I just got a new cat from the shelter a few days ago and she is acting really shy. I don't understand it because she seemed very friendly in the shelter; reaching out to us, purring, rubbing on our ankles, but now that she's home with us, all she does is hide. Are we doing something wrong? Was she just desperate at the shelter and not really friendly? Maybe she doesn't like us after all? I'd hate to return her but we really wanted a confident, friendly cat, and that's what we thought we were getting.
Dear New Cat,
Thank you for adopting from the shelter! It is not uncommon at all for cats to take longer than dogs to settle into a new home. First of all cats HATE change; it really upsets them and makes them feel insecure. They like predictable environments when things happen at the same time every day.
Be patient and give kitty some time to settle in. We go by the 3/3/3 rule - see below:
I think she will be just fine if you give her some time to get used to her new surroundings. If she was confident and friendly in the shelter, she will very likely be that way in your home soon. There may be things in your home that are scaring her so be sure to do introductions to any other animals carefully and keep noises low, etc. You might want to listen to this podcast on ways to reduce stress for your cat: https://www.catbehaviorsolutions.org/podcast/episode/46303458/what-stresses-out-your-cat