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Diva cat....advice appreciated!

Discussion in 'Cat Training and Behaviour' started by Char8607, Jul 11, 2019.

  1. Char8607

    Char8607 Mum to Storm (b. 2010) and Luna (b.2017)

    Dec 4, 2016
    Likes Received:
    Hi all

    I'm just wondering if anyone has any advice regarding my cats behaviour and how we can help her.

    Long story ahort; had two male cats (brother's) 9 years ago. In December 2016 one passed away suddenly. The remaining cat, Storm, really pined, we missed having two cats so the following May we got a little female kitten Luna. We introduced them slowly, followed all the advice we could find and whilst it took a while Storm eventually learned Luna wasn't too bad (Luna adored her big brother from the start).

    Before I go on please let me point out I ADORE Luna and think she's a lovely cat......but she blows so hot and cold with her moods it's like walking on eggshells around her. I've never ever been scared of an animal but there are times I'm quite nervy around her.

    As a kitten she was really quite wild; she has always been very strong willed and has never been a particularly fussy cat unless it's on her terms. She won't allow me to pick her up at all, although she will allow my other half to pick her up once in a while and she will tolerate being held on her back like a baby for about a minute before she runs off again. She will come and lie on me and pad me for ages and seems to like being near me but again only on her terms.

    However, she seems scared of EVERYTHING. Someone sneezes ....she runs off and hides for hours, same if the doorbell goes, the phone rings, someone opens our garden gate.....the list goes on and on. She sees my mum all day every Thursday yet still runs from her, my brother visited the other weekend (admittedly she sees him less but he's not a stranger) I then went and sat on the same sofa as her but the opposite end and she jumped at me, hissed and scratched my hand....I hadn't even looked at her.

    Storm was in the vets in January for tooth exrraction; she was vile to him for a good month afterwards. He's been in the vets tonight due to an eye problem and I'm just waiting for the fireworks to start when she reappears in a bit and notices him.

    I guess I'm wondering if anyone has any tips or advice if they've had a cat with similar behaviour issues. I'd like to point out we have never ever shouted at Luna (or any pet), never smacked her or done anything when she's scratched us or hissed at us. My family are great animal lovers and know to leave her well alone when they visit. We have Feliway diffusers around the house as well which did seem to help a bit.

    Maybe I'm being too soft but it really upsets me that she's known nothing but love and yet seems to scratch everyone for no (apparent) reason (clearly there is a reason, I just don't know it)

    Sorry for the long rant I'm just running out of ideas!
  2. chillminx

    chillminx PetForums VIP

    Nov 22, 2010
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    @Char8607 -

    First of all I should say you are not being "too soft" with Luna. Some cats are nervous creatures who tolerate very little intrusion by humans into their personal space; or strangers coming into their core territory (the home), and are easily scared by certain noises., This is the way they are, perhaps due to their genetic makeup, or perhaps due to inadequate early socialisation with humans.

    I have lived with a lot of different cats over the many years I have had cat companions, and I can say that only some of my female cats have been nervous like this, never any of the male cats.

    So, to live with a nervous cat it is a question of learning their idiosyncrasies and requirements, and how to handle them...... just as you are doing. Patience, kindness and tolerance are essential, as you have found. :) It's a matter of discovering what Luna prefers in terms of protecting her personal space.

    I have 2 female cats (sisters), and both are very protective of their personal space, with me and my OH, and also with my other cats (boys). They will not allow the boys to use their 3 litter trays for example. (the boys have their own trays). However the girls can be very playful and funny with the boys when they are in the mood. But all interactions are on their terms whether it's with me and my OH, or with the other cats.

    Neither of my females likes being picked up and neither of them are lap sitters. They enjoy being stroked as long as they initiate it; One of them can be quite mean to the other cats if she feels her resources (e.g. food) are threatened.

    Both my females are as frightened of my visitors as they were when I adopted them 6 yrs ago as 4 mth old kittens. They rush upstairs, hide under the beds and won't come out until the visitors have gone. Most of my visitors have never even seen my girls. I never have visitors staying overnight because the girls get so upset, hide and refuse to eat.

    They also remain super-terrified of the vacuum cleaner! :( And like your Luna, my girls are frightened of the doorbell, and are very anxious until the caller has gone.

    When the house is quiet, with no visitors, and we are not using any noisy equipment, my girls enjoy life. They love their food, have good appetites. They both spend a lot of time in the garden pottering about or snoozing under shrubs in warm weather. They are contented, happy, quirky little cats and I love them very much.

    I once made the mistake of taking one sister to the vet without the other sister, and when we got home an angry fight broke out between the two girls. Since then I take both girls to the vet even when only one needs to be seen. I carry both girls into the vets but the one who is not being treated stays in her carrier the whole time. This put a stop to any fighting when we got home.

    I think as long as Luna is healthy, enjoying her food, eating well, pooing and peeing normally and using her litter tray, you have to let her be herself and accept that she is a rather volatile lady who values her personal space and dislikes being picked up. Don't stroke her unless she comes to you and asks you, by rubbing against you, or miaowing for your attention. And become super-sensitive to her body language and tail movements in particular, telling you when she has had enough stroking.

    If Luna is frightened of your regular visitors and you know exactly which days they will be visiting you, you could give Luna a calming spot-on treatment the night before. The same before a vet visit. This is not a drug it is a supplement. It is effective for one week after applying it.


    My concern is how Luna treats Storm after he returns from the vet. It is not fair for him to be attacked or bullied by Luna when his immune system is at a low ebb due to illness, pain or discomfort. Is there a way you can resolve this, so Storm is protected? e.g. keep the 2 cats apart and carry out scent swapping for a day (rub a soft cloth around the neck and cheeks of Luna and then around Storms neck and cheeks and then back to Luna), and then re-introduce them slowly and not leave them unsupervised until you are sure Luna has accepted Storm back into the 'fold' (territory).

    The alternative is to take Luna with you when you take Storm to the vet. Not to leave her there with Storm of course, if he is to be an inpatient; but just the fact of them both being in the vet together and Luna being brought home smelling the same as Storm, may be enough to keep the peace.

    I am guessing that Luna and Storm are indoor only cats? Nervous cats who are kept indoors often seem to fear noises, doorbells, visitors, strangers, more than nervous cats who go outdoors. My girls do go outdoors, but they are restricted to a cat proofed garden. This is my choice for their safety, but I sometimes wonder if they would have coped better with temporary changes within their environment or interruptions to their routines if I had decided to allow them out to roam freely.
    #2 chillminx, Jul 12, 2019
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2019
  3. Ottery

    Ottery Cat Lady

    Jun 14, 2019
    Likes Received:
    When I lived with my mother (so a very long time ago!) we had three cats and one of them was very nervous of all the things you mention OP. When visitors arrived he would shoot under the bed in the spare room and stay there for the duration. He became slightly less nervous over the years, but not much - it was just his nature.

    A week ago I started using Zylkene for my oldest girl who seems a bit unsettled by the new male kittens. It does seem to be working, although it's early days (I bought a 20 pack from Amazon). It might be worth considering.
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