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Brought kitty in from cold and she is hiding

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
I had a very pretty kitty in my yard who seemed very friendly....she was always out there, anytime I came out she rolled on her back etc. It was starting to get really cold so I trapped her and brought her inside, then took her to the vet to have her tested for FIV and FeLV, as well as get her shots. I am trying to find a home for her and my sister may take her. Here is my concern. The first dfew days I had her in a dog crate until her tests came back negative (I have 2 cats so I was nervous). While she was in the crate she allowed me to pet her and was purring away but still seemed very scared. Now I have her seperated in my basement but am allowing her to roam around. She is hiding all the time. The first few days she would not eat. Now she is eating and using the litter box but still hiding. It has only been about 6 days since I brouht her in and about 4 since she went to the vet. My mom keeps telling me to just give her time. But I am worried she will always hide and since my sister really wants a loving cat I am not sure what to do. She seemed as if she would be so sweet. Could she just be scared still? Any suggestions on what to do?
post #2 of 12
It's pretty typical for new strays to hide. They have no way of knowing what is happening to them, so they are hiding for self preservation. Outside, there are always escape routes, inside, their only recourse is to hide. If you got her thinking she will be a loving lap cat, you have months, even years ahead of you to get her to that point.

If you know that she is healthy, then just ignore her. Put out food, water and scoop her litter pan, all on a set schedule. Don't surprise her with any changes. Keep the same bowls in the same places all the time, give her two litter pans, not one, and if you can find organic potting soil, use that in the litter pans first.

Go into the room again on a set schedule sit down on something comfy like an old blanket on the floor and read out loud to her a chapter a day. If she comes out, don't even glance in her direction, just keep reading. When you leave, leave her several treats right on the blanket (right on your scent)
post #3 of 12
Thread Starter 
So I should not try to bring her out of her hiding spot? I dont want to traumatize her anymore than she has been but I also want her to know we like her. She has been great with the litter boz so I am not too worried about that. My sister's cat (our family cat) just passed at 22...she was a stray we brought in as kids, and she is looking to get another cat. We were thinking this kitty would be perfect since she had a similar introduction to our family (stray I began feeding). If she takes her she will be bringing her on a plane in 2 weeks from the East to the West Coast. Any suggestions on how to make this trip less traumatic?
post #4 of 12
She is scared, and this is very normal behavior.

First of all - because she was so friendly outside, are you sure she wasn't a neighbor's pet? Most cats, when they escape outside, remain within a three-block radius of their homes. Perhaps take a pic of this kitty and hand it out to your neighbors to make sure someone's not missing a pet?

Also, even cats that were pets will revert to feral behavior to protect themselves. It sounds like if this kitty doesn't belong to one of your neighbors, that she is a stray that at one time did belong to someone. Ferals are never that friendly that quickly!

Also - I didn't see you mention whether or not she's been spayed? If not, she really ought to be. If you want more information about why, please click on the link in my signature line and/or here's a great article in the "Care" section of TCS: Spay and Neuter: The Best Thing You Can Do for Cats!

But now that she's inside, she's scared. Cats are very territory oriented. Dogs are people oriented, and wherever their people are is "home." Cats, on the other hand, are very comfortable in their territory, and very uncomfortable out of it. They like regular schedules and no disruptions to their routine. All of our kitties are ferals, and several of them regularly roam "patrol" to make sure everything's in its place. When we move something, even it's a chair that was on the other side of the room, it gets very close inspection, LOL!

Socializing a feral, which is how you would have to treat this situation, can be fairly easily done, especially with a kitty that was friendly - but it takes time, and the ONLY way to do it is on the cat's schedule.

Even when you bring home a hand-raised kitty, you should expect them to be scared, and the same rules apply for brining a new cat into any home, really.

If your sister wants a "ready-made" loving cat, this kitty is not for her. However, any cat or kitten really needs the same method of introduction to a new space. Cats require patience and work to earn their trust, get them used to the new territory, etc. Especially so for ferals or strays.

Kitty should be confined to one room. Any more is overwhelming. No other animals should have access to this room. Put litterbox on one side, and food and water on the other. Make sure there are a few toys for her to play with when you're not there. Kitty has to get used to this room before being allowed into a larger area, and kitty has to get used to its new person. This is best done by NOT INTERACTING with the cat at all. Sit in the room, read to her, sew, do your homework, whatever you have to do. Leave a radio on - with a classical station playing. This is calming. Leave a night lite on. Dark but not black is also calming for them. Get a sweatshirt or tee-shirt all sweaty, and place this under her food bowl. The idea is not to get kitty used to your smell, the idea is for kitty to associate your smell with good things.

The bottom line - get kitty used to you and the space. Don't look at kitty - wait for her to come to you. They'll let you know when they're ready to play, or for pets. Even though this cat was friendly outside - which is a very good indicator she'll be friendly and loving inside - she still needs time to adjust to the new space, whether it's your basement, your sister's home, or someone completely different that will be adopting this cat. But when she's adopted out, not only will she need to get used to a new territory, she'll need to get used to the new person.

There is a product you can buy that will help her transition. It is called "Feliway". It comes either as a spray or a "plug-in" (like scented oils). It is a synthetic pheremone that mimics the scent in the scent glands in cats cheeks - which is a "friendly," not a "territory" marker. This has helped in our mulitcat household, and it can help a cat feel comfortable in a new territory.

Here are some links to threads and articles with very useful information:

Bringing Home a New Cat

...and although this is the story of socializing a true feral, the same principles hold true:

Socializing a Feral: the Story of Lucky

Thank you for rescuing this kitty!!!!!!!!!
post #5 of 12
Sorry, I was writing my post while you and hissy corresponded.

Your sister and family should be prepared to do what it takes to work with a feral kitty, as outlined by hissy, and the other advice in the articles and threads on TCS.

Kitty will be especially traumatized by the dramatic changes in her life, especially if she has to fly by plane. If your sister is willing to make this commitment, she'll have one of the most special bonds there is - the trust of a feral cat. They do make great pets (as our six all prove out ) - but they take work in the form of being provided a stable place and schedule, and the willingness of their new mom or dad to give them all the time they need. Cats don't know that petting means you like them - certainly not at first. Being held means being confined. They view many things very differently, and they'll let us know when they're ready for what. But it all revolves around earning their trust.

If your sister wants to adopt this kitty, then I'd definitely buy Feliway. I would douse the carrier with it before she has to go in it. She will need a health certificate from the vet (I think within 48 hours of traveling). She will need her rabies certificate. I'm not sure about a distemper certificate. Check with the airline.

It is MUCH better for cats to travel in the plane than in baggage. The baggage compartment is not pressurized the same (even in the section where they transport animals), it is not heated the same - and it is FAR more traumatic for kitty. So make sure you get a carrier that fits under the seat.

Also, you may want to consider something to calm kitty down. There are natural remedies for this, though I have to go look them up. There are also prescription meds that can be prescribed through your vet.

Also, tie pipe cleaners to the wire on the crate. This will give something for kitty to bat at to relieve stress if she wants to. Tear some newspaper into strips, and put this towards the front of the crate - to make her feel less exposed and more protected. Give her a catnip toy in the crate. She likely won't play with it, but the smell is calming for them.

Most importantly, your sister should have her room set up for her. Having several boxes on their sides will help. She will be completely terrified and traumatized when she arrives in her new destination, and she'll need to hide and feel safe.
post #6 of 12
Thread Starter 
Thank you for response. She is not spayed yet but will be. I asked around and posted ads for the first 2 weeks I found her with no luck. I am guessing that someone did not want her anymore and decided to dump her off in a neighborhood guessing someone would take her.
post #7 of 12
Thread Starter 
She will be traveling in the plane with her. I have taken her for her shots so she already has the rabies and distemper certificates.

I have faith she will be a good kitty!
post #8 of 12
Unfortunately, that happens all too frequently.

I hope your sister decides to put the time and love into this kitty! It sounds like it would be worth it, but your sister really ought to be prepared with how to handle the transition for kitty.

It's the only way they'd both be happy, especially in the long run.

If you have any other questions, please feel free to post.
post #9 of 12
Originally Posted by Tiggs&Xena'sMom
She will be traveling in the plane with her. I have taken her for her shots so she already has the rabies and distemper certificates.

I have faith she will be a good kitty!
That's really good news!

BTW - maybe you can print out some of the articles from the "care" and "behavior" section of TCS for your sister. And maybe even print out one or two of the threads dealing with socializing ferals? I suspect that this kitty will take less time than true ferals to become comfortable in her new home and with her new mom, but there's just no way to tell. All we can do for strays and ferals, when we bring them in, is to give them food, water, a litterbox, a place to hide where they feel safe, and time. Time to get used to the new space, and time to get used to their new person. And the less interaction is forced, the quicker and stronger the bond of trust will be when it comes.

post #10 of 12
Personally, unless she has been completely socialized, I wouldn't take this cat on a trip. I would instead look into a competent pet sitter to come to the home and take care of the needs while she is gone. Cats really do not like change, and feral cats especially, the shock, the noise, the smells, it could really set this cat back to some unacceptable behavior.
post #11 of 12
Thread Starter 
No my sister lives on the West Coast. She will be home on the East Coast for Christmas and wants to take her home with her. So when she arrives on the West Coast that is where she will remain. Do you really think it is a bad idea? This is the only lead I have on a good home for her.
post #12 of 12
Well, your sister has probably come and gone, and I'm wondering what you decided to do?

Personally, although I agree with Hissy, my thinking is that if this is the only option you're aware of, and your sister is prepared to do whatever's necessary, then that's what you have to do. Around here, a pet sitter isn't an option as there aren't any. And though the trip would be terribly traumatic, and will likely set her back quite a bit behaviorally/socially, if your sister is committed, I still think it's worth the risk for her in the long run.

I'm dying of curiousity - so did your sister take her?

...and BTW, I hope you all had a nice Christmas and enjoyed the get-together!
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