So, you finally adopted that precious kitty you’ve been dreaming about for so long. You bought the toys, the bed, the adorable bowls and the gorgeous new collar complete with an engraved name-tag. You have imagined how wonderful it would be, just snuggling with your new fur baby and spending long, special hours together… but as soon as you get home your new fur baby has tucked itself tight into the corner, under the sofa, and it won’t come out. Now you’re asking: What happened to that super-affectionate bundle of fur I adopted after our super-cuddly Meet-and-Greet at the shelter just yesterday? Why is my new cat hiding from me?
Well, don’t worry! For a kitty in a new or unfamiliar environment, hiding is a healthy and completely normal reaction. When you met your new kitty at the shelter, they were in familiar territory. At the shelter — like at the Humane Society of the Nature Coast — they probably lived among a family of other kitties and they were familiar with the faces of shelter staff members who provided food and attention. They were “home.” They knew they were safe and they knew of all sorts of places where they could hide if they felt threatened.
So now what? What can you do to calm and comfort your cat, and assure them that it’s safe enough for them to come out from under the furniture?
1. Be Patient!
If your new kitty is hiding it’s important to understand this is normal. Just be patient and give them time to adjust to their surroundings. If your new kitty wants to hide, let them hide. Don’t force them to come out. Don’t crouch on the floor, reaching under the sofa in an effort to drag them out. This will only make them withdraw tighter into that corner.
Remember, cats are very territorial, so they will feel a little unsettled until they believe this is their home! It doesn’t look like “home,” and more importantly for your new kitty, it doesn’t smell like home. It may even smell like another cat or a dog, who may not even be there anymore. Give them time to understand that they are safe and this is their home. How will know they believe this is their new home? Well, they will mark their territory. Cats have scent glands in a variety of locations — primarily on their forehead, cheeks and chin — and they will rub against things to mark territory with their own scent. It’s like saying… “This is mine. That is mine… and that over there will be mine as soon as I make it clear that this is mine.”
Cats will even mark their favorite people with their foreheads — also known as “the head-butt” — while furniture and other inanimate objects are usually marked with the sides of their cheeks and their chins. Once they feel safe and a little braver, your kitty should start to come out and explore and begin marking the house — and you — with their scent to establish that “Yes… This is my house and you are my human!”
2. Is Something in the House Scaring Them?
Understand that your new kitty might remain timid and continue to hide for a number of days. However, if they continue to hide, even remaining in their safe-spot without venturing out for food or water, you should start looking for things that your new kitty might see as a threat.
Are there a lot of people in the house, lots of new friends coming to see your new kitty? Do you have loud guests or young children who may be making your kitty nervous? Is the volume on your television up too high? Do you have a noisy appliance or AC Unit? Even unusual smells can trigger a kitty into hiding. Take a look around. Is that coo-coo or loud chiming grandfather clock scaring the wits out of your new kitty every half-hour?
3. Does Your New Kitty Feel Trapped?
No matter how familiar a cat is with their environment, they will always want to know where the nearest escape route is! If your new kitty has taken to hiding, be sure to leave doors open and never block the exits to a room. Try to create an open and safe place for your kitty so they can adjust to their new surroundings.
4. Reinforce positive behaviours
Even with people, a little positive encouragement can go a long way! Maybe you can entice your kitty to come out by tempting them with a new toy. Most kitties can’t rest something that’s small and moving near them. Encourage your kitty to come out and play! The sort of toy that has something dangling from a long string will enable you to tempt the kitty with a play-thing while giving them the space they need to feel safe.
Try to have some treats to offer any time your pet comes to you to reinforce the idea that being near you is a good thing and being out in the open can be fun!
You can also leave some treats just outside of their hiding place. But don’t rush toward them if they dare to poke their head out. What would you do if you were scared and someone came rushing toward you? You’d run the other way and hide. Right? Let them know you aren’t a threat. Let them come to you.
5. Provide Food and Water Near Their Hiding Place
If your kitty is hiding, and their food and water is in another room, they may be too afraid to come out even to eat and drink. Seriously, your kitty might even be too afraid to come out to use the litter box.
Do you have another cat or dog that is (albeit unintentional) blocking access to their food and water? It might be beneficial to place these resources just outside of their hiding place. While encouraging them to venture out a bit, having these things close by won’t force them to go further than they feel comfortable with. Then start moving the items toward the place where you will keep them when your new kitty feels at home. With a little patience and encouragement, your new kitty will feel safe enough to come out and start exploring!
7. Give Them Their Own Space
You have a bedroom. Right? If there are other members of the family, they have a bedroom. Right? Well, so should kitty!
Creating a comfortable, safe space for them to escape to is a fabulous way to help your new kitty feel at home. Providing their own territory will boost their confidence and encourage their bravery! Be creative! A good kitty safe space should have lots a comfy bed, lots of toys be located in a nice quiet place. Providing some seclusion, like in a back room of the house is a good way to give them a sense of security and help them adjust to their new home. In no time, you’ll see them venturing out to start exploring the rest of the house!
Well, I hope this helped provide some guidance and assurance.
You’re fine. Your new kitty is fine. It’s just might take a little longer than you planned for the new kitty to feel at ease in their new home. But rest assured. With a little patience and a lot of love, you will be snuggling with your new fur baby and spending those long, special hours together… just like you always dreamed you would.
Do you have any questions or thoughts to share? Please feel free to type those out in the comments section below!