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Is the Cat Ill or Just a Little Shy?

4 Apr 2017.

We love all cats for their air of mystery, but if you’re caring for a cat who seems to vanish into thin air, then your new furry friend is either a bit shy or unwell. And as kitties are the masters of disguise it can be very tricky to tell the difference between a shy cat and an ill cat.

Here are some tips on how to find out if the cat in your care is just shy or ill.

  1. Make sure you find out the cat’s routines and ALL their hiding places in your meet and greet with the owner. The first pet visit will be vital for learning all kitty’s tricks!
  2. During that first visit, see if the cat will sniff your hand. But of course, remember your cat-iquette, and wait for him to make the first move. Here are some useful tips on approaching anxious cats.
  3. At the beginning of each visit, walk slowly and calmly through the house. When you’ve fed the cat and cleared the litter box, you can sit down with a book for the remainder of your thirty-minute visit. Always pick the same spot – creating a sense of routine, and one that is ideally in eyesight of the cat. Timid Mog will get to know you in his own time.
  4. Talking to the cat will help him recognise your voice. Over the duration of the booking, the kitty will get used to your visits. You don’t need to be overly hushed, as that can create a sense of tension. Stay relaxed.
  5. If the owner allows, bring along a treat or two.
  6. The owner might also like to consider using a spray like Feliway. It’s a scentless odour that is recommended by many vets as it safely reduces stress, making kitty feel calm.

But do be vigilant! When cats feel poorly, they can behave like shy cats; wanting to retreat to quiet spots, be on their own and sleep a lot. And if you’re sitting an already quiet cat, distinguishing between the two can be tricky. So, check the basic signs.

  • Change in Personality: Has the cat changed into a more timid character suddenly. Do they sleep the whole day appearing to ignore you or staying in its hiding place when you visit?
  • Eating Behaviour: Check the daily food rations, has the cat suddenly stopped eating or drinking? Is it still using the toilet daily?
  • Grooming: Healthy cats groom their fur daily. When a cat is ill it tends to neglect their routine and their fur turns dull, matted and tangled.
  • Vomit and Smell: Vomiting once or twice a week is nothing to worry about in a cat that’s active, responsive, behaving normally and eating well. But if you think the cat is vomiting more than usual or has started to develop a smell it did not have before, these symptoms could mean the cat is unwell. Read more here.

If you detect any slight change in behaviour, contact the owner straightaway. It’s always best to double check.

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