Shy or Fearful Cats

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It’s not uncommon for cats to be scared of people they don’t know. They may be affectionate and calm with their family but fearful when other people visit. 

There are several reasons for this, including:

Lack of exposure. Shy cats may have lacked exposure to different people when they were kittens, especially between the ages of 2 to 7 weeks. Cats who have been exposed to different types of people may still feel afraid of certain kinds of people they haven’t come across often, such as children.

Timid personality. Fear is a natural characteristic in animals, and some cats may just be born with more fearful personalities.

Loud noises. Visitors tend to be accompanied by loud noises like laughing, loud talking, and things being moved about, which can add to skittish cats’ anxiety. 

Other Possible Reasons for Your Cat’s Behavior

If your cat’s behavior changes suddenly, it could mean they are sick. Hiding and aggression are some common symptoms of illness. See your veterinarian to rule out any medical reasons for a change in behavior.

How to Help Your Fearful Cat

If you have a shy kitten, expose them to people of different ages, sizes, ethnicities, and genders. When your kitten approaches a new person, give a reward, praise, and attention.  

If you have a skittish adult cat, it will take some time to get them comfortable around visitors. A gradual approach and rewards may help a shy cat. If possible, have a friend come over to play the part of a visitor. The goal is to reward your cat for staying calm in the presence of a stranger. Have your visitor start from a distance, then slowly get closer over several sessions.

When you have guests over, the following may help:

Create a safe space. Create a calm area for your cat to hide if they need to. This should be a room they’ve already spent time in. Provide food, water, and a litter box, and make sure your guests respect your cats’ privacy.

Stick to one area. Restrict your guests to one part of the house so that your cat feels comfortable walking around the rest of the house.

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