Can I Change a Scaredy Cat?

Can all cats get comfortable with their new homes or will some always be scaredy cats?

By Julie Mignery | Posted: June 23, 2015, 10 a.m. EST

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Socialize Scaredy Cats

I rescued a cat who was living outside. I brought her in with one of her sisters at about 3 months old. She is around a year old now and still scared of us. She lets us pet her now and again but hides most of the day. We play with her and give her treats twice a day. I don’t know why she is still so terrified of us. Her sister is the biggest lover and so outgoing. Is there anything I can do to socialize her more? She will be with us forever, so anything helps. Kelsey Brewer

These two sisters had a rough start to life. One of your girls adjusted to her new home quickly, but the other one’s taking her own sweet time.

Consider talking about this with your veterinarian during her next checkup. Sometimes cats hide when they’re in pain, so rule that out first.

It sounds like you’re doing the right things: petting her, playing with her and giving her treats when you can. Now you simply have to wait.

Pay attention to those moments when she seems most at ease. 
•    Maybe it’s at night when things are quieter and darker.
•    Or maybe she’s happiest when the sun is shining brightest into her favorite room and music is playing. 
•    Is she happier when her sister is nearby or out of sight?

When you see her, talk to your cat and use your cat’s name. Sit down at her level and appreciate whatever interaction she offers. Maybe she’ll snatch a treat and run away, but she might remember that you were kind to her and nothing bad happened.

She’s been in your life for less than a year, so you still have plenty of time to build a great relationship with your cat.  This scaredy cat may never act as outgoing as her sister, but part of that has to do with personality.
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Reader Comments

Janine    brooklyn, NY

6/28/2015 10:51:31 PM

Yes with patience and love.

Marilyn    Grand Lake Stream, ME

6/28/2015 11:03:42 AM

I have a cat like this, it belonged originally to my granddaughter. She and her boyfriend broke up and she had to leave the cat with him for awhile, but about 7 months later I got the cat. It was afraid of everything and for about a year I thought it would never be a loving cat. Four years later she is the most caring, loveable cat I have ever had. All I did was play with her, talk to her constantly and just be careful around her.

Pat    International

6/27/2015 9:55:50 PM

I thought it was very informative, because I own a Scaredy Cat Kitten. Her Mother was almost Feral When I adopted her and her 2 six week old kittens. They were all fine(kittens were 3 months) until they got shots and then micro chipped the next day and that is when the 1 kitten became skittish. I have been trying all those things and it is good to know they may work with my Autistic Kitten who is now 9 months.

Marilena    Minneapolis, MN

6/27/2015 8:00:37 PM

I'm a pet sitter and have worked with all sorts of kitties. I have one particular guy who was never socialized beyond his owner so it has been a journey figuring out how to put him at ease. In the end what I have found to be true with him and other kitties who are less likely to socialize is to find a game they like to play. It took me many different gams and toys to finally find one that did the trick with my little guy but eventually when I did he began coming around. I also have a sweet girl who was antisocial until I say in the bathroom, just me & her (she has 2 siblings), gave her some wet food, and slowly slowly petted her a tiny bit each time. Now we are buddies and she does not fear me but it took a lot of time for her to eventually come around. At one point when we weren't in the bathroom together she'd even hiss at me if the other kitties were around. It just takes time, especially w one that sounds like they mighty be inclined to be a loner.

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