Some cats behave fearfully even in the presence of familiar people. They may feel scared if they can’t get away from the person when being approached. Not all cats display aggression in these cases; some cats freeze or try to flee. In all cases, their goal is to stop you from interacting with them.
A few tips:
Consult with a professional before the fear escalates to aggression.
When approaching your cat, go slow and gently talk to them.
Use a toy or a treat from a few feet away.
If the cat moves toward you to interact with you, you’re on the right track and it’s usually OK. Extend a hand gently and let the cat make the first contact.
If the cat doesn’t approach or moves away, don’t force interaction or follow.
Never reach for a cat when they are hiding, as this may make them feel cornered and become aggressive.
Never punish for fear or aggression. This can worsen the fear and doesn’t prevent the problem from happening again.
Fear of New People
Fear of unfamiliar people is common and can be seen in all cats. Cats may need some time to adjust to a new home and new people. Patience and time are often needed to allow your cat to come out of their shell.
Some useful tips to help your cat feel more secure and comfortable:
- Help your cat feel safe by providing a safe, quiet hiding spot, preferably elevated where they can relax and observe without having to interact with people.
- Confining your cat to their own room for the first few days or when unfamiliar people are visiting.
- Giving a fearful cat privacy. Do not approach your cat or allow others to approach your cat while in a “safe spot” or in hiding. It’s best to ignore your cat and allow them to interact when they are comfortable.
- Avoid all handling until your cat is ready and approaches you. Never attempt to pick up, grab, or hold your cat when they do not want to interact, as this can lead to fear aggression in defense.
- Give your cat enough time to get used to a new environment and new people.
- When your cat is confined in a room, visit often but allow the cat to approach. Use toys to engage in proactive play or find activities that interest the cat.