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New here-probs with adopted cat

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
Hello all - my name's Kaz and I'm new here!

I have a query and I'm not sure which is the correct forum to post it, so I'd be most grateful if someone could either answer this or direct me to the correct place.

Our next door neighbours moved away 4 days ago. They asked us to adopt their two cats, Sylvester and Pepper. Sylvester (black and white, semi-long haired moggy, with the intelligence of a sponge cake, a very lovely boy and great fun) has more or less lived with us for the last 3 years anyway out of choice so he's not the problem. The problem is Pepper (tortie). She is a very nervous little girl who will only let you touch her on her terms, not particularly friendly (to say the least). She was born on a farm and I don't think had a great deal of human contact before she was 6 weeks old so, consequently, is a cat-cat rather than a people-cat. This is fine, it's what she is. Trouble is, I'm concerned about how long it will take for her to realise that she has to come indoors to our house. She knows she can eat here, she used to pop in occasionally and has been in a few times since her previous owners left, but last night she just sat outside their catflap (which has been locked by the new owners who don't know the situation) and cried and cried to be let it - it nearly broke our hearts.

Do you guys think we should just bide our time and let her make her own mind up about what she wants to do, even if it includes running away? She already knows she can come and get food from our house, but I'm bothered about not knowing where she sleeps. She knows that her 'brother' Sylvester is here, but, although they don't fight, they're not particularly close so I don't think that when she sees him in the house she'll think 'hmmm, he's there so I guess it's OK...'

Any ideas?
post #2 of 10
Welcome to the site Kaz! That's a tough situation to be in. Cats are creatures of habit, and Pepper doesn't understand that her previous owners are not there any more. She is confused and probably feels abandoned. Poor girl. Is there any way you can keep her in your house for a few days or more? Obviously she is indoor/outdoor, but this would get her used to your house as her home, and also used to your family as people she can trust. I wouldn't let her to her own devices, i.e. running away. There are too many dangers out there for cats.

What an angel you are for taking these two cats in. Much better option than taking them to a shelter.
post #3 of 10
Thread Starter 
Thanks, Heidi, for your welcome and your reply.

I have thought about keeping her in the house for a few days, which I've done before with my own cats when we've moved house so I know it works, but I can't help wondering if that will freak her out completely and, once let out, she'll DEFINITELY not come back in because she knows if she does, she won't be able to get out!

I came home this evening to find that my husband had got home before me and had managed to entice her to come in for some food. I'm hoping that if we keep doing the food thang, she'll (fairly soon) get round to realising that this is the only place where she'll get fed. I know she'll come in if she's hungry, but she just won't stay in, and with the weather here in England now starting to get cold, I can't help wondering where she's sleeping at nights. Our cat flap is permanently unlocked so she can come in whenever she wants. Maybe she has another house that she goes to, in which case, fine, she can eat here and sleep there, but I wish I knew so I could stop worrying so much about her.....
post #4 of 10
Hi Kaz-

You can bring her indoors, but it would have to be for more than a few days. You would need a place where you could keep her for at least a month (or maybe longer) depending on how it goes. A room away from the mainstream of traffic where all her needs will be met and she could have as much interaction with you as possible during that time. You would need to provide her in this room a place where she can escape if she feels the need such as a cardboard box or even a carrier with the door off, covered with a blanket- a sort of cave.

The reason you can't just keep in for a few days is you have to re-program her brain to understand that now she is with someone who cares for her, and her needs will be met by you. Once she has gotten to that trust stage she will be easier to work with, but since she has not had much interaction with people, she is really more on the feral side and should be treated like they are. Patience, love, and soft lighting, classical music, reading to her while she is confinement and doing other things will help with her adjustment. I wrote an article about handling feral cats- and I will leave the link to it. You might want to read it and see sort of what you are up against with this poor abandoned kitty.

Bless you for taking both of these in- especially with winter coming- and I am moving this post to the behavior forum for you so others with knowledge can help you and share their similiar stories. Good luck!

And although I know she is not a true feral, she has been neglected and has had to revert to survival mode. She needs to know that now she will be loved and protected, and as this is the first time for her, it may take some time for you to get her to understand this.

Handling Feral Cats
post #5 of 10
If you can possibly get your hands on some piece of material that your problem kitty slept on at its previous home, that might prove an inducement to come into your home. Also, if she used an indoor litter box, a scoop of that added to yours might also be an enticement. Since your neighbors have already moved, this might prove difficult, but perhaps you might find a way to obtain either. Good luck.
post #6 of 10
Hi Kaz

Welcome - nice to have you here. I agree, you're a star for taking these kitties in. And I understand your dilema (sp) as my mother has recent adopted a rescue cat that is just not settling (she was neglected, and we suspect, abused a bit too).

Apart from all the other excelent advice offered above - have you thought about speaking with the new neighbours? Maybe explain the situation and see if they can't help you with getting Pepper used to having a new home. It could be that they pop her over the fence (if poss) every time she sits outside their door.

It would be a dreadful waste if Pepper roamed and some horrible fate became her. You'd feel pretty bad about it too.

Let us know how it goes, and good luck.
post #7 of 10
Thread Starter 
Thank you all for your kind welcome! I'm hoping that the situation has actually resolved itself since I first wrote - I came in this evening to find Pepper sitting on my desk! When I tentatively stroked her, she positively shouted at me to feed her, she raced me into the kitchen and sang and danced on her back legs, so I opened a tin of human tuna as a special treat and she wrestled the entire tin down her neck! She must have been one hungry little girl! I was going to mention the situation to the new neighbours in the hope that they might just let her in when it gets cold if she was still knocking at the door, but perhaps that won't happen now.

I should explain, though, that she isn't, and never has been, a feral cat. She lived happily next door and is very much an outdoors cat but because she'd been born on a farm the only close human relationship she'd had had been with the neighbours who moved away last week. They left the cats behind because they have a 3 year old little boy who demands so much of their attention they found they didn't have any left over for the cats, and they'd seen how much of a fuss we make of them, so decided it was kinder to leave the cats with the territory they knew and with the people who'd got the time and the inclination to give them as much attention as they want. If we hadn't been able to take Sylvester and Pepper, I'm sure they would have gone with the neighbours to the new house. The cats were loved by their previous owners but they felt the cats would have a better life if they stayed with us - which they will have! I just hope that Pepper continues to look on us as food and warmth providers to start off with and we can then build on the fun and cuddles side....

post #8 of 10
but this is according to her vet but he told her that tortie shell cats are KNOWN for their stubborness and alleged "grumpy" behavior. I think they're just more "cat like" is all myself!

If it were me I'd keep her inside a few days (like maybe 4 or five) feeding her, spoiling her, etc and see what happens. We tried taking in a neighbors cat but what ended up happening was another set of neighbors took her w/ them when they moved because we accidentally let her out one day. You may want to consider having her be an indoors cat, there's different things you can do to stimulate her and make that life more enjoyable.

Just random thoughts. I'm on my allergy meds today so I'm feeling a bit loopy! LOL! :laughing:

post #9 of 10
It seems to me these two colors seem to be a bit stand offish. They prefer to wait and see before the decide to keep you. I have found the are just too funny as they try to ignore you and get your attention at the same time. I'm attatching photos of my two terrors!
post #10 of 10
Previous photo is Rudyana and this is Hallie (short for Halloween)
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