New cat hiding in the ceiling!

LJB

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My friend just moved into a house with a roommate who is allergic to cats. He was going to have to take his sweet, 3 yr old orange cat to the pound if no one could take him, so I volunteered. "Django" came from a hectic multiple pet / child environment and my household is a pretty lucid with 2 adults, 1 (nice) teenager and no pets - so I was THRILLED to finally get a new cat!

I have had scores of cats over the years and I realize the poor thing must be traumatized to leave all that behind and be thrust into a totally strange situation, so did all the things I'm supposed to do - put him in a safe room downstairs with food, water, toys, bed, litter box. I have had him 3 days now and for the first 24 hours I left him alone but loved on him when he would let me.

I think I blew it yesterday, though, when I found he had disappeared into the wall frame - he was kind of stuck about 2 feet down, facing up, so I reached in and caught him up by the scruff of the neck like a mother cat would do & got him out. He ran and hid from me and did not come back out. I left treats and milk, which he ignored, but basically I left him alone.

This morning, however, we awoke to the sound of Django meowing just under our bed. No, he had not escaped and snuck upstairs to hide under our bed - turns out, the laundry room has a drop ceiling which he must have clamored into (how?!) and is now roaming freely up in the ceiling / rafters between floors! We have taken ceiling tiles down, used a flashlight to see if we can see where he might be hiding, and all but climbed into the rafters to track him down, to no avail. He's not been meowing anymore and apparently made an appearance in my son's room around 6am this morning (from out of his bathroom?) where he jumped onto my son's bed, got petted, then promptly disappeared again.

At this point, I have no idea where in between floors he could be, if any of the rafters / duct work / wires / cables, etc. are safe or lead outside (!) or even how to locate him to try and tempt / trap him out! We can't possibly tear up all the floors & ceiling to find him!

I feel terrible that he probably hates me. And I'm worried he may get stuck or hurt between floors, without us knowing where he is, until 3 weeks from now when we'll suddenly start to notice a stench....

ANY ADVICE? PLEASE HELP!
 

Talien

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Is the drop ceiling fiberglass tiles? If so, get rid of them right away and replace them with something solid, use plywood if you have to. Fiberglass is irritating to the eyes, nose, throat, and lungs as well as being a carcinogen, and if it's fiberglass ceiling tile the more time he spends there the more likely he's going to become very ill.

As for how he got up there I couldn't begin to guess without seeing pictures of the area, but when I was a little kid we had Cats that liked to get into the drop ceiling in our basement. One of them would climb onto a bookcase and push her way up there by shoving her head through one corner of a tile and pushing it up.
 

fionasmom

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Welcome to The Cat Site! I was going to say, as I began to read your post, that moving a cat from a hectic, chaotic, possibly unsafe household to a new one, even a very nice one like yours, does not immediately result in a change of behavior. The cat has no idea what to expect, the new place could be worse than the old one, and he has learned to protect himself no matter where he is. Jackson Galaxy has done whole shows on that topic. Given he is a sweet orange boy (my favorite cats of all) he will probably adjust once this is over.

However, as to where Django is.....Some of this may depend on how skilled you are with searching a structure. If you have nextdoor.com I would post about this and see if anyone can help who lives locally to you. There may be handyman, plumber, pest control specialist (no, you are not trying to get rid of Django) who is familiar with something like this. Out here there are so humane trapping and relocating companies who specialize in finding critters like raccoons and others who have moved into houses. Does animal control have any ideas that could help you? Home inspector? Their job is to examine all parts of a house.

Do you hear anything? Squirming, meowing? Check the perimeter for any exit to determine if he is still in the house, or seems to be. The stuck between floors is not an impossibility...it happened to a friend of mine with a possum...not trying to scare you. However, he knew it was there as it made a lot of noise and ripped part of the wall which was probably good.

If this is feasible, put something like KFC in a place of your choosing and see if that or something like fish will lure him out.

Don't worry about whether or not he will be upset when it is over. You can come back here later for help with that. Please let us know what happens.
 

solomonar

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Let some tuna cans open near the drop ceiling and leave the house for one hour or so. In my view, Django ran away from you from the first day, then it might be difficult for him to approach the food when you are in the same room.
 
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LJB

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Is the drop ceiling fiberglass tiles? If so, get rid of them right away and replace them with something solid, use plywood if you have to. Fiberglass is irritating to the eyes, nose, throat, and lungs as well as being a carcinogen, and if it's fiberglass ceiling tile the more time he spends there the more likely he's going to become very ill.

As for how he got up there I couldn't begin to guess without seeing pictures of the area, but when I was a little kid we had Cats that liked to get into the drop ceiling in our basement. One of them would climb onto a bookcase and push her way up there by shoving her head through one corner of a tile and pushing it up.
THANK YOU FOR THAT INFORMATION! I am not totally sure if the tiles are made of fiberglass but I assume they have some combination of particleboard, etc. as they are just your standard drop ceiling tiles. I will go tomorrow and get some thin plywood and work on that! The good news is that I don't think he is hanging out on top of the drop ceiling tiles, I believe he is more where the wood / insulation / piping is above the ceilings. There is only drop ceiling in the laundry room and my son's bathroom?
 
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LJB

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Welcome to The Cat Site! I was going to say, as I began to read your post, that moving a cat from a hectic, chaotic, possibly unsafe household to a new one, even a very nice one like yours, does not immediately result in a change of behavior. The cat has no idea what to expect, the new place could be worse than the old one, and he has learned to protect himself no matter where he is. Jackson Galaxy has done whole shows on that topic. Given he is a sweet orange boy (my favorite cats of all) he will probably adjust once this is over.

However, as to where Django is.....Some of this may depend on how skilled you are with searching a structure. If you have nextdoor.com I would post about this and see if anyone can help who lives locally to you. There may be handyman, plumber, pest control specialist (no, you are not trying to get rid of Django) who is familiar with something like this. Out here there are so humane trapping and relocating companies who specialize in finding critters like raccoons and others who have moved into houses. Does animal control have any ideas that could help you? Home inspector? Their job is to examine all parts of a house.

Do you hear anything? Squirming, meowing? Check the perimeter for any exit to determine if he is still in the house, or seems to be. The stuck between floors is not an impossibility...it happened to a friend of mine with a possum...not trying to scare you. However, he knew it was there as it made a lot of noise and ripped part of the wall which was probably good.

If this is feasible, put something like KFC in a place of your choosing and see if that or something like fish will lure him out.

Don't worry about whether or not he will be upset when it is over. You can come back here later for help with that. Please let us know what happens.

I appreciate your feedback! I have looked up some info on animal control but it seems they mostly just tell you to be patient and the cat will come out when it is ready. But I will certainly look into a handyman or humane trapping specialists.

Here's the timeline (to help me put the puzzle together):
My son's room is downstairs, directly below ours. He woke up around 5:30 to the cat meowing in his bathroom (which backs up to the laundry room) and then Django was in his bed loving on him. My son fell back asleep after that. Later we found pink insulation scattered about and a dangling ceiling tile (clearly the point of entry) in his bathroom.
My husband and I heard him meowing around 6:30, in what sounded like under our bed but was presumably in the rafters/ceiling below us.
when my son and I left for school by 7, Django was gone again. The funny part is that the laundry room door, which is also downstairs, was still shut, so he obviously didn't go BACK into the laundry room after loving on my son, but that is seemingly the only way he could get up into the ceiling/rafters.
We haven't seen any sign or heard anything since this morning. We have milk out and fresh food but it has been undisturbed all day. Obviously Django is going on his escapee missions at night so at this point I am just going to cross my fingers that his litter box and food/milk will be used by morning?
 
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LJB

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UPDATE: DJANGO TURNED UP!
So I randomly went into the upstairs front bathroom to get a bandaid and when I opened the cabinet door, there was Django on top of my first aid bin blinking at me! I slowly reached in and nabbed him right as he turned to try and duck back into the hole where the sink pipes must connect to the rest of the guts of the house. It was funny, too, as soon as he realized he was caught, he did a total 180 on me and turned into the sweetest purring snuggle machine you ever seen?!

Obviously, I moved him into a more secure, more comfortable room upstairs and made a few cat nests for him up high above the closet and shelves and he has been cool ever since! The room is my husband's office but after just a few minutes spent together, Django and my hubby are BFF's apparently - which makes sense since my buddy was a male too so Django is probably more comfortable around men.

But he has been loving all over me as well (!) so I guess the next step is just going to be figuring out how long to keep little dude in the room before he is ready to venture out into the rest of the house without trying to find every nook and cranny that might lead back under the house.. We have searched everywhere we can think of for any possible accesses (under counters, inside sink cabinets, behind appliances and closets). It's a well made wood home but was built about 15 years ago so codes were obviously a little different back then (see unfinished laundry room walls and drop ceilings into rafters / piping) so if you have any advise on any of the above, I'm listening!

THANK YOU AGAIN for your much appreciated and kind words of advise and encouragement! It takes a village to raise kids and cats!! :)
 

fionasmom

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This is like a story you could write as a children's book about the cat who gets lost exploring the house and finally turns up. I am so glad that he is safe and that he is now affectionate with your family. Since he has had time to determine that you are lovely people with an organized house, he may desist in his explorations. However, cats like nooks and crannies, as you know, so try to see if anything stands out to you as an escape hatch, especially to the outdoors and then to parts of the indoors that you don't want him in, like ceilings. He may have been frightened by the change of family and not even enjoyed being in the ceiling, but was still in that state of mind where his life had been difficult and he had to defend himself.

Fifteen years is really a new house so I think that if you take really careful analysis of it there should not be the kinds of hidey holes that you might find in older houses. I am not great with house advice in that respect. My friend who had the possum in the wall has a house built in 1923 and codes were different then about the interior structure of the wall which allowed the possum to fall through.

Check if anything can be lifted with a paw, that kind of thing. Maybe the sink pipes were the access and now that you know that the escapades will end.

I had an Oriental mix type cat years ago, a big long girl like a Savannah but she was not that breed, and she learned to stand up and use both paws to turn a doorknob. Not trying to scare you. :)
 

Margot Lane

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I have this theory cats do this Intentionally just to reeeallly make sure you care! 🙄
 
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