Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:
My name is Evita, and I am a beautiful tortoiseshell kitty. My human recently moved me and my brother/father, Bruce, from Georgia to Utah. According to mom, we had to move; we were about to be homeless (whatever that means). Our new place is, according to my mother, is a studio apartment. There are two other humans and one other kitty. There are also *hiss* two dogs. I have been so frightened that I will not come out from under the bed except to use the bathroom (sometimes not even then). My human has been good about keeping water and food for me under the bed, but until recently the dogs kept eating it. My human thinks she has fixed the problem, but I’m so scared. I’ll come out in the middle of the night sometimes if I hear her voice and she’s in the bathroom. Is it okay for me to stay under the bed (I’ve been doing this for 3 weeks), or should me and my mother arrange something else? Mother is losing hair over this and I’m scratching myself very hard. Please help!
Many sniffs and catnip treats,
Siouxsie: Wow, Evita, you and your family have been through a lot of trauma and transitions lately, so it’s no wonder you’re freaking out! Even if you didn’t have to live in a studio apartment with three people, two dogs and another cat, the move alone would be stressful enough!
Thomas: But you have to understand that it’s not your human’s fault. Sometimes bad things happen to people that make them unable to get the green papers they need to pay for housing and food and stuff, and your human’s lucky your family had a place to land.
Kissy: That said, we really do think it would be a good idea for the people in your life to help you to overcome your fear of your new surroundings. Some of the things we’re going to recommend will cost money, but most of them can be done without much effort or expense.
Siouxsie: So we hope your human family will do what they can and not feel guilty if they can’t do everything we recommend.
Thomas: That said, we think that if your people can manage it, they should get a Feliway diffuser. It’s a synthetic feline pheromone that helps stress-related behavior. I’ll probably help both you and the the resident cat deal with the stress of a new feline roommate.
Kissy: Then the humans should get together and try to arrange time for the dogs to be out for a while and let you get used to the apartment. If your person can lure you out from under the bed with an interactive toy and give you some opportunity to play while the dogs are away, you’ll start feeling more confident.
Siouxsie: If the humans can arrange for you to have some high places to hang out, where you can be safe from the dogs without hiding under the bed, that would be great too. They can do this by getting you a large cat tree or by clearing off spaces on bureaus or bookshelves.
Thomas: Of course, they’ll probably have to coax you out from under the bed to show you those places, and I hope you’ll come out for a visit.
Kissy: If your people are handy, they could install shelves on the walls in a stair-like way so that you can have places to walk around, out of reach of the dogs. Here’s some information about DIY cat shelf projects.
Siouxsie: You should also keep in mind that everybody in your new place is stressed right now. Mama says people get stressed when there are too many humans in small places too, and studio apartments are pretty small. But it’s not just the space thing, either: finances are probably causing tension, and maybe your human is looking for a job — and so on and so on. And people can’t even purr themselves into relaxation!
Thomas: Naturally, as a cat you’re picking up on all the humans’ emotions as well as experiencing your own stress. It’ll help you a lot of the people in your home can find ways to relax and create some kind of “sphere of mellowness” around them.
Kissy: We’re sure this situation is temporary, Evita. Once your people are on their feet again, you’ll have your own home and your own space. Until then, we hope your people can lure you out and help you get the confidence to explore your environment.
Siouxsie: And that they can give you high-up places to enjoy the view.
Thomas: And that they can find healthy ways to relieve their own stress, because that’ll help you too.
Kissy: Purrs and love to all of you, and we hope you’re all blessed with a new and wonderful situation that works for everybody.