Adopting a new cat is an exciting experience, but it can also be a challenge for both you and your new companion. If you find that your new cat is hiding for days on end and not eating, you’re not alone. Cats are known for their independent nature, and when they find themselves in a completely unfamiliar environment, they often react by retreating to a safe, hidden spot like under the bed.
If this situation sounds all too familiar, you’ve come to the right place. In this guide, we’ll dive deep into the world of cat behavior and provide you with practical tips on helping your new furry family member transition from hiding to thriving.
Table of contents
- Understanding Cat Behavior In a New Place
- Is It Normal for a New Cat to Hide for Days?
- Why Is My New Cat Barely Eating?
- How Long Does It Take for a Cat to Get Used to a New Home?
- Helping Your Cat Adjust to Its New Environment
- New Cat Still Hiding After a Month? What To Do
- With Time, Your Scaredy Cat Will Become a Happy Member of the Family
Understanding Cat Behavior In a New Place
Understanding why cats behave the way they do is crucial to ensuring your new furbaby’s comfort and well-being during the adjustment period. Cats are known for their sensitivity to changes in their environment, and a new place can be extremely unsettling for them. We’ve seen behaviors like hiding under beds and couches, skittishness, or increased vocalization as the new cat explores and adapts to unfamiliar surroundings. Because of this, it’s essential to provide a safe and quiet space where your cat can retreat to if needed, allowing them to gradually acclimate at their own pace.
Patience, gentle encouragement, and maintaining regular routines can go a long way in helping your cat feel secure and ultimately thrive in their new environment. Be sure to observe their cues and offer reassurance in the form of food, treats, and gentle affection. This will aid in building trust and strengthening the bond between you and your feline friend as they settle into their new home.
Is It Normal for a New Cat to Hide for Days?
The short answer is yes, it’s entirely normal for a new cat to hide for days or even weeks when introduced to a new home. Cats are creatures of habit, and any significant change in their environment can be stressful for them. Hiding is a defense mechanism they use to feel safe while they assess their unfamiliar surroundings.
Don’t rush your cat to come out of hiding, either. You don’t want its first memories of you to be coming after it under a bed. Instead, give them the time and space they need to acclimate. Providing a calm, quiet environment during this adjustment period is crucial. Avoid sudden loud noises or too much human interaction, as this can increase their stress levels.
Why Is My New Cat Barely Eating?
Another common behavior your cat might display is a reluctance to eat. This can be concerning, but it’s often a temporary issue related to the stress of the move. Just like in humans, stress can significantly decrease a cat’s appetite, and an unwillingness to eat normally isn’t surprising at all, especially when paired with hiding behaviors.
Keep in mind that a cat can survive without food for a few days, but it’s important to monitor their food intake closely. If you suspect they may have stopped eating altogether for an extended period of time, you may want to call their vet for guidance.
To encourage eating, offer a variety of highly-enticing cat food options. Wet food and broths can be particularly hard to resist and help with hydration. Gradually transitioning them to their regular diet is ideal, but don’t be too concerned if they only nibble at first. Over time, their appetite should return to normal as they grow more comfortable in their new environment.
How Long Does It Take for a Cat to Get Used to a New Home?
The time it takes for a cat to adjust to a new home can vary widely. Some cats might start feeling at home within a few days, while others may take several weeks or even months. It all depends on the individual cat’s temperament, past experiences, and the effort you put into helping them settle in. Moreover, if you have other pets, it might take longer for them to find their place in the home. Because of this, slow and methodical introductions are crucial.
Ultimately, patience is key during this period. Avoid forcing interactions or trying to speed up the process. Instead, allow your cat to set the pace and provide them with a secure and inviting environment to explore when they’re ready.
Is your new cat super jumpy? Learn all about how to calm an anxious cat here.
Helping Your Cat Adjust to Its New Environment
Now let’s break down the tips and tricks for helping your cat thrive in their new home.
Confine Your Cat to a Safe and Welcoming Room
When bringing home your new ball of fluff, consider confining them to a single room at first. It’s best to have it all set up for them before they even arrive, so they have a safe place to retreat from the get-go. This room should be equipped with all the essentials, including food, water, a litter box, and a cozy hiding spot. Make sure to spend time with them in this room, sitting quietly and letting them come to you when they feel comfortable. However, be sure not to bombard them with your presence.
This controlled environment allows your cat to gradually adapt to a smaller space before venturing out into the rest of the house. It also helps them associate positive experiences with the room, making it a safe haven they can go to when needed. Having too much house to explore can be overwhelming for a new cat.
If possible, avoid using bedrooms as your welcoming room. A scared cat hiding under a bed is, in our opinion, too cut off from even your gentle presence where they can observe you. Additionally, it’s really hard to get a very scared cat to come out from hiding under a bed, and efforts to do so can be traumatizing. It’s best to keep this out of the picture altogether if possible.
Provide Your Cat a Banquet of Food
As we mentioned earlier, you may experience your new cat not eating at first, or at the very least experience a decrease in appetite. To combat this, you’ll want to provide plenty of enticing foods they can lick and nibble as they please.
Remember, food is a powerful motivator for cats, and it signals to them that their new room is a safe, nourishing place. The small room may make it easier for your new cat to come out of hiding to eat. In a small room, you can be sure they can smell and locate their food as well as monitor their eating intake. Experiment with different types and flavors of cat food to find out what your new feline friend prefers. Use a variety of broths, treats, wet food, and dry food to give them a smorgasbord of options to trigger their appetite.
If your cat won’t come out to eat with you in the room, leave the food near their hiding spot and remove yourself completely from the room. Over time, as they start to eat, experiment with being in the room, and slowly move closer as they allow.
Pro tip: Churu cat treats are a nutritious appetite motivator that cats love. Learn more about them here.
Avoid Going In and Out Frequently
In the early days of your cat’s arrival, try to limit the number of times you enter and exit the room where they are confined. Frequent comings and goings can make your cat feel insecure and disrupt their adjustment process. It’s essential to provide a stable and predictable environment during this period, so try to limit these comings and goings to providing food.
If you want to spend time with your new cat, we recommend sitting quietly and calmly in the room after bringing in the food. Let your cat come to you during this time, and be sure to show them plenty of affection if they do. Be sure to always end interactions on a positive note.
Always Enter the Room with a Calm Demeanor
When you do need to enter the room, do so calmly and quietly. Sudden movements or loud noises can startle your cat and reinforce their desire to hide. Speak to them in a soothing tone and avoid making direct eye contact, which can be seen as a threat in the feline world. Also, be sure to keep curious pets away from the doorway when you’re entering. If a scared cat senses a rambunctious dog, it might make them hide much longer. Furthermore, if you have young kids at home, we recommend talking to them about the importance of remaining calm around the cat. Not only will this help your cat, but it can also be a great learning experience for your kids.
Introduce to Other Pets Slowly and Methodically
If you have other pets, introducing them to your new cat requires careful planning. Cats are territorial creatures, and sudden introductions can lead to stress and conflicts. Not to mention, your new cat will likely hide longer, and your other pets might become territorial as well.
Before introducing, wait until your new cat has come out of hiding, started eating regularly, and has started to develop a bond with you. You want them to feel safe and secure before ever attempting to introduce the new housemates. Start by feeding your resident pet and new family member on either side of the closed door. Do this several times until neither animal seems phased. This helps them become familiar with each other’s presence without direct contact. Gradually, you can move on to supervised face-to-face meetings through a screen door or baby gate. Keep these initial interactions short and positive, rewarding both cats with treats and praise for calm behavior.
After a while, you can allow for supervised meetings in a common area of the house. If you have a dog, be sure to keep them on a leash so you can intervene if needed. With time, they both should grow tolerant of one another’s presence.
New Cat Still Hiding After a Month? What To Do
If your new cat is still spending most of their time hiding under beds and furniture after a month, don’t be discouraged. Some cats are naturally more timid and may take longer to adjust. It’s crucial to continue providing a safe and nurturing environment as they slowly adapt to their new home. For extra calming aids, consider using pheromone diffusers, such as Feliway, which emit calming scents that can help reduce your cat’s anxiety. These products can be particularly useful for shy or anxious cats. You can also sprinkle catnip around their room to hopefully entice their playful side.
Seeking advice from a professional animal behaviorist or veterinarian is also a good option if your cat’s behavior remains a concern. This is especially true if your new cat continues to hide and not eat or lose weight over this time. They can provide tailored guidance and solutions to help your furry friend feel more at ease in their new home. A vet could even prescribe a medication like Prozac for kitty anxiety.
With Time, Your Scaredy Cat Will Become a Happy Member of the Family
Remember, patience is key when helping your new cat come out of hiding under beds and other furniture and eating normally. With time, love, and a bit of understanding, your once-anxious cat will likely transform into a happy and confident member of your family. Cherish the journey of getting to know your new feline friend, and soon enough, you’ll be rewarded with the purrs, cuddles, and playful antics that make cat ownership so rewarding!
Do you currently have a hiding cat? What tricks have you used to help them feel comfortable? Tell us in the comments below!
Stay Informed – Join the HypePets Community!
If you’re like us, your pets are like family. Stay up to date on the latest news, info, tips, and gear to help your pet live its best life!