Cats enter our care for various reasons, and we always carry out behaviour observations for every individual to find out what sort of home they are looking for when they go up for adoption. Unfortunately, many cats end up here after a tough start in life and will be understandably nervous for one reason or another. So what do you need to think about before adopting a nervous cat? We've put together a little guide to give you some help.
Why is the cat nervous?
Most cats take a week or two to settle in, and will be shy when they first arrive simply because they're in a new environment and need time to adjust to their surroundings. However, some cats are nervous for more ominous reasons. Cats are likely to be nervous if they have been abused, neglected, or abandoned as they have trouble trusting people due to the situations they've been put through in the past. Animals from hoarding situations will be nervous as they won't be adequately socialised and therefore don't trust people as they've always survived on their own and don't see humans as positive acquaintances. Cats who are looking for new homes as their owner has died are also often very nervous as they've usually been used to a quiet life with a routine and the move can be a huge shock to the system for them. Staff members will always tell you what they know about the background of a cat when you ask about adopting them, but obviously in some situations we don't know all the details and can't say how well a cat will adjust to a home. We always try to find the right home and will talk you through the behaviour we've observed at the centre.
What type of home are they looking for?
A nervous cat or kitten will need stability more than anything. They thrive in quiet homes with a stable routine, where they can get used to a new way of life. Families with young children or dogs would be better considering a more confident cat that can adjust quickly to a busy lifestyle, as a nervous cat would most likely just hide and never really come out of their shell. It's important that a nervous cat comes to associate it's owner with positive experiences, so if you're home a lot and have time to work with them that's ideal! Some nervous cats have arrived at the centre with friends, and we'll rehome them as a pair as they rely on each other for confidence and it would cause more damage to separate them. A quiet, warm home with experienced owners is ideal for nervous cats.
What should you expect when you take a nervous cat home?
It will inevitably take a while for a nervous cat to settle in - this could take weeks or months. They won't want much attention at first as they'll be sussing out their new territory and won't feel safe until they feel stable. Don't be surprised if they disappear behind the sofa for the first week, or won't budge from under the bed. Nervous cats need patience and TLC, so expect accidents and disappearing acts whilst they find their feet. It won't last forever and once you've earned their trust, nervous cats are incredibly loyal as they are choosing to spend time with you, which is a big deal to them.
Tips for introducing a nervous cat to your home
Nervous cats can make very rewarding pets for the right people, so if you think you could offer a home to a cat don't hesitate to get in touch or take a look at our rehoming page.