New foster still hiding after 16 days

WoodstockGirl

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Hi everyone,

I really need some advice regarding a mother cat that is still hiding after 16 days. I just don't know what to do for her.

About a month ago, a family near me had this cat start showing up on their patio and they started feeding her. A week or so later she brought her kitten around to eat as well. Just one kitten and it was the same kitten each time. At this point they reached out for help but all the shelters are full. They said they could bring them inside for a while but couldn't keep them--their old cat has lymphoma, a mast cell tumor and is immunocompromised.

I offered to help trap them, but then Momma showed up 2 days in a row alone and they were worried sick. When she brought the kitten back on the third day, they figured it was then or never. They picked up the kitten and brought him inside. Momma followed without a fuss and they herded her into a spare bathroom.

Momma spent the next week hiding in the bathtub, the bookcase, anywhere she could get to.

Two people offered to take them and then went AWOL. The family was talking about letting Momma back outside and I told them I'd take them. They got Momma spayed and all her shots, and both Momma and kitten came here. I think they were dumped--Momma didn't have a single flea or tick on her when she went to the vet, and both she and kitten were very clean. The kitten has none of the usual issues kittens born outside have like eye infections.

Kitten is 9-10 weeks old now and almost weaned. I haven't seen him try to nurse in a few days. He is a joy and is well on his way to being socialized and finding a good home.

I don't have a spare bathroom but I have an extra bedroom. For the last 16 days Momma has lived under the bed. She does come out in the middle of the night to use the litter box and eat, and I walked in a few days ago and caught her sitting on the nightstand.

She absolutely will not come out when anyone is there. She will not approach us or even look at us most of the time. I once had a cat that didn't come out for a solid month, but she could at least be lured to the edge of the bed with treats. Not this one.

I am not sure what the right approach is here--I'm hearing conflicting things. One is saying to engage and pet her even if she doesn't want it. We can pet her, but she's so tense most of thr time that you can tell she's not happy about it.

The other approach is to leave her alome and she'll come out when she's ready.

Which is the right way to go here?

I wonder if the kitten being there is making it harder. It is harder to engage her, because he always wants in on the action. But when I'm playing with him, she does watch and she's curious. She knows we're not going to hurt him or she would never let him out either. I'm just wondering that when I integrate him with my other cats for socialization if that will help her come out of her shell.

This is a traumatized cat and she requires special care. I realize it could be months before she trusts us. Any advice on how we can help her would be greatly appreciated.

Edit: She is only about a year old herself. She has never hissed, growled or try to bite or scratch anyone.
 
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susanm9006

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I would take it at her pace and not give her any attention until she shows she is interested in it. While you should talk to her if you are in the room with her, don’t look at her, get close to her or make any quick gestures that she might find threatening. With my Willow, adopted as a one year old, she went from hiding for weeks to running through a room when I was present to sitting in a room with me as long as I didn’t acknowledge her to finally coming close enough to sniff me and then let me touch her. Her trust in me not only progressed slowly but some days and weeks went backwards.

That is not to say your girl will take as long. I think her baby will help her learn that yours is a safe place much more quickly but you do need to be patient and not try to rush her.
 

maggie101

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Coco disappeared 5 weeks old then came back a year old. Long story about her in my profile. The rescue that took her mom and her second litter got the kittens adopted. The mom hid under the bed at the rescue's. Eventually she came out on her own. Then she would watch from the kitchen then back under the bed. A few days later, she was sitting on the rescue's lap.

Your cat will come out when she is ready. If you can get on the ground, eye level, quietly talk to her. Give her treats. She would love the pure bites freeze dried chicken.
 

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I would try and spend some time hanging out in the room - bring your iPad or a book to occupy your time and just be there. Perhaps read out loud or talk soothingly. When I took in my stray I also put a radio on at a low volume so he could get used to voices and other sounds.
 

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It’s wonderful that you were able and willing to take both of them in and mom wasn’t put back outside. You said that you were able to pet her. Can you describe how you were able to get her to allow that and her reaction? Did your neighbors interact with her at all?
 
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WoodstockGirl

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Thank you everyone for your wonderful advice and responses!

I would take it at her pace and not give her any attention until she shows she is interested in it. While you should talk to her if you are in the room with her, don’t look at her, get close to her or make any quick gestures that she might find threatening. With my Willow, adopted as a one year old, she went from hiding for weeks to running through a room when I was present to sitting in a room with me as long as I didn’t acknowledge her to finally coming close enough to sniff me and then let me touch her. Her trust in me not only progressed slowly but some days and weeks went backwards.

That is not to say your girl will take as long. I think her baby will help her learn that yours is a safe place much more quickly but you do need to be patient and not try to rush her.
I tend to agree. Most of the time she'll watch while I'm interacting with the baby. Other times I think she's glad to have a babysitter so she curls up in her bed (which I put under the bed for her) and naps! I doubt she'd do that if she felt we were in any way a threat.

Coco disappeared 5 weeks old then came back a year old. Long story about her in my profile. The rescue that took her mom and her second litter got the kittens adopted. The mom hid under the bed at the rescue's. Eventually she came out on her own. Then she would watch from the kitchen then back under the bed. A few days later, she was sitting on the rescue's lap.

Your cat will come out when she is ready. If you can get on the ground, eye level, quietly talk to her. Give her treats. She would love the pure bites freeze dried chicken.
One thing about her is that she's not food motivated. That's another reason I think she was dumped and wasn't outside for very long--she has never acted like she's starving, not even with the original family that took them in. She eats, but you can't motivate her using treats. She doesn't take the bait. (That and the kitten runs over and tries to eat them.) She doesn't like cooked food and I've tried Gerber chicken baby food. She won't touch it. She prefers her dry food although she will eat wet food. I'll try the dried chicken, though, thanks for the tip!

I get right down on the floor and peek under the bed and talk to her. At least she doesn't look like she wants to run like she did when she first came. Sometimes she actually looks pretty relaxed but that she just doesn't want to be bothered--and that's fine. I'm not going to push that.

I would try and spend some time hanging out in the room - bring your iPad or a book to occupy your time and just be there. Perhaps read out loud or talk soothingly. When I took in my stray I also put a radio on at a low volume so he could get used to voices and other sounds.
The radio is a good idea, I'll try that!

I hang out in there as much as possible, but I'm usually interacting with the kitten. I need to at least get him socialized and ready for adoption. I've accepted the fact that Momma is going to take a lot longer and may in fact not be adoptable, in which case I will keep her and she'll at least be safe, cared for and loved. I'm not going to put her out on the street.

It’s wonderful that you were able and willing to take both of them in and mom wasn’t put back outside. You said that you were able to pet her. Can you describe how you were able to get her to allow that and her reaction? Did your neighbors interact with her at all?
The neighbors had her in a bathroom so even if she tried to hide in the tub, they could still interact with her. She let them pet her when she was still outside. I really wonder if moving her here traumatized her all over again. Even though she hid a lot at their house, she had some kind of bond with them. She chose them, and she trusted them enough to bring her baby. I know the family really wanted to keep them, but the health of their older cat has to come first and I totally understand that. They really only want what's best for these cats, although I keep expecting them to come back at least for the kitten. In fact, the mother of the family has been to my house several times to visit them and is stopping over today after work. She is also paying their vet bills and providing food and litter.

When I first started interacting with her, I used my hand to pet her and she acted like she liked the chin rubs. :) But she was always so tense and felt like she was ready to run at any moment. So I backed off of that and started using a long soft toy to pet her with. That seems to work better. On the other hand, a few nights ago she was lying in her bed and I was petting her very gently. Not only did she not seem to mind, but she curled up and fell asleep. I think that was progress. Last night she wanted nothing to do with me at all.

Baby steps.
 

rubysmama

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WoodstockGirl WoodstockGirl : just came across your thread now. Thank you so much for taking mama and her kitten into your home. One thing I don't believe you mentioned, is whether you have any other cats/pets in the home, or if they are the only ones. If there are other pets, that could be making her more nervous.

That fact that she is eating and using the litter box is definitely good. Who knows what she went through while out on her own, so no wonder she's so nervous.

Here's a couple TCS articles that might have some helpful tips for you.

How To Get A Cat To Come Out Of Hiding? | TheCatSite
10 Must-know Tips For Happy Living With A Shy Cat | TheCatSite
16 Top Cat Experts Share Tips For Dealing With Timid Cats | TheCatSite
How To Help An Abused Cat Recover | TheCatSite (hopefully she was never abused, but there might be helpful in this article)

When/if you can, please post pics of them. :camera:
 
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WoodstockGirl

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Just checking to see how she is doing?
Hi Sylvia,

She's the same. Day 20, still hasn't come out. She is calm and relaxed, though. I guess she just doesn't want to come out yet.

WoodstockGirl WoodstockGirl : just came across your thread now. Thank you so much for taking mama and her kitten into your home. One thing I don't believe you mentioned, is whether you have any other cats/pets in the home, or if they are the only ones. If there are other pets, that could be making her more nervous.

That fact that she is eating and using the litter box is definitely good. Who knows what she went through while out on her own, so no wonder she's so nervous.

Here's a couple TCS articles that might have some helpful tips for you.

How To Get A Cat To Come Out Of Hiding? | TheCatSite
10 Must-know Tips For Happy Living With A Shy Cat | TheCatSite
16 Top Cat Experts Share Tips For Dealing With Timid Cats | TheCatSite
How To Help An Abused Cat Recover | TheCatSite (hopefully she was never abused, but there might be helpful in this article)

When/if you can, please post pics of them. :camera:
Thanks!

Yes, there are 5 other cats in my home and I'm sure they're aware of each other. Jasper (the kitten) has been playing footsies under the door with my 15 month old cat Loki and my 15 year old Poochy. I wrote about them back in February or March.

He is getting neutered with shots on Monday, then I'm going to integrate him. That will give me a chance to work with Luna (mom) by herself.

Here's a pic from when I first got him.
received_504783693442770.jpeg


Here he is now.

20191205_184234.jpg


Both of them the day they came here.
FB_IMG_1574116866131.jpg
 

Sylvia Jones

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Luna and Jasper are strikingly beautiful. I keep thinking about Luna curling up and falling asleep while you were petting her. I reread this thread from the beginning and it really seems from their condition that they were put out for some reason. Also mom following her kitten when taken inside. Have to say your neighbors sound amazing still being involved both financially and visiting them. But back to my point Maybe Luna’s previous home was not a place that provided her with much physical attention or at least not consistently. And of course she would not understand why she was put out. I just keep thinking that continuing to offer her petting would be reassuring to her. Of course if her reaction is not positive I would never force it. The fact that she has never hissed , scratched or tried to bite also makes me think this. Especially with Jasper about to be starting to integrate with the others ,this weekend could be the perfect time to offer more physical comforting before the change of her kitten not always being right with her. Just my thoughts for what they are worth. Please keep updating. I’m so glad they have you!!!
 
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WoodstockGirl

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Luna and Jasper are strikingly beautiful. I keep thinking about Luna curling up and falling asleep while you were petting her. I reread this thread from the beginning and it really seems from their condition that they were put out for some reason. Also mom following her kitten when taken inside. Have to say your neighbors sound amazing still being involved both financially and visiting them. But back to my point Maybe Luna’s previous home was not a place that provided her with much physical attention or at least not consistently. And of course she would not understand why she was put out. I just keep thinking that continuing to offer her petting would be reassuring to her. Of course if her reaction is not positive I would never force it. The fact that she has never hissed , scratched or tried to bite also makes me think this. Especially with Jasper about to be starting to integrate with the others ,this weekend could be the perfect time to offer more physical comforting before the change of her kitten not always being right with her. Just my thoughts for what they are worth. Please keep updating. I’m so glad they have you!!!
Thanks!

If she moves away or shows she's not interested in petting I just leave her be. I just talk to her even if she turns her back.

Right after I posted yesterday, I fed them their evening meal. She ate right away (and let me watch her) then went to her bed, stretched out and groomed herself. So she's comfortable enough for that. She's just not inclined to show herself in daylight yet.

Baby steps. I'll take it. I'm not nearly as worried as I was a few days ago. She'll come out when she's ready.

Whoever put her out must live nearby and if I find out who it is I'm reporting them. Who does that with winter coming? I don't think they were outside for very long. As I said, there wasn't a flea or tick on either one of them. The kitten had no eye problems or anything else that would lead me to believe he was born outside.

If she is lost...the family that took them in was on every local lost and found site and no one came forward. This is a small town and everyone knows each other, but the area they were found in is more rural and heavily wooded. What's interesting is that a couple of days ago, someone took in a male all black cat wearing a Seresto collar, found on the same road as Luna and Jasper. He's not in as good shape, though. Clearly he's someone's pet and has been outside for awhile. But again, no one has come forward.

Awesome kittehs... hang in there!!! :cheerleader:📣 :cheerleader:
I will, thanks! 😀

Oh... they're beautiful. :purr: Good luck with them. Keep us posted.
I will. I'll take new pictures, too.
 
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WoodstockGirl

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Update:

It's been 4 weeks and Luna still won't come out. She's not terrified or anything. She just won't come out. She lounges around grooming herself and sleeping, and she's comfortable enough to lay and sleep with her back to me. If it continues much longer, she may end up going to my friend's even though I really don't want to traumatize her again. But it may be in her best interest to do just that. Her foster room is set up where there's nowhere for her to hide, and she has experience with traumatized and very shy cats. Apparently my mistake was giving her somewhere to hide when I should have blocked off the bottom of the bed.

I don't WANT to do that. But I will as a VERY last resort. I'm okay with waiting her out.

Jasper got neutered and has his shots, and I've started integrating him with my other cats. So far, so good. Loki really wants to play but he's a little rough. I don't think he'd hurt Jasper on purpose, but I'm not comfortable leaving them alone yet even though Jasper doesn't seem to mind. He weighs almost 4 pounds already and is 13 weeks old, but the size difference is still too big for my liking. Jasper can stand up for himself, though. He's swatted Loki a couple of times already.

This would be a perfect time to work with Luna, but I can't be in two places at once.

The other cats keep their distance, but they're not aggressive, just watchful. Poochy ignores him, but he did that with Loki, too, and now they're best buds.
 
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rubysmama

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So she's still under the bed? She has to come out to eat and use the litter box, though, right?
 
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WoodstockGirl

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So she's still under the bed? She has to come out to eat and use the litter box, though, right?
She does come out to eat and use the litter box...in the middle of the night. But then, I'm at work during the day so maybe she does come out when no one is around.

I just don't feel like we're establishing any kind of a bond. I think that's what's really bothering me. Her needs are being met and I think there's some degree of trust--she would never have let Jasper be handled, petted and played with if there wasn't.

I wonder if she'll come out after Jasper has graduated to the big cats sandbox.
 

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I’ve just caught up with this thread - Luna and Jasper are so cute! Thank you for taking them in!

I also wonder if things might change once Jasper leaves her room. Luna sounds very comfortable though so perhaps it’s time to push her boundaries a little? Is it possible to get her out from under the bed and block it off, but still give her a (more accessible to you) hiding place or two? Possibly a bit traumatizing, but certainly less so than transporting her to your friend’s house.

When I was socializing Chai, I used an overturned cardboard box with holes cut into it for her to go in and out. Every week or so, as she grew less timid, I would cut the holes a little bigger and bigger (while she hid in her other spot behind the toilet). That way she still felt safe and somewhat removed from me, but I was still able to gently push her boundaries.
 
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WoodstockGirl

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I’ve just caught up with this thread - Luna and Jasper are so cute! Thank you for taking them in!

I also wonder if things might change once Jasper leaves her room. Luna sounds very comfortable though so perhaps it’s time to push her boundaries a little? Is it possible to get her out from under the bed and block it off, but still give her a (more accessible to you) hiding place or two? Possibly a bit traumatizing, but certainly less so than transporting her to your friend’s house.

When I was socializing Chai, I used an overturned cardboard box with holes cut into it for her to go in and out. Every week or so, as she grew less timid, I would cut the holes a little bigger and bigger (while she hid in her other spot behind the toilet). That way she still felt safe and somewhat removed from me, but I was still able to gently push her boundaries.
Hi Rosegold,

I like that idea! I'm definitely going to try it.

I probably could scruff her and pull her out from under there. Her bed is actually right near the edge--I could probably just pull it out. She won't like it, but I haven't wanted to push her too far although she has a pretty good comfort zone, meaning you can get within inches before she reacts. I do agree, though, that it's probably time to do just that.
 

rubysmama

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As you say, her needs are being met, and she trusts you enough to let you handle Jasper, so it might be more stressful for her to go to another home. And she's eating, using the litter box, so that's all good. And maybe once Jasper heads off to the "big cat's sandbox", perhaps she'll get braver too. :hearthrob:

If you're interested, here's rosegold rosegold 's thread on socializing Chai. Socializing My New Semi-feral
I will warn you, it has a sad ending, but nothing to do with the amazing progress rosegold rosegold made socializing the sweet scared cat. :hearthrob:
 
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WoodstockGirl

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As you say, her needs are being met, and she trusts you enough to let you handle Jasper, so it might be more stressful for her to go to another home. And she's eating, using the litter box, so that's all good. And maybe once Jasper heads off to the "big cat's sandbox", perhaps she'll get braver too. :hearthrob:

If you're interested, here's rosegold rosegold 's thread on socializing Chai. Socializing My New Semi-feral
I will warn you, it has a sad ending, but nothing to do with the amazing progress rosegold rosegold made socializing the sweet scared cat. :hearthrob:
I read every word of that thread. rosegold rosegold , I am so very sorry for your loss. But she knew you loved her with all your heart. Thank you for giving Chai so much love in such a short time.

In happier news, Luna came out yesterday evening. I don't know if she thought no one was around, but when she saw me, she didn't run. She just casually strolled back under the bed.

Progress!
 
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