Why are my cats so freaked out around --- anybody but us?

ryseryse_2004February 24, 2014

These are indoor/outdoor cats. (7) All are spayed/neutered and all are very loving and needing regular 'lap time' indoors but want to be outdoors for bathroom duties and for mousing. They are totally healthy as we make sure they are free of mites, fleas, worms.

Now, the problem. We are going to be moving and will have to find homes for at least four of these sweeties. Because of our severe winter, they have been indoors most of the time and are getting cabin fever. (I am too and want to stop buying 40# of cat litter every couple of weeks.)

Who is going to want cats that are totally freaked out when anybody but the two of us are around? What ever made them this way --- they were never abused and four of them were raised right here as kittens born of one of the females who was dropped here. Actually, the only one who is somewhat friendly to anyone is 'Spooky' who appeared one Halloween three years ago. He constantly wants to be petted but will never jump up on a lap or allow us to pick him up.

But --- why are they this way? I go to other farms and the cats come right up to everyone wanting to be petted.

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Socialization (being exposed to different people & things) as a young kitten plays a big role.

If cats are only exposed to a couple of people - they are often freaked out by others.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2014 at 3:35PM
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I have sibling cats who were adopted when they were about a month old. One is a total lover-boy who dotes on people, all people. The other loves me but is so shy and fearful of others that none of my visitors have ever seen her. Just different personalities!

    Bookmark   February 24, 2014 at 5:32PM
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I agree with mdln. Socialization as a young kitten makes a big difference. I always get cats as siblings and they are kept as indoor cats. The first time I got two three month old kittens from the SPCA, who knew very little about either of them as they had been found in a box on their doorstep one morning. They were both loving animals to family members but always distrusted strangers. The female one was shyer and invariably disappeared when anyone new showed up; the male would tolerate visitors. The female is now 16, and the problem I now have is giving her medication because I am the only one she trusts enough.

Anyway, I have two other silbings who are 1.5 yrs. I got them as eight week old kittens from a happy environment and they are extremely friendly. Strangers are met with purrs and bumps, they are extremely trusting.

I think the cats you want to rehome will probably develop a relationship with new owners but it will take some time, and that will require patience. Just make sure the new owners understand cats and know that. :)

    Bookmark   February 24, 2014 at 6:30PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Our son kindly offered to adopt a cat from a friend who was moving and didn't realize the cat was pregnant until he came home from work one day to 4 kittens. [g] He fell madly in love and kept them all. He was living away from home at the time and had few visitors. Later he moved closer to home and of course had trouble finding housing with all those cats. So we took three of them temporarily and 6 months later found a new home for two of them.

They also were a little bit freaked out with these changes at first, but I spent a lot of time with them and letting them warm up to us and have their space to get away when they wanted to. By the time they left here, we were all great friends and they were much more open to the new family that they went to. We get updates on them all the time and they just love their new home and the family thinks they are wonderful. It just takes time and patience. I miss them every time I see a cat. I've always been a dog person, and have not had many cats growing up, and now I really like both. They can be very cute.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2014 at 8:25PM
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LOL..cannot imagine coming home and finding 4 kittens.

We see it in the ER - girls/women coming in and insisting they cannot be pregnant.....

    Bookmark   February 24, 2014 at 11:35PM
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OP - what do you mean by "totally freaked out" - are they hissing and growling and running in fear from strangers, or just stand offish and go find other rooms to be in. Do they tolerate a stranger coming close or petting them, or do they rip off the person's arm?

Some cats bond really closely to their people but are just simply wary of strangers. Mine are total lap slugs, all purry and cuddly with me, jump onto my lap etc., but don't react one way or another to strangers - even the pet sitter says they're stand offish. A previous cat on the other hand just LOVED company, was all over them. Even the vet coming to give her a shot- she purred nonstop. Just different personalities.

If they have good bonding with you, they will be able to eventually establish a bond with a new owner although yes it may take more time and hopefully the new person will be gentle and patient.

BTW, if any of the cats are bonded to each other (ie sleep and groom together) please do try to adopt them out as pairs instead of single cats. That will REALLY help them with their move, more than you may realize. I think you'll find some people would actually prefer to get a pair, if they know they're already bonded and get along. Much less risky than getting two cats who don't know each other and have to introduce them.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2014 at 9:36AM
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I'm no expert and can't answer that question but I guess I'm lucky that my current three stray/shelter cats are all very sociable with visitors. They've spent all their time with us in a pretty quiet, two adult household but they always come around and hang out with visitors, get on their lap (which can be a problem), etc. No idea what life was like for them as kittens.

I can't imagine that just because they are shy with visitors that they wouldn't come to accept a new home and new people.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2014 at 6:21PM
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My four strictly indoor cats are lap cats and very affectionate to me. But when company comes two of them disappear. The other two are friendly to all. Ironically one of the friendly ones was a rescued pregnant feral who i saved from the street along with her three babies when they were born. Mother is loving and friendly. Baby, now 12 years old, fears everyone and she has lived in my house since she was born.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 5:59PM
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