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.. Communicating with a nevous cat

 

Don't approach a nervous cat head on but slowly & from an angle, sit on the floor at a distance so you do not make such an imposing figure. Try not to look directly into a nervous cats face as this can be confrontational for them & intimidating. Instead, sit & look at them from an angle & make more use of your peripheral vision to observe them. Two, slow, half blinks followed by a long blink ending with a squint, is a reassuring sign that you are friendly. Don't expect a response every time, but blinks in return & looking away can indicate that they understand & is a good sign that they are beginning to accept you. You can yawn to show that you are relaxed, but don't pressure them with expectations every time you come in. Leave on a good note, small steps (even tiny ones) are better than pushing your luck ending & with negative associations. Sometimes just sitting near them in a relaxed manner & looking away at something else can acclimatise them to your company without any expectations on them. Reading a book aloud in a comforting manner can also help as they will get used to your voice. Newspapers can be good as long as they are not rustled aggresively as this can sound like a hiss. Watching television quietly is fine too.

Offering a tasty treat can be a great way of making friends, Applaws tuna varieties seem to work well but every cat is individual. Hold the treat in your fingers (or a spoon if the cat is particularly defensive) & slowly offer it with your hand, but so the cat can stretch forward to sniff the treat. If they taste it or not, put it down for them, remove your hand & calmly turn your attention away. This can work particularly well with highly food motivated cats, often strays that have had to locate food for survival, will appreciate the offerings.

Sometimes they are better off left alone to show that your presence does not automatically demand something from them.

If they choose to approach you, you can offer your hand for them to sniff. A fist looks more like the shape of another cats head. This is how cats meet one another - cautiously & nose to nose, ready to back away. So a clenched hand held out steadily will give them a chance to investigate who you are. Fingers moving & sudden movements can put them off, so try to keep a steady hand, you may be as nervous as each other. Interactions will develop & improve given time.

You can very gently try introducing them to a paintbrush or a long feather. Place the object in the room for them to investigate when you are not there, so that they can get used to it. Then leave it nearby to them. When the cat seems to have relaxed in your company but still remains distant, you can try using the object as a stroking stick. Very slowly & gently try stroking their cheek with it, or their head & or neck depending on the signals the cat returns to you. If the cat looks worried, wide eyed or licking lips or even retreats from you or recoils, STOP! Back away & give them plenty of time & space on their own. You can leave a little treat or something to leave on a positive note, & perhaps try again another time (not every time, your presence shouldn't be a pressure for them).

Short regular interactions are generally better than longer ones. Small positive associations are good foundations for a relationship. Frustration & anxiety coming from pressure or expectation in your company may be a bad start.

 

Aprehensive

Aprehensive

Nervous

Nervous

Try not to tower above cats, we make imposing figures

Try not to tower above cats, we make imposing figures

Provide a hiding place, blankets or towels will make retreats more comfortable, while insulating against the sound & vibrations

Provide a hiding place, blankets or towels will make retreats more comfortable, while insulating against the sound & vibrations

Give them a safe den, but try not to invade it

Give them a safe den, but try not to invade it

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