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New cat is very shy

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
A few days ago, I picked up Smokey, and he was understandably freaked out after a 250+ mile car ride. I showed him where the litter box was, filled the food and water, and left him alone, aside from checking in on him to talk and pet for a half hour a day.

He basically spent the last 3 days here under the couch, I dont think I ever saw him leave and he didnt touch the food or water from what I could tell.

I remembered that he's basically spent his whole life in a basement away from people, so today I decided that he shouldnt just dwell in a deep dark cat-cave 24/7 or he'll just get accustomed to it. All his hiding places are now blocked off (under the bed, couch, closet) I figure that its ok if he wants to stay out of the way over by the coffee table, and I'm giving him his space till he gets used to the new home.

What do you all think? Right track, mistake, suggestions?
post #2 of 13
Don't block off his hiding spots! That will only make him feel afraid and insecure.

He's hiding because he is in a new environment, and he's rightfully afraid. It's a big change to go from one place to another, and an even bigger change to have the run of a house instead of being locked in a basement.

There are lots of threads on introducing a cat to a new home. One that I know works is to give them a small area to climatize to first....a spare bedroom.

Spend lots of time in there with him, sitting on the floor or in a chair reading out loud to him so that he gets used to your voice. Have lots of toys in the room, along with his litter, food and water, and a comfy place for him to sleep (a blanket from his other home with the old people's scent, or even his scent would have been helpful). Keep a radio on at low volume so that he's not so alone when he's by himself. A 1/2 hour a day with him is not nearly enough time with him. You need to spend more.

Start extending treats to him... by placing them on the floor near you. Let him approach you, don't go and drag him or pull him near you. Have one of those fishing pole toys and extend it out gently in an attempt to get him to play. When he's a bit more comfy coming around you, let him brush up against your hand, but go on his terms, don't pick him up. Just pet him gently and let him get used to you.

Once he's accustomed to the one room and you, let him have the run of the house for an hour or so. Just open the door and let him pick when he will come out. Do not close the door once he's out. Leave it open so that it's his safe haven.

Soon you will have a happy and social kitty.
post #3 of 13
I wouldn't take away places he feels secure. I think he just needs more time. As far as food, are you starting out using the same kind of food that he's been used to eating? Even if it's junky food, that will be something familiar in a strange place. Cats can be notoriously picky about food changes.

I just think you have a very shy and timid cat. Just give him time. You can spend some time just sitting on the floor in front of his hiding place under the couch. Just sit there, perhaps reading quietly, if you're a reader. After a while you can just talk to him in a quiet voice. Then after a few days maybe you can try to stimulate his curiousity with a crinkly-sounding cat toy. I'm sure eventually he'll come out and make your aquaintance.
post #4 of 13
Ha ha .... nice to see someone else was posting the same thing while I was typing.
post #5 of 13
Thread Starter 
Well, this is quite a change. Smokey is now sitting on the couch rather than in the corner, alertly tracking every move. Maybe he associates the couch with safety or something.
post #6 of 13
Yes. A cat needs a place where they feel safe and secure. It looks like he's claimed the couch. Sorry, but it no longer belongs to you.
post #7 of 13
Thread Starter 
I'll let him have the couch tonight. Tomorrow evening I'll unblock the bed in case he still wants a cat-cave. (Besides that its a pain in the butt for me to climb over the baracade anyway) Under the couch is still off-limits though, its one of those reclining couches and I'm afraid he may get hurt down there with all the springs, moving metal and stuff.
post #8 of 13
You can also leave a closet door open. My cats have a no closed door policy in my home. Closet doors are open all of the time, as is my bathroom door, and one cupboard under the sink in the kitchen. I drew the line at the front door of my apartment though and they begrudgingly allowed me to keep it closed, LOL
post #9 of 13
After a period of time, sometimes you do have to force the issue. My kitty was always under the bed or couch when we first got him. After a week or two, I did block these areas off -- he needs to know that if he walks through the room he will not be attacked or killed. I wouldn't reinforce the hiding behaviors for too long.

Also, treats were a huge part of getting my cat to come around.
post #10 of 13
Thread Starter 
I finally figured out how to get Smokey out of his shell.

Treats didnt work, he even turned his nose up on a few small pieces of chicken. I'd talk to him, he'd barely tolerate petting, while looking around for an escape.

Finally I picked up the only 2 things from his old home. The little toy fuzzy mouse didnt draw his interest at all, so then I picked up his little soft-bristle brush.

Wow, did he love that, this cat is a severely addicted brushaholic. He immediately settled down, walk over to sit on my lap, and started purring away. After a few minutes I was getting tired, so I tried to get up when he shot this disgusted look at me like "Hey! Where do you think your going?! You sit your butt down and keep brushing me NOW, mister!" Of course I complied, till he finally started flicking his tail in annoyance to signal that brush-time was over.

He's a very shorthair cat, and this brush is so soft that I dont see that its doing much except move his fur around, but I guess I'll be brushing this cat regularly, since this is the only thing that seems to ease his shyness.
post #11 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Natalie_ca View Post
Don't block off his hiding spots! That will only make him feel afraid and insecure.

He's hiding because he is in a new environment, and he's rightfully afraid. It's a big change to go from one place to another, and an even bigger change to have the run of a house instead of being locked in a basement.

There are lots of threads on introducing a cat to a new home. One that I know works is to give them a small area to climatize to first....a spare bedroom.

Spend lots of time in there with him, sitting on the floor or in a chair reading out loud to him so that he gets used to your voice. Have lots of toys in the room, along with his litter, food and water, and a comfy place for him to sleep (a blanket from his other home with the old people's scent, or even his scent would have been helpful). Keep a radio on at low volume so that he's not so alone when he's by himself. A 1/2 hour a day with him is not nearly enough time with him. You need to spend more.

Start extending treats to him... by placing them on the floor near you. Let him approach you, don't go and drag him or pull him near you. Have one of those fishing pole toys and extend it out gently in an attempt to get him to play. When he's a bit more comfy coming around you, let him brush up against your hand, but go on his terms, don't pick him up. Just pet him gently and let him get used to you.

Once he's accustomed to the one room and you, let him have the run of the house for an hour or so. Just open the door and let him pick when he will come out. Do not close the door once he's out. Leave it open so that it's his safe haven.

Soon you will have a happy and social kitty.

Yup, exactly. I couldn't have said it better myself! Just give him some time.... he'll come around
post #12 of 13
My kitten Whisk was a little shy at first however I didn't keep him to one room as I didn't know it. I played some ball games with him and talked to him alot. think that helped him alot. Giving lots of atttention did the job for me.
post #13 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Natalie_ca View Post
Don't block off his hiding spots! That will only make him feel afraid and insecure.

He's hiding because he is in a new environment, and he's rightfully afraid. It's a big change to go from one place to another, and an even bigger change to have the run of a house instead of being locked in a basement.

There are lots of threads on introducing a cat to a new home. One that I know works is to give them a small area to climatize to first....a spare bedroom.

Spend lots of time in there with him, sitting on the floor or in a chair reading out loud to him so that he gets used to your voice. Have lots of toys in the room, along with his litter, food and water, and a comfy place for him to sleep (a blanket from his other home with the old people's scent, or even his scent would have been helpful). Keep a radio on at low volume so that he's not so alone when he's by himself. A 1/2 hour a day with him is not nearly enough time with him. You need to spend more.

Start extending treats to him... by placing them on the floor near you. Let him approach you, don't go and drag him or pull him near you. Have one of those fishing pole toys and extend it out gently in an attempt to get him to play. When he's a bit more comfy coming around you, let him brush up against your hand, but go on his terms, don't pick him up. Just pet him gently and let him get used to you.

Once he's accustomed to the one room and you, let him have the run of the house for an hour or so. Just open the door and let him pick when he will come out. Do not close the door once he's out. Leave it open so that it's his safe haven.

Soon you will have a happy and social kitty.

This is a very good explanation and exactly describes the actions I used in getting Alley to come out from under the bed. However, I also know that some cats are just shy. Whenever we have company over, Alley heads for under the bed still. But when the company leaves, she is out and about.
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