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PMy cat is terrified of men!

(40 Posts)
CatteLady Tue 10-Jun-14 13:33:24

I'm looking for some help with my cat - he's an exstray from a rescue, aged about 8. I've had him for just over a year.

He came to live with me around the sane time as my husband moved in, and initially they were fine with each other - he's not a lap cat, but he'd perch on the arm of the sofa and they'd watch TV together. Cat was still nervous of any visitors, especially men, and hid under my bed. He'd normally shove his cat face round the door provided no men were there.

Around Christmas, he suddenly became terrified of my husband too. No obvious trigger.

We've since moved house, and lovely Cat has started going out a bit. When he's not out, and husband is in, he hides under the bookcase - if it's just me, he's out, annoying me and lying on my stomach, playing and doing normal lovy cat things. I've tried Feliway, I've got some Zylkene on there anything else?

Husband is reluctant to enter cat's lair due to him hissing and growling, but surely he should be feeding him to try to build a bond?

I'm 9 weeks pregnant, and keen to get my darling cat settled before the baby arrives thus freaking him out even more.

Thanks in advance for any suggestions you can offer!

Flexibilityiskey Tue 10-Jun-14 13:42:49

Sorry I can't help with this but I will watch with interest. I have the same problem with my cat. He will probably be fine with the baby though. Mine doesn't seem to find children a problem, just hates adult men.

cozietoesie Tue 10-Jun-14 13:47:40

Do you know his history? (I'm wondering about previous mistreatment by men.)

CatteLady Tue 10-Jun-14 13:53:06

Sadly not, I'm assuming he must have been mistreated whilst he was a stray. He had 2 owners before me, but they both had to go into sheltered accommodation and had to give him back to Cats Protection.

He's been ok with my husband, and was fine with my dad after a lot of Dreamies and coaxing...but things are worse than ever and I'm desperate to help him before I get too massive/tired with the baby. I've thought about looking for a female only household for him, but as he's lost 2 owners I want to give the poor bugger a bit of stability. Plus he's so loving and playful when it's just the two of us.

CatteLady Tue 10-Jun-14 13:54:26

Here's ScaredCat!

cozietoesie Tue 10-Jun-14 13:58:10

Some cats get along better with women anyway - I've never tried to work out precisely why (there's a learned treatise in there somewhere) but there's something about a greater evenness of women's everyday behaviour I suspect.

How does your husband treat him on a day to day basis? (I'm thinking whether he's apprehensive, guarded - whatever. Have you noticed?)

cozietoesie Tue 10-Jun-14 14:01:05

PS - has he got a high place/safe place he can easily got to if things get too much for him - and is he left there peacefully if he goes?

CatteLady Tue 10-Jun-14 14:43:17

He's got his nest under the bookcase where he tends to camp out...he used to like under the bed where he was left alone. We've not long moved, and I've not got round to buying him a cat tree yet as I have no idea where to put it. I'd like it in the lounge so cat can sit with us but feel safe, but husband claims to be 'freaked out' by them. Getting annoyed with him, obvs.

I think my husband's demeanour is a big part of it - he avoids ScaredCat, and tends to blank him. I think because he wasn't brought up with animals, he struggles with moody cats. He does like his office cats though - I think because ScaredCat is exstray, he's not had anyone to teach him 'people pleasing' things, maybe?

cozietoesie Tue 10-Jun-14 14:53:27

I'm guessing that ScaredCat is missing a few layers of skin (sensitivity-wise) where men are concerned and that your husband's demeanour isn't helping what with the stress of a move and new home etc. Has he ever been known to speak shortly or loudly to SC ? (I realize that you're not always there and it might be difficult to tell - but your husband could be getting exasperated with him.)

What I think SC needs is calm and routine. (As nearly all cats like and as he'd likely be used to - I'm thinking that if his two previous owners were moved into sheltered accommodation, they were probably elderly and had quiet-ish households?)

Is there any way to achieve that? (I have to go shortly but I'll mull over myself.)

naturalbaby Tue 10-Jun-14 14:57:12

I have a scaredy cat like this. We got him as a kitten from a rescue centre. Feliway helps when we move house but I'm afraid to say since we've had dc's he's got worse. Now my dc's are mobile and noisy, he just spends all day hiding in one room.

CatteLady Tue 10-Jun-14 15:03:38

Natural, that's what I want to avoid for ScaredCat. I think he'd make a fab cat for a single woman, I don't want him getting stressed, he's FIV positive so it's probably not good for him.

I love ScaredCat, he was always with me when I got depressed and bedridden, but I want him to feel safe and happy.

I think I'm looking at rehoming, aren't I?

CatteLady Tue 10-Jun-14 15:43:25

He's definitely shouted at him a few times, which I've told him off for. I don't raise my voice except either when he's destroying something, or a playbite has gone too far and started to hurt!

ScaredCat seems depressed - has anyone had any success with Zylkene?

cozietoesie Tue 10-Jun-14 16:38:56

He's shouted at him a few times? (And that will be while you're around.) That's ......not so good.

I'm a little pessimistic about his chances of rehoming - a mature black and white ex-rescue cat offered to his fourth (?) plus home due to behaviour issues? That's not looking like a real positive outcome, I think, unless you know someone privately?

However, from what you say, he's likely frightened of your DH - loves you, because not only does he play with you but also he still comes home after going out. But your DH ?

Did anything happen with you and your DH around Xmas?

CatteLady Tue 10-Jun-14 17:41:23

Not that I'm aware of. He went back to my parents for a few days after Christmas, but had a good time there by all accounts. DH thinks something happened, parents say not, so I guess I'll never know.

I'd only ever rehome privately, I love black and black and white cats, but I know they're not universally popular. The FIV would be off putting too I guess. Aside from zylkene, Feliway and getting DH to take his food in, is there anything else I can do? He's curled up in a ball of fear, poor thing.

cozietoesie Tue 10-Jun-14 17:54:40

I'm a little at a loss as to what you could do without your husband on side - and it sounds as if he's not. You're not exactly mistress of your own destiny there, are you?

Maybe some other posters can advise more clearly.

CatteLady Tue 10-Jun-14 17:56:44

I think he just doesn't see the problem. I think a more forcefully worded conversation might be in order...or it's just going to set a really shitty precedent.

cozietoesie Tue 10-Jun-14 17:56:47

As a by the way, does your husband ever react strongly with you? (As opposed to just the cat.)

CatteLady Tue 10-Jun-14 18:03:47

No, not at all. It's very unlike him to be so stubborn as well. I think he just got the hump that scaredcat likes me better, but isn't prepared to put the effort into building a relationship with my lovely boy.

cozietoesie Tue 10-Jun-14 18:14:14

I'm sorry, but in my experience, a cat is actively frightened 'for cause'. If you genuinely just ignore one, they'll generally work around you. If he's in a ball of fear, I think the problem is your husband more than it's just him. Maybe you should start by trying to find out just what it was that your DH thinks happened at Xmas when he was away - I presume you meant with his parents?

Please excuse me if I've been too inquisitive. If you could put a private rehoming strategy in place, it might be a good thing. I hate to think of a terrified animal.

CatteLady Tue 10-Jun-14 18:23:03

I agree, and I'm putting out feelers (eww) for a new home.I'd be heartbroken to give him up, he's chatty, friendly and loving with me, and I'd miss him terribly but I'd rather he was safe and happy.

I think DH will be getting read riot act later :-(

Cardinal Tue 10-Jun-14 18:24:35

My two girls are the same. No previous dodgy history, they were born in my house and have always been this way.

They like my DH, but no other men. Women visitors fine, male - nope, straight out the cat flap.

No idea what it is, but the girls are 15 now - old habits are going to die hard I think!

CatteLady Tue 10-Jun-14 18:33:28

I think it might partly be a movement thing - DH is very flappy/fast moving and I think Cat gets startled/anticipates being hit. I'm calmer and less excitable....

naturalbaby Tue 10-Jun-14 22:00:33

It's heartbreaking to think of rehoming them when they are part of your family. I thought about it but just couldn't bring myself to do it. He has his own space and I make sure the dc's stay away from him. If my DH goes and sits near his space then cat will appear if the dc's are in bed. Dh has to be very still though - like reading a book, and I'll talk to cat.

timtam23 Tue 10-Jun-14 22:33:00

Maybe the cat is also picking up on you being pregnant? I think some cats are very sensitive to hormone changes, perhaps he is a bit more insecure than usual because of this?

Sorry I have nothing very helpful to add apart from could your DH play with the cat, maybe using a "fishing rod" kind of toy so that there is no direct contact between him & cat but cat can still associate DH with friendly things? And maybe if he could keep things calmer around the cat & chat to him...

I didn't have quite the same situation with my cats but it had been just me & them for ages, then I met DH - one cat in particular was very timid but DH managed to win both of them round. He is very much a cat person though, and spent ages sitting quietly with them & chatting to them (I think he also realised it would get him into my good books if he & the cats got on smile)

CatteLady Tue 10-Jun-14 22:49:37

Thanks everyone! I'll try to make sure he feeds ScaredCat, he's vetoed Da Bird, shame as ScaredCat loves it.

I hadn't thought about pregnancy hormones upsetting him - I guess lots of reassurance needed. Ill suggest ScaredCat's lair as a reading room, so they spend a bit of time together...

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