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Shelter Kitty Adjusting to Home Life

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  • Shelter Kitty Adjusting to Home Life

    My SO and I adopted an approx. 10mo Bengal mix kitten from our animal shelter on Monday. He was a stray who had only been in the shelter for about a week. He is a little underweight but is very friendly and cuddly.

    How long should it take him to adjust? He spends most of his time hiding under the bed or in his crate. He will come out to socialize a little and to eat/use his litter box, but then runs right back to his "hiding" spots. How long will this last? When should we begin encouraging him to come out more?

    This is my first cat. I've had plenty of dogs but no kitties.
    Fils Du Reverdy (Revy)- 1993 Selle Francais Gelding
    My equine soulmate
    Mischief Managed (Tully)- JC Priceless Jewel 2002 TB Gelding

  • #2
    I'd say let him be a recluse for as long as he wants to. Make the time that he spends outside of his hiding spot cuddling with you extra fun, but let him return to his safe spot when he needs to. Tempt him with toys from a little distance away, but don't drag him out of where he feels comfortable. Once he perks up and gets used to things/gains some weight, he'll channel his inner Dora the Explorer.

    My old girl hid for three days when I first got her -- she hid so well I thought she somehow managed to get out of the apartment! It still took her several years to not go hide whenever things "got noisy" in the building. My new kitten was trying to escape the bathroom quarantine the first day I had him. He played with his toys the entire time Fourth of July fireworks were going off while his 12 yo "sister" crammed herself in the smallest spot she'd fit.

    Some kitties just take longer to get used to things and feel safe.

    Comment


    • #3
      It takes as much time as it takes. One of my cats was out and about within a day. Another took over a month, and it was years before the cat felt really comfortable in all sections of the house.

      Something to remember about cats is that they are prey animals in addition to predators. You know how your horse will sometimes throw a fit over random horse eating thingies you encounter? Cats have the same irrational fears. It's usually better to let the cat work things out on its own and not force the issue.

      Comment

      • Original Poster

        #4
        Thanks guys! I guess I'm wanted him to adjust too much. I'll leave him be.

        At first I thought he was afraid of the dog, but when he does come out he likes to rub against her and purr. Guess she's not a big mean scary beagle mix
        Fils Du Reverdy (Revy)- 1993 Selle Francais Gelding
        My equine soulmate
        Mischief Managed (Tully)- JC Priceless Jewel 2002 TB Gelding

        Comment


        • #5
          My parents got me a shelter kitty for my 10th Birthday. She spent the first week or so hiding behind the bookshelf if there was more than one person in the family room. Finally mom suggested letting her spend the nights in my room so she got used to me. That helped a lot. If I remember correctly (this was 15 years ago!), it took a month or so before she was happy with the entire family, and she never (we had her her entire life) warmed up to strangers.
          "Choose to chance the rapids, and dare to dance the tides" - Garth Brooks
          "With your permission, dear, I'll take my fences one at a time" - Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey

          Comment


          • #6
            One thing you can do to help is pick a quiet time, go into his room with something to do like fold laundry or a good book. Close the door so that he doesn't have to consider the rest of the house.

            Ask him to come out and don't expect anything. Hang out and see what happens. Make it his choice, but be some nice cat bait.

            Do you feed him in the quiet/closed room or does he have to venture out for food water and potty?

            If you can, feed him in his room in a predictable way, and again, plan to hang out.

            IMO, once he gets over this you won't necessarily have a scaredy cat for life. It's just a big adjustment to go from the Hanoi Hilton (aka the shelter) to civilian life.
            The armchair saddler
            Politically Pro-Cat

            Comment


            • #7
              What? No pics? Rule number one....pics must be posted. My female shelter kitty came in the house stepped out of her crate, looked around, decided she was fine with the place, plopped down on the living room floor and began grooming. Zero transition time. My male cat was dumped at my vet's with serious injuries and lived there pretty much in a cage for five months while they treated him. After bringing him home, he took several weeks to settle in. A year later he still gets nervous when strangers are in the house and goes to his "hidey" places. Each kitty is different. But if your new kitty is already coming out, my guess is he will be just fine before you know it.

              Comment

              • Original Poster

                #8
                So sorry I violated the cardinal rule!! His name is Archer, short for Sterling Malloy Archer.

                Laying in BF's arms
                http://sphotos-a.xx.fbcdn.net/hphoto...96154454_n.jpg

                Napping with me on the couch
                http://sphotos-a.xx.fbcdn.net/hphoto...27716165_n.jpg
                Fils Du Reverdy (Revy)- 1993 Selle Francais Gelding
                My equine soulmate
                Mischief Managed (Tully)- JC Priceless Jewel 2002 TB Gelding

                Comment


                • #9
                  I don't know where you have your kitten, but I have decided that 1. kittens/cats in general hate change, and 2. that making changes is easier for them if you start small. When I bring in frightened foster kittens from the shelter, or a different home environment, I start out with them in a small bathroom. I give them a covered shelter, like a crate with the door removed, with lots of soft bedding, toys, food, a litter pan, and water. I'm refreshed on this because I just got three kittens yesterday who were scared to death. It has been about 30 hours now, and they have gone from cowering in the back of their crate or hiding in the only corner, to looking at me and then strolling out to eat. They like to be held and they are arching their backs when I pet them. It doesn't take a long time if they already have some socialization, but I think it is important for them to not be overwhelmed with a huge, strange place, and they like to know they have a safe, warm place to hide. Good luck; your cat is beautiful.
                  Mystic Owl Sporthorses
                  www.mysticowlsporthorses.com

                  Comment

                  • Original Poster

                    #10
                    Originally posted by clint View Post
                    I don't know where you have your kitten, but I have decided that 1. kittens/cats in general hate change, and 2. that making changes is easier for them if you start small. When I bring in frightened foster kittens from the shelter, or a different home environment, I start out with them in a small bathroom. I give them a covered shelter, like a crate with the door removed, with lots of soft bedding, toys, food, a litter pan, and water. I'm refreshed on this because I just got three kittens yesterday who were scared to death. It has been about 30 hours now, and they have gone from cowering in the back of their crate or hiding in the only corner, to looking at me and then strolling out to eat. They like to be held and they are arching their backs when I pet them. It doesn't take a long time if they already have some socialization, but I think it is important for them to not be overwhelmed with a huge, strange place, and they like to know they have a safe, warm place to hide. Good luck; your cat is beautiful.
                    He's been staying in the spare bedroom most of the day and all of the night. I've got his crate, litter box, and a big pile of linens waiting to be washed in there. He's also got a few toys and his food/water. He seems to feel safe there. We started letting him out a bit to explore and his new favorite place is under our bed instead of in his room.
                    Fils Du Reverdy (Revy)- 1993 Selle Francais Gelding
                    My equine soulmate
                    Mischief Managed (Tully)- JC Priceless Jewel 2002 TB Gelding

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I hate kittens and cats under the bed. I finally removed anything from my kitten room that they could hide under, including the bed, and life is easier for all of us. Good luck; I'm sure he will be fine. I once took in an older kitten, probably six months or so, who didn't come out of her room for probably a week after I invited her out, and I didn't invite her out until she had been there a month. She finally emerged, and has become a valued family member. Some cats just take longer than others to settle in.
                      Mystic Owl Sporthorses
                      www.mysticowlsporthorses.com

                      Comment

                      • Original Poster

                        #12
                        Thanks for all the advice. He was a stray as recently as 2 weeks ago and I guess sometimes I forget that as he's SO friendly. It must be terrifying for the poor guy to go from living on the street, to the shelter (even though our shelter is really nice), to a completely new home. As soon as he started getting settled in his kitty room at the shelter he got neutered and sent home with us.

                        Also he's got a little bit of a kitty cold. The shelter had been giving him a round of doxy which he finished the night before we got him. He's still a little wheezy and sneezy. How long should I give it before I take him back to the vet? Another week? Should I worry about him giving it to my dog?

                        He seems to be a lot more adventurous today. He even took a nap with BF and I and the dog. He's on good food (Blue Buffalo Wilderness) and has a warm soft place to sleep
                        Fils Du Reverdy (Revy)- 1993 Selle Francais Gelding
                        My equine soulmate
                        Mischief Managed (Tully)- JC Priceless Jewel 2002 TB Gelding

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          An upper respiratory infection is so common in stressed out kitties from the shelter. Doxy works fine, and is usually a 10 day course, more or less. URIs are viral, and the doxy will work for any secondary infections that may occur. Supportive care is what is important, so if he doesn't get any worse, I would finish the round of antibiotics and see how he does. If he gets really wheezy, use a humidifier or put him in the bathroom and run the shower a few times a day.

                          Poor guy; I'm so glad you have given him a home.
                          Mystic Owl Sporthorses
                          www.mysticowlsporthorses.com

                          Comment

                          • Original Poster

                            #14
                            Aww thanks

                            We visited a lot of kitties in the shelter. All of them were nice and interactive, but this guy just begged us to take him home. He hopped up on my BF's lap and laid his head right on his chest. Right as I mentioned that maybe we should look at a few more, he looked me right in the eyes and placed his paw on my hand. Both of us were a little choked up.
                            Fils Du Reverdy (Revy)- 1993 Selle Francais Gelding
                            My equine soulmate
                            Mischief Managed (Tully)- JC Priceless Jewel 2002 TB Gelding

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Sounds like you are on the right track. The length of time for mine have all varied but none of mine have had the transitions your kitty has had. Congratulations! He's beautiful!
                              Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Goethe

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                best way to your kitty's heart is to not go after them.

                                Seems to bug them for some reason....

                                My own Bengalese kitty took over two years (hard to believe Her Nuttiness is with us this long already) to warm up to DH.
                                Originally posted by BigMama1
                                Facts don't have versions. If they do, they are opinions
                                GNU Terry Prachett

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Once he gets settled a little more, I'd start creating kitty-friendly places to hang out that are less hidey-hole and a little more open. We have a formerly-feral cat who would live in the closet if we let her, but we decided (after having her for many years!) that she needed to come out and be part of the family, with a few accommodations. She has a tall sided, open top basket to sleep in, up on top of a tall dresser. We have several cat trees in front of windows so she can see out without being totally exposed. We have cat beds or baskets in a couple other semi-secluded places, so she can hang out with us on her terms. Now, your guy might not need that much accommodation but it's always a good idea to give them a place that's "up" away from the dog where they can survey their kingdom from above!

                                  A good hint someone gave me for catching escaped kitties under the porch: dangle a string with a feather or something shiny and they will bat and chase it. Can you engage your kitty in a few minutes of chase-the-string, several times a day, to make coming out of his hiding place a fun thing, and get him to look forward to seeing you?

                                  Comment

                                  • Original Poster

                                    #18
                                    Archer update!!

                                    Yesterday BF took his to the vet after he wet the bed and it was bloody. He was diagnosed with a wicked upper respiratory infection, a minor UTI, and ear mites. The vet things the UTI was caused by him feeling too crappy to get up and use the litter box enough. He got sub-q fluids and an antibiotic injection. What a difference!! Six hours later he was bouncing around the apartment and he even slept on the bed with us and the dog last night.

                                    Today he is curious and playful, but still spends some time under the bed. That seems to be his "safe zone". We're both much less concerned about it since he's feeling better and more curious. I'll get more pics tomorrow! I got a cute one of his cuddling with the dog today but my phone is dead. Bummer.
                                    Fils Du Reverdy (Revy)- 1993 Selle Francais Gelding
                                    My equine soulmate
                                    Mischief Managed (Tully)- JC Priceless Jewel 2002 TB Gelding

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