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I know adjustment periods vary from cat to cat...but it's been a little over a month since my BF and I adopted 2 female cats from a rescue group and my patience is wearing thin :( I feel like I am doing something wrong, despite doing heavy research into how to bond with them & taking any advice I can from my cat experienced friends. It is exhausting being constantly rejected and I feel like these cats just don't like us and may never will! I can't tell if they are still adjusting or if they were just never properly socialized?

The girls are 11 months old (Bella is a DLH tabby, Bambi is a DSH), they are from the same litter and were fostered indoors only with 3 other littermates + 5 dogs I was told. I thought this would be a suitable match since we have a part-time dog in the household (I take care of my parents' small dog on the weekends). Honestly, they are angels compared to some of the other cat stories I've read- they use the litter box perfectly, hardly scratch furniture, play with each other a lot & sometimes with us...but they avoid being touched like the plague. I have only pet them when they were distracted with a feather toy, but once they realize it's my hand on them, they jump up and run away. Bambi is food motivated and she will eat out of our hand, but Bella will not eat unless we are a good couple of feet away. Their foster mom was free-feeding them since they were kittens, so that's what we mistakenly did for the first 2 weeks until my friend suggested we only feed them when we are present so they will associate us with food. If I approach them, they run and duck for cover. If I approach with food, they sometimes still run, other times will cautiously come towards the bowls to eat. We try to play with them daily (feather sticks, lasers) but sometimes they get uninterested so we leave them be. Bambi is often more interested in playing than Bella is. The strange thing is, when we first met them prior to adopting, Bella was more friendly & interested in us while Bambi hid in a corner with fear. Bambi has obviously improved greatly...while Bella seems to have a much harder time trusting us, to the point where she will hiss if we get too close.

Due to their skittish & stand-offish behavior, I've pretty much given up introducing them to my parents' dog and have decided to just not take the dog on the weekends anymore...which is heartbreaking :sad2 In the past month, I have kept the dog in our bedroom with the door shut at first and later on a baby gate up. The cats have peeked into the room but bolt once they see the dog or hear us moving.

It's not that I'm dying for their affection (well, I am, but I can wait for that), my main concern is that it's been 4.5 weeks since they've been brushed, nails trimmed, and no flea treatment applied yet. The only way we got them to their vet check-up the first week was because they were already sleeping in their carriers the morning of the appointment. I keep reading & hearing how we should not force contact or try to chase them down, but how are we supposed to wait for them to come around when they could possibly be infested with fleas? One of my friends said to just grab them and apply the flea treatment. My BF seems to want to wait and try to give them Capstar oral flea medication in the meantime, which I know only kills adult fleas and does nothing for preventative measures. I'm thinking maybe it'd be best to lure them into a carrier and have a vet or groomer handle it?

On a final note...I am resorting to posting on this board because their foster mom doesn't seem to have any answers for me. She's admitted to being more of a dog-person and her rescue deals mostly with dog adoptions, but she decided to foster this litter after a feral cat gave birth to them in her garage. She said she was surprised that they were behaving like this and would ask around for advice & get back to me...but never did. I've sent her another email, but I guess it wouldn't hurt to hear from others as well. Sorry if this has been a long post...but thank you for reading!
 

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Have you seen fleas on them (or jumping off them)? If they have fleas, that could explain their jumpiness and other behavior. Imagine if you were being bitten and itching constantly. They don't know that it's not you doing that to them. (just a thought, I'm reaching here).

As to the time, they're still settling in. Kittens adapt much quicker, they're a little older and it may take longer. And you never know, they could have been traumatized by being around 5 dogs. Heck, I might be, too! Maybe only one of the dogs picked on them and nobody noticed.

You're right, you are very lucky that they're well-behaved and use the litter box and don't scratch. The closeness will come in time. My cats go through phases. There were times the twins were only into each other and had no interest in being lap cats or cuddling. Now I can't keep Charlee off my lap when I'm on the computer, and they both snuggle with me in bed while I'm watching t.v.

I would bite the bullet and definitely get them to a vet to get checked out, bathed, nails trimmed, treated for fleas if necessary. It'll be a rough day, but worth it afterwards.
 

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^I have not seen any fleas, but do notice them scratching themselves about once a day. I read somewhere that a dog or even your shoes can bring in fleas, so it may just be a few bites for the time being. I agree that a vet or groomer visit would be best since we could get all the other issues covered in one go! Guess it's about time I start leaving them some treats inside their carriers!

My BF suspects the cats were a bit neglected and not properly socialized with dogs & people like the foster mom claimed. They were described as cats that like to be held and pet...which as of now, can't be further from the truth! LOL. Hopefully once they completely trust us, they will exhibit some affection. They do roll around in front of us in the middle of play as if they want to be pet, but alas, jump up & run off when we reach out. We also try not to be pushy or smothering, so we do the ignore thing too in hopes they come looking for us...but no luck.

I don't want to give up on them and it's reassuring to hear you say they are still adjusting. Thank you so much for your input, Marie73!
 

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Sometimes cats don't like being approached straight-on. If you lie down on the floor with them, they may be less hesitant. From their viewpoint, people are GIANTS!!

Cleo has owned me for four years and she's my loner kitty. She mostly keeps to herself during the day, but likes to be in the same room as me. She watches the twinz' Calibratz Show for entertainment. She's never been lap cat, doesn't care for being touched as a rule, squeals like I'm swinging her by the tail when I pick her up, BUT - she has to sleep next to me, touching my face or neck and falls asleep purring. All my cats are very different and I love them for their uniqueness. When I first brought the twinz home, they had each other, so they weren't the touchy-feely kittens that some are. But having each other is a wonderful thing.

You'll probably get better ideas and advice tomorrow.
 

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I agree with Marie, some cats just aren't cuddle bugs. Pinky isn't a lap cat (most of the time) but loves being in the same room as us and laying in bed with us. Where as Bitsy (who lives with my parents back home) HAS to be carried around and HAS to cuddle or she starts meowing. Cats are like humans, each with a unique personality. And with the fact that your two new adoptees are siblings, they have each other and always have had each other.
 

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Mine were 4 years old when we got them...it took Lickorish over a month to warm to me, and over 2 months for her to even stop hissing at my hubby, 3 months before he could pet her. Squeek was much quicker, only a couple weeks. I was told by the foster it can take anywhere from 2 to 6 months for adult cats, and at 4 months you should have a good idea of where its going. Yours were much younger though, so maybe it is a socialization issue.
 

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Ginfis is the same as Cleo. it is very rare when she requires some attention from me and my bf during the day. But as soon as we get into the bed, she jumps on the bed and purrs loudly. sometimes she wants us to pet her. even if she follows us everywhere we go, she is not a lap cat at all! soem kitties are just like that!
 

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As others have said, time is your friend. As far as brushing, nail clipping etc. I also agree that the vet should do this. The vet may not brush, but will check for fleas, clip their nails and make sure they're in good shape. The other benefit to letting the vet do this is that they won't hold it against you :)

Franny was 3 when I brought her home. She spent the first week under the couch. It was a couple of months before I was allowed to be in the same zip code with her. Slowly, very slowly she softened. I never approached her but I talked to her. Now she is a world champion lap cat!

Good things come to those who wait :)

Kyle
 

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Time is your only healer here. If their Mom was feral they would have learned to behave cautiously from her. Both of my babies were feral and it was 2 months inside at the rescue plus about 2-3 months with me before I could reach for them to pet them and not have them run away and a total of 5-6 months before that was consistent. Even now 1.5 yrs later I still cannot pet either of them if I'm standing. They are both snugglebugs now though if I'm in bed or on the sofa. That first headbutt from Pedro when they'd been with me for almost 6 months made all the changes to my life and the consistency & persistence worth it.

I second the suggestion to lay on the floor with them. I spent oodles of time on the floor during those first few months. Also, while they're nervous of guests they most quickly warm up to a friend of mine who will lay on the floor with them pretty much the whole weekend when visiting! Pedro will come right out when he visits & Apple comes out faster for him than anyone else.

Definitely stop approaching them and let them come to you. While they are predators of tiny critters they are also prey animals because of their size as feral animals and because people are nasty to feral kitties. You approaching them likely sets off well taught feral alarms.

Lots of eye kisses are great for affection. Be cautious about exposing your teeth. Smiling is counter productive! I learned this with these two. When I stopped smiling at them they started approaching. Loads of baby-ish tones when speaking to them.

I think unless the dog is able to be a permanent household fixture for a few weeks, that pup's coming and going is being counter productive by shaking up your home environment. Once they are settled and much more stable perhaps visits would be more sensible, but in this early learning to trust stage I suspect the sound changes & your routine changes are jarring.

Definitely would recommend you feed them on a schedule so that they associate you with food rather than free feeding. Create a food routine. My two associate the words "Food time" or "hungry" or "time to eat" with time to run to their bowls. Those are the things I have said from the start before going to get their dishes to fill.

And with everything, routine routine routine. Even things like you not showering at the same time on weekends can rattle them if they're struggling to settle so on weekends it's up and at 'em! After about 7ish months I was able to relax my schedule a bit. Apple is very routine oriented and is a little clock. Pedro is stressed by changes to routine, but definitely neither of them are affected by Saturdays in jammies on the sofa anymore vs up and at it and out the door as though it's a work day.

I would definitely take them to the vet to get nails trimmed and flea stuff applied. They'll be more comfortable with that and comfort means more likely to be able to focus on those lovey eye kisses & playtime from their human Mommy & Daddy.
 

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It took me a few months to get a feral kitten to accept me. It does take patience to get new cats to get comfortable around people. If they were originally feral cat, it often takes a bit longer.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thank you all for the extensive advice and input!

I knew before adopting them that they weren't going to be cuddle-bugs or lap cats...but I didn't think they would be this scared (or disgusted? Haha) of human contact after a month.

I never thought of the possibility of them being feral at an early age would affect their current behavior. I don't recall if their foster mom took them in immediately after birth but she didn't specify them as being previously feral so I assumed that wouldn't be an issue. They were spayed & vaccinated for rabies at 4 months, so I guess there is the possibility they were feral up to that point? I really hope that is not the case though because I would feel a bit misled, as I'm a first time cat owner and was not prepared for under-socialized cats :???: I've lived with dogs nearly all my life, so this is all new to me. My BF has grown up with cats but these cats are even confusing him too. I guess we just need to be extra patient and will have our work cut out for us!
 

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Oh, and BTW...my babies actually turned a year old the day before I made my original post! I was too neurotic and worried over their behavior to remember their birthdays! :oops:
 

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Meme a cat that was dumped into the office park I worked at didn't get along with the other office cat, she escape into the warehouse went into the loft above the office and refused to come out.
Since she'd shown a liking to me I took over her care I would place her food, water and litter box at the top of the stair, when she got comfortable I started sitting beside her as she ate and petted her.
I then moved her food to the bottom of the stairs, I'd call her and she'd come down for breakfast and dinner.
Then one day she followed me to the shop where I worked at the other end of the warehouse and from then on she spent most of the day either at my desk or guarding the warehouse door against the ferals.
This took months of patients on my part, she was a cat that had a damaged spirit that had to be rebuild over time.
One day when I was out on a job she got locked out and was missing for several days until I came back in the evening and called for her, she was hiding in the bushes across the street.
Shortly after that I took her home even though my apartment didn't allow cats, she spent the remaining years of her life as the Queen of my home.
This all took a lot of effort on my part but the love I received in return humbles me to this day, Meme absolutely adored me.
 

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A month is nothing. It took Mia almost a year to nose touch my nose.

Treats. If you dispense treats you'll be loved.
 
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