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New cats are terrIfield - please help

(51 Posts)
UsedToBeAPaxmanFan Wed 05-Oct-16 08:04:35

Two new cats (mum and daughter aged 3 and 1) joined our household yesterday. They were living with a family in a flat, in a noisy/cramped environment with no access to the outside. The family loved them but felt they were unhappy in a noisy environment so we agreed to take them as we had just lost our much-loved cat.

The new cats have never been outside the flat before - never been in a cat basket, never been in a car and of course our house is very strange to them. So we expected them to be very nervous but we didn't anticipate how terrified they would be.

As soon as they arrived (about 18 hours ago) they ran under the sofa and haven't moved since. They are shaking with fear. We left them alone as we thought after a couple of hours they might start exploring. But we got up this morning and they are still under the sofa. We left food, water and a litter tray in front of the sofa but they haven't been touched.

I'm now really worried that they will start to be dehydrated and that the stress will impact on them, but don't know what to do. I'm working at home today but don't know if I should keep going into the living room or just leave them be. They were used to a very noisy environment where the tv was on all the time - should I put the tv on for them? Would that help?

I can't move the sofa by myself and think that would completely freak them. But I don't like the thought that they are squashed under there (not a big gap).

Dh had booked to take them to the vet tomorrow for jabs and check up but we will cancel that as they have never been to a vet and I don't want to inflict more stress on them at the moment.

Any ideas as to how long I should leave them and what I should do if they are still not coming out after, say, 24 hours?

Fluffycloudland77 Wed 05-Oct-16 08:14:09

It can take days, I would push the water and food near the sofa, shut the curtains & leave them to it.

chemenger Wed 05-Oct-16 08:15:09

Just leave them to come to terms with things in their own time. I would occasionally go in to the livingroom with a cup of coffee and ignore them completely. If you won't feel completely insane I would talk while you are in there to get them used to your voice and show them that you are calm and not threatening. Don't try and tempt them out, if they are out don't look at them or make a fuss, maybe just talk quietly to them. Most new cats disappear at first, let them emerge under their own steam. Our last new cat stayed in a room by herself (of her own choice) for a couple of weeks, it can take a while. They will be physically fine as long as they have access to food and water.

UsedToBeAPaxmanFan Wed 05-Oct-16 08:21:42

Thanks for the replies. We were talking yesterday in very calm voices. I might try doing that again whilst working this morning.

I did think about trying to push the food and water under the sofa but they wouldn't be able to lift their heads to get at it - the clearance is about 10cms, they are almost flat under there (which also worries me).

Do you think I should shut the curtains? They are open at the moment. I just want to do what's best for them. But I also need them to drink and to use the litter tray!

Allergictoironing Wed 05-Oct-16 08:42:52

I had similar with mine, took about 3 days before I even caught sight of them. I just ignored them, talked to the TV (I live alone), made sure there was fresh food and water to hand of the type they were used to already, and that the litter tray was in a semi-private area with the litter they were used to. Food & water would vanish during the night, and the litter tray was used after a couple of days again over night.

Give them time, some cats can take weeks to settle in.

PestoSwimissimos Wed 05-Oct-16 08:52:02

Please don't panic, as long as they are popping out to eat & drink and use the litter tray, they will be fine. One of our cats which we got from a rescue, wouldn't venture out from under my bed for the first 2 months! Obviously he must have done whilst we were out, but not when we were home.

Now he's still a bit of a scaredy cat but has fully settled in and we've got another older rescue cat now too, which has actually made him a bit braver smile

Toddlerteaplease Wed 05-Oct-16 10:11:40

Don't worry. My pair had never been in a house until rescued. One hid under the kitchen units for 9 days and I never saw her.She would come out at night to eat and drink and poo on the sofa! She eventually came out one day after dark and from that day has totally ruled the roost! Took a long time but 14 months on they are fine and much better with visitors as well. One of them was headbutting my mum who she's not Seen for months which is massive progress.

UsedToBeAPaxmanFan Wed 05-Oct-16 11:34:13

Thanks, that's all very reassuring. Most of our previous cats we've had as kittens. We did have one adult rescue cat a few years ago who was very curious from the moment he arrived and never hid anywhere. I guess we thought these might hide for a few hours but then would start coming out and exploring.

They are still under the sofa and dont appear to have eaten or drink anything, or used the tray. I guess we'll just have to be very patient with them.

Dontyouopenthattrapdoor Wed 05-Oct-16 11:39:59

Oh bless them. I don't think there's much else you can do. If they haven't come out by tea time at all I might shut the door in there overnight and not go in at all till morning just to make it extra easy for them to come out and have a drink or wee that first time.

cozietoesie Wed 05-Oct-16 11:46:14

I know that you said that they were unhappy in a noisy environment but I'm thinking that the abrupt change to a quiet one with new people might be a lot for them to handle all at once. Have you a radio/device that might play some gentle music to them for a bit?

Cowardlycustard2 Wed 05-Oct-16 14:25:46

I had the same problem with a cat I adopted who had been a stray, he was terrified, bless him. He used to hide behind sofa all of the time. Have you tried a Feliway diffuser? My vet recommended and really does help make them a bit calmer and more relaxed. Just spend time in the room with them, talking so they get used to sound of your voice, maybe reading aloud with radio or tv on in background. The not eating or drinking is a worry, I would try leave out some really tempting smelly food like tuna. Something I have found that no cat can resist is the Lick-e-lix sachets, look totally disgusting but cats go wild for them, even stops my kitten and adult cat in mid fight if one of those is offered! What about one of those wand toys with a bell and feather on the end, you could sort of flick that about under the sofa, the cats are still young and will want to play. They will find that hard to resist - sorry it sounds like I am trying to make you buy loads of stuff but these are some of the things I have found work with the nervous ones in my many years as a mad cat lady! Good luck.

UsedToBeAPaxmanFan Wed 05-Oct-16 15:40:55

Thanks. I haven't heard of LickeLicks sachets bit will look those up. We have got a could of little toys for then but they aren't interested.
I've left them alone most of the day, pooed in there twice bit they are still under the fifa. I left a radio in there in the hope that would reassure them if it was too quiet for them. I'm not sure what else I can do at the moment. I did wonder about trying them with some tuna or ham but not sure they've ever been given anything except cheap.dried food so don't want you upset their stomachs on top of everything else.

TroysMammy Wed 05-Oct-16 15:43:35

Lick-e-lix - otherwise known as kitty crack in my house.

cozietoesie Wed 05-Oct-16 15:55:00

Don't worry too much. My own old lad went into hiding for close on a month when my mother died. If they're eating, drinking and using a tray, they'll be fine.

Cowardlycustard2 Wed 05-Oct-16 15:59:20

The Lick e lix (or kitty crack) can be found in any supermarket. At their age a little bit of tuna should not harm them, you need something that will smell really enticing to make them come out and eat. Has any of the food gone? Do you think they have have eaten anything yet?

RubbishMantra Wed 05-Oct-16 16:01:04

If you do decide to offer them tuna, make sure it's the one in spring water. Salt is bad for cats, especially if they aren't drinking.

You've done a really nice thing for them, shy/nervous cats are usually overlooked in shelters.

RubbishMantra Wed 05-Oct-16 16:06:58

*...It also seems they were neglected in their previous home. If they'd never been in a cat basket before, they surely hadn't been to the vets for neutering, chipping and vaccinations.

Much better off with you.

MycatsaPirate Wed 05-Oct-16 16:13:33

Please don't worry. As everyone else has said, it can take a while for them to appear.

We rescued a brother and sister a couple of years ago. The girl hid in my teens bedroom for six months. She is now the most affectionate cat I've ever owned and follows me about.

We currently have a new rescue who has been under DD2's bed for six weeks. She is starting to venture out more and more and is starting to look to us for company and attention. She hasn't braved leaving the room yet but it will happen when she's ready. She's currently sleeping on the top bunk covering the duvet in white fur

Cowardlycustard2 Wed 05-Oct-16 16:18:34

Yes should have said you need to get the one in spring water if you decide to try a bit of tuna. Don't give them ham though as that isn't good for cats. Thank goodness they now have a good home poor kitties.

cozietoesie Wed 05-Oct-16 16:42:27

I'd go into the room of an evening and watch movies or read books, paying no attention to their hiding place. Just go about your business - other than hoovers if you can avoid it. They seem to drive some cats near demented.

RubbishMantra Wed 05-Oct-16 17:14:06

Ooh yes, hoovers are the Cat's sworn enemy. Even Little M's freaked out by his nemesis, the hoover. And he's the most naive bold little thing you could ever meet.

UsedToBeAPaxmanFan Wed 05-Oct-16 18:05:29

No fear in this household that we will do too much hoovering!

They had never left the flat they lived in. Mum went there as a tiny kitten apparently. The family had a make cat so the cat of course ended up pregnant, the family kept one of the litter and so she (the daughter) was born there and never left. They've never been to a vet so they haven't been spayed, had jabs etc. I think this is all very traumatic for them.

They definitely haven't used the litter tray. It's possible that one of them might have eaten or drink something but I don't think so. They are still under the sofa looking petrified.

I will try tuna but not sure I can get it near enough. I think they've only ever had supermarket "value" dried food so don't know if anything else will be too rich for then at first We were going to try to switch then over to decent food gradually.

SuperFlyHigh Wed 05-Oct-16 18:10:11

My new kitten at 5 months old did exactly the same in my box room!

He'd eat treats if you pushed them under the seat!

I sat and read a book there with a cup of tea one day he came out and reached to get the rich tea biscuit off me! Flat mate tried to play with him with da bird type toys etc. He got braver after 2 weeks. They will come out at night to eat/drink just very secretly.

It's mostly because they haven't been socialised.

Felix at 2 and a half still very jumpy bless him.

SuperFlyHigh Wed 05-Oct-16 18:11:47

Also try feli way plug in. Said to help

Dontyouopenthattrapdoor Wed 05-Oct-16 19:09:32

I'm way too invested in these kitties!

Keep us posted OP. I would steer clear of introducing rich food if they've never had it tbh until you're sure they're using the litter tray...

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