Re-homing can be a tough experience for a cat. Although they are moving to a new home and family where they will be loved and cared in, they don’t know this. It is normal and understandable for a re-homed cat to be fearful of their new house and hide for whole days under beds or sofas. This isn’t a good behavior to encourage. Cats that hide when scared can put themselves into more danger when there is an emergency in your house.
Read on to understand why your re-homed cat is hiding, what you should do about it, and how long it will take them to get used to you and their new house.
How long does it take a re-homed cat to stop hiding?
A re-homed cat may hide under furniture for the first days that it comes into a new home. Cats don’t like change but can generally become accustomed to something like re-homing in three to four weeks. This amount of time can vary a lot more depending on why your cat was re-homed. Cats that were re-homed because their previous owners moved or otherwise weren’t able to care for their cat anymore will be coming from situations where they were used to and comfortable with living with humans. These cats may take less time for you to earn their trust and come out of hiding.
However, cats that have been re-homed due to behavioral problems may struggle more with their changes and take longer to stop hiding. Cats that have come from situations where they have been mistreated will be rightfully fearful of humans, it may take months for a cat like this to begin to understand that you care for them. While they probably won’t spend all of this time hiding in a specific spot, they may avoid you during this time.
If your re-homed cat is hiding, avoid dragging them out of their spot. You’re still making a first impression with your new pet and they won’t appreciate being forced to come out of what they see as a safe space. Either wait for them to come out in the own time or entice them out with treats or play. When they aren’t looking, block off their access to the furniture they are hiding under but make sure they still have a safe space to retreat to.
How do you get a re-homed cat to come out of hiding?
To get a re-homed cat out of hiding quicker, you need to let them understand that their new house is safe for them and that you are their provider of care and fun. Most cats are very food motivated, your best option to get your new cat’s trust is to be seen as their provider of food and treats. You should also take steps to make sure that
No matter how well you provide for your rescued cat, they will probably still want to hide away for the first days or weeks that you get them. You should make spaces that are safe for your cat to hide in. When your re-homed cat does settle into your new house, they may use these locations to relax and sleep in. You can do this no matter how small your living space is, there are always options for situations like apartment living cats.
Feeding a re-homed cat to gain its trust
Your re-homed cat will become comfortable with you quicker if you can provide regular meals for them. Give your cat regular meals throughout the day and make sure that your cat sees you bringing or preparing their food. Give them space while they are eating and avoid the temptation to pet them. Cats are quite vulnerable while they are eating so they may be on high alert during dinner time. Give them space and patience so they can get a good meal in and see meal times as a good thing.
If your re-homed cat is ignoring their food you should try matching their previous diet at their old home. If they continue ignoring food you should contact a vet as a lack of appetite can be a sign of a serious health problem. Automatic cat feeders can be a convenient tool that many people use to feed their cats, but you may want to avoid if possible during the early stages of your relationship between you and your cat.
Playing with a re-homed cat to gain its trust
Your re-homed cat may be resistant to play when you first get them. The benefits of playing with your cat are high enough that you should still try even if they don’t show interest right away. Cats have relatively short attention spans, when they start playing they can quickly get carried away and begin to forget their original fear of living in a new location, at least for a short while.
You should use a selection of toys that you control like string toys and laser pointers to find out what your new cat prefers to play with. Entertaining your cat should also be a daily thing that you do, similar to how you would walk a dog.
Cats like and need play. This is especially true for indoor cats who need regular play daily to stay physically fit and mentally stimulated. When your re-homed cat sees you as a source of fun, they will quickly see you as part of their family and may even start showing calling to you or showing signs of affection to get more play.
Making your home safe for a re-homed cat
Your new cat may start exploring their house more after you go to sleep or are out of the house. This is a good sign that they are feeling confident enough to explore their surroundings and even start claiming territory. Let your re-homed cat explore the house but make sure it is safe for them to do so.
Even if you have had cats before, your new cat may be particularly troublesome and destructive. This is especially true for cats that have been re-homed for behavioral issues. To be safe, take away any string-like objects like wires and jewelry. Remove plants and open foods that aren’t safe for cats and consider securing loose keepsakes.
Your re-homed cat will need spaces in the house to call their own. They will still want to hide but ideally this shouldn’t be in a dangerous location like under the bed. Seal off these locations and provide a safer alternative. There are lots of enclosed cat beds that you will be able to buy at your local pet store or online. Tunnels, cat trees, and open travel crates are good places for your cat to seek shelter in. Make sure your cat has a couple options in different locations around the house so they can find somewhere comfortable to retreat into.
How long does it take for a cat to get used to their new owner?
If you take the steps of providing play and food for your re-homed cat. They may miss their old owner during this time, even if they were re-homed for behavioral issues. However, they will eventually understand that you have taken the role as their new carer. This may take weeks for them to realize.
Some cats aren’t very obvious in how they show their affection. Its not uncommon for cats to live with their humans for years before doing something like coming over to be pet. Be patient with your re-homed cat and look out for the less obvious signs that they have become comfortable with you.
My cat is still hiding from me months after adoption
Re-homing a cat can be tough and some cats may still be fearful for months. The first advice we would have would to double down on attempts of play with your cat. You should also take more steps to make the rest of the house a safe and interesting place for you cat by placing cat beds and trees down. Investigate around the house to find things that could be scaring your cat. Regular loud noises and other animals visiting the door and window could be sources of fear.
If you are providing as much as you can for your re-homed cat it may just be a matter of time for your cat to become more comfortable. This may test your patience. If you are still struggling, you could consider hiring a cat behaviorist to assess what is happening. These are professionals who have worked worked with correcting behaviors by advising pet owners directly after getting to know their cats.