Understanding Your New Kitten: Why Is My Cat So Skittish?
You may have your new kitten set up like a king or queen, and you may be sitting up waiting for them to come check it all out — with their yummy new treats on hand and your cute and instagram-worthy cat socks on foot. But your cat needs time to adjust to their new home (which likely means smelling EVERYTHING thoroughly first at least) and build up a little more trust with you.
While it’s normal for your cat to be skittish at first, though, it shouldn’t go ignored! From toys to treats there are plenty of tactics to use to get your kitten comfortable, but the first one to try is aiming to understand if there’s anything in particular that’s amplifying their anxiety!
Why is Your Cat So Skittish?
Along with being a normal and very natural reaction, things that could be amplifying your kitty’s anxiety and causing them to be extra skittish could include:
- A new home. If they are just coming home for the first time, this is likely the culprit. It takes time to get used to a new environment! Along with everyone likely being enthralled with kitty and wanting to show it some love, any new space is sure to leave them skittish until it’s proven safe and sound. On that note…
- An uncertain sound. Even the most subtle sound can get your cat’s attention and possibly freak them out. Listen hard — if you can identify and eliminate any odd noises, it may be a good idea! If these sounds are permanent or unavoidable like your family’s voices, your roommate’s footsteps, the hum of the light or the TV, for example, they are also likely repetitive and something that your cat will quickly get used to!
- A suspicious scent. When you first bring your kitty home, there will be new scents for them to identify and get used to, including your own. This is their strongest and most important sense, so give them some time to get used to all the smells in their new home, as well as spread their own. Leaving a shirt or sweater that you’ve worn overnight in their space for them to not only get used to your scent, but get them cozying up in it and associating it with comfort, is always recommended!
- More movement than they’re used to. If you live in an active household where people are constantly moving or have your kitty stationed in a high-traffic area of the home, it may be feeling overwhelmed, unsafe or anxious. Similarly, if you’re trying to play with your cat to pull it out of hiding, it’s possible that you could be making too many sharp movements and scaring it! Anything can spook your kitty and keep them on high alert, so try to get the household to remain as calm as possible to see if it helps!
- Their history. Always consider that your cat may have a history of neglect, abuse or a home that they were used to and have been separated from. Along with this, previous negative associations could have been made with ANYTHING potentially, so stay patient and observant!
- Feeling unwell. There’s always the possibility that your cat may not be feeling well. Moving from one place to another is stressful, even for animals, so don’t push them too hard! Along with this, your kitty likely isn’t one to show vulnerability — so if they’re feeling overwhelmed or unwell, they may feel the need to hide until they’re more comfortable with you.
How to Help Your Skitty Kitty
You may be excited to have a new kitty in your home and desperately want to help them get excited too, but it’s a good idea to start off slow! Consider focusing your efforts in on their:
- Routine. It’s important to create a routine with your kitty! Set aside some time each day to change their litter, groom them, play with them and feed them — and try to make it all happen at the SAME time every day. If your kitten knows what to expect from day to day, it will help them to get more comfortable!
- Treats. Treats are a great way to gain your cat’s trust, encourage good behavior and help them to realize that they’re in a safe space where they don’t need to compete for or worry about resources. Along with this, hand feeding your cat their favorite treats is a great way to build your trust and strengthen your bond!
- Toys. Cats have a cold reputation of being fierce and independent, but no kitty can resist a good play session! Get your hands on some interactive cat toys for your new kitty and spend time playing each and every day. Strengthening your bond through play is highly encouraged, is fun for your cat, makes them feel like they’re in charge and can be entertaining to no end for everyone!
- Patience. Patience is the most important thing that you can provide for your cat. Know that you can’t force a cat to do anything — cats are independent and will spend their time how they please, not how you please. That being said, with the proper motivation (like a treat in your hand, for instance) and a bit of patience, it’s possible to endure their apparent disinterest or excessive caution and build a bit more trust.
From Skittish to Sweet
As a pet owner, extending your time and effort to this little creature should come naturally to you — that being said, surrendering to its instincts and getting skittish is natural for your new kitten! Putting a little time and effort into the relationship and staying as patient as possible will have your kitty comfortable in no time, though — because that’s natural, too!