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post #1 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-31-2010, 12:29 PM Thread Starter
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I need your help again. Long overdue updates inside

I posted before about a feral can I am trying to tame/adopt.
viewtopic.php?f=22&t=63980

As you can see I made good progress but sadly that progress seems to have stalled.

She gets along great with my other cats. However she seems afraid of me. If I try to pet her she pulls away, if I try to pick her up she runs, etc. Sometimes if she is eating or just waking up she will let me pet her or pick her up but this is always short lived. Occasionally she will even come up and sniff my hand. But she jerks away almost immediately like she is realizing who I am.

Honestly this is heartbreaking to me. I am not sure what I can do to bring the poor little thing around.
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post #2 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-31-2010, 03:17 PM
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Re: I need your help again.

You may have rushed her socialization and allowed her free-access to the rest of the house too soon. You've only had her about two months. How much of that time was spent in isolation (bathroom, then bathroom & bedroom) with you being her constant and only contact, learning how to be handled by you, before allowing her free-roam?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Heidi n Q
My KCBC is very intense ... but it would be a good idea to read through it mostly as an introduction to cat psychology and how they react to various stimuli.
... *after* she has begun to allow you to pet and possibly lift her, then you can work on the socializing skills outined in the KCBC.
... the overall theme remains the same for handling every cat:
Slow and steady wins the race.
Let her set the pace and only push it forward if she *stalls* in forward socialization progress.
Try to keep every experience positive.
It takes as long as it takes, each kitty responds differently and she'll let you know what she's comfortable with.
It seems to me she didn't have enough positive reinforcement about learning to trust you handling her before you allowed her enough room to avoid any/all socialization work and you've now reached a point where she has possibly regressed, has enough room and the desire to avoid contact and has stalled in forward socialization because she has no motivation to allow socialization to progress.
Ultimately, she, has decided: *This* is good enough and now has no reason or desire to try any further.
It is exactly this point where I advise pushing past a cat's boundaries so you can show them the cat-human relationship can be better than what the cat is currently allowing.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Heidi n Q
...you sometimes need to push a cat who has ďstalledĒ in forward progress beyond their comfort zones to make that cat see and accept that what you are doing is good and not harmful. With this in mind, I feel it is important to mention how detrimental it is to allow a cat to call-the-shots without pushing them beyond what the cat believes is good enough. It is up to us to push beyond those barriers and show the cat a human/cat relationship can be better.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Heidi n Q
Handle her all she will allow you to. Flood her with it, if she lets you. The more you handle her the more she will grow to learn that this type of handling is "normal" and she will accept it more and more.
Do everything you can that she will allow, she'll let you know how fast she wants to accept things.
Because this ^^^ was not shown and reinforced with Jaina during the initial socialization work you performed with her, you are now experiencing some trust-issues with her.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Heidi n Q
Quote:
Originally Posted by kwelz
I think I may have given her free range of the house to soon and that is the problem.
Maybe, and maybe not. I think the more time she spends around you and your other kitties, she will learn to relax and become confident when she learns everyone's routines. Part of her 'darting' issue, is instinct. Kittens this age (after weaning and before true adulthood) have an awful time surviving in the wild. They have been kicked out from the litter by the mother-cat, who is usually preparing to raise her next litter and these young cats have to search out and find a new place to survive, defending food and shelter resources from other cats. These kittens *must* become independent and self-sufficient or they will not survive. The problem with kittens who were begining to be feral, or who were poorly socialized, is they do not realize they no longer have to behave this way because we will provide everything for them. With domestic kittens who have always been raised in a loving home, those behaviors present as extremely rough play. It will simply take time for her to relax and adjust, but it will happen.

We caught Shasta as a kitten (9-11wks old) in our garage. I kept her in a large cat carrier, but on the 3rd day, she escaped and was loose in the house. BUT ... she fit right in, blended easily with the adult cats and seemed to follow-their-lead and quickly became relaxed and confident around us. This improved dramatically when I began socializing and handling her more and more.
It will come. Just keep working slowly and steadily towards your goal of having a relaxed and confident house-kitty.

You have reached a cross-roads.
Right now, she doesn't know what she doesn't know, and the only way to teach her, is you have to handle her so she *can* learn that what she doesn't know ... being handled by you ... is good, pleasureable and desireable.
I prefer to have the kitten/cat learn that before they are allowed free-roam of our home because it *is* more difficult to teach this skill when the cat can avoid contact with you.

You have two choices here:
1. You can allow Jaina to do as she wishes with no deliberate attempts on your part to strengthen a bond between you. Maybe she'll come around of her own accord. Maybe she won't.
Decide if you can accept that.
2. You can work more dilligently on slow and steady socialization skills so she will begin to accept that type of gentle handling as 'normal' and even learn to feel comfortable seeking it out from you.

...please let me know how you wish to proceed and if you would like to hear some suggestions.
heidi =^..^=



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post #3 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-31-2010, 03:36 PM Thread Starter
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Re: I need your help again.

Yes I want to hear suggestions! That is after all why I posted.
I am confident that I did rush her out to much. I felt I had made good progress and got ahead of myself. While there is something to be said for nature taking it's course, something is telling me that will not solve the problem.

Just now I was able to pick her up. She struggled for a bit then settled for about a minute then tried to get away again. When she tries to get away she doesn't claw or bite but she is obviously trying to escape. Feel free to flog me as needed for not doing things properly. I deserve it.
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post #4 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-31-2010, 04:17 PM
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Re: I need your help again.

I am absolutely NOT going to flog you, because that would be counterproductive. ...but if it will make you feel better: "Ten lashes with a wet noodle!" There, that should do it.

First. Because she *will* let you touch her and pick her up, I think you need to build on that. You simply need to handle her, getting her used to what you are doing with her, long enough and often enough, for her to learn that it isn't a Big Deal and it sorta feels *good*. She will NOT learn this until you have handled her enough times that she stops thinking about 'getting away' and starts thinking 'hey, this actually feels pretty nice!' This is creating opportunities for her to learn and accept.

I, and respected experts also advocate, pushing the cats' comfort boundaries little by little while being persistent in getting forward progress.
You need to advance to make progress, but you have to watch the cat and retreat before you have reached the cats' threshold level of tolerance for the action. Watch the cat and continue to work up to their known limits, then use your judgment to determine if the cat is ready to be pushed just a little further or has reached itsí limit and cannot be asked for more at this time without suffering negative consequences.
You want to make progress, but you do not want to overwhelm the cat.
Positive experiences.
Advance, retreat.

Quote:
Kitty Cat Boot Camp Begins:
This is where the real socialization work starts and I begin to slowly push my attention on them. It is very important to keep every experience as positive and pleasurable as you can, to keep building on this foundation of socialization. Our goal is to show the kitten they have nothing to fear from us and we must carefully work past their fears without making them even more fearful and distrusting in this socialization step.
I sit on the floor and grasp them firmly (gently) by the scruff and place them on my lap, facing my knees. Then I lightly restrain them by the scruff and gently pet and rub them all over with my free hand. If they begin to relax I'll loosen my scruff hold and scrubble the fur at their neck to 'erase' the memory of me holding them. Then I let them move off my lap if they wish, though I continue to pet and ruffle their fur in a pleasing, massaging manner as long as they allow it.
The goal in this exercise is for them to walk, and not dart fearfully, away.

If the kitten is fearful and does not relax at all I will only handle them for about 5-15 seconds per handling session. When I am done handling them I gently take them off my lap and set them close to the opening of the safe-cave and release them like it is no big deal. I do not watch them to judge their reaction because a direct stare is viewed by them as being predatory, aggressive or confrontational. I know they may turn and look at me and I do not want them to see me staring at them with interest. I want them to learn that I will hold them, handle them, not hurt them and they will not be held against their will forever because I will always release them.
Nothing to get worried or excited about.
No big deal.

The signal I am looking for when handling them are small signs of relaxation and I try to reward that by lowering my restraint intensity and slowing my massaging movements, which encourages them to seek it so the pleasurable experience continues.
As this progresses and you can see they aren't behaving in a confused manner when you set them away from you at the end of a handling session, try watching for signs of relaxing on your lap as you are handling them; they may raise their rear end when you pet them, they may unclamp their tail from being wrapped tight around their hind legs, they may move/adjust their feet on your lap to get more comfortable and they may rub their face along your scrubbling hand when you pet their cheeks. When they show you these relaxing signs, loosen your grip on the scruff hold, scrubble it as if you never really wanted to 'hold' them there and just make it part of the handling process, slowly increasing the amount of time you do handle them. Try to release them when they are not struggling.

You have reached a crucial and pivotal point in releasing the kitten at this stage!
At this point, you still need to watch the kittenís body language because you wonít have control of them when you release the scruff-hold and you need to continue to make this a positive experience for the cat. Use both hands to lightly pet and scrubble the fur. You may still want to stop the attention before they are ready, but you can watch to see if they are asking for more attention. You can let them get up from your lap and leave of their own accord.
Again, the goal is for them to be relaxed and comfortable, not intent on dashing away in confusion or annoyance. What you may want to try at first is slowly increasing the amount of time you spend lightly restraining her to keep her in your presence, and the amount of time you are spending slowly stroking and handling her with your free hand. At first, instead of letting her walk away from you, you deliberately set her away from you and then immediately turn around and ignore her. Do not watch her, show no interest. You are done, you've set her aside and she can now decide what she wants to do.
My *hope* is that her reaction would be one of slight confusion and standing to look at you for a moment while she THINKS about what just happened: nothing bad happened, it may have felt good and the person set her away from him and she is not trapped or restrained *now*. We want her to think: Not. A. Big. Deal.

Good luck!



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post #5 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-31-2010, 05:55 PM
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Re: I need your help again.

I can only repeat what I advised before. It might be necessary to start over. Programs designed for multiple cats, I believe, rush matters. It is not necessary or advisable to apply techniques that are necessarily faster when many cats are involved. I don't think their programs are suitable for one pet. Let the cat take her time.

Quote:
I recommend that you allow the kitten or cat to make the decisions as to when it wants to be touched. I would not pick it up until it has shown that it wants to be touched...by rubbing up against your hand. This doesn't happen in a day or two. It takes patience, a dimly lighted room, soft music, and the human being sitting quietly on the floor, with a bowl of food nearby. A book comes in handy, if you leave yourself enough light. I would use canned food, but have treats on hand also.

I would put the food at a distance that is comfortable for the kitten now, and sit there for at least half an hour. Gradually move the treats or food a bit closer until it is very close to you. When the kitten gets interested in your hand (curled fingers), wait, although it is tempting to pick up the kitten. Wait until the kitten rubs against your hand before touching it at all. Have treats ready for the kitten; that will make the procedure work more quickly. If you touch the kitten and it runs away, be patient. We probably look like giants to them!
I would add interactive toys when the kitten or cat has made some progress. And I would not allow your cat to interact with your other cats until you feel certain that the kitten enjoys interacting with you. I wish you success. It takes patience and time.




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post #6 of 26 (permalink) Old 02-03-2010, 04:42 PM
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Re: I need your help again.

Kwelz I know how frustrating that is when a cat regresses. Iím dealing with that right now with one of my fosters. I was away, working out of town and now heís become skittish and fearful. Then he will get courage and come lay with me but be on guard. He was totally socialized and friendly with people before this happened.

I would recommend if she is letting you pick her up briefly, then continue to do it-- a lot. Pick her up, hold her to you, rub her different places on the body and then release her to just walk away. Act like your not going to go after her. They catch on very fast with this.

If it takes keeping her in a room with you for the evening to be able to pick her up or bring her over to you many times, then work it that way. Or sit on the floor and keep pulling her towards you to handle briefly. The important things are to watch her tolerance level and release. Ignoring her as she scoots away.

This cat isnít going to come around on it own esp if it has the run of the house now and is reverting. If ďnature takes its coarseĒ then it will keep reverting and avoiding you because that is what its survival nature is telling it to do from being out of door to save its life.

Continue to do the normal stuff you do with cats, like be around them when they eat, play activities but its important you keep gently push/coaxing her limits to desensitize her, to make her comfortable with your touch. Make sure while your doing this to have a calm, peaceful energy. Move slowly but firmly deliberate.

Iíve gotten good results from doing this in the past with my borderline fosters who came in from outside. Itís a loving and not stressful way to bring them around.
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post #7 of 26 (permalink) Old 02-04-2010, 01:30 AM
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Re: I need your help again.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mitts & Tess
Iíve gotten good results from doing this in the past with my borderline fosters who came in from outside. Itís a loving and not stressful way to bring them around.
Yup, yup, yup! Gentle and patient repetition to help them become familiar and comfortable with being handled, that is all socialization is. Practice makes purrfect, and she'll catch on. In fact, she responded so *very* well to you when you first brought her in that I bet you'll be able to help her work through this.
It will be interesting to see what changes can occur over the next days and weeks...
h =^..^=



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post #8 of 26 (permalink) Old 02-12-2010, 12:50 PM Thread Starter
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Re: I need your help again.

I tried handling her as much as possible and if anything it seemed to be making things worse. So I have decided to go back to square 1. I am isolating her to the bathroom again. I think I may put a small radio in there for human noise when I can't be around. But honestly her cries are killing me

And just for your viewing pleasure.

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post #9 of 26 (permalink) Old 02-13-2010, 11:16 AM
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Re: I need your help again.

What a sweet picture to start my day! Thanks!
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post #10 of 26 (permalink) Old 02-13-2010, 09:26 PM
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Re: I need your help again.

May I ask some questions?

What was she doing when you tried to handle her?
Was she trying to get away and then began to avoid you every time she thought you were coming her way to handle her again?
How were you handling her when you did touch her?
How was she reacting to that?
What did she do when you were done handling her?
Do you think she would let you handle her if you used treats as a reward to simply keep her near you when you release her after you've handled her?

Okay, that was a LOT of questions.
I am sorry for asking so many, but with greater detail we'll get a better picture of what is going on with her. I think you made a good move isolating her again so you can concentrate on her looking forward to interacting with you. You may not need to keep her in the bathroom if there is another small room you could use, like an office or bedroom, or even if the bathroom is attached to another room she could use.
h



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