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Our very nervous cats have arrived - advice welcome!

(14 Posts)
Sunshine49 Sat 20-Jan-18 10:03:38

Morning everyone! DH and I adopted two gorgeous but extremely timid young cats from a rescue centre last week and we finally brought them home last night - so exciting! smile

Because they are so nervous around people, the rescue centre suggested keeping them in a big metal crate for at least the first week, so they have a "safe space" in the house.

When they arrived we set it all up with their litter tray, food, blankets etc and positioned their carriers by the entrance.

The male cat (the more confident of the two) went into the crate in about 20 minutes, while the girl stayed curled up in her carrier for at least two hours. We left the room and dimmed the lights and when we came back later, she'd finally joined her brother in the crate!

They spent the first three hours sitting in their litter tray together (a sign of stress, according to Google) but have now moved onto the blankets, which I take to be a good sign. They've also eaten two plates of food that I've given them, although they don't appear to have drunk much (or any) water yet.

I was wondering if anyone has any advice on how I should interact with them - is it best to try sitting next to the crate and talking to them or using toys, even though they seem very scared? Or should I ignore them (difficult!) and do some quiet activities in the room so they can observe me from the safety of the crate?

This morning when I came into the room they were both staring at me wide-eyed, but now the brother is sitting at the back of the crate looking quite sleepy, with his sister huddled behind him. The poor things are obviously so frightened blush

I had cats as a child, but this is the first time I've looked after two myself, so any advice would be very gratefully received!

OP’s posts: |
Toddlerteaplease Sat 20-Jan-18 10:08:59

I think I would just do quiet things in the room for a bit. Then when they seem calmer sit and talk to them. They may be terrified if you sit next to them and they feel they have nowhere to hide. Or let them out, and let them find their own hiding places. One of mine hid for a week. I never saw her. Your time and patience will pay off and will be so worth it. My still nervous but once terrified rescues now completely have me under the 🐾

howrudeforme Sat 20-Jan-18 10:17:51

Agree with toddler.

My young rescue cat same. Ds and I kept a fairly quiet house and sort of ignored her and very slowly she quietly went about her day. Might give her a quick gentle stroke in passing and talked to her in a quiet voice.

2 years on she’s still fairly nervous outside but not with us and sleeps on ds bed and wants lots of attention.

Best of luck - they sound gorgeous.

Brakebackcyclebot Sat 20-Jan-18 10:23:22

I had 2 rescue cats like this. We kept them in 1 room for ages & went in & out quietly, read books in there etc. Don't force interaction. Can they go in & out of the crate within the room?

Take it really really slowly. Be very patient. My beautiful cats ended up being soft as anything. One was the best lap cat ever in the end. But it was 6 months before we could even touch either of them after we got them.

Toddlerteaplease Sat 20-Jan-18 10:36:53

Last time my parents visited, both of mine stayed in the room when they arrived. It's the first time in 2.5 years that they haven't scarpered the minute visitors arrive.

Vinorosso74 Sat 20-Jan-18 10:42:19

Yes just do quiet activities sitting in the room (good excuse to relax!) Maybe not today but you could try reading aloud in a quietish voice so they get used to your voice and apparently it can be soothing for the cats.
Good they have eaten, our new lad isn't nervous but doesn't seem to each much.

Sunshine49 Sat 20-Jan-18 12:34:19

Thank you for the advice and encouragement everyone! The girl has been sitting back in the litter tray all morning and has not touched her breakfast. Feeling a bit worried! We're off to do some shopping in a minute though, so maybe they'll relax a bit when we're not in the house.

I hope the crate is alright for them - it's quite a large one but everything (litter tray, blankets, bowls) is still pretty close together. It's what the rescue centre said we should do though, so I'm reluctant not to follow their advice!

Poor little cats blush

OP’s posts: |
beansbananas Sat 20-Jan-18 14:13:07

Poor little things. Took our kittens a week to leave the room we kept them in when we brought them home! I would sit down in the room with them and read a book quietly. They need to get used to your company and to realise you are not a threat. Also try to spend a lot of time in the room with them. I have found with our cats the more you are there and more affection you give them, the more you get back in return. Both will now curl up on our knees or next to us, but neither were like that initially. Also I would suggest getting a cat wand and gently moving the toy end across the floor back and forth, so they can see it. Cats are curious and usually can't resist investigating and playing. Finally have you got a feliway plug in? They really do help anxious cats to feel more calm and relaxed.

retirednow Sat 20-Jan-18 15:32:08

We tried the crate and gradually moved the food bowls nearer the entrance and then out into the room. I used to just sir on the floor quiety9, cats are nosy by nature and seem to come out eventually. They sound lovely, pics when they are more settled.

Sunshine49 Sun 21-Jan-18 14:01:27

Hi everyone, thanks for all the brilliant advice. Unfortunately I think I may have made a mistake with the cats' crate. All their stuff was making the crate pretty cramped, so to give them more room, I opened the side door and put a big cardboard box directly outside the crate. I then put their litter tray in the box so they have a kind of "annex" for the litter, and more room for their toys, bowls and blankets in the crate itself.

However, since I did that they have gone back to just sitting in their litter in the cardboard box, and not coming into the crate or onto their blankets at all (except when I feed them). I think it's probably because it's darker inside the box and so they feel more secure in there - but I'm worried about them sitting in the litter for such a long time! The crate is covered in blankets on all sides except the front, which looks into the room. Any thoughts?

OP’s posts: |
retirednow Sun 21-Jan-18 14:31:23

It doesn't matter if they sit on their litter, you will have to move them to clean it. They don't know it's litter . You could gradually move it further away. If they don't want to use the crate then get rid of it, you could make up a separate sleeping cardboard box with a blanket inside and put them in there when you clean the litter tray. and leave their food somewhere a bit further away, cats don't like to have their food near the litter boxes.

Ofthread Sun 21-Jan-18 14:36:19

Give them a nice box in the crate and leave the litter outside. Cats love boxes.

semideponent Sun 21-Jan-18 14:40:40

They love to feel really surrounded and enclosed in order to sleep: you might need something smaller and more cocooning for them to shelter in, separate from the litter tray. The blanket over the crate probably feels like a giant cave to them. I don't think cats really like open plan living space!

One rescue kitten of happy memory perked up after a day spent curled up in the dustpan.

Rejoiner Sun 21-Jan-18 14:47:43

We adopted 2 timid kittens, we followed the advice of 1 room and made them a hide, basically a box under a chair with a blanket draped over, the litter tray and food were away from the hide. We kept the door closed so they could settle, then like others went in there to interact with them. DD2 spent a lot of time sitting on the floor messaging her friends whilst being sniffed and then chewed as they got accustomed to us.

From the one room we were then able to leave the door open and they could access the kitchen too, so double the amount of space. This brought its own issues as they they could hide behind the fridge.

When they started to try to 'escape' from the kitchen we knew that they were ready for the whole house, however we kept their hide in the original room as their safe place.

We are now 12 months on and Cat 1 is a normal cat, greets visitors and generally sleeps on the sofa all day.

Cat 2 is still very timid and lives in the master bedroom or our fenced garden, they only visitor she has met is DD2 boyfriend. If anyone else comes into the house she hides and you won't find her. The downside to this is that she frequently gets shut in, this week it was the study as they cleaners closed the door.

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