Help with older newly adopted feral cat that hides all day

agruen

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Hi :)
Nearly four weeks ago we adopted an 11 year old male cat with one eye.
He has been a feral cat until he was taken in by a rescue station 9 months ago.

When we arrived at our apartment he immediately ran under the sofa and spends most of his time either there or under our dresser. He mostly comes out at night and when we go to bed. He eats and uses his toilette only then. We bought a feliway diffuser, talk to him with a soft voice on a regular basis, try not to scare him with rapid movements, never follow him when he changes the room and pet him under the dresser. He even starts to purr when we pet him. He seems mostly scared, hisses sometimes but never scratches or bites.

The thing is that he never wants to leave this hiding places, even when we lure him out with snacks for a few moments he rans under the sofa/dresser immediately after. We know that it can take a while for cats to come out and read a lot about this topic but since he is quite old and probably used to this behavior we are a bit worried that it will never change and that he will stay "invisible" forever.

Do you guys have any additional tips how to get him out of hiding? Some articles say you should ignore him and let him come to you but it feels like he will never do that. On the other side if we keep petting him under the dresser he might not have a reason to come out.

Any advice is welcome!! We would love for him to have a safe and loving home and we feel like it would be good for him to be able to move freely.

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calicosrspecial

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Hi :)
Nearly four weeks ago we adopted an 11 year old male cat with one eye.
He has been a feral cat until he was taken in by a rescue station 9 months ago.

When we arrived at our apartment he immediately ran under the sofa and spends most of his time either there or under our dresser. He mostly comes out at night and when we go to bed. He eats and uses his toilette only then. We bought a feliway diffuser, talk to him with a soft voice on a regular basis, try not to scare him with rapid movements, never follow him when he changes the room and pet him under the dresser. He even starts to purr when we pet him. He seems mostly scared, hisses sometimes but never scratches or bites.

The thing is that he never wants to leave this hiding places, even when we lure him out with snacks for a few moments he rans under the sofa/dresser immediately after. We know that it can take a while for cats to come out and read a lot about this topic but since he is quite old and probably used to this behavior we are a bit worried that it will never change and that he will stay "invisible" forever.

Do you guys have any additional tips how to get him out of hiding? Some articles say you should ignore him and let him come to you but it feels like he will never do that. On the other side if we keep petting him under the dresser he might not have a reason to come out.

Any advice is welcome!! We would love for him to have a safe and loving home and we feel like it would be good for him to be able to move freely.

View attachment 383510
He is GORGEOUS!!!!

Thank you so much for giving him a loving home.

The fact he is responding to petting is AMAZING!!! THAT tells me he is going to be just fine.

Continue doing everything you are doing. You are doing an amazing job. If he is enjoying (safe) petting I don't think that will be a deterrent in coming out. But just don't force it on him.

Also, maybe use cat trees, dressers, etc so he can go around the room above the ground as height gives confidence. Cat shelving as well but I know you live in a apartment so not sure if that is allowed, etc.

Give him "eye kisses". Slowly close your eyes, hold them closed for 5-10 seconds then slowly reopen them. Closing your eyes shows him you trust him.

Just let him go at his pace.

Cats take on our emotions so just let him feel that love you have for him. He has had to hide to stay safe but as he figures out he is safe with you he will venture out more.

He is going to be just fine. I take in older, injured, abused ferals so I know how long it can take. Your boy is doing great and will come out in time. :)

GREAT JOB!!! And thank you so much for saving him and giving him a great, loving home!!!
 

FeebysOwner

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Hi. I agree with all of the above! Even a completely domesticated cat at that age is going to act very similarly to what you are describing. He is actually 'ahead of the game' compared to what some other members have experienced. He just needs more time, and allowed to move at his own pace. There is no way to know for sure, but getting him to the point of not hiding at all could be months in the making.

You could also try setting up some additional hiding spots (e.g. cardboard boxes turned upside down with an opening for him to crawl in) in the areas where he is currently living, and perhaps he will test them out over time.

Good luck and keep us posted!
 

pearl99

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All of the above! The boxes around the house helped my Waffles, and he also loves the cat caves and cubbies (but have to buy those.) If he likes treats I also left some treats here and there for him to find when out during the night. And toys to bat around.
He is gorgeous! Looks like he has a good vantage point to see what's going on!
It can take a looong time and they can't be forced, has to be their doing. You're doing all the right things. He has a great home now.
 

kittychick

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I completely DOUBLE down on what both FeebysOwner FeebysOwner and C calicosrspecial said - - good advice! And his IS gorgeous - - -but most of all - thank you for saving not just a senior cat, but a feral one at that. Poor thing - - -can't imagine he would have done will much longer outside with that eye. :sniffle: So a big HURRAH from me!

Feral cats - depending on how much anyone's worked with socializing him - - can take quite some time and patience. It requires a special person (like you!) to be will to take that on. The fact that he IS letting you pet him already is great! I know that feels SO slow compared to socialized cats/kittens, but that's actually a good speed for an older feral. Every cat moves at their own pace, I would make (if possible) "his room" - - -and not let him roam the house just yet. A smaller space like that will help him feel at home more quickly.

Mostly - continue what you're doing, Have you tried luring him out with "Kitty Ctack"? (Gerber's jarred baby food, 2nd stage in Chicken and Gravy flavor). I put it on a long (or even extendable - they have them on Amazon, like this one tinyurl.com/ExtendableFork). It'll likely lure her out a bit more. Again - just take it slow. And I'd keep the number of "hidey holes" in his room so you can at least always check on him.

I think you're doing great - -- keep us posted!
 

kittychick

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Meant to add: I also put a radio or tv on low (no high volume "Fast and the Furious"!) - - -npr, hgtv, something with human voices. That accomplishes two things - - it helps him block out a little the general "scary house noises" he's not used to - - plus it helps him get used to human voices. Sounds like he had quite a few years of not knowing humans - - at least not kind ones!
 

fionasmom

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How To Get A Cat To Come Out Of Hiding? – TheCatSite Articles
10 Must-know Tips For Happy Living With A Shy Cat – TheCatSite Articles
How To Help An Abused Cat Recover – TheCatSite Articles

Thank you so much for giving this boy a chance! You are really wonderful people. I have only ever owned ferals or strays and while it takes time for them to get acclimated to having a new and much improved life, it does happen.

The above articles might help. I am not suggesting that your cat was abused and his loss of an eye could be from other sources but there might be something in that article that would be helpfurl as well.

One thing that I can add about bringing ferals into the home is that you should not mistake his hiding for discomfort or dislike. He may be sitting under that sofa thinking that this is the most wonderful place he has ever been in his life....food, water, safety, a home, no predators. The fact that he purrs is huge!
 

kittychick

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Definitely give those articles a read that fionasmom fionasmom gave the links to. I've been doing this "animal saving thing" for about 30 years (yes, I'm no teenager 😢)...and I STILL find new things (or reminders of tidbits of info I've forgotten). So if you can - at least check them out.

And fionasmom fionasmom is definitely right - - don't mistake his hiding for discomfort or dislike. He's lived one way all his life (or most of it) - - and that's living in fear, and praying he'll make it through one more night. And that's all he's known. You can also be almost certain he's had run-ins with humans who have been FAR from kind to him. I always to try to think of what they're going through at times like this in a way that I, as a human, can understand. If I'd lived in a place for 60 years (which is about what his age calculates to in human years) where I'd been mistreated, starved, been in countless fights, etc. - - and then had to face that every day of my life, it would be a huge adjustment to be picked up and brought to a strange place, handled by strange people, where no one spoke your language, and you had no clue what was happening next, as you're surrounded by nothing that you know ---- smell-wise, sight-wise, etc. So it takes time to trust. He has to unlearn 11 years of being frightened - or at least nervous - around people (and new things). So when you think of that - it's a little more understandable that making him feel more relaxed will likely take time - - -and effort. You're doing so much right!

I did have 2 questions - - one - has his eye been examined thoroughly? It's possible he's experiencing pain because of it - - -something that would make even a very social cat retreat. Just a thought. If your'e unsure what the rescue did or didn't do for it, I'd look into it. Getting him to the vet will not be easy (although most vets will prescribe anti-anxiety for kitties like him) - but the eye should be looked at if it hasn't yet.

Second question - do you have other cats? And are they in the bedroom with you - and him - too? He does need space right now that's "just his" so he can feel safe. So as much as you wouldn't want to - if there are other cats allowed where he is, I'd keep them out of that room for awhile. (They probably won't like it, but they'll get over it 🙂). And remember - - he may never be a lap cat. Just like alot of fully social cats who've been with people their whole lives who aren't lap cats. I finally - after many many many years - have my first lap cat -- -and she's an ex-TNR feral! But I can also say - most of our cats have been just happy to "be" - - so sometimes it's also a matter of tempering what WE expect. Mostly - be thrilled he's safe, with a full belly, and he's not ready to suffer heatstroke or freezing to death. He's comfortable and loved. It may take him time to realize all that - but he will. Just know he'll show it in whatever way he feels comfortable showing it (we have one kitty - my avatar, Bowie - a failed foster we got that was very abused. He loves us dearly, but he STILL (we've had him about 9 years?) runs if we move to quickly, or startle him, or sometimes for no reason at all. But he knows he's loved, fed, and safe. It's just been impossible to fully break some of the damage the abuse did to him. He'll never sit on my lap - - but I wouldn't trade him for the world.

Again - - - you're SOOOO to be commended for adopting a much older kitty with all of his "baggage" - - - very few people would have taken the chance you have. A HUGE bravo!
 

kittychick

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I forgot I was also going to suggest that you lie on the floor with the spoonful of "Kitty Crack" extended, talking softly to him while you extend it. Don't push him too hard with it. With kitties who are unsocialized, it usually takes time - sometimes days - before they'll sniff it, finally realizing it's not something I'm trying to poison them with :) ! Usually once they get a good sniff, they'll take a taste, and then they're hooked! I also always softly announce (before I enter the room he's in) in a quiet, high-pitched sing-song voice that "I'm here with the kitty crack! Who wants kitty crack?" He'll then begin to associate your voice - and your appearance in his space - with yummy stuff. I never leave treats - especially "hi value" ones (things they go nutty over) - I only give them out so that they can SEE it's me that's giving the treats.

I do hope you'll keep us posted - - and absolutely ask any questions you want!
 

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In time he will come out on his own. It took my cat a year. You are already making him feel comfortable. One thing that worked with Coco is she loves to be brushed. She was 3. Now7 has never hissed or growled. He would like a slanted scratch post for when he's alone. Go cat catcher or purr feet leather bouncer wand toy since they can be played with on the ground. My cat rubs all over my tablet when she hears kittens crying. I'm sure he is much happier no longer at a shelter being
 
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agruen

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We just woke up to all of the replies: Thank you guys so much for all the loving messages and great advice! It is so good to read all of your rescue stories and we will try a lot of your tips. We will put a few more boxes around the apartment so he can have a few more hiding spots to vary. Maybe, over time, he will choose some that are more involved in our daily life. The rescue station says he loved fresh cooked chicken so we will make him some as treats.

We will keep you posted and will probably get back to you in some time with more questions :)
Your words were really reassuring. We are totally up to wait for the little one to take his own time to feel safe here.

Again, thanks, this is an amazing community!
 
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agruen

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I did have 2 questions - - one - has his eye been examined thoroughly? It's possible he's experiencing pain because of it - - -something that would make even a very social cat retreat. Just a thought. If your'e unsure what the rescue did or didn't do for it, I'd look into it. Getting him to the vet will not be easy (although most vets will prescribe anti-anxiety for kitties like him) - but the eye should be looked at if it hasn't yet.

Second question - do you have other cats? And are they in the bedroom with you - and him - too?
Thanks for the detailed reply and kind words!!
To answer your questions: lucky the rescue station took care of it. He has been checked a month before we got him and also vaccinated. The eye doesn't work anymore and he can't see anything on this side but it's fine as it is. It is not infected and doesn't need to be taken out just now (hopefully he can keep it forever since it's a complicated operation). We have an amazing cat doctor in my area and we will take him there for a routine check as soon as he feels a bit more at home here. Right now I'm scared that it will just traumatize him more to take him there and since he has a healthy appetite and purrs a lot when we pet him under the dresser we feel like he is in no pain.

We don't have another cat so he can basically have the whole apartment for himself:)
 

Tik cat's mum

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Thank you for taking him in. You've been given excellent advice so my advice is keep up the good work and eventually he'll come round. There's definitely light at the end of the tunnel. He sounds exactly like my daughter's rescue acted at first, even the blind in one eye. It took weeks for hers to come out but now he's a love bug. Still a bit skittish but inproving so fast it will be worth it believe me. And pics to show they do come out in time.
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agruen

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Thank you for taking him in. You've been given excellent advice so my advice is keep up the good work and eventually he'll come round. There's definitely light at the end of the tunnel. He sounds exactly like my daughter's rescue acted at first, even the blind in one eye. It took weeks for hers to come out but now he's a love bug. Still a bit skittish but inproving so fast it will be worth it believe me. And pics to show they do come out in time.
Oh what a cutie!! Thanks for sharing this, we are really looking forward to pet our little one in the open some day too!
 

calicosrspecial

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We just woke up to all of the replies: Thank you guys so much for all the loving messages and great advice! It is so good to read all of your rescue stories and we will try a lot of your tips. We will put a few more boxes around the apartment so he can have a few more hiding spots to vary. Maybe, over time, he will choose some that are more involved in our daily life. The rescue station says he loved fresh cooked chicken so we will make him some as treats.

We will keep you posted and will probably get back to you in some time with more questions :)
Your words were really reassuring. We are totally up to wait for the little one to take his own time to feel safe here.

Again, thanks, this is an amazing community!
"The rescue station says he loved fresh cooked chicken so we will make him some as treats." - I use chicken thigh meat to calm feral cats in the wild and also in home. It is amazing how most cats respond to that. The best way to a cat's heart is through their stomach imo and chicken meat tends to work really well. :)
 

calicosrspecial

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Thank you for taking him in. You've been given excellent advice so my advice is keep up the good work and eventually he'll come round. There's definitely light at the end of the tunnel. He sounds exactly like my daughter's rescue acted at first, even the blind in one eye. It took weeks for hers to come out but now he's a love bug. Still a bit skittish but inproving so fast it will be worth it believe me. And pics to show they do come out in time. View attachment 383636View attachment 383637
Sorry to take the thread of topic a bit BUT I have to say this!!!

I LOVE him!!! :)
 

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Thank you for taking him in. You've been given excellent advice so my advice is keep up the good work and eventually he'll come round. There's definitely light at the end of the tunnel. He sounds exactly like my daughter's rescue acted at first, even the blind in one eye. It took weeks for hers to come out but now he's a love bug. Still a bit skittish but inproving so fast it will be worth it believe me. And pics to show they do come out in time. View attachment 383636View attachment 383637
My cat is mostly black so she is hard to find sometimes I have clicker trained her to come when called
 

tarasgirl06

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Hello A agruen and sweet mancatto, and welcome to TCS! Echoing other posters' thoughts and feelings 100%. Baby Su, born feral and now 16, spends a fair amount of time under her king-size bed and rarely ventures out of her master bedroom. Some cats just feel more secure in smaller spaces. *That's Elvis behind her in the pic. He joined us 4 years ago at age 9, having been an only cat in a family where he was very much loved, but his dad decided to marry an allergic and he was very glad Elvis found us! Elvis is VERY territorial and prey-driven, and Baby Su doesn't like when he chases her; but they can lounge on the bed with no problems.* But you are progressing VERY well with your little man! and I would be surprised if he doesn't venture out more as time goes by. Please keep us informed and *we love pix here at TCS!* One thing I'd add is that a lot of cats love interactive wand-and-lure toys such as da Bird or Cat Dancer (available just about everywhere cat supplies are sold) so you might try some play sessions of 10 min. or so with one of these as he shows more confidence.
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