Whether a cat was rescued from a situation where she was treated poorly by humans, has never interacted with humans before, has a health issue that is making her act out from stress, or is simply shy by nature, we have a responsibility as caretakers to help our feline friends learn to trust and feel safe in their environments.
It takes a tremendous amount of patience, sensitivity, and care to transition a cat from skittish to secure. The process can be tedious and heartbreaking. All of your hard work will pay off though. And the first time your shy cat rubs up against your legs while you are washing dishes will be one of the best and most rewarding moments of your life.
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1. Give her a quiet space, complete with the essentials
Shy cats need to ease into situations slowly, so it’s important to make sure she has some space where she can feel safe and protected from all of the sounds, smells, and stimulations of your home. Having a safe space will allow her to explore at her own pace as she builds trust and confidence.
Safe spaces are most commonly created in spare rooms or uncluttered closets. The key is to choose a room or section of your home that gets minimal foot traffic and has a few good hiding spaces. The space should include all of her essentials: a comfy bed, a clean litter box, food, fresh water, a scratching post, and toys.
This is a temporary situation. As she becomes more comfortable with you and your home you should be able to move the litter, food, and water to more appropriate locations.