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Taken in an unwanted cat... now what??

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

This is my first post on here, I am looking for a little advice...

We have taken in an unwanted cat, we have had her for about a week now and things are getting better I think but I wanted some extra advice, I'll try to give as much of her background as I know...

Living in filth
Kept inside
Spent a lot of time alone
Around 7 years old
Only had one injection
Gave birth to two litters
Lived with 3 kittens (not hers)
No social contact apart from the ex "owner"
Discipline was only give when deemed "annoying" and was done by spray can

Erm... That's all I can remember for now, the 3 kittens where sent to a lady who fosters them out until a permanent placement is found, this older cat wasn't given much hope by the RSPCA, they said only option was to be put to sleep.

She is currently camping out in my wardrobe, but seems to be settling, I have heard her come down for food and litter tray during the night (quite surprised as a litter tray wasn't available to her before) she came out and demanded some attention a few nights ago as we slept, but during the day she stays in the wardrobe, we have another cat who isn't being aggressive as such but doesn't like it when the new cat gets to close.

We had to bath the new cat on the night we got her as she was filthy and smelled awful, we flea treated her and got a flea collar too. She ventured down in the evening for 5 minutes to use the litter tray and eat which was a nice surprise but as soon as anyone moved she ran back to the wardrobe, we have tried closing all doors but that seemed to distress her, any loud noise or talking and she hides, she flinches away if you try to stroke her but seems to be getting used to me and my husband more now.

If anyone has any advice on how we can socialise her and build up her confidence any help would be appreciated.

Thanks Jenniflower x
post #2 of 5
First of all, bless you for taking in this girl with no other hope.
It sounds like you are doing the right thing in just letting her be and come to you on her terms. She is probably very stressed and frightened in this new environment, even though you are giving her what she needs and she is coming around for attention. One thig that is always recommended around here is to sit and ready softly to her, just to let her hear the sound of your voice. Let her come to you, like you have been doing. You probably know this already, bur never make direct eye contact with her, it is seen as aggression, and will scare her or put her in "fight or flight mode." I am sure others will be along with great advice. There is plenty of it here.
post #3 of 5
Hang in there, it sounds good.

I'm not a fan of flea collars, however.
post #4 of 5
Yeah dont use a flea collar they can be harmful. If you havent taken her to a vet do so soon.

If she flinches when you try to pet her that means she was hit by her old owner, you'll have to go slow so she can trust you, let her smell your hand before you try to pet her so she gets to know your scent. My cat was the same way because of the place he came from, after a while he came up to me and wanted me to pet him, and once he knew I wasnt going to hurt him he trusted me.

Try to be calm and quiet around her, eventually she will settle down, right now she's probably nervous being in a new place, and because of how she lived in the past.

You could also offer her treats after she lets you pet her, and playing with her is also a good ice breaker.
post #5 of 5
First of all, welcome to TCS, and I'm glad you found us! And thank you for rescuing this unwanted kitty!

It sounds like things are going really well so far, actually.

As you are obviously aware, this kitty has been so traumatized in her life! It will take some time for her to heal and to learn that people are good things, not bad things. Her horrible world has just been turned upside down - and though this is a good thing, she probably doesn't trust it yet, and that will take time.

That is your most important ally here - time and patience.

I'm surprised, actually, that she already came out for food! But using the litterbox is something most cats want to do - unless they are ill or very stressed. Even though she didn't have access to a litter box before, it is her instinct.

As she comes to feel safe, she will slowly expand her territory. And as krazy kat and Keith pointed out, there are things you can do to help her feel comfortable.

However, until she's learned that the human(s) sharing the same space with her now are not any kind of threat, she'll probably keep to a pretty small space while you're around - though there's no way to know. They so operate on their own schedules!

Things you can do to help her learn that you're not a threat to make her feel more comfortable:

1) Sit on the floor and read out loud.

2) Get a radio and tune it to a classical station, playing softly in there. Or - if you can find harp music, purchase it and play it on CD for her. Harp music is very calming to kitties.

3) Ignore her at first when he shows interest in you.

I KNOW you want to pick her up and tell her how loved she is. Tell her - but not physically - not yet. You can also help to get her to associate you with good things:

4) Get a couple of old t-shirts really sweaty. Put one of these under her food dish. Use the other one to leave treats out on for her - you don't have to be there when she eats them. Put the t-shirt down, put treats on it, and leave. Or sit there on the floor reading. If she doesn't come out, leave them for her to eat after you've left.

Cats learn by association. So by getting her to to associate you with food and good things, that will help her come around.

5) If she comes out of the wardrobe and is wherever you are, don't look her in the eyes. This is a sign of aggression to kitties. Look at her forehead or over her head. Better yet - if you're on the floor reading out loud or something, ignore her, and stretch your arm out a little bit - PALM DOWN. For dogs it's palm up - for cats, palm down is less threatening.

6) If she sniffs, let her - don't try to pet her at first. The first thing you need to establish is that you don't want anything from her, you don't want to do anything to her. Once she gets this, then he'll let you know when she wants attention and/or pets by "bumping" you. She'll either rub up against you - or she'll literally bump your hand or arm or leg with her head.

You can also consider purchasing some Feliway. It's a synthetic hormone that mimics the friendly marker in cats' cheeks. It comes in a spray bottle or a room diffuser - like an air freshener - except we can't smell it. This might really help her to feel calmer and safer. Sometimes Flower Essences can really help traumatized kitties. Both can be purchased at this site: http://www.catfaeries.com - and I'd consider purchasing the Rescue Remedy.

Most importantly, PLEASE feel free to ask any questions. And, of course, we tend to love to follow kitties' stories here, so if you have time for updates, please post if you can!

Lots of hugs to you for this wonderful thing you're doing!


Oh - I forgot. As Keith pointed out, flea collars can be very dangerous to cats. Products for animals are not as regulated as they are for people. PLEASE take the flea collar off ASAP. Cut it up and put it in your vacuum cleaner bag and vacuum regularly and frequently for a few weeks, putting a new collar in the bag every week, or whenever you replace the bag. This will help kill the flea larvae. She really should see a vet - she may have internal parasites, and over-the-counter dewormers do NOT work. Advantage is a great flea killer/preventer, it is safe for kitty, and I'm sure your vet sells it. But she should have her stool tested (at a minimum), and she made need a prescription de-wormer like Drontal or Panacur.

Also, now that you have two cats, you really ought to add two more litter boxes. It does mean more work for you - but in the long run it is worth it. The rule of thumb to avoid litterbox issues with cats is to have one more litterbox than you have cats. This should also help the two kitties to adjust to each other - it is so much less pressure on them having multiple boxes rather than having to share just one.

The Feliway should really help your kitty adjust to his new environment without as much stress!
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