Our Cat Keeps Hiding!

by James
(Cardiff, UK)

We very recently (start of this week) accquired a new cat. She is a rescue cat and she is very used to being indoors (my girlfriend and I live in a small flat), but our cat hides in very small, dark places whenever she can, when we leave her alone.

Her behaviour is also a bit strange, she likes very much to be petted (when we can coax her out), but she twitches her tail sharply from side to side, which I thought was a sign she is annoyed or anxious. She also eats and drinks very little (which is our major concern), the only time she eats is when we are around and playing with her, and we have hardly seen her drink at all.

She also normally makes no sound at all, not even purring. She seems very interested/scared by any sort of noise, and she doesn't like us leaving her alone, and makes this soft growling noise, but not in an aggressive way. We thought of maybe getting a pheromone diffuser or collar, if you think this would help?

Mainly, her behaviour isn't a problem, we realise that she is just adjusting to new surroundings, but we would be happier leaving her on her own if she was more relaxed and would eat/drink without us there.

Thanks very much.

Reply from Liz (Editor): You are spot on, I'm sure these cat problems are due to her adjusting to her new home, but I also realize they can be worrying and that you want to be sure she's OK.

To answer your questions specifically:

I'm pretty sure she's hiding when you're out because she's still unsure of her new environment and feels insecure when you're not there. The fact that she's coming out when you coax her is a really good sign, it shows she trusts you. I'm absolutely sure this hiding will stop when she's really settle in. Likewise, I think the jumping at noises will also stop.

Cats do swish their tails when they're annoyed, but this tends to be a real thrashing movement. They'll swish their tails to a lesser extent when they're just alert and interested in what's going on, and I suspect that's what's happening here. This link gives you some more information on interpreting cat body language.

I'd bet that her lack of appetite is also due to her nervousness at the moment too. I'm assuming you got her from an animal shelter, in which case her health should have been checked over pretty thoroughly there. If she was ill, she'd be reluctant to eat at all, so the fact she's eating with you again suggests she feels better and more settled when you're there.

You don't say what you're feeding her, but if it's canned cat food and fresh meat / fish, she won't need to drink very much at all - she'll get the majority of her water from the water in the food. Cats fed purely on dry food will drink more than those fed on canned food or a mixture of canned and dry.

Her lack of purring may be due to nervousness, or it may be just her. Some cats purr very little, even when they're ecstatically happy, and she just may be one of them. The growling you describe may just be a funny, quirky noise she makes. It will either subside or stop as she settles in or she'll carry on doing it if it comes naturally to her! As she's not showing any aggression with it, I don't think it's anything to be too concerned over.

A plug-in pheromone diffuser may help her to settle more quikly. Or, as a cheaper alternative, you could try sprinkling some catnip around, which can also help to relax some cats.

I'm sure these cat problems will sort themselves out over time. I do appreciate it's worrying and you want her to be settled and happy, but I'm sure she will be very soon. She sounds quite a little character!

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