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I adopted two year-and-a-half-old kitties yesterday (it's been about 30 hours). The two are a bonded pair and very close with one another. They have their own room set up with food (wet and dry), water, and a jumbo litter box. They immediately went to hide in the gap between the bed and wall and have not moved since. They have not eaten or drunk as far as I can tell. They peed on the blanket and carpet I had placed in front of their hiding spot and didn't use the litter box. I have left them alone, besides reading quietly in the same room for a few hours today.

I knew they were shy cats when adopting them from the shelter. I am mostly concerned that they will dehydrate and become sick if they don't eat or drink soon. I went to the store an hour ago to get the Feliway diffuser, so we'll see if that helps.

I'm reluctant to take them to a vet because I feel like it will just traumatize them more. Is there anything else I should be doing to encourage them to eat and drink?

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First of all, you need to be patient. They will not forget their trauma over-night.

Some things you can try - while not adding to their stress / trauma.

  • interact with them closer; they are shy, try to make contact with them, or at least go closer to them and speak to them directly;
  • doing things in the same room with them (you already go there and read) is a good thing, they learn they can trust you;
  • try to feed them from your hand; test several types of food (if you have), to help them come out of their fear;
  • try to pet / caress them gently; even if they will be afraid, they will learn that you will not hurt them.

Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do at this stage about not using the litter box. You can start training them as soon as they let the fear away.

Except, you may want to install a big plastic sheet under the entire area where the cats are. In that way, their excretions will not damage the floor.


It is very likely that they are already accustomed to hunger, so if they did not eat in a few hours (even 30), it might not be a very bad thing.

However, if nothing changes "soon", you should take them to a vet, at least to have some glucose fed into their veins.

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  • All great advice. I'd try feeding from a spoon before hands, though. – StephenS Sep 26 '19 at 18:04
  • The spoon is a good intermediate step :) – virolino Oct 10 '19 at 5:09

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