Calm, gentleness and patience is the way to get over this problem. The title was taken from Catster. I’d like to give my answer. The cat in question is 2 years old. The previous owner cared for this cat since she was a four-week-old kitten. The previous owner gave up her cat because she was moving away.
I think the history of this cat indicates that she is a reasonably domesticated cat that gets along with people in the home because it seems she got on fine with her previous owner and the reason for the previous owner giving up her cat was because she was moving away (which, incidentally, is not a good reason but the reason is not associated with behavioral problems).
If, therefore, this 2-year-old cat is hiding all the time and sneaking out from under a bed to grab some food and use the litter tray before returning to a hiding place again then it must be because she is fearful of the new place. This is entirely normal.
Five weeks is quite a long time for a cat to be frightened of a new home to the point where she hides all the time but in my opinion it is not that exceptional. Cats are extremely sensitive to changes in routine, even small changes like moving the furniture around or pulling down hard wood flooring instead of carpeting. Moving home is about the most drastic change in a cat’s environment as can be achieved. It takes away the cat’s territory or home range. Cats have a natural, hardwired desire to have their own territory and it can take quite a long time for a domestic cat to create that territory in a new place which is not of her choosing.
My personal experiences are that it can certainly take a few weeks for a cat to shed some of the fearfulness of a new place and come out from hiding to start exploring. My Charlie hid under my desk for about a week and came out for food. I fed him close to the desk. And then after about 10 days he started to explore the apartment and we built up from there.
When I moved to my new apartment, it took about 6 months before he wanted to go outside and now he asks me to let him out all the time but until then he showed no interest at all to go outside.
Each cat will respond differently to being relocated to a new home. Some cats are obviously more timid than others and the timid cat will obviously hide due to heightened fearfulness longer than a more confident cat domestic cat. I would suggest that it can take 6 months for a cat to become completely settled in a new place, in which case an initial 5 weeks of anxiety and hiding is not exceptional.
The way I see it, the best thing to do is to make sure that the home is quiet and calm and that the new cat does not have to put up with any surprises or unwelcome noises, to which you add warmth and excellent food.
One of the keys is to find out what food a new cat prefers and make sure he or she gets it including some treats which will certainly get him to come out from under a bed or a desk. Food is one of the great motivators for a cat and therefore when used judiciously in conjunction with an excellent environment will allow a cat to settle in as quickly as possible but as I stated patience and acceptance of a new cat’s personality and wishes will lead to success.
Some cats are also more socialised than others. This is also a factor but it can be overcome in time.