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Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:

I adopted a 6-year-old cat from a local cat shelter that has over 300 cats that are all around each other. When I met her at the shelter she was very affectionate and loving, and would not let me walk away from her. She had been in the shelter since she was approximately 8 weeks old. I adopted her almost 2 weeks ago and she has been hiding since I got her. She comes out to eat, drink, and use the litter box, and has been starting to come out while I sleep to check out other rooms. She purrs when I pet her and sometimes will come slightly out of hiding to let me pet her. Is this normal? My mother thinks that she misses the other cats and that I should bring her back to the shelter, but I feel like she is just adapted very slowly. Will she eventually come out of hiding?

~ Logan

Tuxedo cat hiding in the bushes

Hiding cat, (CC-BY-SA) by David R. Tribble

Siouxsie: Logan, please don’t let your mother take this cat back to the shelter. She is adjusting, but it’s taking time.

Thomas: Some cats do take longer to adjust than others. Being adopted is a big change for her since she’s been at the shelter since she was a kitten.

Bella: Cats really have a hard time with change, even if it’s a good change like getting a forever home.

Siouxsie: There are some things you can do to help your new kitty feel braver about her new environment, though.

Thomas: If you can get her to stay in one room, she might get a little bit braver if she has less space to explore at first.

Bella: But if she’s already hiding under the couch in the living room, for instance, don’t traumatize her more by dragging her out and bringing her into your bedroom.

Siouxsie: What your kitty needs is a confidence boost and some slow, patient work.

Thomas: Mama wrote an article for Catster with some tips on how to help a scaredy cat gain some confidence and own her space. We’d recommend that you check it out. After all, we did help Mama write it, so we know it’s good!

Bella: I’ve got to admit, Siouxsie and Thomas have done a good job training Mama. I’ve hardly had to do any work at all! Well, except that I still can’t get her to let me eat paper and plastic. *grumble*

Siouxsie: Don’t be silly, Bella. You know that stuff isn’t good for you!

Bella: You’re no fun!

Thomas: Bella, you be nice to Siouxsie — and stop chasing her around the house!

Bella: You’re no fun, either! Nyeah!

Siouxsie: Anyway, Logan, the basics of the article we mentioned are patience, quiet, and building your cat’s confidence with play.

7-foot-tall Armarkat multi-level cat tower

This is the 7-foot-tall cat tower Mama got for us.

Thomas: You should also make sure that she can get way up high. A nice, tall cat tree is a great way to do this, and they’re not very expensive if you order them online, either.

Bella: Just keep on doing what you’re doing, Logan. If you keep gently coaxing her out and rewarding her courage with treats and play, she’ll be a full-fledged part of the family soon.

Siouxsie: Oh, one more thing. For those of you who are thinking about adopting a cat soon, please think about adopting a pair. Cats sometimes have a best friend at the shelter, and the staff can tell you who that kitty is.

Thomas: If you’re able to adopt a bonded pair, you’ll help both cats to cope with the stress of moving to a new home.

Bella: In your case, Logan, we think it would be better to hold off on bringing any more cats home until your new baby is more confident about her surroundings. If you adopted another kitty now, you’d only be stressing her more.

Siouxsie: Please let us know how things turn out. And once your kitty starts to feel at home in her new home, please send us some photos. We love happy kitty pictures!