How to promote your timid cat to adopters

When promoting your feral cat for adoption, focus on their positives

I’m ready too!

If you’re not adopting your feral cat scaredy cat yourself, you’ll need to match them with a suitable adopter.

These days, most rescued animals are promoted online. So you’ll need a good profile and nice pics.

You can also put fliers up in your local area.

On this page

But they’re timid with strangers!

You may be concerned that many people will be put off by their timidity. And it’s true – many will. Adopting an ‘ex feral cat’ isn’t trendy. Yet. We hope to change that!

But you know that they’re pretty much a ‘normal cat’ once they know people. Their heart is just as big, and beautiful, as a cat who grew up with humans. They have just the same capacity to give and receive companionship and unconditional love, to the right person.

They will most likely, however, be happiest in a quiet, stable home.

Timid cats generally prefer quiet, stable homes

^ Top

Will they ever get adopted?

They will very likely take longer to be adopted than an ‘instant cat’. But there absolutely *will* be a human who knows they’re the right cat for them, perhaps because they’re very shy themselves. Or maybe because, just like your scaredy cat, they’ve needed a lot of courage to overcome challenges and disadvantage and so have something in common.

We’ve even met people who were willing to adopt a cat who couldn’t be touched (well, one couple anyway). Sure, they’re rare, but there are people who will put an animal’s needs ahead of their own.

^ Top

How to write a scaredy cat profile

Before you mention their shyness, highlight their good points – the quirky things they do, how they get on beautifully with other cats or with dogs, that they have perfect toileting habits, that cute thing they do when they sleep, their funny miaow.

Leave the ‘she’s really timid and she’ll hide under the bed for two weeks and she’ll be really stressed and do you really want to adopt her when you could have an outgoing cat’ bit for later. Or not at all.

Emphasise their features, not their flaws

Here are some ways of making their flaws into features, or at least putting them in a more positive light.

Written as a flaw
Written as a feature
She doesn’t like being picked up She likes to keep all four paws on the ground
He’s scared of strangers He will love you, and you alone
He won’t want to go home with your friends
It’ll be a while before you get to touch her Patience is a virtue. Once you’ve earned her trust, she will shower you with love and be a great friend
He’s gonna absolutely flip out when he goes to a new home He will be happiest if he has a quiet room to start off with, spending quality time with you while he gets his bearings


PetRescue, an Australian website which enables rescue groups, pounds and shelters to promote their animals for adoption online, has other tips on writing profiles which show off their good points, not their shyness.

^ Top

How to take photos of your scaredy cat

You’ll need good photos of your kitty to catch the eye of potential adopters. Take photos when they’re relaxed, doing cute things and showing off their personality. Here are some tips.

Get in close

Help potential adopters connect with your kitty by taking close-up head shots, preferably with them looking at the camera. The eyes really are the window to the soul (and the window to adoption!). When someone looks into your kitty’s eyes, they’ll get a sense of their unique personality.

A close-up head shot, with your cat looking at the camera, helps potential adopters connect with them.

If you’re using a smart phone, use the zoom function.

Get down to their level

Avoid towering over your cat and looking down at them. Sit or lie on the floor if you have to.

When taking photos of your cat, get down to their level

Monroe’s carer lay on the floor to get this shot of him in a playful mood.

Use a ‘clean’ background

Draw people’s eyes to your cat, not your furniture or dirty dishes. Cover distracting items with a plain (not patterned) sheet or piece of material.

Use a clean background when taking photos

Cassidy was actually in a crate when Vanessa from Duet Images took this pic. Cassidy’s carer draped a towel in front of the crate wires to hide them.

A oiece of material gives a clean background when taking photos of cats.

Red material gives a clean background and contrasts with Daytona’s beautiful black fur. This photo would be better if he was looking at the camera.

Avoid flash

Try to take the photo using natural light.  If you use a flash, your cat may have ‘green eyes’ – the cat equivalent to red eye in humans.

Taking pics near a sunny window can help.

A photo taken with a flash may turn your cat's eyes green

Avoid ‘green eye’ from the flash

Use toys to get their attention

Dangle their favourite toy – or food! – near your head to get them to look towards the camera. Toys that make sounds are really helpful.

Use toys and props to get your cat's attention for the photo

A red ribbon got Jacqueline’s attention and matches her red collar

Snap it when they’re happy

Wait until they’re feeling happy to take your photo. Otherwise, they may show:

  • large, frightened ‘saucer eyes’
  • ears down to the side – ‘aeroplane ears’ or ‘sheep ears’
  • a backwards-leaning posture
  • a worried look on their face.

This will make them less appealing to an adopter.

Take photos when your cat is relaxed, not frightened. Sideways ears are a sign of fear.

Rufus’s ‘sheep ears’ make it clear he’s frightened

A crouched body position makes Rembrandt look scared.

Rembrandt’s crouched body makes him look scared. Lucky for him, he’s drop-dead gorgeous so it was less important

A more relaxed body position.

He looks more relaxed here, but you can see wires

Include props – toys, bows etc

Show off their playful personality by including their favourite toy in the photo.

A ribbon or bow tie will also catch people’s attention.

Put a bow on your kitty to add interest

Black cats are tricky to photograph. A bright bow tie and natural light helps

Consider using a professional

If you’re really struggling to get decent photos, ask a professional photographer if they might be willing to help. Many will do this for no charge, especially if they love animals!

If you’re in Australia, join the Photographers for Animal Rescue Australia Facebook group. You can ask for help from kind animal-loving professionals.

Being a scaredy cat, Kitty will probably hide when the photographer arrives. So you may need to have them in a crate (cover the wires), or room with no inaccessible hidey holes. Having them on your lap, in a corner of a small room, is another option.

A professional photo can be a big help getting your cat adopted.

Daytona lay on his carer’s lap, which was covered with a sheet

Cheat, with photo editing

If you can’t get them in an area with a ‘clean’ background, find a friend who’s a whiz at Photoshop to edit it. Photographers for Animal Rescue may be able to help you.

Crop out any distractions.

Ishka now lives with a cat-friend and a human

This photo of the stunning Ishka was actually taken when she was in a trap. Vanessa from Duet Images kindly guided her foster carer in blurring out the wires using Photoshop.

Be patient!

‘Never work with children or animals’, they say, for good reason.

Cats don’t pose when you say cheese, so it may take some time before you get photos that are good enough for their profile. Carry your camera with you so that you’re ready to snap them when they’re looking gorgeous.

^ Top

Adoption agreement and lifetime ‘take back’ policy

Most rescue groups require adopters to sign an adoption agreement. In addition to obvious things – like caring for the cat – the agreement usually requires the adopter to contact the rescue group should they become unable to care for their cat, for whatever reason.


This helps both the person and the animal:

  • the person knows there will always be someone to help them if they can no longer care for their animal
  • the animal always has someone to help them if they need it.

Very important for scaredy cats

This arrangement is super important for a scaredy cat. Why? If the person took them to a shelter, your cat may well be deemed ‘not suitable for adoption’, as they’re timid. And there’s usually only one outcome of being deemed ‘not suitable for adoption’ – and that’s being killed. Yes, your gorgeous foster cat, who’s been so brave, and who you’ve worked with to build their confidence – being killed.

Remind your adopter

So, when you take Kitty to their new home, remind your adopter that they must contact you if they can’t care for them any more. Together, you can work out on the best option for the cat.