newly adopted cat is hiding and hissing. how not to take it personally?

SSimone

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So, 5 days ago, we adopted a 3-year-old, male cat. A bit of his backstory: he was found as a stray on the streets of Huston and taken in by a foster. He spent roughly 2 months with her, and he quickly settled in. The foster told me that he is very food motivated and quickly became friends with anyone feeding him. While he wasn't super cuddly, he enjoyed head scratches, human company and even came when called.
We are living in Vancouver, Canada, so when we adopted him, the agency transported him (via truck) to Canada. It was a two-day journey with multiple animals on the truck, including dogs, and when we picked him up, I was told he was very scared during transport. When we brought him home and let him out in "his" new room (our former dining room and home office) and he immediately went into hiding behind a piano stand.

The positive signs: He is coming out of his "cave" at night and eats the food I leave for him, drinks and uses the litter box like a champ! Over the past two nights, I noticed he's coming out in the evening, even while we're still awake and he seems very comfortable in his room (but only if we're nowhere near his room!).
The negative: If we are in or near his room he goes deep into his "cave", and I have never actually seen him except in the car ride home and on a surveillance camera we put in the room. The moment I get too close to his cave, even just with my hands and to give him treats, he's hissing at me. I've tried luring him out or at least closer to the cave entrance with various treats, but he shows no interest. He does not eat during the day or when anyone is in the room.
What I'm currently doing: I (try to) feed him in the morning and evening and leave some food out during the night. He has his own room, but I do spend a good amount of time in it, because that's where my home office is. I usually sit at the desk with my back to his cave entrance, I sometimes talk to him and on the phone. I try to leave the room a few times a day to give him a break from me. I sometimes sit on the floor where he can see me from a hole in his cave. Every time I enter his room, I toss some treats towards his cave. I have a feliway diffuser and some relaxing music playing.

Given his traumatic transport experience and the fact that he was a stray for most of his life, is there any way of guessing how long it will take him to come around? Is it possible he will hate humans forever? I know it's only been a few days and I will need to give him space and time, but it's hard not to take the hissing and hiding personal, especially since I never had a cat that acted that way and he was so friendly with his foster... How do I deal with the fact that I just want him to be comfortable, relaxed and live his best life, but he just hates us and the world right now?
Is there anything I should do differently?
Any tips, tricks and suggestions are greatly appreciated!
 

neely

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Welcome to TCS! :wave3: Thank you for rescuing this kitty and giving him a forever home. :thanks: He has been through so much that it will take time for him to adjust so please be patient. Unfortunately there is no magic formula so take it day by day and you'll be fine. It's a good sign that he's eating and using the litter box. For now, give him space and let him come to you when he's ready, talk to him in a soft voice, sit on the floor in the same room but not too close and listen to music or read a book. Just your presence is reassuring to him and eventually you will gain his trust.

Here are a few TCS Articles with with different suggestions and advice that I hope you will find helpful:
14 Cat Experts Reveal: How To Get A Cat To Like Me – TheCatSite Articles
How To Get A Cat To Come Out Of Hiding? – TheCatSite Articles
16 Top Cat Experts Share Tips For Dealing With Timid Cats – TheCatSite Articles
10 Must-know Tips For Happy Living With A Shy Cat – TheCatSite Articles

Best of luck! Please keep us posted on his progress. :alright: BTW, what did you decide to name him?
 

sivyaleah

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Everything you are doing is good. When we adopted our 3 year old rescue, she spent the first week under our guestroom bed and also, would hiss like crazy if I came down to the floor to see her. She didn't even use her box for a few days. She was the epitome of timid but I understood her life was turned upside down and it would just take whatever time it took.

I realized her hissing didn't mean anything but her being afraid so I'd get down to her level, talk to her, throw treats and put my hand down near her but not touching her. At some point, it was very apparent she was not aggressive so I worked on pulling her gently out from under the bed. I know a lot of people do not recommend this, better for them to decide, but I really felt that she needed the contact. For us, it was the right thing to do because once I was holding her, she melted into me. I think she just was too afraid to even try and by my gently forcing her, worked in that case.

Once that happened, she became much better about eating/using the box etc. It still took another week or so before she was brave enough to come out of the room (fyi - we were also doing introductions to a resident cat during this). But one day, I opened the door to bring in her breakfast and she was sitting there, waiting for me all perky looking. It was also the day she finally ventured out on her own. Made it half way down the stairs and ran back, but it was a huge step for her!

Anyway, eventually she slowly incorporated herself into our lives and as it turns out, she's the most cuddly, lovable cat we've had yet. Nothing much bothers her, she loves other people than us, is gentle and has perfect manners.

It can be a slow process but going at their pace is necessary (other than, perhaps, a small push!). The timeframe for yours sounds perfectly normal. Have you tried enticing him out to play? Wand type toys are best since they leave distance between you and the end of the cord. Most cats can not help but react to those.
 
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SSimone

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Hi Neely, thanks for your reply and the resources.
His name is Banjo! :) We liked the name to start with and thought it would be appropriate as he's from the US (like the musical instrument) and he decided his save spot was behind the piano and guitar cases!:musicnote:

Regarding being in his room: is it possible to be in his room too much? Since my home office is in his room, I'm in there for several hours each day. I've seen suggestions to be in the room for 20 minutes at a time and then leave. I could go to the office, but then he would be alone for most of the day.
Also, is it ok that both my husband and I are going in there, or should it be just one of us?
 

sivyaleah

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I don't think you can be there too much and it's fine for both of you to be there. Getting used to your routine/sounds/smells is a plus. Cats really love routine so the more of it created will help him learn relaxing in your home is a good thing.
 

neely

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Regarding being in his room: is it possible to be in his room too much?
I think that it's fine for you to be in his room as long as you are respectful of his space and are quiet. If you have any devices or electronic equipment that are loud it might startle him. This might be a good time to play soft music. Try to be aware of his preferences so you know what he likes or dislikes. Do you have a cat bed in there for him in case he would like to curl up? Not all cats like to sleep in one so don't worry if he doesn't use it. He might enjoy a cat tree too especially if it's by a window so he can look out. Thanks for letting us know his name, i.e. Banjo. :lovecat2:
 

Gypsy Witch & Persephone

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So, 5 days ago, we adopted a 3-year-old, male cat. A bit of his backstory: he was found as a stray on the streets of Huston and taken in by a foster. He spent roughly 2 months with her, and he quickly settled in. The foster told me that he is very food motivated and quickly became friends with anyone feeding him. While he wasn't super cuddly, he enjoyed head scratches, human company and even came when called.
We are living in Vancouver, Canada, so when we adopted him, the agency transported him (via truck) to Canada. It was a two-day journey with multiple animals on the truck, including dogs, and when we picked him up, I was told he was very scared during transport. When we brought him home and let him out in "his" new room (our former dining room and home office) and he immediately went into hiding behind a piano stand.

The positive signs: He is coming out of his "cave" at night and eats the food I leave for him, drinks and uses the litter box like a champ! Over the past two nights, I noticed he's coming out in the evening, even while we're still awake and he seems very comfortable in his room (but only if we're nowhere near his room!).
The negative: If we are in or near his room he goes deep into his "cave", and I have never actually seen him except in the car ride home and on a surveillance camera we put in the room. The moment I get too close to his cave, even just with my hands and to give him treats, he's hissing at me. I've tried luring him out or at least closer to the cave entrance with various treats, but he shows no interest. He does not eat during the day or when anyone is in the room.
What I'm currently doing: I (try to) feed him in the morning and evening and leave some food out during the night. He has his own room, but I do spend a good amount of time in it, because that's where my home office is. I usually sit at the desk with my back to his cave entrance, I sometimes talk to him and on the phone. I try to leave the room a few times a day to give him a break from me. I sometimes sit on the floor where he can see me from a hole in his cave. Every time I enter his room, I toss some treats towards his cave. I have a feliway diffuser and some relaxing music playing.

Given his traumatic transport experience and the fact that he was a stray for most of his life, is there any way of guessing how long it will take him to come around? Is it possible he will hate humans forever? I know it's only been a few days and I will need to give him space and time, but it's hard not to take the hissing and hiding personal, especially since I never had a cat that acted that way and he was so friendly with his foster... How do I deal with the fact that I just want him to be comfortable, relaxed and live his best life, but he just hates us and the world right now?
Is there anything I should do differently?
Any tips, tricks and suggestions are greatly appreciated!
My Persephone is very shy which I was told about when I adopted her. As soon as I got her home she hid behind the toilet. I let her alone. After the first day I would place a treat by her every once in awhile. The third day I added in offering my hand so she could get used to my scent and me. The fourth day I added an occasional brief pet. After that she came out to investigate every once in awhile for a couple days and then came out of hiding permanently. She is now well adjusted and happy. I think space and time creates trust.
 
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SSimone

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Hi guys, just wanted to give you a quick update after another week and add one more question:
on Wednesday last week, Banjo came out of his hiding spot for the first time while I was in the room (the days before, he poked his head out but did not leave his cave). He has done that a few times since then, and he has stayed out after eating as well, going up to his favourite spot on the window sill. Once he's out, he seems to be comfortable with me being there, as long as I don't move around too much and keep my distance. Progress! :)
A few days ago, we opened the sliding doors that connect his room with the living room an inch or so, just enough for him to look out but not to get out, and he was very interested to see what's in the other room. Then on Saturday, we opened it to 2"-3", played a board game in the living room, and he was again very interested in observing us and even came within a foot of the door! So, last night, we opened the door enough for him to get out. We stayed in the living room, watching TV, and had a tasty treat on our side of the door. He did reach his head through the door to eat the treat, but then went back to his room. But he did come out to explore, the moment we went to bed.
I have now heard (on a Jackson Galaxy youtube video) that it's not a good idea to let the cat explore the home without you. But the "cat expert" from the rescue organization told me that she has had success letting cats explore by themselves. Is there a wright or wrong way of doing this?
 

sivyaleah

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Great progress!

I've never head anyone say you need to be with the cat while it first explores a home. We always just let them take whatever time they felt comfortable with, their own pace. I'd think it would be better to leave them alone. IDK I'd think that making choices for itself would be better for their self-confidence with new surroundings plus have the option to retreat if overwhelmed.

Maybe JQ meant not to leave the cat to explore if you aren't home? That makes sense to me in those first few weeks especially if it's a kitten. But with an adult, once they are navigating the house well and they know where food/water/litter box is really no reason not to have them free roaming in the house when not there.
 

Margot Lane

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Agreed. Cats like, need and want to explore things. It grounds them. I think everything you’re doing is spot on, esp. taking time to just talk to Banjo. He’s coming round! :wave3:
 
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