My shy cat scoots under the bed when the doorbell rings. How can I teach her to come out from hiding?
• First, understand your cat, gain trust and show her respect. She’s seeing the doorbell as a potential threat, so you need to convince her that not only will you not hurt her, but you also won’t allow others to harm her. Cats are very social animals and only become solitary when they are treated as less than a family member; they distance themselves from others when they do not feel respected. Cats have a level of self-respect comparable to people and feel that they deserve to be treated as equals. Refrain from teasing, tail pulling or staring down your cat, because they consider staring as a threat and will respond in kind and may see any move forward as a reason to attack.
• Don’t chase your cat if she hides. If she feels cornered, you may find yourself at the end of her claws, and your cat will feel less safe, as well.
• Let her hiding spot become her “safe place.” If it’s a room, shut the door so no other pets can get in. You might also put her water and food dish nearby.
• Place some toys around the area of your cat’s hiding spot. Don’t expect her to play with you in the area at first. Simply leave the toys out for when she feels like playing.
• Tempt your cat out with a tasty treat. Many cats respond quite favorably to something like tuna fish. Put some tuna out on a plate several feet from the hiding spot as you leave the area. Don’t approach her when you see that she is out enjoying the treat. Instead, get into the routine of dropping off the treat when you leave your cat’s area. Eventually, you can introduce the treat while staying next to the plate. When she is confident that there is no danger, she will come to get the treat with you there.