August 9, 2012

New Cat: Settling In! (or Possibly Miserable)

You may be wondering how things are going with the new cat. And so am I! We see him about once a day now that he's been released from his Gradual Introduction Room into the household-at-large. Yesterday he sat on my lap for awhile in the morning and wanted many skritches, then vanished for the rest of the day, and I couldn't find him even though I felt like I looked everywhere he could possibly be. This morning when I woke up he was on our windowsill over our heads, but then Henry came up and the cat fled (I admit that was my impulse as well, at 4:55 with a child who hits the ground talking).

I am hoping this is not a Bad Sign. I have an acquaintance who has a cat who ALWAYS hides, ALWAYS. She says she wouldn't even know she HAD that cat except for his vet bills and litter box and food dish. That would be...a disappointment.

On the encouraging side, my family growing up got a cat who hid at first but then eventually joined the household proper, with no further issues to speak of. Well, no further issues beyond a lifetime of various neurotic behaviors.

Also on the side of encouragement is that our cats who have gotten themselves in trouble (trying to escape outside, attacking each other, etc.) have been the cats who incorporated nearly effortlessly/confidently into the household, all but kicking previous feline residents to the curb.

And this new cat has only been with us for five days. I know it's not time to panic yet. But I find I can get quite a bit of pre-panicking done if I start early. I see this cat-hiding thing as the first segment of many, many potential futures branching ahead of us, many of which turn out fine but some of which include Later Woe. (Anecdotes from all kinds of branches are welcome.)

I wish pets had little gauges on them, so I could determine if, for example, the cat is just adjusting slowly/normally and/or this is just his temperament---or if he's permanently miserable here. Like, if he's going to be the sort of cat who prefers to stay contentedly out of sight in pleasant quiet nap nooks, and maybe only come upstairs after the children are asleep, that's fine and also I wonder if I could join him. But if he's cowering miserably, flinching at every sound, and would thrive and be happy in a quiet household with two adults and no cats or children, that's not fine.

I would be perfectly content
if you'd leave me alone with my dishpan.
Or maybe I'm miserable
and you should spare me the agony of your family life.

He doesn't have a name yet, and there's a story behind WHY, and that has to wait because it's time to get ready for swimming lessons.


Shari said...

"But I find I can get quite a bit of pre-panicking done if I start early." - HAHAHAHA, yes.

Saly said...

Our Oz was always a bit of a scaredy cat and required adjustment as we brought each kid home. when we brought the dog home, we barely saw him for months. He warmed up eventually though, but his general personality was to nap up high somewhere and come out when he needed some loving.

JodieG said...

your new cat looks so much like my favorite cat of all time: Shoe kitty. (Shoe used to bury his nose in smelly shoes) Shoe's original name was "spooky" because he was so easily scared. He hid everywhere and many times we were convinced he had run away.And then suddenly he'd pop out of nowhere. Slowly though he became a very loving cat, who in many ways acted like a dog (he was fiercely loyal and would follow me everywhere).
It has been 20 years since Shoe died and I still miss him.

Sorry this isn't much advice or re-assurance.

L-Diggitty said...

We had a cat who hid all the time... and didn't groom herself... and was just generally disturbed.

We later found out that her parents were brother and sister, so THAT explained a lot.

On the up side, she was a fantastic cuddler. She'd just curl up in your arms, completely relaxed. Yes, you'd have to go dig her out of her hiding place first, but it was worth it and she was still a great cat.

Don't panic yet! And hopefully your cat isn't inbred :)

Amanda said...

Do you really WANT anecdotes? It's a little sad but unlikely to be a problem for you...

My one super scaredy-cat cat was FINE until she had an unfortunate thermometer induced taking-of-temperature traumatic experience. Let's just assume that she felt as though she'd been raped by the vet and went off the very very deep end after that. She slept in my closet all day and would come out at night after everyone had settled down and eat, drink, and come up to me for a snuggle. She'd spend the night sitting on my bed and then be invisible again come morning. No one ever knew she existed, for years. This was fine until... my house caught on fire and the fire fighters tried to save her but she ran AWAY from them and passed out from smoke inhalation. They tried mouth-to-mouth but they weren't successful. :( I truly think she would have lived her own version of a comfortable life had the damn house not been burning down.

JEN said...

Even though I am not a cat person, I love hearing about your cats. :)

Alice said...

my little bella was the SCARDIEST when i brought her home! she warmed up to my other cat oliver first (she was a VERY little kitten when i got her) but i had just about resigned myself to the fact that i'd have one cat, and he'd have a friend (rather than me having 2 cats) when she started warming up to me.

for the next year or so most of my friends still didn't know i had 2 cats, because she would bolt the second any new person/experience MIGHT have come into the house.

(during that time she was super-lovey with anyone she knew, like me & my roommate & my boyfriend. just not with new people.)

but now you'd never know ANY of that was the case! she's still slightly skittish around new people/dogs/etc - but in the sense that she'll stay under a table in the same room until she feels comfortable, rather than hiding for 2 days as a result.

this is all to say that i am quite confident your kitty will acclimate and be a very happy cat. :)

d e v a n said...

the sort of cat who prefers to stay contentedly out of sight in pleasant quiet nap nooks, and maybe only come upstairs after the children are asleep, that's fine and also I wonder if I could join him -- haha! I'd like to join sometimes too!

So far, it sounds like normal "new cat" behavior to me, and I hope he continues to get more comfortable!

Pickles and Dimes said...

When I first got Abby (16 years ago!) she spent the first week skulking around the floorboards hissing at nothing,disappearing for hours only to pop up at random times and places to scare the bejeebus out of me in the middle of the night (one time, she was on top of the fridge and tapped me on the head with her paw when I got up to get a drink. I about died). And I was just a quiet college girl living by myself - no loud neighbors or kids to blame for her shyness.

The fact that your kitty comes out for attention makes me think he's not miserable, but maybe just a little overwhelmed and seeking some calm and quiet until he's fully settled in.

Kara said...

Our 12 year old male cat is totally unsocial. He's been that way since kittenhood. Any loud noise- even the doorbell and microwave beeps are loud to him- he takes off and hides under the covers in my bad. He doesn't like the kids and our oldest is 9. He only socializes at night when he comes out of the bedroom and hangs with us while we're watching TV. When he gets really nervous, he throws up. He's not a bad cat, just useless.

PinkieBling said...

Ah, wouldn't it be wonderful if pets were like Sims? Babies and toddlers, too, but they do a better job of announcing their displeasure, BOY HOWDY.

Favorite line: "But I find I can get quite a bit of pre-panicking done if I start early." Haaaaa.

Laura Diniwilk said...

When we first got Mohinder, Leo hid for like 2 weeks. I kept thinking it was FINE and he was just getting ADJUSTED, so I let him do his own thing, thinking he'd chill out and come sit with me when he was ready. I'd see him glaring at us from his corner or shelf or whatever, but I didn't pick up up. Unfortunately, Momo had brought some kind of shelter cat illness, and Leo was hiding because he was extremely sick. when I finally DID pick him up, he was SO LIGHT and it was clear that I am a bad cat owner. So, uh, check on your cat every once in a while.

Maggie said...

Pre-panicking - HA. My husband often reminds me that my motto is "why worry later, when I can worry now!"

Anyway, we have one cat who is generally less social than our other cat. He doesn't hide exactly, but he doesn't make himself super available to the kids (is it wrong that often I wish I could make the same choice?) It sounds like your new kitty is just getting adjusted - since he still comes out for love occasionally, I think that's a good sign.

Beylit said...

Our middle cat MuShu is not so much a hider as she is afraid of strangers. When we first got her she hid in the box springs for a couple of weeks, pretty terrified of our older male cat. Now she is fine, unless there is a new person in the house.

One of our friends had a cat, Fenwin, who lived under a chair and never came out. They had to actually put her food and water bowl under there or she wouldn't eat. The only time she left was to use the litter box, though no one ever saw her leave. It was just assumed she did since there was never signs of her doing her business under the chair. She was an inherited cat from their inlaws, and apparently she had always been like that. Cat sitting for them was an adventure.

rebeccaeee said...

Stnadard new cat behavior, esp with a house full of Other Cat Smells. Getting the lay of the land, checking out the Safe Zones and probably cavorting like mad in the wee hours of darkness. Will tkae about 2 weeks, then said cat will come out for treats (possibly) and communal eats. My skittish cat turned out to be a psycho kitty but all my new cats have been this way and only one was a true nutcase.

crazeecatlady said...

Could be that new cat needs you to build her a blankie cave in a quiet, isolated, easy cat accessible but not child accessible place where treats occasionally show up?

Life of a Doctor's Wife said...

Oh he is so adorable. And he doesn't LOOK miserable. I can't wait to hear the name story. And... did the orange cat ever get a name?

Libby said...

I got 2 adult cats from the same litter, and one was so! sociable! and the other hid under the couch for a week. I only knew he was alive because I could see his eyes catch the light. He finally ventured forth, and eventually turned into a cat that had to be somehow touching me whenever I was stationary. Glue cat.

Doing My Best said...

The (older) kitten we brought home in January spent 2 weeks hiding under the kids' bed and jumping every time she heard a loud noise (Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha! ALL THE TIME!). I was worried that she had a delicate disposition and was going to be miserable in our loud house. But, after about 2 weeks, she came out from under the bed, and now she wrestles with the dog and lets Baby drag her around. If I hadn't been here the whole time, I wouldn't think it was the same cat!

Dooble said...

One of our cats hides for exactly one week every time we move house and/or introduce new cats/children (we foster).

She comes out maybe once day after a couple of days of total invisibility and isolation, and then that's the full level of her household involvement for a week.

After that, for another week we see her a little bit more but she still stays in high and quiet nooks and is as quiet as possible most of the time. To the degree that we frequently shut her inside cupboards and she doesn't even scratch to get out!

Then, after the two weeks it's as if she suddenly realises that everything is fine after all, and she is not going to be killed by the new child and or house and or cat.


So weird. It's like she has a personality transplant after two weeks.

Nancy said...

I live in a quiet two adult household, and for many many years our cats would hide under the bed whenever we had visitors. Then my husband started teaching guitar lessons in our home, which meant regular visits by strangers, and both cats gradually stopped hiding under the bed and eventually were totally unconcerned by visitors.

Katie Swaner said...

We've had ours 4 years and she's just now letting us pet her. She adjusted to the 5 year old instantly, but ran from the 2 year old and adults always. Now the 2 year old is 6, I guess she's finally happy. She walks up to us to be petted and my husband and I look at each other and shake our heads. "She's turning into a cal!" very odd one, she is