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2 weeks ago we adopted 2 13 week old kittens from a shelter. A black cat (Church) and a ginger tabby (Arthur). Both male and the last of their litter.
We picked them out before visiting, when we got there to see them they were both very timid, hiding away and not wanting to be touched. However Arthur would accept being petted and picked up without argument, Church would hiss when you went near. The shelter said they were very timid and would need extra time to socialise, up to 3 weeks in their own room.

We brought then home and set them up in their own room with everything they needed. We visit to feed 3 times a day and then when we get time to sit and play for a while.

Arthur became friendly fairly quickly, playing closely, flinching when we went to pet then starting to accept it and will now allow himself to be picked up without complaint. Church runs and hides, we have petted him and picked him up but he hasn't improved his reaction to us much at all.

They were getting interested in the door last week so on advice from the shelter we let them out into the upstairs with access to only one room, after a couple of days they started going in and out all the time, that was 2 days ago and now we're up to date.

Current situation: when not in their room, Arthur is very timid and doesn't like being petted, he is getting better. He doesn't play outside of their room much, been trying to get him to hunt so he feels brave, I'm sure he'll get there.

Church is another matter, he also happily goes between rooms but still avoids us like the plague, if he comes across one of us without Arthur he hisses and hides.

I'm afraid we're pushing Arthur forwards in his socialisation at the expense of Church, he's not got any better around us, but we can't split them up. They won't go near the stairs but I assume they'll wait until they have laid claim to the upstairs.

How can we help Church improve? How can we get to the point where we don't feel like large scary things that are just a hindrance to their enjoyment of the upstairs?

Just wanting some advice, personal experience or reassurance. Our last 2 cats were totally different, instantly friendly and very happy just sleeping on us or the bed after only a few days. We're keeping them whatever, they obviously had a hard time as kittens and a nice home is what they deserve, it just doesn't feel like they think this is a nice home.
 

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I think they just need more time to adjust. My Cleo, after 12 years, still HATES being picked up and is definitely not a lap cat. But she loves hanging out next to me, usually on the arm of my chair. For years, all my girls used to be terrified of strangers, they would actually hide if they heard anyone talking in the cul-de-crap I used to live on. Now, they'll come out to greet strangers. I wouldn't worry about your kittens' behavior right now, they've been through a lot and they need to feel safe and secure.

On the other hand.....seriously?? You have kittens and we don't get pictures? :oops:
 

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Sorry! What a faux pas on my part!

Bit oversaturated but it's the only way to see Church, black cats eh?

128804
 

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OMGosh! Worth the wait! I love black cats, but I have a special place in my heart for orange boys.
 

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Oh, they are sweet boys. Like Marie, I've got friendly cats that draw the line at being picked up and held. And some cats never adjust to strangers. The cleaning people who have been coming to my house for over 6 months, still haven't set eyes on my indoor cat because she hides every time they show up.

You might try giving Church something nice that he gets only if he comes to you for it: catnip (if he likes it), special treats, tuna juice whenever you're making tuna salad. My newest adopted stray lets me pet him for as long as he's eating. As soon as he finishes, he backs off and gives me a dirty look. But this is a huge improvement over the way he acted when he first showed up about a year ago.
 

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I was hoping that because they were still young we could draw them both out and make them friendly kittens, I guess not all cats are destined to be lap cats.

I give them treats when I'm in the room so they know they only get nice things when we're around.

I was wondering something else, we try to pet and pick up both cats daily to get them used to it, it worked on Arthur but not church. Should we stop trying to pet church so he stops expecting it and hopefully gets more settled or would not petting him daily set him back?
 

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Maybe if you pick Church up and give him treats while you're petting him and holding him in your lap? That might make him associate good things with being picked up and held. Cats change habits and likes and dislikes constantly, I didn't mean to imply that this is how he's always going to be, sorry about that. My twins had each other when I first brought them home, so they didn't really rely on me for playtime, etc. But as they got a little older, they wanted their Mom's attention. I think you're doing everything right, it might just take time.

Your picture is giving me kitten fever. They're just adorable.
 

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They really are, Church actually has a white bib which increases his cuteness tenfold

128805


Managed to get that last night while testing the hands of approach, after he realised I wasn't going to try petting him he relaxed a bit and played closer to me
 

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That's great! I adopted Cleo when she was over a year old, so I have no black kitten pics. Love this picture.
 

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Cats looove chicken, so what I would do is get a Baby food jar of plain chicken (no veg.). Put a 1/4 teaspoon on a plate and let them eat the chicken. When they start looking for more give them a bit more. Continue for a while, then instead of on the plate, offer it to them on a finger, and then the palm of your hand. When they are really eager and comfortable with this. Put a little on the plate and while they are eating it gently lift them up just off the floor and then immediately put them back down. If they go back to eating, do it again, until they are comfortable with being lifted up and not fussing or running away. Associate this bribing with the word "treats?" in a questioning voice, and soon they'll connect this word with getting the food. Try involve them in play by sitting on the floor and dragging a cord/ribbon/ over your legs and around your body and over your lap. When they're enjoying this, just pick them up off the floor and set them down again quickly. If you repeat this over and over, and stroking them gently while they are eating they should become less hand-shy, Arthur may take a little longer, but he likely will realize that there is nothing to be affraid of by being picked up, especially if you have a treat for him. They should get to the point where you can randomly pick them up without any fuss. All the best!
 

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I second the chicken or turkey baby food...but skip the plate and use a baby spoon. Lure them progressively closer until onto your lap. Pets while food going in.

Also can help to separate for a few days. A lonely cat likes people more than one with a cat buddy. Seems mean but really works. A bathroom works well for this (few places to hide).

When out and about....do the baby food then too. Keep the jar in your pocket. :)

Gerber works best. Chicken or turkey. Not beef.
 

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I hope this doesn't sound too vicious, but the way we socialized two little boys (brothers) we took in was to withhold food unless we personally fed them!

They were in a room by themselves, in a crate (like the big dog crate you crate a dog in?) Not a carrier to take them to the vet. So they could see/smell all the things around them, our stuff. We kept a towel over it so it wasn't too overwhelming with all the sights, but it gave them a way to feel safe. But they only got food when we could feed them by hand. In that way, they associated us with their food (a good thing!) and make them less afraid/skittish.

I will admit they were a lot younger than your boys, but I would definitely go to some semblance of that behavior. Make them come to you (especially Church). It sounds like Arthur is coming along nicely. As was suggested, you cannot make them into "lap pets," but I suspect Arthur will become a snuggler eventually. One of our boys, Bartholemeow, was the stand-offish one. I considered giving him away once we got them socialized, but changed my mind when I realized how much they loved each other. Now, he's my special snuggle bunny boy, and more loving (in some ways) than his brother, Jack, although Jack was more out-going and the first to realize he had to be nice to us to get his food!

Anyways, it's too late to say I would've kept them in the crate awhile longer until Church no longer hissed, etc., but that ship has sailed.

Just keep giving them treats and their space (as much as possible without Church being allowed to remain antisocial) until they come around more. You might try to keep Church in his room more with the door closed and approach him in there, where he can't really run too far away from you. Sit in there and talk to him - without approaching him - and of course, have treats he'll want! I suspect that will make you a friend quickly.

We have the rest of the family - all feral - in our backyard. We still feed them. Lots of brothers and sisters, and momma, too. There are only two - after almost FIVE YEARS - that will come close to us. Two that will actually come inside if given half a chance. But, one is allergic to fleas, I think. She gets big scabs and bare spots on her fur. I try to sprinkle borax on her, which repels the fleas. If I go outside, where we feed them, she WON'T come close to the food while I'm out there! But if I let her inside the house, while she's "exploring" the one room she'll come into - she will actually let me sprinkle it on her AND RUB IT INTO HER FUR!

Go figure how cats think.....
 

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Yes, I did something rather like that with a feral and also with a stray. To be fed, they had to come to me and let me touch them... well, I had to get them close enough to touch first, as they were not confined, and food was the magnet. But then it was pet-pet-pet while they ate.

The feral was always skittish and would leap away in fright if something (what??) spooked him, but the stray became an absolute snuggler.
 

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I would not push it with your shy guy. Let him enjoy your company and play on you without letting him if that’s what he likes for now. Hopefully he will improve. We rescued a 1 1/2 wk old guy 10 yrs ago and he would play on me, around me etc but never liked being pet. Doesn’t like being held unless it’s his idea. He’s improved and a very sweet guy but never the lap cat love doves guy our other three have been. He loves us though because since my hubby retired and been home all day with him he cries if he goes out in the yard till he comes back in. He will come to us and paw us when HE wants pet and does put up with it if we initiate but just for awhile. Last few years he has even started laying in my husbands chair next to him with his paws over his legs at night but only after I go to bed! Just be patient and give him time and don’t push or force things on him. That could just make it worse. Always include him, and let him participate to his liking to build his trust in you. Our little guy does have some favorite treats that he will do anything for. Using those I got so I could brush him and I taught him to give kisses, sit down and give me five. So just bide you time and bless you for giving those cuties a safe loving home.
 

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I've helped some of my cats overcome shyness by having them come to me for food. There was no other way to get any, so they had no choice than to come and learn that I'm friendly ;)
 

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He might look like this when older! Lucky was 5 mos old &
3 days out of a colony when he was given to me. Really a wild thing but sweet. After a couple weeks isolation I'd lay on the floor and let him take treatsout of a jar. You seem to be on the right track I think by not trying to pet him til he's more comfortable. It turned out holding a brush out to him and eventually brushing him finally made him more comfy being petted.
 

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