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Discussion Starter #1
Hi everyone! I am new here. I am an avid animal lover and I grew up with cats. The last cat my family had, Rocky, was truly one of a kind and I have not had a cat in many years since he passed :( I recently decided it was time to bring a furry companion into my life... ENTER MISSY THE TORTIE!!! Yes, she is of the "tortoiseshell" coloring and everything I have read suggests that "torties" have attitude. Well Missy was found by my friend's cousin. She was near starving and full of mats and fleas and had worms. The woman took her to the vet, got her all cleaned up and vaccinated and then brought her home for a couple of months. She could not keep Missy so I adopted her. I bought a book called "think like a cat" because while I have had cats before, I always had them from kittens...this is my first experience with a stray. I work with a pug dog rescue, so I am familiar with animals who have been through trauma/great change. I know that Missy needs time and patience. I set her up with a "safe room" with litter box, food, water, scratching post and bed. She mostly just hides in the bed. She hisses at me if I come close. I have been able to pet her head a few times and she definitely likes that but then goes back to hissing at me the next time she sees me :( I have tried hand feeding her and she was hesitant at first but eventually took the tuna (from a fork, not my actual hand). I guess what I want to know is if I should just let her do her own thing or if I should try to handle her more so she gets used to me. I took the book's suggestion of sitting in there with her and reading to her so she gets used to my voice. I bought Feliway and spray it in the room (she hisses at that sound too). I am feeding her well and keeping her litter box clean. I guess I am just more used to dogs who will warm up to a kind-hearted person immediately. Is there anything more I can do to make her feel comfortable in her new home?!
Thanks!
Casey
 

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First of all congrats on the new addition! I think you will find that there is something super special about Tortoishell kitties. They have "tortitude" as we like to call it. They can be spunky, stubborn, bossy, and super super sweet and affectionate!

As for her current tempermant the best thing you can do is give her lots of time, spend time sitting on the floor at her level and allow her to come to you. Offer her treats, and play time when she is ready. The best thing you can do for cats is give them plenty of time, and especially with a Tortie since they are so stubborn, she will come to on her own time. It sounds as if you are doing everything right. Cats are just so much different then dogs!
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Hi! Thank you so much for your reply! I see the pic. of your tortie... very cute :)
Yeah I kind of figured she just needed time... but it makes me a little depressed that she doesn't seem to like me :( I guess it has only been a couple of weeks though. I will be sure to spend more time just sitting in there with her so she gets used to me being around. I just figured out how to upload an Avatar so everyone ... meet Missy! :)
 

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She's beautiful! slow and steady wins the race, so I am sure if you continue to take your time she will eventually warm up to you, it will be worth the wait trust me!
 

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Missy is lovely...but we need a bigger picture! As I said in my prior post, I've never adopted a stray, but spending more time in her room and letting her come to you seems like a good strategy. Perhaps you can take your computer (if it's a laptop) in there, or just read a book or talk on the phone. Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter #7
great ideas, Susan! I posted more pic.s in the album section... but she is definitely good at hiding from me so it will be a while before I get any really good pic.s!
 

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sit or lay on floor in the room with her, go in there and just lay on the floor and read a book so you are not focusing on her, but she can watch you.. it all takes time..have small treats to toss(gently)to her, so she might have to come half way of the distance....
 

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How lucky she is to have been taken in! Heaven only knows what she's been through. You might try luring her to you for a few pets and/or brushes with fresh catnip, if you can get some. It is so much better than the dried. My feral-straight-from-the colony is a catnip ho I swear! A great deal of my so far success with closeness has been due to fresh catnip. I found out rather late how much he loves being brushed, but he only allowed it at first with catnip at hand. He is my avatar also. He is also Lucky...lol.
 

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i have been working to domesticate pretty girl for over three months now since i caught her with the original plan being to TNR her. after i trapped her and saw that she was not nearly as feral as the others in my colony i decided that i just could not let her go back.

she has been "crated" so as to allow her to become socialized as well as to learn to use the litter box. it was a few weeks until she would come out of her "den" (a cat carrier inside the crate) while i was there. all along i just kept spending more time with her, just being there and talking to her as well as doing blinkie to her. after she had been with me for about a month i was sitting with her and something in her eyes told me that she wanted me to touch her. she had finally broken down that first wall and allowed her self to lower her defenses for a few. we are still working on her being more comfortable with other people than me but each day seems to move further along progression wise.

i guess that my advice is; patience, love and let her break down her walls on her terms.

oh yeah congratulations!
 

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Discussion Starter #12
thank you everyone! I have faith that Missy will come out of her shell... and your wonderful suggestions will help! I do have loose catnip, but it is the dried kind. I sprinkled it on the floor and I think she ate it...haha... I will sit in there with her some more tonight. She did not hiss at me when I reached over her bed to put something away but then I leaned down to get her food dish and she hissed once, then got comfortable... I think she is starting to feel comfortable with me :)
 

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Congratulations on adopting Missy! I love to hear stories like yours.

I've never been in your shoes, but the Forum is full of stories of people who had a standoffish cat in the beginning who has since warmed up bigtime. Hang in there . . . you'll win her over.
 

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Missy's coat is absolutely beautiful!

The following 10 points are what I learned from my short but very intensive experience with strays and a former stray I've adopted:

1. Hissing = "Don't you dare come anywhere near me! I don't trust you." (IT IS NOT AN AGGRESSIVE BUT A DEFENSIVE MESSAGE)
2. Progress with cats is never gradual. It's by leaps and bounds, and it's 1 step forward, 3 steps back, 4 steps forward, 1 step back (total: 1 step forward) - and in this way it keeps going forward.
3. Be busy when you spend time with her. One of their (many) fears is that you focus on them too much. Do things that don't make noise, and move very slowly in her presence, but do things, keep busy with things that take your mind off her.
4. Even the cat that seems most aloof can surprise you by becoming very attached and liking petting a lot. No sense in looking for signs of progress.
5. Use very calming tones of voice and some short phrases that you say very frequently in a calming voice, which they gradually start to understand as: "everything is ok, you're safe". Eg: always just before giving her food, say something like: "My honey, do you want to eat? Are you hungry?"
6. Unless she bites / scratches you, never use abrupt exclamations, positive or negative. Don't make a fuss about anything, even happy outbursts are scary for them.
7. Establish a routine. Like with children, knowing what comes next calms cats.
8. Don't bring in toys or expect her to play. Strays don't see the point in playing and it scares them, this could hinder the relationship growth.
9. Classical music. Yes, it works.
10. Forget about progress. Progress will only come like Santa Claus, when you're not looking.

Absolutely all the strays and ferals have progressed. Those who used to run a mile from me when they saw me, nowadays hang around after eating, just for the company. Those who started off only running from touch, nowadays seek my touch.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
thank you SO much StraysMommy! it sounds like you are just the person I needed to hear from!!! yes I knew that hissing was a defensive measure from the book I was reading. I also picked up on the fact that she didn't like me watching her but I have not been as good about leaving her alone as I could be. I sat in there for a little while today with my laptop and just answered emails, etc. I did not know about the toys... I have tried to get her to play... will put the toys away for now...
you have mostly reinforced my beliefs that she just needs to be left alone to come around on her own time... I just wish there was more I could do to make her like me :( but patience is what it takes so that is what I will work on... thank you thank you!!!
 

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Glad to be of help!

There's a lot you can do to make her like you. The 10 points above are a lot of doing, and they work.

Besides that, strays will like you and soon also come to love you, if you:

1. Feed and water them, of course :)
2. Show up regularly and spend time in their area (not too close), only ocasionally looking at them, and only with the slow-blink method.
3. Don't do any of the things that scare them / make them feel insecure
4. Are consistent. Like children, they like repetition, routine and to know what the rules are. They like it and it calms them and increases their trust in you when they see you do the same things each time. My strays know that first I greet each one of them, then I make the piles of kibble, then I sit down and smoke a cigarette while they eat (so I'm quiet and non-threatening), then when most have filled their bellies I get up slowly and invite them to join me to go to the fawcet to get fresh water for them. Then I fill their water bowl slowly, so they can enjoy the sound of the flow of water from the bottle. Then I play with / pet the friendly ones (so the fearful, feral ones learn by imitation). Then I make sure the shy ones don't leave without having eaten. Then I sit down and just stare into the distance, or converse with the neighbors, that way they get long exposure to me without me being focused on them.
5. Treats once in a while helps too. I occasionally bring them some meat or tuna, a little bit for each because they're so many.
6. Don't ever forget for a moment that underneath even the most hostile behavior towards you, underneath there's a scared soul craving your love.
7. Ignoring: I've found that when they ignore me or an object, it very often means fear. Strays try not to show vulnerability, as they live in the street, so they often pretend indifference when it's actually fear. Prince seemed bored with everything when he first came to this house. Nothing called his attention. Slowly, however, he started exploring the house and now, after over a month, he's only starting to enjoy the house and he's very curious and not indifferent to the stuff. And this is a cat who was probably a house cat at some point, even if briefly. I suspect with more time he'll become even more curious and less indifferent. Some of my strays seemed utterly bored with my presence at the beginning, now they seek my company. They were not bored, they were pretending. They were actually afraid.

I find it very easy to gain strays' / ferals' trust, even the more ferals, and I knew nothing about cats half a year ago. I share my trial-and-error results so others don't have to re-invent the wheel...
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Thanks again, StraysMommy! I was so nervous before I got her because I wanted to make sure I didn't do anything to actually scare her more or set us back on our relationship with each other. I am arming myself with as much knowledge as possible so she will come around and be a happy cat, not a scared or depressed cat. Yes she does the ignoring thing but I know it is all a front. I put tuna down in front of her and she hissed, meowed, sniffed it, licked her chops then looked away. She was afraid to let me see her eat it. She ate it later when I left the room. I am trying to keep things consistent for her and let her watch me do my usual routines every day without approaching her so she can "spy on me" as one of my friends put it. I just know that I am going to break down crying when she finally comes out and rubs against me!! :)
 

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Is she still hiding in the bed? What does she do all day? How old is she?
 
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