How long before a new cat comes out of hiding?

  • I adopted a two year old Maine Coon. She has been hiding for almost 3 weeks and will only come out when I am sleeping. When she sees me she runs and hides again. What can I do to get her to feel safe around me?

  • Hi there Bonnie, I am Linda, a small animal vet.


    I'm sorry you've been having this issue with your newly adopted cat. This sort of thing is very common, especially in cats who have perhaps had an inconsistent start to life or spent time in a rescue.


    The fact she does come out when you're sleeping is a relaly good sign; many nervous cats won't even do this. It suggests she is most nervous of you (not unsurprising as she has yet to get to know you) but is becoming confident in the home. This is a great start.


    I'd invest in a plug-in adaptor called 'Feliway' which can be plugged in the wall and will release 'Happy cat pheromones' to encourage calm feelings.

    I'd also consider giving her a few weeks of calming supplements in her food to take the edge off. These are safe, all natural products that can really help. Examples of brands include Zylkene and Nutracalm, though there are lots out there.


    Try to tempt her by playing with fun toys (laser pointers, wind up mice, string) near her but do not look at her or approach her; let her come to you when she feels confident enough.

    So, you basically play by yourself while she is near. Do not look directly at her or try to get her to play. The hope is that she will choose to join in on her own term. It may take a few days or weeks before she does join in. There is no rush here.


    Some cats are very food orientated so it can be worth 'bribing' her when you come in the room by putting down something she really likes, like a piece of cooked chicken or some Dreamies. This way, she associates you with good things happening.


    As much as possible, keep her environment calm and predictable. Try to avoid being too loud or making unpredidtable movements. Where possible, keep the same routine each day (with regards things like feeding time and when we clean the litter tray).


    Do ensure she has her own space where only she can go and she would not be distrubed there. This is really important; a sanctuary where she can have alone time.


    Hopefully it won't be long before she is settled in and your bond starts to grow.

  • Th+is is great info. I have adopted a 3 y.o. male .he was in the MCSO MASH  for exactly one year to the day that he became my FUREVER BOY.

     He is hiding  under my bed ,i haven't acknowledge him for a full week now. He does love to eat and drink. I don't know where he goes potty.

    You have answered ALL my ??

  • @Bonnie Keddy I just adopted a 1yo male maine coon mix two weeks ago. Similar to your description, he hides under the couch most of the day. At night, he comes out and plays with his toys, but if I roll over in bed to steal a peek at him, he runs back to his hiding spot. I know your post is from a while ago so I wanted to check in and see how things progressed with your girl. 


    I've read some articles that say not to approach a shy cat when they are hiding and to let them come to you. My worry is that he's so shy he will never come to me to initiate an interaction. I have been approaching him (treats in hand) in his hiding spot. I lay down on the floor and reach under the couch towards him. At this point, he doesn't back away and sometimes even creeps closer when he sees me k

    now that he knows I have treats. He's comfortable eating out of my hand under the couch. I can pet him and he'll start purring and making biscuits under there too. However, when he's out in the open crossing the apartment from under the couch in the living room to his litter box and food in the closet, it's a completely different scenario. He's in a crouched position rushing from one safe place to another. I got a feliway diffuser the day after I brought him home and noticed a big difference within a few hours of plugging it in. I started putting zylkene in his food the past few days but haven't noticed any improvement. Since he seems comfortable with me when he's in his safe place, I wonder if there is anything else I can do to make him feel more comfortable being out in the open when I'm around. He seems comfortable out in the open at night as long as I don't look at him - I can hear him playing with his toys though!  :) 

    Anyone have any advice? Do I just need to be patient with him and he'll come around...? 

  • Hey @Annie and thanks for your query.


    It sounds like your cat is coming out of their shell and making some steps in the right direction, which is great.

    He likely has more confidence when in his hiding spot, so can tolerate being petted, especially in exchange for treats.

    It makes sense he feels more exposed and vulnerable once out of his hiding spot.

    It sounds like he is still on 'high alert' mode.


    Zylkene can take a while to work up to effective levels, so do keep going.

    A plug in like Feliway is also advised.


    I think. the best thing here will be time. It sounds like he is testing the waters and growing in confidence, so we need to ensure each time he leaves his hiding spot that we can confirm to him that it is not a scary thing.

    We should keep a quiet and calm environment, and ensure things that happen at home are predictable. We don't want to suddenly hoover or turn the blender on when he comes out, as this could lead to a real setback!


    As he is playful with toys, we definitely want to encourage this. Any interactive toys are worth trialling e.g. laser pointers that you let him follow, rods with feathers for him to chase etc.


    I suspect in the next few weeks you'll notice a real improvement.

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