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Discussion Starter #1
Meet George!!




I volunteer at a cat shelter in my town. The cats go to a "transition shelter" (where I volunteer) until they are healthy enough or social enough (whichever they need) to go up to the adoption center. George has been at the transition shelter maybe a month now. The first time I met him he was very hissy, hissed when you approached the cage and opened it, when offered a hand he didn't move to it or sniff at it. We have a plastic dummy hand (what they use to test food guarding in dogs) so I grabbed that to see what he'd do if I pet him with it. I pet him on the back, from shoulders to tail and he seemed to like it a lot, pressed into the hand, started to purr. Then I used my hand and he was great, loved the petting. I go twice a week and he has been great each time. He continues to hiss when you first open the cage but once you pet him he realized he really likes human touch and is fine for the rest of your visit. He even meows for attention when I stop paying attention to him.

Each cat has a card where you can write notes about the cat's health and behavior during your visit. every time I go there is a new note about George, all of them along the lines of "George wouldn't stop hissing, he seems very upset", "George won't let me touch him", "I couldn't clean George's cage, had to get out the heavy duty gloves and wrestle him out of the cage". Last week the note said "I can't take George anymore!". His cage was all discombobulated, apparently the person tried to remove the towel got swatted at one too many times and gave up leaving a nasty cage with the towels all in a bunch. there was also a huge note about how one volunteer spent their whole visit slowly getting to the point where they could touch George. So I pet him a few times and decided to give it a try. I pulled the towel a bit (he was on it) and then petted, then pulled. He did hiss so I stopped and closed the door and asked for my friend Haley's help (we go together every week). I got the plastic hand (in case he redirected) and she got one heavy duty glove. When I went to open the cage he swatted at me but he left me alone the second time. I started petting him with the plastic hand which he loved and Haley tried to pull the towel which he refused to get off of. So she gently pushed him off while I continued the petting and he didn't care one little bit, he was just happy with the petting. We cleaned the cage easily while petting with the hand.

This week I was at college orientation so I missed my visit. I asked Haley how George was, she said he was good and let her pet him just fine but he had another note saying "George NAILED me". I just don't understand...what are these people doing to make George so angry? He has always let me pet him with ZERO problems, the only time he gets upset is when you try to change his towel (you can change food, water and litter without problems) and that was easily handled by petting him the whole time. I am starting to worry he's never going to be put up for adoption at this rate, I'm also getting very attached to him. The only thing I can think of is that they are trying to pet his face. most cats do that rub your hand with their face thing but George does not and I don't think he'd accept being touched on the face, but I can't believe all these people have ignored the fact that he never tries to do that and have forced themselves into his face.

I just wanted to share George with you, as I love him and feel bad for him since people just don't seem to understand the poor boy.
 

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Believe me, if I was an adult, not living with my parents, he'd be in my house right now, AT LEAST as a foster. I find myself constantly thinking about seeing him again, I don't want to wait until Monday!!
 

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I think these other people are ignorant and not asking his *permission* like you do.
Are they just walking up to the cage, warily watching George with wide eyes (expecting him to 'nail' them), so George thinks 'something's-up!' and is on high alert. They reach in right away, with no slow 'asking' and then he reacts defensively towards these 'intruders'?
It seems like you start out slow, always trying to be soothing for George and your slow energy helps him to relax and enjoy his sessions with you and your friend. Can you leave your own notes/suggestions? Obviously, YOU are doing something RIGHT and everyone else is doing it The Wrong Way ... according to George.

George, btw, reminds me very much of my Squirrely-Jo in appearance.
 

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He is a very handsome boy! Heidi has a good idea about leaving your own notes. It sounds as if the others could learn something from you and if they did George would have a much easier time!

No way your parents would allow you to have a cat? :D
 

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May I assume you're talking to him. Are the others doing so? I think cats like us to be vocal in a soft way.

Actually I like cats who stand up for themselves. Zenobi bit me on the second day home and the first thing I wondered was what I'd done wrong. Some people find it strange that, that was one of the things that endeared her to me.

George looks like a great guy. Any idea how old is he? Could you get a job training people in how to handle cats?
 

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Heidi n Q said:
YOU are doing something RIGHT and everyone else is doing it The Wrong Way ... according to George.
I wanted to expound on this point.

The other people at the shelter who are working with these kitties may be very good with cats in their own ways, but I have learned in my work taming and socializing feral cats and kittens for public adoption that there is NO "one way" to reach every cat.
There is only The Cat's Way.
It is *my job* to find that cat's particular way it wants me to approach and reach *that* cat.

I wonder if this issue with George isn't a cat problem, but is a people problem. If these people handling George changed their mind-set and instead of thinking of 'that nasty old George who hisses, bites, scratches and is so mean' to thinking 'that poor old George, he's so scared and doesn't understand any of this, lets' make this as easy on him as we can so he doesn't get so stressed out'. Cats pick up on our attitudes and if you *expect* to get 'nailed' ... you won't be disappointed. I think the shelter director should probably have a general discussion with everyone about changeing their attitudes when they walk into the cat rooms to handle or house-keep the kitties. Soft voices, easy movements and gentle requests for assistance from the kitties instead of heavy leather gloves and fast, grabbing movements that *make* the cat do what they want instead of politely and respectfully *asking* the cat for compliance.

A cookie-cutter program of handling cats and kits will not work on every cat. Cats are individuals and each needs to be reached in their own individual ways. Many times, many of the same things work on many cats ... but sometimes they don't and that is where a foster-person, care-giver, socializer needs to be tuned-in to the cat, listening and learning how the cat wants to be approached and what works for *that* cat. The more cats you work with and the more you learn ... the more socializing and handling skills you have in your bag-of-tricks for helping more and more cats in the future.

There are times and places for making cats and kittens do what we need them to do but in almost all things, we get better results by asking, first.
=^..^=
 

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It definitely sounds like you should leave your own notes, if only to show people that he has a more tolerant response when you're dealing with him. Poor kitty, it sounds like he's an unhappy camper at this point. Do you ever get a chance to take him to a play area in the shelter and just sit with him?
 

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I do speak to George when I enter. His is the first cage I go to, I say "Hi George" in the voice I use when talking to cats and then open his cage, ask him how he is, call him Georgy Porgy. I always offer my hand a few inches in front of his face so he knows I'm coming then I go to his shoulder blades and pet all along his back. He really enjoys the petting. We left a note once saying that we started with the plastic hand and then he was fine with petting. I think people being under confident (which causes jerky movements) might play a big role like you said, I think using the plastic hand if you're fearful prevents that from being an issue. When I go Monday I'll leave another note being more specific about how to pet him.

Do you ever get a chance to take him to a play area in the shelter and just sit with him?
Until last week he has shown zero interest in leaving the cage (we normally let the cats run in the room for a little bit while we clean the cage and pet the cats who don't leave the cages), he just lies or sits in there while you pet him and moves over next to his litter box so he can rub his face against the edge of it. Last week was the first time he came to the front of the cage after I stopped petting and was showing interest in the room. However I'd be worried that if he left he would be very hard to get back in because I don't think he trusts ANYONE enough to let them pick him up. But he likes his wet food so maybe we could get him back in with that.

I'm not sure how old he is...I know we got a bunch of twelve year olds whose owner died but I don't *think* he came in with them.

I just know that if he went into a foster home he'd warm up and be adoptable in no time.
 
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