Owners of nervous cats often get worried. They believe that muffling their voices and tiptoeing from room to room is the right strategy for the cat to adapt and get used to not being afraid of people. Unfortunately, such actions, changing the natural way of life, only increase the nervousness in the house, which can only lead to an increase in your pet’s tension.
Normal behavior, giving a feeling of familiarity and calm, therefore, will have a positive impact. Do not constantly try to communicate and show your love, do not rush to find a hidden cat, do not rush to retrieve it from its “hiding place.” Immediate fixation of attention on the cat entering the room is also undesirable, as it makes the owner intrusive and potentially dangerous to them.
It is best to provide the cat with a sense of “invisibility” so that it can move around the house without being the center of attention. The conditions of a quiet residence do not imply direct eye contact, verbal or physical communication, until he initiates it by her own actions.
Food can be used to build positive associations and strengthen the bond between you and your cat. Offer a small amount of meat, fish, or other tasty food in a saucer. This can encourage her to explore the different rooms in the house or to spend time around you.
Positive interaction during play can also have a significant positive effect – many cats cannot resist the urge to play. By using toys attached to a long rod or string, you can let the shy animals enjoy the game to the fullest without feeling too close.
Constant “consolation” of a cat in response to manifestations of timidity only increases its nervousness. It is best to simply ignore the nervous reaction and reward (using whatever means that motivate the particular cat) calm behavior.
Never lose your temper or try to correct the behavior too quickly – this will only increase your cat’s fears. If you see progress, however small, you are probably dealing with an animal that overcomes fear. Most likely, the kitten went through the necessary stages of socialization normally. Continue to build on your success gradually. Remember that cats feel safe in high places. So when your cat stays in a room with people, provide it with the opportunity to climb higher, sit safely and watch the world from above.
How else can you overcome a cat’s fearfulness?
If shyness starts to affect your cat’s quality of life, contact your veterinarian. Sometimes it is helpful to use synthetic pheromones (Feliway®) to enhance the feeling of safety and familiarity in the home. It may even be worthwhile to seek the advice of a behavioral professional who can help you strategize anxiety management in the most appropriate way.
My cat hasn’t been cowardly before, but has he been acting like he’s always afraid of something lately?
Any changes in behavior, especially such dramatic ones, should not be ignored. It is best to go to your veterinarian and conduct a complete examination of your cat, as this behavior could be a sign of illness or injury. If no medical cause is found, your veterinarian will refer you to a behavioral specialist for further advice.
How to help a stressed cat
The most important thing you need to know to help an anxious cat is not to punish or scold her for her restless behavior. This will only exacerbate her negative perceptions and fear and make the situation worse. Your goal is to help her relax and feel safe.
As soon as you notice restless behavior in a pet, immediately schedule a visit to your veterinarian to confirm the presence or absence of diseases or toxins causing the pet’s stress. Cats tend to hide pain from their owners, so finding the problem will not be easy and may require blood tests and other tests. If the problem turns out to be caused by pain or illness, the right treatment may be enough to get your pet back to normal.
On the other hand, the veterinarian can also detect the psychological cause of the problem, such as neurosis. In this case, he will most likely give you advice on the course of treatment.
In addition to anti-anxiety medications for your cat, your veterinarian will likely advise you on an instructor or animal psychologist to help you shape the behavior you want and get rid of the unwanted behavior. Developing desirable behavior involves identifying fear factors in your cat and either decreasing susceptibility to them through repeated, safe interaction with them, or removing them from the animal’s environment. Getting rid of unwanted behavior involves replacing the unwanted behavior with the desired one with the formation of positive associations associated with the desired behavior. For example, if your cat starts feeling anxious that you’re about to leave, train her to go to bed at that time and reward him with a treat or favorite toy when he fulfills your request. Over time, he will associate your withdrawal with reward and learn to deal with anxiety. The main purpose of habituation and desirable behavior is to show the cat that it is safe and relaxed.
If the problem is ignored
The anxiety cannot go away on its own, and is likely to only get worse over time, with the unwanted behavior becoming even more pronounced. As in humans, in animals, chronic stress affects mental health. With continued exposure, stress suppresses the nervous system and makes the cat more vulnerable to disease, which in turn increases stress. In addition, he may develop severe depression, which, when combined with anxiety, will exacerbate behavior problems. To preserve not only the health of the cat, but also the calmness in the house, it is necessary to start treatment as soon as possible.
If you see your cat meowing and showing anxiety, don’t be discouraged. Thanks to your love, patience and willingness to help, he has every chance of recovery and return to a full, healthy life.