Cat Forum banner
1 - 20 of 21 Posts

·
Banned
Joined
·
50 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So recently I've been preparing myself for getting my first cat by volunteering at my local shelter. I play with the cats, do some behavior checklists, sweep up, etc. The experience has been really rewarding for me and I feel like I've enhanced the cats' lives, albeit in a small way, for the positive. I think I know, more or less, the answer to this question but I thought I would consult with some of you who have had experience with bringing shelter cats home with you.

My question is, is there a noticeable difference in a cat's behavior between the shelter and its new home?

Now I'm NOT talking about the cat being freaked out by its new surroundings, or the period of time it takes him/her to get used to the new home. I'm talking about the difference from when you first meet the cat to when the cat is adjusted to you, your home, its routine etc.


I want to know, in your experience, if a cat realizes that it is auditioning for his/her potential owner at the shelter?? Does the cat who jumps on your lap and crave your attention at the shelter going to do the same at home? Or is a cat who chills at the back of the cage just being shy or having a bad day, maybe the shelter itself freaks him/her out, dislikes the other cats, etc.

In my research I've noted that this question couldnt really be applied to kittens as there future personality, in most cases, is anyone's guess. Anyway, I intend to bring a young cat home, but not a kitten.

Thanx for your feedback!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
213 Posts
I've often thought Gordon was trying to be cute when we met him (lol) but given that he was technically in the care of a shelter but in foster in someone's house (he was sick) I don't think he acted any differently than he did when we took him home, it just took him a few days to adjust.

Timmy was the same (in foster in a house because he was sick) but when we met him in 'his house' he was very wary of us, he played with us a bit when we had his favourite toy but mostly he didn't try to win us over or anything. When we got him home though he was really clingy for the first few days, he was always cuddled into me or SO but that soon stopped and he went back to how he normally was, he's quite independent most of the time.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,961 Posts
I only have the one experience but... MowMow doesn't act any differently here than he did at the shelter. It wasn't like he auditioned at all. He just had a "You're my new human so sign the papers and let's blow this pop stand!" attitude.

He still has a "You're my human so get off your backside and cater to my every whim!" attitude.

He never even hid or was shy when he got here. I opened the box and he popped out and investigated the apartment. An hour later he was fast asleep belly up on the couch.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
50 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
He never even hid or was shy when he got here. I opened the box and he popped out and investigated the apartment. An hour later he was fast asleep belly up on the couch.

LOL! That's great stuff. The cat I'm looking at right now (and hopefully he's still there when my home situation is perfect for a new cat, but if not I'm happy he's in a good home) is named Ripple and he's a total snugglebug! And consistent too. I've played with him on 4 different occasions so far and each time he's dying for affection, will jump in your lap, all purrs and head butts haha.

In fact, last time I saw him and it came time to leave I looked down at him from my chair and said "Alright big guy I gotta go now" and he IMMEDIATELY jumped into my lap and wrapped his little paws around my neck like he was giving me a big hug! what a CUTIE!:kittyturn

I totally see Oscar (ripple is out!) being just like your little guy.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
50 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I've often thought Gordon was trying to be cute when we met him (lol) but given that he was technically in the care of a shelter but in foster in someone's house (he was sick) I don't think he acted any differently than he did when we took him home, it just took him a few days to adjust.

I gotta say I LOVE the name Gordon for cat! Its definitely on my potential-names list.

Other names I've loved for my pets: Milo for a goldfish, Nibbles for a guinea pig, Gerald for pug etc

Thought Dr.Claw would be pretty hilarious for a cat lol. Come here Doc!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,945 Posts
In my experience, the cat's general demeanor in a shelter was the same as when I got him/her home. Rookie was shy and detached at the shelter and remained that way at home, until many months went by and she gradually warmed up. Murphy was a lovebug, purr machine at the shelter, and remained that way at home.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
213 Posts
I gotta say I LOVE the name Gordon for cat! Its definitely on my potential-names list.

Other names I've loved for my pets: Milo for a goldfish, Nibbles for a guinea pig, Gerald for pug etc

Thought Dr.Claw would be pretty hilarious for a cat lol. Come here Doc!
Gordon says thanks!!! :p
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
18,379 Posts
I think the cat that is an outgoing, friendly lovebug at the shelter will remain that way when it gets to a new home. The shy scaredy cat may warm up and may not. The cat that is "middle of the road"...not hiding, but also not super friendly will more than likely warm up, but may never be a lap cat.

And some cats definitely do "audition" or put on a show. I remember one cat that we took to an adoption day at Petco. We debated whether to take her because she never showed well to potential adopters and had been in the shelter for many months. That day at Petco, she remained near the back of her cage sleeping, ignoring most of the people. Then one family came by and you never saw such an abrupt personality change. She started batting at them through the bars, meowing, rolling around, purring, playing with her toys...we couldn't believe the difference in her. Apparently she was waiting for the right family. And yes...they did adopt her.

Kobi is another one...he literally reached out of his cage and grabbed me.

In my years volunteering at the shelter...many times I saw cats who were pretty indifferent all of a sudden just turn on the charm. It was like they said to themselves "OK, I had enough of this, time to find a permanent home".
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
24 Posts
In the shelter Fred was pretty nasty and aggressive, so there was no way for me to fall in love with his cuteness... In fact he even scratched me the second I touched him! But well, I already knew that he's just one of those who can't stand other cats in his territory (which was also the reason why he ended up in the shelter).
From the description of the previous owner he was said to be a sweet lap-cat who knows what he wants and goes for it. For some reason I just loved him right away even if he was growling and my hand was bleeding. And it turned out to be the right choice. Fred is officially the greatest cat I have ever met!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,945 Posts
And some cats definitely do "audition" or put on a show. I remember one cat that we took to an adoption day at Petco. We debated whether to take her because she never showed well to potential adopters and had been in the shelter for many months. That day at Petco, she remained near the back of her cage sleeping, ignoring most of the people. Then one family came by and you never saw such an abrupt personality change. She started batting at them through the bars, meowing, rolling around, purring, playing with her toys...we couldn't believe the difference in her. Apparently she was waiting for the right family. And yes...they did adopt her.
That is so interesting! It's like they've developed a sense of when to "give 'em my best stuff," like I say about Murphy when he's being all cute rolling around. Do you think they know which behaviors we consider cute?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,126 Posts
Harli was friendly at the shelter & still likes attention.

Lily hung out at the back of the cage but did venture up to look around. Sometimes Lily is still a little standoffish- I might pet her and she'll walk away. But she's the one who will come up and lay across my lap or jump up on the bed and lay down next to me. I have noticed recently she seeking pets more often. Like, if my hand is hanging over the bed she'll come up and nudge her cheek against it. I think she noticed Harli doing it and so now she figures it's OK. Lily is still timid around people -if anyone comes over or I open the front door, she runs upstairs.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
142 Posts
Ella came from a shelter and I am not sure you would call what she was doing 'auditioning' more than she was just really really attention deprived. She was extremely loving, purring as soon as you touched her and 'catching' me as I walked by to look at other cats. She remained extremely affectionate for a week or so and then began to settle in and became what I believe is truly her. She does like affection but she is not nearly as loving as she was in the shelter (I would say she is now much more like a cat because she chooses when and where you are 'allowed' to love on her lol). But, I think it's important with her to remember that she was at the shelter for 6 weeks, locked in a tiny cage and probably getting very little real attention with all the kittens that were also available (besides Ella and a solid white adult female, I saw only kittens getting adopted there :( )
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
9,125 Posts
The local shelter here is way beyond capacity. Its no cage. They should have apx 40. They have been up over 120 cats in 4 small rooms with small outdoor runs. They are stuffed in the ancient former dog runs. All the cats are stressed. They have bullies in each room making everyones life miserable. There are cats hiding everywhere. They have a quarter million dollar budget but refuse to hire a full or part time vet. The director understands dogs but not cats. There is a lot of politics going on there. Everyone is a chief with no indians. I know of several cats in the process of dying as i type but no one will listen. My vet said to me " you guys (TNR volunteers) can walk thru thre and tell me who the sick ones are and symtons and they cant see it". But my vet has been an excellent teacher) Ive had several people adopt from me because you couldnt tell the personality of any of the cats at that shelter and our litle TNR group are fostered in our homes and fully veted. Most of us voluntered up there at one time or another but gave up when cats werent managed correctly. Its too heartbreaking. I decided to go work with ferals instead.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,719 Posts
Azalia - At the shelter, she was in an enclosure with a plexiglass front, not exactly a cage per se, but same type of deal. She was very shy to come out, but very amenable. She wasn't testy or fearful. She enjoyed the interaction, but I would label her more as cautious than anything else.

At home, she's generally the same, cautious. She is now not convinced that the spinning tower fan may be her friend. She is still keeping away from it, just in case it snaps...you just never know. But all kidding aside, she's very lovable, but on her own terms. She is the watchcat and is not very quick to befriend anyone without checking them out first.

Egypt - At the shelter was VERY outgoing and at first was competing with this other small red Ocicat. Funny part is the other cat was a kitten, she was 2 years old by then, just pettite. Eventually, she got tired of putting on the charm alongside him and just jumped right on my lap and began head-butting me. That was it! She claimed me. I was hers. That's pretty much the way it is at home, too. She is the only one who sleeps with me on the bed. She does not tolerate anyone else in the room with her at night. She is a very loving and loyal companion, but she's very assertive at the same time.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,787 Posts
Wow! It seems like people's cats personality was accurate when the shelter they came from told them. Weird.

Misa knew what she wanted and right away as soon as she saw us, She knew that she will love to come home with me. All of the other cats I petted, they all wanted to run out of my sisters arms because I didn't know how to hold a cat at the time. lol They said that she's a chatterbox and they were right. >< Misa gets lonely too quickly. I think it's time to get a second cat once I move to a bigger place and more money. Right now I'll just work with her..
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
50 Posts
Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Great feedback from everyone, thanx a bunch!

The cats I've worked with have shown pretty consistent behaviour in the times I've visited them. Samantha13 made a good point about her cat being "attention deprived" at the shelter and becoming more confident once she got home and started to feel more secure and become "herself".

I'll be posting my latest video encounter (ridiculously cute!!) with the kitty I mentioned in the opening of this thread as soon as I figure out my youtube/google account nonsense. (Google are a bunch of tyrants).
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
580 Posts
This made me laugh, because to this day, I swear when hubby and I met Harley at Petsmart (the local shelter has cats there) he knew we might be his only chance at getting out and put on a big show. He had been at the shelter for 4 months and had previously lived on the street. He was seemingly high strung when we first met him. He's actually a very sedate cat--although will play quite a bit by himself, he has just recently started to play with our female, who came in after him (they seem to be well suited)

Leslie
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
100 Posts
My family has always had shelter cats and they've never changed much. Just maybe not as lovable since they aren't cooped up in a cage. My mother has always said that the cat picks you, not the other way around.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
55 Posts
well, Fancy attracted me with shooting her toys out at me to play when I went to visit the cats. she is very vivacious and boisterous with me here at home and it's been 3 years. Annie got my attention standing on her hind legs and reaching through the bars to me, kind of a "hey, you". and then when I went back she looked depressed so i asked her if she wanted to be my cat, she licked my nose. i took it as a positive and took her home soon after. She has to initiate the hugs and stuff but that's wonderful. she is a lone wolf sometimes. the beebs was a crazy kitten and still is. they make adjustments.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
33 Posts
I got my guys from the ASPCA about a year ago and I will say that they have changed a little bit, but not too much.

When I first met Dax, he was curiously looking at me from inside his cube. He was about 3 months old, and I asked them to take him out. He was very calm and affectionate. He snuggled up against me a little bit, and I was sold. Today, he's definitely the more affectionate of my two boys. He comes up to me and plops himself down no matter what I'm doing, has conversations with me, and lets me know when he wants something.

Goober was a similar story. I went with my partner and he picked Goober out of a cube that he was in with his brother. He was very quiet and calm, but in his case, I think he was scared. When we got him home with Dax, he ran and hid behind the couch for a while, but he eventually bonded with Dax and us. He's a much less social guy, preferring to hang out on the cat tree, on the windowsill, or in the bathtub. But when he wants something, he lets you know. If he wants attention, he rams his head into my leg or hand and has me hold it there while he pets himself. He's also the lead on the food patrol, waking me up without fail between 4 and 430 AM for breakfast.

So my first impressions were pretty accurate as well. Their personalities became more distinct as they grew up, but the core remained the same.

All that being said, it's tough sometimes to tell if a cat is going to be good or bad at a shelter because some of them are just terrified. Imagine if you were taken from your house and put into a glass or metal cage for days or weeks while people came and checked you out and didn't know why. I'm sure you wouldn't totally be yourself either. Always give the little guys a chance. =)
 
1 - 20 of 21 Posts
Top