What can you do if your kitten won't come out of hiding? We'll give you tips for dealing with a shy new addition to your home, as well tips on how to cultivate a stray or feral kitten.
My Kitten Won't Come Out of Hiding
Although you may feel like you're the only feline enthusiast who has ever faced this problem, you really do have quite a lot of company. Many of us have been through this same scenario when dealing with a new kitten. As soon as you turn your back, kitty has split to parts unknown, and you probably won't see her for days.
Admittedly, the situation can leave you feeling frustrated and a bit like a failure, but your kitten's behavior actually has less to do with your personal appeal than you may realize. Let's take a closer look at the situation from a couple of different perspectives.
Dealing with a New House Pet
Bringing home a new kitten can be a wonderful experience, especially as you and your new charge become better acquainted. However, every kitten's personality is unique, and you can never predict how an individual is going to react to her new surroundings.
Some kittens are quite bold and will begin to claim your house as their territory from the moment they step in the door. This might even include introducing themselves to your other resident pets in a less than gentile way. On the other hand, some kittens are very wary when entering new territory, and even more so when there are already other pets in residence.
In situations like these, many new kittens will immediately search for small, out-of-the-way nooks to hide. Unfortunately, unless you happen to see your own pet dart into her chosen hidey-hole, you may have no idea where she has gone. You may also not see her again for days, but rest assured that given enough time and patience, she will eventually emerge in your presence.
Here are a few tips to follow any time you bring a new kitten home.
- Before you do anything else, introduce your kitten to the location of her litter box and food dishes. This way if your kitten does happen to pull a vanishing act, she'll know where to go to take care of business after everyone has gone to bed.
- If possible, locate these items in a small room you can confine your kitten to for the first couple of days. This will give her time to become acclimated in a quiet environment as she becomes used to your household's typical noise levels. This also helps litter box training to get off to a good start.
- If your kitten does hide herself away in your home, don't try to drag her out of hiding. This may actually upset her more than necessary, and she will likely disappear again at the very next opportunity.
- Instead, go about your business, talking calmly to yourself as you do. This will give your kitten a chance to become used to your voice, as well as your "vibe".
- Watch for signs that your kitten has come out when no one is around. You might find the litter box has been used or that the levels in the food bowls are lower than they were.
If you provide a calm and non-threatening environment, your kitten should gradually begin to come out of hiding for longer and longer periods, eventually taking her place in the household hierarchy.
Cultivating a Stray Cat
If you happen to come across a stray holed up under your porch, in your bushes or taking up residence in your garage, it's very important that you don't try to pull the animal from her hiding place. This is only likely to make her fear you more. It's more productive to win the kitten's trust in stages until you can convince her that you only have the best intentions.
- Begin by setting out food and water near her hiding place.
- Be sure to speak softly to her as you do so, and every time you pass her location.
- Eventually, you should be able to remain within her sight when she comes to the dishes.
- Try to decrease your distance just a little bit each day until you are within arm's reach of the kitten when she dines.
- When you are within this range, begin bringing an especially tempting treat such as a sardine. If you're lucky you may be able to coax the kitten a little closer, even if you have to drop the treat on the ground to convince her to take it.
- If all goes as planned, the kitten will eventually be willing to take the treat from your hand. If you are slow and gentle, you may be able to briefly touch the kitten at this point.
- Continue on this path until the kitten allows you to pet her freely. Once you can, the kitten will likely stop hiding and seek out your company of her own free will.
It can be difficult knowing what to do when a kitten won't come out of hiding, but if you are caring and patient, you should be able to win the kitten's confidence and begin a long term relationship filled with mutual affection.