Cat's are naturally more independent and aloof than dogs, but there's no reason why you shouldn't be able to befriend most cats, though it will take time, patience and understanding. Here are some tips to help you:
1) Give the cat space.
Trying to force the cat to be near you, by petting it, picking it up or otherwise interacting with it when it doesn't want to can cause a lot of stress for the cat and will cause it to be even more fearful of you. Let the cat come to you and wait for it to initiate contact, like by rubbing against your hand.
Its also best to make the cat a hiding place, somewhere safe where it can escape to if the situation is too much for it. This should be a well secured, comfortable place to be used only by the cat! Don't let your kids play in it, your dog sleep in it or anything else. Also, never remove your cat from its safe space, it needs to know that it has a place to go where it won't be bothered, scared or nervous.
2) Bribery is your friend.
You want to teach your cat that being around you is fun and makes good stuff happen, so offering him treats can help you make a lot of progress. Find something that your cat finds irresistible. Much like in its commercials, most cats I've met really will do anything for Temptation cat treats, or you can try using pieces of tuna, sardines or similar. Whatever you choose, it should be something your cat loves, and only gets as a special bonus for hanging out with you. If the cat will eat the treat from your hand, that's ideal, but if not just put it on a small dish as close to you as the cat is comfortable with, and then slowly move the dish closer as the cat becomes accustomed to you.
Â 3) Play therapy works wonders.
Toys can be a really good way to get your cat to come out of its shell and start interacting with you. It may take a bit for the cat to understand what to do with the toys, but normally once their predatory instincts kick in they will forget that they are shy or scared of you and get carried away playing with the toy. This works best when it is something on a string or rod that you control, because then the cat stays in a close proximity to you and gets accustomed to your scent and presence without focusing too much on you.
Â 4) Pay attention to the living environment.
Shy cats need quiet and dedication to fully blossom. If your house is perpetually busy with children, other pets, or constant visitors, it simply may not be the best living situation for a reserved or fearful feline. Hard as it can be to give a pet up, you may want to consider re-homing them with someone who can give them the relaxed, quiet environment they need. Shy cats can make an ideal companion for an elderly person, or a single person who works at home, as in those situations they have the best opportunity to bond with their caretaker without becoming overwhelmed.
While trying to rehabilitate your shy cat, always remember that slower is better. Don't try to rush the process or you can ruin any progress you had made.