Socialise Your Shy Cat Monday 03 July 2017 @ 11:26

Woman Lying on Sofa With Cat by Her Foot In our last post, we talked about some of the problems (and unexpected joys) of living with a shy cat. We explored the spectrum of shyness a cat might experience, with some only having a certain amount of anxiety while settling into new places, and others who constantly feel the need to hide, can’t build trust with their family and are generally just on edge. Today, we’re going to talk about how you might begin to socialise your shy cat and hopefully take away some of the anxiety she might be living with.

First of all, like many humans, cats tend to thrive the most when they have a daily routine they can count on, and this is no less true for shy felines. A simple way to put your furry friend at ease is to interact with her and feed her at roughly the same time every day. If you find that food is the way to your cat’s heart, this is a wonderful way of positive reinforcement. Use tasty snacks to encourage her to play with you, but make sure they’re healthy. Loading your feline friend up with unhealthy treats won’t help anyone, and will just give you and your pet a whole new problem to deal with. Always make sure you’re feeding your pet a diet appropriate to their species and full of nutrients and fresh foods.

White Brown Short Fur Cat Walking Near Boy in Brown Black Short Sleeve Shirt Riding White Red Toy It’s also a good idea to try and keep her living space at a similar level of cleanliness, and remember to clean her litter tray every day. Caring for your cat’s basic needs in a routine that lets her know she can rely on you will help her feel more comfortable and allow you to build up trust.

While it may not always be possible to avoid making a noise, it’s a good idea to try and keep things as quiet and calm around the house as you can. This applies to when you’re interacting with your cat: try to be encouraging, gentle and quiet, and never force contact when touching her. Don’t stare at her, as this can be interpreted as a threatening action to shy cats, and try to speak and move as softly and slowly as you possibly can. Similarly, never try to pet your cat by moving your hand directly towards her face. Instead, try petting her from one side around her ears, face and head.

CatWhen it comes to unavoidably noisy activities such as construction work, social gatherings and vacuuming, it can also be helpful to restrict your cat to a more quiet area of the house.

If she has a habit of running away whenever you walk close to her, try holding your back towards her as you pass her. This will create a dynamic where you are the vulnerable party, so your cat will feel less threatened. Never force your shy cat to do anything she isn’t ready and willing to do. Unless it’s entirely unavoidable (as in an emergency situation), never pull her out of a hiding place or hold her when she doesn’t want to be held. This will only encourage her to fear you and will destroy any trust you have built with her.

Black and White Kitten on Brown TextileCats are independent characters who are most comfortable when they feel as though they are in control of their actions and surroundings. While failing to acknowledge this can cause any feline to get irritable, it’s especially important in shy cats who can get incredibly anxious. Rather than chasing your her, encourage your cat to come to you. Rather than dragging her out of her hiding place, figure out a way of bonding with your cat while she’s in her favourite spot.

Above all else, be patient. Just like people, cats are individuals and will grow and change at different speeds. As a general rule, kittens can be successfully socialised far more quickly than older cats, as this is the age at which they would naturally learn most of their skills. All the same, it is entirely possible for you to improve your adult cat’s sociability if you give her time to learn.

Need more information on caring for a pet with anxiety issues? Check out our posts on identifying (Post) and rehabilitating (Post 1 | Post 2) a previously abused dog.


Above all else, our aim is to make sure as many pets as possible get to be with families who will love them and give them all the care they need no matter what, and this includes reuniting wandering animals with their worried parents. Here are just a few of our recent success stories!

Mi MiMi Mi
“Someone gave me a ring and provided some information through your list. Although it was not the cat but at the time her phone call gave me hope and sense of community help and a lot of comforts. Thank you very much. Your service is very fast and reach a lot of places. It helps me ease my worry a lot. It is much appreciated.”

“Fantastic news!!
Kev has been found and is now in solitary confinement, with all lock picks confiscated!
Thanks to the neighbour 4 houses down, who contacted me this afternoon after seeing one of the Pet Alert Flyers from the LPF site.
His favourite treats were his downfall (but enabled me to catch him.)
Cat door removed entirely.”

“After 11 gruelling days missing, our Hugo was returned to us at 7:30pm 4/6/17. A neighbour had him for a week and we think he had no intention of handing him over to authorities. It was through perserverence of posters supplied by LPF, and flyers we made ourselves for door knocking - that we got the call. Our community was well aware of Hugo missing, and through spreading the word we got a lead to target a certain street in our area and within hours of doing so Hugo was reunited! Thank you LPF for all of your ongoing support - your checklist, and emails to keep us going and not give up.”


“Service is great - he was found nearby the apartment.”

“It was reassuring to feel others a part of the search. Thanks to Bec for her sighting....which turned out not be Roxy. After 5 anxious days Rox came home overnight. She is so timid her disappearance was unusual and distressing. I will now be vigilant and regularly check with LPF to support others.”

Tags: Behaviour Cat Separation Anxiety Shy Cats Socialising