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New rescue cat not using litter tray and hiding

Discussion in 'Cat Training and Behaviour' started by Boluna, Aug 21, 2013.


  1. Boluna

    Boluna PetForums Junior

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    Hello everyone! New poster here, I'm concerned about a rescue cat we adopted yesterday.

    We actually adopted 2 cats who are brother and sister, which we named Bobby and Luna, both are shorthair and Bobby is a tabby and Luna is a black cat. They're pur first cats but my partners parents have always had cats since he was little. We don't have any kids or any "free-roaming" pets.

    When we first got them we confirmed them to one room for a few hours before leaving the door open, I tempted them with some treats and they started to explore the house. Within only 10mins of the treats Luna was completely comfortable, head bumping and licking our ears as well as talking to us. Bobby went straight under our bed all night.

    Next morning Bobby had confined himself in our downstairs bathroom. As he hasn't moved all day today we moved a food and water bowl in there with him so he didn't go hungry or thirsty. There was a litter tray in the kitchen not far away however he we did put a towel on be bathroom floor cause at least we can wash that. He peed on the towel and has pooed in the corner!

    We've tempted him with cooked chicken and dreamies and he has come out of his hiding place to grab the treats then hidden. He has eaten some of the normal cat food we've left for him and I think he's had some of the water too. My partner has used one of those chase toys with him and he did engage for a little while before hiding.

    Note: they're both also underweight. I'm being supplied with special cat food for them by the charity.
     
  2. chillminx

    chillminx PetForums VIP

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    Hi, welcome to Pet Forum:)

    Bobby is evidently feeling very insecure and scared, and so he will need patient and gentle encouragement to start trusting you. It would be best for his sake to confine him to one room for a few days, with his litter trays, water, food and bedding. If possible a room where he can't hide under beds or cupboards etc, A room other than a bathroom or utility room as they are too small to confine a cat in for 24 hrs a day.

    Provide Bobby with a few cardboard boxes placed on their sides so he has somewhere to hide if he's afraid. Spend time with him in his room, sit on the floor and read out loud to him, so he gets used to the sound of your voice. Reading poetry out loud is good as it makes the voice light and upbeat. If not, then read the newspaper to him!

    Don't try and coax him out of hiding, leave him to make his own mind up when he feels ready to approach you.

    Take his meals to his safe room, and leave them for him. He will eat them when you have left the room. Especially at night - he will eat then, when the house is quiet, so leave plenty of food for him overnight.

    I would put his sister in with him overnight, they will be company for each other. Also, maybe pop her in with him for a few hours each afternoon, when both are likely to sleep. But do not confine Luna to the one room for the rest of the day as she sounds as tho she is confident enough to be mixing with the family. But at the same time she & Bobby need to spend some time together to reinforce the bond between them in this new environment.

    After a couple of days of Bobby being confined to his safe room, and with you spending time with him, reading out loud but ignoring him, you may find he is tentatively coming up to you as you sit on the floor. Have some interactive toys to hand, such as wands with feathers on, fishing rod toys such as Da Bird, or a pet laser light -- anything you use to play at arms length, so he does not feel you are getting too close.

    Again, let him decide how much he wants to play. If he backs away and goes to hide in one of his boxes, then go back to ignoring him but reading out loud to him.

    Cats are wonderfully adaptable creatures, even the timid ones, and I feel sure with this approach he will start to feel more confident within a week or so. :)

    Please let us know how things go? :)
     
  3. Boluna

    Boluna PetForums Junior

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    Well last night we were woken by them running around the house chasing each other, and I got up to see what they were up to and noticed their food bowls were empty. So I got one handful of dry cat food in each bowl and bobby (nervous cat) came out straight away and ate right next to me. He let me stroke him before carrying on eating and I went back to bed.

    This morning woke up to them both sleeping by our bedroom doorway curled up round each other, bobby let me walk past him and when I held out my hand he sniffed it and let me stroke him again, seemed to endure it rather than enjoy it but he did come back for it again and didnt move away :) dry food was all eaten so I gave them another handful in each bowl. Might be too much food I'm not sure, however with them both being underweight I don't think it'll be a bad thing right now and I won't give them anymore until before I go to bed tonight.

    While Luna has been using the litter trays (one is upstairs and one is downstairs) I think bobby is responsible for weeing on some newspaper just outside the litter tray that's upstairs. What should I do about that? :confused:

    Bobby has however played with one of those snake toys on a wand with me today for a few minutes. :)
     
  4. chillminx

    chillminx PetForums VIP

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    It certainly sounds as though Bobby is coming out of his shell rapidly, which must be a big relief to you! :) I expect being with his sister has something to do with it -- her confidence is rubbing off on him. I think you are over the worst now, and Bobby will continue to gain self confidence as the days pass, bless him.

    Incidentally as they are both underweight and very hungry I would increase their wet food intake, not the dry, or there is a risk they may get dehydrated from too much dry. Cats do not have a natural thirst drive (like dogs do) and are poor at drinking enough water to keep themselves properly hydrated on a dry food diet. This can lead to serious bladder and kidney problems. In addition there is evidence (from Glasgow University Studies) that most dry foods are responsible for causing chronic Feline Gingivostomatitis, a painful condition where the gums get badly inflamed.

    If you want to feed a little dry food as a treat, then buy Applaws, which is higher in meat content than any other dry food available in UK supermarkets and pet stores. It is also grain free, which is better for cats.
    Arcana and Orijen are also good makes of dry, available on line from Zooplus.

    Feeding your cats a high meat protein wet food diet will pack on muscle, and build strong bones. They need this to help them recover from the neglect they have suffered prior to you adopting them.

    HiLife Natures Essentials, Natures Menu and Lily's Kitchen are all high in meat protein, and available from Pets@Home, (or Hilife is available from Morrisons and Sainsburys). Ordinary supermarket food (Felix, Whiskas etc) is not high in meat protein and contains grains and fillers. Wean them on to something better gradually, so their tummies are not upset.

    Maybe consider buying food in bulk on line, as many of us on this forum do. Lots of good quality foods available from :

    Wet & Canned Cat Food: Free Delivery on orders £25+ zooplus!

    All Products | The Happy Kitty Company

    Check the ingredients to ensure that the foods you choose are grain free (or contain only rice, which is well tolerated by cats), and also that the meat protein content is high.

    I would also buy a set of baby weighing scales (can buy quite cheaply on ebay), and log your cats' weights every 3 to 4 weeks so you can see what progress they are making. On a high protein diet they won't gain weight rapidly, but gradually, which is good:)

    Re: Bobby's litter tray issue. It could be stress-related, or it could be a more practical issue such as his comfort.

    How many litter trays are you providing? For 2 cats you need 3 large litter trays. Many cats will not pee and poo in the same tray. Spread the litter trays around, rather than putting them altogether, though they can be in the same room, if that is most convenient for you.

    Choose a litter which is soft on little paws and easy to dig a hole in.
    Cereal based litters are excellent -- e.g. Cats Best Oko Plus is available from pets@Home. It clumps well, solids are flushable. Altho more expensive than many litters a bag lasts a long time, so is actually more economical than cheaper litters.

    It also could be the case Bobby might have a bit of stress-related cystitis (not an infection as such). By increasing his wet food intake (and reducing his dry food), you will be enabling his urine to be more diluted, making it more comfortable for him to pee. Also, add a little water to all his wet food meals too.

    Clean up any wee accidents with enzymatic cleaner such as Urine Off, as only that will get rid of the smell to the cat. Otherwise he will regard the spot where he peed as his toilet and keep returning to it.

    Please let us know if Bobby's toiletting problems are not resolved, so we can help with further advice:)
     
  5. ClareThor

    ClareThor PetForums Junior

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    Hi

    Thanks to this forum, our rescue cat has settled in now, but it did take 6 months of trying!
    I would buy a feliway, they are expensive but we only needed one and put it in the room that she sleeps in and eats in.
    We stuck to a routine and made sure that she had a set bed area, food area and little tray area, we even covered the lower part of the conseverory windows and seeing outside as that scared her.
    Pickle did start peeing in a corner, and thankfully that didnt last long.

    We got her in January, and now she is a happy but still a slightly neurotic moggy, but I never realised how long it would take. She still has behavioural issue but as we dont know her past we will never know what life she had before us, but each day at a time and the rewards are huge.

    Let them adapt at their own pace, and you will enjoy seeing the change as they get more confident and happy x
     
  6. Boluna

    Boluna PetForums Junior

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    I'm happy to say that over the last 72 hours there has been no wee or poo found outside of the litter trays and I have found myself having to check and clean them out more often! I think bobby could either have been marking, or it might have something to do with the fact that bobby using a tray regularly coincided with me cleaning the trays out, as his sister Luna had been using both maybe this encouraged him to pick one of them to use? Yesterday we put the covers on the trays and they're still using them, we love the covered trays they really reduce the smell which is great as we can't open our windows until we get some cat proof screens!

    Bobby and Luna are now definitely settled in, as I type this Bobby is laid out in a patch of sun only 2ft away from me asleep. While he doesn't approach us he does sit in the same room as us most of the time now, and when it comes to feeding time he defiantly isn't shy. If I stroke him he pushes his head into my hands and purrs happily away, however after a while he does walk a distance away yet is happy for some more fuss if I approach him again straight away. Its almost as if he doesn't want to push his luck too far.

    The charity we got them through have supplied us with a large sack of dry food and litter, the litter is different to what we were using however we are going to replace one of the litter trays with the new type completely and see if they carry on using that tray. I have done some research and I have found that wet food appears to be better for them so we will definitely seek to change them over to that eventually. However I've heard that cats prefer having several small meals a day, and as me and my partner work long hours (he comes home on his breaks though so they aren't in the house alone for long) we like the convineance of leaving dry food out for them so they can nibble during the day. If we feed them morning and night with wet food, could we still leave them dry food to eat during the day?
     
  7. chillminx

    chillminx PetForums VIP

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    I am very pleased to hear Bobby seems to be settling in and there have been no more litter tray accidents:thumbup1:

    With regard to food, leaving dry food down all day is not a good idea. Cats do not need to graze all day long, as it gives their digestion no chance to rest. It is much healthier for them to have set mealtimes, feeding them wet food.

    In addition, dry food is bad for them for many reasons, one of which is it can lead to bladder and kidney problems, as very few cats drink enough water to keep themselves properly hydrated. (but I am sure you know this, as you have been researching the disadvantages of dry food:))

    As you are going to be out of the house during the day time I suggest acquiring a couple of battery operated auto-feeders from Amazon (or similar) filling them with wet food and setting the timers to open about 4 hours after their breakfast time.

    Cats are crepuscular by nature, which means they hunt around dawn and dusk, therefore instinctively these are the times they most like to eat.
    In a domestic cat this translates into e.g. early breakfast, late morning, early evening, and supper at bedtime. They do not need to eat in the afternoons, and in fact most cats tend to sleep/doze at that time anyway.

    If you want to feed only 3 meals a day then I'd skip the late morning meal, and set the autofeeders to open at around 4.30 pmish (which come winter will be dusk:)). Then make their last meal of the day their supper at bedtime.
     
  8. Boluna

    Boluna PetForums Junior

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    With my partner coming home on his breaks if were both at work that day (we both work shifts, different days each week) we hopefully will only need an auto feeder when we plan to go away for a full day (but then we'd buy a drinking fountain too). He tends to come for his break between 3-5pm so could easily put down some more wet food for them then.

    So wet food in morning (if one of us is working we get up around 6 so that's good, and Luna already wakes me up at that time if I'm on my day off! :p) another meal late afternoon (partner home for his break if we're both at work, if one of us is off obviously that's ok) and then bedtime when were both in.

    How long can wet food be open for before you have to throw it away?

    Oh and both Bobby and Luna have already noticeably gained weight, we had our welfare check from the charity when they delivered the food, and the lady commented on how much better they both look. When we got bobby we could see his shoulder blades clearly as he walked and he had a hollow look to his abdomen, now he definitely doesn't ;)
     
  9. chillminx

    chillminx PetForums VIP

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    That is wonderful news they have gained weight, bless them!:thumbup1: Well done you!:)

    It is safe to keep wet food (canned) in the fridge for a couple of days. As soon as you open the tin decant it into a plastic tupperware storage box with a lid, and keep it in the fridge.

    The reason for not storing food in the can is because as soon as the metal inside the can is exposed to the air, oxidisation occurs which can taint the food.

    Always warm the food to room temp before serving (I find 10 to 15 secs in the microwave is enough). But if you are putting it into an autofeeder, put it in cold straight from the fridge.:)
     
  10. Boluna

    Boluna PetForums Junior

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    Thanks for your reply :)

    I have some bad news though, I went upstairs to empty the litter trays (hadn't done it yet today) and found a wee on the carpet and bobby ran downstairs past me. After cleaning that up I went downstairs to a suspicious smell in the living room and a certain someone had done a poo!

    I hope this is a case of teaching me a lesson to remember to check the litter trays every morning as well as night (no poo in them today just wee) rather than bobby going back to his old ways :(. Either that or bobby doesn't like the covers to the litter trays that I've recently added.

    A friend of mine who keeps cats said they only empty theirs once every 24hrs, today is the first day I hadn't emptied it twice in 24hrs so I think I may have to make sure I empty them twice a day if that's what's keeping bobby using the litter tray.
     
  11. chillminx

    chillminx PetForums VIP

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    Perhaps your friend's cats go outside for their toilet most of the time, and only use the trays occasionally e.g. at night. In which case emptying the trays once in 24 hrs may be sufficient.

    But for cats who are indoors 24/7 I cannot even imagine leaving the trays
    for 24 hrs! :( Even with the best litter there is going to be a smell if trays are left for that long without scooping. :eek: Perhaps your friend does not have a very sensitive nose;)

    Certainly many cats are far too fastidious in their hygiene to put up with dirty trays, and would protest by using the floor if the trays needed emptying.

    But as you say, it could be that Bobby is objecting to the covers on the trays. Not all cats like them. Also many covered trays are not tall enough for an adult cat to squat upright comfortably in the position they adopt when defecating.

    I would experiment by putting out just one of the covered trays, and leaving the other two trays open. And scooping morning and evening as you plan:)
     
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