Acclimating Your Shy Cat to Her New Home

Adapted from Animal Friends and NYC Feral Cat Initiative

At the Connecticut Humane Society, we love to see our pets adopted into forever homes. It is especially rewarding when a particularly shy cat finds that person or family who sees past the personality and is ready to give Fluffy a second chance.

When a pet is adopted into a new home, he or she will need time to adjust. A very shy cat can have a difficult time transitioning into a new environment. Sometimes, families bring their shy cats back because they believe their new cat is unhappy. That’s not necessarily true—some cats are just proverbial scaredy cats. These kitties need much more time to settle into their new home and an owner with the patience to give them that chance.

Here are some ways to make a shy cats transition into her new home a little easier:

  • Cats can feel overwhelmed if left to roam all over the house on their first day home. Let your cat build confidence by getting used to one room at a time. Cats are cautious animals by nature and tend to look for the protection and comfort of an environment where they can fully or partially conceal themselves. As they become more accustomed to the sights, sounds, people, and animals in the new space and realize that they will not be physically harmed, they will leave their hideaway and seek companionship and sustenance.
  • Often, the first room a cat gets to see is the bedroom. But a shy cat is likely to hide under the bed where she can’t be touched. The bathroom has fewer places to hide and is usually small; an environment where your cat may feel safe. Equip the room with a soft bed, litter box, food and water to create the perfect settling in space for Fluffy.
  • Meeting everyone in the new family at once can be overwhelming. Let her meet each person one at a time, so she can get used to their smells and voices. Let her smell their hands first before they try to pet her. And always remember to move slowly and talk quietly – sudden movements and noises can startle a shy cat.
  • Cats usually love to play. Playing helps them get rid any nervous energy that may have built up. However, toys with noisy jingly bells or huge feather toys flying close to her face can make a shy cat panic. She’d rather play with quiet balls, laser lights or soft furry mice at first, and she’d prefer to sneak up on feather toys and attack them instead of having the feather toy chase her!
  • If she’s found a place to hide, don’t drag her out. She’ll only run away and have a hard time trusting you. She’s not hiding because she doesn’t like you—it’s her way of adjusting and trying to cope with all of the changes. Try tempting her out with a tasty treat or fun toy. she just might forget her fear. Feather toys or string toys attached to poles are great devices to coax your pet to come closer to you. As mentioned earlier, let her chase the feather rather than the feather chasing her!
  • Try spraying Feliway on her bed to relax her. Feliway is a product that contains a synthetic version of the naturally occurring facial pheromones of cats. Even though humans can’t smell it, cats certainly can! It’s feline aromatherapy and makes a shy cat feel more comfortable because it smells like the scent cats leave when they rub against you.
  • Prepare in advance for any vet appointments by serving the food in the carrier for a week or so before the appointment. On appointment day, wait for the cat to go in and close the door. Don’t try to rush her by picking her up too quickly, as this may set her back. Encourage her into the carrier with food rather than force.

The main objective is to not give up on your new companion. Shy cats just need a little extra time to get used to everything.

If you’ve adopted a shy kitty and need more advice, please call the Connecticut Humane Society at 1-800-452-0114. We appreciate your patience and know that with time, your cat will give you all the love she has… and more!

Acclimating Your Shy Cat to Her New Home

Connecticut Humane Society

701 Russell Road, Newington, CT 06111
800-452-0114 | FAX 860-665-1478 
The Connecticut Humane Society is a 501(c)(3)
non-profit organization. EIN: 06-0667605
Copyright 2013 Connecticut Humane Society

Copyright 2013 Connecticut Humane Society