4 Tips to deal with a shy cat

4 tips to deal with a shy cat

Photo: Sebastian Molina M/unsplash.com

Like humans, there are some cats that are shyer than others. A shy cat is one that needs you to go slowly and wait for her to interact.  Allow the cat time to adjust and determine that she is in a safe environment is key to developing a great relationship.

Taking the time to understand a cat’s communication as well as her personality is essential to knowing how to interact with her.   Cats communicate eyes, mouth, whiskers, tail, body position, and vocalisations. Communication is expressed in actions as well.

Carolyn Kocman, a graduate student  in companion animal behaviour and counselling at the American College of Applied Science shares her 4 Tips to deal with a shy cat.

Tip 1: Allow the cat to ‘tell’ you what he/she wants, likes, and dislikes

If a cat runs from your touch, he is telling you that is not ready for the touch sensation yet. Head forward indicates that the cat is inviting touch.  Friendly cats will maintain a normal upright ear position. The flatter and further back the ears the more fearful the cat.  The more upright and pricked forward the ears, the more aggressive the cat.  A friendly cat’s tail is upright and unbristled. An unsure cat may tend to keep the tail upright but slightly back or straight up but hooked at the tip.  Either of these positions, while indicating some shyness or uneasiness, indicates that the cat is being friendlier but cautious. Belly up is not an invitation to rub your cat’s belly.  Rather, belly up may be indicative of a cat that is showing enough trust that you will not touch his belly.  Knowing the difference is important in maintaining a good human-feline relationship!

Tip 2: Allow the cat the opportunity to both hide and climb so that she can observe 

A cat is hiding or climbing and perching simply wants to feel safe.  Once she determines that it is safe to explore, the cat will gradually come around.

Tip 3: Pair your interaction with positive things

Grabbing a cat when he comes near will not encourage him to come back, but soft gentle touch may well do.  Providing a treat will encourage interaction.

Tip 4: Play with him

This goes hand-in-hand with tip 3. Play can develop a relationship with a cat as he is able to exercise his instincts.  Always be sure to use toys and motion in play. Cats respond well to games that simulate hunting.


Tips to deal with a shy cat is from the article (Notacatperson – Carolyn Kocman investigates whether there is any truth in the oft held belief that cats are ‘unfriendly’ and cites the many reasons for dispelling the myth) was first published in BARKS from the Guild, the official trade publication of the Pet Professional Guild, on September/2016 (pages 44-46).