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Not adjusting well in new home

hermesmom

TCS Member
Thread starter
Young Cat
Aug 12, 2013
54
13
Kentucky
My youngest cat is not doing well in our new home. She has been there for a little over a week now and so I know to expect some issues with them but she is losing weight and hiding. She was coming out and sitting on the couch with my husband but has now gone back to hiding in the carrier in their room. I am currently living an hour north due to the fact that I am still searching for a job down there. My husband is in school down there. I am worried that she is not adjusting well at all and is losing weight. She will eat some and drink chicken broth but she is just depressed and hiding 24/7. Any ideas on how to help her adjust?
 

goholistic

TCS Member
Top Cat
Feb 27, 2013
3,306
360
Northeast USA
It takes time and patience for a cat to get adjusted to their new environment. But the cat needs to eat or she runs the risk of developing hepatic lipidosis (fatty liver disease). Are you putting food in or near her hiding spot?  She may come out at night to eat if the food is close by. And then you could gradually move the food away from the hiding spot a little at a time. When my parents got a new cat, she hide behind the piano for a week. They put food next to the piano so that she could eat. She eventually came out, but at her own pace.

I would suggest continually talking to her so that she gets used to your voice. You don't necessarily have to be right next to her, but if you're in the same room, just talk to her in "baby talk."

You said, "My youngest cat..." Does that mean there is another cat in the household? Is there a lot of activity in the house? Or is it relatively quiet?
 
 

cat dad

TCS Member
Adult Cat
Aug 1, 2013
116
21
Like has been said, I'd worry more about the not eating than the hiding. Eventually she'll feel safe and start to roam. For now you have to get her to eat. Is it possible she is being bullied by another cat?

I'd be doing whatever I could to get her to eat something. You could try soaking a can of tuna in 2C water and then putting a tablespoon of the tuna water on top of her food. Are you feeding her dry? Wet might be more enticing.

Put a worn tshirt or sweatshirt of yours in her carrier with her so she can smell you while you are gone. And like GoHolistic said, make sure to keep talking to her.
 
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  • #5

hermesmom

TCS Member
Thread starter
Young Cat
Aug 12, 2013
54
13
Kentucky
The not eating is what I am worried about. I know she will eventually come out when she is ready. We have 2 other cats. One is also having a harder time (he doesn't miss meals though lol) and he snuggles with her in her hiding spot. The other has better things to do and is all over the place. He is very outgoing and wasted no time roaming the new house. She will nibble on some canned kitten food. It just doesn't seem like enough. I was worried about fatty liver. She is only 4.5lbs to begin with. I thought about feliway but have heard it doesn't work. Have you had good luck? My outgoing boy loves tuna but she has never had any interest. I guess I could try salmon.

Oh and I don't have a t-shirt of mine in there but she has a blanket she nurses on (she was bottle fed) with her.
 
Last edited:

katluver4life

TCS Member
Top Cat
Dec 4, 2012
1,211
65
Pennsylvania
I second the Feliway and have used it many times. It can take up to a week to really start having an effect though, as it needs to get absorbed into the environment. It also doesn't work on ALL cats. But IMO worth a try.

I also suggest a vet visit just to rule out any medical issues. Stress CAN induce medical problems.

Freeze dried treats, such as pure bites chicken, crushed over her food may be a good topper to try. I find most cats can't resist these. Another good enticing food is baby food, meats only. Keep her food and water close to where she is hiding so she doesn't have to venture out to eat and will feel more secure.
 

mservant

The Mouse servant
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Jul 8, 2013
18,018
3,246
The Mouse Pad, UK
I've had success with Feliway too, my boy was very skittish as a kitten (though you'd never believe it now).   I used the plug in diffuser for about the first 3 months I had him.  He's always been terrible in the car and would wail constantly, and often poop in the basket due to level of stress: about 3 months ago I got one of the sprays and now use it on the blanket in his carrier about 20 minutes before putting him in there. It's worked a treat. I've had him in the car three times since then and he's been great:) 

It is worrying that your youngest isn't eating. Perhaps the disruption of the move is compounded by the difference of you not always being there at night, making it harder for her?   I hope you manage to get things settled down, and do check out with a vet if there isn't improvement and her weight doesn't pick up.  
 Mouse is definitely more prone to getting sick when there's stress in the house - mine OR his!
 

MoochNNoodles

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Apr 30, 2005
30,744
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Where my cats are
I second baby food!  Warmed up just a little.  But be sure it's nothing but the meat.  Usually the pure meat ones are in the tiniest jars.  When my oldest was a baby we tried the jarred chicken with her.  She wouldn't eat it; but Noodles went nuts for it. 
  You can also warm canned cat food a bit to see if that makes it enticing.  
 
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  • #10

hermesmom

TCS Member
Thread starter
Young Cat
Aug 12, 2013
54
13
Kentucky
We are getting her to eat moist kitten food if we sit with her. Takes about 45min for her to eat any decent amount. She did poop behind the couch but that is to be expected I guess. Getting there.
 

goholistic

TCS Member
Top Cat
Feb 27, 2013
3,306
360
Northeast USA
We are getting her to eat moist kitten food if we sit with her. Takes about 45min for her to eat any decent amount. She did poop behind the couch but that is to be expected I guess. Getting there.
Aw, poor baby! I'm glad she ate some. If you haven't already, you could try putting a tiny litter box in the room somewhere (not near the food).
 
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  • #12

hermesmom

TCS Member
Thread starter
Young Cat
Aug 12, 2013
54
13
Kentucky
I have 4 placed all over. If she continues to go behind the couch I will have to think of something. She was sleeping on the couch and was too afraid to leave it I think.
 

eicanfly

TCS Member
Young Cat
Jul 15, 2013
21
11
Palm Coast, Florida
is it possible to pull couch out from wall just a little bit and put litter box behind it for now. Or put food and water right where she's been pooping.
 

ldg

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Jun 25, 2002
41,323
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Fighting for ferals in NW NJ!
Is there any way to place a litter box near the couch temporarily? Sounds to me like your assessment is correct: the poor thing is too scared to navigate to an existing box.

We live in an RV where it is impossible to separate new cats. For your future reference, this really is best for new kitties - a small space (one room: a guest bedroom, a large bathroom, the "office," whatever...) to call their own for a while, while they adjust to everything. This helps scared cats feel protected. But because we live in such a confined space to begin with, places to put litter boxes are not constrained by our aesthetics, but physical space. They are all up at the front of the RV, or we'd literally be tripping over them. We've had to physically pick up and carry new kitties to the litter boxes because they were scared of the other cats they'd need to pass on the way to GET to the box.

It doesn't sound like your little baby is scared of the other kitties, so much as she's just overwhelmed by the new space. :rub: I'd provide everything she needs in the space she's defined as the one in which she feels comfortable.

I second (or third, or fourth?) the suggestion of Feliway. I'd also consider playing some soothing classical music - or, actually, if you can stand it, harp music, to help calm her frayed nerves. :heart2:
 

eicanfly

TCS Member
Young Cat
Jul 15, 2013
21
11
Palm Coast, Florida
and as long as she's eating SOMETHING you don't have to get worried sick that she's gonna keel over, she should start re-developing an appetite as she gradually eats more. Also nobody suggested giving her a bathroom and shutting the door. It might just be too overwhelming for her. Many cats will be comforted by having a small space and knowing the door is closed they can let their guard down and relax.

SO important for them to feel safe like that.
 

socrescue

TCS Member
Kitten
Aug 13, 2013
2
10
Southern California
Hi, I have placed 100s of cats into new homes since I have been doing cat rescue for 13 years. The trick is to give her a small safe space. We always recommend starting the new cat out is a small room like a bathroom with her litter, food, water, piles of towels for a bed, scratcher, box to hide in if room. This gives the new cat time to adjust to all the new smells of the house and people. Cats are much more sensitive to smells than are humans, 3000 times more sensitive so when then go someplace new and nothing smells familiar they get scared and hide. By leaving them in one small room they can adjust to that space and the people that come in to visit with him/her over a period of hours or days. However long it takes. They aren't afraid in the "safe space" to eat or use the litter box but they might be if they have to cross into a whole other room.

Once they are comfortable in that small space and want to follow you out into the rest of the house they feel safe. It also gives you a chance to observe how much she is eating and if any other health issues develop. If you house is two stories or extra big you might want to give her exposure to just half of the house next until she learns that space and then the whole house.

Giving her the run of the whole house right off the bat is way, way too much "new" for most cats to adjust to, especially females. I find males adjust more quickly on the average than females and kittens more quickly than adults. We find it takes a normal adult cat at least two weeks to basically adjust and a good three months until they are truly feeling themselves in their new home.

In your case --start the process over, put her in one small room with door closed until she feels totally safe in that room and wants to follow you out to explore the rest of the house. This also gives the resident animals a chance to get use to her scent. We recommend exchanging bedding so they get use to each others unique scent.

If you house is two stories be sure you have litter boxes upstairs and downstairs and also something to scratch on everywhere.
 

billzbrat

TCS Member
Kitten
Aug 13, 2013
2
0
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
I agree completely!

Give her -her own space!  Her own food,bowls,water,litter box, blankets and toys.

She may feel threatened to use a litter box that is being used by other cats in the home.

Leave something with her with your scent/odor on it, may it be a piece of clothing (sweater or shirt) or an old towel.

Speak to her softly and re-assure her that everything will be okay.
 
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  • #19

hermesmom

TCS Member
Thread starter
Young Cat
Aug 12, 2013
54
13
Kentucky
Is there any way to place a litter box near the couch temporarily? Sounds to me like your assessment is correct: the poor thing is too scared to navigate to an existing box.

We live in an RV where it is impossible to separate new cats. For your future reference, this really is best for new kitties - a small space (one room: a guest bedroom, a large bathroom, the "office," whatever...) to call their own for a while, while they adjust to everything. This helps scared cats feel protected. But because we live in such a confined space to begin with, places to put litter boxes are not constrained by our aesthetics, but physical space. They are all up at the front of the RV, or we'd literally be tripping over them. We've had to physically pick up and carry new kitties to the litter boxes because they were scared of the other cats they'd need to pass on the way to GET to the box.

It doesn't sound like your little baby is scared of the other kitties, so much as she's just overwhelmed by the new space.
I'd provide everything she needs in the space she's defined as the one in which she feels comfortable.

I second (or third, or fourth?) the suggestion of Feliway. I'd also consider playing some soothing classical music - or, actually, if you can stand it, harp music, to help calm her frayed nerves.
We started them off in the office and that is their safe zone that we have made no changes too until everyone is adjusted. ( still need to set up the desk lol). We have been physically picking her up and putting her in the box frequently. She potties when we do and we let her come back out when she is ready. Hubby is trying really hard not to have a litter box in the living room but knows that may be coming soon lol.
 
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  • #20

hermesmom

TCS Member
Thread starter
Young Cat
Aug 12, 2013
54
13
Kentucky
Hi, I have placed 100s of cats into new homes since I have been doing cat rescue for 13 years. The trick is to give her a small safe space. We always recommend starting the new cat out is a small room like a bathroom with her litter, food, water, piles of towels for a bed, scratcher, box to hide in if room. This gives the new cat time to adjust to all the new smells of the house and people. Cats are much more sensitive to smells than are humans, 3000 times more sensitive so when then go someplace new and nothing smells familiar they get scared and hide. By leaving them in one small room they can adjust to that space and the people that come in to visit with him/her over a period of hours or days. However long it takes. They aren't afraid in the "safe space" to eat or use the litter box but they might be if they have to cross into a whole other room.

Once they are comfortable in that small space and want to follow you out into the rest of the house they feel safe. It also gives you a chance to observe how much she is eating and if any other health issues develop. If you house is two stories or extra big you might want to give her exposure to just half of the house next until she learns that space and then the whole house.

Giving her the run of the whole house right off the bat is way, way too much "new" for most cats to adjust to, especially females. I find males adjust more quickly on the average than females and kittens more quickly than adults. We find it takes a normal adult cat at least two weeks to basically adjust and a good three months until they are truly feeling themselves in their new home.

In your case --start the process over, put her in one small room with door closed until she feels totally safe in that room and wants to follow you out to explore the rest of the house. This also gives the resident animals a chance to get use to her scent. We recommend exchanging bedding so they get use to each others unique scent.

If you house is two stories be sure you have litter boxes upstairs and downstairs and also something to scratch on everywhere.
We did this. Everyone was locked into the small room for a few days and we opened the door. My only fear with starting over is the boys are adjusted but one still uses the room if he is stressed. That is also where their food and water is. I don't know if it will set them back this early on if I move their stuff to shut her in there.
 
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