Adopted cat struggling to adapt?

johntitor29

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I adopted a cat from a shelter almost 3 weeks ago. Her name is Truffles and is 2.5 years old (their approximation). When I visited the shelter, Truffles was not only very nice but very social. She gave no pause for alarm. I immediately fell for her because of these things; whereas many of the other cats exhibited caution.

I adopted Truffles on a Tuesday and brought her back to my apartment. I decided to house her in my bedroom, which also has a small walk-in closet. Truffles decided the closet would become hers. I was hoping it would be the bedroom but there was no forcing her.

The supplies I had ready were: Dry food, wet food, a cat house with scratching posts and toys attached, 2 separate scratching posts, a litter box w/ litter, and more toys. I had to migrate many of these things to an already tight closet because Truffles would not leave.

When I brought Truffles home, she immediately began hiding in the corner of my closet. When I approached her, she exhibited total shyness, wouldn't look at me when I approached and buried her head in the ground. She would not come out unless it was night time and I was not in her proximity. This has not changed in the near 3 weeks I have had her. She will not come out unless it is night time and I am not in her proximity.

She doesn't really eat the wet food I give her. She does eat some of the dry food. The shelter I adopted her from recommended me this expensive grain-free wet food but she's not eating the majority of it. I tried getting salmon pate, but it's same the deal with her. I probably will not buy more wet food because this is just a waste and I have given her plenty of time. She does eat the dry food, albeit small amounts, which is also expensive premium cat food but it's frustrating.

What's most frustrating is that she is not becoming any more comfortable with me. She hisses profusely at me. I think the hissing is out of fear, but it borders on a growl sometimes. She has scratched my girlfriend, slightly, but not me. I try and give her space but she hisses every single time so if I back off every time, I will never see her. The director of the shelter I adopted her from recommended I push through it and pet her regardless. When I try and pet her, most of the time I can pet her head; although I'm not sure she likes it. She puts her head down and glares at me from below. I try and give her was much attention as she'll tolerate. I go in there frequently to talk to her or just be around her.

She meows throughout the night. The volume and amount of meowing varies; it is possible I am missing some of it when I am able to get to sleep. Truffles will howl throughout the night. I think she wants out of the bedroom. I would prefer her out of the bedroom at night because it sucks but the rest of the apartment is too open and much larger than my bedroom. She is especially prone to hissing during night time as well. If I wake up to see how she is doing, she'll hiss like crazy just from my approach.

Yesterday I really wanted to clean the closet and bedroom. I did not want to startle her with the vacuum, so I brought her into the living room in her carrier while my girlfriend watched her and I cleaned and vacuumed the room(s). Then I brought her back into the bedroom, but I released her in there while I washed the blanket that was in the carrier. She normally hides in the cat carrier I have turned into a bed in the closet (I have a blanked inside of it and I prefer she hides in the carrier than the corner of my closet). She will not enter it anymore, won't eat anything, and won't stop meowing. Her meowing feels worse tonight.

I feel as if this cat was severely traumatized earlier in her life. I know it takes a while for cats to adapt but this seems extreme to me. I am willing to put up with this for an amount of time but the longer I hold on, the more upset I'll become if this doesn't work. I don't want to sink 3 months of time, money, and energy into her just for it to be for nothing. I can't put up with this forever. Does anyone have any thoughts or suggestions? Thanks.
 

ArtNJ

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Its true that most cats can get over the worst of this in a week or so, but three weeks is not crazy unusual and does not indicate any kind of serious problem or prior trauma with a cat.

I would desperately try and avoid stuff like forcing her into a carrier so you can vaccum during this phase. If your walk in is carpeted and the cat is messy with the litter, I get that perhaps you felt like you had no choice, but its very much not ideal. During this phase, ideally you don't force the cat to do anything at all, let the cat be the boss of the relationship, and exhibit extreme patience.

A small walk in closet attached to your bedroom is really not an ideal place either. Imagine how the cat feels when shortly after your morning alarm blares, you barge in and quickly grab clothing. Usually a cat will pick under the bed for its safe place. Its probably too late to try and redirect her, but just be as sensitive to the issue as you can when using the walk in closet.

The way to overcome these issues is quiet time in proximity to the cat. You can also try treats and play to lure her closer and into interacting a bit, but she may not be ready for that.

Her wanting out at night, when your presumably quiet, is throwing me a little bit. Normally this would count as quiet time and help progress things. That said, not really understanding why you aren't letting her into the apartment as a whole. Also, if she is willing to leave the bedroom, you could have closed the door and vaccumed at that point, stressing her out far less than the carrier maneuver.
 
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johntitor29

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>I would desperately try and avoid stuff like forcing her into a carrier so you can vaccum during this phase.

Okay, no. I did not force her into the carrier. She likes using the carrier so I took advantage of the opportunity. The cat litter and food are in the closet as well. I am not letting the closet becomes sticky and dirty for this cat's feelings. That's disgusting and it's where I draw the line. I don't think my stance here is unusual; most people don't want to live in filth.

>A small walk in closet attached to your bedroom is really not an ideal place either.

I had no choice in this matter. I figured she would take underneath the bed but she bolted into the closet. She would not let me relocate her. I would prefer her somewhere else but I can't force her when the closet is open and does not have a door. She just goes back.

>You can also try treats and play to lure her closer and into interacting a bit, but she may not be ready for that.

Tried SO many times. Wet food, salmon pate, cat treats, baked chicken. I try and play with her for at least an hour but it usually results in me just playing with myself cause she doesn't respond to me.

>That said, not really understanding why you aren't letting her into the apartment as a whole.

The shelter director and staff recommended I keep her in a small area in the beginning to help her get used to things. When, or if, she stops hissing at me and hiding from me at every chance, I'll begin opening more up to her. I might introduce her to the bathroom by relocating her there if she doesn't stop meowing at night, tho.
 

di and bob

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It is not unusual for any of what you are describing. I rehomed a loving, social cat, and it took 2-3 months before she got used to her new home. First, right now is not the time to try to get her eat something different, she has had enough change. If she wants dry, give her dry. You can always change later. Sit near her hiding place quietly several times a day and look at your phone, reading aloud softly. If you cat-proof your apartment, let her out at night, she may find a new hiding place, but that is OK. Block off any bad places she can get to, like behind the refrigerator or stove. cats thrive on routine and things staying the same, she has had some major upheavals in her life. Remember she can feel your anxiety and impatience. Just go about your life, trying for now not to have any loud noises or friends coming in, and she WILL come around. After all, you saw how she was at the shelter, she WILL go back to that cat!
 

ArtNJ

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The shelter director and staff recommended I keep her in a small area in the beginning to help her get used to things. When, or if, she stops hissing at me and hiding from me at every chance, I'll begin opening more up to her. I might introduce her to the bathroom by relocating her there if she doesn't stop meowing at night, tho.
Thats good advice in general. However, if the cat is meowing like crazy at night, your probably not making any progress anyway, so your just destroying your sleep for nothing. And maybe she'll find another spot if you let her roam. You'll also be able to be a lot more patient if your sleeping.

Your main bathroom is a poor spot. It makes for a noisy safe room (flushing) and if you ever go to the bathroom at 3 am when your not alert enough to block the door, the cat will dart past you, and good luck getting back to sleep.
 
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tyleete

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Good advice above.
Long story short, we took in a feral we'd been taking care of for a year. He was scared stiff, even though he knew us.
It took him three MONTHS to act like other cats. His reserved rim was also a big walk in closet. It started with a large dog kennel. It was left open, and had a bed, water & food bowl, and litter box.
My son and I spent every single day I his closest. We'd sit there and talk to him & each other. To get him used to us. Our voices and presence. After about a week or two, we moved the litter box out of the kennel. Put it only about 2-3' away, but so he'd have to leave the kennel. Then another week and the food and water bowl. After that, a month later we removed the bed to outside the kennel. He barely tolerated touch, and was so scared. 3 months of just sitting with him for up to an hour every day. He finally came around. He's still super skittish and afraid if his own shadow. But he lays on the bed with me every night and loves love and attention.
I knew his life was hard, because when I took him in to get fixed, theyguild me his poor body was all covered in scars & he has NO fang teeth at all. Snapped at the gumline they told me.
If you takeTruffles back now, she will be even harder to adopt out again. She may have gone through this a few times already and why she's like that now. It's just like a foster kid. Eventually they'll stop trying. And always afraid of the 'next home'. And after working at a shelter? I can tell you they are not typically honest about an animal's background or how many times it's been rehomed.:(
If you can hang in there, I can promise you it will be worth it. Truffle's making you work for it. Something most cats don't do. But once you've gained her trust and her love? There's simply no love like the love of one like this. Because they have had a hard life, and in the end after so much pain and fear? They chose to trust YOU. And you can feel it. It's really something special.
Only clean when necessary, unclutter if needed so she doesn't feel it's too full, don't rush in there (for clothes even if in a hurry), and spend regular time in there. I promise, she will so be worth it.
Good look and thank you for taking her in and trying.🐾💕
 

tyleete

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This is our former-feral now, the one laying upside down on the bed
received_297261611793090.jpeg
. His name is Midnight & he's just the sweetest love now 💗 Best of luck
 

TardisDance

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This sounds so much like my cat Sango they could be twins. She hid for 3 months in our tiny half bath behind the toilet and then another 3 months in a cat cave in our living room. We found that as soon as we went to bed, she would spring from her hiding spot like lightning and investigate the house.

What we ultimately did was slowly move her bed, food, and water out of her hiding spot. By slowly, I mean a few inches per week. Because she hid behind the toilet, we put her enclosed bed in between the toilet. I moved her food until it was by the door.

I would also sit in the room by her and talk to her. It didn’t matter what it was about. At one point, I even read children’s stories to her on my ipad.

I kept trying to engage her in play with a wand toy. Eventually she figured it out and started playing. And she got lots and lots of treats!

One thing I do regret with her is that I insisted that we trim her nails . . .big mistake! We ended up going the extreme route and wore grooming gloves because she was so stressed by it. She would thrash, claw and pant while I scruffed her and my husband did the trimming. We’ve had her for 1 1/2 years and she is still severely traumatized by it. Please DON’T DO THIS. She eventually became a lap cat and can trim while she sleeps, but if she wasn’t, we just wouldn’t trim them at all.
 

TardisDance

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Block off any bad places she can get to, like behind the refrigerator or stove.
This is a great point. Sango figured out there is a small gap on the right side of our dishwasher. She did this about 3 times in the early days. We were so worried that she’d be stuck when she went there that pulled out the whole dishwasher. That wasn’t a good way to spend a Saturday night, that’s for sure!
 
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johntitor29

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Thank you everyone for your responses. The director of the shelter I adopted Truffles from was kind enough to stop by today and assess the situation. She actually managed to get Truffles to purr after a while of petting. I am going to try and tucker Truffles out during day more so that she'll hopefully meow less at night. She said I was doing everything right. She offered to take Truffles back and reassured me multiple times that I could exchange Truffles for another cat but I want to give it more time. My main issue right now is her meowing at night.
 

TardisDance

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Could you leave the bedroom door open but keep her access to other rooms restricted, i.e. keep the hallway open to her but close the other rooms? That way she can explore at night when she’s more comfortable but she won’t be too overwhelmed. She may need to establish her territory first before she opens up to you.
 

eternalgaze

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Thank you everyone for your responses. The director of the shelter I adopted Truffles from was kind enough to stop by today and assess the situation. She actually managed to get Truffles to purr after a while of petting. I am going to try and tucker Truffles out during day more so that she'll hopefully meow less at night. She said I was doing everything right. She offered to take Truffles back and reassured me multiple times that I could exchange Truffles for another cat but I want to give it more time. My main issue right now is her meowing at night.
It wasn't that long ago that I desperately joined this site, looking for answers in my frustration with a newly adopted adult cat as well. So glad that you had an encouraging visit from the shelter director! My cat, Gayla has been with me for 7 months now. She was incredibly slow to adapt. I still cannot pick her up or even touch her beyond head/neck pets and butt scratches, and she is very high strung and distrusting. But the milestones of progress are true celebrations, and she is worth all the trouble! The thing that helped me most in general was just letting go of my expectations of how she should be responding to all my efforts.

Anyways, I have not had any night meowing troubles. Also, I learned that cats like quiet harp music and gave that a try. I got several mp3's that I played often in the beginning. The ones she liked best were Celtic Harp: The Quiet Path (Paul Baker) and Soothing Harp Music (Nancy Kleiman). You might give want to try one of these or even one of the youtube videos of such music (Free!) to see if Truffles perhaps quiets down with that kind of thing.

Anyways, so glad you are going to continue with Truffles!
 
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