That Darn Post Adoption Anxiety

lilnoodle

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Hi everyone! I'm new here. For context, I've always loved animals- cats and dogs especially. I have been wanting a cat for years now, since I was in high school (I've graduated college by now). I moved out semi-recently in the beginning of September Last year and I knew I wanted to have some company since I'd be by myself all day- I had thought about adopting a cat right after moving but I wanted to get used to living by myself for a little while (good choice on my part haha). Now the new year rolled by and I felt prepared to take on my first fur baby. I had never cared for a pet before, but I was well aware of the time commitment and responsibility to decide to take care of any animal.

However when that faithful adoption day came by- nothing had prepared me for that post adoption anxiety spike. This might sound like a broken record, as there were threads describing this before (and i've read a bunch of them), but like all of them, I'm starting to feel incredibly overwhelmed and anxious about everything. I know the "rule of 3s" (Today is day 5) and ironically the anxiety spike happened on day 3 like most people, but its hard to believe things will change when every atom in my body is telling me im doing terribly.

My lil noodle is a 4 month old domestic medium hair, she's very pretty and sweet. I work at home, so I play with her at least 2 times a day for at least 15 minutes- she's super smart, she already knew how to use the litterbox and scratch post I got her. Unfortunately bc of the money did getting all the supplies I don't have much for her other than a small cat tower and a few toys aside from necessities.

I'm so so afraid of being a terrible mom for her, and instilling bad behaviors completely unintentionally. Part of me knows that this is an adjustment period for the both of us (where most people start seeing a bit of change in both themselves and in the kitten at around 3 weeks) but another part of me knows it's better to teach her behavior things as soon as she's able (but maybe now isn't a good time and I should just wait? But I'm afraid if I condone her behavior for things I don't want her to do and then try and 'train' her after a few weeks she might be confused?). In the day she's often skittish and scared/jumpy, which is understandable, it's only barely been 5 days. At night she's super cuddly and kneads/purrs right next to me every night so far. She wakes up on occasion to walk around the bed and fall back asleep, no midnight zoomies. She eats all her meals. I'm just so afraid I'm treating her poorly that I've seriously considered bringing her back, which is breaking my heart. part of me thinks that it'd be better if I got a roommate to raise her with. I know getting a second kitten/bonded pair now is a better idea and the cost isnt much more than having just one (which, now in foresight i feel super irresponsible about now), but I just don't have the home space or mental strength to take a second one on (especially if only one right now is causing me this much emotional distress). I've barely been able to eat or work, and to my own surprise I ended up having a terrible anxiety attack that reduced me to tears yesterday.

So I guess what I'd like to ask here is- did anyone else have any recent similar experiences? What did you do? what did you do to cope and get through those first few weeks? What did you do to discourage bad behavior? (I would never physically hurt my kitten of course. when she bites and nips at my hand and arm I go limp and slowly pull away while saying "no, ouch..!" I am just unsure how to prevent things like going and climbing on unwanted things like my desk or keyboard, or digging through my plant pot. I tried doing the aluminum foil thing but she is surprisingly unaffected by it haha. So the only non-physical thing I could think of was startling her with shaking a bin of coins I have. Though, she has begun to be more aggressive/afraid because of it, so I know now to not do that and have stopped, and I feel terrible about attempting it. There's gotta be some way, I don't want my kitten to hate me but I don't want her to think going on these things is ok either.)

Of course, this has caused me to think of bringing her back, which i absolutely would hate to do and would break my heart. I know she's a very sweet good girl and I love her a lot. I'm terrified of trying to 'discipline' her. She isnt used to being handled yet, and likes to escape when I try to go out to take out the trash. I know I have to be patient but I just don't know what to do. I would be super grateful for some advice and reassurance. Thanks so much.
 

Lucy&Petra

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This is 100% extremely normal. You're a good person who cares and considers things. You should know... You are doing everything right because you are doing the best you can. She's going to be a good friend to you and you to her. Just be patient with each other. Giving them love and food and security is plenty. By the way I make toys for my cats out of old boxes and other things I have lying around. You're just worried about doing everything perfectly and there is no such thing as perfect, there is only purpose! Your purpose now is to just be there for her needs and that's it really! So, don't worry, be happy and congratulations ;)
 
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lilnoodle

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Thank you for the kind words. It's really hard to work and eat when she's laying around my station, and I know if I lift her she'll just bite and nip-quite a bit unsure what to do there;;

I'm also dreading the inevitable having to bring her to her first checkup at the vet and especially having to leave her alone in a room for a few hours when I have to go get groceries. Do you have any advice for this kind of stuff? I already introduced her to her carrier, she's been resting in and out of it which i think is good! I guess I'm more afraid of having to leave her by herself because she'll meow or cry- but I don't want her to develop separation anxiety with me either haha so I too am trying not to give her too much attention. ahhh so many things to think about

This is 100% extremely normal. You're a good person who cares and considers things. You should know... You are doing everything right because you are doing the best you can. She's going to be a good friend to you and you to her. Just be patient with each other. Giving them love and food and security is plenty. By the way I make toys for my cats out of old boxes and other things I have lying around. You're just worried about doing everything perfectly and there is no such thing as perfect, there is only purpose! Your purpose now is to just be there for her needs and that's it really! So, don't worry, be happy and congratulations ;)
 

Lucy&Petra

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She's around you and doesn't want to be removed, that's good. With cats it's best to let them feel like they have some control, so if she nips when you try to move her she's just communicating that she's happy there and doesn't want to move. And that's okay, you should let her bond with you for awhile. Once you've established a bond then you can start work on behavior. With cats it's little by little and one thing at a time. So once you get to working on her behaviour you just use gentle touching, and the word no calmly.

As far as leaving her alone, I think it's more that we have anxiety about that then they do. Eventually she'll come to use any time alone as good sleep time and you'll know she's getting a good nap in. Word of advice though don't make a big deal of leaving and coming home - it weirdly makes the whole thing seem like a big deal so that then inadvertantly causes stress.

Remember to just have fun with her, this age passes so fast!!
 

Juniper_Junebug

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I adopted my first kitten a little over a year ago, and though my initial experience was a little different (I'm much older and more settled), I can say that I did lots of stuff "wrong," or maybe just less than ideal, because I didn't know what I was doing (re: training, dealing with biting, etc.). And yet I'm pretty confident that I still managed not to ruin her 🙂

Maybe try thinking about it this way: even if you don't feel confident in your own skills, you can feel confident in your kitty's adaptability and resilience, and ability to know she is loved.
 
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lilnoodle

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Thanks guys, I'll do my best to hang in there and be patient with her as well as myself, I'll be sure to give updates when I can- hopefully I can find a workaround for my keyboard so she doesn't lay on it, makes it hard to genuinely work ahaha. The only thing I can think of is keeping her to one room while I work at my desk but I dont know if that's necessarily right or healthy
 

Juniper_Junebug

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Thanks guys, I'll do my best to hang in there and be patient with her as well as myself, I'll be sure to give updates when I can- hopefully I can find a workaround for my keyboard so she doesn't lay on it, makes it hard to genuinely work ahaha. The only thing I can think of is keeping her to one room while I work at my desk but I dont know if that's necessarily right or healthy
I got an inexpensive perch to put over my desk (suction-cupped to the window) so my kitty can be nearby but less disruptive. I also made a ridiculous song, No Kitties on the Keyboard, which I still sing to this day as I push her away from the keyboard. She's much better now than she was, it's all about consistency, I think. And still, every week or so, I have to restart my computer bc she plops down on the keyboard in such a way that it presses some mystery key that disables the keyboard itself 🤷‍♀️

If you have room on your desk, maybe try putting a box in the corner (like a shoe box, or even better, the short kind that beer gets delivered in-- ask me how I know). She'll naturally be attracted to the box and when she goes for the keyboard, you can put her back in the box every single time, and she'll start to get the point.
 

ClumsyBear

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It's completely normal to feel overwhelmed at first. It's still early, everything is new for your kitty and she just wants to explore and get into everything. My kitten would chew at every cord and get into everything, but eventually, they became old and boring and he let go. Just try to get her attention away from things you don't want her going near. For example, having a toy on hand at all times is very helpful!
 
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lilnoodle

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Haha pray tell how you knew about the beer thing- and hit me up with those lyrics! lmao- I do have space on my desk thankfully that she sometimes goes to, maybe I'll try your box idea, she'll likely nip at me while I do it though haha

I got an inexpensive perch to put over my desk (suction-cupped to the window) so my kitty can be nearby but less disruptive. I also made a ridiculous song, No Kitties on the Keyboard, which I still sing to this day as I push her away from the keyboard. She's much better now than she was, it's all about consistency, I think. And still, every week or so, I have to restart my computer bc she plops down on the keyboard in such a way that it presses some mystery key that disables the keyboard itself 🤷‍♀️

If you have room on your desk, maybe try putting a box in the corner (like a shoe box, or even better, the short kind that beer gets delivered in-- ask me how I know). She'll naturally be attracted to the box and when she goes for the keyboard, you can put her back in the box every single time, and she'll start to get the point.
I'll try the toy thing too Bear, thanks for that
 
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lilnoodle

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An update! It is now 1 week since adoptin this lil guy. I was still feeling incredibly overwhelmed about everything and had cried probably at least once a day lmAo. I resigned and opened up to my parents about it (who live out of state) and they drove on over to give me additional company while me and lil mac adjust. I feel incredibly ashamed about this, since they just recently arrived back at their home since they were over during the holidays, but that's a whole other thing haha.

My anxiety about everything since then has mellowed about i'd probably say 60%, I still get really bad spurts every now and then if I think too hard about a particular cat related thing too much, but having company/family/friends over really helped with my sanity. Lil Noodle is super nice with strangers! I've also realized that over googling questions makes my anxiety even worse so I'm trying to avoid it haha

Hopefully this trend continues until I hit the 3 week mark 2 weeks from now. A lot of my overthinking overlaps now into my loss of my alone time and medical and psychological concerns for the kitty (am I playing enough? Is she healthy? Is she ok enough with my environment?)

She has her first vet visit coming up next Tuesday, and thankfully she already is into being in her carrier (I leave it out in the open and she just chills in there most of the time). So here's hopin;;;;;
 

game misconduct

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things will be ok cats can/will feel and react to your anxiety i know graycies has and does when my gf is having bad anxiety your right where you belong now on this site :biggrin:(welcome! to the forum)
 

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There is no single moment that defines everything. Just as life with people, life with cats is not a romantic movie where everything is crammed into 90 min. As long as you care for this incredibly lucky kitty, she will be fine. She's the ideal age for you, not a stupid baby and not an adult settled in her ways. She will adapt to life with you just as you adapt to her. It's great that you learn about cats' ways and what to or what not to do, but no matter what I read or watched, it was minish herself who taught me how to be her human.
No fear!
 
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lilnoodle

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Thanks for the kind words! I'm definitely hanging in there, even though it's still pretty hard it's been much much easier having my family around with me (we're all learning together!)

Do you guys happen to know when cats typically start to mellow at? I'm guessing when they reach full maturity at 1 year, but hahah

Also I'd like some recs for some tall cat towers! I'm still relatively fresh outta college so nothing too fancy, but I know she'd definitely benefit from it more than her tiny tower I have for her atm haha
 

Juniper_Junebug

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Do you guys happen to know when cats typically start to mellow at? I'm guessing when they reach full maturity at 1 year, but hahah

Also I'd like some recs for some tall cat towers! I'm still relatively fresh outta college so nothing too fancy, but I know she'd definitely benefit from it more than her tiny tower I have for her atm haha
I've only got my one experience to go by, but my kitten (adopted at 4 or 5 months) mellowed over time, so it wasn't so noticeable. She still acts like a kitten sometimes at 1.5 years, but I don't worry that I have to keep my eyes on her all the time to keep her alive 😁 And honestly, I miss the zoomies now they are, not gone, but greatly subdued.
 

minish

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Minish stopped trying to climb curtains and planning acrobatics like jumping on doorframes (thought really hard, didn't attempt) around 8 months. She mellowed down around 2 years old.
My apartment is very small so minish doesn't have a cat tree. Doesn't need one either. She has high perches in the rooms (dresser in bedroom, bookshelf she can jump from the couch to oversee my dinner table and I encouraged her to jump on the fridge from a barstool placed across it) I also encouraged her on a parrkour route for zoomies-the corridor to living room to TV shelf, down, above couches, up to the bookshelf) I wrapped my exercise bike handles with sisal rope and encouraged her to jump there to rest or drag her nails in. It's like a tree branch for my panther.
Minish is A foodie so encouragement means dangling smoked turkey bits in front of her, and calling.
I was hopeless in the first months because minish was always trying to climb or jump on me for play. The owner of the petshop gave me a very long stick wand toy. For first year, I attached diffent things on its end (paper crumple, herb sticks, mall toys..) and kept it with me when I relaxed on my couch. Whenever she approached with bad intentions (for her, only fun), I would swoop the wand away and she was redirected.
You don't need to spend money to increase options. And it's fun to think of these hacks as well as executing them. Minish never took anything from her toy box but she always sits with me to inspect when I say let's make you a new toy
 
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lilnoodle

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Thanks Juniper and Minish! Super appreciate the tips n tricks. Lil noodle kinda figured out my work schedule (since I work from home) and naps on my desk next to me while I draw haha- I also have a reasonably small place. I'm getting the second litterbox today and havent figured out where to place it just yet, but it's relieving to know that she can feel fulfilled even if I don't have the "necessities" for a cat home. I'll try my best
 

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Also I'd like some recs for some tall cat towers!
taller it is the better :lol:cats like to be up higher than you to look down on you or observe whatever you happen to be doing got this 6 foot plus tree off amazon for the price of a few college books(100 bux give or take) try and get the ones with real carpet they last lots longer than those soft fuzzy couch blanket type material onesand provide better grip for your cat
 

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misty8723

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I think our cats train us, not the other way around. Or is that just me? :lol:

If you can, figure out a protocol to use whenever you go outside and come back in, so she doesn't escape. Probably harder if you're in an apartment. What we do is go and come through the garage and make sure the garage door is down before we open the door to the kitchen. A couple times when we first adopted cats, one of them got out into the garage a few times, and the first time I didn't even see him. I was running all over the house trying to find him, rattling a treat bag, pretty much panicing. Finally I decided to open the door to the garage and there he was. We were happy to see each other! (I miss that boy)

It's pretty normal to feel anxiety if this is your first pet. It will get easier. And any additional pets you get (how about a friend for your baby to race around and wrestle with?? They're really fun to watch).
 
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lilnoodle

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Thanks Misty! Noodle has been getting better about us coming and going, maybe 1/5 times she escapes the room hahah thankfully she can't get far since the door to outside the actual building is always closed off. Not making a big deal about it has been helping.

Me and the fam have really thought about getting her a buddy (there was also a really cuddly white kitten at the adoption center) but our space is already super tiny having her included. I thought my place was p decently sized but I realize now it's not all that big with one cat's worth of stuff around unfortunately ^^""

I think our cats train us, not the other way around. Or is that just me? :lol:

If you can, figure out a protocol to use whenever you go outside and come back in, so she doesn't escape. Probably harder if you're in an apartment. What we do is go and come through the garage and make sure the garage door is down before we open the door to the kitchen. A couple times when we first adopted cats, one of them got out into the garage a few times, and the first time I didn't even see him. I was running all over the house trying to find him, rattling a treat bag, pretty much panicing. Finally I decided to open the door to the garage and there he was. We were happy to see each other! (I miss that boy)

It's pretty normal to feel anxiety if this is your first pet. It will get easier. And any additional pets you get (how about a friend for your baby to race around and wrestle with?? They're really fun to watch).
 

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You may want to consider getting a couple of cheap pet cameras (e.g., Wyze) so you feel more comfortable leaving the house and being able to keep an eye on her. There's a corresponding phone app that lets you check the camera feed for however many cameras you get. I put one in the living room and one in the bedroom, and it personally helped me get used to going out again after adopting my cat. :catrub:
 
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