Most felines tend to be aloof or even suspicious of humans at first. When a cat is adopted or is brought into an unfamiliar home, adjusting can be difficult, and learning to trust a human often takes time. Learn how to speed up the process of bonding with a shy cat by using these 5 techniques.
1. Be observant and know your cat’s “mood.” Watch your cat and learn to identify how she is feeling based on tail posture and vocalizations. Here is a quick list of physical indications that your kitty is tense or frightened:
- Wide eyes or dilated pupils
- Crouching low or hiding under something
- Flattened ears
- Fur standing on edge
If your cat is exhibiting any of these postures, you will have to amend yours. Back up slowly and quietly, and speak in a low voice so as not to alarm her.
2. Be available but un-opposing. Read: WAIT. If your cat seems frightened of you, go into a wide, open room and sit on the floor. From this place, you can call to your kitty while you wait patiently for her to approach. Be prepared to wait a long time, while the cat gains the curiosity and courage to approach you. If after a while nothing happens, grab a laser or a feather fishing pole toy and see if this will generate any intrigue. When the cat finally does come near, let her explore, sniff, paw at, and generally become accustomed to your presence on her own terms.
3. Help calm her down. This can be simply through speaking with a low and steady voice, or applying herbal elements like catnip, or Bach’s Rescue Remedy sprays to her toys, cat bed, or even your hands to help relax the nerves of a suspicious cat.
4. Use positive food-training. Help your cat associate you with cat treats and goodies. Some pet trainers help cats build trust by always greeting them with a kitty treat. This helps the cat see you as the bearer of good gifts, or as someone they should be drawn to, or excited to see. Though at some stage the treat delivery will have to subside a bit, it is always help to begin with a positive association.
5. Quality time and consistency. Humans regard quality time as one of the primary love languages, and cats operate the same way. It is difficult to build trust with someone who is rarely present or hardly available. So, even if you only have a window of 5-10 minutes for playtime with your cat when you come home, be sure to give it. If your cat seems touchy or standoffish, respect her distance and let her come to you. Simply expressing affection through play time and petting will help your cat continually feel safe. (Though be sure to avoid any “trigger” areas, or sensitive places on her body where she doesn’t like to be touched!)
*NOTE: If your cat rubs her face against you, this is a great indication that trust has been established. Felines use the glands beside their mouths to mark the things which seem to be safe; so if you get the face rub, you are in!