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Thread: Any help or tips for a timid adult cat?

  1. #1

    Any help or tips for a timid adult cat?

    I need help. I adopted a 5 year old kitty and she is incredibly timid. I grew up around cats and my last cat was a shelter kitty as well but I really don't know what to do or how to help her feel more comfortable any more. I have also always had male cats if that makes much difference in behavior.

    After her owner had passed away all his/er cats ended up in the shelter. Some time later all of them got adopted by one person. This person also had dogs and a bunny rabbit. The rabbit wasn't that fond of the cat and attacked my new Kitty friend; she got so scared she wouldn't get out from under the sofa for days so the person who adopted her before me had to return her to the shelter.

    Now I understand this kitty has been through some traumas, her owner dying, shelter, new environment, being attacked by a bunny rabbit, being the only one brought back to the shelter and loosing all of her familiar cat family she grew up with. I will give her a few days but I want her to be happy. I'm afraid I will have to take her back to the shelter within the trail period if her behavior won't improve. The only time she got out from under the bed was when she saw herself in the mirror (She probably thought it was another cat which may indicate she need a mate to feel more at ease ,sadly I can't keep more than one cat.)

    She does let me pet her when under the bed but won't come out. In fact she barely moves down there and mostly sits in one position. She becomes more active at night like most cats but then it consists of going to the "bathroom" and meowing on the window sills and scratching the front and the balcony doors. This is what made me think they made a mistake at the shelter and she has not been an indoor cat and was perhaps used to going outside at night. I suffer from anxiety and this is a problem for me because if I won't be able to get a goodnight sleep my condition will get worse too.

    I just don't know what the best thing to do is. I really don't want to give her back but I do realize that if she really needs a mate and an opportunity to go outside then there is probably a better home out there for her. No sense to keep a cat if you can't make it happy.

    I'd appreciate any advice or tips. So far I've put a baby blanket under my bed so she at least doesn't sleep on the floor. And I leave a bowl with food there too as she would not eat anything but dry food at night otherwise. I worry because she doesn't drink. Not even when she dares to leave her hiding spot at night. I tried persuading her with noms and toys but she is unaffected. She is very aloof and careful and didn't even dare to get on the blanket I gave her at first.

    I don't know what to do any more.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2000
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    Waltham, MA, USA
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    Give her time, and she will adjust. It may take weeks, but just make sure every day you go into the room, sit on the floor and talk to her. Don't reach in, just sit and be with her. If you want, bring a book, and read to her, or even just sit and be still for a while each day.

    She is obviously scared, and no one can blame her. You are her best hope, many people here have been through the same sort of thing, and it is so very rewarding when your patience pays off and she is brave enough to come over to you for some attention, and eventually emerges from her safety zone once she feels secure!
    I've Been Frosted

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Karen View Post
    Give her time, and she will adjust. It may take weeks, but just make sure every day you go into the room, sit on the floor and talk to her. Don't reach in, just sit and be with her. If you want, bring a book, and read to her, or even just sit and be still for a while each day.

    She is obviously scared, and no one can blame her. You are her best hope, many people here have been through the same sort of thing, and it is so very rewarding when your patience pays off and she is brave enough to come over to you for some attention, and eventually emerges from her safety zone once she feels secure!
    I am currently working at home so I try to sit near her a lot and talk to her. When I pet her she seems to enjoy that and that's actually the only moment when she relaxes a bit. She turns over on her back and lets me stroke her belly, starts cleaning herself and changes positions into more comfortable ones (normally she sits there, curled up with her paws under her torso.) I go away once she turns around and doesn't look at me any more as if she had enough. I also don't just start petting her, i put my hand there and she starts marking my hand with her head. Should I continue doing that or stop completely? Sometimes when I pet her she sticks her head out from under my bed but it looks like she is unsure and doesn't dare to go out after all. Should I continue doing that ,or should I leave her alone after all?

    I got two carton boxes today and cut round holes in them so she has more places to hide around the house. Maybe that will help her get from under that bed more.

    I can't keep her too long. The way shelters work here is that I will have to give them a sign in about two weeks and tell them how the cat is doing and if she adapted well. If not ,I will have to bring her back. Sadly.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2000
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    You should keep petting her, that is a good sign that she is comfortable with her. And waiting until she head-butts your hand is the right approach. The shelter's 2-week policy may be why she is so timid, getting returned multiple times, and not having a chance to adjust on her own timetable. It's good that you made her a couple more hide-spots! Maybe put a few crunchies in them to lure her out - and that way you'll be able to tell if she's been in them when you're not home!

    Have you tried any toys with her to lure her out? How about toys with catnip in them?
    I've Been Frosted

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Rhode Island; USA
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    Oh poor kitty! Cats take time to adjust to change, and she may well need more than 2 weeks.

    I encourage you to pet her, give her the belly rubs. I would not make it too easy for her to continue living under the bed, what I mean is, don't put the food and water and treats there, let her have to roam about a bit for them.

    In the wild, cats do not drink much at all, they get all the fluids they need from their prey. For this reason, feeding her just kibble isn't the best diet for her. Add a high quality canned food. like Tiki Cat, Fussie Cat, or Weruva brands. For my cats, I mix the canned with a bit of the kibble so they get some crunch as well.

    Do you have a scratching post or a cat tree / cat perch? Buy some catnip and crumble it up on the cat items, this will help attract her to those things.

    I am glad you put the blankie down for her. And the boxes, ha haa, never met the cat yet who could decline a box! Even that may take her a day or 2 to venture into them. I hope you keep her, sure sounds like she needs a nice safe place. Oh, and I am opposed to allowing cats outdoors, so I wouldn't recommend that.

    Where do you live? You didn't say, don't know if you are in the States, Canada, England, etc. I am in Rhode Island, USA.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Illinois, USA
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    Scratching at the windows and doors makes me wonder if she was allowed to go outside in her previous home(s). When she does that, can you dissuade her from the window or door with a treat or a toy? I am thinking this would be a good chance to make her an indoor-only kitty.

    Cassie stayed under my love seat for a few days after I first brought her home. She allowed me to reach under the love seat to pet her. I know she was coming out at night to eat and use the litter pan because the food I put out for her was gone and the pan was used. I hope your kitty gets braver! What is her name? Come on out, kitty
    Yikes! I've been Boo'd ... right off of the stage!
    Aaahh, I have been defrosted! Thank you, Bonny and Asiel!
    Brrrr, I've been Frosted! Thank you, Asiel and Pomtzu!


    "That's the power of kittens (and puppies too, of course): They can reduce us to quivering masses of Jell-O in about two seconds flat and make us like it. Good thing they don't have opposable thumbs or they'd surely have taken over the world by now." -- Paul Lukas

    Cassie's Catster page: http://www.catster.com/cats/448678

  7. #7
    She slept almost all night today on an armchair in the living room and started coming out from under the bed during the day when I pet her. When she goes out she just keeps walking in circles as I pet her but doesn't dare going any further.

    I stopped giving her canned food under the bed hoping that she will get out once hungry but she won't until I pet her for a very long time. It's like she needs some type of approval. Also every little noise sends her right back into her hiding spot. I don't know any of these brands, I will look if I can find any of these online or in local pet stores. I give her pouches of Royal Canin and CatNatura cans at the moment.

    I do have a scratching post but as far as I can tell she has not used it yet, I can hear her clawing the doormat at night though. I tried catnip,she didn't really care about it at first but today I have seen her munching on the cat nip toy so maybe I can make more of them and leave them around the house. She has not used any of the carton boxes I have made for her as of yet.

    I am not going to let her go outside. I could in theory but I do not have a garden so she would just venture straight on to a busy street. It's not easy to find a shelter cat that is indoor. Most usually require a garden or at least a secure, closed off balcony. I don't need to do anything when she is meowing and scratching the door because she usually runs away as I approach her. Tonight was the first night she didn't do it so maybe she gave up on it.

    As for kibble ,I'm not sure if I should continue giving it to her. The shelter gave me a bag of Prins Vitalcare and recommended to feed her with that and eventually mix it with a different brand in the beginning as that is what she was used to at the shelter. I did, she threw up last night and there was no hair at all ,just kibble. I'm not sure if it was stress that caused her to vomit it up or the food itself is just not very good for her.

    As for the two weeks policy. I have worked at another shelter before ,it's not the worst thing. Cats never stay in very long before getting adopted. And it just doesn't always work out between the cat and the new owner. They always end up finding a good new home eventually and are rarely being brought back. I can prolong the trial period if progress is being made. I am not sure what I am going to do yet. We still have a bit of time.

    Oh and I'm living in The Netherlands. Kitty has no name yet, it usually takes me a while to see what suits them. (My last cat was nameless for more than a month until we decided to name him Pascal.) They made a mistake at first and thinking she was a male cat; gave her the name Brian. They didn't change it any more ,it's not like she is reacting to it either way.

    Thanks for all your replies ,I hope she will continue on making progress.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2000
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    Waltham, MA, USA
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    It all sounds like very good progress, and like she is really settling in, so keep up he good work!
    I've Been Frosted

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