Worried we've ruined cat's favourite hiding spot after vet visit, feel horrible!

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janeyshakes
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Worried we've ruined cat's favourite hiding spot after vet visit, feel horrible!

Post by janeyshakes »

We have a rescue cat who was a stray for at least a couple of years - I would describe him as semi-feral when we got him. He does like to be stroked but will let you know when he's had enough and HATES to be picked up. We got him about five and a half weeks ago and he's been settling in remarkably well, considering he used to be an outdoors cat and now he has to be an indoors cats (he's FIV+ and we live in an apartment). I posted about him here (https://www.catchat.org/felineforum/vie ... 317#p64317) when we needed some advice early on and am glad to say those issues have been resolved now.

However, we'd been noticing that he'd been shaking his head a lot in a way that we thought was probably an ear infection so we bit the bullet and took him to the vet - needless to say, getting him in the carrier was moderately traumatic for us all, but once he was there he was quite well behaved. It was indeed an ear infection, and the vet gave him a shot, cleaned out his ears, and gave us ear drops to give him twice daily, saying to call if we couldn't manage it. After this first visit, he hid for a few hours in his regular hiding and sleeping place, which is a shoe shelf that is low to the ground and provides a lot of concealment - he found it early on when he first arrived and has spent most of every day there since we got him. After a few days he warmed back up to us.

However, we had a lot of trouble giving him the drops and were very anxious about it, so in the end, we called the vet, who said to bring him in again. This time it was quicker to get him into the carrier BUT in order to catch him we ended up having to remove him from his favourite hiding place as that's where he retreated to (my partner reached in with a towel and grabbed him/wrapped him up). The vet visit went well - she gave him a different treatment so we don't have to do the drops, so a net win! - but unfortunately we have to bring him back again in a week.

The trouble is this: when we got back from the vets, he didn't go back to his regular hiding spot, the one he's been using as his safe place almost constantly for five weeks. He hung out in the bathroom until he felt safe (which was fine for the night but not an ideal spot for him permanently as there is foot traffic in and out and he hates closed doors) and then he relocated to down by my side of the bed, which he has so far elected as his new spot.

Basically, I feel horribly guilty that we may have ruined his favourite spot for him by removing him from it. We did try to tempt him out first but he kept going back there so in the end I don't think we had any other choice. My question is whether he'll ever return to that spot or if there's anything we can do to encourage him to go back there? Selfishly, that hiding spot is also quite convenient for us because it's far from the apartment's front door and we don't have to worry about him slipping past us when we're coming in and out. But mainly it's the best hiding spot in the apartment and I feel wretched that we might have taken it away from him. My partner is sad because he's the one that has to pick up the cat (he's stronger than me) so the cat is more wary of him than me (I'm also female and softer/higher voiced), the cat is still a bit jittery and I feel terrible - all in all, we're all a bit stressed! Any words of advice/reassurance hugely appreciated - if you've read all this, thank you!
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fjm
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Re: Worried we've ruined cat's favourite hiding spot after vet visit, feel horrible!

Post by fjm »

You did what was needful to avoid upsetting him with constant medication, so don't feel guilty. I would try providing him with some similar hiding places - perhaps leave a low drawer half open and line it with comfortable bedding, or tuck some boxes with holes cut out into corners. He will probably get more relaxed about the original spot in a few days, but no harm in having some alternatives.
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Mollycat
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Re: Worried we've ruined cat's favourite hiding spot after vet visit, feel horrible!

Post by Mollycat »

I'm smiling because I've been there, and the guilt is so terrible. But offer up lots of similar kind of hiding spots, and let him figure out where's safe. We just had to destroy Molly's favourite hiding place under the bed, I purposely bought a bed with underneath storage with gaps for her and she has loved it for 2 years, but now the dog isn't allowed to jump we have had to dismantle the bed and put it in storage and sleep on the mattress on the floor. In return I have left the door of one wardrobe open with two sections (bottom and one shelf at leap height) with soft bedding for her, and she has also readopted behind the living room curtain which she hasn't been to for a year since we got new curtains.

In a nutshell, they figure it out for themselves, all we can do is offer plenty of opportunities.

For the future, if you're open minded enough to try, I now use a distance reiki lady before every appointment. It's improved things no end. Molly is strictly non-handling and has missed many, many appointments in the past.
janeyshakes
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Re: Worried we've ruined cat's favourite hiding spot after vet visit, feel horrible!

Post by janeyshakes »

Thank you both! Good to know the guilt is something we've all experienced. I'm trying to create a few more hiding places for him around the flat - he's a big boy (nearly 6.8kg, vet says ideally he'd lose about a kg) so options are a bit more limited for him! However, he's now taken up residence in the cat box we got before we adopted him, having previously rejected it for being too small. It is, of course, still too small but we've put it under the desk near the radiator so at least he's warm, even if bits of him are sticking out of it. I've ordered a bigger one to arrive asap, so hopefully even if he never goes back to the shelf, he'll have a warm, safe place to hang out.
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