You Just Adopted a Shy Cat – What to Do Next!
30 July, 2013
If you have just adopted a kitten or cat, they can sometimes be a little afraid or skittish. Many times these kitties have come from an unpleasant environment and become scared of new people, sounds or voices. But, you can socialize your cat and help him or her become less afraid with love, patience and understanding.
Below are some tips to help your cat feel comfortable and less afraid:
Cats can take time to adjust to their new surroundings
Cats are creatures of habit and love predictable environments. During the first few days, try to avoid making loud or sudden noises and always have an escape route for your feline friends so they feel they can protect themselves by retreating to a hiding place.
Most cats will exhibit shy behavior when introduced to new environments. Cats are cautious animals by nature and tend to look for the protection and comfort of an environment where they can fully or partially conceal themselves. As they become more accustomed to the sights, sounds, people, and animals in the new space and realize that they will not be physically harmed, they will leave their hideaway (usually under a couch or bed) and seek love and food!
Use food and toys to engage your kitty
When your kitty has become comfortable eating from his or her food dish, sit down a foot away from the dish and, after a few moments, reach over from behind and gently stroke her. Never bring your hand directly toward your cat’s face as this will startle her. Cats are very site oriented so they associate certain behavior with certain locations. Your cat will associate your affection with the food and with the location of the food dish. Even when the food dish is removed, she will think of the location as a safe spot to receive and give affection.
Use toys to engage your cat or kitten to play. Feather toys or string toys attached to poles are great devices to coax your pet to come closer to you. Walk around with a ribbon tied behind you so that your cat gets to feel like she is chasing you. Cats also love bags and boxes! If your kitty approaches to check you out, be still and let her investigate you.
Don’t stare at your kitty
Do not stare at your kitty. When you do make eye contact, slowly lower your lids, blink, or close your eyes. You will see your kitty doing the same. If your cat is nervous at your touch, the stress can be reduced if you close your eye. In the natural world of prey and predator, when one stares at the other, it means someone is about to pounced or attacked. You can make eye contact when you have food, a treat, or a gift. Eventually your kitty will know that your eye contact is a good thing.
Be gentle with your kitty
When you want to pick up your cat, do so slowly and gently. Lift her from the middle and make sure she is comfortable with it. If she doesn’t like to be held, put her down and try again in a few days. If your kitty runs when you pass her, pass her with your back to her. You want your cat to think that he or she has control.
Never yell at your cat
If your cat misbehaves, do not yell at him or her. Your kitty, out of fear, might miss the litter box or knock things over. But, the worst thing you can do is raise your voice to him or her. Always be positive and reward your kitty for playing or eating where he or she is supposed to. If your cat comes out from hiding under the couch, pet her and give her a treat. Encourage the good behavior, but never punish your cat for the bad behavior.
You need to be patient and let you cat come out when he or she is ready. It might require some time, effort and patience, but once you have won him or her over, you will have a friend for life!