Patience, Zylkene, & Feliway

Question:
My 6 month old kitty came from Animal Control when she was 5 weeks. She was definitely scared but settled in with me in a day or so. I live alone so besides veterinarians she’s had no other company. She runs and hides whenever anyone comes over. My wonderful cat sitter is coming over to see if she’ll calm down. Is there anything I can do to get her to quit being so scared? She’s so loving and playful with me.

Dr. Nichol:
I am so happy that your scared little cat has learned to trust you and enjoy a peaceful life. Hiding when people visit is her way of coping with the unknown. You’ll need to take it slow to avoid worsening her fear.

Cats with fear of strangers are not unusual. It’s a common problem for those who had little exposure to unfamiliar people as young kittens. It is actually around 5-7 weeks of age when their brain development starts making it hard for them to adapt to anything they haven’t already encountered. You and your cat will be a tight pair for life but this kid will take a long time, if ever, warming up to anybody else.

There are a couple of changes that may ease your kitty’s heebie jeebies. Zylkene is a supplement that reduces mild to moderate anxiety. Made from hydrolyzed milk protein, the capsules can be opened so the powdered contents can be mixed with food once daily. It tastes like milk, so there won’t be any problem getting your girl to eat it.

I also recommend a Feliway plug-in diffuser in your bedroom. This calming pheromone will gradually diffuse into the air and, along with the Zylkene, help your cat relax. Feliway has no smell and will not cause kitties to become sleepy, just calmer.

We cat lovers are a well-intentioned bunch. The pet sitter may want to peek under the bed to try to reassure and coax your kitty out for a meet-and-greet. Fuggetaboutit. Cats aren’t that gullible. Your girl’s fear would only escalate. Give the kid time. If she doesn’t feel threatened, her curiosity may get the better of her. If Nervous Nellie finally emerges you and your guest will see faster progress if you completely ignore.