Why Are Some Cats Fearful?
Fearful behavior in cats can be caused by various factors. Insufficient exposure to humans and/or a variety of stimuli during kittenhood as well as traumatizing events in their lives can teach them to react fearfully towards people or new situations. Cats can also be genetically predisposed to being fearful.
- Always talk softly and move slowly around the cat. Avoid staring at her, since this can be perceived as a threat. It helps to get down to the cat’s level when interacting with her instead of towering over her.
- Food can be used as a bonding tool by feeding at scheduled times instead of leaving food out all the time. This will help the cat make a positive association between you and the food. You can also approach the cat with a small food treat to make friends (don’t go overboard with treats. You don’t want to ruin kitty’s figure...).
- Never attempt to pull the cat from his hiding place or force him to be held. This will increase his fearfulness and may even result in bites or scratches. When he is ready he will come to you. Until then, gently pet him in his hiding place.
- Encourage play with interactive toys (e.g. cat dancer, fishing pole type toy), but make sure that the toy you are using is not big and scary. Some cats are very play-motivated and regular play sessions can help bring them out of their shell and out of hiding.
- Try not to startle the cat. If you have to do anything noisy in the house (e.g. vacuum, moving furniture, having a dinner party), confine the cat to her “safe” room.