Today on the blog, we will guide you on how to handle a frightened or nervous kitty. Pro tip: it just takes a little patience and persistence!
Hiding, rushing, freezing in place. If you have a nervous cat, you know how heart-wrenching it can be to prepare a safe environment for your cat, only to have them never come out under a piece of furniture.
Why is your cat so afraid, panicky, and avoidant? And what can you do to help them be a little more comfortable? Continue reading to figure out why your feline might be frightened and how you can make a comfortable home for your skittish cat.
Why are cats shy or frightened?
Shy or frightened behavior is frequently triggered by negative associations made in early life. This typically happens if a cat is not socialized with people or if they experienced abuse or trauma. Especially for the latter case, they might be afraid to trust human caretakers and become skittish cats. Other timid or fearful cats might be by doing this just because they like higher levels of stimulation. It might take a while for these cats to calm down and learn to trust new people (which they might never totally do).
Here are some common reasons why cats display nervous habits. Bear in mind: no one reason is necessarily the only reason why your cat is frightened.
Your cat has never lived with humans
Maybe your cat had some human interaction in a shelter, but without experience living with people, it can be challenging for a stray cat to be comfortable at home with a human. It takes a great deal of consistency and patience to provide the feeling of security and safety in this circumstance (however, it's doable!).
Feline does not like kids or other pets
Some felines do not fit together well with other kittens, dogs, or toddlers. Pay attention to any fights your shy cat may have had with other pets, and educate children to be mild and cautious with cats. It may be essential to delineate a Cat Area far from children's spaces so that you can monitor kids' communications with your new and nervous feline.
Kitty has not interacted socially
While every feline is different, it is usually accepted that cats need to socialize with humans for the first two months of life to be comfortable with an owner. Past that, the introduction of new human beings can be frightening.
Your cat has experienced abuse in the past
If you have no idea of your cat's history, you could be left presuming whether your skittish kitty was abused at some time. Unfortunately, once one human has maltreated a cat, it's likely to fear all of us. You might see that your cat has specific triggers or experiences that remind them of a harmful or abusive event that cause her to regress into old ways of coping (i.e., hiding).
Develop a Convenient Environment For Your Nervous Kitty
You may think it is kind to offer your cat the opportunity to wander every area of the home. However, for a shy cat, a big space can be overwhelming. Cats are territorial, so by providing your cat a big area, you're also giving them extensive areas to defend. Additionally, you do not want furnishings to become being barriers that stand between your cat and you.
Instead, introduce a new cat by making their space small. Choose a quiet area to place food and water bowls, the litter box, and some toys where your feline can adapt to its new environments. An extra bedroom or other rooms without heavy traffic is best. If the house is quiet, leave a radio or TV on the cat's space to get them used to a regular sound rate.
The goal is to get your nervous kitty to be exposed, so remove possible hiding places. Leave your cat with a soft blanket or an old t-shirt (that smells like you) to have a safe space in the area.
It is necessary that your feline can eat and defecate without leaving the space to lessen the anxiousness. Every cat is different, but a kitty will likely need to be in this shrunken world for several weeks while you develop trust and mingle with your cat.
Gradually Introduce Yourself
Even though you regularly place food and water in her bowls and tidy the litter box, you may still be an intruder. Start to introduce yourself gradually and be patient.
Join your cat in the secure area and stay quietly on the floor. Don't try to reach out and attempt to pet them initially. Start by being a non-threatening existence and let the cat come to you. Repeat this for 10-15 minutes, twice or thrice times per day or as much you can. If the secure area is your bedroom, come as you would usually; you don't have to transform interaction into socialization. Keep in mind to offer the cat an opportunity to observe you.
Work up to speaking softly. Don't make any loud sounds or unexpected motions. When you assume your cat is ready, try to pet their head and around her face delicately. If she recoils or hides, let them. Don't chase. Let her feel completely secure as well as in control.
Leave the Door Open
Once the cat is acquainted and can play with them regularly, you can leave the door open. If you have other cats, use this time to introduce your new cat to your resident kitty. Leave your cat's bowls, litter box, and provider in the safe space for approximately a week and make new feeding and pooping stations where you choose to have them in your home.
Every one of these adjustments will likely make the cat act timidly, so keep the peaceful socializing sessions so your feline sees that you're still the person you were inside the secure space. Do not be discouraged by mishaps (because there will undoubtedly be many); keep consistent and devote time to the socialization process.
Socializing a skittish kitty is a lengthy process that needs persistence, determination, and a big heart. You will experience good days as well as bad days, but be confident in the understanding that you've developed a safe home for cats. Consistency is critical, so continue to be patient despite the troubles. Throughout your journey, you'll be awarded satisfaction when your skittish feline takes on a stroking session or enriches on the sofa alongside you, and you realize all of your initiatives are all worth it!