My cat is too shy

Cats like routine and are not big fans of changes in their environment. So when visitors come into “their” house, they usually ignore them, or hide from them.

This is a normal behaviour, and it can happen to the most sociable kitten! As cats mature, boredom, annoyance or even fear take more place in their decision process than curiosity.

Fear is unfortunately often one of the reasons why cats become shy. Imagine a kitten that cautiously inquires about the visitors: Soon enough, he will be grabbed and petted by people he does not know, or maybe even ran after by screaming kids…!

While it is important to accept our pets as they are – some cats are more sociable than others – it is also important to help them conquer what we think are “unreasonable fears”. Here are some things you can do to change the association “visitors = bad things will happen” to “visitors = great things will happen”.

1) Respect your cat’s privacy! If he wants to stay in the bedroom, let him stay in the bedroom. The reason he is now hiding under the bed is probably because you have previously forced him to be in a situation he was uncomfortable to be in. Do not abuse his trust!

2) Bring out his favorite treats when you have visitors. Let him eat the treats, and have everyone leave him alone. You can bring the bowl closer and closer to the room where everyone is hanging out, if your cat does not show any signs of stress. Soon enough, he will think “tasty treats” when he hears the doorbell!

3) Play with him! If your cat is playful, he will LOVE it if you play with him and his favorite toy whenever you have visitors. Quickly he will learn that the presence of visitors equals FUN!

4) Eventually, when you feel he is more comfortable, you can have the visitors toss him the tasty treats, or even have them hand these to him. You can also ask the visitors to play with your cat! He will not only understand that great things happen when visitors come, but that great things come FROM visitors.

5) If your cat loves to be petted, ask visitors to pet him calmly, without holding him at first, so that your cat stays in control. Baby steps!

After all this work, your cat will probably be less fearful and shy, and more sociable when you have people coming over. Never force him into being sociable: If your cat feels like sleeping in “his” room one day instead of meeting new people, let him do just that!