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Still under the bed after over a week

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 
We adopted two cats on the 6th from a local rescue. One of them (the 2 year old) adjusted great...she sits with us and plays and is really the perfect cat. No litter box problems, she is well behaved except for scratching (trimmed nails seem to be protecting us until we get her on the scratching posts).

The other one was a bengal mix and he was just crazy. He was 4 years old and apparently used to be a stray (they didn't tell us this when we adopted him). He spent all his time hiding under the bed, but after about 4-5 days he got a little comfortable with us. That is when he started attacking our hands.

The bengal was really freaking out my wife so we took him back and picked up a different one on the 13th. He's very quiet and timid and even after 10 days he only comes out from under the futon for food, water, or the bathroom. He is fine with you petting him under the futon but we have tried getting him out and he runs back after a few minutes. Any time he is out of the guest room, if he sees you his only mission is to get around you and back to the safety of the futon. I don't think he's happy and we don't want to invest money into a cat which is going to spend all it's time under the bed.

What should we do? I really want to just give him back and keep the 1 female but the woman at the rescue is being very resistant. She loves the 2 YO cat and thinks it really needs a companion.
post #2 of 24
Well, if everone's mother 'gave back' their babies every time there was a problem, we'd all be in a terrible mess! You need to work with him a little and a few days isn't enough. He probably isn't happy, probably picking up on vibes that he's somehow defective and will be returned to the shelter if he doesn't behave, but is also scared stiff of the new environment and needs a chance to adjust. Maybe you need to go into the room, close the door, sit down and start talking to him... for as long per session as you can, and not stick your hands ('invasion') under the futon or anything, but just be cool and do stuff in the room, let him really get used to you and your voice, etc. and he will come out (keep door closed) eventually. Maybe bring in a cord with knots at either end and a couple of sheets of newspaper, and drag the cord slowly under the paper for him to pounce on (his curiosity will win out in the end). But it could take a few days of your doing that (just being there) for an hour or so at a time a few times a day at least, and when he really feels secure in that room, gradually open the door, start casually going in and out, give him a chance to explore on his own, but do not try to catch him, pick him up, or anything else (it'll be hard, but it's important!). He'll adjust, but needs some help. He's scared of your 'top' resident cat of course, but if you keep her in a separate room when he starts to come out of the room on his own, and let him wander the place in 'safety' a few times a day (she'll be fine) then he can start to feel a bit equal, and not only like an intruder. eventually let her out with him already in the room (when he's done it comfortably for a few days) and she'll then be in his, or at least neutral territory. She may chase him or start a tiff, but it's normal and they'll gradually adjust, but he needs to feel he's not 2nd best!
post #3 of 24
First of all, good for you to bring a rescue kitty (or two) into your home.

Some things to keep in mind: don't forget when you brought the first two in, it wasn't anyone's territory yet. This poor thing has to deal with being brought into another more established cat's territory, plus it probably still smells like the bengal is around. So in his mind there's at least one (possibly two) cats to worry about besides the tall humans with the booming voices.

The new kitty is probably scared out of its wits...give it some time and do a proper introduction. He needs his safe place right now. My advice is make sure there's a safe litterbox and food for him and then ignore him. Constant attempts to "tempt him out" will just scare him more. Sit in the room and read, or do something quiet that is completely non-cat focused. He will eventually come out.

Keep in mind that this is another creature with feelings and fears and a history you have no clue of. Someone may have given him real reasons to fear in the past and it will take a while to get over that.
post #4 of 24
Please don't take him back because he is shy -- you can't always have the perfect cat -- they are very individual. My cat is 1 years old now and was very shy as a kitten. He has made tremendous progress in the last 10 months.

I may differ from others here -- but I believe after a certain amount of time -- you have to sort of force your cat out of hiding. If you allow him to hide all the time he will become confortable with this. When my cat was little, I actually "plugged up" the space under the couch so he could not go under there. Maybe you could take him in a room (like the bathroom where no where to hide) with some treats and try petting him.
post #5 of 24
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the advice. The room has been opened for the past week. She goes in there and he comes out and there doesn't seem to be any fighting or other similar behavior on either cat's part. Sometimes he will find hiding spots outside of the room as well (behind a chair in the corner, for example). So I'm not really getting the feeling that he is scared of her. We have two litterboxes, one right next to "his room" and one on the other side of the condo. He uses both. I am not going to put food in his room because I feel it is a good way to force him out once in a while and get used to coming out of that room.

I do sit in that room sometimes and work on the computer. During this time I have only seen him leave once to get food.

I guess we will give him more time. However, Larke you might hate me for saying this...it isn't our child, it's a cat. I know some people feel very strongly about their pets and treat them like children. And we are getting very attached to the 2 year old, but I do not share the opinion that they should be treated like offspring.
post #6 of 24
And I never said they should - just made a comparison to make a point.
post #7 of 24
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by Larke View Post
And I never said they should - just made a comparison to make a point.
Well, with all due respect, it's not a valid comparison so it doesn't make the point. We made an impulse decision to adopt these two cats instead of one, because the rescue wanted us to. If we decide that we might want to have only 1 instead of 2 we aren't adding to the problem as you suggest (by 'creating a mess')...we are still adopting one.
post #8 of 24
Sounds like you really only want one cat.
post #9 of 24
It is difficult with shelter cats - you never know what they have been through before you take them on - as you have discovered, even the shelter doesn't always tell you, and there are things they probably don't know. But I would beg you not to give up yet - it has actually been a very short time to let him adjust, and the chances are that he will be fine before too long. In fact you are really very lucky that the other one has settled so quickly - it often takes much longer. I would say don't force him to do anything - if he wants to take his food where he is, let him. It will work better in the long term if he learns to relax in one place, then can move on to take in more of his new environment. Let him get used to the sound of your voice and your presence - it is a good thing you are doing, working in the room, but continue to ignore him until he is ready to come out. Curiosity will win in the end. The fact that he does not seem frightened of the other cat is good - it shows there is potential for them to become friends and keep each other company when you are not there. No, animals are not kids, but they do have similar emotions and reactions sometimes, and have in common that they like routine. This cat has had his world turned upside down, not once but at least twice. So do keep trying - nothing good comes without an effort and I am sure you will be thankful one day.
post #10 of 24
I think you should take the kitten back. It's obvious you don't want him.

I'm not trying to sound harsh, but you flat out say you wanted one cat, but were pressured into getting two. You did a good thing by saving one.. if you don't want him, take him back so he can get a home that is right for him.

When I bought Princess, everyone wanted me to get two too, but I stuck with what I wanted and just got one..which is working out great for all of us right now.

I hope that helps a bit.

On the other hand, if you decide to keep him there are things you can do to make him more at ease. The people here have excellent ideas and really know their stuff. My advice would be to listen and take heed to all they say if possible.
post #11 of 24
Staying under the bed for a week or several months after coming to a new home (with a strange new cat) is perfectly normal behavior. It tells you absolutely nothing about who the cat actually is or what its personality is. It's just an adjustment period, and you can't rush the cat or try to force it to make friends (this is actually counterproductive).

When I brought my cat home from the shelter, he spent the first two or three months either under the bed or sitting in one spot, not moving. I was worried, and I also was impatient for him to start acting the way I hoped he'd act. But I gave him space, ignored him and let him wander around and come to me. Now he's affectionate, playful, completely confident and at home. He even a handled holiday trip that involved staying at a new place for a few weeks without batting an eye... that's how much he's changed.

It sounds as though people may be trying to drag the cat out from under the bed and push him into interactions. You're all strangers to him at this point, and big ones. The best way to proceed during the adjustment period is to let the cat stay under the bed as long as he wants, and let him explore the house from there little by little. If you leave him alone, but talk nicely to him and wait, he'll come to you.

I too believe cats are pets and not like children. But I also know that they're animals and so may be scared by things that wouldn't scare people... and that human expectations of how fast they should adjust are often not in tune with basic cat biology.
post #12 of 24
Thread Starter 
Thanks everyone for the responses. Let me clarify a couple things.

First, he's not a kitten. He's about 3 years old.

Second, yes I will admit I would rather have one cat. Less vet bills, less litter box cleanup, less fur everywhere, etc.

That being said, I am going to give him some more time based on the comments here. I do think it is better if there are two cats at home so one doesn't feel lonely when we are out. I think this is also a reason for my concern. If we are going to have 2 cats I want them to keep each other company; I don't want to have 2 cats that are by themselves all the time.

emmylou, yeah we dragged him out a couple times at the beginning but for the past week or so we have been leaving him alone. We might go in there once a day and give him a treat or something but that is about as far as our interactions go. Thanks for sharing your experience, it makes me feel a little better.

If it is normal behavior for him to be scared after 10 days, well I guess I just need to be more patient. I think we are just spoiled by the first one--she was out and exploring the instant we opened the carrier, and wanted to get out of the "safe room" by the same evening.
post #13 of 24
My cat was also three years old when I got him. Kittens tend to adjust to new environments and new people and animals more quickly. An adult rescue cat is coming from some other environment which may or may not have been positive, but which was familiar... and then there was the period in which it passed through the shelter. So it can take some time for the cat to feel comfortable and open up.
post #14 of 24
Hi there,

I like to give my 2 cents worth for a moment. I was just taking a quick peak at posts and saw yours.

Yes, patience helps for kitties that are scared. They will grow out of it but it is also important to talk to them. They understand believe it or not. Talk to them with a gentle tone. When you walk in the room, maybe sit on the floor and pull out a toy or string to get them to come out and play. They love to play.

I have been working with two kitties. Come see my posts under Behavior on "Siamese Catsitting Diaries" and you'll see what I've been through the last two weeks. Because I love my own cats and play with them and talk to them, they are happy kitties. They are happy enough to greet perfect strangers at the door. They never hide when company is over. I'm very fortunate and blessed to have such wonderful companions. It takes time and work but you can accomplish good results. And keep coming back here for help. We are all in the same boat at times.

post #15 of 24
Not trying to be critical, but I really don't think people should adopt cats if they are worried about them creating problems like shedding, litter cleanup, etc. I don't say treat them like they're children, but they are your responsibility once you adopt them, and should be considered part of the household, not just an accessory like a lamp or a chair, or because all their friends have pets. I'm thinking of people I know who are like that, so if that's not you, sorry.

My story is that we adopted 2 cats at the shelter a year ago December, because we wanted two (so they would be company for each other). I think it's better to have another creature of your own species to relate to. (Imagine if you lived in a house with 2 big cats as your "owners" and no other human to talk to or interact with). Anyway, we wanted two who already knew each other and got along, but Swanie (young male tuxedo) picked us, and he didn't have a friend with him. Cynthia was a hurried decision because it was getting late and we really wanted two at the same time. Cindy was obviously shy, stayed in the back of her cage, etc. But when we got her in the playroom, she was so sweet, she loved being petted, and she didn't run from us, so we took her.

After we got her home, we did the recommended contain them in separate rooms for one night, but Swanie was so comfortable from the beginning we had to let him out. Cindy was not comfortable and stayed in my bathroom for a few days before we gradually introduced the two. When we did let her out, she pretty much took up residence under the guest bed. There were also issues with the two of them, wrestling, her hissing at Swanie, batting him, etc. For awhile, I was worried we might have to take her back (for her own well being, and Swanie's as well), but fortunately I didn't rush to judgement. We did what others have suggested, got on the floor beside the bed, talked to her, occasionally pushed a treat or two to her. She eventually started coming out, but was afraid to come downstairs. She did love being petted though, and she didn't object to me carrying her downstairs. However, she would get frightened if I put her on the couch (she must have not been allowed on the furniture where she lived previously) and run back upstairs. She would also start to explore, then get scared and run back upstairs. She wouldn't play with the toys, either. We just tried to be patient, talked to her, didn't try to rush her, etc. Eventually she started staying downstairs longer, started grooming downstairs, and watching Swanie intently when he would play with the mouse or bird. The first time she batted the cat dancer was so exciting.

What I'm getting to is that now, a little over one year later, Cindy is Queen Bee of the house. The only time she goes under a bed is after a vet trip, or if it's storming. She is playful, loving, and one happy little kitty. And she and Swanie get along wonderfully.

These two cats have enriched our lives so much, I would never begrudge the double vet bills (even though we really can't afford it sometimes), or the little issues of litter box or the fur around the house (which really isn't that much more for two than for one). They're a joy to watch, and a joy to interact with. I don't treat them like they're my children, but I do treat them as though they're a valued part of my family, and they respond to that.

I hope you and your wife will learn to love the little guys, and give them a happy life. No human or creature should have to stay in a place where they aren't wanted and loved.
post #16 of 24
Hi I tamed my Ginger who would only come to the back door for his biscuits, I knelt down and whispered silly things to him and tried to get him to play my finger over the edge of the door. He would go off and then come back again to look at this daft woman ands make sure he wasn't hearing and seeing things. Believe me when I say if you give him plenty of time he will be fine, he may be scared of your other cat and it will take him time to get used to. Just don't force him to do anything and he will come out when he is ready, remember you never ever own a cat but they you!!! Good luck
post #17 of 24
I agree with everyone that says to just give it time. Cats have different comfort levels and it seems that one if just taking longer to get comfortable.

As long as he is eating and using the litter box fine then you really don't have that much of an issue other than feeling bad that you can't pet your new kitty.

he will come around.
post #18 of 24
i just adopted a kitty two weeks ago from the local shelter as well. my presnt kitty, abbey had just lost her brother) . lindy was "almost feral" when rescued which we found out after daughters had fallen in love with her so there was no leaving her there. she is very timid and likes to hide most of the day under the bed. she has been using her own box in the bathroom but eating out of the bowl that abbey uses. long story short, she is a one person kitty so far (me) but i'm the one that has spent the most time with her, chatting, petting her and just trying to get her used to her new home. i kept her in the bathroom for a few days and then let her feel her way around the place at her leisure. she still runs and hides from us most of the time but i am confident she will relax eventually. hubby says out of 270 cats, we had to pick one with issues.

give your kitty time, love and patience if you want to integrate her into your family. if not, take her back and let someone else work with her. it's not a crime to change your mind!
post #19 of 24
I know how you feel. We got a 6 month old Siamese/Himalayan mix some years ago and figured out he had spent most of his short life in a cage. We had no other cats at the time but this fellow was terrified - to the point he bit my daughter, husband and me very hard while we were trying to catch him to put him in our bedroom. We put food and water in one corner of the bedroom and a litterbox in the other corner. The cat stayed behind our headboard for 1 full month. He would only come out if we were not in the room or if we were fully on the bed - no arms or legs hanging over. My husband and I had a TV in the room and every night would sit on the bed either together or individually, watching TV or reading and talking gently to the cat. I would drop occasional treats for him. We got a cat toy and would try to play with him behind the headboard.

Finally, Saturday, exactly 4 weeks to the day we got him, I was sitting on the bed talking gently to him. He came out to eat and get a drink. I kept talking gently and leaned over the side of the bed. When he ran to get past my hand, my fingers touched his head and he froze. I continued talking and gently touching him and he relaxed enough for me to get my other hand down and pick him up. I held him firmly but gently between my legs on the bed and kept talking to him. He gentled. For the next few days he still hid but would come out when I was in the room. When he was comfortable with me on the bed my mom, husband or daughter would quietly come in and talk to him also and he would let them touch him as long as he was with me. One week later I opened the bedroom door for him to check out the rest of the house at his own pace and comfort. One week later he finally made it to the family room 2 levels down. I never forced him and just allowed him to discover our home at his own pace. After that first week downstairs he became one of the most affectionate and loving cats we'd ever had. He loved to be held upside down in our arms like a human baby. Neither my daughter nor I could sit in the family room without him on our lap - often he jumped up before we were even settled ourselves. I never ever got to use the bathroom without him on my lap.

LONG story - but the gist of it is that with patience, gentle and calming talking, you can change this little one's life and he/she may well become your most devoted, loving cat.

My husband, like you, decided after 2-3 weeks that we had to return the cat because he too did not want an unsocial cat. I begged him (after getting lots of good and helpful advice from the veterans on TCS) to give him more time. We were so thankful that we did in the long run.

I hope you'll take heart from my story and work with your kitty. We can only imagine what their lives were like before we took them in.
post #20 of 24
Yosemite, that's a very sweet story.

To the OP, I hope that things work out. I also would give it some more time.
post #21 of 24
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the stories. They are very encouraging, and we will not be giving him back. Unfortunately we have some family in town for the next few days and we have had to kick him out of his "safe room". He's found a couple other hiding spots, but he's . I don't know if this is going to have a positive or negative effect on his adjustment.
post #22 of 24
Originally Posted by ozziegt View Post
Thanks for all the stories. They are very encouraging, and we will not be giving him back. Unfortunately we have some family in town for the next few days and we have had to kick him out of his "safe room". He's found a couple other hiding spots, but he's . I don't know if this is going to have a positive or negative effect on his adjustment.
Is there any way he could be kept in your bedroom perhaps with the door closed? He may feel safer that way.
post #23 of 24
last night, we "introduced" our lindy to the litterbox in the basement after letting her be upstairs with her own box in our bathroom for the last two weeks (my entire bathroom was loaded with kitty litter). she was not happy and i was afraid that all the work i had done with her over the past two weeks was undone. she is hiding yet again but will come out for a minute or two just to check things out.

point being....patience is what matters here. i'll be patient if you can be too. kitties....gotta love 'em!
post #24 of 24
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by Yosemite View Post
Is there any way he could be kept in your bedroom perhaps with the door closed? He may feel safer that way.
We are constantly going in and out of our bedroom. Also we are trying to make a policy that our bedroom is off limits (we don't want them sleeping in our room). For now we are leaving the bedroom open because he seems to find it pretty safe under our bed. But if my wife and her sister go in there talking and laughing he will get fed up after a little while and run out and go to another hiding spot.
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