9 Tips for Socializing a Shy Cat

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Have you had this experience? You're thrilled about your new cat, and you're anxious to give up the love forever-home and warm lap you know it's been yearning for. But as soon as you open the carrier, she flees. For days, you can not miss any of the dishes, or you can not eat them. Or maybe you start looking under furniture, in the farthest, darkest corner under your sofa, you see a pair of terrified golden-green eyes staring at you. You, my friend, have just adopted a shy cat. But do not worry: You can help your new friend. It's just going to take some time and patience. Here are some tips to help you and your shy cat along the way.

1. Understand that it's not your fault or hers

A brown and white cat peeking out of a cardboard box.

A shy cat peeking out of a cardboard box. Photography © kmsh / Thinkstock.

You brought this cat to your life, and there is 99 percent chance that you did not cause it to react like this. Your shy cat may have been traumatized or she had a chance to be properly socialized.

2. Patience and compassion are key with a shy cat

It can be frustrating to try to help your cat. You may even be thinking about getting back to the shelter, but please do not give up. You've probably been in situations where you have been terrified or traumatized: Recall those times and think about it. Your compassion can also provide insight into what might your shy cat.

3. Start with a small space

Hopefully when you bring your cat home, you have a room, a bathroom, a bathroom, a bathroom, a bathroom, a bathroom, a bathroom and a bathroom. A shy cat will be better if she can be familiar with a small space first.

4. Keep it quiet

A football game, a party or that new murder-and-mayhem video game at full blast are fun noises for you. For cats, not so much. Not only do you have a very sensitive hearing, but loud noises terrify a shy cat.

5. Talk to your cat in a soothing voice

Keep the pitch and volume of your voice low, tell the cat what you're going to do, and use her name often. Imagine you're talking to a baby who needs comforting. Maybe you can sing a little lullaby.

6. Food is a great way to win friends

Even the most shy cat can be won over by tasty food. I was able to coax a traumatized and terrified cat out of a couch with a can of tuna cat food.

7. Allow a shy cat

When your shy cat does poke her head out of her hiding place, do not rush to touch her. Hold your hand in a relaxed position, with the palm down, and allow her to determine how close she gets.

8. Use a calming pheromone

Feline calming pheromones are synthetic analogues of the "happy cat" pheromones that cats leave when they rub their cheeks on you or your furniture. Plug in a couple of pheromone diffusers and allow them to help calm your shy cat.

9. Keep it positive

Do not stop working with your girlfriend if she regresses in response to something you did. Instead, finish your interaction with something you have enjoyed.

Want more? Best Friends Animal Society created a guide for socializing shy or fearful cats. It includes step-by-step instructions for the way the organization's teammates socializes at its world-renowned sanctuary, as well as documents you can use to record your cat's progress.

Tell us: Have you successfully socialized a shy cat? Do you have any more tips and tricks? Please share them in the comments.

Thumbnail: Photography © lopurice | iStock / Getty Images Plus.

October is Rescue Month on Catster.com! Rescuing a cat or thinking about it? Here's how to make you feel happy and comfortable.

This piece was originally published in 2014.

About JaneA Kelley: Punk-rock cat mom, science nerd, animal shelter volunteer and all-around geek with a passion for bad puns, intelligent conversation, and role-play adventure games. She gratefully and gracefully accepts her bloggers, who have been writing their award-winning cat's blog, Paws and Effect, since 2003.

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