I often hear people say that cats are independent they don't need a lot of attention.I have to disagree. As a cat sitter, I've met shy cats and I've met not so shy cats. For instance, one kitty I sit for named Oscar is always right there waiting to be picked up as soon as I enter the door. He starts purring right away and will even wrap his paws around my neck and hug and snuggle into my neck, if you can believe it.
Of course, not all cats are like Oscar. I often sit for cats who are shy and unsure of me. These little ones need to be treated with patience and respect. If a cat is timid, they need time and space to come to you and it's important to never force the relationship.
The shy cats that I sit for do eventually peer around a corner to see who the stranger is filling their food bowl. Some keep their distance for awhile others will approach sooner. When this happens I slowly kneel down and put my hand out for them to sniff. When they realize there is no threat, they will run their head along my hand as a signal to say I trust you now.
Learning to read a cat's body language is important and they can be much harder to read than dogs. Here are some signals to watch for and what they mean:
Tail twitching: when you are petting a cat they can purr and seem content, but may sometimes suddenly begin twitching their tails. to twitch. This usually means they are irritated and have had enough. If you don't stop, they may bite or swat at you.
Tail straight up and slightly curled: This means they are friendly. If the tail is a little full at the end then they are happy to see you!
Tail horizontal to their body when standing: They are interested in getting to know you or their surroundings.
Back arched, tail puffed up: Most people know this stance from the Halloween cat. This means the cat is angry, don't approach.
Tail slightly rounded at the base and hangs straight down: This is a cat that is worried
Ears upright: This is an angry kitty. Just leave them be.
Ears facing downwards: This means the cat is showing aggression. Steer clear!
Ears facing upwards and relaxed: This means they are a very content kitty.
Laying on their back, belly up (my personal favourite): this doesn't necessarily mean they want their tummy rubbed, but it definitely means they trust you!
Learning to watch your cat and understand the subtle differences in their behaviour will help avoid stress for both you and your fur baby and lead to a happier relationship.