Cats can become skittish after a bad experience or due to having little experience with humans. Cats not properly socialized as kittens may develop shyness or skittishness around unknown visitors or people in general. Some cats have shy personalities that contribute to their skittish natures. Sudden skittishness sometimes indicates a medical problem that requires veterinary evaluation.
Skittish cats find anything new or different to be threatening and hide to make themselves feel safer. Although some cats have shy personalities, skittishness can decrease a cat's quality of life. Pet owners can help cats socialize with new people to help them become more comfortable. Some strategies for socializing an older cat include asking guests to allow the cat to approach them, allowing guests to offer treats or toys to the cat, and closing doors so that the cat cannot hide during guests' visits. For severe cases of skittishness, anti-anxiety medication may be available from the cat's veterinarian.
Kittens are easier to socialize. Exposing them to new people on a regular basis alone can prevent skittishness from developing. Kittens should be praised and given attention when they approach new people. Providing both kittens and cats with perches around the house also helps promote their security and comfort with people.