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About four months ago we adopted a long-haired female kitten (6-10 months old, the vet couldn't tell because she was slightly sickly and thus smaller than normal) from our local shelter. Despite our best attempts to love and facilitate her, she still doesn't seem to be well adapted to humans;

  • She looks scared when people walk near her (hides under furniture or scurries away a short distance)
  • She is constantly tense while we pet her, although sometimes she calms down eventually
  • She usually begins to meow, scratch, or bite us shortly after we begin petting her, and attempts to escape (and we of course we don't force her to stay)
  • She will stop playing or watching something when we enter the room

  • She is perhaps most happy when we play with a laser or other toys, which we do frequently

  • She is slightly overweight (we feed her half a can of wet food in the morning and half a can at night)

We have two dogs and one other male cat. She is scared of the dogs but constantly plays with the other cat (much to his annoyance.)

We are unaware of the details of her circumstances or previous living conditions, although we believe she lived outside.

Is this something that can only be changed with time, or is there something we can try to help her become less anxious in our home?

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The answers to this question should help you tackle this problem. My rescue kitten is afraid of people and hides in the basement

Also here is a link to an excellent short series of videos on socialising feral cats. Not that your cat is feral; in fact I think you will see that you've made more progress than you think.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vpEcxIgMhyQ

The gist of it is using food and irresistible treats to get the cats to eat in the presence of humans that are far away; then gradually requiring them to be a little closer to the human to get the treat. You will need to move forward in very small stages. In your case, you may need to start with getting her to eat when you are awake but in another room. There will be setbacks!

Also, you can ask your local humane society or animal shelter for advice. I'm sure they will be happy to help and have good advice to offer; as they have to socialise feral cats regularly.

  • Thank you; the answer you linked gives me a lot of things to try. – A.J. Ruckman Aug 20 '16 at 14:28
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There's a few things to try that tend to help, however some cats will NEVER come around. Be calm and give her all the space she needs, let her come to you and don't go to her. It takes time and she may always be fearful.

1) Feliway diffuser - this emits a pheromone to help reduce anxiety, we use this a lot and cat speciality clinics have this everywhere. (http://www.feliway.com/)

2) Royal Canin Calm Diet - This diet can also help with anxiety, no drugs/medications added it's all natural products to keep kitties at ease. (https://www.royalcanin.com/products/vet/calming-support)

There are anti-anxiety oral medications you could use but you would end up stressing her more by pilling her all the time.

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have you tried to give your cat an elevated place to hide,it needs to be able to watch the room from a safe place to feel secure. most cats do like to have an elevated place to sleep/wiew the area.

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