Cats in our care come from a variety of backgrounds – while some have come from loving homes others may have been strays, abandoned or mistreated. As a result some may be fearful or shy, which also means that they can take longer to rehome. They might hide away in their pen when approached by visitors and won’t ‘perform’ for prospective adopters in the way that more confident cats may.
Timid behaviour could be due to inherited tendencies which mean they will naturally be more anxious than others. It could also be caused by a lack of contact with humans (particularly during their first eight weeks of life), or a previous frightening experience that has made the cat fearful.
|Shy or scared cats might try to hide away. Photo by Jessica Fiess-Hill via flickr / Creative Commons|
When a timid cat is adopted, despite a gentle welcome and time to settle into their new home, they may remain fearful, trying to run away to hide. Showing patience and sensitivity will go a long way in overcoming a cat’s shyness and it is well worth the extra time and effort.
Sarah Blohm, who recently wrote about how her cats help her through a degenerative spine condition, adopted two shy cats from Cats Protection. “When I adopted my two I didn't really know what one of them looked like as he spent my entire visit hiding under the cat bed,” she explains. “His brother was a little bolder, but not much. When I brought them home I followed Cats Protection’s advice and let them do things in their own time.”
“The little booklets that CP gave me when I had the home check done were extremely helpful as I'd never had a cat before and I didn't want to get things wrong. It was all common sense advice but I followed it to the letter and I'm glad I did.
“When I first adopted them, Gabriel would usually be in his ‘safe place’ – there was an empty chest of drawers in the spare room which I'd made into their room, so he would pull the bottom drawer out, climb into the empty space at the back and drag the drawer closed behind him. All you could see were two enormous, terrified blue eyes.
“All that was needed was a few weeks of giving them space. They are now the most loving and affectionate cats you could want. Gabriel’s favourite spot is now sleeping with me on the sofa.”
It’s really important when you bring any new cat home that you are prepared to be patient and never attempt to rush your cat into things they might not be ready for. Following the advice in our Welcome home Essential Guide will help your cat to successfully adapt to their new surroundings.
You can also read more about making a timid cat feel more secure in our Managing your cat’s behaviour Essential Guide.