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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 06-24-2009, 07:28 PM Thread Starter
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18 year old cat owner would appreciate any sort of advice!

Hello, I am an 18 year old student seeking advice on my newly adopted female cat. Ever since I was born, me and my family have never even gone as far as considering having a pet to take care of until recently. Earlier this in January we (me and my family) moved household into a new area, from day one of moving into our new home we discovered a stray cat who would spend at least 80% of the day in our garden area. My mum being a kind and sympathetic woman felt sorry for the cat, so she started feeding it and inevitably the cat just couldn't stay away from us! After a family decision we all agreed we fell in love with her so we decided we were all happy to adopt the cat and start keeping her in the household with us! We've been in our new home for approximately half a year now with the cat being in our household company for at least 5 months. Since then she has been vaccinated and neutured.

There is no downside, myself and the family love her and enjoy her presence within the home. It's a new and everlasting experience for all of us, however I was looking for some advice and I was hoping this would be the place to get it! Firstly, I do understand that she's a fully grown stray and that meaning she's not as affectionate and loving as the usual cat. It took us weeks for us to finally be able to even make physical contact with her. The minor problem (if a problem) starts here, recently she has been spending all of her time away from the garden and the household. In the past few days I've been letting her out in the morning and she'd seem to disappear until as late as 1AM at night. Then finally when she comes inside, it only takes 5 minutes for her to run up to the door and start scratching (literally) to go out. I'm just slightly concerned here as she's made it quite clear that she just doesn't want to be in the home anymore. I don't know if this has any relation to it but in the living room we bought a new beanbag, if she walks into the living rooms she tends to spend a lot of her time sniffing its scent, then having a very cautious posture. We do not have a cat flap yet so she usually comes inside and outside of the house whenever we see she wants to leave/come in so we open the door for her. But we do keep her in at night, she's usually happy to be kept in.

Just to let you know, she's a beautiful black shorthair who really does enjoy her love when she's in the mood. We named her Ophelia as you can also see in my forum username haha! I really do love her and I can tell she really does love me and my family despite her being a nervous and shy thing 90% of the time. As most of you cat lovers would understand, it really does break your heart to see your cat unhappy but it's also heartbreaking to have a cat that's never there beside you. I'd rather see my cat happy so once I see she wants to be outside and not inside, I let her out.

Oh and just a little piccy, this is Ophelia:



Thanks for reading and thanks in advance for any help I may receive, I'll definitely stick around and contribute to this great community and in the near future when I've broadened my knowledge of cats and their behavour, I will for sure help the others here.
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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 06-24-2009, 10:50 PM
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Re: 18 year old cat owner would appreciate any sort of advice!

Sorry for being useless in this thread but I'm In a hurry to go somewhere and won't answer anything, at least right now. I just wanted to say that she looks like an awesome cat! Black cats are like miniature black panthers!
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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 06-25-2009, 01:18 AM
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Re: 18 year old cat owner would appreciate any sort of advice!

Hi, Ophelia is beautiful.

I think she is still adjusting to being a cat that belongs to a family. It sometimes takes a
long time to socialize these cats, but the rewards are worth it. I think, if you keep working
with her, she will eventually learn to *enjoy* being indoors AND interacting with her people.
You can help this along by teaching her that "good things" happen when she is near people:
food-treats, petting and scrubbling, and lap snuggling. If she isn't that keen on being in
your lap, I sort of "force" them.

*I tame and socialize feral and poorly-socialized cats/kittens for adoption. I have a program
I call "Kitty Cat Boot Camp". It is basically a very intense handling program that I work the
cats through constantly. There are definite stages that I work through, and I begin with very
short, but numerous, handling sessions every day and keep pushing for progress and more and
more handling. I wear down their resistance and work very hard to show them only positive
things, so they can learn/understand that it is all good and nothing bad happens...and when
they finally learn to relax around me a little bit, they then can realize these things I do to them
...are actually pretty nice and they may even really *like* them and want to come to me to
seek them out.

To begin with handling and cuddling, once the cat will allow me to pet them I will place them on
my lap. I may use a hand on their chest to hold them there, or a gentle scruff hold to restrain
them if the hand won't keep them there. I speak gently to them, I do not look at them if they
are fearful. If they aren't fearful, I will smile with lips closed and slowly blink my eyes at them
while murmuring or sounding low/slow "Ummmm-hmmmms" to them. With my free hand, I gently
rub their head, cheeks, neck and shoulders. When they no longer have to be 'held' on my lap,
I'll pet all the way down their back. If they are nervous and tense for the beginning of these
handling sessions, I will only handle them for about 5-10 seconds and then I deliberately set
them away from me and DO NOT look at them.
I want them to realize I won't hold them forever.
I will set them away from me, so they don't need to 'escape' and run from me.
I will not watch them like a predator and make them feel uncomfortable.

My overall goal: this is no big deal.

As the cat becomes more comfortable with receiving treats, interacting with play toys and being
handled, I slowly begin to handle them more and more. Pushing the boundaries of what *they*
deemed acceptable, until the new amounts of handling become acceptable. I slowly try to broaden
what they consider acceptable by helping them to learn to become comfortable and accept this
handling as part of their lives.
Best of luck with Ophelia...
heidi =^..^=



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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 07-05-2009, 08:21 PM Thread Starter
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Re: 18 year old cat owner would appreciate any sort of advice!

Sorry, I have been away for the past week and a half. I went on holiday with a few freinds from college to Malia. It was great and I have a lovely tan! But yes, now I'm back in rainy old.. Wait.. Sunny England!

Now back on topic, thank you for your kind words Hpi, yeah, she really is a beautiful cat.

Heidi n Q, that's very interesting that. I shall take some of that advice on board. However after coming home last night and speaking to my parents it still seems she just doesn't want to be in the home whatsoever. She usually tends to spend her time in the garden. I'll have to try and use some of your techniques to see if it works to any effect. Thank you.
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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 07-05-2009, 09:21 PM
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Re: 18 year old cat owner would appreciate any sort of advice!

There was a cat which was circling the neighborhood my sister moved into. I trapped him and
had him nuetered and shots and released him. He would come back and lay on the outside of
the screened in porch to be with the indoor cats. Eventually my sister let him in. Would feed him
and when he wanted to go out shed let him. She eventually made it longer and longer to let him out.

He found it was a safe, warm, place inside. You get food, warm beds, company of other cats. Of coarse he
came home injured. Then he became my cat again! Major vet bills and surgery with indoor
recovery and meds. He is well. He now stays in 95% of the time. There are times my sister refuses
to let him out. Which me complains but eventually accepts it.

You just need time to work with this beautiful kitty. Entice him with food, love, attention and playing to let him know
your home indoors is a great thing.
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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 07-08-2009, 07:49 PM
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Re: 18 year old cat owner would appreciate any sort of advice!

OPH,the best thing I can tell you, is, let a cat be a cat. You've got the love and nurture part down pat. But,with a cat you need to know when to let go. If she'd rather perch on the windowsill than snuggle,let her perch. If she turns up her nose at the treat you thought she'd really appreciate,concede. (She'll probably eat it later,anyway! ) Cats wnat -NEED affection. But you can't FORCE it on them.
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