How to Help Your Timid Cat
17 June, 2014

Some cats are very gregarious and not afraid of people or meeting new cats.  Others can be timid or scared and that can sometimes lead to aggression.  We love our cats, want them to be happy and get along well with everyone but it can sometimes take a little work.  If you have adopted a cat that is scared and not yet socialized, below are some tips to help.

Start with handling your cat gently

Cats who have not been properly socialized can be suspicious and fearful. They might communicate this fear by biting and scratching. The key is to have your kitty get used to handling so that he or she knows that nothing bad will happen when she’s in your arms.

Next pet your kitty slowly

Pet your cat in areas where she enjoys being pet, such as the top of her head or around her face. Then, pick your kitty up, stroke her feet with your fingertips, move on to the belly, the tail and the back. As you touch her, speak to her softly in a calm, low voice. If she becomes agitated, end the session and leave her alone.  Get to know your cat’s spots that they like to be touched.  Sometimes cats won’t let you near their bellies while other felines live it.

Reward your cat with treats

After a petting session, give your kitty a treat.   Try to do many sessions each day, extending the length of the sessions as your cat grows comfortable with you.  Stroke your cat’s ears, play with her paws and always talk in a sweet soothing voice.

If your kitty gets aggressive during a play session, just tell her ‘no’ firmly and put her down.  Don’t ever scream or raise your voice at your cat.  It will only scare him or her more.

Play with Your Cat

Cats are predators by nature, and instinctively need to hunt and kill, even if only with a catnip mouse. Learn what your cat’s favorite type of toy is, and schedule playtimes several times daily. This can reduce the amount of misdirected predatory behavior (ankle attacks, etc.) in which your cat engages, and will help the two of you form a close bond.  If you have two cats, they usually will attack and/or play with each other.

Again, if your kitty lashes out at you during play time, simply tell her “no” and end the playing session.  No more fun for your kitty and no rewards!

Introduce your cat to new people

Be sure that the cat has your trust before you introduce him or her to new people. Before you let other people handle your cat, make sure they know to keep their voices low and calm, at least until the cat is comfortable with them.

Let your cat come to them, and don’t force interaction. It may take a couple of visits before your cat is comfortable with people he or she doesn’t know.

Socialization takes time and practice

Socialization takes longer with some cats than others. Some can be socialized and then sometimes will last out with nips and scratches from time to time. Others may be inherently anti-social but good with you.

Always be understanding and patient and respect your kitty and his or her boundaries. Continue to reinforce good behavior and discourage unwanted behavior. Sometimes it will take years to fully complete the process, but you’ll be rewarded at the end with a friend for life!

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