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PitRottMommy, Veterinary Nurse
Category: Cat
Satisfied Customers: 3941
Experience:  15 yrs experience in vet med, 8 in emergency med. Founder of a non-profit animal rescue
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Cowering cat. Runs when you approach her. Three years old.

Customer Question

Cowering cat. Runs when you approach her. Three years old. No bad behavior. No biting or scratching. Do you recommend felliway collar? Or a essential oil? Jackson galaxy recommends particular brand of screen saying it is holistic. Please advise. Cat has been doing this for over two years so it's unlikely she is ill.
Submitted: 3 months ago.
Category: Cat
Expert:  PitRottMommy replied 3 months ago.

Hi, JACustomer. Thanks for your question.

Tell me about her original history before coming to you. Has she always been nervous like this? If not, what changed in the home? Any children? Other animals?

Customer: replied 3 months ago.
Always nervous. Runs when feeding if approached. Loving at night till she realized she's enjoying it. Close off bedroom to keep her downstairs. Sometimes out but hides in recliner. Been like this since under a year. 3.5 now. Other cat raised as kittens. They clean each other n cuddle sometimes at night. Other female cat slight alpha but if other wants to play n she doesn't she makes it clear. No biting or hissing ever. No urinating or destructive behavior. Unsure about safety of feliway collar or holistic sprays recommended by Jackson gallaxy. No health problems.
Customer: replied 3 months ago.
No children. Two adults. Quiet house.
Customer: replied 3 months ago.
Are you there?
Expert:  PitRottMommy replied 3 months ago.

Feliway may help you, but I seriously doubt it's going to yield the benefit you're wanting. In some cases, behavioral meds can help with this but often it's more stress on the cat to get them medicated.

I don't watch Jackson Galaxy, nor am I familiar with his protocols. But I do routinely take scared (sometimes feral) street cats and work with them until they can be rehomed.

The fact that you have a quiet home will help greatly in behavioral changes for Olive. What I recommend that people do and what I do is to entirely ignore a cat and allow them to come to you. Cats will change their behavior for people that they trust...and no one else. If Olive is cowering or running when you approach her, remove what causes her the most fear: contact. Don't approach her. Don't walk towards her. Don't look at her directly for long periods of time. Allow her to exist within your home and provide for her as best you can without any direct approach. What cats most often learn through this 'reverse psychology' is that they miss the contact that you give them. Their response? To come to you for attention. When we allow them to pursue our attention instead of 'pushing it on them' (a cat's view, of course, not our own), they tend to not only open up quickly but they also make strides forward that we could likely not have otherwise expected. When she comes to you for attention, allow her to rub against you but don't pet her directly on her head. Let her do the work.

To give you an example of this: I took a feral purebred off of the streets about 1.5 years ago. It required a trap to get him into a vet clinic because he was that scared of people. It turned out that he'd been hit by a car at least once, leaving his organs displaced, ligaments in his rear legs destroyed and otherwise...this cat just couldn't go back out on the street even if he preferred it. Thus, we had to make him a house cat.

It took 6 months of training in a kennel to get him to the point of allowing us to touch him. It took almost a year with me before I could lift him off of any surface. It was 8 months before he joined me in bed to cuddle. It's been almost 1.5 years now and I am able not only to approach this cat who runs from everyone else, but I can stand over the top of him, squat down and kiss his head without him running off. This is the level of trust that I refer to when I say that allowing a cat to come to you will work the best.

It's always a work in progress, but one that tends to work the best long-term. And without medications.

Please let me know if you have any questions regarding this method.

Customer: replied 3 months ago.
I'm not sure about that method. Should we still shut the doors upstairs upstairs to keep her downstairs where the both of us are are home? Seemd that when we do that she's more adjusted and engaged somewhat. We just don't think that letting her stay upstairs all day long and then watching her come downstairs in the evening is healthy for her
Expert:  PitRottMommy replied 3 months ago.

The doors aren't imperative to her success, it will be the altered interaction pattern: removing what fears her most. If she is better with the doors closed, then certainly leave them closed. As she becomes more confident, having access to rooms should be added.

Customer: replied 3 months ago.
We are closing upstairs to keep her out from hiding up there all day. Feliway collar or spray. Heard about allergic reactions with collar.
Expert:  PitRottMommy replied 3 months ago.
Collars increase the risk of reaction. I'd use the diffusers and spray.
Customer: replied 3 months ago.
Ok. Will try
Customer: replied 3 months ago.
if laying down on couch. Don't bother her? Sometimes she rolls on her back when rubbing belly. Hit miss
Expert:  PitRottMommy replied 3 months ago.
Abdomen exposure is a good sign. I would allow her to come to you and encourage her to show you what she feels comfortable with. Showing her belly means she's trusting, so it may be a faster process for your family too.
Expert:  PitRottMommy replied 3 months ago.

I'm just following up on our conversation about Olive. How is everything going?


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