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My Pet World: Give anxious cats more places to hide in the home

By Cathy M. Rosenthal, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Cathy,

We got our rescue cat October 2015 as a seven-month-old kitten. As soon as she got in the house, she went under the bed and came out only to eat and use the litter box. A year later, she still hid under the bed but came out more often to snoop around the house. As soon as anyone moved though, she raced back under the bed.

Since the beginning of this year, she comes out at night and sleeps in our bed with us. At daybreak, she is back under the bed again until nighttime. When we are watching television, she comes into the hallway and starts "talking" to us. But as soon as one of us gets up, she is back under the bed.

I have a bag of treats, and when she hears me open it, she comes running toward me. Sometimes, she stays out, and we play a little. She does not play with any of the toys we bought her.

She lets us pick her up, but not for long, and she does purr. She is not curious about anything, open bags, crawling things, etc. We do have a Chihuahua who has no interest in her. Sometimes they both end up on the bed at the same time with no conflicts.

Is this something that is going to last forever with her? Right now, she is not like a pet she is just an animal that lives in our house. -- Mark, Las Vegas, NV

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Dear Mark,

I appreciate your patience with this sensitive soul. Believe it or not, I don't think her anxieties will last forever, even though it has been two years so far. She has actually made progress, so here are a few more ways to keep things moving.

Place plug-in feline pheromones around the house or get her a feline pheromone collar to wear. All animals emit pheromones, but when cats smell cat pheromones, it can trigger an endocrine response that calms them and reduces anxiety.

Next, when she starts "talking" in the hall, open her treats and call her to you. Do not go get her, since it startles her. Instead, make her come all the way to you. Place a hideaway-type bed near or on the couch that she can dive into quickly if she is startled. That way, she doesn't have to start all over again from the other end of the house.


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