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Nervous rescue cat.

(26 Posts)
darumafan Mon 02-May-16 16:19:30

Hoping for some advice from the knowledgeable people here. We bought our 11 month old rescue cat home 4 weeks ago.
He had a really bad first few days, just hid behind the sofa in the room he is in. Wouldn't eat or anything, gradually he started eating a small amount but only if no-one was around.
Fast forward to now, he eats fairly well and doesn't hide behind the sofa anymore. However, he won't let us handle him at all, he slinks away if you go near him. He seems happy in the conservatory and hasn't ventured out of there at all.
He is eating, drinking and using the litter tray. He has started to play with the cat toys in the evening but only if he thinks we aren't watching 😃
I am worried that he isn't getting any exercise and that can't be good for him.
We do have 5 other cats but 3 of them have never met him, he is in a room they don't go into. The other 2 are 10 month old boys who are gentle around him. All 3 eat together in the evening (in the same room but away from each other)
What can we do? I hate to think that he is miserable or suffering in some way.
Just to add, all of the cats are neutered.

Fluffycloudland77 Mon 02-May-16 19:46:19

Some cats take ages to get used to you & trust. Keep going with him.

Hopefully he'll learn from the other costs that being fussed is ok.

cozietoesie Mon 02-May-16 21:31:19

Seniorboy hid somewhere for close on a month after my mother died. The only way we knew he was still alive was the use of his tray in deepest night and the regular nighttime disappearance of cold meat from the kitchen - but we left him to think about things and he eventually decided to rejoin the family.

Think about it from your new lad's viewpoint - I doubt the change to his life could be bigger so he might need a little time to adjust. They're all individuals but it doesn't sound to me as if he's miserable or suffering. Just taking his time. smile

darumafan Mon 02-May-16 22:14:20

Thanks for the reassurance, we got him from a rescue place. He was born there and was still there at 10 months old. We bought him home to give him a loving forever home and watching him sit on the dining chair on his own makes me feel as though we are failing him.
He has eaten well this evening but is still on his chair as I type.
It's the lack of exercise that worries me most. It can't be good for him to sit all day long.

cozietoesie Mon 02-May-16 23:26:04

I've always talked to my boys - a lot. (All of them and not just the Siamese who would talk the hind legs off a donkey if given the chance.) Why not try some of that if you're in the room with him?

(It doesn't need to be a Gettysburg Address by the way. grin)

darumafan Tue 03-May-16 06:53:52

I do sit on the sofa in there and chat to him, he isn't the greatest conversationalist 😀. He doesn't appear to be frightened, he isn't cowering or shaking. He either sits or slinks around the room. The lady who we got him from did say he was a little bit shy but this takes shy to a new level!
We have previously settled a frightened, nervous cat. She came to us in fairly horrible circumstances but didn't take anywhere as long to settle.
I'm grateful for all the information and suggestions. He is stuck with us so needs to learn to like us 😄

TimeIhadaNameChange Tue 03-May-16 09:19:44

He'll get there. If it's any consolation, one of my guinea pigs, who I got at a year old when she was past her breeding best, and who has lived in the bedroom for the last year (so sees a lot of me) has only just got to the point where I can put my hand into the cage over her to put down a full bowl without running away. I know guineas are prey animals, so naturally more nervy, but you'd have thought she'd have learnt long ago that me returning the bowl is a good thing!

Do you feed him treats? Will he take them from your hand yet? If he doesn't that would be a good thing to build up to start off with them across the room from you and gradually put them closer, so he's eventually taking them off your hand (whilst you do your damnedest to not pay him any attention).

As for exercise, try toys that are at a distance from you, like toys on a string and suchlike, so that they're far enough away from you for him to feel safe, yet you're still interacting with him.

I'm sure you'll get there soon enough, though. It's still early days.

darumafan Tue 03-May-16 10:02:06

He will eat treats but only if you put them down in front of him without looking at him, I'm amazed that he hasn't ended up with a treat up his nose yet!
He is frightened of toys on string or elastic, he plays with the little balls that have bells in them but only at night when he thinks you aren't looking.
Over the weekend, I have managed to get him to eat his evening meal in the open rather than under the dining table which is a huge step forward.
He just doesn't seem to trust or like us. We have tried completely ignoring him, when we talk to him it is in quiet voices. We have tried to stroke him but stop the moment he moves away.
I want him to be happy, he has toys and safe places to be. It seems very lonely for him and I don't want that for him.
I worry that he needs more than we can give him.

cozietoesie Tue 03-May-16 10:44:54

He probably is just fine. Remember that you've really given a home to someone who has lived in a cage for all of his life - forbye he may have had the odd 'excursion' to interact with the rescue staff. It will have left its mark and he may not actually know how other cats sometimes behave.

I wouldn't try to impose any new behaviour patterns on him in his particular circumstances. I reckon that the best thing you can do for him right now is to give him an ordered life - as best you can - and provide him with the security to develop and learn about life. (Games might be an option for later although you can leave some around right now to be 'discovered'. ) I'd be talking and calling to him/around him a lot but otherwise ignoring him physically and just going about my business. It may take some time and you might have to recognise that he's always going to have some quirks.

They won't necessarily mean that he's unhappy. smile

VulcanWoman Tue 03-May-16 11:32:17

Our Cat took about a year to stop stripping a patch of fur and nipping at my leg after he came to us, he didn't have any other Cats to deal with either.

OTheHugeManatee Tue 03-May-16 11:44:21

Our born-feral rescue cats took weeks and weeks to unwind enough to take treats from us and even longer to accept a stroke.

The best thing at this stage is probably to ignore him completely. Once he's used to prowling about the room with you there, leave a treat or two down for him. When he's used to that (which won't take long if it's Dreamies) you can see if he'll take one from your hand. Then you can use treats to coax him closer till he's climbing on you to get them. Then it's a short step to strokes and games of string and before you know it he'll have forgotten he was ever nervous.

Our cats still hide from strangers and want fuss on their terms (no picking up) but are absolutely soppy and very very very at home now. Just be patient, don't rush it, you'll get there.

darumafan Tue 03-May-16 13:20:53

Ok, we are going to try the completely ignoring thing. He is currently sitting on the sofa in the conservatory looking at me (I'm sneaking sideways glances at him)
At least he is eating, drinking and using the litter tray. He can't be feeling too insecure can he?
Him and one of the 10 month olds were calling to each other earlier so at least he is interacting with him.
Will keep on trying. Thanks again for all the advice.

cozietoesie Tue 03-May-16 13:30:45

I doubt he's unhappy.

He'll have spent most of his life to date just observing people going about their business, I guess, so it's probably what he knows. Things might be a bit different for him with time but it may need that time. (Lots of tentative steps sound as if they'd suit him best.)


OTheHugeManatee Tue 03-May-16 14:32:08

God plan OP. Nothing infuriates a cat more than being ignored grin

He'll be sleeping on your head and demanding 5am games of string in no time.

darumafan Wed 04-May-16 12:06:10

So, we spent all day yesterday ignoring him. Obviously he was fed and cared for
smile I put his food bowl down alongside the other boys and he very happily ate alongside them for the first time ever.
He spent quite a bit of time mooching around the conservatory, he sat on the dining table and actually ventured out into the lounge!
Today, we have done exactly the same and he is currently sitting on the sofa with his head on his front paws looking at me shock
He seems to not enjoy being ignored at all!
Hopefully, this is the start of a new chapter in his life.

VulcanWoman Wed 04-May-16 12:10:48

That's great. What are they like!

cozietoesie Wed 04-May-16 13:19:46

Gawd - a sensitive soul! grin

Looks as if you've found the best way to go,

darumafan Wed 04-May-16 14:19:10

He is very sensitive, poor little thing grin

cozietoesie Wed 04-May-16 14:41:36

Actually, it sounds rather as if your behaviour is being assessed in a leisurely fashion. wink The new getting on with things and leaving him be almost 'frees him of responsibility' - you're likely coming across as the Top Cat on the block. grin And that's OK I think - enables him to relax and learn how to live in this new place.

Well done.

darumafan Wed 04-May-16 15:07:32

I would love to be Top Cat, just need to make the other ones realise it!

cozietoesie Wed 04-May-16 15:19:17

Oh they'll notice. wink

RoosterCogburn Wed 04-May-16 20:16:17

Oh bless him

One of our painfully shy acquisitions took months to pluck up the courage to even come into the living room.

The first 6 weeks we had her she would emerge from the spare room at night and come into the bedroom and sit on our bedside cabinets and watch us - if we even blinked she'd run.
We knew she was alright because she was eating, drinking and using her litter tray - we used to joke and call her the invisible cat.

After a year she progressed to coming into the kitchen and in the evenings sitting on the stairs outside the living room.

Two years on she thinks she owns the house - she bosses the other cats and one of the dogs and spends her time wherever she wants - usually in the dogs' basket and they are too polite to move her.

cozietoesie Wed 04-May-16 20:38:24

...polite...?? grin

OTheHugeManatee Thu 05-May-16 11:32:39

Glad the ignoring is working!

If you watch cats that don't know each other well, they will rarely interact close up unless they have to but instead keep a bit of distance from each other while ignoring one another intensely and with great ceremony. Staring directly at another cat is a sign of hostility but keeping a distance and turning their backs on each other (however cautiously) signals that they don't want to quarrel. It's only if one cat is very aggressive that there will be an actual conflict over territory.

By ignoring him you're saying, in cat body language, that you don't consider him a threat and have no plans to attack him for being in your territory. It's about the most reassuring thing you can do.

Plus cats hate being ignored by humans as they are of course the centre of the universe.

Update us with a pic when he gets more relaxed!

darumafan Thu 05-May-16 12:21:01

He is currently lying fully stretched out on the conservatory floor. He is looking at me but I am trying very hard not to look back!

This is the most relaxed I have seen him so far, he is usually curled up in a little ball.

He even ate out of the same bowl as the other 2 last night so seems to be coming on in leaps and bounds.

It's odd isn't it? Ignoring him seemed so counter-intuitive but is working better than anything else we have tried.

I promise to get pics when he is more settled, at the minute if you point a camera at him he disappears grin

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