Q&A: Why is my cat afraid of me?

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Q: Two weeks ago I adopted a 10-year-old Torti-Siamese cat. She will lie beside me in bed, come to me if I call her and let me pet her but she will not let me pick her up. And every time I move my hands around her she runs and hides under the bed (she seems afraid that I will hit her or something). Do you think it is just because she is so new?

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Meet sweet senior Ione at Canoga Park, CA-based Pet Adoption Fund.

Also, I was going to take her to the vet for a wellness visit, but I’m thinking I should wait. I don’t want her to become even more afraid of me if the vet needs to draw blood or do something invasive like that. — Nancy T.

Michelle Blake, CDBC, pet trainer and deputy director at the Association of Pet Dog Trainers in Las Vegas, writes: It sounds like your cat is having some stress and anxiety acclimating to her new home, which is not unusual.

Cats have a difficult time with change, and you should move slowly with the cat to allow her to come to her own comfort zone with you. After the jump: a few things you can try.

  • If she finds your hands scary, try to avoid quick movements near or around/above her with your hands.
  • Try to pair all her interactions with you with something she does like, such as a really good treat, or a brushing, or play with a toy on a wand or a string (so your hands don’t have to come close to her).
  • Try running a Feliway diffuser in your house to help her feel more relaxed.

Definitely don’t wait for a wellness visit, as it’s important to find out if she has a medical issue that might be causing her to feel anxious or in pain if she’s handled. Be sure to tell the vet about your concerns so that he or she can be prepared to make the visit as stress-free as possible.

Learn more about Petfinder’s Train FurKeeps program.

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