How to unspook my cat about a whole part of my (new) apartment
February 27, 2023 7:11 PM   Subscribe

I moved to a new apartment. My cat was nervous, and then ok with it, and then went at least partly back to being nervous. I'm confused about what's going on and want to change it.

So, we moved, me and one of the cats. I'm glad that part is over. When we got here, she was, as you'd expect, a little freaked. She spent the first two days mostly in a closet upstairs or on top of a tall dresser where she could look down, in the same room. That room was filled with boxes. The rest of the house was in better order by the time she got here. (Long story.)

She seemed to calm down. I was sleeping downstairs on my couch because my mattress had not arrived (not long story: if you're ordering anything from Ikea, do it at a store, not online) and she would come down and sleep on top of me.

Mattress gets here and, with great relief I start sleeping on it, in my bedroom which is upstairs, first on the floor and then on a frame. She sleeps beside me for a week, which she always has in the past, which is something that makes my life better.

The room she was hiding in at first got cleaned up a lot, things unpacked. It actually doesn't feel homey to me, a non-cat, in there right now; it has a bookcase and a dresser and a couple of boxes and not much less. Her litter box is in there but got moved around some as she had an atypical pissing-on-furniture incident in the first day or two when she wasn't too sure about her new litter box, and I was trying to put it somewhere very obvious.

Last few days: she'll come up the stairs if I shake the treat bag. I feed her canned food in the evening upstairs. But she slow-walks around, goes back downstairs quickly, doesn't come upstairs much and doesn't respond to being called upstairs. This is a cat who likes to be around me most of the time.

So she sleeps on the couch downstairs and I sleep upstairs and I'm sad about it. I can carry her upstairs and she won't protest but all her life she enthusiastically jumped into bed and now she doesn't. Any ideas?

One preemptive request: no Feliway. That stuff is water as far as I can tell.
posted by less-of-course to Pets & Animals (7 answers total)
How long has it been? If it's only been a couple weeks your cat may simply need more time.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:22 PM on February 27, 2023 [2 favorites]

Could be something as simple as she discovered the sofa smells more like you than the mattress. I would give her time to work it out. I know you miss her but let her be where she's most comfortable and she'll eventually come around to being comfortable all over.
posted by oneirodynia at 7:42 PM on February 27, 2023 [5 favorites]

One of my dogs hid in the bathroom for most of a couple weeks in a new apartment, and then once in a while, and now very rarely. He is back to hogging the middle of the bed most nights.
posted by Glinn at 8:24 PM on February 27, 2023

One preemptive request: no Feliway. That stuff is water as far as I can tell.

I'm not sure why you'd say that - maybe it hasn't worked for your cat before - but Feliway and its ilk are emphatically not homeopathy. There has been a lot of good science on the use of Feliway and artificial cat pheromones in general and it's pretty clear they have a measurable impact on cat behaviour. Your situation is basically what these products are made for. So if Feliway hasn't worked in the past, I'd still suggest trying something like Comfort Zone.
posted by ZaphodB at 12:32 AM on February 28, 2023 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for most of these. I'll try to be more patient. It's just weird that for a couple of nights she did sleep up here and now she sometimes meows for me at the bottom of the stairs in the middle of the night. Slightly discouraging data point: in the old place, we put a new (used) sofa in one room and she effectively never spent time in there again, like for years.

ZaphodB: Hey, maybe just respect my request and my frustration with something that has never been even slightly helpful to me and is always suggested?
posted by less-of-course at 1:24 AM on February 28, 2023

Long shot, but is it possible that it's warmer on the couch overnight? Mine generally sleep with me upstairs but sometimes they choose to stay down on the couch which is just beside the radiators and I'm pretty sure it's temperature related. Could try making the bedroom warmer or offering a heated pad up there and see if it influences her choices.
posted by Rhedyn at 2:02 AM on February 28, 2023

Is it by any chance colder upstairs?

If the cat's imprinted on you, be ready to dedicate something with your scent on it (robe? blanket?) to get her to stay upstairs.

Also, to borrow Jackson Galaxy talk... is your cat a ground dweller, or a tree dweller? Is there something for him to do upstairs? Do you want to give him a perch by your window to watch over the neighborhood?
posted by kschang at 4:10 AM on February 28, 2023

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