frightened cat

Set Tiger up to Choose to Snuggle

Question:
We adopted Tiger as a kitten 3 months ago. At first he was very affectionate with me and my husband. Suddenly, when he was 18 weeks he became terrified of my husband. We have 3 other cats, no problems. Tiger jumps up and runs when he even hears my husband coming. He is very affectionate with me. My husband is upset that Tiger is afraid of him.

Dr. Nichol:
It’s possible that your good man is the victim of a feline smear campaign. Actually, it’s more likely to have started with him and Tiger sharing a moment when the fuzzy little striped guy was suddenly frightened. A laundry appliance banging or beeping, a person sneezing loudly, or even an outdoor noise may have caused Tiger to associate fear with being near his cat daddy.

Your husband should carefully avoid triggering more of Tiger’s fear. He must not approach, lean over, speak loudly, reach for, are stare at Tiger. Even trying to hand this kitty food could startle the kid and worsen his fear association with this good man.

Set this pair of budding buds up for success. The pheromone in Feliway spray promotes a calm emotional state. Your husband can apply Feliway to his hands and his shirt. This natural method will help Tiger associate relaxation near the gentle man in his life.

Fun things can happen around your husband. A catnip toy can rest on the floor near him. He can drop bits of tasty food but he must wait for Tiger to choose to approach. I hope he’s patient; success could take months. Attempts to turbo charge the process would trigger this nervous kitty’s fear. If your other cats are elsewhere during these special times the relationship will advance nicely.

You can help fast-track this growing father-son bond by completely butting-out for the next 3-4 weeks. With you acting as though Tiger has ceased to exist he will only be able to eat, scrounge human affection, or a bedtime story with you-know-who. At the end of this eternity you and Tiger will share a tear-filled joyous reunion with Dad joining the group hug.

Each week Dr. Jeff Nichol makes a short video, blog, or podcast to help bring out the best in pets. Sign up at no charge at drjeffnichol.com. Dr. Nichol treats behavior disorders at the Veterinary Emergency & Specialty Centers in Albuquerque and Santa Fe (505-792-5131). You can post pet behavioral or physical questions at facebook.com/drjeffnichol or by US Post to 4000 Montgomery Blvd. NE, Albuq, NM 87109.