How do I get my cat to be less timid?

by Jessica Smiles

My male cat, Oliver was found when he was approx 3 months old. He lived with my mom, dad, two sisters and I for a few years until I moved out into an apartment.

While at home, he got along with everyone. We introduced a female kitten, Purrsia, about a year after we adopted Oliver.

Purrsia is not shy and is outgoing. Oliver is shy and doesn’t come out for anyone that he doesn’t know. At my apartment he would instantly hide when my fiancé would come over.

Once I moved into my fiancé’s house it took him a long time to get used to the house. He actually had diarrhea for almost a year. I changed his food and gave him a deworming pill just in case.

It has gotten better, but his butt will still be dirty. He would come out when I am home but took awhile for him to warm up to my fiancé when he was home.

Right now, he will come out when we are home one at a time. As soon as the other person gets home, he instantly hides and acts scared. Any idea or advice to help him come out and act normal when we are both home?

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Building up his confidence
by: Kurt (Admin)

I'm sorry to hear your cat is having troubles. As I'm fond of saying, cats hate change. It sounds like Oliver has had a lot of change, but hasn't adapted well.

When a cat lacks confidence, building it up can be a long, slow process. The good news is, I've seen very shy cats come out of their shells.

When Oliver was moved to the new home, was he kept in one room for a time so he could get used to the new place without being overwhelmed?

If not, things may have been a bit too much for his already shy disposition. It may take quite some time for him to adjust.

Some concepts to keep in mind:

Cats love a routine, so keeping his routine as steady as possible will help reduce stress.

Try luring your cat out from hiding with toys, treats, or food. If you have set mealtimes and that's the only time he'll come out, you can use that as the lure.

Take baby steps and reward positive behavior. If he'll only play with you while he's hiding under the bed, that's a positive step in the right direction.

When your cat responds the way you want (e.g. coming out from hiding), praise him or give him treats, and generally make the experience pleasurable.

Since he comes out when either one of you is home, I would capitalize on that time. Each of you should take that time with him to bond. Play with him and give him treats during that time.

Minimize loud noises, sudden movements, and other things that might create stress or seem threatening to your cat.

Make any changes slowly.

Try Jackson Galaxy's Safe Space for Cats or Feliway.

In extreme cases, drug therapy may help. For example, your vet can prescribe Prozac. Some of our readers have had success with that with their cats.

I hope that helps. Please let us know how Oliver gets along.

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