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Old 10-23-2013, 08:07 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Skittish cats and their hiding places

So my previous cat, and my new kitten (both long-haired tortie females) have both been very shy and easily startled... My previous cat Rogue, grew out of it, at least when I was the only one home, but would be shy or startle if I had any guests. My new kitten Midna is even worse about this. Its only been 1.5 weeks since I got her, so I understand she may naturally grow out of it a little, but she is pretty bad with just me in the apartment. She comes out, but if I get up or move around, she runs straight back under my bed.

How have you dealt with these types of cats? Is there anything that can be done to discourage their skittishness? What worked and didn't work? Could I slowly block off her more elusive hiding places? She's under the bed the majority of the time, and I think there is even a hole in the dustcover of my boxspring that she climbs up and hides in.

Last night I had to give her oral abx, and it was a chore just to get ahold of her. I had to coherce her out of my room, shut the door so she couldnt run back under the bed, and even then she ran behind the fridge, and even found a small hole under the kitchen counter/sink fixture.

I'm going to patch up the kitchen hole, for safety reasons, but is blocking off her other options slowly over time an option that may help?
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Old 10-23-2013, 08:16 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Oh yes, my kitty Jem has ripped holes in the fabric on the bottom of all of the boxsprings in all of the beds in the house. He climbs up there when he's really scared. It freaked me out the first time he did it because I had some painters in the house and I thought he'd gotten out. I was going around to every room calling him and heard a muffled meow, and eventually found him. He's 10 now and still does it. He's very skittish and never outgrew a lot of those tendencies.

I'd definitely patch anything up where it's someplace she could get stuck/hurt (like a hole under the sink). But I wouldn't worry about the mattress. She feels safe there, so just let her be, otherwise, she may just be more anxious.
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Old 10-23-2013, 08:28 PM   #3 (permalink)
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And actually, I have old towels, blankets, etc. under all of my beds so Jem can get comfortable while he's there (he likes to nest/burrow). Whenever my niece and nephews come over (they are very rowdy), the doorbell rings, there's a bad storm, etc., that's where he retreats to. He obviously feels safe there, so I don't see a problem with it...
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Old 10-23-2013, 09:21 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Well, ET is skittish too. I wouldn't block out his hiding place, in fact, I would make his hiding place more comfortable, like emilyatl, leave some blankets or something warm there. I am also making an effort to find a good and comfortable hiding place for him, I feel, they need a place to feel safe in, if they need to hide...they need to hide, I want him to feel safe and to know he has a place to go to when he is really scared.
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Old 10-24-2013, 09:01 AM   #5 (permalink)
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I'm with snowy - I think it's a good idea to leave at least one hiding spot open and available, where a cat will feel safe to hide out in when startled.

During the day, it may help to leave the radio on at low volume during the day when you're not around to act as white noise. 1.5 weeks is still pretty short amount of time for a kitten to adjust to a new environment. I'm sure things will get better
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Old 10-24-2013, 10:03 AM   #6 (permalink)
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I love the advise about the hiding spot and making it even more comfortable!

My Tess was feral for at least a year before she and I became friends. What worked for us was complete passiveness on my part. I said to myself if I was afraid of something, what would I do about it? I would flee or fight. Since fleeing was no longer an option, I made sure she could "conquer". I kept her in the laundry room for the first couple of weeks -- I needed to monitor her a bit before giving free run of the house. As soon as I walked into the room, I watched her (but not looking straight at her)...I give her the "side-eye" -- she would let me get about 3 feet into the room before showing discomfort. I put my head down immediately, and said "you are WAY too scary for me!" And I would leave. I think it's important to stress that you are not REALLY afraid, because she might pick up on that and it could work against the whole process....It took a few weeks before I could approach my cat without her trying to hide. Now? She jumps up on my belly for skritches when I'm sleeping...but, I worked REALLY hard at paying attention to her body language. It was six months outside and almost a year inside and we still have issues, but she is NOT afraid of me....I hope this helps you a little bit -- the good thing is that she's still really young...
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Old 10-24-2013, 10:07 AM   #7 (permalink)
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I think some cats are just skittish and there is nothing you can do about it. I have one, Taffy, he is a big giant chicken. He has what we call his "hidey hole", which is underneath my daughter's skirted vanity table. It is his go to place when he is scared, like if he hears someone rip off a piece of tin foil, oh boy, look out, he is off! I have tried to get him used to it by doing this, when he is in the kitchen in the morning, I will rip the tin foil very slowly and say to him "see, it's ok, it won't hurt you", and this has actually helped him. He used to be terrified of plastic bags too, but I did the same thing, I let him see me and I shook them open gently so that he could see that it was just an empty bag and it wouldn't hurt him, and now he is hardly afraid of those at all. I make sure and talk to him when it is something that he is scared of, if I say "it's OK Taffy, it won't hurt you", he really does kind of look at me and doesn't bolt away. However, he is still afraid when we have company over and he will bolt to his hidey hole. Once someone has been over a few times and he sees that they are OK, he will eventually come out while they are here, but if it's a kid, forget it. My nephew comes over and you will not see Taffy the whole time, but in that case, I don't blame him.
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Old 10-24-2013, 11:08 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by howsefrau32 View Post
Once someone has been over a few times and he sees that they are OK, he will eventually come out while they are here, but if it's a kid, forget it. My nephew comes over and you will not see Taffy the whole time, but in that case, I don't blame him.
That's how my Jem is. My nephews are 8, 6, and 2. He hears them coming before the doorbell even rings and takes off for upstairs! I always shut the bedroom doors when they're here and turn on the alarm radio to drown out their noise. And I leave food/water for him under the bed to make him feel a little more comfortable. I wish I could hide under there with him sometimes.
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Old 10-26-2013, 01:50 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I feel so bad, because they both have supposed URI and I have to give them oral Abx. I am basically forced to traumatize her because otherwise I can't get ahold of her. I corale her out of my bedroom and shut the door, then I have to upend all other potential hiding places in the rest of my apartment so I can get ahold of her. There should be 6 more nights of this, I think she hates me... This seems like the only available method to get ahold of her, since its more or less necessary, do I get a pass for these 10 days of torture?
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Old 10-26-2013, 02:08 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I feel your pain. We've all had to deal with kitties who are difficult to medicate. She doesn't hate you, she just hates getting medicated. Kitties are very resisilient and she will forget all about this! Do you have anyone who can help you medicate her? I'm sorry you're having to go through this!
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