Socializing a Shy or Fearful Cat

Some cats are fearful or become nervous around a strange person or people in general. Perhaps your kitty is friendly with members of the household but may become shy or even hostile when meeting new people.

In some cases, this may be attributed to a lack of socialization. Although shy behavior can be corrected, there are cats that may never get over their feelings of trepidation when encountering strangers, animals, or objects.

Socialization is an important part of shaping a cat’s behavior and temperament. They need to undergo the process of exposure as early as possible to prepare them to deal with their environment properly as they grow into adulthood. Spending considerable time with their mother before weaning helps them get ready for anything they will encounter later in life. Once they are brought to their forever homes, it is now the responsibility of the pet owner to continue the kitty’s socialization by exposing him to different people, animals, objects, vehicles, buildings, and everything in their environment.

Give your kitten lots of opportunities to meet people of different ages, genders, shapes, races; people wearing hats, glasses, with beards, and even a person in a wheelchair. Be sure to make each encounter a positive experience for your pet. Be quick to offer lavish praise and reward your kitty with play sessions or his favorite treat.

If your new kitten is displaying signs of anti-social behavior, you should make an extra effort to expose your pet to situations where he can interact with people, other pets, animals, and things. If your adult cat is shy around people, encourage him to approach a visitor and be quick to offer positive reinforcement if he does. You can also ask your visitors to slowly approach your kitty to prevent intimidating your pet. Sitting down or squatting makes a person more or less at level with the cat, making him appear less threatening.

Here are other ways to address fearful behavior in pet cats:

  • If you have a visitor, ask him to remain quiet and avoid eye contact with your kitty.
  • If your pet cat hides every time visitors are around, encourage him to come out by offering his favorite treats. You can also try rattling his treat bag or opening his favorite canned pet food.
  • If ever he comes out from his hiding place, ask your visitor to call him out gently while tossing some treats and toys near your kitty.
  • If your pet walks away after being with your guest for a few minutes, just let him be and try to coax him to come again later.
  • In extreme cases, your kitty may be given anti-anxiety medication to help calm him down and ease his fears. You will need to ask for advice from your veterinarian concerning this matter.

Remember not to get disheartened if you don't see results immediately, these things take time but your patience is worth it.

Sarah Walker
Sarah Walker