Understanding Your Scared Cat
Cats by nature love to have their safe, quiet spots where they can get away from noise and stressors. A shy or scared cat may exhibit a greater need for privacy. Unlike feral cats who have not been around humans and are afraid of any contact, shy cats are typically undersocialized. They may have spent part of the first year of their life in a shelter or situation where wasn’t much attention paid to them, or they haven’t been trained.
Some shy, scared cats have other issues, such as separation anxiety or fear of strangers. In most cases, these sweet cats need a quiet environment and are better suited for a low-key household. Make sure to minimize changes in the home by keeping their litter boxes, food and water bowls, and bed in the same place, away from the main walkways.
Hiding in cats is sometimes a signal of an underlying health issue, so call your vet for an examination if it has been more than a year since the last visit.
Steps to Gaining Your Scared Cat’s Trust
Gaining trust with a shy, anxious feline is possible with some practice, insight into their behavior, and ways to relax them around the home. Here are positive steps you can take to get your purr pal to warm up to you.
- Stick to a routine with your cat. Daily routines, such as when you feed your kitty, are important to them feeling secure and comfortable. Routine is a way to relax your cat as they come to know what to expect, including when you are away at work and when they will have your undivided attention for play and grooming.
- Minimize noise and other stressors. Most pets are noise averse and will react with fear when they hear the vacuum, sirens, fireworks, and other startling sounds. Keep the home environment as low-key as possible. Use a pheromone spray or room diffuser to create a calming atmosphere.
- Use a soft, reassuring tone of voice. When you are with your cat, keep your voice gentle and encouraging. Sit down next to your pet, rather than standing over them which can feel threatening. Stroke their head or back and give them a treat or two to encourage them to sit down with you.
- Give your cat their own space. Some cats may feel anxious about eating or using the litter box around other cats or pets. Try moving their food and water bowls to a quieter space away from other pets.
- If your cat reacts by running away, that’s okay. Let your cat hide when they want to, to avoid increasing their anxiety. If they bolt when you walk toward them, turn your back and walk the other way or use a wide berth by walking around them.
- Play with them often. Figure out what kinds of toys your cat responds to and play with them as much as you can. Shy cats may prefer toys focused on a distant object, such as a feather wand or laser pointer. Others may respond well to catnip filled mice or other catnip toys. Once you find the ones they like, find a few moments each day for activities and play.
- Learn more about feline body language. This will help you better understand the signals your kitty is giving off and when it is okay to engage them. Getting some insight into body language and vocalization, such as when your cat is afraid or aggressive, will help avoid making matters worse and also increase your cat’s sense of trust.
- Never force your cat to do something. Holding your cat against their will or forcing them to play will increase their fear and continue their anxiety around you. Instead, adopt a slow pace and lots of patience. Let your cat determine when they want to hang out or be petted. In the long run, this will strengthen the bond you share, increase your cat’s confidence, and help them to relax and be happy in their new home.
Do you have a shy, scared cat? Would you like additional pointers to get them to feel safe at home and more confident and trusting? Call our expert team. We can help you figure out reasons why your cat is bashful and give you assistance in building trust with your fur friend.
We look forward to meeting your adorable feline!