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Nervous rescue cat hiding in cupboard

(18 Posts)
Sunshine49 Mon 29-Jan-18 10:19:52

Hello everyone! I adopted two beautiful young rescue cats (a brother and sister aged about one year old) 10 days ago. They're both extremely timid around people and were at the rescue centre for quite some time (five months) as a result.

When we took them, the shelter lent us a metal crate and advised us to keep them in that with all their things for the first week, so they could get used to their new surroundings slowly, before introducing them to the rest of the house one room at a time and ultimately, the garden.

Unfortunately I accidentally didn't close the door to the crate properly on the second night and they escaped into the kitchen/diner. Since then things have been coming along quite well - they've both been getting slowly bolder, wandering round the room, playing with their toys and enjoying looking out of the windows into the garden, as well as sunbathing together on a rug on top of their crate!

However, two nights ago one or both of them somehow managed to open the bottom doors to a big cupboard that sits in my dining room. Since then the female cat (who is by far the most timid of the two) has taken to spending a lot of time in the cupboard during the day. The door is just a couple of inches ajar, so we can't see her.

She does come out for short stints of play and to eat at mealtimes, but is no longer sleeping on top of the crate in the sun with her brother and is opting for the cupboard instead. I think he misses her company, as he's chirruping quite a bit and periodically goes looking for her (although now he's fast asleep on top of the crate on his own!)

I was wondering - is it best to just leave the arrangement as it is and let her spend long amounts of time in the cupboard? Of course if she's happy then I'm happy - but I'm also a little worried that she will become more withdrawn again just as she seemed to be gaining confidence! Any advice would be much appreciated.

OP’s posts: |
freshstart24 Mon 29-Jan-18 10:32:43

As long as it's safe for her and you I would leave her. Maybe for whatever reason she didn't feel safe in the crate. She's found the perfect safe space for her. It's out of the way, and she can see what is happening around her. Is she up high in the cupboard? Cats do like a high spot from where they can survey their surroundings....

IMO she will come out in her own time, and her confidence will increase more quickly if she has a safe space to retreat to.

Im sure her brother will be fine. She may prefer her own space- which is her right to have.

I adopted two cats years ago. They took months to come out of their shells, and spent most of their time under a sofa. However once they were ready there was no looking back. They were wonderful companions until they died at age 18!

thecatneuterer Mon 29-Jan-18 10:32:54

Definitely leave her where she is. It's now her safe spot and she will slowly be gaining confidence even if she is hiding. It can take a long time for cats like that to feel relaxed but I'm sure it will happen. In the meantime just let them take things at their own pace.

It's also good that she has a safe spot in the house as she will be less likely to make a break for the great outdoors should the opportunity accidentally arise.

Sunshine49 Mon 29-Jan-18 10:47:17

Thanks for the advice everyone! She's about two feet off the ground in her new hiding space. Her brother goes in there too every now and then to say hello to her, but he seems to prefer the top of the crate mostly.

I think I was just a bit concerned as she seemed happy to be on top of the crate with her brother before she found the cupboard - she was snoozing and stretching up there. I'm obviously very happy to give her the cupboard though if that's what is best for her! smile

OP’s posts: |
freshstart24 Mon 29-Jan-18 11:11:54

I should add that cats of course enjoy sitting in places that their servants (ie you OP) don't want them to. It's one of the ways that they remind you who is in charge.

Clean sheets, ironing baskets, laps of people who dislike cats are all popular favourites!

PlateOfBiscuits Mon 29-Jan-18 11:18:54

Our very timid rescue hid inside a chair for what felt like weeks when we bought her home.

She’s still very timid with new people but happily curled up on my lap as I type.

Give her time (and the cupboard), she’ll settle soon.

Sunshine49 Mon 29-Jan-18 12:16:22

Thank you both smile I'm pleased to report that our lovely shy female cat has just come out of her cupboard, given a few chirrups to find her brother, used the litter tray and is now doing some exploring!

OP’s posts: |
freshstart24 Mon 29-Jan-18 12:46:52

Brilliant! Hide your clean washing wink.

PlateOfBiscuits Mon 29-Jan-18 12:52:28


Sunshine49 Mon 29-Jan-18 13:12:02

How do you think I'll know when they're ready to explore another room? They've been playing with their toys for the last hour or so now (a combination of the rug I have draped over their crate plus a couple of feather rods seem to provide endless fascination!), leaping onto the top of their crate and roaming around the kitchen/diner. Both have also sat by the dining room door a couple of times, which has distorted glass window panes, and peered through into the hallway (they do that quite a lot).

They're still very shy around me though - the male cat has let me stroke him for a few minutes a couple of times (which I took to be good progress!), but if I were to approach the girl she would shrink back and run away (aww). The shelter said she might never be the sort of cat who likes to be fussed, but we were ok with that. It's enough just to give her a comfortable new home!

OP’s posts: |
sirlee66 Mon 29-Jan-18 13:18:57

We gave our little girl 2/3 days in a room before opening up a new are and keeping acess to the old area. Started off bedroom... Bedroom + landing... Bedroom + landing + 2nd bedroom.... Etc until she had reign on the house!

Toddlerteaplease Mon 29-Jan-18 13:22:57

Leave her. One of mine hid behind the kitchen units for a week. I never saw her till I'd had them 8 days!

freshstart24 Mon 29-Jan-18 13:27:10

When you let them explore new areas do bear in mind they will be very inquisitive, explore every nook and cranny, and find new hiding places. I had a rickety old wardrobe in my spare room so I made sure mine couldn't get under or into it and do themselves a mischief. Also watch out for open windows until they are allowed out.

Enjoy flowers

RosesAroundMyDesk Mon 29-Jan-18 13:32:33

my rescue cat ran up a chimney and hid for several days :-( she is now very friendly - it just takes time

MorganKitten Mon 29-Jan-18 13:39:02

When we adopted our friends cats the first month they pretty much stayed behind the sofa. we've had them just over a year and one is still a bit nervous of lap sitting or cuddles. It can take a lot of time!

MysteryLovesCompany Mon 29-Jan-18 16:22:18

As soon as one tries to follow you or seems more keen to explore further is when I'd let them explore more house. What will probably happen is one day you'll forget to shut the door, potter about, realise you can't see a cat or 2, panic, search high and low, and eventually find them in new hidey places!

Allergictoironing Mon 29-Jan-18 20:17:14

My incredibly timid rescues used to tend to sleep in the wardrobe during the day - him on the bottom, her on a shelf about 3-4 feet up. Took me a couple of months before I could stroke Girlcat (the bolder of the 2).

They now both mostly sleep on my bed during the day, though there are occasional forays back into the wardrobe, in the igloo, or on the sofa. Boycat insists on having morning & night time cuddles on top of my bed.

I kept them in the living room (with plenty of hiding places) for about a month then slowly opened up the rest of the house room by room over the next couple of weeks. Had to take it very slowly with mine as they'd never lived in a house with close proximity to humans before and were about 2 when they chose me.

Sunshine49 Tue 30-Jan-18 14:57:32

Thanks for the responses everyone! Both cats are now asleep together in the female cat's cupboard - probably zonked out after their big play session earlier!

Allergictoironing - my cats sound quite similar to yours in that they are also incredibly timid. I'm thinking that although they're showing signs of wanting to explore the hallway/conservatory, perhaps it's best to confine them to the kitchen/diner until they're a lot more used to DH and me. I think that could easily take another couple of weeks.

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