How to Build Confidence in Your Cat

March 16, 2016

3489289102_08950c573a_bBy Langley Cornwell

I went to visit a friend last week who had recently adopted an adult cat. I was excited to meet the new kitty, but things didn’t go as planned. The good thing was that my friend and her new cat had established a solid bond in a short amount of time. The only negative was how skittish this cat was; she seemed scared of everything. My friend’s last cat was a social butterfly, much like my friend now that I think about it, so people coming and going were not a problem. But now, any noises, visitors or any type of change sent this cat into hiding for long periods of time.

My husband used to have a cat who only came out from under the bed when it was time to eat. He describes this cat as the most sensitive and shy cat he’s ever encountered, and he’s had a lot of cats throughout his life. All of this inspired a long conversation about how my friend could help build up her new cat’s confidence.

Building confidence in a cat is much like building confidence in a person. They just need a few different specifics than people do. The key is for a cat to feel safe in his or her own home. Once they feel like they are safe in their environment, you will find that they come out a lot more. At the same time, you have to set boundaries with your guests so that your cat can feel just as safe when people come over as he or she feels when there is no one at home but you and your cat. So if you find yourself in a similar situation as my friend, consider these tips to help build up your cat’s confidence.

Create a Calm Atmosphere

It may be that things are just a little too hectic for your cat. Imagine yourself in a roomful of loud strangers, in a place you didn’t choose to be. That feeling of overwhelming anxiety might be what your cat is feeling. If you found yourself in that situation, you might want to go hide under a bed or in a corner too.

Instead of chaos, give your cat a calm environment. You can do this by offering your cat a quiet room to hide out in. There is a good chance that when things are calm and quiet, your kitty will come out to explore.

Relax with Your Cat

You’ve given your cat a calm environment, but now you would actually like to spend time with him or her. Try reading a book or doing a quiet project in the same room as your cat. Eventually, your cat will probably come out and visit with you. When this happens, let
16613965433_f61acd2063_zit happen on your cat’s terms. You can also help things along by giving your cat “love blinks,” which is the kind of blink a cat gives you when they are comfortable with you. Just look at your cat. Slowly close your eyes, and leave them closed for a few seconds. Hopefully, your cat will return those blinks in good time.

Coax Them Out

When your cat goes back into hiding, try coaxing him out with food or toys. Place a dish of CANIDAE canned cat food or a favorite toy close to the hiding spot. Eventually, you can move the food or toy further and further away, and maybe closer to you. You can also set up areas that are just for the cat. For example, leave an empty shelf near the window so your cat can look outside without a lot of clutter.

Visiting with Guests

Your cat might not be overly anxious to make new friends. If you don’t set boundaries that make it possible for your cat to gain confidence in his or her own time, they will never want to meet new people. Don’t let people pick your cat up or touch her unless she indicates that she wants to be touched. Let your guests know that your cat isn’t a toy to be picked up by strangers. This act alone will help your cat be more confident and comfortable with you and your guests.

As for my friend’s cat, I agreed to come over more often and try to gently and patiently help with her kitty confidence-building efforts. If you have any additional tips for building your cat’s confidence, we’d love to hear them.

Top photo by miheco/Flickr
Bottom photo by Shannon McGee/Flickr

Read more articles by Langley Cornwell

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