Hi all, On a sit where the cats seem fine but are pretty much hidiing from me. Was warned of this as they are indoor and used to their owner always being there. They are fine, eat snacks and sneak out while I am not present and have a balcony area to access but one seems to be eating less than the other… its only been two days so not duly concerned and they seem normal in all other ways. I am giving them space but I have not had this issue before so would welcome any views / opinions. Thanks.
We did a sit last year for 4 indoor cats, we never saw one of them for the first week, we even wondered if it existed, it eventually came out, but still very shy.
Why do you say snarling cats? Are they vicious?
Some cats just are like that. Try not to pay too much attention to them, but you could talk to yourself outloud when you’re in the house, or even sing. Especially, when you prepare their food, or move from one place to another, but other times as well. That would get the cats used to your voice and precense.
If you are able to, sitting on the floor reading/browsing instagram/whatever quiet activity might be worth trying. Preferably near, but not too near, their hiding place.
Hi thanks for responding! No, they are not vicious- probably just scared. One came out briefly and stared at me …
Hopefully they will get used to me. Here till Sat
Thanks, I am giving them a lot of space and even taking their dinner to them if needed. Thanks for the idea about quiet activity near them.
Good advice from @CatsAndDog. I also find rattling their snack packs might work well. If you want, you can keep their snacks/treats close to you and lure them, or if they’re leery, throw it gently towards them, away from you (without scaring them!) so that they can see you know where the snacks are kept and you know how to use it!
PS. We rescued and fostered a very abused cat, for 13 months. In the beginning he hid under our beds for weeks. Eventually I learned that I should always approach with a small snack. That way, he learned that the hand always comes with a snack/treat/food, instead of abuse. It took a little while, but after a few days, he was looking forward to seeing me, albeit for the treat. Eventually he became a cuddle cat who couldn’t get enough cuddles…so it worked, although it was tiny steps in the beginning.
As someone that has looked after or had 10’s of cats they all very on how sociable they are with strangers. it took me 10 days with a cat on a sit for him to come round. The owner warned me, he’s never in his 5 years gone near anyone but him. The first 3-4 days he’d eat and scoot out returning to eat inside at night (the cats had access to a cat flap). Then he’d be asleep on the sofa so I just speak softly to him using his name but left him alone. He got closer and closer to me (especially with his favourite treat in hand). Eventually of the 3 cats he was the one sitting on my lap and on the computer table while I worked.
So slowly, slowly I find works a lot of the time but can take a number of days for the cat to trust you.
Sitting on the floor with your back to the cat so it’s not threatened by you and maybe hold your hand out but with a bent pointed finger. Cats will often investigate your finger and rub themselves on it. They realise it feels nice and this can break the shyness.
There are ways to socialize a fearful cat, but it can take time. If the sit is short, it is probably best to leave the cats alone, just take care of food, water, litterboxes.
if the sit is a longer one (more than a week or so) and you want the cats to get comfortable with you, here are some tips. I have fostered almost 70 cats by now, and some of them were very fearful initially.
- Only feed the cats when you are near the food bowl. They need to associate you with food. Initially, you might need to sit on the floor on the other side of the room.
- Get down to their level - sitting or even lying on the floor. Turn your back to them initially.
- As they start to come out for food when you are there, move the food bowl closer and closer to you.
- Eventually, I lie on the floor with the food on my belly so they have to climb on me to eat. That works best with kittens, because of their weight!
- Don’t look the cats in their eyes when they are scared.
- When they look at you without the ears back and pupils dilated, blink slowly a few times, but still don’t start them in the eyes much. Slow blinking is a sign of affection.
- If they are still young and like to play, try to engage with a wand toy/
- Reward positive behavior with treats.
This isn’t related to the post but you say you fostered an abused cat….we ‘adopted’ what we assume is an abused cat (was living on the streets in London) and although she’s been with us since February, is still scared. She’ll come in for her food and bed but she doesn’t really encourage us to let her. She lets me but I’ve not tried to pick her up yet. You think I should? I’ve been giving her space….maybe too much?
See the tips in my post. Definitely don’t try to pick her up. That takes a lot of trust, and even some of my cuddly fosters have not wanted to be held.
We had 2 separate sits with very shy scardey cats and we didn’t make big movements, talked without much excitement, and waited patiently until they were okay being in the room with us at a distance. We also didn’t make eye contact at first and when we started to make eye contact, we did it briefly until they got used to us. Luckily it worked out both sits
I’ve looked at your tips and as i’ve had cats all my life, (our last cat died approx 10 years ago and we decided not to have any more….long story), I’ve just left her to be a cat. I just feel sad (for me probably) that she doesn’t trust us yet. She eats and lets me pet her when she’s in my office/cat room though. Her kitten is absolutely fine though and loves being a tactile cat. Thanks for your reply. X
Really great tips above! I had that experience only with one cat so far. There were two cats, one was very friendly and the other one very scared. I gave him space and after a couple of days he showed himself more. I was there for one week, and then I did a repeat sit for another week a few months later. It really warmed my heart to see that this shy cat now let me pet him and sat behind me on the sofa. Some pets just need time, I think. But feeding them definitely helps especially treats
I won’t worry too much about it. Get some Churo ( called also kitty crack for a reason) or another brand of liquid cat treat if you want to get closer to the cat and let her lick the treat from the package. We love shy cats, since a shy cat is much better than overly attached cat that meows all the time and follows you everywhere.
Thanks to folks sharing advice on this thread. Always good to learn more about caring for various pets. I’m just starting a new cat sit.
I’ve suggest not trying to pick your cat up. Many cats do not like being picked up. I never pick up any cats I’m sitting for apart from those that request to be picked up.
Yes the slow blink works with some cats although not all.
I love it when an owner says I might not see the cat for a few days if at all and then I send them a photo the next day getting cuddles. I try to just give them lots of space but let them come to me. I do talk to them, not calling kitty kitty kitty but talk to them like I would talk to a person. They get, well…curious.
I’ve got 3. One greets sitters (and everyone else)at the door. One takes a few hours to a day to warm up to sitters. More if they try too hard! The third takes 12-48 hours to warm up to female sitters. I’m not sure if he ever warms up to male sitters! I know how frustrating it is when you are a cat person and a cat doesn’t love you immediately!