How to Help Socialize a Shy Cat
Photo from Friskies Explorer smokeydusty
Many people have outgoing cats who make immediate friends with anyone visiting the home, but many others have cats who head for a hiding place as soon as someone walks through the door. If your cat is shy, here are some tips to help you make him a bit more comfortable.
1. Don’t hold your cat in your arms and bring him close to the guest. A visitor in the home comes in with unfamiliar scents and sounds. Since cats depend on their senses to gather information, it will put the cat on the defensive if he doesn’t feel he can check out the guest at a safe distance.
2. Invite a friend over for a training session. Have the friend come in and sit down and let your cat go wherever he wants. Excuse yourself from your guest after five minutes and go to the cat. Bring an interactive toy and a few treats. Casually conduct a low-intensity play session with the cat. If kitty is hiding under the bed don’t reach in for him, but rather, lazily move the toy near you to see if you can spark interest. If kitty responds in even the slightest way, reward him with a treat. After a few minutes you can go back to your guest. This sends the message to the cat that everything is safe and calm. After 10 or 15 more minutes you can go back to the cat again and try another play session.
3. If your cat ventures into the room where the guest is seated, instruct her not to make eye contact with the cat and not to reach out to him. This will give the cat a feeling of security so he can inch closer and become familiar with the guest’s scent.
4. Use treats and praise as kitty shows more confidence. At one point you can have your guest gently toss a treat out for the cat. The guest shouldn’t aim the treat directly at your cat though – it should be tossed off to the side.
5. Provide hiding places for your cat in the rooms where you entertain visitors. If he feels he has a safe place he may be more inclined to remain nearby.
6. If kitty shows signs of wanting interaction with the guest, have your friend extend her index finger out so kitty can sniff it. This is the same as nose-to-nose sniffing that cats engage in.
Do you have a shy or outgoing kitty?
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