The Shy & Timid

The Shy & Timid Sponsor Group

Katie’s Place gives priority to last-chance cases that have no other options left. Some only need time and care to recover from the traumas they’ve suffered. Others can’t escape the disadvantages that brought them to us.

Some cats are loving little souls who happen to be timid. This is Catch-22 for them. They show us their loving natures when we’re alone with them and the shelter is quiet. Yet when adopters come, they shrink from the strangers and only want to hide. We humans ask more of animals than we’d ask of ourselves. They have no control over where they live or what happens to them. They must adjust to shelter life whether they like it or not. During open hours, we want them to be calm and friendly as strangers handle them. Understandably, few adopters are willing to take the leap of faith that a timid cat will become affectionate in a real home. We can’t make any promises. We can only hope that someone will watch the videos we make when they relax in our company, or give them enough time to relax with a visitor. However, years have passed without inquiries about bashful Adam, apprehensive Salsa or fearful Amy. Dancer batted our hands playfully in her video, yet she recoils in alarm when hands are thrust at her too quickly. Barry loves attention but is too meek to ask for it. Scotlyn responds to people she knows. Likely abused in her past, she needs time and the right approach, but she does respond. These timid souls live quietly in the background, waiting for the rare person who wants to give them a chance.

Tabby Amy tries to be invisible. She rarely leaves her chosen nest.
Ben (left), Barry (middle), and Len (right) were all timid. Ben and Len found a home together. Barry has made new friends.
Black and white Dancer needs a bit of time to warm up but she’s very loving.

Salsa and Adam have been best friends for years. Salsa is more timid than Adam.
Scotlyn struggles with her fears when she gets attention.

July 16/10
Amy was sleeping in a more conspicuous nest today (maybe all the other nests were occupied). Yet she began purring softly as we approached. We had to wonder if this was indeed Amy or one of the bolder cats. It was Amy all right, and she enjoyed some attention very much even if she did look a bit self-consious. Amy might do very well in the right home!

July 30/10
Erin arrived July 1, and Rockwell arrived July 7. Erin was found when she tried to make a home for her kittens in someone’s shed. Rockwell was hanging around a neighbourhood, and one person even drove him five miles deeper into the country in an effort to get rid of him. But he made his way back to the neighbourhood, the only home he knew. Both were scared of us. We didn’t know if we’d ever be able to pet them. Rockwell accepted our touch meekly, but Erin recoiled from it. Within a week or two Erin had decided we were kind people and suddenly this love-starved cat couldn’t get enough attention. However, once released from her new cat cage, she disappeared into the corners and cubby holes of her communal room. She still loves attention but she doesn’t come and ask for it, you have to find her. She’s affectionate but she’s not bold.

Rockwell doesn’t enjoy pets from us. He’s not feral; he was either hurt enough, or became homeless young enough, that he doesn’t expect contact with humans to be pleasant. He also had to be released from his new cat cage eventually and he’s taken himself off into hiding within his communal room. He could still come around. He just needs time.

Aug 7/10
Rockwell has realized that we like him. Now he enjoys pets.  He still won’t come and ask for attention. But if we find him to give him a fuss, he soaks up the attention hungrily and eagerly. All that this cat got from people was indifference at best and hostility at worst. He had forgotten how it feels to be loved. Now he remembers again. In the photos at right, he’s reaching into a caress.

Erin is like Rockwell in that she loves to get pets but she never asks for attention and nobody ever sees her. We can only hope that adopters watch her videos from which her photos at right were extracted.

Aug 15/10
Some of the volunteers feel bad for Wendy. She’s a quiet little black-and-white cat who was trapped when living with a feral colony although she herself was not feral. She was bashful but soon showed us her loving nature. However, she’s another cat who doesn’t approach visitors, so she get overlooked. The reticent cats have a handicap when it comes to winning a new home. They’re doubly cursed if they also look ordinary. Now the volunteers think Wendy has become a bit depressed. She let her fur become matted until one volunteer gave her a thorough brushing. There’s no reason for this young, shorthaired cat to have matted fur other than depression. With 120 cats (and we have to turn more away every day), we just can’t give them all the kind of attention they crave.

Aug 18/10
Vader, a plain, black youngster found a home last weekend. He had arrived as a scared semi-feral kitten. He went to the Alouette Correctional Centre for Women where volunteers in the facility socialize our shy youngsters and make them adoptable. As is often the way, he captured the heart of one of the people who got to know him during his socialization, and he went home with them.

Aug 24/10
This has been a banner week for our shy guys. Two very shy cats who’ve both been with us for a very long time seem to have decided that it’s time they made friends with us. They had been so shy that we never even listed them for adoption before. Well, now we have. Amy has been with us since 2006 and Scotlyn has been with us since 2008. All this time we basically left them alone except for the excruciating occasions when we had to capture them for veterinary care. Just look as what we posted on their Petfinder pages to see how dramatically these cats have changed. Click here to see Scotlyn. We have to credit the persistence of volunteers who never gave up on these little souls and kept talking to them and trying to get them to accept touch.

Aug 31/10
It was nice to read one volunteer’s note in the log book this week: “Made wonderful progress with Cameron today! He has been prone to swatting and lashing out at me with claws. Today he watched intently as I gave TLC to Wobbles, Amy and Nora. When I offered him my finger to smell, he gingerly touched it with one paw and then the other. He was tilting his head and calmly blinking at me. Once or twice he got startled and brought out the claws, but when I talked to him softly, he returned to ‘holding hands’ with me.” We may be able to list him for adoption if he accepts our friendship!

Sept 2/10
Got a photo of Cameron reaching back tentatively when a volunteer reached out to him. This boy’s going to be fine!



Sept 15/10
Dancer found a new home this last weekend. (She’s the black and white cat pictured at top right in the group of photos above.) We had a lot of adoptions last weekend, more than usual. Two adoptions were Dancer and her orange tabby friend Rosie. The people actually came to meet Rosie but they were happy to take Dancer too when they learned about how Rosie and Dancer were often seen playing together. We know they won’t be disappointed. Dancer is such a chipper, loving little cat when she gets over the shyness of meeting strangers. Once she settles into her new home, she’ll be a delight to them as much as Rosie.

Sept 29/10
Rosie has come back. It seems there were some litter pan problems. It was probably just part of adjusting to another major upheaval in her life, but it was a bit more than the adopter was able to deal with. So Rosie has returned. She’ll find her forever home. She’s actually a very good girl who just had bad luck with a rough patch in her life. As for Dancer, our timid girl is settling in her new home and if she’s happy there with her own new person, there’s no reason to uproot her again. She might have a harder time than Rosie finding another home since she can be timid when you first meet her.

Sept 29/10
Pauline is a very introverted 14-year-old who lost her home when her elderly person had to move. She’s almost invisible in her communal room since she feels more secure staying out of sight in various nests. Yet if you happen to come across her in one of her hidey holes and you give her a stroke or two, she’ll let you know how very much she hungers for affection. It’s sad because a plain black and white cat who is shy and elderly is very unlikely to be noticed by adopters — yet she wants so badly to share love with someone. We can only hope that her own miracle happens and that someone gives her a chance. The shots from her video (at right) show how eagerly she reaches out for a loving hand.

Oct 9/10
Pauline doesn’t greet us at the door, but if we look through the window to the porch, she’s sitting on a far perch watching the visitor as though willing them to come and see her. Just look at that intense gaze in those round eyes! If you do go out to her, she’s hesitant at first and then relaxes to soak up the attention greedily. The poor old soul is probably too intimidated by the presence of other cats to venture forward. She’s as timid as she is affectionate. All we can do is love her when we’re there and hope that somebody will give her a home.

Oct 25/10
Barry is the last of his family and his peer group to be adopted. He went to a new home this last weekend and he will have a feline pal there. His three brothers and sisters became confident and sociable before he did and were adopted long ago. So he hung around with a couple of other shy guys. They were always together — three amigos — until two of them found a new home together (the amigos are pictured in the center photo at top). So Barry found friends among the other residents of his communal room and could be seen napping with another cat now and then. Now at last his turn has come and he’ll have a family to dote on him who understands his bashful nature, and he’ll have a new bro. We hope they get along well.

Nov 8/10
A week after Barry was adopted, his family sent us this note: “You were very right about Barry being so shy and we’ve noticed such a huge difference (for the positive) in his coming out of his shell. For instance, for the first couple of days, he wouldn’t even look at my son or me when we peeked at him under my son’s bed. My son stayed in his room quite a bit with Barry, doing homework or playing video games or whatever. Just being there, not bothering Barry at all, talking to him every once in a while to let him know that he was ok. It was a remarkable transformation. Within a couple of days, Barry could be coaxed out from under the bed without too much trouble, but still felt comfortable retreating under the bed as he clearly felt that was his safe place. Just over the weekend, he was pretty interested in coming out of the bedroom to explore the rest of the condo. He did so staying close to me the whole while. By Sunday he was checking things out without my needing to be with him, and this morning he came out to give me morning greetings completely unprompted. He’s the sweetest cat ever and we are so glad he’s adjusting so well now. He’s so precious!”

Then, another week later, we received the following update. “My other cat is responding well to Barry now, touching noses on a regular basis. I know that Barry would love to snuggle up with her, however she doesn’t seem to be interested in getting that close to him just yet. She’s no longer growling at him, and she seems genuinely happier and less confused about the loss of her previous companion! We simply can’t thank you enough for allowing Barry in to our lives. He’s almost like a custom-made-to-order cat for us. His personality, demeanour and love of cuddling fit our liking to perfection! There is no way I would ever have guessed him to be any bit feral at all!”

There you go! A scaredy cat just needs a bit of patience, kindness and time!

Nov 17/10
Wendy (mentioned on Aug 15 above) has a new home. She remained a quiet little cat who didn’t approach people but who lit up when she was given attention. Somebody finally noticed her endearing, loving nature and she has a real home at last.

Dec 6/10
The shy guys are often comfortable among other cats though they’re anxious with humans. Cameron still doesn’t want us to touch him but he’s very popular with the other cats, even with cats who like humans too. The videos below show Amy and Cameron expressing their affection for each other in their subtle feline way. She nuzzles him, he licks her.  Please watch their videos below…

Dec 25/10
A year ago, a kind family adopted a pair of semi-feral youngsters who were plain black and were growing out of their cute kittenhood without becoming any more confident with strangers. It was a stroke of luck for the youngsters. We just received a one-year update that made us laugh: “…Kishar is more reserved but is loosening up. She is a great huntress and her favorite ‘mice’ are Q-tips! She steals them by opening the bathroom cabinet herself, lifting them out one at a time and then chasing them all over the house and eventually depositing them in hiding spots. Today I found 12 (!) under a cutlery box on the dining room floor. When we discover one hiding spot she changes to a new one. I laughed so hard today when I found her stash.”

These two have become lovable little characters in their own home, proving yet again that a shy cat can turn out to be a real treasure!

Pictured is the scaredy-cat image these two presented when they came to the shelter from their foster home to meet adopters. How they’ve blossomed since then!

Jan 3/11

One of our timid fur-babies found a home last weekend, the first adoption day of 2011. Alexa had been a semi-feral youngster when she first came to us and she had to learn about living with humans. Eventually she loved getting pets but she would never come and ask for them. She was invisible in her communal room and she needed a quiet, patient family to draw her out. The right home finally came along. These people have adopted timid cats before and know how to handle them.

Jan 19/11
We have another shy guy. Black-and-white, six-month-old Champagne and his brother had grown up without a human home, but they clearly knew people since they didn’t take long to start enjoy pets from us. Champagne’s brother soon found a home. Champagne couldn’t live alone in a new-cat cage forever so we put him in a communal room where he’ll have other young cats to play with. Now we just see a black-and-white streak dive under the chair when we open their door. It seems that he’s reverted to being shy. We’ll work on him. We’ve won over tougher cases than this one!

Jan 22/11
Alexa, who was adopted on Jan 3, is doing very well so far. She had been returned by her first adopters. It was probably not a good match of home and personalities because she never came out of her shell. She remained frightened of everyone, sometimes too frightened to even make the trip downstairs to the litter pan. Whatever the key is, her new home seems to be a better fit. Her person said, “Alexa is coming out of her shell more and more every day and has been a real joy.”
We hope Snuggles has the same good luck as Alexa. He’s a timid cat who is more scared than shy. He was abandoned at a young age and came to us last autumn. He just aches for affection and starts dancing around, kneading the ground, as soon as we come in. But he has to learn to tolerate more than a few seconds of direct contact at a time. He may have been abused in his young life. If you hold your hand out stationary, he’ll pet himself on it. In the video stills at right, he nuzzles the window frame in anticipation of some affection; then he pets himself on the motionless hand; but when the hand moves closer to him, he shrinks back and raises a paw defensively. He’s getting more confident though. (You can see his videos — his urge for affection battling with his fear of contact — on his adoption page. Click where it says “Read More about this Pet” and scroll down to the videos.)

Feb 9/11
Another one of our shy guys has found a new home. Persimmon was living in a warehouse when she was caught and brought to us. She never came asking for attention and she would shrink back at first when we approached her. Then, within seconds, she would relax and give herself up to the pleasure of being petted. Persimmon’s lucky day came last weekend when a cat-experienced lady chose her to take home.

Feb 17/11
Snuggles (mentioned on Jan 22 above) has gained a lot more confidence over time. The videos posted on his adoption page show it. In the first video, he’s very tentative despite his longing for affection. In the next videos, he’s much more relaxed about allowing a hand to move close to him. (Click where it says “Read More about this Pet” and scroll down to the videos.)

Feb 25/11
Champagne (mentioned above on Jan 19) doesn’t dive for cover when we come in anymore. He’s still a bit shy but he melts once he’s in your arms being petted. One volunteer said, “He mews in the cutest little voice for attention. If I scoop him up in a curled cat-ball and hold him to my chest, he purrs and purrs. He’s a darling little guy and he will undoubtedly come around. Georgie is a big black and white cat in the same room who is like a big brother to Champagne. Georgie can often be seen snuggling and grooming Champ. It would be wonderful if these two chums could go together.”

Tortoiseshell Salsa (mentioned and pictured at the top) came to us as a semi-feral youngster. She’s not even listed for adoption because she recoils from strangers. She’s devoted to her best friend, fluffy black Adam, and she gladly accepts attention from volunteers she knows. One volunteer said, “Salsa let me brush her for a long while a couple weeks ago! She’s usually very shy with me, but I moved slowly and talked softly, and she was thrilled to be groomed.”

Blue Point Mirage is another of our timid cats. He lives in a foster home and he’s very affectionate with his foster parents. He likes to be brushed and petted — he leans into the slightest touch. He adores playing chase with toys on a string (which would be a great way for a new famly to bond with him).

Mar 16/11
Tony is a fluffy, gray-and-white boy with a sweet, teddy-bear face, and he’s had a very hard life. He’s only two years old and he has FIV (feline AIDS). People haven’t been kind to him for most of his life. When he first arrived at the shelter, he leaned into caresses while we had him in a new-cat cage. But once he was released into his communal room, he always hid from us (since arriving in mid December last year). However, lately he’s been watching us inquiringly through the porch door. Then he began staying inside when we were there. Then he began nuzzling surfaces as though he wanted attention along with the other cats. Now he’s begun to accept pets from us and enjoy them. He’s learning to trust people again at last, poor little guy!

Mar 23/11
We had a nice update from Persimmon’s new home (mentioned Feb 9 above). Her new mom said, “She has a snuggly igloo house and I’ve set up a blanket under the dining room table where she sits a lot but she is venturing out from there now so all is good. She is sooooooooo loving and cuddly when she is on my lap/chest but still skittish when I enter a room. We have made lots of progress over the six weeks, that’s for sure. She is a lovely kitty and I think she will continue to thrive with her new Mommy!”
Erin (last mentioned Aug 7/10 above) has a new home now. She came a long way with us. Just before she was adopted, she had begun climbing into our arms for a cuddle. (Could anything melt your heart faster!) We hope things go well in her new home and that she and her new family will be happy.

April 2/11
Black, two-year-old Gabriel was trapped homeless. We had him altered, and our vet tended to an infected toe. He huddles in the back corner of his new-cat cage, paralyzed by shyness. We can pet him and he’s utterly meek. He’s just scared. We hope he’ll gain confidence as he settles in, as so many before him have done. Black-and-white Klaire felt timid and unsure when she arrived too. Now she feels comfortable sprawling on her back in the middle of the communal room floor.

April 6/11
Our somber little introvert, Amy, still surprises her best friend among the volunteers (her best feline friends are Cameron and Squeak). Coral (the volunteer) said, “Amy can be especially timid on Open House days. Last Saturday I went to her on the porch and for the first time, I lay down. She got up from her bed and purposefully walked straight over to me and rubbed her cheeks energetically all over my face! She stayed while I sat up and petted her, and she seriously considered climbing into my lap.” Then a day or two later, “I had another breakthrough with Amy. When I went to see her first thing, she was out on the porch curled up in a nest. I went to her and immediately she gave me a near-silent meow and gazed up at me. It was cold and she was all alone out on the porch. I don’t know why I thought it was a good plan, but I bent over and gently scooped her up and held her loosely to my chest. She leaned into me and purred contentedly, kneading her paws slowly. I held her like that and carried her in, and sat on a chair with her on my chest. I had things to do so I wasn’t able to sit with her for a long while. I returned later and scooped her up again. Again, she leaned into me, completely relaxed. I just held her there, in the dark room. I stroked her and gently held her and she melted into me. We stayed like that for a very long time. Later, when another volunteer was with me, Amy still let me pick her up and cuddle her. As we stood talking, Amy just leaned into me and purred away.”

April 22/11
Another shy soul has found a home. Posh came to us in March 2008 and was too shy to list for adoption until this year. She’s still timid but now she enjoys attention from anyone who approaches her gently. It was almost inevitable that a volunteer would fall in love with this bashful baby (we get to know the animals very well). She’ll be going home this weekend, barring unforeseen snags.

April 30/11
Our quiet little brown tabby Amy has passed away (mentioned last on April 6). She was nearly twelve years old. She had been looking good after a persistent cold had finally cleared up. But she was rather frail and she just reached the end of her road in the night. The vet thinks it was her heart. At least she always had her cat friends around her, and she was well loved by the volunteers. She will be missed.

May 2/11
Had to share good news about Posh (mentioned April 22). “When we took her home she was very scared of course. She is slowly coming along nicely and purrs like crazy and arches her back. She even comes out from under the bed while I’m petting her and rolls onto her back so that I can rub her tummy! I have never seen this side of her before and it amazes me. And it’s only been one week too!”

May 18/11
Gabriel (mentioned April 2) is coming out of his shell slowly and surely. He began by leaning into cheek rubs and scritches more and more eagerly each time we visited him. Then yesterday, a volunteer said, “I was spending a few minutes with Cashmere after medicating her. All of a sudden I felt a head butt. It was Gabriel. He’d come to say hello. I think it’s a breakthrough!” So Gabriel is finally willing to leave his safe corner and come to us. Compare his recent photo here with the one from April 2 above. He’s pretty perky now.

May 25/11
Two cats who were shy when they arrived found new homes last weekend: Klaire (mentioned April 2 above), and brown tabby Karla. Both had come out of their shells and become very loving with us. It seems they managed to charm adopters and now they’re making a new start with families who are committed to giving them the time they need to trust and bond with them.

May 30/11
Georgie and Champagne (mentioned Feb 25) were adopted. These two pals went home together and we hope it works out for them. They didn’t rush up to visitors but if we went and gave them pets, they soaked it up delightedly. In a real home, they should blossom even more.

June 5/11
Karla has been returned. It seems that she wasn’t outgoing enough to be the pal their other cat needed. She’s such a sweet girl but she’s not really the kind of cat to be a playmate. She’s too mellow, too demure. Her turn will come though. Instead, the family chose Hobart, a lively, silly, bouncy, one-yr-old tabby. We’ll find a better match for our Karla.

June 12/11
Tuxedo Cameron and tortoiseshell Squeak (mentioned April 6) remain close after losing their friend Amy. Cameron has shown progress in accepting human friendship. A volunteer spends time with him and said, “he leaned his back into my pets and allowed me to stroke him all the way down to his tail. He stretched out his front legs and flopped onto his side, kneading his paws and purring as I petted him. He got a little spooked after a few minutes, but I was pleased that he enjoyed the attention. I was also able to pet Squeak for a while and I quit before she got spooked.”

August 7/11

Sunday was returned after several years in a foster home.  Losing everything familiar to them and adjusting to shelter life seems to be especially hard on the shy and timid cats.  Volunteers worked hard to help Sunday understand she is safe.  She leaned in tentatively for cheek scritches.  Even when her new cat cage was open and she was free to explore her new communal room, it took weeks for poor Sunday to finally venture out.  We caught her sunning herself on a cozy shelf today and she did accept some pats before scooting away when the photographer’s back was turned.  Hopefully there is a kind, understanding home out there for this pretty girl. 

Dec 29/11

We have been working on a feral colony and have received several cats in need of relocation.  Determining if a cat is truly feral or only scared or shy can be very challenging.  Volunteers loathe making the wrong decision.  Sentencing a truly wild animal to shelter life amongst humans that they are terrified of doesn’t seem like much of a life.  Sending a former-house cat to a barn when all they may need is some time to remember that humans aren’t so bad is equally troubling.  This feral colony has brought us kittens young enough to be tamed and truly feral adults.  We also received some older youngsters who certainly seemed feral when they first arrived, however, experience caused us to believe they may just need some time.  Petite, pretty Marlena was amongst them.  Originally she scattered whenever we entered her communal room, however, over several weeks, we noticed her becoming more curious of us.  Volunteers patiently attempted pets and eventually, Marlena responded.   She now errupts into purrs and is a First Class Drooler!  A little more time and Marlena will be ready for a family of her own.

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