Paws and Effect

Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:

I have a cat that I found in my dad’s 1973 Cadillac El Clasico engine, five years ago. He was 3 weeks old and he was found with two baby possums. To this day, he will only come to me. He puts up with my husband because he gives him treats. Everyone else he hisses at and runs away. He is scared of everything. Most cats are curious, but not this cat and I wonder why he is like that. He follows me like a puppy; I call him my shadow.

~ Heidi

Thomas: Well, Heidi, Mama’s had to deal with a scared cat or two over the course of her life.

Bella: If you’ve been following our blog, you know Tara was pretty scared for a really long time. She’ getting braver now, but it took almost a year before she’d come out from under the couch and sit on Mama’s lap.

Tara: I was scared of everything, and I wouldn’t even follow Mama around. But Mama had another cat …

Thomas: Her name was Maddy Gold, and Mama’s mama adopted her from a friend of the family. Maddy was scared of everyone but Mama, and she rarely left Mama’s side.

Bella: Mama didn’t know how to help Maddy be less scared of other people. After all, she was only a teenager back then. But she’s learned a lot since then, so we think we can help you with your scared cat.

Tara: First of all, think about where he lives. Does he like high places or low places? If he doesn’t have any high places, think about getting him some cat shelves or a cat tree so he can observe your family from a distance.

Thomas: Then try playing with him to bring him out into the center of the room. Play can do wonders to increase a cat’s confidence.

Bella: Maybe your husband can start playing with him, too. That way he can learn that fun things can happen with people other than you.

Tara: If he’s a really scared cat, you may need to play with quiet toys and not get too “in his face” with them.

Thomas: You can also try using Feliway diffusers. They contain an artificial “happy cat” pheromone that might help your kitty feel more comfortable in his space.

Bella: To get your kitty familiar with other people, try having them give him treats, too. Once again, what you’re doing is helping your cat see that other people are nice, too.

Tara: And continue to be patient with the little guy. It’s going to take him a while to get used to other people. Maybe a long while. Like Bella said, it took me a year to come out from under the couch and start exploring my new home.

Thomas: Now, about why he follows you around so closely: He’s apparently become very bonded to you since you raised him from such a young age.

Bella: That’s actually pretty sweet!

Tara: He’s relying on you to help him feel safe, and he loves you like you’re his mom.

Thomas: Like we said, don’t be afraid to use the closeness of your relationship to help your kitty feel more confident. We’re sure you can take your little scared cat and turn him into a brave cat, just like Mama’s done with Tara.

Bella: Best of luck to you and your kitty, Heidi.

Tara: What about you other readers? Do you have any ideas about how Heidi can help her cat be less scared of other people? Please share your thoughts in the comments!

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