As cat owners, we expect our moggies will sometimes be aloof. After all, that’s what cats are like, right? But when your cat isn’t just a bit standoffish, but is actually shy or even fearful around people, aloofness can become a problem.
It’s a common issue for many cat owners, but the causes of the problem can vary.
One obvious reason is that your cat was not socialised as a kitten. Perhaps she didn’t get the opportunity to interact with many people and she has become quite shy. Another common cause is that while the kitten might have spent time around people, perhaps she had a bad experience that scared her away from certain types of people – such as someone who is quite loud, or a man with a beard.
The best solution is, of course, prevention. When you bring your new kitten or cat back home, it’s important to help her settle into your house. Spend time with her in each room, allowing her to explore and feel comfortable in the space. Make sure you provide plenty of cat toys, a perch or some shelves that are just for her.
Once she has made herself at home, invite some friends around to expose her to different people. Take it slowly, though, as you don’t want her to feel intimidated. And ask your friends and families to tone it down – too much affection and cuddling can be overwhelming for your pet. If she’s an indoor cat, make sure you take her outside regularly, so she doesn’t become fearful of the great outdoors.
With a small kitten or shy cat, look out for the triggers that cause her to run or hide, and try to limit those. Encourage her with gentle play, and if she comes out of her shell, reward her with a quiet game or a treat.
Of course, excessive shyness can be a sign of a medical problem, so if you are at a loss as to what has caused your pet’s anxiety, get her to the vet.