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By Lyn Geist

You think your cat is crazy? Learn how to make your cat normal by reducing its anxiety

Living with a nervous cat

If you have a nervous cat, avoid petting its head. Nervous cats are usually "head-shy," meaning they don't like to be touched anywhere around the head area. These nervous felines also look for places to hide away from anyone new but keep an eye on their surroundings. Usually, they walk with bent legs and appear to creep along the ground in order to appear smaller. This "creep" also allows them to be ready to sprint to safety in dangerous situations. You may also notice that the cat might twitch its ears or lower its tail with the tip of the tail curved upward. Nervous cats will also groom excessively. It is important to take notice of your cat's habits in order to determine whether or not it is anxious, especially if the cat is new to your household. A nervous cat can cause a stressful situation for everyone. It will take patience, some training and lots of love to make your cat feel secure.

How to reduce your cat's stress

If you know that your cat is nervous you can do several different things to make him or her feel less anxious. Keep in mind that an adopted cat might be more nervous than you previously realized as it might have come from an abusive environment or experienced an unpleasant trauma that stays with it into your home. The following tips will decrease your cat's anxiety:

  • Make sure your nervous kitty has a quiet atmosphere; avoid raised voices and lots of sudden movements. Don't attempt to pick it up, just let it come to you on its own.
  • If your cat decides to hide do not try to coax it out. Once it starts to feel less anxious it will venture out to explore.
  • It is important to let the cat gain confidence on its own. When the cat shows that it is beginning to trust you, reward it with a special treat.
  • When it comes to you for love, pat it gently but let it go when it tries to get away.
  • Speak to your cat with love and in soothing tones to calm it and make it feel comfortable and safe. If you see a situation that causes the cat to feel nervous, do what you can to change it.

When you have company, do not hunt down your cat and force an introduction. This is especially important when it is still adjusting to its new surroundings. Let the cat decide on its own if it wants to join you. Make sure the visitor understands the cat is nervous so that he/she does not scare it further.

Teach your cat good manners

Gently teach your cat acceptable behaviors. If your nervous kitty chooses to sleep on a surface you would prefer them not to sleep on, let them stay there until they are more confident. Then you can scoop them up and place them elsewhere.

Some cats enjoy cat toys like feathers and play mice. Make some toys available for your cat to help keep it calm and entertained. Be sure that everyone in your household treats the cat in the same manner and with the same rules to avoid confusion and further anxiety. In time your cat will understand that you have its best interests at heart and it will turn into a loving member of the family.

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