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Just for Kids: Is Your Cat a Scaredy Cat?

By: Virginia Wells

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Does your kitty hide under the bed when someone comes to the door? Does she run away when you try to pet her? Does she hiss at other household pets?

Fear can be a good thing. It is what keeps us alert to danger. If we weren't afraid of being hit by a car we might not be so careful. If we weren't afraid of falling, we might not take care when climbing a tree or a jungle gym. It is the same with cats, too. Natural fear is what helps to keep them from getting into trouble.

But some cats seem to be afraid of almost everything. They hide when people come over, shy away from other cats, and in general are much better when they live with the few people or other cats they know and like.

Some cats are born afraid. Others get that way while growing up. When kittens are between 2 and 7 weeks old, they learn all about the other people and animals in their environment. If they are handled gently during that time, they get used to it and learn to enjoy it.

During this time, kittens also learn to develop a natural fear – the kind that keeps them safe. They learn to be cautious around things they are not familiar with. Learning to be careful is just as important as learning to be comfortable around people.

Scaredy Behavior

If you have a little scaredy cat, you might notice her doing some of the following:

  • Running away
  • Hiding
  • Pressing herself against a wall
  • Standing very still
  • Hissing or scratching

    How You Can Help

  • If you are raising kittens, be sure to handle them gently as soon as your veterinarian says it is safe, usually after two weeks. Kittens will learn to enjoy being petted and played with.

  • If your cat is afraid of other family members or friends who visit, have them bring food treats for your cat and give them to your kitty.

  • If your cat is too shy to accept food from a stranger, try feeding her yourself while the friends are in the room. Give your kitty lots of attention and reassurance and gradually decrease the distance between you and your friends.

  • A bit of normal hiding won't hurt her if she feels threatened, as long as it's only once in a while.

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