We have a 2+ year old male, neutered cat, name George, that we recently picked from a local shelter.
George was dropped off at the shelter at about 4 months old, and has been there ever since.
He now lives in a spare bedroom/office, behind a closed door. We have had him just over 3 weeks.
We have no children, but two other cats, Bella and Gracie (both spayed girls), but they have not been introduced formally. Gracie occasionally likes to hang outside of the room at the door.
He is a very shy cat. He spends pretty much all of his time in the corner under a small couch in the room. When we first brought him home, he did not eat for 4 days, but now he eats and drinks regularly. When he finally ate, he had a pretty robust play day. The food was eaten, toys were scattered, mouse eyes yanked off.
My wife has been working with him underneath the sofa. Gently approaching him, talking to him sweetly, trying to play with him with a feather wand. She spends several hours a day doing this. This space is her work from home office, but she moved out for over 2 weeks.
The cat has been relaxing, sleeping, exposing his tummy to her, bathing. She’s petting him with the wand. Touching his feet, tummy, body, etc. At one point, he almost poked his head out from under the couch. Beyond touching his tail, she has not been able to touch the cat with her hand. Mostly he’s just too far away.
He’s not an aggressive cat, he hissed at her once or twice early on, but otherwise has been quiet.
We have Feliway, both the thing you plug in to the room, and some spray that we put on toys and stuffed animals. We have a stuffed animal with a “heartbeat”. All these we hope to sooth the kitty.
We thought we were making good progress, but on Saturday we had a scheduled appointment to take him to the Vet for a wellness exam and to get microchipped.
This did not go well, he got upset and lashed out when we tried to get hands on him to get him the carrier (he eventually went in the carrier himself). At the vet while the initial exam went well (the doctor said he was sweet and gentle), when they went back to chip him they decided to weigh him on a scale. The scale was in a corner, and he lashed out again, eventually going back in to the carrier with a little gentle nudging. The doctor does not consider him aggressive, just the corner and handling spooked him.
Since then, he has not returned to his more relaxed self. He’s less interested in my wife, less interested in what little play attention he was giving her in the first place. He’s not relaxing, and stretching out, and sleeping with her there. Rather, he’s grooming himself. We don’t know if this is him just grooming himself or as a sign of stress.
We are now adding Rescue Remedy For Pets to his water.
We are at a loss as to what to do next in order to gain confidence. We have a camera in the room so as to watch him remotely. He moves about at night, mostly he seems to go in and out of the litter box. He’s explored the room thoroughly, he got on the window sill, etc. But his movements are quite cautious, he’s certainly not uninhibited. His tail is not up and he is not displaying confidence in owning this space.
The doctor suggest we just introduce the cats, so that the other cats can teach him about the safety of this place, and us, and our home. We don’t know if that’s a good idea or not. We certainly don’t want to traumatize him any more, he’s a timid cat. Our two cats get along great, but Bella, the older one (10, Gracie is 6) has alpha tendencies. They don’t fight, but they wrestle and chase occasionally. Gracie is the one that hangs out by the door. She is skittish in her own way. She has a lizard toy she likes to drag around the house, and more than once that toy has landed in front of George’s door. Coincidence or offering, who knows.
We don’t know what to do next. We don’t know how long to wait. So, we’re looking for advice about steps to take and expectations so that we can get him out of the corner, out of the room, and engaging with the rest of the family.