Timid or anxious?
There is a difference between being a “‘fraidy cat” and being "once bitten, twice shy”. A frightened cat reacts to a one-time incident such as something falling to the floor with a lot of noise. On the other hand, a fearful, shy cat is constantly on edge and sees danger at every turn, even if there isn't any. That’s stressful for everyone involved.
Like humans, cats have different characters. Some cats are naturally more shy than others. But sometimes a traumatic experience forms the basis of their personalities. This then creates at a state of chronic fear, which puts the cat in a constant state of stress.
Other reasons include poor socialisation in kittens and sudden changes in the environment, such as moving house or getting a new pet.
How can you tell a cat is frightened?
- Licks its lips frequently.
- Whiskers point backwards
- Hair on its back makes jerking movements
- Tail carried low
- Briefly lifts one front leg
- Big eyes with dilated pupils
How do you prevent ongoing anxious behaviour?
How do you deal with a shy cat?
Don’t put the cat among the pigeons
If you want to train your cat to become less shy, you can’t force it. Give your cat that space it needs to feel sure of itself. Provide several quiet hiding places where your cat can feel at ease, without a permanent stress factor, even when teaching your kitten how to socialise. Cats like to sit in high up places because they can keep a better eye on their surroundings.
Does your cat remain anxious and shy for months? Then you can seek help from a behavioural therapist or veterinarian.