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Similar questions have been asked, but I've not seen one that matches the situation described below.

I have 3 cats. One is 5 years old and has been with us most of that time, one is 2 years old and we've had her since she was a tiny kitten and the third is around 16 months old and we've had her around a year.

We have never had any issues with the older 2 cats and socializing, but the third cat is proving to be extremely challenging in this regard.

From the day we got her she was focused 100% on hiding (not uncommon for cats in my experience) however a year or so later and she still hides all the time.

We have noticed she will quite happily come out when we are asleep or out of the house (we have a camera set up) and she is perfectly happy with the other 2 cats, (they will curl up together, etc.)

We started by trying the "let her have her space" tactic; however, this caused issues when she stayed under a chair for over a week, only coming out when she was really hungry or thirsty.

We then tried blocking all of the "Hidey holes" except for a couple (such as a "cat cave" from a cat tree) to try to bring her out of the shell; however, she would just do the same and stay in constantly.

We have got to the point now where occasionally we can coax her out from a hiding spot onto the top of a bed or sofa; however, she shows fear and submission when we approach her. We occasionally try to start fussing her once she has relaxed a little (she will stay on the sofa if I sit on it as well but it takes over 30 minutes for her to stop showing fear).

Once we start fussing she becomes a different cat and will roll onto her belly, slow blink, purr like mad, lick our hands and rub her head against us.

We have tried suggestions from the vets such as Feliway, different approaches, removal from the other cats, we have watched a myriad of youtube videos on this, with no success.

Essentially my question is: how can we get the cat to start to come out of her shell a bit more (we aren't expecting miracles, some cats are naturally more scaredy-cat like), so that we can interact with her more?

Note - we contacted the previous owner who said that she had been the "runt" of the litter and essentially rejected by her siblings and mother (there were a lot of them when we picked her up), so there may be a great hangover from her kitten hood.

Note 2 - even if this doesn't improve its not the end of the world, she is still a special cat who is a part of our family and if that's how she feels comfortable that's fine, it would just be nice for us as owners

Thanks in advance.

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    Welcome to pets.SE :) How was the "removal from other cats" working? – Allerleirauh Oct 12 '20 at 13:32
  • It wasnt effective, we hoped that she would come out a bit more, but we didnt see any appreciable difference in behaviour over the 3 (ish) weeks. we stopped it as we know from the cameras she plays with the other 2 happily and thought it may actually be making her socialization worse. – Steven Wood Oct 12 '20 at 14:14
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    What is fussing? Did you try some aggressive methods like make the cat play with laser pointer? Alternatively, did you make her listen to crying kitten sounds? Female cats usually respond to the cry of the kittens. As an even harsher method, you can try to make her listen to fighting males. When cats are too scared, they might take refuge with humans. – C.Koca Oct 12 '20 at 15:30
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    It sounds like she’s specifically scared of humans. Is your home noisy during the day? Small kids that may be scaring her by accident? – StephenS Oct 12 '20 at 15:34
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    Do you offer your cats high vantage points like "cat shelves" or walkways as in this question? There are more examples on this external site. – Elmy Oct 12 '20 at 19:45
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How is it going? I know you will dislike me for saying this, but it really should be more about what the cat wants whats best for your cat and not what you and your family want. Your preconceived judgments and forceful interaction blocking her secret run to spots most likely was not helping. Cats cannot be forced or coerced into doing anything. Gently, patiently, provide more kitty litter trays, probiotic, perhaps, kitten vitamins, air purifier (negative energy may not be helping), relaxing music like the Hawaiian Prayer and possibly a very calming environment are all very important. Her personality might be very shy, uncertain, distrustful and lacking self confidence.

How can you build her up? By building her self confidence. Talk to her, tell her she is very smart, intelligent and speak in soft voice not very loud, your movements if they are slow and quiet will reassure her that she is safe. Diet is also very important. Tinned or package foods? Try boiling up range free chicken, mix in peas and a little coconut oil. Maybe she has worms, parasites, irritable bowel infection? How do you know if she is not in pain? Is she drinking enough water? What kind of water? Are stroking her and brushing her daily? God bless and Godspeed to you and your cat/s.

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