Rehomed cat very stressed and unhappy

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Rehomed cat very stressed and unhappy

Post by roweeeeeena » Thu Jun 09, 2016 1:47 pm

Hello, I am looking for advice re: my (former) 8 year old male cat. I would really appreciate some opinions.

I unfortunately had to rehome him 3 weeks ago, and found him a new home with a couple, no children. Unfortunately within minutes of being there he forced open a crack in a window and escaped. He went in to a garden three houses down and was attacked by other cats and was very scared. He went under a shed and would not come out, even when I went back to try to coax him out with my familiar voice. He eventually started coming out at night and bonded with the other cats, but he would not come to his new owners or his new home. They left out food and water which would be gone in the morning but I'm sure the other cats were eating some of that too. He was sleeping under the shed every night -far from his previous spoiled existence as a cat who chose to be indoor most of the day.

A week later he was on the wall of his new home and his new owners managed to entice him over with food -by this stage he must have been so hungry, cold and scared. Surprisingly he let his new owner, the man, pick him off the wall and they brought him to his new home where he was scenting everything. They decided to keep him in for at least 2 weeks. The man went away for a week so the woman was the person who he bonded with during his first days in the new home. He was ok and bonded with woman, would come for rubs and cuddles. When the man came back it seems he is afraid of him and won't come for cuddles when the man is around. He goes ouside and he spends a lot of time with the other cats, who are not wild. He comes back in the evening but in past 2 weeks he wants to go out more and more. Today he only ate his food when it was put outside for him as a last resort, he would not eat it inside, they think because he knows the door is closed when he comes inside.

The man ignores him when they're alone together and doesnt force himself on him. When both man and woman are there they try to pet him together to create a positive connection but the cat won't stay long. He is scared for most of the time that the man is there. He has never had any issue with men, he was fearful of my dad but my dad didn't like him and was very loud. This man is gentle and kind and the cat let this man lift him down off the wall when they first made contact with him. The cat has liked lots of men in his life, even strangers and work men who would enter the home randomly.

It seems like he will become an outdoor / half wild cat :( He was such a pampered house cat pet before. He is definitely not happy and wants to go out more and more. I am heart broken and really want to help him. I would visit him but that would probably be more distressing and confusing. It has only been 3 weeks and 1 week of that he was outside in a strange place which must have been terrifying. Do you think in time he may relax and adapt, or is it likely he is traumatised and will remain sad and wanting to be more of an outdoor cat. Is there anything else they could do? I gave them a few months of feliway plug in and I think they are using it.

Thanks so much for your help,

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Re: Rehomed cat very stressed and unhappy

Post by Crewella » Thu Jun 09, 2016 2:22 pm

Poor boy, he has had a tough few weeks! I think one of the main problems is that they let him out far too soon and so he hasn't really had a chance to feel settled and 'at home' indoors at the new house. Ideally, he should have been kept in for three to four weeks minimum to give him a chance to really relax and start to feel that his new home is a safe place.

I think the best thing to do is to start over and keep him in for a couple of weeks again, I'm afraid. This will give him a chance to 'put down some roots' and start to relax around his new owners and in his new environment. It will probably be a painful process at first, but absolutely necessary and will be worth it in the end. Good luck! :)

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Re: Rehomed cat very stressed and unhappy

Post by elastu » Fri Jun 10, 2016 7:15 pm

Welcome to CC.

I would agree the little one was let out far too soon, I also agree it should be started again. I personally would keep him in at least another month. If they worry about him wanting to go out again just advise them they are the adults and know the implications of letting him out, he has no idea it is in his best interest.

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Re: Rehomed cat very stressed and unhappy

Post by Jacks » Fri Jun 10, 2016 10:51 pm

I really have to agree with the others here.

This poor little lad has had a totally confusing time and was let outside far too soon and had too many changes in his environment. It has left him skittish and frightened and yes, if allowed to stay outside he would probably turn quite feral - he doesn't know how else to deal with his anxieties.

I would suggest catching him (and that might be necessary if he doesn't come in voluntarily) and putting him into a 'bonding room'. A small safe room with a litter box, food, some toys and places to 'hide'. We use our smallest bedroom, I took in a scared and people shy boy in mid March and he hasn't been outside yet. He probably could, but he stayed 10 days in the little room before he was comfortable coming out and meeting the other cats; until he stopped hiding when we came in to see him, and until he was beginning to come to his name. I have 5 other cats and over the last nearly 3 months he's been working out his relationship with them, becoming part of the family, becoming confident in his new home. When I know he's completely happy with us and his new 'family' and will come when he's called, he will start going outside.

I'm not saying how long the new family need to keep their boy in for, but they need to bond with him first, and he needs to feel comfortable and secure in his home BEFORE he starts going out. It's time well spent. As others have said we are the adults in this relationship - if they were children you'd not dream of letting them outside on their own until you were confident they knew what they were doing and would be responsible. As cat parents I think we need to be the same. They can't make these sorts of decisions - they act on impulse and very basic instincts and the new family now need to pull right back and give this boy time to recover and enjoy life again.

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Re: Rehomed cat very stressed and unhappy

Post by GillianH » Sat Jun 11, 2016 11:11 am

Totally agree this poor chap doesn't know who he is or what he is doing or where he is going. He was let out far too soon and yes I also agree that they need to start again and keep in him for a good 4 weeks or more. That way he will know that this place is safe and no harm will come to him.

Then and only then let him out but go out with him. Let him smell things and look around but don't take your eyes off him and when he looks as though he might be about to make a bid for freedom bring him back indoors. They need to be very careful about not leaving windows or doors open during this period.

After he has been out a few times for short intervals let him out for long and see if he does go off. By then he will associate you voice, or your husband's with a safe place and should come back.

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Re: Rehomed cat very stressed and unhappy

Post by Ruth B » Wed Jun 15, 2016 3:49 pm

I have to agree with the others, go back to square one so to speak. Find a room in the new home where the cat can be contained and keep them there for a week or two then let them roam the rest of the house of a few weeks before letting them outside. Make sure that they know that that room is their safe haven, and where they run to if something upsets them.

One I will add is try and make sure the new owners don't think of it as a room where they go to see the cat, they need to think of it as a room they go to for the cat to see them. A year ago we adopted a pair of young cats, one very friendly and confident, one extremely nervous having been very badly treated before ending up at the rescue centre, she was only 3 - 4 months old when she was found dumped in a tiny box, barely able to turn around and terrified, I hate to think what had happened in her short life. I knew I was going to have to go slow with her. The only room we have that we can contain cats in is the main sitting room. It may not seem ideal, but actually worked well. We went in there not to see the cats but to do normal things, watch TV, eat meals, read etc. During these times we ignored her, (the other cat wouldn't let us ignore him) she soon started to realise that once we sat down for breakfast we would not move for a while so she could come out and eat as well. I spent many hours sat reading with her watching warily from behind the sofa and later 'reading' with one hand while waving one of those toys on a long string on a long pole. If I so much as looked at her she would run and hide.

Your cats situation may be different but try and convince the new owners to let the cat come to them at his speed while keeping him contained in a room. A bag of treats and and a toy to play with (he might be 8 years old, but we have a 13 year old who can still enjoy chasing a toy if a little more sedately than the youngsters) can go a long way to making sure that the cat knows that his new owners are the best people to be around.

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