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Advice - please help

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
Could anyone give advie on two 8 week old kittens who are not settling into thier new home. They seem to have bonded with one another more and be afraid of the new owners. The new owners have complained that the cats are fine together but not with them, seeming quite afraid and scratchy. They have so far taken the hands off approach. I suggested feeding chicken by hand and allowing them to become hungry so they have to approach the new owners for food. I also suggested enforced seperation of the 2 kittens for short periods whilst one each of the owners was doing the hand feeding etc. The new owners found the meowing of the kittens whilst seperated quite difficult to tolerate.

I have the other pair of kittens who seem quite active, they are bonded well with one another, but I have had success in playing with them, and having them for a stroke on my lap. One is more affectionate than the other, but it's early days yet. One will sit a few minutes for a stroke and the other wants to get away quite quickly, I feel this is a normal range in kitten/cat temperament. There were 5 kittens and 1 of them was a singularly homed cat who seemed slightly more outgoing than all of them, I will find out later today how she is doing.

I also advised the new owners to try the DAP diffuser, but as they only collected the kittens 2 days ago, I feel the kittens still need quite a lot more time to get to know the new ownwers and respond to them. I did pick up that one of the new owners was upset that the kittens weren't very cuddly and was stressed that they were doing something wrong, and it has made me worry a bit that the new owners may feel like giving up, before they will manage to bring the kittens round.

I feel this will take maybe 3-4 week of thier time, but one of the owners is at home all day and was very excited to get the kittens. I just feel that the kittens have not met the new owners expectations - I feel this is a yet and that with the right bonding process they will grow into a lovely pair. I would hope that hand feeding and gentle encouragement with a little bit of sibling seperation and human bonding could work.

I am eager to give the new owners any additional support and advice they need as they are a lovely couple who could provide a wonderful permanent home if we can pass these initial teething problems.

I would love some support and encouragement to pass on if possible please.
post #2 of 10
Tell them this:
Have they tried eye contact. Because if you stare at at kitten, they think you're angry, so you have to close your eyes/half close your eyes when you want to look at them.

Also, try quiet. Kittens are supposed to like peace and quiet when they arrive at a new home.

Umm..apart from that, I don't know...give them time, relax, don't worry about them, they will bond when they feel like it.
post #3 of 10
Thread Starter 
Thank you Cercia.

has anyone else got anything more to add?

I spoke to my vet who said the same as me really. the couple spoke to their vet who suggested a cat behaviouralist - which seemed a rip off to me as they are 8 weeks old so this is hardly ingrained behaviour. The couple had just bought a DAP diffuser from their vet so I felt the vet could be more helpful than perhaps suggest this extreme measure so soon on. They could have offered more targeted advice and support, after all the owners live next door and will be regulars at the surgery.

My daughter who has the single kitty spoke to me earlier, and said the same as last night, that aside from the initial wariness and hiding kitty has eventually come out to have a mooch around. They have another older cat there and big cat seems largely unaffected as yet by little kitty.

I am still open to any advice, suggestions, links etc. I have also offered to go to the new owners home and try to give them a hand with them, as I will be a familiar face and they may respond to me more as they know me from living here. I think some of the kittys reaction is environmental and they are missing Mum, but I am happy to do anything so that the kittens remain as a permanent pair with the new owners, as it's going to be a five star home if we can surpass the teething problems now.
post #4 of 10
IMHO it sounds like a bad move to seperate them
Think about it, they're young (8 weeks is awfully young to be away from mom), they've been taken away from everything they know except each other. They're in a place that looks funny, smells funny and these big strange deep voiced people keep staring them down. They probably just need time (and yummy food).
post #5 of 10
Can you direct the owners to some literature about cat behavior? Books, printed out info, webpages. If they have some idea that the kittens are just doing what comes natural to them (they're tiny things and we're big lumbering beasts, afterall ), they may not get quite so frustrated.

Is there any reason why the babies couldn't have been given to the people later? At 12 weeks? As was said, 8 weeks is awfully young and they're going to be much easier to startle/confuse at that stage.

Are the current owners providing the kittens with some formula in their wet food? and a secure place to sleep and hide, like a box? Sitting with the kittens while they eat should help some, they'll quickly associate the human with yummy food. For now the people need to be careful not to move too fast and to get down on the kittens level as much as possible, and quiet sweet voices help, no yelling.
post #6 of 10
They need some time to adjust to their new home. They are awfully young, and going to a new home is a very scary thing. Everything looks, sounds and smells different than what they are used to. Be careful of loud noises and sudden movement. Just be gentle with them and they will adjust, it may take a few weeks.
post #7 of 10
Thread Starter 
I am very grateful indeed for the amount of feedback. I did actually mention for the new owners not to seperate them after some thought and discussion with a friend of mine who works with animals. I have also provided some specific cat behaviour literature.

I have tried the things I suggested they try with their two kittens, on my 2 remaining kitts here and they have adapted very well indeed. They are loads friendlier in just a few sessions over two days. The couple haven't had as much luck with the rehomed kittys and I have said I am happy to pop over and see what they're getting upto. I am also going to assess the kitten friendliness of the room they are in and see if if I can offer any more advice and some practical hands on work with the kittens.

In addition to this I had also though of offering to take them back for another few weeks, I just wasn't sure if now they'd moved away bringing them back would traumatise them even even more, especialy after moving them back over there.

New owners have got all the right food and formula incidentally as I gave them a comprehensive kitty pack.

I will have a think overnight, but I am quite prepared to take them back for longer and even delay Mums speying which is booked for 13th this month - any advice on that as it's in just over a week. I just thought it may be easier for me to do hands on feeding and petting here whilst they still have their parents around, rather than keep travelling to the 2 new owners at home.

I have got a few time consuming commitments coming up myself so I don't want to take on too much but would welcome others opinions.

Thank you once again.
post #8 of 10
A few suggestions for helping timid cats bond with people that I've come across:

- leave a recently worn sweaty shirt in the room with them so they can get used to your smell (it sounds icky, but makes sense!)
- quietly go into the room and read allowed to them so they will get used to your voice
- never pull a kitten out of hiding, but entice them out with food and kind words
-always put them down when they want down so they won't feel 'trapped' in your arms
- play,play,play! I like the wand with a feather on it.

I'm sure the little ones will adapt.
post #9 of 10
Thread Starter 
Thank you for those tips, sorry I haven't been about I am unwell with a flu type virus and feel terrible.
post #10 of 10
Maybe it's different in the UK, but... unless I'm crazy, DAP is actually for dogs, not cats! I think it stands for "Dog-Appeasing Pheromone" or something like that. The corresponding product for cats is called Feliway, and it comes in a "Comfort Zone" diffuser.

Someone please correct me if I've got that wrong...
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