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Heidi- long term foster SWEETIE

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
Heidi is the BIGGEST SWEETIE of all.. I have fostered her for over a year now- originally I rescued her from a feral colony as a kitten then adopted her out TWICE but both times, she was returned to me. I got Heidi Dec of 2005 and am still working on getting her to lose weight...

She's so shy (took me a month before she'd stay when I came into the bedroom and not go hide under the bed!) but sooooo affectionate! She LOVES being with me and always have to be right next to me so I hang out a lot in the bedroom now. She refuses to come out of the bedroom because of another cat- Pepper. That's another story!

Anyway, here she is!

She just MELTS whenever I pet her- she starts PURRING like MAD...

She feels really comfortable with Tango as you can see! This was the FIRST time I've seen any cats try to play with Heidi so I was THRILLED!!
Ignore the MESS on the carpet! I was working on scrapbooks..

Where are you?

Hey STUD!! Look at my beautiful belly....

Don't go! I want to play..

Come on!

Are you sure you wanna do this??
post #2 of 10
Heidi is a real cutiepie!
post #3 of 10
Aww she's a beauty!! She really wanted to play with Zebra!!!
Does she play with Buddy, Spike or Zebra?
post #4 of 10
She's so cute!
post #5 of 10
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by Nellers View Post
Aww she's a beauty!! She really wanted to play with Zebra!!!
Does she play with Buddy, Spike or Zebra?
HMMMM.. Tango is the only one she really feels SAFE with because Buddy and Zebra have hissed and swatted at her in the beginning. It doesn't help that Zebra and Pepper looks a lot alike too. Spike is a BIG WIMP. He is AFRAID of her- whenever he goes by her, he'd move just a bit FASTER!

Tango and Spike DO like to spend time with her in the bedroom so every morning, before I leave for work, Spike & Tango would be pawing at the bedroom door until I open it and let them in so they can keep Heidi company until I get back. (I have to keep door closed if I'm not there so I won't have to worry about Pepper attacking her- Pepper attacked her several times and she got one bad wound on her tail that got infected so I don't want that to happen again.. )

Poor Heidi has been through SOO much but is still the GENTLEST SOUL I ever know!! She is SLOWLY starting to feel more comfortable now and I think she's starting to stand up a bit to Pepper which I am very proud of.. Just last nite, Heidi was lounging under my chair half under my bed when Pepper walked past and Heidi swiped a paw at her so Pepper jumped back. LOl.. Heidi didn't touch her - just close enough to get Pepper's attention. LOL. Pepper has not attacked her for a while so I am hoping that it'll work out... Just time, love and patience I guess.. This is one reason why I'm still fostering her because I'm not sure if I am the BEST home for her FOREVER....
post #6 of 10
Oh, my heart melted when I saw Heidi! What a sweet, sweet girl! She is looking up at you with SO MUCH love in her eyes in that third pic!

Thank you for rescuing her! I have a feeling she's not really a foster anymore....

post #7 of 10
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by LDG View Post
Oh, my heart melted when I saw Heidi! What a sweet, sweet girl! She is looking up at you with SO MUCH love in her eyes in that third pic!

Thank you for rescuing her! I have a feeling she's not really a foster anymore....

Thanks for the compliments!!

I agree about the look on her face in the 3rd pic.. She just MELTS my heart. Even though she REFUSES to let me pick her up and hold.. She FREAKS out whenever I do that....

I would LOVE to keep her but I'm not sure if it'd be fair to her because she REFUSES to come out of the bedroom (due to fear of Pepper attacking her). What kind of life is that being in the bedroom all the time and going under the bed if Pepper comes near her?

I have been spending a lot of time in bedroom so she won't be alone so that really limits what I can do in the bedroom since I have no cable in bedroom so I watch a lot of DVDS as I scrapbook or play with her and/or other cats..

I just don't know.. *sigh*.. Tell me what u think honestly- fair to keep her knowing she'd live in the bedroom for rest of her life?? At this time, I KNOW it's better to foster her than her being out on the streets or cooped up in a shelter cage (especially with her extreme shyness)...
post #8 of 10
Boy - that's a really tough one.

Have you tried some "associate each other with good things" tricks? ...rubbing Pepper all over with a wash cloth or clean rag, and putting it under Heidi's food dish? Rubbing Heidi all over with a wash cloth, and putting that under whatever food dishes Pepper eats from? Then do the same thing - even a couple of times a day - every day (rubbing each kitty with a dry wash cloth or whatever) and putting treats on the cloth? (With Heidi's smell on it for Pepper's treats, and Pepper's smell on it for Heidi's treats). Be religious about it, and do it for a month... or months...

And why was she returned to you? Just because she was so shy?

We have kind of the same problem with Spooky and Tuxedo, though not nearly to the same extreme. I wrote up Spooky's story here: http://www.thecatsite.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=118192

She is so scared of other people, but loves us to bits. She did accept Gary's mom (after her visiting several times a year for four years). She's never had to hide in one room from Tuxie - but we did live in an RV with three cats for one year and a total of five cats for another year before moving into a house. The kitties were really happy in the RV - so there were five cats and two people in a place that was 37 feet long and 8 feet wide. Probably not much larger than your bedroom? Almost every pic I have from those days one kitty is snuggling with at least one other kitty. Once we moved into the house, they all spread out, and they don't cuddle anymore.

But once Tuxedo recovered and became alpha kitty, he started chasing Spooky. It seemed to us like "just because." We needed to settle down, and we figured the kitties needed more space. We rented a house. And once all the kitties got used to it - Tuxedo resumed chasing Spooky. Just because. She'll be lying on the end of the bed, Tuxie will come in, and lunge at her, swat her, and she'll bolt. Often he'll fly after her, and she'll go hide in a tent in one of the rooms. So our getting more space for the kitties didn't solve that problem!

It's hard on you, spending so much time in the bedroom. But even if it's just a few hours a day, and you spend time with her - petting if she wants it, or playing... basically making sure she gets some stimulation... it actually sounds like a wonderful life compared to what she would have.

Is there any way you can hang a bird feeder outside the window? Our kitties love sitting on a window perch watching birds. We've also placed cat trees in front of a number of windows and put bird feeders outside. They attract squirrels too - but they love watching squirrels as much as they love watching birds. Just ideas for more stimulation...

I mean - kitties are territory oriented. Heidi has a small territory - but it's nothing like a cage! And she obviously has so much love for you - it just radiates out of that picture.

Have you already tried Feliway and Rescue Remedy or Multi-cat Harmony flower essences? http://www.catfaeries.com

Another thing to try. Does Heidi like catnip? Let her drool and rub all over a catnip toy. Once it dries, give it to Pepper. It'll be catnip, which he probably loves - but with Heidi's smell on it. (Another "associate the other kitty with good things" trick).

Any way to entice Heidi out of the bedroom if Pepper is confined to another room for a few hours a day? Maybe if she gets used to the smells without being attacked, and Pepper gets used to her smell being around other parts of the house this could help?

I guess her love for you doesn't mean she won't be able to love someone else as much. But since she's already been returned twice.... I think this will make it more difficult for her to accept someone else. Maybe there's a young grandma widow out there with the patience for a shy kitty and she'd be an alone kitty. That seems like it would/could be a perfect situation. But if it doesn't turn up, it seems to me like Heidi has a great life full of love.

post #9 of 10
Thread Starter 

You have made some GREAT suggestions- I have already tried most but I have not tried this- rubbing one with a wash rag then putting it under other cat's dish and putting treats on the rag also. I will try that now!

Another thing I have been doing for the last couple weeks which seems to be helping a bit is pet both Heidi & Pepper at the same time and tell Pepper what a good girl she is... Pepper LOVES to be petted and will do ANYTHING to get petted so if she sees me petting Heidi, she'd come over and beg to be petted so I think that's a good sign.

Every morning for about half an hour or hour, I'd shut myself up in the bedroom with Heidi ALONE so she can have me to herself for a while. I KNOW she just LOVES that. I didn't want Heidi feeling left out or anything like that.

I have used the same brush on both but not on a regular basis. I have tried feliway but with no luck. I have had no luck in finding rescue remedy in pet stores. I also tried to coax her out of the bedroom - had to chase Pepper down and put in the bathroom. Unfortunately, Heidi still refused to come out and I think it's because she could still smell Pepper around.. A while ago, I had to put Heidi in a BIG CRATE and put in the living room because some guys had to take some drywall out in my bedroom due to mold. After they left, I put Pepper in the bathroom and opened the crate... Heidi REFUSED to come out of the crate UNTIL I pushed the crate and the open door to face my bedroom door. In a second she took off and went under the bed and hid there for a while..

I have thought of putting a bird feeder outside the window but I'm not sure how I can since I live on 2nd floor and have no balcony... If u have any ideas for this, let me know!

I moved my dresser to the wall in front of the window a couple weeks ago so Heidi will be able to get up there and look outside because she has a hard time jumping onto the cat posts (because she's so fat- I have been trying to get her to lose weight but have not had much luck.. ) So far I have only seen Heidi get up there on the dresser and that was ONCE for maybe 5 minutes before she came and cuddled with me again..

That is a very good question why she has been returned twice. I will try to summarize what happened.. First time it was because my friend kept comparing her to Sparky (another cat I rescued and adopted out to her) and kept saying she was not affectionate enough like Sparky THEN later started complaining that Heidi was TOO AFFECTIONATE!! Poor Heidi- she couldn't please her owner either way. GRRR. That concerned me and I talked to my friend several times about it. Finally, She decided to move and I counseled her to put both cats in carriers BEFORE ppl came over to start moving cuz I knew there'd be a lot of noises which would scare cats. She didn't LISTEN to me and of course poor Heidi FREAKED out and hid in a hole in a wall for TWO DAYS!!! I finally had to corner her and pull her out and put in a carrier. It broke my heart doing that cuz I knew it'd just make it more traumatic but I rather do that than let my friend call the pound!

At that time, I had just started fostering Tango in the bedroom so I did not have another spare room to keep Heidi in. I had to keep her in the bathroom for a couple days til I found another foster home. This foster home decided to keep her permanently to keep her other cat company. She said her cat never hissed at Heidi like she normally did with other cats or kittens so we thought that was a great sign..

Imagine my surprise one year later in Dec when she emailed me out of the blue and threatened to have the pound put her to sleep if I didn't take her back?! She claimed she couldn't afford to have two cats since she has not had a job for over a year. I offered to cover all the costs of Heidi (food, litter, vet, etc) until she found another job since I didn't want to put Heidi thru the trauma of adjusting to another home but she REFUSED so I had to take Heidi back. Poor Heidi.... I do not believe the issue was money but am not sure WHY. I asked her to be HONEST with me and tell me why- if it was a peeing problem or if she clawed at furniture. She said no not those... It's HER LOSS. I spoke with another lady who worked with this foster lady (alias Becky) and she told me that Becky has been acting crazy for the last year or so sooo I'm glad I got Heidi back and not stay in that home. Who knows?

I agree about Heidi having bonded to me- that's why I am so torn about if I should just keep her or foster her.. She has been through sooo much. I WISH I could just ASK her what she would prefer then go with that.. *sigh*
post #10 of 10
Well - right now she's like a feral kitty you're fostering/socializing. It's the same as if she were a feral kitty you'd rescued (which she is and you did! ) and were keeping. The only difference is actively (or not so actively) looking for another home for her.

Next time around, do a home inspection, and check references. Treat it as if you were a shelter adopting out a kitty. What the vet has to say will tell you a lot. And if they're willing to join TCS and provide updates.... I think if when the time comes that someone wants to adopt Heidi, you'll feel it in your heart whether she should stay or go. If you have one single doubt - don't do it.

If you find someone that seems perfect after reference checks and a visit to their home, you can also toss a coin. We never pay attention to the coin toss - we pay attention to our reaction to it. Never used it in relation to adopting out kitties - but when we can't decide, we flip a coin. If it says "do it" and we feel "aw, shoot" - then we know that in our hearts we were feeling like we don't want to do it (whatever "it" is at the time), and we don't do it.

I also think poor Heidi has been through so much in her little life, and she loves you so much. She does have a wonderful life with you, and she certainly appears to be making progress in interacting with the other kitties. I don't know that I'd want to chance traumatizing her again. So, if it were me, I'd probably just keep her as part of the family. With time and the effort you're putting into it, I'm sure the bedroom won't be her only territory forever. But for now, she's happy there. And boy does she love you!

BTW - do you talk out loud to her and Pepper? (And all the kitties). But particularly with Heidi and Pepper? I'd keep reassuring her that you're talking to Pepper about her attitude, and you're sure that they'll be able to share the same apartment.

We've been talking to Spooky and Tuxedo about his problem with her. It's been about six months since we started talking to them daily about it (out loud), but we actually see a difference. He'll still chase after her, or chase her off the bed (but not all the time now!) - but he doesn't attack her anymore. He lets her retreat. I think cats are really intelligent creatures - you just happen to have a really insecure kitty on your hands. With your love, support, and maybe directed verbalization about the issue to both of them, that may help too.

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