Norwich Bulletin - 10/3/2010
The Scaredy Cat|
One of the kindest things that you can do for the feline population, is to be willing to go to the local humane society and adopt a scaredy cat. Or take in that very scared cat that has been hanging around your porch looking for a handout. However, if you expect miracles and do not possess a lot of patience, you will find it hard to accept the disappointments and backwards steps that may occur.
It all depends on the amount of time the kitty has been away from a real home – and in some cases, we are talking about kitties who have never had a real home. Our own scaredy cat, Tank, showed up in our yard one day and it took well over a year before he would even sniff our hand. But when he got the idea that he was safe and loved, he turned into a great big lap cat who loves being petted so much that he drools!
So if you have the personality to take on this challenge, then I encourage you to go for it as it is one of the most emotionally rewarding things that you can do. Most important, when you bring your new scaredy cat home, limit it to a single room; too much space is intimidating and the cat will end up hiding in spaces you won’t even think of to look. One room (and not a bathroom please) is a whole world for this cat to discover – a cat bed, scratching posts and cat furniture, regular meals, fresh water and toys are probably all new to him.
Cats that have been abandoned and abused will take longer to come around, but they do respond. It just means that you have to have a little more patience. To start with, go slowly and just initiate contact. Too much too soon will just overwhelm the cat. When you are with the cat just go about your own business so the cat can become comfortable in your presence. And if you have another cat, make sure that your scaredy cat watches the interaction between you and your other friendly feline. He will be more likely to come around faster if he sees his friend is comfortable with you.
Plan your sessions. Not too long at first because a scared cat is not usually ready to have interaction for long periods of time in the beginning of the relationship. Four or five minutes should do it. First thing in the morning before you feed is often a good start because a hungry cat is more apt to come around than a full one. Give the cat a safe spot, where it can feel secure and do your bonding time there. A perch on a windowsill, the top of the cat furniture, a cat bed in a hiding spot are all good spots to approach the cat.
Cats don’t understand our words so you will need to demonstrate your affection and communicate by touch. Massage rather than pet, using focused, thoughtful, slow and consistent caresses under the chin, around the cheeks, shoulders and chest. I recommend staying away from the top of the head, the tummy or the cats back end at first. When you find the stroke your scaredy cat enjoys, then repeat it fifteen to twenty times. Kitty will find it soothing.
If you can get your cat to just sit next to you or get in bed with you and you just rest your arm alongside the cat, then your touch will encourage a feeling of security and safety with you. Speak soothing and soft words, call him by name (and pick a strong and brave name), and use repetitive phrases.
It all works and will result in a happy cat. The cat may not be super social with all of your guests, but you will have a special place in his heart. So enjoy soothing your cat – touch slowly, softly and frequently. Brush your cat often, talk in gentle tones. Keep loving your scaredy cat and you will be so fulfilled when that cat becomes your happy and loyal companion.
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