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Need Cat Advice

Okay, peeps--what's your experience here? New Kitty is having some problems. She arrived last Tuesday, and now nearly a week later, she's still extremely sky and skittish. In fact, she vanishes to the point where we thought she must have gotten out and run away. A few days ago, we turned the house upside-down and finally found her huddling in a dark basement corner. I put her in one of the bathrooms alone for a couple more days, with occasional peaking in on her, and she finally let me pet her and even purred and licked my hand, but the moment she got out of the bathroom, she vanished completely and has not been seen once in two more days.
When I first met her, I noticed her right ear was clipped. I recognized this as part of the catch-spay-mark-release program for feral cats and asked the cat agency about it. The cat lady said New Kitty and her brother were found outdoors and caught, but they were clearly used to humans, so they weren't put into the barn cat category. Both New Kitty and her brother let me pet and hold them, though they were both nervous about it, which I expected in a strange cat stuck in a weird environment.
However, after nearly a week in her new home, New Kitty still hides obsessively. I've had more than a dozen cats of all stripes in my life, and I've never seen this--except among the feral barn cats we (unsuccessfully) brought into the house and tried to tame. New Kitty never, ever comes out of hiding on her own. Ever. She hasn't eaten that I can tell. The litter is stirred around, but that might be from Dinah.
Every other cat I've had hides for a while, but eventually creeps out for cautious exploring, and eventually gives the humans some wary sniffing. Not New Kitty.
Has she gone feral? Did the shock of rehoming freak her out too badly? Will she eventually come around? Has anyone else seen this before? Or should I call the cat people and tell them they gave me a feral cat?

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( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
catlinye_maker
Apr. 11th, 2017 03:46 pm (UTC)
FWIW, I've had one like that, gotten from a pet shelter and very shy around people. She hid for quite some time and we were worried about her eating. She did interact with our other cats after a while and eventually got semi-comfortable in our house, though it took way longer than a week. She still hides from new people but will climb on my lap to be petted. She ran from my husband for a long time until we made him sole treat-giver.

If you have a room that can be closed off to be "her space", that helps, especially if you can sit in there for a while daily. I suspect she _is_ feral and the rescue people had her in a small space so she was less nervy. The smaller living area seems to help the ferals a lot in getting comfortable with it and with people - it's how they socialized a lot of the cats rescued in the Pahrump incident some years ago.

Our two feral rescues will come up to be petted but still do not want to be picked up, ever. Fortunately we now live in an RV so hiding places are few and easily accessed. And they've both learned that going into a carrier the first time is easier than being chased and hassled until they are forced into the carrier.

They're loving cats but they require a lot more patience than cats who are actually socialized. If I were you I'd see about a smaller area for her if that's possible, and definitely block off the worst (most inaccessible/hazardous) of the hiding places. If you find a treat or food she likes that can help too. Hope this is helpful.

[Edit to add: I'd be concerned about her not eating because of fatty liver disease; someplace you could watch her intake would also be helpful on that point.]

Edited at 2017-04-11 11:57 pm (UTC)
spiziks
Apr. 13th, 2017 08:13 pm (UTC)
My problem is now that I can't find her! She vanished into the house. Yesterday I searched every square inch, and she's nowhere to be found. Not even in the drop ceiling of the basement.
catlinye_maker
Apr. 13th, 2017 10:23 pm (UTC)
Oh, s**t! I hope you find her! :( From my cat's hiding places, maybe check under beds in the box spring, and chairs ditto? That's a crappy situation, I'm sorry to hear it.
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