Anxious about new cat - any advice??

girllovestoread

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Hi everyone, 

I adopted a cat from a local rescue organization on Saturday (today is Thursday) - her name is Jane and she's a gorgeous 1 year and three months old white kitty with brown markings. Adopting a cat is something I've been thinking about quite a bit for the past few months, as I started graduate school for library science this fall. I'm moving into my own place in a little under two weeks, and I thought that a good way to help combat potential loneliness would be to adopt a cat. 

So far she has been a sweetheart - she was very scared when I picked her up from the shelter, but she's adjusted to my bedroom remarkably well (one of my roommates is allergic, so I'm keeping her in my room for now, which I feel a little bad about). She loves to cuddle and be petted, and she's been very playful so far - she zooms around the room quite a bit at night. She hasn't scratched any of my furniture, just the rug (instead of the scratcher I got her, so I might exchange that and try some different options in the hopes she'll like those better), and she's been using the litter box without any accidents. Overall a really sweet cat! 

Here's where I want some advice, though. Logically I knew that adopting a cat is a big responsibility and I was mentally prepared for that upon adopting her - but I'm not sure I was prepared for anxiety I would feel after adopting her. Is this a normal experience? I had cats when I was a kid and I've always had dogs, but this is the first time I've ever owned a pet by myself. I'm so embarrassed about this, but on Sunday and Tuesday nights I had mini anxiety/panic attacks thinking about it and couldn't stop crying - I kept thinking, "I should have gotten an older cat, maybe I should have gotten a cat that was declawed" (I'm definitely not going to declaw her though!!), "maybe this was a mistake." She's been so good and I've really enjoyed playing with her and cuddling with her, but I'm starting to feel cooped up with her in my bedroom and her zooming around at night has really cut down on my ability to sleep, so maybe that's part of it? Even though I knew adopting a younger cat would be a really large commitment (potentially 15-20 years), I don't think it hit me how real that is until I adopted her. 

I don't know, I'm feeling unreasonably stressed about it and about if she's okay when I'm gone, etc. I'm just worried that I'll come to regret adopting her, which I'd feel terrible about because she's been pretty sweet so far. I haven't been diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder or seen a therapist or anything but I've been pretty stressed this semester (broke up with my boyfriend of 2.5 years, started grad school, moved to a new city, etc.) and I didn't expect that I would react this way at all to adopting a cat. 

I feel very embarrassed about how I'm reacting given she's been great so far, but can anyone give me any advice or insight? I'm afraid that maybe I am not actually ready for this large of a commitment and that I won't be able to handle these kinds of commitments in the future!! 

Thanks, everyone, for helping a newbie cat owner out. 

Karlyn
 

cinqchats

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You sound like you got this! Don't worry about her being upset about being left in your bedroom, it'll help her feel secure and adjust more quickly (since you JUST adopted her). 

She sounds like a typical young cat with lots of energy. Try really tiring her out with playtime before you go to bed, it might help you sleep. 

I think you're just overwhelmed and stressed right now about life in general and it's all manifesting in anxiety over Jane. Try to destress and give her lots of petting- cats are great for improving your mood and lowering blood pressure!
 
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girllovestoread

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Thanks for the reply, CinqChats! I've been playing with her quite often, especially at night, and it seemed to be helping throughout the rest of the week. We've had some great moments where we cuddle and I pet her and we nap together, which has been nice. 

However, she has started "crying" at night - she started on Friday night and then did it again last night/early this morning. I think that she's doing it for attention and wants to play, since she has food and water and a clean litter box, and I just took her to the vet yesterday and she's just fine. I have no idea why she's doing it, but it's a really creepy sound and I don't want to teach her that meowing that way will get her attention. I can't put her anywhere else but my bedroom for now, so I'm not sure what to do. 

Also, last night I was petting her and accidentally draped part of my blanket over her, and she freaked out and bit me (didn't draw blood). Then this morning, shortly after crying, she jumped up on my bed and it was close enough to when I was going to wake up that I started petting her. She did the same thing, and scratched and tried to bite me - I wasn't petting her weirdly or holding her or anything, so I have no idea where this is coming from. It's making me worry that she's starting to bite for no apparent reason - please help! I'm starting to second guess adopting her. I don't know what to do. 
 

cinqchats

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That does sound like she's trying to get attention and petting from you. Keep playing with her to get rid of that excess energy, but when she's meowing like that do your best to ignore her. 

Do I understand this right, that she tries to bite you while you're petting her? Did she look scared and try to pull away? Or is she excited and playful? It could be that no one has taught her that hands aren't playthings, that happens a lot with younger rescue cats. If she goes for your hands give her a kick-style toy, like the Kong Kickeroos. Avoid giving her your hands during playtime and err towards toys that will keep her at a distance like a wand toy. I like "Da Bird". 

Or maybe she doesn't want petting at that moment, or it was too much petting, or perhaps petting in the wrong place? Some cats don't like being touched on their tummies or butts or feet. The safest place I've found is directly behind the head to give neck scratches. That's usually the first thing that the feral cats will ask to have pet. 

I have yet to meet a cat that bites for NO reason whatsoever. 
 
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girllovestoread

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Yeah, that's what I think as well. The weird thing is that I had had a few friends over who played with her for hours on Friday night, and we played for what was probably two hours total on Saturday as well, so she should have been more tired than she seemed (and shouldn't have been up crying as much as she was during the night). I played with her quite a bit yesterday as well, but she woke me up crying at least five times (I counted this time, ha). I'm wondering if she wouldn't be happier in a home with other cats as playmates or where she has more opportunities to play with someone throughout the day? 

I have never played with her with my hands before - I have a few wand toys that she loves and seems content with, and I just bought Da Bird today! We just played with it for a bit and she seems to love it. I'm going to make sure we play with it a lot tonight before bed - I'm also going to make it a habit of feeding her a little wet food after playing to see if that helps too. I'm going to continue ignoring the crying at night, even though sometimes I wake up to her doing it when she's curled up right next to me, ha. 

When she tries to bite, she's usually excited-looking but also I do think it's a result of petting for longer than she'd like? I got in contact with the woman who fostered her, and she said that Jane was one of the cats she had fostered who would occasionally bite/scratch if petted too long (she said as a result of overstimulation most likely). I'm fairly certain that's what it's a result of and I think you're right, I'm sure she's not doing it for no reason! I can't believe how much energy she has for not really being a kitten anymore!
 

cinqchats

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When she tries to bite, she's usually excited-looking but also I do think it's a result of petting for longer than she'd like? I got in contact with the woman who fostered her, and she said that Jane was one of the cats she had fostered who would occasionally bite/scratch if petted too long (she said as a result of overstimulation most likely). I'm fairly certain that's what it's a result of and I think you're right, I'm sure she's not doing it for no reason! I can't believe how much energy she has for not really being a kitten anymore!
Certainly could be. Some cats have very little patience for a human giving them too much lovin'. Give her short petting sessions and slowly (very slowly) increase how long you're petting her for. Throw some treats in there too. That way she'll get more used to handling and associate it with good things.

You're doing a great job with the playtime! Keep it up and I'm sure over the next month or two Jane will settle in fine. She'll start to bond to you, understand your schedule, etc. 

Usually cats are nice and mellowed out around 2-3 years old (usually). Jane still has the kitten crazies but will get over this phase soon.
 

kiki82

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Please dont feel embarrassed, i have been there not long ago, 3 months ago I brought home a 3 months old kitty boy, i had no experience with cat before, the reason for getting a cat was because I was going through some medical issues and was feeling blue and hubby and I think having a pet will cheer me up. I was soo nervous and felt so much stress and pressure the first week that I lost 5 lbs!! Didnt help that as a young kitten he had so much energy that he would run around like a lunatic. It gets better though, you will feel closer and more connection to your kitty, as you guys are more comfortable with each other you will feel much better too.

I also worry about leaving him home alone when i go to work, its still hard for me but its getting better, i just try to give him a lot of attention and love when i get home. Your kitty will most likely be sleeping all day while you are out anyway. Just tell yourself its not worth it to feel so stress, no matter what you are giving her a lovely home!
 
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kittyluv387

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I think what you're feeling is totally normal.  I'm 28 and i adopted a 4.5 month cat in August.  Even this was a bit much for me since he was hyper and I doubted myself and thought maybe I wasn't competent enough to have a young cat.  Buut it got better and I'm good now.  When are you going to have your own place?  I think this is important so you have the option of letting your cat out into the living room at night while you get  a good night's rest.  Nothing wrong with that at all!  My boys are banished every night into the living area.  :)  You can try earplugs to see if it helps block out your cats meowing.  Overstimulation is very common so no worries!  The adult boy I adopted in October will get overstimulated and nip but he clearly loves his pets and scratches.  What I do is pet him a lot for a couple of minutes and then have more time between pets and then just completely stop and let him chill.  He also used to be a little nippy but he's not anymore since he's more comfortable with me.
 

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Kittyluv I experienced the same thing when I adopted Onyx in October (with the added bonus of trying to protect gerbils). It does get better though.
 
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girllovestoread

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I know it's been a while but I just wanted to post an update and say that things are sooooo, so much better now. We've really gotten used to each other and she's settled in quite nicely. She's maybe the sweetest, most awesome cat I could have asked for, and we have a routine of cuddling as soon as I get home from work every day. Thanks for all the words of advice and encouragement, they really did help!
 

LotsOfFur

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That is so wonderful to hear! :clap:

Just read this thread and so glad you and your kitty have found your rhythm. :) [emoji]128149[/emoji]
 

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I realize this thread is so old, but I needed to find this today. I adopted a cat 4 days ago, and my anxiety is through the roof. I feel like a crazy person. I'm having multiple panic attacks a day, and so much guilt that I'm not going to be the owner she needs me to be. I like my sleep. I like to chill on the couch and watch tv. And she is so active. Shelter said she's 2 which is part of why I got her. I wanted one a little older so she would be more mellow. When I met her in the shelter, she was super chill. Didn't really care that we were there. Didn't beg for pets. Well that's not the case now that we're home. She's still VERY kitten like, and has started causing trouble in the morning when I'm not ready to wake up yet. And she's aggressively needy with wanting pets and attention. It's affecting my sleep hardcore.

Now rationally, I know this will all mellow. She's new. I'm new. We're adjusting. She will get into my routine. I KNOW this. But god the anxiety is eating me alive. It's such an irrational thing. The panics I go through change day to day but the level hasn't gotten better. In fact it's way worse today. I miss my old life of this tiny little thing not making me feel guilty every second. And I've considered taking her back.

This is textbook what anyone with anxiety goes through when getting a pet. It happened to my sister. I've read countless posts online from other people. But it doesn't make me feel better. Fighting through the panic every day is wearing me out. And my cat won't let me sleep.
 

di and bob

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First of all, you are doing everything right, so don't over analyze things right now, you both need to adjust to each other. Most new cats hide for the first week or so, so you have already got through that hurdle, good job! You have already made her comfortable enough and secure enough to be exploring and interested in what you are doing. She is SO excited about getting a new home she is much too active. She WILL settle down with time, so look forward to that. She needs time to adjust to your schedule, I'm sure she is still on the shelters. Cats resist and hate change very much, it will take weeks, not days for things to change. She needs other things to keep her occupied. Make sure she gets plenty of play, like with a wand, at night so she sleeps longer. Feed her before bedtime to do the same. Get her a heated bed to keep her out of yours. And you may consider getting her a playmate to keep her busy, two concentrate on each other more and are less bored. Don't feel you need to be perfect and give her your undivided attention. Cats are not as needy as dogs, and she will wean herself from the newness and the excitement of finding a new home.
You gave her the world when you brought her home, she is just trying to thank you. She doesn't need your constant attention, it may seem so right now, but like a new parent you will learn to adjust and take things as they come. Once you get to know each other, learn to accept each other's faults and moods, she will become a great friend, and will actually be there to calm you, not get you upset. Again, it just takes time. Come here whenever you need to relieve some stress, there is always someone here to help and guide you. You have taken a big step in allowing her into your home, now allow her into your heart as well, you won't be sorry. Try to see her as a Godsend not a burden, bless you for giving her a wonderful home.
 

jsckiebo

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First of all, you are doing everything right, so don't over analyze things right now, you both need to adjust to each other. Most new cats hide for the first week or so, so you have already got through that hurdle, good job! You have already made her comfortable enough and secure enough to be exploring and interested in what you are doing. She is SO excited about getting a new home she is much too active. She WILL settle down with time, so look forward to that. She needs time to adjust to your schedule, I'm sure she is still on the shelters. Cats resist and hate change very much, it will take weeks, not days for things to change. She needs other things to keep her occupied. Make sure she gets plenty of play, like with a wand, at night so she sleeps longer. Feed her before bedtime to do the same. Get her a heated bed to keep her out of yours. And you may consider getting her a playmate to keep her busy, two concentrate on each other more and are less bored. Don't feel you need to be perfect and give her your undivided attention. Cats are not as needy as dogs, and she will wean herself from the newness and the excitement of finding a new home.
You gave her the world when you brought her home, she is just trying to thank you. She doesn't need your constant attention, it may seem so right now, but like a new parent you will learn to adjust and take things as they come. Once you get to know each other, learn to accept each other's faults and moods, she will become a great friend, and will actually be there to calm you, not get you upset. Again, it just takes time. Come here whenever you need to relieve some stress, there is always someone here to help and guide you. You have taken a big step in allowing her into your home, now allow her into your heart as well, you won't be sorry. Try to see her as a Godsend not a burden, bless you for giving her a wonderful home.
Thank you so much for this. I know it will get better. Rationally I know. Anxiety is such an awful beast. It eats you up inside about the dumbest things. Sadie and I will be fine. I know we will. She's a WONDERFUL cat. And I can't wait until the anxiety calms and I love her completely.

IMG_1019.JPG
 

di and bob

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I know you will, look at that sweet little face! Do like I do, TAKE ONE DAY AT A TIME, the past is gone and can't be changed, the future is not here yet, so why worry about something that is not happening? The future CAN be changed by how we act today, so live for today, be thankful for each and every day of life you are given. No one is guaranteed a tomorrow. So wake up each day and know it is a new beginning, it is yours to make as you want. Focus on things that are good, things that can be changed with work and wanting to. I have definitely found that dwelling on things that cannot be changed and that are sad for our soul brings nothing but heartache. Concentrate on the good in your life.Start with you are alive, and you have a new little one to bring you laughter and joy. You are rich indeed!
 

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I found this thread while searching for “anxiety over new kitten,” and I’m so glad to see it’s current. J jsckiebo I adopted two 3 month old kittens 4 days ago and my anxiety is out of control. I do have an anxiety disorder but I never thought I would react this way to kittens. They are sweet and so fun to watch interact, and they seem to already be getting attached to me, but I am not attached to them. I look forward to going to bed at night because I haven’t expanding their reign of the house to my bedroom yet and I know I’ll be alone. I feel like I’m having a panic attack all day every day. I feel nauseous when I try to eat and I can’t sleep well. My immediate instinct is I need to give them back, but I’ll feel like a terrible person if i do. I’m so upset with myself. I just don’t know what to do. I feel like I have these two tiny new roommates who look to me for affection but I just want to keep my distance. Also for context, I had to put my cat to sleep 2 months ago and she was my best friend in the world. I feel like I will never have another pet who compares to her. I also just bought a house and moved last week. So there is some CRAZY stress going on.

How can I keep myself from wanting to give them back?? Thank you. -Laura
 

di and bob

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Take a deep breathe and do what makes you relax. For me it is taking a walk through a beautiful park and enjoying the flowers and water. If it is hot where you are at, try to get there a little earlier so it is cool and quiet. Then sit back and look at those two sweet babies. Moving is a stressor in itself. Losing a companion is another that will last for a long time, grieving takes time. Kittens are a whirlwind of activity and constantly looking for something to get into because of their new found experiences and instinctive curiosity. Right now don't worry so much about them. They are so active and have each other to keep each other company. You can provide them with a little interaction and food and try to keep them out of harm's way. It takes time to build a relationship. They are so busy right now exploring the world you can take a while to gather yourself and relax a little.
They are attached to you already, they see you as a provider of home and food, love takes a while and comes with time. You have so much right now, get your home life straightened around and let them learn with you. They will settle down with age. The bond you yearn to have once more will come in time. They will become your companions and you will learn to love them by going through experiences and every day life one day at a time. Their love will reside right besides the love you hold for your dearly departed one, allowing it to grow and blossom with the added ties and emotions. Having new babies is stressful. Even someone like me that has known more kittens then I can count gets stressed with those little bundles of energy. My older cats seem positively sedentary around these little tornadoes. But as with all small children, you have to have patience and learn to walk away from things that aren't really that important. Win the war, not necessarily all the battles. Don't stress the small stuff, and don't let the small stuff become huge.
We are here for you. We are your support and can help you through this trying time. Concentrate on those two beautiful little souls and know you can give them everything they ever will want....you. Welcome to the site, all the luck, and PLEASE keep in touch. We are always here.
 

Laurafazz

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Hi di and bob di and bob , thank you for your reply. I like your suggestion of focusing on getting the rest of my life calmed down instead of feeling like I need to give the kittens the world. You’re right that they are fine. I give them shelter, food, toys, clean their litter box.. and they keep each other so occupied. They love sleeping together, too. So I probably could just think of it as me providing a home for them right now until the bond forms naturally. I have put so much stress on myself. I expected them to arrive and I would instantly fall in love, but that has not happened.
 

jsckiebo

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Yesterday was the 2 month mark of having my girl. Here's what I learned:

Life changes are really hard for me. Really hard. So I am now on medication. This isn't the answer for everyone. But my anxiety has always been a lot, getting a pet just put me over the edge into unmanageable. So that has helped.

After about 3 weeks, I also just naturally calmed down. The panic subsided. I stopped wanting to give her back. But those 3 weeks were hard. I questioned myself every day. Every hour of every day. Told myself I'd be a terrible cat mom. That I wasn't cut out for this. What helped? I had a sister who went through anxiety with every pet she got. She has 3 now. So she talked me down through every panic. She knew I'd get to the other side. I also had a friend who suffered postpartum really bad after having each of her kids. She said what I was experiencing was actually very similar to that. People with anxiety do not cope well with big life changes. So she was able to relate to my feelings and tell me she understood.

Bottom line: It WILL pass. I promise. 2 months in and I couldn't imagine my life without her now. I was gone from the house for 11 hours yesterday and all I could think about was getting home to my baby because I love her so much. You will get there. Just fight through it. You will be glad you did.
 
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