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Felinexpress.com home > Strays and Ferals > My Cat is Hiding from Me!

My Cat is Hiding from Me!

She is hiding underneath your bed. If you lie down on your stomach and stick your head underneath the bed shining a flashlight into the darkness, you see her green eyes glowing. If you are quiet, you can hear her hissing and growling, telling you in no uncertain terms to ďback off.Ē 

You wiggle out from underneath the bed perplexed. After all, didnít you just rescue this poor creature from outside? Shouldnít she be grateful that you brought her in from the cold? She now has a place to stay, warmth, food, water and someone who loves her. How can she be so hostile when you have offered her your home and your love? 

The truth is she is scared. When cats are scared they revert into two types of behavior, they fight, or they flee.  Be grateful, she has fled. Fighting can leave gaping wounds on you and emotional scars on her.

This cat needs to count on you. In order for her to become accustomed to your presence, a routine needs to be set up. This is schedule of care that should be strictly adhered to:

  • Food/water arriving at the same times every day
  • Same food and water bowls used, always placed in the exact location as before.
  • Litter pans scrubbed and scooped at the same time(s) every day.
  • Reading times- going into her room, sitting on the floor (not in a chair) taking off your shoes so she can catch your scent when you stick your feet into her general direction and begin reading aloud softly to her. Afterward, place a meaty treat in the imprint you left on the carpet and leave the room.

The stray cat under your bed has to be able to set her clock by your actions. No surprise visits, no other guests (kids, other adults or pets). For the first few weeks of her captivity, you are her sole contact. Once she knows the rhythm can get used to the sounds and the pulse of your home, she will relax. Diving under the bed to capture her and force her to accept your petting her will only serve to frighten her further. Plus, there is a chance that you will get attacked. Fight or flight become her only options. She hisses and growls at you to startle you. Intimidation is one of her tools of survival. If she can keep you away from her, then she believes she has won.

You can successfully disarm her by not seeking her out; letting her watch your every move, from the security of her hiding place.  When she finds that you no longer are a threat, she will relax and eventually move into your world and come out from hiding.  Her world has drastically changed.  The large open spaces she is accustomed to outside have vanished, replaced by a large padded cage (your home). Luxurious to you, it only serves to scare her more. There are no escape hatches here, except for under the furniture or through the front door.

She is on edge as well because you were a smart and caring cat owner. You have taken her to the veterinarian. For stray cats and feral cats, this trip is a far cry from what domestic cats experience. Any wild tendencies that she displays will be met with countermeasures to keep the vet and his staff safe. A standard cat cage is not an adequate enclosure for a scared, stray or feral cat. Clinicians will keep the cat inside the trap it came in, or provide a feral cat den (a smaller enclosed box) where the cat can hide. Failing this, the cage will be covered with a dark cloth and the cat will be handled only by techs that are gloved and protected from attack.

She has been rendered unconscious, cut open and stitched back up. When she finally wakes up, her mind is groggy, she is hurting, confused and scared. In the same room with her, she is assaulted with the stress pheromones of other cats and dogs that are also stressed and scared or in pain. This simply adds to her fear. When she returns back to your home, all she wants to do is hide and sleep

Other tips to aid you so she will relax:

  • Use nightlights or dim lights in the room.
  • Play classical music though harp music is best.
  • Burn several Comfort Zone Room Diffusers by Farnum Pet in her room.
  • Keep your voice soft and remove your shoes when entering her domain.
  • Talk to her all the time you are in the room, even when you canít see her.
  • Keep others from entering until she can adjust to her new world.
  • Keep other pets away from her.
  • Install a pet-proof screen door for the room. This keeps her safe and able to move about quicker because no one can enter without first making noise.
  • Be sure she has plenty of ventilation in the warmer times of the months. You can keep the windows open 24/7 by installing plastic rose trellis over the windows.
  • Be sure the decorative holes are not big enough for her to get her head stuck. These sheets come in several different styles can be attached easily with screws and popped out only by creatures with opposable thumbs.
  • If she isnít drinking water, use a clear glass bowl that is large enough her whiskers wonít touch the sides. Buy some colored aquarium rock, or use marbles or ball bearings (all rinsed well) and pour those on the bottom of the bowl. Add fresh cool water daily. Another alternative is a Drinkwell water fountain.
  • If she isnít eating, be sure you are feeding her on a plate, not in a bowl. If her whiskers touch the sides of the bowl, she may not eat. Cats whiskers are ultra sensitive to touch.
  • Do not make eye contact with her when she does come out. If you happen to glance over and see her, blink  your eyes slowly several times , lower your head and back away. Direct staring at a stray cat is an invitation to battle. 

Unless you know that she is ill, ignore her presence. Keep to your routine day in and day out. Donít surprise her with anything that will add to her apprehension. Trust comes quicker if you take all your demands off of her allowing her to come to you in time. No, this doesnít happen overnight, but when it does, when that first head-bump is offered, the thrill is immeasurable.  She was born into a world that didnít want her. She learned fear early from her mom and from unkind humans. Now she knows that she can count on you. She knows you care.

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