We got our 3-year-old female cat from the pound almost
two years ago. She had given birth to three kittens ó
they were weaned. At our house, she acted like a normal
cat ó running around the house, playing with toys,
within a year or so, she started finding secluded places
in the house or cellar and staying in them for a week or
so, coming out only to eat and drink. She may go
outside, but only for a little while. Since she became a
hermit, she doesnít use the kitty litter ó a bath
tub or tile floor or a laundry tub will suffice. She
never did like to be held or sit on our laps. All we
want is for her to behave like a cat. What do you
First of all, kudos for adopting a cat from the pound!
This sounds like a unique situation, and it raises a lot
of questions. When cats become withdrawn, there are many
factors that could be at the root of the cause.
first thing that you should rule out is a medical
problem. A thorough physical exam and history would be a
great first step.
are masters at hiding the fact that they are sick, many
times a change in behavior is the only clue they give.
The amount of time you describe that she spends hiding,
coupled with the idea that she isnít using her litter
box are red flags that something could be physically
medical issues are ruled out, Iíd move on to
environmental causes for her hiding behavior. Cats are
creatures of habit, and some are very sensitive to
changes in their home life. Did any new people or
animals move in around the time she began to hide? For
some cats, even moving the furniture around can be
enough to send them into a panic. Cats are also very
sensitive to noises that we often tune out. For
instance, Iíve known cats who stop using their litter
box if it is too close to the washing machine because of
the surprising noises that it creates. Try to look
through your catís eyes and see if there is anything
that she could perceive as a threat in your home.
help her abandon her hermit lifestyle, Iíd also work
slowly at gaining her trust. Since sheís a cat that
doesnít like to be held, Iíd start with toys that
donít require you to touch her. Interactive toys, like
a feather on a fishing pole style, are great for getting
shy cats to come out of their shells. Food can also be a
powerful tool. Offering tiny bits of special treats
during play and social time will help the cat associate
you with good things.
most important thing to keep in mind is to let her come
to you. Avoid the temptation to pet her or pick her up
ó let her come and rub on you first.
hope this helps. Best of luck to you and your kitty.
veterinarian Meg Geldhof, medical director of One of a
Kind Pet Rescue