Shy Cats - Well Worth the Wait

Well worth the wait – why you should adopt a shy cat

Shy cats take time to be confident, shy cats often hide away at first, shy cats can be wary and don’t take to any changes well…. but when you win over a shy cat they are totally devoted to you and you feel so special when they come for comfort or sit on your lap for the first time.

At first shy cats will move away from being stroked, hide under beds / sofas which makes it harder for them to connect with potential adopters but they are in time great loyal and devoted pets.   

Firstly remember that any cat you adopt from cats protection Canterbury has been moved from another home and environment and placed with one of our experienced foster carers. For a cat that’s shy this means new smells, sounds, space and people to get used to.  Some cats can adopt in no time at all and others may take a little longer.

What sort of homes are best for a shy cat?

  • Quiet, calm environment
  • Lots of patience and understanding. It can take longer for a shy cat to settle into a new home
  • A space without very small children or lots of boisterous other pets would be best

When you adopt a cat from cats protection they will come with blankets that they have already been familiar with, set these up along with bedding, litter box food and water in a small space i.e. one room (a spare room if you have it) and let them settle in there for a few days with a little interaction (go in, ignore them and read a book). This will allow your cat to get adjusted on their own terms, which is the way cats prefer things.

Cats who are more cautious really just need time to build up confidence in a patient and loving home. It may take a little longer for a shy cat to get comfortable, but there are things you can do to help the process.*

  • Set a routine. A cautious cat feels more settled when she knows what to expect and when.
  • providing plenty of places where they can hide. Cats de-stress more quickly if they can hide, preferably somewhere high and dark, such as behind sofas or on shelves.
  • Find common ground. Take some time to learn what activities your new cat friend prefers. Does he respond well to being brushed? Love snacks? what toys? Use these distractions to encourage and reward interaction.
  • Respect personal space. Forcing a cat to endure cuddling will only make things worse. Sit quietly near your cat so they can get used to you in their own time. Ignore them while you read a book or take a nap so they don't feel pressurised or anxious in your presence.
  • let your cat approach you. Direct approaches to a shy cat can be seen as threatening, so don't force attention on your cat
  • blink slowly at your cat, narrow your eyes so they are half open and then turn your face away slowly to reassure your cat that you are not a threat
  • Take small steps each day. As your new cat gets more comfortable, increase the length of interactions / play by a few minutes each day. Use treats to reward your kitty after she lets you pet her or hold her—even if just for a few moments.
  • Try synthetic pheromones.  If your cat is still anxious try a diffuser to help calm them down – it works with some cats but not all.

Personal Experience

I adopted Max from Cats Protection Canterbury, last year, I was told that he was Maxshy and would take a while to settle but didn’t realise quite how shy!  When I got Max home he quickly disappeared under the sofa and I barely saw him for three days. I was sure I had brought a cat home but all I had to go on was looking for evidence that he was still in the house his food was eaten an litter tray used! I had set up all he needed in one room and was reassured that he was ok just taking his time. After a few days he was able to make eye contact (cue blinking) and then slowly he got to know his new surroundings and us, and likewise we got to know him.   Now its over a year later and I have a cat that is totally loyal and loving, sweet and tender. I never thought he would be a lap cat (and I don’t think he did either) but he is and he shares my space as well as still having the need for quiet time on his own.  He greets me when I get home, and I’m now his human and that’s that. He also comes down when I have visitors and no longer hides away.  He is always going to be a little shy and will be a stickler for routine but because of that to me he is special as he has chosen me.’

Could you give a shy cat a new home? Adopt from us and find out more here: www.cats.org.uk/canterbury/adopt-a-cat

*These tips are great for working with an adult cat. Socializing young kittens is different.