New member-help with cat family please! - Cat Forum : Cat Discussion Forums
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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old 01-11-2007, 03:24 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2007
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New member-help with cat family please!

We have had cats in the house for well over 20 years. When our last beloved cat died in March, we decided to adopt two rescue kittens. To cut a long story short, we chose the kittens when they were just 3 weeks old but they quite rightly remained with their mother at the Rescue Centre until they were 11 weeks old (we would have taken them at 9 weeks but we were abroad) We subsequently decided to take the Mother cat, as older cats are sometime diifficult to rehome. Shortly after we had made the decision, someone gave backword on the last kitten so we ended up with that one too! (4 cats!!!)
However, we were actually really pleased and did absolutely everything to settle them in. We had spent weeks preparing for their arrrival by reading recommended books, preparing a room for them etc etc. We genuinely couldn't have done more. We have a quiet household with older children and plently of room. Despite trying everything, the cats treat us with, at best, indifference. They have different personalities, but despite trying to spend time with them, they are mostly very timid and will run away when we walk past. They "tolerate" being petted-sometimes. They would never approach us to be petted though-it is always the other way round.
After hoping for cats that would integrate into the family as our former cats did, we have a cat "family" who, by choice, would live completely seperate lives from us. They are not aggresive though but hate being handled.
The kittens were rescued along with their mother from a cellar shortly after birth so have never been in an abusive situation. Their behaviour is not, therefore as a result of past memories. The mother is slightly more sociable than the kittens but still not to any great extent.
I have wondered if they are like this because they were adopted in a group and are therefore a "pack". What I am really wanting advice on is what, if anything, I can do now or are we destined to this behavior for the next 20 years?
Sorry for the length of my first post, but I am at my wits end not knowing if there is any further action I can take . We got the cats in August and they are now about 7 and a half month old.
Any advice would be most gratefully received.
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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old 01-11-2007, 03:33 PM
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I would just keep working on them.
It sound as if the mother didn't have a very human social life living in a basement. The kittens wouldn't have had as much human contact being brought up in a shelter as they would have in a home. Have you tried playing with them with toys? Giving them treats etc? Sometimes just sit near them/in the same room but don't go to pick them up. If you are picking them up everytime you see them to try and make them more friendly with you then every time they see you they will run - they don't like being picked up and everytime they see you they get picked up. It will be there natual reaction to get away from you.
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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old 01-11-2007, 03:38 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the reply.
We regularly try to play with them and often spend time in the same room (in fact they do sometimes sleep in our bedroom during the night). I have also tried handfeeding which they will accept to a certain extent, but run away once they have "dared" grab the food! We also try to talk gently and soothingly to them without trying to stroke them.....
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post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old 01-11-2007, 03:39 PM
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firstly, congratulations on the adoptions. You have a big heart to accept 4 kitties at once.

Now, to be honest you haven't really had them THAT long, and it does take some cats much longer to feel at home. As Zalensia said, I would try to spend time *near* them without actually picking them up. They might play with you if you have a toy (mine love the 'feather on a stick') and grow to be more comfortable around you.

Don't push them too fast, because that will more likely scare them than anything. Don't "force" them to be held. I found that with some of my feral cat rescues, they were actually afraid of feet (usually from being kicked at ) - if I crawled over to them on my belly (then graduated to hands and knees) they allowed me to approach them.

Shoot, I've done some really silly looking things to befriend scared cats, from laying down on the ground next to the street with my arm extended to encourage the cat to come to me, to rolling on my back in an effort to convince them that I was not hostile. I mew at the cats, and I talk to them all the time. People look at me like I am insane, but I find that it usually works with the cats.

Make sure that they associate being with you with good feelings. It can take time and definitely takes patience, but it really can be done... and winning over a difficult cat is definitely a reward in itself!

Best wishes!

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post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old 01-11-2007, 04:04 PM
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For what it's worth, cat personalities definitely evolve over time. The fact that you have standoffish kitties now doesn't mean that you won't have lapcats this time next year.

We adopted a young adult cat from the shelter thinking she was an affectionate people-cat, but it turned out she was just in heat. Once that passed, and then after the spay, she wanted nothing to do with us. She would swipe and hiss if we tried to touch her or play with her. It was distressing, for sure. That was three years ago, though, and over time, she became more trusting, more interested in us, and in the last six months or so, downright affectionate. She sleeps at my shoulder every night, and drapes herself over my arm as I sit at the computer. We still can't touch her belly or pick her up, but we've come such a long way that I'm going to qualify it a success.

So hang in there! Let the kitties come to you, but do every manipulative thing you can think of to encourage the trend. If you tend to spend your evenings on the couch, under a throw blanket, perhaps, dab a little feliway on the blanket. You're already comfy and warm, and with feliway, you'll smell comforting too. It'll be that much harder for the kitties to resist you! If you've got room in your house to run around, try dragging a ribbon behind you. I think a game of chase, more than the feather teaser, is a good way to make the cat associate "person" with "natural cat entertainment".
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