How to bring out the sparkle in an introverted cat

Amberly the cat is introverted, which can make finding an adopter more difficult, but socialization via play is helping. Read more shy cat tips.
By Christelle L. Del Prete

When Amberly lost her home and ended up in a shelter, she became one of the thousands of cats across the country to enter shelters, where they wait for someone to give them a second look and a chance to show their true colors. Her chances of finding a home at the small rural shelter that took her in were slim.

Fortunately for Amberly and cats like her, Best Friends is working to end the killing in America’s shelters by 2025 and, ultimately, to Save Them All. And because the shelter didn’t have the resources to find Amberly a home, she was brought to the Sanctuary where she could get help.

Adopting a shy cat

At nearly nine years old, Amberly is healthy and has no special needs. But, because she happened to be shy, her biggest challenge was getting potential adopters to notice her. That’s because, unless someone goes into a shelter specifically thinking about adopting a shy cat, lots of outgoing cats grab the attention because they are usually front and center.

Once she’s comfortable, Amberly is sweet and likes affection, but she’s quiet and won’t demand it. In fact, she’s so reserved that she seems aloof, and her timid cat behavior made her fade into the background and she was easily overlooked.

Besides her quiet personality, Amberly doesn’t have a flashy coat, white feet or any other markings that easily distinguish her from other tabby cats. She simply blends in, unless you look closely and see the tiny ear-tip on her right ear. That means that at some point in her life, she was living outdoors and was ear-tipped to indicate that she’d been spayed.

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Changing timid cat behavior

When she first came to the Sanctuary, Amberly liked to hang out in the rafters at Cat World, watching the proceedings from above, but not participating. Since then, she’s warmed up, climbed down and ventured closer to the action. Still, she tends to shy away from any kind of commotion and she’s not comfortable being the center of attention. She’s happy to leave that to the more extroverted cats sharing the room with her.

The face of Amberly, an introverted brown tabby cat

That’s OK, because at Best Friends it’s all about discovering what makes each animal an individual. Amberly’s caregivers took note that she preferred to be a wallflower, but they also remember the day when it all changed.

While it’s true that no one at first glance would crown Amberly as Miss Congeniality, it’s during her playtime that she really comes alive and shows her inner sparkle. It just took some time for this shy girl to feel comfortable enough to let loose and to step in the spotlight — even for just a few minutes.

Shy cat tips

Because one good way to draw out a shy cat is through play, Cat World has a large selection of catnip toys, feather toys and wand toys. Amberly loves these playthings, and once she becomes interested in one of them, she suddenly becomes as animated as a kitten.

When someone waves a string or feather wand toy anywhere near her, it’s as if she’s waking up from a daydream. Her greenish-gold eyes fix on the toy and in seconds she’s streaking around the room after it. Though she can be extremely gentle, reaching out with one paw to delicately bat at a feather toy or licking a catnip toy, she is also surprisingly quick and spirited.

When she's caught up in the moment, Amberly the brown tabby cat, forgets she's shy

When she’s caught up in the moment, the best thing is that Amberly completely forgets to be a wallflower. People can finally catch a glimpse of the fun, free-spirited personality hidden behind the quiet and shy personality. These are the moments (when Amberly is truly herself) that she has the best chance of catching someone’s eye and finding her perfect home.

It just goes to show that socializing an introverted cat can lead to a lifesaving transformation.

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Photos by Molly Wald