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Not a physical problem..a mental health one?

May 20th, 2008, 11:51 AM
I adopted a 'timid' cat from a gentleman who is now in hospice care. I am told the cat was affectionate and loving with his master after being adopted (he was a stray), but it took a short time for his master to win him over.

In the 6 weeks I have had "Boomer"..a beautiful, black, 4 year old, neutered male, he has lived behind the sofa, coming out only at night..when i am sleeping.

He eats well and is very clean with his toilet, but if I catch him away from his hiding spot..he runs as if the devil were on his tail. When cornered accidentally, he hisses and spits and tries to back up against the wall. I don't feel he is dangerous or aggressive, just very fearful. Can I ever hope to have Boomer bond with me? I have had many cats over the years, and successfully had a strong bond build between each one, but this boy has me stumped.

Should I block all of his possible hiding spaces, or just let him be? Is this normal behaviour for a timid cat, or does he just hate me for some reason? Is there any hope at all? Euthanasia is NOT AN OPTION. He deserves to live his life.

Has anyone had similar circumstances you would be willing to share? This boy seems emotionally damaged, and I do not know what to do next.

May 20th, 2008, 11:58 AM
I would say , leave him his space , give it time. Some cats take more time than others. My 2 first cats , I got them as kittens. One of them , was never very affectionate with me. It took her about 8 years to come beside me on the couch to get pet !

SO give it time , and patience , and good luck !

There are diffusers they sell at the vets , it's to calm cats down , you may want to try this too.

May 20th, 2008, 12:00 PM
When I was younger my parents adopted a male neutred cat from a Shelter. He spent almost two months living under the bed, only coming out to eat and use the litter box. We gave him his space and did not force him out, with time he started trusting us and coming out more each day. Eventually he got over his fear and was a wonderful and loving cat that slept at my feet every night until he got sick and passed away :rip:.

Give your cat more time, you dont really know what he went though before and it may take him some time to start trusting you.

Keep us updated!!

May 20th, 2008, 12:14 PM
I agree. I don't think he hates you at all - some cats just don't react well to change. Let him be, and you'll find he'll come out of his shell. Feliway pheromone diffuser (as Frenchy suggested) might work, and you can try adding some Rescue Remedy drops in his water to calm him down (you can get them from health stores).

Otherwise, keep talking to him in soothing tones, and he'll come around in his own time.

Good luck, and keep us updated! :goodvibes:

May 20th, 2008, 12:19 PM
Patience and time, for sure should help. Also, here are some tips on dealing with shy cats:

May 20th, 2008, 12:33 PM
So you're sitting on the couch and he's behind it? Talk to him. Pull the couch a few inches away from the wall (maybe you could even make some sort of bed for him there). But talk to him, call him by his name, say you realize his world has been turned upside down but you aim to give him a good life, however long it takes him to get with the program. Buy some treats or make him some plain boiled chicken and drop the odd piece behind the couch.
Don't just ignore him. Say hello when you come and bye when you leave. All you have right now to connect with him is your voice, so use it. Helps if you live alone :laughing:
Definitely get some Rescue Remedy and put a couple of droppersful in his water.
When you're away or at work, leave a radio on low, preferably one of those stations where people talk endlessly.
You could try playing with him - rolling a ball under the couch or tempting him with a bit of string - but you'll know by his reaction if he's ready.

May 20th, 2008, 12:38 PM
My cat Linx did the same thing, but only for three weeks (approximately). When we let him out of the carrier at home, he quickly ran towards the linen closet, somehow got it open and stayed there all the time, only emerging to eat or potty at night when it was quiet.

Humans have a tendency to believe that pets should be treated as humans when it comes to matters of behavior. If you see a crying child, you want to pick it up. If you see a person huddling in the corner, you want to approach and talk to him/her and convince with logic that the behavior isn't healthy, etc. Logic and words don't really work well on pets with emotional trauma.

The best thing to do in my opinion is to completely ignore kitty. No approach/touch, no talk, no eye contact. Pretend he's not there. But of course still put out food/water and clean the litter. hehe

I did the ignore method with Linx because at the time I didn't think of him as an animal, but as a creature in need of comfort. And those efforts backfired badly, as you say, with running away, hissing and spitting. So I kinda got mad and just said I'd ignore him and see what happens.

Sure enough, some time later, I was watching a video and saw him out of the corner of my eye. He was cautious, but finally exploring his environment. I stayed completely still and pretended he wasn't there. Step by step he approached and the next thing I knew he was in my lap testing the waters. Once he realized I was no threat and could provide lovin', he was converted to a people lover. But only to me at first, and then others as he got to know them. He still reacts to new people the same way.

Hang in there, he'll come around when he's ready.

May 20th, 2008, 12:57 PM
lets not forget DU!!! it took a long time for Baby Girl to warm up to us also. give it time, lots of slow blinking eyes. :)


May 20th, 2008, 01:08 PM
Everyone has given you excellent advice. :thumbs up

Poor Boomer :grouphug: .....the only person he knew and trusted has suddenly left him and he must be upset and confused. :sad: He will come around in time but slow and easy does it. I like Badger's suggestion of pulling the couch away from the wall just a bit. :thumbs up

Good luck and keep us posted. :fingerscr :goodvibes:

May 21st, 2008, 09:22 AM
Sitting on the floor at night with the lights out, talking to Boomer may help him get over his fear. If he gets cornered do not try to help him, back away slowly so he will eventually know you are not a threat to him. Poor guy is just so darn scared:sad:. He will come around, it will just take some time.

May 21st, 2008, 09:25 AM
Cearaqc has some great advice to ignore him (as opposed to trying to go to him) but still talk to him, no eye contact, yawning while he is looking at you. He sounds like the kind of kitty that will come to you on his terms.

Jim Hall
May 21st, 2008, 09:51 AM
yup i might reomend reading to him and just sitting a few feet away from the couch in sight of him and talking or reading to him also try to feed or change his feed and water the same time each day as long as he is eating and pooping he will come around it took me over 8 weeks for MY DU to come out from under the bed and another few months before i could raelly interact with her at all

May 21st, 2008, 10:32 AM
Everyone has great advice! :thumbs up The only other thing I can think of is something I tried when getting strays to trust me. I lay on the floor face down and still, if he is brave enough and you can stand laying that way long enough, he'll come and sniff you and thoroughly check you out. I found that especially with my poppa cat, this let him see that I was no threat. And lay still until he is done sniffing and walks away or else you may startle him.

Congrats on your new addition! :)