Running a rehoming centre such as ours, we get all sorts of personalities of cats. Some are rampant extroverts. Others are naturally reserved or shy. Yet more have had some trauma and their personalities have become withdrawn as a result - these are often the most rewarding cats for us - as once they start to feel more settled, their confidence increases and their personalities start to show.
Take our lovely Betty Fluff. We know nothing of her background. She turned up in the grounds of a sheltered housing complex where pets were not allowed. She was in a bad way with tangles and knots in her lovely fur, and she was starving hungry,
She was taken to a local vets who de-matted her and kindly cleaned her teeth. And then she came to our centre.
On arrival she was very depressed, hissed if anyone went near her and would never eat in the presence of people. Gradually, as she realised that she was safe, she began to relax. She is now able to respond well to strokes and grooming. She will eat and wash herself whilst people are in her pen, and whilst she is still not comfortable being picked up, we think this is just a matter of time. We are really looking forward to the day we rehome her - and we'll ask her new owners to send us photos. We bet the first one will be of her curled up and happy on the bed or in front of the fire.
Another cat who came into our care recently was Lulu. She had been placed in a commercial cattery by Social Services, after her previous owner died or went into residential care. She had been virtually ignored there for about six months - she'd been fed and cleaned out, but very little interaction. She became totally depressed, spent all day hidden under her blanket and did not respond to anyone.
She came to the attention of one of our supporters who spent some time with her and saw her start to respond. With the permission of the cattery and the SS she came to our centre where she reverted to her former shy self. We gave her a few days to settle then gradually encouraged her to come out from under her blanket, and she began to respond to our attention.
To our delight, she was spotted on our website and a lovely new owner came and offered her a home at the weekend. He knows she will be very unsettled at first, but he is prepared to give her the time and patience she requires. We are sure that before too long we will be getting reports about how well she is settled.
The moral of this story is that even the shyest, most afraid cats have a good hope of becoming settled and ready to be petted and handled. If you come across such a shy cat, ask yourself why, and see if there is something that can be done to improve his or her confidence and life.