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Dr. Emily
Dr. Emily, Veterinarian
Category: Cat Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 945
Experience:  Associate veterinarian at a small animal clinic
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I have a cat that des behind the bed. She has done that now

Customer Question

I have a cat that hides behind the bed. She has done that now for at least 4 years. Is it too late to retrain her out of that habit.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Cat Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Emily replied 1 year ago.

My name is***** and I would like to assist with your question today. The answer to your question is really dependent on why she does that behavior. That is often an mystery with kitties. I would first try to start at the beginning. I see she is 11 but has only been doing this for 4 years. Was this when you acquired her? Or had you had her for longer and something changed in her routine 4 years ago? There is often a trigger that starts a behavior such as this if it hadn't happened for 7 years and then started 4 years ago. If she has always been anxious/scared, this is a very difficult thing to change after 4 years, especially if she is not making progress in your safe home environment after 4 years. Do you feel she is getting progressively worse as well? There is always the option to try an anti-anxiety medication, such as buspirone, to help the behavior aspect. Please let me know any additional information and further questions you have.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Dr. Emily, Here are more details. Princess was born and we adopted her in 2004. We adopted her to be friends with Her Majesty, who was 7 years old at the time. Maj tolerated Princess, but wasn't motherly. Princess was always skittish and did always run under the bed when people came to the house, or loud noises. Perhaps it was when Maj died in 2009 that Princess changed. I do remember one time that I tried to pick her up and she fought like heck and she has kept her distance since. She will sleep on the bed on my husband side and he can pet her. (I can pet her if she thinks it's his arm petting her.) For a while she never came out, except to eat and drink. She did here biz back there as well. That's changed she is out all evening. Well, 2 years ago, I thought maybe another cat would keep her company. Cha Cha was 5 when we adopted her. She is a Tonkanese that had several litters. She is the opposite of Princess -- outgoing and playful. It seems just to scare Princess. Cha Cha keeps wanting to go behind the bed. I stop her, but maybe I shouldn't. I pretty much have been keeping them separate. I can't pick up Princess (nor can my husband), so I can't shepherd her into different rooms to acclimate her. We've tried putting a screen door on the bedroom so they can see each other, but that hasn't worked. Princess just doesn't come out to eat until the nighttime when I lock Cha Cha in my office and give Princess the rest of the house. I don't know what to do. I'd be grateful for your ideas.
Expert:  Dr. Emily replied 1 year ago.

I apologize for the delay in getting back to you. I was away due to a death in the family. It sounds as though the struggles with Princess are multi-factorial. There are multiple things that can contribute to her behavior changes as it does sound that she has the personality to be more easily stressed. After all this time, without medication, I am afraid that Princess is not going to adjust to the other felines or even to people again. Medication may help but it is not a guarantee. I want to be as healthy and happy as she can be, but it may to be the situation that being a more solitary feline is what makes her happy.