Why is My Cat Afraid of Me?

August 2019

Audience: Foster Caregivers, Public, Shelter/Rescue Staff & Volunteers

A newly adopted or fostered cat, or even a cat that has been in the home for a while, can be scared of you for various reasons. In order to improve their welfare, we need to ensure that your cat is comfortable, and you are safe when interacting with them. Fear can lead to flight, freeze or even fight. Fear aggression is common when the fearful cat cannot escape or does not have a safe place to hide.

Here are some helpful tips to ease the discomfort that your cat is feeling now:

  • Make your cat feel safe.
  • Provide a safe, quiet spot for your new pal to relax and observe the environment without having to interact with other people or animals in the home.
  • Give your cat hiding places. Fearful cats like to hide usually either up high or in a dark, quiet space. Reducing stress allows recovery from fear and anxiety.
  • Never force any interactions with your cat; let your cat explore the environment and approach you.
  • Give your cat plenty of time to adjust. If you feel at any time your cat's fearful behavior is not improving or even worsening, seek professional help immediately.

This document created by the San Francisco SPCA with a grant from Maddie's Fund®.

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