the door to greet us, Even if we still cant really pick her up and stuff. If its guests who come over, she will hide when they get there, but eventually will get curious enough to come out and watch them. If we are just sitting and not moving around being loud she will even hop up onto the couch for some pets!

I was VERY shocked though a couple weeks ago. My friend Catherine came over for the first time, and noodle liked her SO much, she was out there on her lap in less than ten minuets! I have never seen her do that before!

We have had Noodle for about 4 years, we adopted her from the human society. The First day we had her, we brought her home, and she was so scared i had to take apart the carrying crate we got her in, and she still didn't move for about 5 hours!

They do eventually come out of their shell! It just takes love and time!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,513 Posts
Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Thanks for the encouraging stories. Cap'n Jack is definitely a tough nut to crack. He's even shy with me sometimes if I haven't handled him for a while and I've had him for well over a year now.

I was weighing him the other day by holding him in my arms and climbing on the scale. It's an old manual scale, as soon as he heard the sound of the scale moving, he was scrambling to get to safety. I held him fast since I was afraid he'd hurt himself jumping while frightened. I ended up getting some scratches from his hind paws (I can't trim those).
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
49 Posts
Wow, sounds like my little female scaredy cat may stay that way, although she has gotten a little bolder over the past 5 months. Her brother is the exact opposite and will immediately run to strangers to get a head pat or chin scratch. He was just born in charge. I got them both at the same time and they've always been polar opposites.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,719 Posts
Sasha came from a woman on Craigslist who was raising him in a basement without much socialization. I got him at about 12 weeks. He is going to be a year old next month. He is the sweetest boy and loves to cuddle and enjoys petting and closeness, but he is still very skittish. If he hears a loud noise or the outside door opens, he gets all stressed out and starts to retreat. if he hears a strange voice, he will hide entirely. If it's just us, then he picks a hidden spot to watch what is going on away from the perceived danger.

I sometimes get frustrated because if he hears the door, he will even back away from us. Like yesterday, I forgot something and was about to walk out the house. I went back in and as I was walking to the bedroom, he saw me and was walking backwards, but away from me. I would never, and have never harmed him, but he still has that reaction when he hears the door.

I'm hoping he does get better and feels safer, but to be honest, I am not too optimistic. When we went to FL recently, the cat sitter had a really hard time getting him to come out of hiding and eating. It took him almost 3 days to start accepting food from someone else, and after a full 8 days, she was able to spot him walking about freely. After another day, he let her pet him once and then bolted away.

Either way, we love him, and if he does stay that way, it's fine. It doesn't really change anything for us.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
18,372 Posts
Kobi was 12 weeks when I adopted him. He was very well socialized as a kitten, no fears to speak of. Then sometime between age 1 and 2, all of a sudden he'd panic if he heard the doorbell, the sounds of someone walking on the porch, strange voices (even if they were just through and open window). He'd bolt upstairs and stay until the noise went away or, if the person was in the house, until about an hour passed. Then he'd come downstairs like nothing ever happened...go over to the guest and jump in their lap and shove his head under their hand for pets. The cat is a freak...

He was like that for maybe 4-5 years. The only exception was my father, who he only sees twice a year (but for visits of several weeks at a time) and Kobi adores him. When dad walked in, Kobi would bolt up the stairs, but then he'd recognize dad's voice and literally stop in his tracks turn around and run to him.

Over the last 5 years or so (Kobi is now 10) he's gradually gotten better...he'd still bolt, but the time upstairs has gotten shorter and shorter. We're now at the point where he runs, but he only goes to the top of the stairs (instead of hiding in a bedroom) and if he recognizes the voice he comes right back down. If he doesn't recognize the person, he may stay up there for 5 minutes or so. And just a few weeks ago, I had two friends over...each came in separately and he never took off!!!

I can't say I had any plan for rehabilitating him. I just lived my life and didn't concede to his neurosis.
 
1 - 20 of 21 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top