Rehomed stray very standoffish - long story... - Cat Forum : Cat Discussion Forums
 
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-29-2015, 02:51 PM Thread Starter
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Rehomed stray very standoffish - long story...

Hello,

I apologize up front for the long story. We are new to cat ownership as we have only had dogs for the most recent 17 years.

I recently took in a stray as a foster cat. My friend had "Baby" on her back porch for 4 months and then in the garage for another 2 months. Baby is spayed, has her first two rounds of shots and is disease free. She resembles a Maine Coon. I have attached photos.

When we brought her home, she wouldn't come out from under the bed for two weeks all the while crying during the night, we tore the bed down and tryed to block off under the bed. She has a great crate with toys and bedding galore. Nevertheless she found her way back under the bed and into the box spring for another two weeks, no crying this time. New to cats, we decided this might not be the best way to socialize her so we tore the bed down again, removed her from the box spring and made a permanent blockade with 2 x 4's. She cried for about three nights and seems to have adjusted to her bed/crate well. Baby is not locked in the crate.

She just is so afraid of humans. She ventures out of the crate when we are not home as we find her toys in our bed and around the bedroom. She uses the litter box and is eating and drinking normally. I want to introduce her to the rest of the household but obviously now is not the time.

Since it has been 6 weeks since we brought her home, can I ever expect her to want to be a "pet"? Wanting to be petted and not being fearful?

I am open to all suggestions and input.

Thanks,

Kathy
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-29-2015, 03:29 PM
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The only thing I can recommend is patience.
I have two cockatiels who were pre-owned by fairly unloving parents, I've had them for 5 months and only now are they taking food from my fingers. They still won't let me touch them and they are constantly cautious.
I can only assume this is the same in any other animal.

Do you let her out? Some cats find it hard to be inside after spending their lives outside. I suppose you're scared of her running away if you do this. Try getting a perch by a window so that she can sit on it and look out when she's feeling comfortable. Cats like being up high.

I would advise letting her come to you in her own time, have treats on hand to give her if she comes close, or leave them out around the house. Maybe try sitting next to her quietly and read a book, she might get used to your presence and gradually over time will realise you're not a threat. The problem is we're hardwired to be wary of things we haven't encountered since birth, and she may even have been abused at a young age. You may be in for a bit of a ride getting her on board but when you do it'll be really worth it!
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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-29-2015, 03:56 PM
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Wow, Baby is such a beautiful cat!

Some cats take a lot longer than most to adjust to new surroundings. I agree with Sarah, It is possible Baby was abused in the past, or just had bad experiences with humans. Patience, lots of patience, is needed with kitties like this to slowly gain their trust. But once you do, it is usually a very strong bond.

Some of the best ways to get a very scared cat used to humans is by just being near the cat. Sit by Baby and read a book, or talk softly for small periods at a time, and slowly increase the amount of time you stay. Show you aren't a threat. Give her treats to show you're a positive thing to be around. Don't push yourself on her at all... let her come to you in her own time. If you slowly but surely show her you aren't a threat, and then slowly show her how positive being around humans can be (treats, pets, etc), she should realize how great it is! There's really no estimated time, though... some cats just need awhile to trust again.

Is Baby just a foster, or are you planning on keeping her as a pet permanently? Or does it depend on how it all goes? I ask, because with cats like Baby, when they do bond to you it could be very hard for her to be put in a different home with all new people... it could possibly restart all of the progress you could build with her.

Also, I agree with Sarah again... getting Baby a tall cat tree and putting it beside a window would really get her confidence up! She could watch the birds and just look out. My cats spend their entire day looking out the window, and they adore it. Also, as Baby slowly but surely is integrated into the household, things like cat trees and other tall vertical spaces throughout the home are essential to keeping her confidence up. That way, she has escape routes and won't view everything as such a threat.

I'm not sure if you've ever watched Jackson Galaxy's show, My Cat From He** (forum blocks out the word, lol) but it is incredible. He is a cat behaviorist and I have pretty much learned all I know about cats from his show, and this forum. He has a lot of great advice for fearful cats like Baby, and in every one of his episodes the cat is tremendously helped by the end.
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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-29-2015, 04:06 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you for your reply. I will take your suggestions to heart. Baby has won my heart over even though she isn't reciprocating yet!
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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-29-2015, 04:07 PM Thread Starter
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Mandy and Ellie - thank you for your suggestions. Baby was a foster but we have decided she cannot go through this trauma again and we will be her forever home. I will get the cat tree for the window immediately!!!
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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-29-2015, 04:15 PM
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Kathy, that is so fantastic! Baby is so very lucky to have a home who cares so much for her. I know it seems daunting now, but with some dedication and patience I bet in a few months Baby will be a whole new cat with a renewed confidence. I bet she will love the cat tree! I got one of mine on Amazon and the other on eBay, both are very tall and were under $100, the eBay one being around $70. They have been worth every penny with how much my kitties have loved them!

Also, you are very welcome for the suggestions! It's the least I could do. We have some members who have also dealt with kitties like Baby, so hopefully they'll have some great advice for you as well!
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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-31-2015, 12:45 AM
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What a beautiful kitty she is!

Sarah and Mandy and Ellie have given you great advice. The thing that will probably bring her around the quickest is for you to not force things. I just wanted to add a couple of things. In addition to a tall cat tree, you could give her a couple of other "safe" spots with comfy beds or blankets. She might like a cave-type bed or one with tall sides, so that she can hide in them. Put them in out-of-the-way places where it's quiet and there's not much traffic, like a closet, or even under your bed, since she already seems to feel safe there. She'll view prolonged eye contact as aggressive behavior, so when you sit with her, don't look directly at her and don't try to pet her (hard as that will be - her fur is just inviting snuggling!) at first. Let her sniff your hand and give you the ok before you touch her.

Was Baby this fearful with your friend? She may just be a timid cat by nature, in which case it will take her longer to feel safe around you. I have an extremely skittish cat who I adopted when she was 1.5 years old. She's been with me for 13 years now. Any loud noise, or loud person (including me), will send her under the loveseat. If I raise my voice on the phone, she disappears under the loveseat. I'm a small person, but if I walk towards her too fast or too heavily, she freezes then runs away a few steps. She'll stop, turn around to see if I'm still coming towards her, and if I am, will just keep running. I always have to move very slowly and very quietly around her. Did I mention that she's lived with me for 13 years??

Though it might take some time and patience, once Baby trusts you, you'll likely have a velcro kitty. There is something really rewarding about being one of the very few people a fearful cat has deemed worthy of her trust. The three people my 8-lb. cat allows to rub her tummy were so proud the first time it happened that it was kind of hilarious.

She's going to love living with you - she just doesn't know it yet!
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