Cat hiding under the bed and scared of everything

by Jane

Finn, our elderly Norwegian Forest Cat, is 17 years old, and has always been a bit odd and skittish, even though my cat has been treated with love all her life. I only I got her as a kitten because the breeder said she wouldn't be able to show her because she didn't like being picked up, and that sort of independent trait has stayed with my kitty all these years. Everything has to be on her terms.

Last week we made the foolish decision to change our old bed for a new one, and now my cat is freaking out and has spent a week under the new bed, in her old spot, emerging only when tempted out with food, then running back in again. We've tried making her cat food not available: she just sits there and waits till we crack. My cat hasn't let either of us touch her all this time, appears terrified of everything, and it's heartbreaking. I've tried treats, Feliway, ignoring her, talking quietly to her, and everything I can think of. Is she ever going to come around?

Dear Jane,

There are two different ways to approach this situation with your cat, and it really comes down to a matter of your own preference. Ultimately, I believe your cat will come around again.

As the first option, I would suggest that you simply give your kitty some time to come back around. The more you fuss over your cat by checking on her constantly and treating her in ways you normally would not. By acting abnormally toward her, you are encouraging her abnormal cat behavior. If you chose to do this, I would recommend moving her cat food and litter box into the same room as the bed, to help her feel more comfortable. But otherwise, I would suggest just leaving her alone to venture out as she pleases.

Your other option would be to block your cat's access to beneath the bed, either by blocking underneath the bed or by closing the door to the bedroom. This would force your cat to interact with you again, however, would not resolve your cat's discomfort with her new surroundings.

I believe that your cat simply needs time to adjust, and eventually will come around again.

Best wishes,
Dr. Neely

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