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Advice for helping a very scared cat

Discussion in 'Cat Chat' started by Moll9, Jan 16, 2020.


  1. Moll9

    Moll9 PetForums Newbie

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    Hi everyone,
    Near the end of last year I started working for a sheltered living scheme, where we have many individuals living in private flats, where they are allowed to keep pets with them. Recently, one resident unfortunately had to be evicted after abusive behaviour and when he left he left his cat behind. He left on my day off, and my colleague who has never kept cats left him in a store cupboard over night with food and water - when I went to see him the next morning he was absolutely terrified. I offered to take him home with me until we could find him a new home as I already have cats, though it has been quite difficult to get help from animal charities as their waiting lists are too long :( He stayed his first night at my house in our spare room and I’ve never seen such a frightened cat before. I’m worried that he may have been being abused by his previous owner, as he becomes incredibly distressed and aggressive if he is not completely hidden from sight and is very afraid of hands & sudden movements which I have never seen before. If I’m honest, I’m not really sure how best I can help him. We got our other cats as kittens and one is a rescue but even then she settled in straight away when we took her home. I’d love to be able to help this cat gain confidence and find him a loving forever home, but I’m not sure how best to do this. Should I introduce him to my other cats? Sorry for the long rambling post, but any advice would be very appreciated c:
    Molly x
     
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  2. Charity

    Charity Endangered Species

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    Poor boy, I wouldn't introduce him to your cats, he's been through a lot of trauma recently and he may have not have had any contact with other people in his previous life and not had a very happy one with the owner so is just scared stiff. Its going to be all a matter of time and patience to bring him round when he experiences kindness and being jn a calm environment. This may not be until he finds a permanent home as it sounds as if its going to take a while. The best thing you can do is leave him in your spare room and not fuss him so he doesn't feel threatened. He will probably always be nervous but, in time hopefully he will come round.
     
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  3. Jaf

    Jaf PetForums VIP

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    Oh Molly how kind you are and how sad for this poor cat. I hope he starts to feel happier soon. I think think Charity says I wouldn’t introduce him to your cats, it would put all of them under a lot of stress. Giving him peace and quiet has to be the thing for now. Once he shows some interest in being with you (when you pop in to feed him) then there’s lots you can do (reading aloud, play with wand toys). For now, though it’s hard, peace and quiet.

    Please let us know how you get on?
     
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  4. bluecordelia

    bluecordelia Footy

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    Bless you taking him home, I second all the above posts. It will take time for him to realise he is safe.
    My sisters rescue cat hid for 2 weeks. The trauma of a possibly abusive former owner and a house move will be huge.

    Plenty of food, 2 litter trays at least and go in and just sit and talk out loud.
     
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  5. Shrike

    Shrike Brooke's faithful manservant

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    Even my Brooke - who had been forthcoming at the shelter when I met her, hid away from me for 2-3 days when she got home. It could take weeks for him to gain in confidence. I wouldn't try to introduce him to other cats yet. Just make sure he has everything he needs in his safe room, some toys, the ability to look out of a window if he wants and plenty of hiding places. It might be an idea to just sit in the room or read to him quietly to get him used to a non-aggressive human. Most important is to let him dictate the pace.
     
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  6. Jesthar

    Jesthar PetForums VIP

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    Poor boy! :( And bless you for taking him in!

    I agree with the others, this relationship is going to have to be on his terms as much as possible for now. As hard as it is to leave him be when you want to help, trying to initiate interaction is more likely to upset him at this stage - as you are finding out.

    So for now, let him hide in peace and quiet and get used to the fact he is safe. I know it's hard, but for now it's the best thing for him.
     
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  7. Bertie'sMum

    Bertie'sMum Obedient Cat Slave

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    As others have said "patience" is the key here (and lots of it). For now he's safe, warm and fed which is all good.

    Don't try and push him into accepting you, it will take time but, hopefully, he will come round and realise that he's now in a "good" place where nothing bad is going to happen. When he's calmed down somewhat a visit to the vet to rule out any underlying health issues would be a good idea.
     
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  8. SbanR

    SbanR PetForums VIP

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    Oh the poor boy. And thank you for taking him on.
    Everything the others have said but could you also leave a radio playing in his room. Leave it on Classic Fm, or any station playing classical music, as its soothing.
    Giving him zylkene will help too.

    Please keep us updated
     
  9. Orla

    Orla PetForums VIP

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    We've had a few at the shelter like this, and I've recently had fosters like this too. Bless you for looking after him. If you can keep him in the spare room, that would be ideal so he has a space to call his own and feel safe. Make sure he has trays, food, water, and places to hide. If you have any cardboard boxes, these make ideal forts. Be in the room with him regularly but don't try to force anything. I found just spending hours sitting on the bed with a book or laptop was helpful, so my fosters could get used to human presence. I found that covering my legs with a blanket helped too. Talk to him, read out loud. Rather than leaving down biscuits all day for him to graze on, regular 'mealtimes' help establish a bond of human as feeder and provider. However, don't expect that he will necessarily feel comfortable enough to eat all his food up with you in the room, you may need to leave him alone for this. With time and patience, he will hopefully start to trust you. Pet remedy spray and pet remedy diffuser are both good, as is Zylkene and I tried Calmex for my fosters too. As his confidence grows a bit, and he is more used to you, you could try something like a feather wand and just move it around slowly for him to watch. I found moving it around the floor, or 'flapping' the feathers in the air across the room, gave them something to watch and be interested in. In time, I moved the wand closer and they began to play with it. Do not rush this though, the most important thing is for him to feel safe, and to know that you aren't going to hurt him.

    Good luck and please keep us updated.
     
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  10. Moll9

    Moll9 PetForums Newbie

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    Hi all, thank you so so much for all your replies c: your advice has been amazing and has helped so much, I’m going to take things slow and let him make progress at his own pace, I’ve never seen such a sad cat & it’s absolutely heartbreaking. I’m not going to introduce him to the others, thank you so much for this advice as I really wasn’t sure. For now I’ve made him a sort of blanket fort in the spare room with lots of cosy blankets and food. His eating has gotten a lot better (last night he broke into a bag of treats & ate the lot!) though he is still rather skinny and we are going to take him to the vets once he has calmed down. I’ve no way of knowing how old he is, I’ve read about checking his teeth but I’d hate to stress him out anymore. He is such a lovely cat and I hope I can help him to feel less scared soon. Thank you so much again for the replies, I will keep you all updated c:
    Molly x
     
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  11. Bertie'sMum

    Bertie'sMum Obedient Cat Slave

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    that all sounds positive :) I'm sure he'll come round soon when he realises that you are the provider of "good" things (like food & treats !!!). In the meantime, if possible, can we have a photo of him and have you given him a name yet ?
     
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  12. Charity

    Charity Endangered Species

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    If he's eating, that's a good sign. You might find in a few more days, you see a gradual improvement, let's hope so.
     
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  13. Moll9

    Moll9 PetForums Newbie

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    Here he is!
    He’s got such big ears bless him c:
    He did have a name but we’ve decided to call him Ernie as were a bit worried that his other name may scare him if it was shouted a lot, though I’m probably overthinking it
    22F415AB-32F1-4E13-A487-047B09EAD392.jpeg
     
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  14. Jaf

    Jaf PetForums VIP

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    Hello gorgeous Ernie. You’re doing great with him, I’ve had scared cats that hid under cupboards and were never seen for weeks! Has he played with his mices yet?
     
  15. Charity

    Charity Endangered Species

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    He's a beauty. Good luck with him
     
  16. SbanR

    SbanR PetForums VIP

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    He does look worried, bless him.
    Good looking boy
     
  17. Scouttie

    Scouttie PetForums Senior

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    He is a stunner.

    my childhood cat was abused in her previous home. She hid from us for two week and would only eat weatabix - which my mum discovered when she crept round the side of the sofa and finished her breakfast after not eating for there days. Within days she was being hand fed gently poached white fish by the mother who claimed not to be a cat person.

    a few weeks in and she was the queen of the house. Was always nervous around strangers and terrified of the vacuum cleaner (we had to hide it). But she lived a long and happy life.
     
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