Very shy new cat - under the bed and won’t come out

CalicoPenny

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Hi, this is my first post on the cat site!

short story: I have adopted an 8 month old kitten. I put her in my bedroom as the safe room and am sleeping on the couch ( I live in a 1 bedroom apt and have an 11 year old existing cat). It has been 7 days and she has not come from under the bed in my presence, and she cries at night. She is eating fine and using the litter box.

more detailed story: A friend and her sister rescued some kittens that were hanging out in their back yard. They started feeding them on the back porch, and eventually captured them so they could be spayed/neautered. After the surgery the cats have been living inside. The kittens are now 8 months old, but my friend and her sister cannot keep them because they already have 7(!) cats between the two of them. I decided to take one to hopefully keep my 11 y.o. cat company.
I gave the new kitten my bedroom for the safe room, keeping my existing cat out of there. And I have been sleeping on the couch with my cat.
It has been 7 days and the kitten has never come out from under the bed in my presence. She cries at night.
My friend feels like the crying is desperation for affection. On day 5 she came over, and physically got the cat out from under the bed. She held and petted the cat and it purred. I was able to hold and pet it too, I even got it to eat a treat from my hand. We tried to create some new hiding spots for the cat and block off the bed. Once my friend left, when I extended my hand towards the cat it hissed, so I backed off. In the morning I found she had made her way through the barrier and back under the bed.
I feel terrible about the night time crying, and I live in a not-very-sound proof apartment, so I don’t know how long this can continue. I did drop my neighbor a note explaining the situation.

I have tried treats, tuna and toys to entice her but she is not enticed. I have spent time sitting in the bed, on the floor away from the bed, I have played calming music, I have played the the sound of cat purrs, I have read aloud to her for a while. I have a Feliway diffuser in the bedroom.I’m hoping to have my friend over for a visit soon, but her elderly diabetic cat has taken a turn for the worse and may be crossing the rainbow bridge this weekend if things don’t turn around -so she’s got other things on her mind right now.

My main question is should I dissemble the bed (take off the mattress and wooden slats leaving just a metal frame and some cross bats) making it an undesirable hiding spot, so that she will hide somewhere ‘better’?

I want to give her a chance, because it seems like she will have a hard time no matter where she goes.

I’m just feeling discouraged because there seems to be absolutely no progress.
 

susanm9006

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Seven days isn’t long in the life of a scared kitten so please don’t get discouraged. She is using her litterbox and eating so those are two great signs. I would not eliminate or disassemble her hiding spaces but I do think that it may be time for you to move back into the bedroom at night and see how she does. That way when she cries at night you can talk to her and while you sleep she will get used to your presence in the room. Humans lying down are the least threatening to cats or kittens and I bet she will start exploring you and your bed before too long.

Your older cat may not be too happy though without you near but I would still give it at least a few days to see if it makes a difference with your newcomer. If she continues to hide despite you sleeping in the room then you just need to wait it out and ignore her. Her curiosity will eventually get the best of her and she will eventually come out and start exploring or find another hiding place in your living room.
 

ArchyCat

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I'm sure other, more experienced TCS members will soon reply. But be patient. It can take several months for a cat to become confident in new surroundings and people. Let you cat take the initiative. Don't pull her out of hiding. Just talk tp her. read a book aloud to her, so she can learn to be comfortable with your voice. You might resume sleeping in your bedroom. But be patient!
 

Mamanyt1953

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You know, I would place the mattress and box springs flat on the floor for now. But do give her another place, more accessible for you, maybe a box, to retreat to for a while yet. Try sitting in the room with her, on the floor, and just reading aloud while seeming to ignore her. That presents you, and your calm voice, in a very non-threatening way. She's gone through a lot of changes in her young life. She went from outside to inside, and with the company of her litter mates and other cats, and now she is totally alone for the first time. Yes, she is lonely, and crying in a strange place. She came out for your friend because she was familiar and felt safe. Give her more time...I know it feels like forever, but seven days is nothing when it comes to cats getting used to such big changes. Spend as MUCH time with her as you can, not forcing anything, but inviting by being still and calm. YOU will become safe to her with a bit more time.
 

FeebysOwner

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Hi! And welcome!! First off, let me ask, how is your 11 yo reacting to all this? I agree with susanm9006 susanm9006 & A ArchyCat , but if you can I would split night time between the two, especially if you notice this whole matter is bothering your 11 yo - some of what you can do depends on how s/he (?) is behaving. But, you do need to split your time between the two as much as you can - even if all you are doing is sitting in the room talking to this kitten. You can also try placing treats in the spots you have made for her to perhaps entice her to use those places for hiding as opposed to under your bed. I would also place blankets/towels underneath your bed, and once her scent is on them move them to the other hiding spots you've created for her. But, at this point, I don't think I would deny her the ability to use the area underneath the bed for her safety zone. It's only been a week...

She probably hissed at you because she can sense your apprehensiveness. So, you need to be able to be calm around her to help her feel more secure. I am going to offer you several articles that I encourage you to read that might help you feel better about what you can do to move the process along.

Bringing Home A New Cat – The Complete Guide – Cat Articles
16 Top Cat Experts Share Tips For Dealing With Timid Cats – Cat Articles

How To Successfully Introduce Cats: The Ultimate Guide – Cat Articles
How To Introduce A Kitten To An Older Cat – Cat Articles

It will get better over time!! Just relax, and be patient - and, keep us posted!!!!
 
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CalicoPenny

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Hi! And welcome!! First off, let me ask, how is your 11 yo reacting to all this? I agree with susanm9006 susanm9006 & A ArchyCat , but if you can I would split night time between the two, especially if you notice this whole matter is bothering your 11 yo - some of what you can do depends on how s/he (?) is behaving. But, you do need to split your time between the two as much as you can - even if all you are doing is sitting in the room talking to this kitten. You can also try placing treats in the spots you have made for her to perhaps entice her to use those places for hiding as opposed to under your bed. I would also place blankets/towels underneath your bed, and once her scent is on them move them to the other hiding spots you've created for her. But, at this point, I don't think I would deny her the ability to use the area underneath the bed for her safety zone. It's only been a week...

She probably hissed at you because she can sense your apprehensiveness. So, you need to be able to be calm around her to help her feel more secure. I am going to offer you several articles that I encourage you to read that might help you feel better about what you can do to move the process along.

Bringing Home A New Cat – The Complete Guide – Cat Articles
16 Top Cat Experts Share Tips For Dealing With Timid Cats – Cat Articles

How To Successfully Introduce Cats: The Ultimate Guide – Cat Articles
How To Introduce A Kitten To An Older Cat – Cat Articles

It will get better over time!! Just relax, and be patient - and, keep us posted!!!!
So far Penny (11 y.o) seems to be doing pretty well. She isn’t stressed by the sound of the new kitty (Maisie) . She doesn’t like being on the opposite side of a closed door from me, but after several says, she’s getting more okay with me spending some longer periods in with the kitten - at least during the day time. I could give it a try at night. I will check out the articles you sent, thank you!
 

rubysmama

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Hello and welcome to TCS. Congrats on the new kitten. Hopefully before long Maisie will be comfortable in her new home, and she can proceed to meeting her big sister, Penny. :catlove:

TCS has the following articles that might have some tips you help you with Maisie.
9 Tips That Will Help Your Kitten Adapt To A New Apartment – Cat Articles
How To Get A Cat To Come Out Of Hiding? – Cat Articles
10 Must-know Tips For Happy Living With A Shy Cat – Cat Articles
16 Top Cat Experts Share Tips For Dealing With Timid Cats – Cat Articles

I tend to agree with Mamanyt1953 Mamanyt1953 that disassembling the bed and putting the box spring and mattress on the floor might be helpful. And it would give you somewhere to lay down when you're spending time with Maisie. Just be sure you have somewhere else for her to hide, like a small cardboard box.

Good luck. Please keep us posted.
 

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I may have missed it, but have you tried using a feather wand to play with her? Put a couple of ping pong balls under the bed for toys. Maybe a soft blanket for her to sleep on.

Greg and Arnold both hid under different beds for a week when they came to our home...now they own the house.
 
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CalicoPenny

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I may have missed it, but have you tried using a feather wand to play with her? Put a couple of ping pong balls under the bed for toys. Maybe a soft blanket for her to sleep on.

Greg and Arnold both hid under different beds for a week when they came to our home...now they own the house.
Hi, at least once a day I move a feather wand around a foot or two away from her. She watches it with her eyes but doesn’t move. There is a good size ball track (with hills and a light up ball) and I can tell she has played with it during the night.
 
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CalicoPenny

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Day 8: I ‘slept’ in the bedroom from 10:30 to 12:30 last night. Every time I was about to doze off I was awakened by a meow. I don’t think she meowed any less with me in there. Luckily my older cat was cool with me being in there for a couple hours, so hopefully if I time it right, I can transition into splitting time between the two at night

Based on a couple responses here, I did go ahead and take off the mattress. I felt like she would do better if she had a hiding spot where she could watch me better and I could interact a little better little. I left the room she could pick a better spot. She didn’t care for any hiding spot I created (cardboard box with holes, scratching post with blanket draped over, etc) - she’s behind some books on a bookshelf. My old cat likes to sleep there sometimes too, it seems much preferable to under the bed. Much easier for us to see each other.
I have a family gathering elsewhere today, so she’ll have a little alone time to recover, and this evening I will go in and read to her, talk to her etc.
 

Purr-fect

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Hi, at least once a day I move a feather wand around a foot or two away from her. She watches it with her eyes but doesn’t move. There is a good size ball track (with hills and a light up ball) and I can tell she has played with it during the night.
Its good news that she plays with the ball track.

I think she will be ok in time.

5 years after adopting greg, he still sometimes lets out pitiful cries in the night. I used to go rushing around the house to find him and check that he was ok. When I found him he would just stare at me. I now think he is just bored and wants a reaction...not even attention.
 

rubysmama

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Based on a couple responses here, I did go ahead and take off the mattress. I felt like she would do better if she had a hiding spot where she could watch me better and I could interact a little better little. I left the room she could pick a better spot. She didn’t care for any hiding spot I created (cardboard box with holes, scratching post with blanket draped over, etc) - she’s behind some books on a bookshelf. My old cat likes to sleep there sometimes too, it seems much preferable to under the bed. Much easier for us to see each other.
I have a family gathering elsewhere today, so she’ll have a little alone time to recover, and this evening I will go in and read to her, talk to her etc.
Definitely better than hidden under a bed. Maybe now when you're lying on the mattress she'll get braver and venture near you. And one of these nights, you'll probably wake up with a tiny furball snuggled up beside you. :catlove:
 

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When I got my second cat (Mirre) she was so scared that she didn't come out of hiding for a whole month. She had her own safe room with hiding places and would just be in the very same hiding spot all day. She hissed when I gave her food or cleaned her litter. I tried literally everything in the books and followed every advice on this forum, nothing worked. No progress whatsoever in four weeks. I am a very calm and patient person, but this had no effect on her. My other cat was getting increasingly nervous, I couldn't keep them apart much longer. Finally I decided that Mirre had to find her own way in my house, on her own terms, without my intervention. I started leaving her door open at night (and mine too, to be able to hear what was happening) and from then on she started making herself at home. She met my other cat, they seemed to accept each other and I could hear her walking through the house at night. It took a few more weeks until she started showing herself in the living room when I was sitting there, then another few weeks until she was ready to play with the wand toy. It's been 2.5 years now and she's still terribly skittish, but I can pet her when she's eating and she loves to play with the wand toy. I love her to death of course :-)
Sometimes the books just don't work and you have to take a risk. Good luck!
 

pearl99

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I would keep the other hiding spaces along with the book shelf, like a box on its side with the opening mostly covered with a towel or something, can put some treats or wet food in there so she can beging to feel it's ok in there and have another space. I'd keep up sleeping in there also, even for not the whole night because as above she can use it to check you out :).
I have a new adult cat that I alternate sleeping, am with her one night and my other 2 cats the next night. It works.
I believe she will adjust and all the above is great advice! Spending time with her in her room just reading a book, laying on the floor, talking softly with her will help.
And my new adult cat is pretty shy still- after 6 weeks- but at night I can hear her with the zoomies galloping around the house! Nighttime is good for them to figure some things out.
For my scaredy cat that I adopted a few years ago I used a long wand toy to give scratchies on his cheek first, I was at a distance and that helped too.
Looking forward to hearing about her progress!
 

lisahe

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Try sitting in the room with her, on the floor,
This is what worked best with our cats in the first weeks after we adopted them. They came from a household with too many cats and were very, very skittish. Although they were less shy after a few months, it took a few years for them to really come into their own. And even now, a little more than six years later, they're still nervous about sudden noises, sneezes, and the doorbell.
 

mightyboosh

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I got Oliver when he was ten years old. He spent a couple of months just in our bedroom, slowly getting confident there.
He then suddenly decided to venture downstairs a bit at a time and after a couple more weeks he acted as if he owned the place. Well, actually he does own the place.
In other words, have patience and everything will be fine.
 

susanm9006

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When I got my second cat (Mirre) she was so scared that she didn't come out of hiding for a whole month. She had her own safe room with hiding places and would just be in the very same hiding spot all day. She hissed when I gave her food or cleaned her litter. I tried literally everything in the books and followed every advice on this forum, nothing worked. No progress whatsoever in four weeks. I am a very calm and patient person, but this had no effect on her. My other cat was getting increasingly nervous, I couldn't keep them apart much longer. Finally I decided that Mirre had to find her own way in my house, on her own terms, without my intervention. I started leaving her door open at night (and mine too, to be able to hear what was happening) and from then on she started making herself at home. She met my other cat, they seemed to accept each other and I could hear her walking through the house at night. It took a few more weeks until she started showing herself in the living room when I was sitting there, then another few weeks until she was ready to play with the wand toy. It's been 2.5 years now and she's still terribly skittish, but I can pet her when she's eating and she loves to play with the wand toy. I love her to death of course :-)
Sometimes the books just don't work and you have to take a risk. Good luck!
Linderin Linderin , your experience was almost identical to mine with Willow except that there was no other cat in the household. She simply decided if I was in the room she was not coming out and it was only when I opened the door to her safe room that she started exploring and eventually letting me see her. Nine years later she is still the most skittish cat I have ever had but also the sweetest, most well behaved and easiest to care for.
 

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Time , patience and a few helpful things for kitty should win out. I don’t know if you have a cat carrier or crate but I always suggest those as a great place to use as a safe haven for every kitty. They make good beds, hiding places, napping spots and the greatest thing is that is kitten will decide that is a safe place, you can use that the rest of her life to calm her during any changes, travels or vet trips. I started doing that when I started rescuing and it has been a huge help to me. Since the kitties retreat to a carrier any time they get scared, I can always find them in emergencies and if the must go somewhere, they feel safer being inside their normal hiding place. If you don’t have a carrier, then a box can work too. Either turned so the opening is up or turn it upside down but cut two openings in it. One entrance and one exit.
Another trick is laying on your back. Tummy up is the least threatening position. Cats are curious and if you lay very still then she may come to investigate.
Sleeping there through the night would be helpful. Cats tend to explore late at night and early in the morning. She needs a lengthy time to watch you and decide if you are safe to approach.
She has been moved to a place where everything is new and scary. She probably also smells another cat there but it’s a stranger too. Thst’s A lot of very big stuff for a little one to take in at once. Give her time, be calm and gentle.
Another thing I use a LOT is the nearly irresistible, Gerber 2nd foods all meat baby food. Warm it a little and place it on a fish where she feels safe. Let her fall in love with the taste. Just give her a spoonful at a time. Each time you give her some, try moving the dish nearer to where you are laying in your back. Eventually move the dish onto you and see if she will come there to eat it. You can also put a dab on your finger and let her approach an unmoving finger to lick it off. This takes time but has always worked for me with feral kitties of all ages. Eating from your finger will get her accustomed to approaching you and then you can speak softly to her or even extend your hand, palm down, to attempt to brush against her. Feeding time is an important bonding time for kitties. If she will eat with you in the room, stay with her. Don’t stare directly at her as kitties see that as threatening. If you find her looking and you look back, do a slow blink with her. Any hand feeding you can do is a big plus. Give her time. She’ll come around. Another thing , you can cover a carrier or box with a towel for an added layer of security. A towel or blanket to lay on is also a lure. Leaving a shirt with your scent on the floor for her to check out can help her to check you out too. I have had luck with really scared kitties by putting a soft brush out for them to examine. As soon as I could get near, using the brush instead of my hand was sometimes more acceptable because brushing feels really good!

Welcome to the site! :welcomesign: I’m so glad you joined us here. This is a great place to get help and support. There are lots of very experienced people here so you’ll get a constant flow of tips and ideas. Also, thank you for taking this kitty into your home! Rescues make very loving friends. You and your friend saved lives! When it’s time to introduce her to your other kitty , there are lots of ways to get that done so that they accept each other with a minimum of confusion. Everyone here can help with that when the time comes if you need support.
Oh yeah..... we love pictures too if you ever want to post some!!:)
 
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CalicoPenny

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Day 9: I read to the kitten a little before bed, then I slept in the bedroom from 9:30 to 12:00. The good news is I actually fell asleep during that time, which means the loud meowing must have been somewhat limited. The other good news is that she came out when I was asleep in there and ate and used the litter box. She woke me meowing loudly from the windowsill behind the blinds.
F5D1CCC3-8721-446A-B67C-E0BC04A61217.jpeg

Because of the meowing I had to leave at that point and go to the living room. I came back a few minutes later because I forgot something and she was on top of the bookshelf (it’s 2 ft high).

I slept the rest of the night on the couch. I can only sleep with earplugs and headphones playing music to drown out the meowing. So I don’t know how much she meowed after that. I suspect the usual amount.

But, I’m happy about this first sign of progress!

Penny is still handling things like a champ so far. Such a good girl!
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