We adopted a 3-year-old cute tabby cat from a local shelter 3 days ago. The shelter found her and some of her friends around a park. We don't know if she had any owner before, but she is litter trained. She is also neutered.

The problem is that when we try to approach her gently, she runs away and finds hiding spot. If she is cornered when we are approaching her, she starts hissing. During the day she looks relaxed but we can not really interact with her.

She seems very fearful and some time might make her a bit more relaxed, but she is not even reacting to food. We put out some for her which she eats during the night. Although she ate the premium alu-packaged stuff before our eyes.

For the time being, she is only allowed to be in our living room. although she stays only in one corner and the shelves next to it.

Do you guys have any suggestion, that we can do in order to fasten the relaxation of this poor girl? Or how much should we wait until we can pet her?

2 Answers 2


TLDR version: Let her set the pace, practice patience.

Long(er) version:

Depending on whether she's a stray or semi-feral will heavily influence how long this takes. With a stray expect 1-3 months of patience to be required, with a semi-feral it can take 1-6 months (or more with especially fearful cats).

Now for how to proceed: First and foremost let her set the pace for things, do not corner her, and if she shows signs of fear: back off. As long as she eats and drinks, then things are moving in the right direction.

Starting off you might want to make sure you don't startle her, don't approach her suddenly without warning, but make sure you interact to some degree. To start with, talk with her, blink slowly at her. Then as she becomes more relaxed, push her a little bit about getting a tiny bit closer than the previous day, but not to the point that she shows sign of fear or hostility, and never corner her.

Eventually she'll become more and more relaxed, and at some point you'll be able to offer her your hand to smell (keep the hand near the ground, and try not to hover over her). Don't immediately go for a scratch, but make the hand offering a regular thing for a while before trying to give her a short scratch.

This might take a long time, so just be patient.

My story: I am currently socializing a 20 months old colony cat that I adopted 2 months ago. It's been slow going, the first month he spent in a large cage, getting used to my other cat and I being around. For the last month he's had access to the entire apartment. In the beginning he was so afraid that he'd hide in his cat carrier for the entire day, and only come out to eat and drink at night. Slowly he'd start to spend a few minutes sitting on top of the carrier, watching us, then trying to interact with my other cat.

When he was let out he'd hide whenever I so much as moved, but now he only runs if I start walking in his direction. He's even gone so far as to walk on top of the bed covers when I'm going to sleep, to interact with my other cats who he has come to absolutely adore. I've gotten to the point that he will smell my hand without running away, but he's not quite ready to let me touch him, and any touch will lead him to run away.


I think you should give the cat a minimum of two weeks to start to trust you before you start to gently force the cat out of hiding. Do not use treats to get the cat out of hiding, but you can give treats after she has come out.

My thinking behind this is, if you use treats to get the cat out, the cat will learn that if I hide I will get treats, so you will have to think about what type of behaviour you are rewarding.

If you have to force the cat out of hiding, you start holding the cat for a very short time before letting her go. This is to show her what you want and that you are not going to harm her(be careful--she has claws and teeth).

Maybe get a tetanus shot just in case the cat gets too scared :)

After you have repeated bringing the cat out of hiding and holding her for a longer time each time, the cat will get more used to handling and hopefully come out on her own.

A lot depends on the cat. It might be a stray or a feral, and it might have had bad experiences with people, so you have to be patient. You and the cat will succeed in being friends.

Feeding a stray or feral cat can be a challenge, as they often eat as long as there is food available, so they will get fat if you do not limit the food.

You will need to have a cat tree or a possibility for the cat to rest or view the area from an elevated place, and it is best if this is away from doors and from where you need to walk.

I have had a feral cat, and he was about ten years old when I got him, and it took several weeks before he came out of hiding. But I used the method I mention, and it does work. It only takes time.

Litter training a cat is not a thing one needs to do; I took the feral cat and put him om the litterbox two times and from there he got it with no problems.

The first time I lifted him up on my lap he got so scared that he did pee on me, but the next day he just jumped down and from the day after everything was fine; he became the tamest cat I have ever had.

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