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    Living with a nervous cat or kitten

    Articlegeneral cat adviceTuesday 26 March 2013
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    A new kitten especially one picked up from a shelter can be incredibly nervous and shy. This is normal behaviour and not something to worry about. The world for a kitten can be a scary place. There are dog attacks, cruel owners and hardly enough food to go around especially when you are abandoned.
     
    If you want to look after a kitten and try to make your home feel as comfortable as possible then we will take a look at some tips to try to make the transition as smooth as possible for your new addition. It is worth bearing in mind that a bit of hiding and nervousness is totally standard behaviour for any kitten in a new environment so do not be too worried if this is the case. Think of it as the equivalent of your first day of school.
     
    If you are interested in introducing two cats together then feel free to read my guide on the introduction of two cats.
     
    The first way to tackle the issue is to find out exactly why your kitten is scared or nervous. From here you can work out an action plan to solve this problem. This can help manage your expectations. For example if you were hoping to hold your kitten in your arms every night then this may not be the case.
     
    So why are cats more nervous than others?
     
    1) Genetics. Just like humans, some cats are born feeling nervous and anxious. It should be noted though that nervousness and anxiety is arguably not related to the breed of cat.
     
    2) Bad experience or trauma especially in wild adopted cats. As stated earlier a cat on it’s own will have to face dog attacks, cat fights and much more to survive.
     
    3) Finally the cat has not had the “social experience” at a vital time in it’s development such as meeting humans and integrating into a home. Without this it can turn into a “wild cat” and be shaped that way for the rest of its life. This usually occurs around 8-12 weeks.
     
    Introduction into the house:
     
    Cats love to be on their own so introducing a cat into an environment where there are people petting it everyday and other cats to live around could be stressful. So the first tip is understand your cat and it’s background. Has it come from a stressful background? It could explain some of the problems it is facing and also show you just how much work is going to be required and needed. After this you will need to decide at what level you use your extra intervention to make your cat feel at home.
     
    What your cat needs first of all is a quiet base of its own to return to. A quiet home is best but if you are in a busy household then try to provide a quiet room where it can relax and hide away from the busy world. With this when a cat has had too much it can always retreat back to its base. This room that you reserve for your cat should have all the requirements necessary for it to live including food, water, a litter tray and somewhere to sleep. You may find that your cat when first entering the house could be there from anything to a few days to a few weeks before exploring the rest of the home.
     
    Another useful tip is through the use of food treats. Discovery recommends portions of small cooked chicken. Each time try to make your cat come closer to you so that it associates the treat with yourself. This should be seen as a luxury treat and one of the best.
    In the rooms your cat feels nervous try to place more furniture in there. A nervous cat likes to hide behind things such as cupboards and in boxes. This way they can explore and not be intimated and leave the room when guests are visiting.
     
    Guests to the house:
     
    Guests to the house are indeed a problem for a nervous cat and understandably it can be stressful. Some cats are said to take years to become accustomed to people visiting.  A good technique for a frequent guest who visits is to introduce your cat in a 1 on 1 environment. This should be in a small in a room that the cat feels settled in. Make sure your guest is aware of the delicacy of the meeting and introduce them both.
     
    Alternative methods:
     
    There is an alternative method which is through the use of herbal remedies. You would drop these in your cats water or apply on the ears. Another recommended solution is Feeliway which is a pheromone that can make cats feel comfortable in awkward places. This can be sprayed in rooms where you wish your cat to go. It is not advised to place this on the cat itself. It is advised that before doing any treatment like this you should speak to your vet beforehand. They can advise what is best.
     
    Little by little with careful techniques can you help your cat become less nervous and more confident in your home. It is sadly not an easy procedure and one that will take time depending on the background and age of the cat. 
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