Every cat is different, but this is the usual progression a scaredy cat will make when being socialised.
I see you!
- Meets your eyes/doesn’t freak out.
- Comes out of carrier lair when you come in.
- Lets you put food in front of her, doesn’t run.
- Eats in front of you (may still hiss and growl).
Let’s get physical
- You can touch (one finger, light quick touch) [this may take from one to three months, or even more, depending on the cat].
- You can touch longer.
- You can pet a bit.
- You can pet entire length of body.
- You can pet under chin.
- You can pet under belly.
- She meows at you.
Leaving terra firma
- You can lift her very briefly, say 1″, off ground.
- Lift more, longer.
- Lift and hold.
- You can put her on your lap while kneeling on the floor.
- You can put her on your lap and kneel up a little.
- You can put her on your lap and stand up fully.
- Lift and hold on your shoulder.
- Same, and walk around.
- She WANTS to be lifted up/walked around.
- Let run in room, have chair so she can go back in safety lair (be prepared: often they will stay out in room overnight. Catproof thoroughly first).
- She’s calm about room and lair.
- You start doing carrier practice with her: in/out, treat.
- You can in the room, pick her up from your being seated.
- You can in room, pick her up from your standing.
- You can in room, walk over to her and pick her up.
♥ I love you ♥
- She seems to enjoy “ride-sies”.
- In room, she runs over to you to be picked up.
Remember that a lot of taming is “PLATEAUS” — they go and go forever with no apparent change, then BOOM, they’re at a new level. (Unfortunately, this can happen in reverse if something really scares them).
Make it easier for them
Calm YOURSELF! It helps a lot.
Talk with/croon at cat (this is very important; I sing low lullabye-like songs to them, with their stories in them and their names).
When approaching a cat in a room, SIT DOWN! (even if you crawl around).
Starting taming in a cage gives them eventually a safe “lair” space, then they expand their “locus of safety”.
Give treats IMMEDIATELY after you “push the envelope.”
Gesine Lohr, Yahoo Feral Cats group
gesinecatnation .at. gmail.com