We adopted our cat, Rosie, in Spring 2005. And although she was more than eager to get my attention at the shelter, once we got her home, it was a different story. She was so shy! Every time we came into the room, she’d hide, and we’d have to coax her out. It took a couple of months for me (and over a year for my husband), but our shy cat eventually became comfortable enough around us to not only stop hiding, but to seek us out whenever she needed a little love. 🙂
Here are some of the things we did to help her feel more comfortable:
Bond during feeding time.
Bonding during feeding time is the easiest way to acclimate your shy cat to your household. This may take a few days to a couple of weeks, depending on how shy your cat is. You’ll start by placing your cat’s food dish near you, moving it closer at each feeding until your cat is next to you. Once you’ve done that, start petting your shy cat while she’s eating dry cat food. Eventually, the cat will associate touch with something positive (food) and will begin to seek your attention on her own (even if it is just to let you know that it’s feeding time).
If you’re looking for the right food for your cat, the Purina Pro Plan Shredded Chicken and Rice Formula is a big hit at our house. It’s made with 40% protein with chicken as the main ingredient. We tried it for the first time this week with our girl, and as you can see, she dove right in after a few sniffs!
Put your cat in a small room in the beginning.
Don’t give your shy cat free reign in the house; you’ll likely have a difficult time finding her if you do. Instead, put her in a small bathroom or bedroom that still provides a couple of places for her to conceal herself when she wants to.
Avoid making loud, unexpected noises.
Our shy cat was often startled by loud noises until our son came along. Now she’s acclimated to loud, random sounds, but we still try to minimize them for her comfort.
Use toys to encourage social behavior.
It’s difficult for a cat to resist a feather and bell on a string or a fun little battery-powered mouse to chase across the floor. Play time is excellent for bonding.
Use slow, gentle movements to pick your cat up.
Don’t move toward your cat quickly, and don’t tower over her. Get down on her level, and gently pick her up using slow, smooth movements if she’s comfortable.
Establish a routine.
Finally, establish a routine with your shy cat. Even pets thrive on predictable routines, so knowing when to expect physical contact (such as during or after feeding) can help your cat anticipate social interaction and feel more comfortable.