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Discussion Starter #1
My fiancee and I adopted 2 kitties 1 month ago - a mother and daughter. Autumn is totally fine, loves to play and cuddle. Penny is the mother (now 16 months) and still very scared.

When we first brought her home she spent a few days under a spare bed and wouldn't come out. I guess there has been a little progress, because at night she sneaks out of the room to go downstairs and play with Autumn. In the morning, I will find her in the living room and the second I come down she runs. She's even worse with my fiancee, as soon as she hears him she runs.

The only time I can pet her is if she is eating. We have to trick her out of the room just to get her to run downstairs towards her food, or else she won't come down. She loves food and it's the only time I can sneak a pet in. She won't let my fiancee do that.

I suspect she was abused before she and Autumn were abandoned. My fiancee is upset because she seems more scared of him. I know that she needs lots of time, but I am wondering if she will ever come out of this?

People have told us to just ignore her, but I hate that. I don't think she wants to be completely ignored and I hate the thought of ignoring her. I just can't do that. I want her to know she is loved. I also hate having to scare her out of the spare room so she will come down to eat, but if she doesn't, Autumn eats all her food.

Do you think she will come out of this soon, or ever? :sad
 

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I have a friend who has the same problem. He took a kitty from the shelter who was around 3 years old at that time. This kitty has been living in the house full of little children before…who knows what they did to him but his main characteristic feature is that he is scared all the time.
However, it is better now. He is living with my friend for 3 years now and he is barely scared when he is home alone only with my friend. But when someone comes to visit, the cat runs and hides under the bed (or in the bed under the blanket) until the visit goes away. This cat is seriously scared of everything and everybody except of my friend.

I think with lot of patience and time, it will get better with your kitty. But she will probably will never be able to completely overcome her fear L
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks Syrena. I don't mind her hiding when guests come over. I just hope one day she will be comfortable enough to not run away from us.
 

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Do you think she will come out of this soon, or ever? :sad
Imho, not if you keep doing this:

having to scare her out of the spare room so she will come down to eat,

Again, it's just imho, but if you keep scaring her in ANY way she's going to keep thinking that you are not trustworthy. I don't think completely ignoring her is the answer either.

Put her food and water in the spare room and shut the door. In 1/2 an hour go in and pick up the food (leave the water) so your other cat can't eat it.

When the house is quiet then take a book in the room where she hides and sit near where she is hiding and read your book(I would read it out loud in a soft voice) If the other cat comes in you can pet her and talk quietly to her and love on her. Let mom cat see and hear how nice you are... At least that's what I would try (There are WAY more experienced people on here that might be able to help more). I would absolutely stop scaring her on purpose though. n
 

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You have to start thinking about it 5 months from now. Then again 6 months later. That way you're not expecting big changes all the time. In the meantime, I'd let her eat in her room, with the door open. No sense in forcing her outside her comfort zone. She'll come out of the room and out of her shell when she's ready, and if it's in her own terms, she'll be all the more trusting than if she's thrust into socializing every day forced by needing to eat.

I adopted a stray, about 3 years old, she wouldn't play, in fact she'd run and hide in panic if a toy moved near her. She'd hide all day and night. Now 6 months later, she loves to play and never hides. And I know she'll still change a lot in the next few years.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for the advice! I guess I mispoke (err typed) we don't specifically scare her on purpose. We go into the room and try to pet her to see if she'll come out, that spooks her and she runs downstairs.

Anyway, I will try your advice and put the food in the room for her. Maybe that will get her to be more trusting of us. I will try the book thing as well!

Just wondering, if she is under the bed to hide, should we ignore her? Occasionally when she is under there, she will let us stroke her paw. I'm thinking maybe we should not try to pet her at all when she is under there.
 

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If it were me I wouldn't bother her when she's hiding. I would let her come to you.

For example neither of my cats are timid...at all but I still have a 'safe place' for them. In my spare bedroom(craft room) I have two fuzzy blankets on the daybed in there. If either/both cats are in there I don't bother them. I don't talk to them, go in to pet them and I try to stay out of that room when they are there. It's THEIR space. Both of them do go in there sometimes to decompress and get away and when they come out they always seem over the top affectionate.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks MowMow. I will keep the spare room as their room and not bother them. I'll tell my fianceé and hope he listens! LOL
 

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When we tame wild kittens we put them somewhere where we can always reach them. I think your cat was probably NOT abused, more like, she's just not socialized with people.
Continue petting her under the bed. Give her treats when you pet her. Find something she thinks is irresistible (you might have to experiment). Go in there and read, talk, do your exercises, turn a radio on (leave it on all day when you're not around). She has to get used to you.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I do lay on the floor next to the bed (when she's under) and just talk to her. I can tell if she doesn't want me to try petting her. Every time I pass a room she's in, I stop and talk to her. So I hope that is helping her feel at ease. Maybe that is why she is a tiny bit less scared of me than my fianceé. When he goes to visit her, he gives her treats but she eats them and runs. She sure does love food lol
 

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I agree with Mowmow. It is going to take time. In the meantime, enjoy Autumn. She is a doll! Penny needs time to see that no one is going to hurt her and she can feel safe. Put yourself in the cats position. If someone were trying to force their pets on you, you probably wouldn't like it either.

Patience is a virtue. And she has a wonderful home now. Good job!
 

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When I got Nebbie, who was dropped off at the shelter, she wouldn't let me touch her. For 6 months, I couldn't even get within 5 feet of her. Now, 3 years later, she even lets my rambunctious 5 year old nephew pet her (sometimes, if he comes at her slow and quiet).

I didn't ignore her, but I also didn't force any attention on her. I live in a studio apartment, so there really wasn't anywhere for her to HIDE. other than the little 'cave' in the cat tower/tree. I just went about my daily tasks as normal, making short eye contact if I passed her. I constantly talk to my cats, and after 2 years, she started responding (even if I called Paizly, Nebbie would come running up to me as if she wanted to be petted, but then ducked away if I reached my hand out...such a weirdo! LOL)

When your cat learns that you guys aren't a threat and won't harm her, she might not be as skittish. Of course, it may just be her personality, too. Zinny has been inside for 1 year total and in/out for a year before that. She still acts feral most of the time...took me a good half hour to "chase" her around the house the other day to take her to the vet. I even put out canned food, but since I was sitting by it, she didn't dare come take some. I finally got her when she jumped onto her shelf with her blanket (maybe she just gave up and LET me get her).
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Thanks everyone! I've got a lot of hope for her. I can tell (by certain things she's done) that she will warm up to us. I'll be patient.
 

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I agree with Vivid Dawn. Think of it as benign neglect :) One reason for the difference between your two is their age. Autumn is a baby, she doesn't know that you are a scary human :) Penny is older and more suspicious.

You have to give her time. Franny was 3 when she came to live with Franklin and me. She spent the first week under the couch. Slowly, over 9-12 months, she began to trust me. It was 6 months before she didn't bolt when I came near her and another 3-6 months before she would let me touch her if we were in the same zip code. I never approached her for the sake of approaching her. I talked to her all the time. She came to me on her terms and know she is a major lap cat. That's her in front :)



I would not try and pet her while she is under the bed. It is a safe place for her and you're "violating" it when you try and pet her there. Lots of calm conversation and no approaching. That's what worked for Franny!
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Murphy's Law - progress with Penny tonight! I decided to feed her (usually I let my fianceé try since she is more scared of him). I tapped the can and she emerged from the room and came down the first set of stairs. She flirted with me, rubbing against the wall and what not. She sniffed me and then went back up to the top of the stairs as if to say "Come feed me master". So I went downstairs and tapped the can and said "Come on Penny, dinner!" and put the food into the bowls. The little one came charging down, shortly after Penny came down behind her, all on her own!

Of course, now my fianceé is upset that he can't get her to do that. But I will enjoy tonight's progress!
 

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I do lay on the floor next to the bed (when she's under) and just talk to her. I can tell if she doesn't want me to try petting her. Every time I pass a room she's in, I stop and talk to her. So I hope that is helping her feel at ease. Maybe that is why she is a tiny bit less scared of me than my fianceé. When he goes to visit her, he gives her treats but she eats them and runs. She sure does love food lol
It's ok if she eats and runs. I see that you are both doing the right things; you're right, you give her more attention, she will warm up to you faster. It will just take time, you are both doing great! Her LOVING food is a good thing. Continue to use it to your advantage.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Small update: this morning Penny was all over me. She rubbed against my legs and then wanted to be pet. I pet her, she flopped over and wanted a belly rub. I was very happy. She still runs and hides from my fianceé but I'm sure that will change.
 

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Since you adopted her, you probably don't know her history. Perhaps she had a bad experience with a male human in the past. Or it could be a multitude of other reasons. Anyways, the key for your fiancee is to be VERY patient and not to have expectations.

If he has these expectations in his head that he wants her to pay attention to him soon or by a certain time period he'll feel frustrated if there's lack of progress. She's going to feel that frustation and it'll be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

When I got Cap'n Jack off the streets he was so skittish even putting on a coat would scare the crap out of him. He was scared of anything and everything. Even now after about a year or so, he'll occasionally still be startled over little things, but he's greatly improved.

The key is to yes..talk, talk and talk. At the onset when I had him confined to calm him, I was going into his room every day after work with a book or laptop. I would tell him about my day or read the book out loud but I would only sneak small glances at him. I wouldn't openly stare or try to get physically close to him. Be as unthreatening as possible, speak in your normal, natural tone of voice (none of that cutesy I'm-talking-to-my-cuddly-wuddly-cat voice). I'd do this for at least an hour or so or until my butt started to hurt from the stool. He'd hide behind the toilet tank, but you could see him keep on eye on me in case I tried anything.

I'd do everything in stages over time and if he looked at all uncomfortable, I'd backtrack. First was gaining trust so the talking and presence. Then petting his head, then picking him up, then picking him up and carrying him for some distance, then picking him up and placing him in my lap......so on and so forth.

Going slow at the cat's pace and level of comfort is important. Don't push her to accept you, be persistent and consistent with your methods. And yes, I think talking and your presence is very important. My mom is always home and I do work full-time, but because I spent so much one on one time with Jack at the beginning, he'll only allow me and no one else to do the trust based activities like clipping his nails, follow me around, come when called. For a reference point, it's taken me about a year to progress to the nail clipping milestone so tell your fiancee to be patient!
 
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