Dear Miss Behavin’: I recently adopted a shy cat from the shelter. The past few days she’s been hiding under my bed, only coming out to use her litterbox and eat at night. What can I do to help her feel safe and secure in her new home?
Firstly, thank you for adopting a shy cat! Shyer adult cats can be overlooked at shelters, especially during kitten season. It can take a few weeks or even a few months for a cat to adjust to their new home. Patience is the most important part – you can’t rush the speed to which a cat will feel comfortable in a new space. Keep her in the bedroom or another small room. Smaller spaces help cats feel more secure. Make sure there’s a litterbox, food, water, toys, and soft places for her to hide/sleep in this space. Keep the door closed until she is confident enough to explore other areas of the house. If you let her explore while she is still cautious she’ll end up hiding somewhere else, or somewhere more difficult for you to reach her like under the washer or refrigerator. Speak softly to her and offer her treats. Trying to restrain her or grab her from her hiding spot could make her even more scared/shy. Let her come out to explore on her own terms. Read a book, listen to music, or do your work near her so she gets used to your presence. Pet her gently if she seems to enjoy it. More and more she’ll become more comfortable and your bond will progress!