Understanding my cat's delayed skittishness

Juniper_Junebug

TCS Member
Thread starter
Alpha Cat
Joined
Oct 21, 2020
Messages
304
Purraise
545
When my brother came over yesterday, Juno did her usual and hid under the couch in "her" room for the first 15 minutes. But she got her courage as soon as she heard me opening the Tupperware container where I keep the cooked chicken. She was skeptical of our visitor, and vacillated between hiding behind me and carefully sniffing his hand, but generally acting more and more curious. She eventually started pawing at him, but it looked distinctly like play to me, with no hissing, ears back, etc. All seemed good, seemed very promising.

I slept on the couch in "her" room and let my brother have my cat-free bedroom. And when my brother emerged in the morning, Juno ran under the couch and hid there all morning. Couldn't coax her out even with bacon.

I'm curious for people's thoughts about why she seemingly turned so skittish overnight. I have only seen her hide under the couch for that long once before, and it was when I had a handyman making a ton of noise. And even then, she eventually came out to explore because her curiosity got the best of her. Today she stayed under the couch until we had left. This was her first overnight guest, and this is my first cat, so I just don't know what to expect. I know every cat is different, but Juno didn't hide under the couch even on her first night at home; she boldly walked up to me and into my arms. Just trying to understand her better so I can plan for next time, and especially for times when I need a housesitter when I'm away.
 

Kat0121

Advisor
Staff Member
Advisor
Joined
Feb 23, 2014
Messages
13,173
Purraise
14,801
Location
Sunny Florida
It's normal for cats to act that way around people they don't know. The more time he spends at your place, the better it will be. Have him engage in hands free pay with her. Wand toys like Da Bird are great for that. Most cats can't resist them. When she approaches him on her own, have him praise her and give her a yummy treat. She will associate him with good things and will warm up to him. He can also talk to her. He can tell her that he wants to be her friend and he enjoys spending time with her. Cats are very intelligent and I firmly believe that they understand far more than what a lot of people believe. He's go to be patient though. She's in charge of the relationship. If he relaxes around her, chats with her, plays with her and gives her treats from time to time, they will be pals before you know it.
 

Maurey

Maine Coon Madness
Super Cat
Joined
Jan 21, 2021
Messages
729
Purraise
819
Jum is very skittish around strangers. I find letting her go at her own pace, having guests spray down their pants with Beaphar calming spray, treats, and her fave toy are all helpful tools in getting her more comfy around unfamiliar people. Some cats will never like people outside your immediate household, though, and that’s okay too. Having hidey holes and vantage points in the living room or wherever you entertain guests also goes a long way in making kitty comfy, as they can stay mostly out of the way while still scoping out this new person.
 

ArtNJ

TCS Member
Top Cat
Joined
Jun 1, 2017
Messages
3,782
Purraise
4,281
It can vary over a single cats life based on age and how many friendly visitors your getting. When my daughter had cat-loving friends over a lot when she was younger, we had cats that liked strangers, but without frequent visitors it doesn't seem super common for cats to like visitors.
 

FeebysOwner

TCS Member
Top Cat
Joined
Jun 13, 2018
Messages
13,273
Purraise
17,669
Location
Central FL (Born in OH)
My only comment would be to suggest that she was surprised by the fact that he WAS STILL there the next morning, so the skittishness returned because she didn't expect it (or, much like it!). She was probably hoping by that time he was long gone!!

Any time in the future when you know you will need a sitter, it would be best to have that person come over multiple times - enough to get her used to that individual hanging around the house. If your intended sitter is a friend or family member, perhaps they can start now hanging around your house so by the time you do need to go somewhere Juno will have already accepted them.
 
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #6

Juniper_Junebug

TCS Member
Thread starter
Alpha Cat
Joined
Oct 21, 2020
Messages
304
Purraise
545
My only comment would be to suggest that she was surprised by the fact that he WAS STILL there the next morning, so the skittishness returned because she didn't expect it (or, much like it!). She was probably hoping by that time he was long gone!!

Any time in the future when you know you will need a sitter, it would be best to have that person come over multiple times - enough to get her used to that individual hanging around the house. If your intended sitter is a friend or family member, perhaps they can start now hanging around your house so by the time you do need to go somewhere Juno will have already accepted them.
You might be right. I thought it should be obvious he was still there in the morning, but then again, she's just a cat (and not brightest, at that). I wonder if she was worried he was here to stay. From reading this site, I know cats have a wide range of reactions to strangers. I just thought it was strange for her reaction to get worse over time.
 
Top