I Can Has Cheezburger?

Adopting A Shy Cat: Tips And Advice To Help Your Shy Kitty Warm Up

  • 1
    Sky - Today's topic is about how to set up a shy cat for success when you are first bringing them home! I'm always really excited when people adopt shy cats, but it is absolutely true that not every home is well- suited for more timid felines. If you have barking dogs, boisterous children, constant visitors, or an otherwise very active, bustling home, I suggest you go for a more outgoing cat.

    First of all, assess your needs as a family/person. If you have a lot of children, you are probably better off avoiding a shy cat, since children are unlikely to understand and respect a shy cat's boundaries.

  • Advertisement
  • 2
  • 3
    Font - While almost every cat is going to have some kind of adjustment period when getting used to a new home, shy cats in particular will find the change in environment scary. A lot of times, cats who start off shy in my shelter will become outgoing as they spend more time there and with me, but I still know they're going to be pretty fearful for at least a few days in a home, so I make sure we send their adopters home with the expectation of them being shy at first. It's extremely important to

    Secondly, acknowledge that this adjustment time is perfectly normal and could take longer than you anticipated. Imagine you are the cat, adjusting to what is essentially a whole new world! That takes some time, and lots of trust. 

  • 4
  • Advertisement
  • 5
    Font - You should have a single room with a door you can close to start the cat off in; this should be set up before you bring your new cat home. A bedroom or quiet office space is ideal. T usually don't recommend using a bathroom, as they are usually too high-trafficked and can be a little small, but if it's your only option and you're willing to put some effort into the set-up, it can be made to work. You'll of course need all the necessities in this room- food, water, litter, scratcher, toys,

    A single room with a door that can be closed so your cat understands spatial awareness! He can explore your home at his own pace! Allow your cat to really feel like this room is his, litter, water, the works. 

  • 6
  • 7
    Organism - Instead, give them appropriate hiding spots, and give them more than one option. Use a covered cat bed, a paper bag, a blanket draped over a folding chair to create a crevice underneath, or a cat tree or other cat furniture. Cardboard boxes are also awesome, of course- you can either have them on their side and drape a towel over part of the opening, or flip them upside down after cutting a cat-sized hole or two to provide access. You can and absolutely should use a crate as a hiding
  • Advertisement
  • 8
  • 9
    Organism - Very shy cats should be given a day or two to adjust before trying to engage with them very much. If your cat wants to hang out with you right away, of course indulge them, but don't be worried if they run to a hiding spot if you shift your position too quickly or if there's a loud noise. You should still give them some time to get used to the room, keeping the door shut, before you let them explore the rest of your house- if you let them out too soon it could overwhelm them and push
  • 10
  • Advertisement
  • 11
    Font - If your shy cat doesn't want anything to do with you at first, don't worry. Give them 24-48 hours where you don't 'actively' engage with them too much. Bring them food and place it near their hiding spot (but not in it unless they're not eating anything, even overnight), hang out on the other side of the room playing on your phone, or sit nearby and read a book to them. It can be a good idea to leave low-volume TV, soft radio, or even a fan on, as the white noise can drown out background
  • 12
  • 13
    Font - After a couple of days, if they haven't shown any interest in spending time with you, this is when you need to more actively- but gently- begin to interact with them. Continue to spend time in the room talking to them and just 'hanging out', but also try to engage them more. See if they want to play: use a wand toy or shoelace and swish it back and forth for them. Even if they won't play, but will watch it with their eyes, this is still a great sign you're on the right track. See if they
  • Advertisement
  • 14
  • 15
    Organism - It can take a while for shy cats to feel comfortable in a new environment. Some cats progress quickly and feel at home after only a week or two, while others may need a couple of months. If your cat is making slow progress, it doesn't mean you're doing anything wrong- they are still making progress! The number one thing when adopting a shy cat is to be patient. It drives me absolutely crazy when we adopt a shy cat out to someone, explain in great detail exactly how shy they are and ho
  • 16
    Cat - KPACOTS
  • Advertisement
  • 17
    Font - As they start to enjoy interacting with you, push their boundaries a little- hold their favorite treat a little further away so they have to come out of their hiding spot to get it, or swing their favorite toy further away so they have to move to play with it. They will slowly begin to feel more confident and be willing to come out of their hiding spot to spend time with you. Once your cat is feeling relaxed and confident with you and in their room, begin to leave the door open to the res

    Can't get enough of ICanHasCheezburger? Then you're in luck because we're now on Instagram!



About the Author

Next on I Can Has Cheezburger?