Help acclimating a terrified cat

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Help acclimating a terrified cat

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    03-29-2013, 01:05 PM
Help acclimating a terrified cat

So, my brother adopted a cat off Craigslist on Wednesday afternoon. He's a gorgeous ~2.5yo pure white DSH with one blue eye and one green eye. The previous owners adopted "Mr Kitty" (what my brother is calling him...for the record, I hate the name lol) at six months of age. They had an older cat (6yo at the time, I believe) who did NOT like Mr Kitty. The people let their older cat terrorize Mr Kitty for two years, hoping that "they'd eventually get along." Finally, Mr Kitty was hiding so much that they decided to get rid of him (something they should have done a long time ago, but that's beside the point). When my brother went to see Mr Kitty, he was hiding in a bathroom cabinet in a bed the owners had made for him there because he refused to come out. They had even put food, water and a litter box in there with him. Apparently he doesn't like to be picked up if there are several people around, but he's "very loving once he warms up." The house was also very chaotic with two big dogs, the older cat, and two young children.

My brother is single and lives in a smaller, older two bedroom, two bath house he rents from my parents. Te most activity at his house is if I or my boyfriend stop by to visit. When he's home, he's usually got music playing (he's used to sound and people 24/7, so being in a quiet, empty house freaks him out a little). He got the cat for company and because he's not at a point in his life where he'd be comfortable dealing with a dog. He's also always preferred cats to dogs.

Now, on to poor Mr Kitty. The first evening, he stayed in his carrier and refused to come out. My brother left the cage door open that night so Mr Kitty could explore and put a collar with a bell on it on him (he's used to a collar with a bell, but the one that was on him originally was too small). Yesterday morning, Mr Kitty was hiding in the bathtub in the spare bathroom. He stayed there until noon when my brother pulled him out and made him stay in the main living area. Mr Kitty settled under a small table my brother had under one of the windows in the living room and didn't move for the rest of the day. I got to my brother's just after 5pm and stayed until 9:30pm, helping him with some stuff and then watching old Carol Burnett Show tapes. Mr Kitty did not move the entire time I was there, although about half an hour before I left, he started snoozing and actually relaxing/stretching out a little. This morning, my brother found Mr Kitty holed up in one of the kitchen cabinets and it's been a battle of wills ever since to keep him out in the main living area and not hiding. In addition to the constant hiding, the poor guy is shedding in huge clumps from stress.

So, my question is this: is there anything we can do to help Mr Kitty feel more comfortable and not so scared? How long should it take for him to acclimate? Any advice is appreciated. I know dogs and horses, but I'm not a big cat person. Heck, our cat thinks he's a dog and loves new/interesting situations, so I can't use him as a guide. Lol
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    03-29-2013, 01:33 PM
Just because, here's a pic of the poor guy.

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    03-29-2013, 02:10 PM
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I would just ignore him until he starts warming up on his own. Feed him and clean his litter box but act like he's not there - no eye contact, maybe talk to him quietly but don't look at get the drill. Perhaps once he seems a bit more comfortable, a feather toy could "appear" in your brothers hand, but don't get discouraged if the cat doesn't want to play. The goal is to pique the cat's curiosity without seeming at all threatening. Once he's curious ("why are they ignoring me? These new humans are super weird, I better figure out their deal! Help THEM out"), he should warm up pretty fast (can't be curious AND scared!!).

My cat takes a long time to warm up too. Heck, when I found him as a 5 week old kitten, I didn't see him beyond his eyes for a full week before he decided I was ok. Talk about nerve wracking! Haha!

ETA- let him hide. He'll be watching and asssessing his new situation as he hides. Bringing him out and forcing him to not hide is likely to be doing more harm than good at this point.

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    03-29-2013, 02:18 PM
So, you're saying let him hide if he wants to? My brother ain't going to like that. Lol.

My brother basically wants a cat that will be halfway between Mr Kitty and my cat, Cosmo, as far as personality. Cosmo is very in-your-face, pay-attention-to-ME kind of cat who takes challenges and changes by the horns and wrestles them into submission. As a six-week-old kitten who fit in the palm of my hand, he put my big 60# dog in his place and chased a Pomeranian that was slightly bigger than him. Lol. My brother wants a cat that will be friendly, but not overwhelmingly so. I'm hoping Mr Kitty will come out of his shell that much.
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    03-29-2013, 02:55 PM
Yes, let him hide if he wants to. It will take time before he will feel safe enough to come around. Even friendly cats sometimes have issues in a new place - nevermind a kitty who learned that hiding was surviving!

Good for your brother for giving him a chance.

Maybe a laser light toy might encourage him to come out? Your brother can get kitty's attention from a distance which may feel safer for the cat for now.
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    03-29-2013, 02:58 PM
I relayed what's been said to my brother. He is all for letting Mr Kitty hide if he wants to. He just texted me to let me know that Mr Kitty is chilling under "his" table by the window, snoozing. He's got Andy Williams playing, the windchimes outside are tinkling and the birds are singing. Looks like Mr Kitty might be feeling a bit more comfortable?
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Wallaby and Skyseternalangel like this.
    03-29-2013, 03:05 PM
Super Moderator
Yup, let him hide, ignore him, get a routine going he can rely on.
I would actually get Feliway for him. The plug-in type. It did wonders for my stress- related grooming over-achiever- almost- naked cat. She has full coat now, stopped the excessive grooming within a week of installing the Feliway( there's also ComfortZone w Feliway, same stuff).
Wallaby and doubleopi like this.
    03-29-2013, 03:07 PM
Feliway is pricey but effective! I used it when I moved to another state (10 hour drive) and it made my three cats happily stoned and mellow.
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    03-29-2013, 03:53 PM
I'll have to look into the Feliway.

We're also going to get him on a quality food next week (when I get paid). Right now he's eating the Meow Mix he came with (big bag of it), but I'm hoping to switch him to Taste of the Wild, which is what we feed our car and dogs. They hardly shed at all.
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doubleopi likes this.
    03-29-2013, 11:57 PM
If you're changing kitty's feed, do it the same way you would with a horse - mix in the new stuff with the old, slowly increasing the new stuff.
horsecrazygirl likes this.
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