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Please help, new cat seems traumatised!!!

(73 Posts)
Daisycat22 Sun 04-May-14 12:04:24

So, I brought home my new cat on Friday from a rescue centre and things have not gone so well since!

He is a young cat who was found wandering and taken to the cat rescue centre (so no history know). He had been there just over a week when I saw him and really liked him.

When I met him he was a little hesitant but let my son and I stroke him and he seemed OK with this.

So I bring him home Friday and basically I haven't seen him since!....He is in one room with all his toys, litter box and food and he has just been hiding behind the sofa since he got here. I've generally left him alone but he seems to be absolutely terrified!.....he is wedged right in the narrowest end of the sofa facing the wall and just stays in that position all day. He comes out at night to eat (very little) and that's it!!

He has not made a sound, but seems rigid with fear and his breathing is very fast like he's panicking.

I'm wandering if he is feral and never been in a home before (he's under a year old)....I've had lots of cats in the past and never experienced this level of fear before.....any advice??

OTheHugeManatee Sun 04-May-14 12:11:00

It's normal for cats to hide behind the sofa for a few days. I adopted a huge, vicious, swaggering brute of a cat from a rescue centre and even he mostly hid for a few days before taking over the house and the entire neighbourhood. Cats are territorial animals and suddenly being in a completely unfamiliar environment is very frightening for them until they get to know it.

Keep him closed in one room, try not to make loads of noise when you're in there, and take time (if you have any) to see if you can tempt him out with Dreamies or bits of ham etc. He will be fine. If you think he's not eating or drinking, put some biscuits in a saucer and post them under the sofa near where he is. Once he's had something to eat he will most likely feel more like himself. Don't worry though, if he's quite shy it might just take him a little while to settle in.

Also FWIW we now have two cats who were born feral and so can be very nervous. When we moved house we bought the Feliway room mister and sprayed it around the room they were in. It seemed to make a difference and they were racing around like they owned the place they do in no time grin

cozietoesie Sun 04-May-14 12:11:58

Seniorboy hid in some mountain fastness for several weeks when my mother died and he had to change house - well it was a heck of a long time before we saw him, anyway. (He was very bonded to her.) How old is your son, Daisy. And has the new cat used a tray and drunk?

OTheHugeManatee Sun 04-May-14 12:13:06


It's expensive but IMO really effective. Apparently it mimics the scent marks cats leave around their home territory and so makes them feel less nervous in unfamiliar places. Like the cat equivalent of one of those signs that says 'Home Sweet Home' smile

OTheHugeManatee Sun 04-May-14 12:15:38

Another tip we had from the Cats Protection League is that to cats, staring directly at someone is aggressive. So if / when he does come out, ignore him. Pretend nothing is going on, look away, read your book, watch the telly. He'll come and have a sniff at you eventually and will feel like you're not a threat meanwhile.

It can be the hardest thing in the world, trying not to look at the ridiculously cute cat that is prowling around your living room, but again it works. Probably because cats can't stand being ignored grin

PestoSunnyissimos Sun 04-May-14 12:37:04

Our rescue cat was very similar. He took up residence under my bed and only ventured out to use his litter tray or eat & drink. It took a month before he finally was brave enough to come out and start to join in with family life.

My tip would be not to fret about it like I did and let your cat find its feet at its own pace.

Daisycat22 Sun 04-May-14 12:37:07

Thanks for all your replies.

My son is 16 and is either out with friends or in his own room so it's really just me (so not a noisy household with lots of visitors).

Last night I left 6 cat treat things near him and this morning they are still there untouched!

He has eaten a little and used his tray . He is now still in the same position facing the wall wedged in the corner and has been like that now for 4.5 hours!

I feel so sorry for the poor thing and I have no experience of nervous cats so feel out of my depth...I will try the Feliway and see if that helps.

OTheHugeManatee Sun 04-May-14 16:15:50

If you have time, get a pack of those reconstituted chicken slices for sandwiches and see if he fancies a bit. Post some under his sofa on a saucer first, leave, see if they get eaten. Do that for a few days and then see if you can tempt him forwards a bit for some while you're there. Let him gradually get more confident approaching you until he's happy to take a bit off you. After that it's just a matter of time and association.

I found as well that just quietly being in the room, on a laptop or whatever, helped our shy kittens to get used to us. It wasn't long before they started getting curious and prowling about. But he sounds really anxious, poor little love, so the Feliway is a good idea. Perhaps he was dumped somewhere (it happens quite a lot in recessions) and now gets all upset at a sudden change of environment sad

thecatneuterer Sun 04-May-14 18:21:23

Just to reassure you that this is very normal behaviour. He could even be like this for two or three weeks, but he will come round and in a few months I bet you won't recognise him as the same timid cat. Just stick with it, allow him to take things at his own pace and I'm sure everything will be fine.

ThistledownAndCobweb Sun 04-May-14 19:46:07

Totally normal. LittleCat hid upstairs in the spare bedroom under the bed for days. We'd hear her exploring the house at night when we were in bed. Now she thinks she's the boss of the house, she's currently snoozing on an armchair in the living room smacking the dog if he gets too close.

Daisycat22 Sun 04-May-14 21:15:24

It's very encouraging to hear of success gives me hope smile

The poor mite is still behind the sofa, I'm going to go to my room for the night now so he can come out and eat and use his litter tray.

I'm hoping it won't be too long before he's ruling the roost and lets me give him lots of cuddles grin

ThistledownAndCobweb Sun 04-May-14 21:24:27

Daisy, DH teases me now because I was so worried during the first couple of weeks.
When LittleCat is ruling the roost he turns to me and says 'if only she'd come in the room with us... I wish she wasn't so afraid'
I've attached a picture of her playing on the lawn today, hopefully your new cat will soon be frisking around the place.

patothechiefexec Sun 04-May-14 21:35:50

Good advice here. You just need to be very patient. I'm sure he will be fine.

I would definitely give the Feliway plug in a go. Haven't used it myself but it does get very good reviews.

Fluffycloudland77 Sun 04-May-14 21:41:31

They are very sensitive creatures, I remember the Persians hiding under the beds (in the days of divans having a good gap under them) huddling together for protection.

It took a few days to coax them out.

I'd sit on the floor with a book or the paper, you'll be low enough that he can see you but not paying him any attention so it's less threatening to him.

murasaki Sun 04-May-14 22:17:46

Lionel, (half maine coon and now the size of a house, and still massive when I took him in at under one) lived at the bottom of the stairs (1st floor flat, enclosed stair case) for about a week, only venturing up to use the tray and eat when I wasn't around.

He now rules the roost. I haven't sat on my armchair since the day I bought it, it is his. I still see him as tiny scared Lionel though, which amuses visitors.....

Daisycat22 Mon 05-May-14 09:00:04

Well this morning seems a little more encouraging. It seems our little cat has eaten all the food left out for him (wet and dry), used the litter tray, played with one of his toys and pulled my fairy lights off the fire place!

He was still behind the sofa when I went in but it seems he's a little more relaxed judging by his antics last night grin

I will not bother him today, I'll just do my normal things and pray he ventures out.

Fluffycloudland77 - The trouble is the sofa is a large corner one which takes up the entire corner of the room, the only way I can see him (and him me) is by peering over the top, which makes him feel intimidated.

ThstledownandCobweb - Little cat is adorable and looks very happy....hoe my little boy looks like that soon!

ConfusedDotty Mon 05-May-14 09:20:02

I had the same when I brought home my beautiful tabby. He sat and panted at the patio doors and then hid under the bed for 5 days.

DP never even seen our new cat, until about the 4th night, he ventured out from under the bed and jumped onto DP's chest about 3am, DP could only see him by the light of the alarm clock and had a cuddle and then disappeared back under the bed at first light.

It is a worry, but it sounds like he is making progress OP. Cats are such a mystery, that's what makes them amazing. Kepp us updated.

cozietoesie Mon 05-May-14 09:46:02

Well that seems good, Daisy. Eaten, (presumably) drunk some water and used his tray? Plus playing some?

Night time behaviour was the only way we knew that Seniorboy was alive for some time - we never did find for certain where he was hiding during the day - so we just left him to it and eventually he came out in the daytime. At which point, all we did was say 'Hi Seniorboy ....Good Boy' (or something similar) and then ignored him. Once he'd learned his new household's routine and his place in it, he grew in confidence almost daily.

I'd just not pressure him as you suggested - change food/water and clean litter tray - all those good domestic things - and leave him to it.

Very encouraging, really. smile

PigletJohn Mon 05-May-14 09:50:28

I wonder if he would like a cardboard box in a corner of the room so he can watch you, and run back to it if danger threatens.

OTheHugeManatee Mon 05-May-14 11:23:09

Glad to hear he's eaten something! As long as he's eating and using the litter tray he'll be fine, OP. Like other posters have said, just keep feeding him and going about your normal everyday business. He'll soon get more confident.

OTheHugeManatee Mon 05-May-14 12:22:22

Oh and the cardboard box is a good idea. Cats like to feel like they can't be snuck up on so position it against a wall, ideally under a table or something, with a good view of the room.

I remember being so pleased after we got our two shy cats when the box started purring grin

OTheHugeManatee Tue 06-May-14 10:53:21

How is your new cat today, OP?

<not cat obsessed at all>

LoopyLa Tue 06-May-14 12:25:17

I'm hugely interested in this thread as I'm about to take on a pair of rescue cats, one of which is a very shy puss! Thanks OP & please keep us updated?

Daisycat22 Tue 06-May-14 17:24:36

Ok......So our little kitty stayed behind the sofa yesterday, I didn't look at him and just carried on my day as normal.

Late evening my son and I were quietly watching TV when he actually ventured out from behind the sofa!shock.....My son and I froze and didn't make a sound but as soon as he saw us he scarpered back behind the sofa!

Last night it seems he ate very well, used his tray and was playing quite a bit.

I went to work this morning, came back and he is behind the sofa but he is a lot nearer one end of the sofa (so I can actually see his face) rather than wedged in the corner furthest from us.

So progress I think.....I'm hoping by the end of the week I can take a picture of him sitting on my lap for all you cat lovers to see grin

P.S I have the Feliway plug in, put a cardboard box in the corner near the sofa and his new (very tall) cat activity centre arrived today which is placed near the window

cozietoesie Tue 06-May-14 17:29:26

That's excellent. Keep on with your daily routine and ignoring him. It all sounds most promising.

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