Cat Forum banner

1 - 3 of 3 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
12,679 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I was replying in a thread about a kitten being introduced to an older cat. Kittens are historically easier to introduce to adult cats than adult-to-adult introductions.
What makes that particular situation work so well?

First, the kitten has "baby-ness" on its' side. Most species are hard-wired to be tolerant of babies, allowing them to get away with behavior not tolerated from an older animal.
Second, the kitten 'baby' hasn't learned to strictly obey the adult cat's "get away from me" hisses. The hisses have no affect because the 'baby' is oblivious to them.
Third, because the kitten hasn't learned to stop and leave the adult cat alone, they push, push, push and push some more until they finally wear down the adult cat, who says: "okay, I accept you, do whatever you want with me" and from *this*, grows a new relationship of togetherness.

It is my belief, that working with ferals and poorly socialized cats must be done in the same manner a kitten forces itself on an older cat. You must be respectful, and not rush getting the cat past certain, critical, points (Like: beyond the point where the cat will be harmful/dangerous to handle) as you gain its' trust, but to get it accustomed to handling...you're gonna need to sort of "flood" it with handling experiences, often and regardless of the cat's struggles.
This does not mean you completely ignore the cat's wishes, but you do have to hold the cat for incrementally longer periods, accompanied with more frequent/numerous short handling sessions, even if the cat wiggles and struggles.

*wiggles/struggles* This does NOT mean holding a cat who is terrified and feels it *must* get away at any/all costs. This just means the cat doesn't sit quietly or stay of its' own volition. It is gentle restraint with a lightly restraining scruff hold or hand around the chest to keep the cat near as the free hand rubs all over to get the cat accustomed to being touched.

Just like that kitten wearing down the older cat...if we keep handling and handling the unsocialized cat, it will eventually just "give up" and let you do whatever you want. And from *that* point, the largest barrier has come down and the socializing/handling progress will continue forward with a deep amount of trust because the cat has finally accepted it, so it then becomes an exercise in continuing to keep the cat familiar with handling and get it to become more and more relaxed about it and accept it as the new 'normal' in its' life, or accept it into its' private circle of among-the-things-it-allows.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
18,409 Posts
Well....maybe. But based on my experience with Maggie, I wouldn't say this is a surefire socialization method and might very well even backfire causing a cat to avoid you.

I got Maggie as a 12-13 week old kitten. I don't know for sure, but believe she had been born feral. She never wanted to be held, wasn't a lap cat at all, would avoid petting if I initiated it but would occasionally accept it for 20 seconds if she initiated. If I tried to pick her up she would run. I tried forcing the issue and it pretty much caused her to stay a little more than an arms length away from me for years. She has just started seeking attention in the last couple years at age 10.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12,679 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
Oh, I agree that it won't work in every instance. Utilizing only one technique for every situation will eventually become a limiting factor and will become most noticeable when a challenge is presented that does not respond to that particular technique. This is where flexibility and an open mind would be valuable; to search, experiment and find what works for the individual. However there will always be the few individuals who resist in some manner and do not respond to any methods. Sometimes those just have to be worked around and accepted. I have even had one:
I bottle raised a kitten (Marmalade, 96-08) who in his entire life with me NEVER became comfortable with being picked up and held/carried. He loved to be petted and would sit in your lap or lay along your lap/belly up to your chest and rub his face on your chin for attention and loves...but the moment you stood up and held or carried him, he stopped purring, became tense and would not relax until he was set down or you sat down with him. He didn't avoid me and he didn't scramble to get down, but I could tell he was never comfortable with being held/carried. This was something I just had to accept as being part of *this* cat.

I do not think my Marmy or your Maggie are enough reasons to discard the technique as a valuable tool and valid method of socializing cats. It has proven to work with the numerous other cats I have worked with. My one cat who resisted in this one particular area...percentage-wise...when comparing that paticular area (held/carried) of resistance associated with this specific (Marm) cat to all of the other areas I cover when socializing cats in preparation for adoption, is really not enough to make a dent in the positive aspects of the technique.

It is the theory and the similarity that I found fascinating. If any method of handling/socializing is producing negative results (not to be confused with natural resistance to something new/different) that would be counter-productive to my goals and I would search for other ways to reach my objectives. If I do not, it could mean the difference between life/death for a kitty who needs an adoptive home and a family to love them. Perhaps I have been very lucky that I've been able to avoid any cat I've worked with being handed that fate. I don't know everything or have all the answers, but so far, this works for me. And until it doesn't, I'll keep using it and then search for other paths to my goal if I encounter a resistant kitty.


I guess I can think of it like penicillan? Penicillan is extremely helpful and gives great results, EXCEPT, to those who are allergic to it. Then other treatment plans must be utilized...but the allergic reactions are not enough to stop its' use because it works very well for everyone who isn't allergic...of which there are much higher numbers of those it benefits vs those who find it harmful. :wink
 
1 - 3 of 3 Posts
Top