How to help your shy, nervous or timid cat?

You can help your cat to feel safe and secure by:

  • providing plenty of refuges where they can hide. Cats de-stress more quickly if they can hide, preferably somewhere high and dark, such as behind sofas or on shelves
  • preventing other cats from entering your home by windows, doors or cat flaps. Make sure your cat is not being bullied in the garden or intimidated by other cats through windows or doors
  • maintaining daily routines so your cat knows what to expect
  • use synthetic scent pheromones (available from your vet). These can help reassure your cat and reduce stress
  • sit quietly near your cat so they can get used to you in their own time. Ignore them while you read a book or take a nap so they don’t feel pressurised or anxious in your presence. Do this while they are eating, or give them a small food treat so they associate you with a positive experience
  • let your cat approach you. Direct approaches are extremely threatening, so don’t force attention on your cat
  • blink slowly at your cat, narrow your eyes so they are half open and then turn your face away slowly to reassure your cat that you are not a threat

As your cat becomes more confident:
Your cat should gradually relax as it learns that you do not present a threat. As your cat becomes braver you can try:

  • talking to your cat quietly in a calming tone
  • rewarding your cat with a treat if they approach you. At first, give the treat as soon as they approach, but gradually increase the time between the approach and the treat. Over a period of weeks, work up to calmly stroking your cat once or twice before giving the treat
  • using small toys you can gently throw for them, such as a ball of foil, scrunched up paper or a ping pong ball. Fishing rod toys allow your cat to interact without feeling threatened by close contac

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