Is your cat timid?
Arriving home to be greeted by the family cat rubbing around your legs and then curling up on the sofa with you is one of the joys of cat ownership. Not to mention the soothing symphony of contented purrs. Imagine your pride when your cat loving friends admire your new companion as it goes through the cat repertoire of ways to make friends and influence people.
Sadly, some cat owners are shattered to find that this is not the temperament of the cat that has come into their life.
Some cats are just born shy while others may be timid because they did not have a lot of human contact when they were young or they had a frightening experience.
Shy cats must not have stressful situations forced on them and should be given a safe retreat when they feel insecure or when strangers visit the household. Many timid cats seek dark corners such as under the bed, others will make for a high place such as the top of a cupboard from where they can observe but feel safe. Grabbing the cat and forcing it to ‘face its fears’ only makes the cat more afraid.
The secret to winning the trust of a timid cat is not to force interaction but to allow the cat to find a benefit from being friendly with people. The cat must make all the moves.
- Initially food is the best tool for rewarding your cat for approaching you.
- Place food down for the cat, closely observe how far away you must be before the cat will approach the food. Retreat beyond this distance,.
- Once the cat is confident to eat while you observe, gradually decrease the distance between you and the cat with each feed. After a few days, just before the cat’s feed time, sit quietly reading a book or working on your laptop. There is every chance that the cat, being a curious animal, will come closer to investigate and rub against you. Do not touch the cat but speak gently and place the feed bowl near your feet.
- Once the cat makes these approaches you are safe to try a gentle touch. If the cat seems frightened wait a few days before trying to touch it again. Once you can touch the cat, gentle ear rubs and stroking can replace food as the reward for the cat’s approach and almost certainly its ‘purr machine’ will switch on!
Some cats, while comfortable with their own ‘family’ are wary of visitors. Remember, this is OK and there is no need to force your cat into an uncomfortable situation.
All cats do need to make visits to the vet so it does help if you work towards making your cat comfortable around people.
Find some understanding cat loving friends and, one at a time, invite them over for coffee. Instruct them to completely ignore the cat. Confine the cat to the room and enjoy your coffee and a chat. When the cat ventures out, ignore it as it investigates the stranger. When it seems relaxed, reward it with food treats.
Sometimes placing a cat tree in your living room or other social area will help. Your cat has somewhere safe and secure to hang out that is close to humans, but not too close. All members of the family should treat the cat tree as the cats ‘private’ area and not bother the cat while it is hanging out there. This will help build its confidence.
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