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Ask the Veterinarian/cat love/fear cycle for no reason


Adopted from shelter a brother and sister DSH cat 3 years old. Female very friendly first off and male was stand-offish.  Worked with male to get him out more, now female has episodes where for no reason she acts timid and fearful towards my husband and then will snap out of it and be in his lap. What could have caused the change? She will cower and slink to a corner and stare him down.  She is not aggressive, just avoids him.  We have tried to modify her behavior by cuddling her, leaving her alone, but she is still behaving this way unexpectedly with no common trigger to be found.  For example he will get on all fours to play with them and all is well, then the next day he gets on all fours and she slinks away, or she will go to eat and he will kindly say something to her and again she slinks.  Any ideas on why the change? Would medication for behavior help?

Cats are no different then you and I. We have bad days and good days. We are not all born with perfect personalities. Neither are cats.

So what this means is that until these cats feel safe with you and their surroundings, they could exhibit some odd behavior.

You didn't say how long you've had them, but she could have suffered some trauma from being sheltered and she will need some time to come out of it.

She shows promise, so I would just have some patience and don't take it personally when she slinks off and needs to be alone. So let her be and she will start to feel safer and safer as time goes on and the episodes on the lap will come more often.

My own cat is 10 and there are times she is all over me and times she bites me just to leave her alone. I don't punish her but I do leave her be. Next thing I know she wants to be loved again.

So like those we love of the human variety, we need to just let the flow of their personalities unfold and be accepted.

Now if she was being aggressive, that's an issue that would need dealing with for behavior modification. But it sounds like she is just being cautious and learning to settle in.  

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Jana Connell RVT, CVT


PLEASE READ BEFORE SUBMITTING TO ME: I am NOT a vet and do NOT diagnose diseases. That is only for a licensed Veterinarian to do. I will give you suggestions and steer you toward calling your vet for help. You can call the vet's office and talk to the technician there or the vet at times. Don't be afraid to call them! If you have a serious issue with your pet please post it to one of the veterinarians in here- I will tell you the same thing in my answer. IF your pet is injured or in an emergency situation, CALL YOUR VET- Do not wait and post in here. Just call the vet's office and get them in to see the vet right away. Critical treatment time is lost if you seek answers here when you should have your precious pet at the vets!! Don't sit at home waiting for an answer when your pet is critically ill or injured!! I can answer most questions about small animal and wildlife care as well as small animal nutrition. I can also answer questions about all phases of dental care for small animals. I DO NOT answer questions about birds (unless it is wildlife or songbirds) or HAMSTERS/GERBILS/CHINS/GUINEA PIGS/REPTILES/FROGS/RABBITS/PET BIRDS OF ANY KIND so please submit these questions to the appropriate sections. I, as well as other experts in here, do NOT do homework questions- that is for YOU to do! Please respect these rules for all of us. Thanks!


I have over 42 years experience in the field of veterinary medicine. I specialized in small animals and did wildlife rehab for over 25 years, mostly raptors, squirrels and opossums. I am a Small Animal Nutritional Consultant with 6 certificates from Hills Pet Foods, CNM and Purina. I also specialized in Small Animal Dentistry which is a field I truly love. I also Teach Veterinary Technology to working technicians who are studying to take their California Tests to become Licensed Technicians. They have to take both the VTNE (Veterinary Technician National Exam) and the California boards.

Audubon,World Wildlife Federation, American Society of Veterinary Dental Technicians.


Licensed with California and Oregon, RVT and CVT. Certified Veterinary Dental Technician Have over 1500 logged hours of Continuing Education Credits(that means I keep up to date!).

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Nominated for Expert of the Month for the last 5 years.

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