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How to help a chronically nervous cat

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martin2345ukmartin2345uk Forumite
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My mum has two cats, a brother and sister. She got them as kittens 10 years ago. They were raised together but couldn’t be more different - Louis is large and confident, but Poppy is small and always nervous. She doesn’t like men it seems, so I (currently living with mum) can’t go near her without her running away. She’s always crouched low down to the floor, her pupils are always huge, and she just seems unhappy and it’s kinda heartbreaking to watch!

What advice is there for a cat like Poppy? We don’t know why she ended up like this, she was never mistreated and has been with her brother all her life who is a say is a bolshy thing!

Any advice or starting places..?


  • JulieMJulieM Forumite
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    This might sound silly, but try lying down quietly on the floor alongside her. It worked for us with a nervous cat we had, but you'll have to be patient with her!
  • tealadytealady Forumite
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    Try slow blinking.
    Have a look online for anything by a man called Jackson Galaxy.
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  • kazwookiekazwookie Forumite
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    Poor thing, it the cat is now ten, maybe this should have been sorted years ago.
    Simple answer is give it plenty of time and left the cat come to you when it is ready, just sit there with treats, if it comes to you reward, other wise just ignore.
    It took me 9 months years ago to get a rescue cat to trust me and then only at arms length.
    :) Sun, Sea :)

  • falullafalulla Forumite
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    We have a nervous rescue, we've followed the cat whisperer guidelines and it has helped. Your head at her level is good, if you wear specs hold them at arms length and let her sniff the arms. It takes a lot of patience, not sure ours will ever allow us to pick her up, but she is much less scared after 4 months. Best of luck
  • rach_krach_k Forumite
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    You could try a Feliway plug-in.  My cat loved hers, my mum's cats didn't seem to be affected, but it's worth a go.

    It took our rescue cat around 2 years to become completely confident with all of us, so I wouldn't expect any quick changes in her behaviour around you, but previous posters have given some good tips for helping the process along.

    We have found it helps for our cat to have places that are just hers, particularly ones that are raised off the ground, so you could try adding some if she doesn't already have them.  A cardboard box with a hole cut in the side, placed on a table is a good start!  
  • dispossesseddispossessed Forumite
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    'Zilkene' contains a milk protein that comes in a capsule which you open and sprinkle over food. You can obtain without a prescription from various places online - ie. eBay, Amazon etc. It may take a couple of weeks before any effect becomes apparent.  I would also recommend the Feliway diffuser.

    A cardboard box placed somewhere quiet can also help by way of providing the cat with a 'safe space'

    We have two (of three) cats who are nervous. This is what has worked for them.

    I hope this is of some help.


  • edited 2 July at 10:53PM
    RedleelaRedleela Forumite
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    edited 2 July at 10:53PM
    One of our cats that can be nervous is much more relaxed after we play with her. There is a wand toy where you can clip lots of different toys on. One of our cats loves the mouse attachment. The other loves the feathers. Here's a link (in the US it's called Da bird).
    Dragging toys over or under bubble wrap and paper e.g. Amazon packing paper can be fun for them. Also boxes and cat tunnels.
    I hope that helps.
    Edited to add I also recommend Jackson Galaxy's books and videos on YouTube.
  • suki1964suki1964 Forumite
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    Not a very experienced cat owner, just two rescues , I always say let the cat find their own way, don't push it

    We have Timmy at the moment who outside is a lean mean killing machine, inside the house, he's timid so we just leave him be. if he wants to come to us he does. We don't lift him, chase him, or force him to do what he doesn't want to do

    Over the months he now and again comes and sits on my lap, rare, but he does do it sometimes

    A feliway diffuser will also help
    if you lend someone £20 and never see that person again, it was probably worth it
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