New cat terrified of dogs. Won't leave bedroom.

Is she ever going to come out? I worry that she’ll be so afraid of the dogs that she’ll never leave the bedroom. Do I need to find a home for her without dogs? I worry she’ll never be happy here.

I acquired the cat on Sunday from my brother (so it hasn’t been that long). She’s currently hiding under the bed in my guest bedroom. She’ll run out from under the bed to grab a bite to eat, a drink of water, or to use the litter box. If I’m in the room with her, she’ll come out for some attention but will run right back under the bed the second I leave. This is actually an improvement over the first 24 hours when she wouldn’t even leave her crate unless I was in there (and even then she’d dash back at the slightest noise). I know she’s scared being in a new place. This fear is increased because she’s terrified of my two dogs.

I know she didn’t get along with my brother’s dogs, so her fear has a basis. However, my dogs won’t touch her. I had a cat when they both were puppies that was rather aloof towards them. As a result, the dogs think cats are the most boring animals on the planet. I’ve looked after friends’ cats and my dogs totally ignore them. If cats try to interact with them, they will oblige, but they don’t initiate contact. If a cat hisses at them, they run in terror. They’re rather wimpy dogs. However, I can’t explain to the cat that the dogs won’t bother her, and she could kick their asses if she wanted.

I’d really like to keep her, but I don’t want her life to be limited to my guest bedroom! My brother gave her to me because he is getting stationed overseas with his family (he’s a flight surgeon in the air force), and he couldn’t take both his dogs and the cat. His kids were very upset at leaving their cat, but they were comforted somewhat that she was staying in the family, they’d get to see her, and they know my animals are pampered.

So far, I’ve been going into the bedroom periodically to spend some time with her, but I don’t spend a lot of time in there. I feel like I should give her only enough that she doesn’t get too lonely but not so much she feels no need to leave the bedroom (her litter, food and water are in there). I’m hoping once she and I are a bit more bonded, she’ll try to come out and find me. I don’t want to remove the food or litter yet because she’s just so very terrified I’m afraid she won’t leave even for that.

However, I’m a bit afraid it’s a lost cause. She’s really terrified of dogs. Given that she’s had bad experiences with my brother’s dogs, I don’t know if she’ll get over that. From what I understand, she was never in the same room as my brother’s dogs (for good reason: they were mean to her). She’d go to a person in another room and leave as soon as a dog entered. I live by myself, so my dogs are pretty much always in the same room as I am.

I’m not an expert, but I’d give her a chance. Our cat had lived in a dog-free home until we got her. She spent the first week mostly under our bed. Then when she ventured out, she skirted the dog by a wide margin. Soon she figured out that our canine was little more than an animated throw rug.

Your cat may well relax, or she may not. But I’d say give her a chance to figure out her new world. Another change could be even more upsetting.

The length of time the cat has spent hiding so far is well within the range of “normal” cat behavior in a new place–without the dog issue. Give it a week, maybe two weeks, and if the cat still seems scared, and won’t leave bedroom, then find it a new home. I’d agree with your instincts to spend only a limited amount of time with the cat in the bedroom–you want the cat to get familiar with more of the house, if possible. Do keep the dogs out of the bedroom, the cat may be more willing to explore, and happier in general if there is a place it can go that the dogs don’t.