Socializing Shy Cats
Adopting a cat is an exciting time for humans; but for a shy cat, the process of moving from a familiar shelter or foster home to a strange environment can be traumatizing.
The most fundamental idea to keep in mind is that socializing your shy cat takes a great deal of patience. Cats don’t always understand that we are trying to help them, so take it one step at a time. Make a point to work with your cat daily, preferably multiple times a day, for about 15-20 minutes each session. Each step will need at least 3-5 sessions before progressing to the next step, and make sure the cat is 100% comfortable before moving to the next level. The entire process can take anywhere from several weeks to more than a year…but it will all be worth it in the end! If at any point in the process you need help, don't hesitate to contact us for tips!
PART I – SETTING UP A SPACE
PART II – INTRODUCTIONS
PART III – CREATE A POSITIVE EXPERIENCE WITH FOOD
PART IV – CREATE A POSITIVE EXPERIENCE WITH PLAY
When socializing a shy cat, your strongest asset is TIME. Be patient with your cat, and take the process one small step at a time. If at any point your cat becomes uncomfortable with what you are doing, go back to a previously mastered step to help him feel safe and successful. Always move slowly and quietly, remain calm, and pay close attention to body language. Cats who are frightened may hide, freeze in place, and/or hunch down into the smallest posture possible. Cats who are about to bite or swat may also freeze in one position with their bodies tense and their head turned a little to the side. The tail might be still or flicking back and forth, and they may be silent or growling and hissing. After you have worked with shy cats for a while, you will become proficient at reading their body language.
Cats will progress at different speeds. Some – especially kittens – will come to appreciate humans quickly, while others take a long time before they can trust you. Don’t be discouraged if the progress seems slow. Each positive interaction with a human will pay off in the end. The reward in socialization is watching cats move from step to step, making your hard work worthwhile.