Scared Cat - Cat Forum : Cat Discussion Forums
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 11-26-2005, 08:56 PM Thread Starter
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Scared Cat

I work at a shelter where a 5-year old cat t was brought in because his elderly owner couldn't care for him. He was terrified. Big eyed and didn't move all day. Talked to past owner. He used to lie by her feet at night and would play with two of her other cats. When I brought him home, I put him in my office for about a week and let my other cats come in. There, so far, really hasn't been much of any issues with my other cats. When he and I were alone, after dragging him out of hiding places, he wanted lots of attention -- even rolling on his back to have his stomach petted. Now I've taken him into the main part of the house. Yesterday I sat with him for about an hour with him under a fleece next to me. He stayed under the fleece all afternoon. Late in the day, he slinked out of it, along the perimeter of the room to the bedroom. He stayed under the bed for the rest of the night. When we started to go to bed, he slinked toward the utility room where the food and one of the litter box is but he met another cat who hissed; so he ran. I saw him in the spare bath but when he saw me, he ran under the couch where he has been all day. He's not coming out to use the litter box or to eat -- must do it at night when we sleep. Don't know how to help him adjust. Any ideas? Have thought about putting him in a dog cage in the main part of the house so he can't hide -- but isn't that just prolonging the inevitable -- that eventually he has to get used to life outside my office or outside of a cage?
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 11-26-2005, 09:23 PM
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I've had my three girls since last March, and two of them are still coming around. Polly hid for more than a week straight, Muffin avoided all contact... and those two will still run away when people enter the room. However, they've finally reached the point where they'll come to us, sometimes sitting on the couch or curling up in bed with us. They clearly enjoy attention, but are still very sensitive and fearful.

It'll just take time. I don't think that confining the cat will serve you in any way. It may just make him more fearful. There's a reason he's hiding - because he's scared - and he needs to have that sort of security. If it persists for more than a month or three, I'd start to wonder if he'll ever come around, but right now he probably just needs time.
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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 11-26-2005, 10:48 PM
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I've never tried it, but I wonder if something like Feliway would help in a situation like this?
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 11-26-2005, 11:10 PM
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As Lisa said, if you prevent him from hiding, that will just make his anxiety worse.
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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 11-27-2005, 02:32 AM
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Why don't you let him come out at his own pace? It make take longer than you would think, but he has to be comfortable -- not only in his new surroundings but also in some other cats' territory -- on his own terms.
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 11-27-2005, 10:08 AM
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It is huge to a cat when he is brought into new surroundings.
He has to find out who lives there, are they friendly, where does he belong in the hierachy,where is it safe, etc etc. That can take some time. Let him do it at his own pace with safe places to hide and take a break from the stress. In time he will integrate himself into your family.

There are great threads on this forum on introductions of cats.
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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 11-27-2005, 02:30 PM
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When I got my first cat (from a shelter) I barely saw her for 2-3 weeks. She would come out to use the litterbox and eat while I was away at work so I knew she was still alive.

By the time she died 16 years later she was a lap cat who followed me everywhere. But she was always a scardy cat and hid when anyone came into the house.

It does not sound like his problem is the other cats, just new suroundings in general.

Just give him lots of love when you see him and lots of time to adjust at his own pace. He'll be fine.
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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 11-28-2005, 12:39 AM
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I bought a cat crate, placed it in a corner with the door open and a blanket inside. Molly found this to be very comforting. She had walls on three sides so nobody could "attack" her and she could visually see what was going on in the room. Molly was an only child and hated everyone but me. 13 years later she still likes to sleep in her crate.

"Resolve to be tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant with the weak and wrong....because sometime in your life you will have been all of these."
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 12-05-2005, 10:50 PM Thread Starter
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Update On Scared Cat

Thanks for the suggestions. Murphy has been with us for about 3 weeks now, and he's adjusting. Guess I was too impatient.

I don't think he was ready to explore the entire house at first; so I put him back into my office for a while. He was SO happy to get back that he rolled all over the floor, jumped on the desk and rubbed on me and purred & purred & purred.

Then after about a week, I opened the door from my office into our living area downstairs. He started to explore. The door to the upstairs was closed; so he didn't interact with other cats -- just the dog. The dog thinks Murphy is the best thing he's ever seen. Murphy let's him know when he's had enough. Max is over exhubert -- follows Murphy everywhere & sometimes Murphy will rub against the dog's legs.

He was still hiding after a few days of downstairs living area freedom -- would explore when he was alone. When I would come downstairs, I would have to coax him out, and once I did that, he would be okay. Stopped coaxing & now he's coming out by himself. The door to the upstairs has been opened & there's been some hissing from the other cats (but not excessive) who are coming back downstairs, but Murphy just sits and looks at them.

Next step is his getting brave enough to venture upstairs on his own, and he'll do that when he's ready.

He is such a lover, and I'm really getting attached to him. Am very pleased with the progress & just had to tell everyone. He's going to be a great addition to the family.

Thanks again, everyone.
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 12-05-2005, 11:43 PM
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That is fantastic to hear! Way to go.
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