Cats are creatures of comfort
and of consistency. They do not respond well to changes in
their environment. Their usual reaction to an unwelcome change
will be to distance themselves. They may retreat to a hiding
place or, if pushed, they may react aggressively.
For a cat, hiding is a normal
response to a new or frightening situation. What can be done
about a cat that responds that way? It is best to let her come
out in her own good time. If a cat is forced to be social, she
may become aggressive and start biting and scratching.
Some cats are shy and fearful because of an illness. If this is
new behavior, have her checked by a veterinarian. There are cats
that respond to a new person in the household, be it an adult or
baby, by running and hiding. Introducing a new dog or new cat to
your household might elicit the same response.
If yours is an outside cat, she
may have been startled by a stranger or an animal, or she may
have lost a good fight. These experiences may result in a
fearfulness that will convert her to a shy-acting inside cat. A
sudden loud noise like thunder, a firecracker, or an engine
backfire might send your cat under the bed for months.
A phobic shyness indicates that proper socialization did not
take place when your cat was an unweaned kitten. Proper
socialization occurs when a very young kitten is handled and
cuddled by all kinds of people, sniffed and touched by dogs and
cats, and exposed to all kinds of noise out there in the world.
Things are not as frightening if
they have been experienced in the comfort and security of one
who loves you. Perhaps this did not happen for your cat, and now
she is shy and fearful.
What can be done about this?
Do not force your adult cat or
kitten to come out and greet strangers. Give her time. When she
does come out, give her a delicious food treat. Coax her out of
hiding by leaving a trail of food to her bowl. Move the bowl a
little farther out each day. Talk in soothing, cooing tones to
her. Once she does come out, let her greet strangers on her own
Praise your shy and fearful cat
for every inch of progress. Reinforce the praise with a great
food treat. In time, she will accept you. She may always run and
hide when others are around. That is this catís personality, and
she will be happy in her own way. The challenge is for you to
complete your commitment of love and care for her.