Ask a Cat Lady with Sarah Donner: How Do I Teach My Cat to Be More Confident?

May 17th 2012  |   3 Contributions

Catster reader Debbie asks: "My friends have two cats that spend too much time under the bed. It’s a big, quiet house with two senior guardians, so it’s hard for me to understand why. Can you suggest confidence-building techniques?"

Well, my first instinct is that perhaps living in the big, quiet house is the reason the cats are shy. They probably haven’t spent a lot of time with new people, so they aren’t accustomed to social situations. Many cats simply don’t have bold personalities, and there isn’t much you can do to change that. Only my fat alpha cat, Dunkin, is interested in strangers. He greets new people at the door with the expectation of being adored, while Rory, Shosha, and Puma run under the stairs and declare the visitors a security threat. 

You can’t turn shy cats into party animals, but I've found you can win their trust on a one-on-one basis. Playtime is a great way to lure cats out of their hiding spaces. They usually can’t resist feathers on a stick or string dangled by their paws. Get down on the ground at their level and move your hands slow and low. Most cats don’t dig it when you cover their faces. 

Once they emerge from hiding, calmly and slowly approach them with your hands. Keep playing, and gently reach under to scratch their chin. You can also reward them with a treat. It could take weeks or months for a kitty to come around, and sometimes it’s just not in their nature.You can’t always earn their affection, but with time, tuna, and a little self-humiliation, you can usually weasel your way into their apathetic approval. 

Confidence-Building Tips

By Sarah Donner

We all can’t be social butterflies
Under the bed we like to hide
We feel safe in our space
We all move at our own pace
So do not rush it, 'cause it’s not a race
We collect dust bunnies on our face

Confidence is best achieved patiently and
Alluringly with gentle speech and tasty treats

You can reward us with a treat
When we behave socially
It takes time and lots of bribes
To get them out from under the bedspring
Encourage exercise with a string
I’ll come out if I can sniff you
If you distract me, you could scratch me

Confidence is best achieved patiently and
Alluringly with gentle speech and tasty treats

Sources: Native Remedies, How Stuff Works

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