or Connect
TheCatSite.com › Forums › Our Feline Companions › Cat Behavior › Rescued Cat - Very Abused - need some advice
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Rescued Cat - Very Abused - need some advice

post #1 of 38
Thread Starter 
Hi all-

I am new here to this site. I rescued a cat that someone put onto Craig's List as "Beautiful White Cat" and she is gorgeous. However, I have had her for two weeks and she is still in the one room of my home (my study). I visit her every day and she si getting companionship and loving verbalization from me, but she won't let anyone touch her.

She refuses to let any one get close to her and scratches and hisses are forthcoming any time my husband or I get close. Yet she yearns to be petted and tries to let us pet her, but can't seem to rid herself of the fear she has from her previous situation and rubs us and then hisses and scratches out at us.

I haven't even been able to take her to the vet yet because her scratching is viscious & I can't imagine what it would take to get her in a pet carrier...aside from drugging her.

Any ideas much appreciated.

post #2 of 38
Karen if you will PM me, I will do all I can to help you.
post #3 of 38
You are going through what I went through with Cuddles. She is 12 years old though. She really wants to be pet and paid attention to, but she just cant handle a hand anywhere near her. I had her at my apartment with my millions of cats and finally took her to my moms. It was HELL trying to get her into a carrier. I through a thick blanket over her and scooped her up, while she screamed bloody murder. Once she was in the cage though she was perfectly fine. She LOVES it at my moms. She will stay there for now.

Anyways, sorry to go on about my cat. But just give her time. Buy some Feliway and play soft music for her and be in the room as much as possible. Read in there outloud to her, watch tv in there, do everything you can in there. She will get to know you eventually. It took 4 months with Cuddles before anyone could touch her. Luckily my mom is patient and understanding. I am glad you are too!
post #4 of 38
Thread Starter 
Hi! What is PM?
post #5 of 38
Originally Posted by kbowser105 View Post
Hi! What is PM?
Hi Karen all you have to do to send Hissy a PM is click on her name and a "menu" will pop up, choose send a private message to Hissy
post #6 of 38
Thread Starter 
Thanks Katiemae!
post #7 of 38
PM is a private message. So if you are sending one to hissy, you should click on her name in the thread and it will give you the option to send her a private message and ask her your specific questions about your situation.

As for helping this shy kitty, I am not sure what your history with cats is (have you had them before, for how long, how many, do you have any now, etc.), but I am guessing hissy will want to know so she can help you.

If you have been around cats a lot and know how to play with them and get them sort of distracted from their fears, it will help them build up courage. That is one possible thing you may be able to do.

You could start with pulling a string under a piece of newspaper or something like that, where they can study it and direct their anxiety into healthy aggression. It depends on the kitty, but I have found this to be a good therapy for a new anxious kitty.

Also giving them little (fake fur or cloth) toys that you can throw and encourage them to chase, may help. I'm sure you already have toys for your kitty and I bet he/she uses them when alone.

As for the carrier, I have had this situation myself with more than one cat. In the case of one of my own cats, the only thing my husband and I can do is to cover her with a huge thick blanket and bundle the whole thing into a very large dog carrier.

In the case of my feral cats I use a trap. That is a last resort but actually it can be a lot easier and less stressful than hours of chasing or coaxing the cat to the carrier.

A few things to be aware of: Some cats are easily excitable, especially in a new situation where they do not feel at home yet and everything is foreign. And so warming up has to be extremely gradual which it sounds like you are doing already. So even if petting feels good to them at first, they will become very anxious after a very short while. So you have to stop petting while they are still relaxed and before they start to show signs of freaking out (i.e. thumping their tail, ears back, pupils large).

Another thing to be aware of is that cats actually do not see very well really close. They see movement but not definition. So if you are moving your hand very close to your kitty's face in front of it, and you are new to them or they are skittish, they can panic because they cannot actually see what it is- and your smell is new to them.

Also you said your cat is white. You probably already know that white cats can sometimes be deaf. If you have not already checked for this, it may be something to be aware of and make sure your kitty is able to hear.

Assuming your cat is in the best physical health all around and this is an emotional and adjustment issue: In the case of some cats, it can take a very long time for them to finally accept you and bond to you, but the reward over a long time is like nothing else, so wonderful. Your patience and effort is very commendable.

I wish you and your kitty good luck. It is so wonderful that you rescued her from a previous bad situation.
post #8 of 38
If anyone can help you, it will be Hissy. I just wanted to wish you all the best, and say that my one experience with a rescued cat who we could tell had been abused, is that it took love and time.

Frankie, whose photo is in my signature, was an estimated 1-2 y.o. skin and bones kitty we took in...we quickly learned she was petrified of other cats (not that surprising as she was attacked by a tom cat just before I took her in), of loud voices, feet, being touched about her head, and of men.

1 1/2 years later, she is best buds with my Alix, sometimes gives Ophelia a bath (and other times swats at her), adores my husband, and is no longer head shy. She's still easily upset if she hears a raised voice, and extra cautious around feet.
post #9 of 38
Karen, you have received excellent advice and it sounds like another poster, Hissy, will have spot on help for you as well.

I won't be redundant with a reply but I do want to applaud you and your husband for your patience, love, and understanding for your cat. No doubt there is an amazing ball of love and personality waiting to come out but it will take the right person to do so
post #10 of 38
Thread Starter 
Thanks to everyone for being so motivational and upbeat! We bought Snowy a bunch of toys today and she really hasn't played yet, but we brought one of the pet brushes in and since she was rubbing so much we thought maybe she would let us use this instead of our heands and voila! it worked...a little

Thanks again all!
post #11 of 38
You probably already know that white cats can sometimes be deaf.
Could very well be the root of the problem. As everyone else has said, give her time and be with her as much as you can. Are you keeping her in one room because you have other cats?
post #12 of 38
Thread Starter 
Hi Libby-

Yes, I have another cat and also three small dogs. She has been very scared, but also has lashed out strongly even with us so it is to protect both her and the other animals. I am slowly opening the door to my study and letting the other animals in one at a time as they care to and monitoring the progress.

Today, Snowy let me pet her for a good 5 minutes. She is really starting to come around - after 2 weeks...I am amazed it took this long, but she was very good today. This was the most interaction without incident I have seen.

post #13 of 38
Introductions into a new place, new animals are very scary and the fact that she has had a tough time in the past only magnifies it for her. The signs that you are seeing are very encouraging! Keep up the good work!
post #14 of 38
Originally Posted by kbowser105 View Post
Today, Snowy let me pet her for a good 5 minutes. She is really starting to come around - after 2 weeks...I am amazed it took this long, but she was very good today. This was the most interaction without incident I have seen.

She is being so very brave!! Two weeks is actually not very long for an abused cat. They are often very skittish for the rest of their lives... You must be doing something right.

Don't push too far when you see positive signs; if you do, she might be frightened because she doesn't know what you're going to do. The first time she reaches a new stage is often a very touchy time for her, so just stay reassuringly the same until she knows nothing is going to happen to her.

Did you find out if she can hear all right?
post #15 of 38
it sounds as if Snowy is making amazing progress! Just keep it simple and don't rush her. Hopefully, she'll be a lap-cat before too long.
post #16 of 38
Thread Starter 
Hi all-

Well, I don't think Snowy is deaf. She can hear and react so that is good. However, the reason she was nice there for a bit was because she went into heat.

Now that she is not in heat any longer, she still will not allow a hand close to her for petting without clawing and biting.

She will allow me to put down the pet brush and she will rib her face on that and allow me to lightly groom her with that. However, no hands are acceptable.

Overall, she is not able to integrate with my other animals because she is still acting quite scared and my youngest dog is too rambunctious and my other cat who is about 14 (could be a little older-got her from the humane society many years ago so age is not known, but estimated) is not happy with another cat in the house.

I am beginning to despair that she will be able to be socialized either for us or another family. She is so beautiful and can be so sweet, she is just so unpredictable. That scares me a little.

I still need advice, if anyone can help me.

Thanks again,
post #17 of 38
Fortunately, I've never had this problem with socializing a new kitty. I wish I had some good advice for you, but all I can say is be patient. Be calm around her, speak quietly to her, and don't make sudden moves. I hope someone can give you a better idea on how to handle Snowy.
post #18 of 38
I don't have any other advise to give to you, but just wanted to give you a big for helping this poor kitty. I am in hopes that with time she will trust you and begin recieving the love you have to give..
post #19 of 38
isn't is a shame that the poster who put the cat on craigslist in the first place didn't mention that the cat had this personality?

but then, maybe the cat wasn't that way in the original home, I just don't trust people, I have found they lie about animals just to re-home them. and that's not fair to the animal or the adoptive families.

Maybe she's kinda freaked out because your old resident cat is putting off the "get out of my space" vibe? just a guess.

I sure hope you get it all sorted out.
post #20 of 38
I just wanted to wish you luck with your cat!! I, too, adopted a very abused cat. He was so skiddish at first, but after a few years in a safe and happy environment, he has really chilled out. A LOT. So there's hope for you
post #21 of 38
Thread Starter 
Thanks everyone. We'll keep on trying. I've now resorted to oven mitts. She allows that sometimes and is getting used to the motion and the touch.

It is almost like she must have been poked or something in her hind quarters before because that is the most sensitive area. I have gotten great advice from Hissy and am implementing that.

I won't give up yet and she is such a kitty. I know that she will come around.

This is a wonderful site. Thanks again,

Karen & Snowy
post #22 of 38
I'll keep you in my thoughts. We had a kitty like yours that was terrified. He hid behind our headboard for a full month, but patience, love, gentle talking all contributed to his well-being and he became our biggest love-bunny. He had to be on our laps whenever we were sitting and needed to be near us so I think there is hope for you and Snowy.

Hang in there and if Maryann can't help you, nobody can.
post #23 of 38
I'm so glad you're not giving up on Snowy; it sounds as if she desperately wants to be loved but is just too afraid. Best of luck with her.
post #24 of 38
How long are you spending in there with her every day? What I would do is spend as long as you possibly can in there with her for as many times a day as possible. Read your paper in there, drink your morning coffee in there, etc. Don't even approach her, just be there. Let her approach you and really get used to you being around.

With any abused animal, it really can take a long time to turn them around. From your last post, you are doing great! The fact that she let you pet her for 5 minutes means she is overcoming her fears and you are on the right track. I hope things keep getting better and better!
post #25 of 38
Thread Starter 
Hi Everyone-

You have all been terrific. Thanks for the great posts and help...Snowy is still kind of Schizophrenic, however, I do trhink she may be able to fit in eventually.

We are adopting a 15 yr. old atoo within the week so I thin that Snowy is read y ofr Spaying and I am thinking about declawing her front paws too. I know that is an area for debate.

But I think having her not be able to harm our family vs. this procedure and being able to keep her for the rest of our lives out weighs a lot pf cons.

What do you all think? Please be nice...this cat would have already been put down and we are being very patient and working hard to bring her around.

I do not need lectures, I need good, sound advice that will help me help this cat and integrate her into our life. She is beautiful but difficult.

Thanks everyone for your help and thoughtfulness,
post #26 of 38
Hi Karen!

Those of us that have worked with feral cats know the difficulties you are facing with Snowy. They are shy, scared, and often lash out at those that try to help them. Feral and abused cats share a lot of behavior challenges.

I know you realize that we are a anti-declaw site and to most of us in the U.S. and certainly the rest of the world, there is no debate. It is illegal in most countries for good reason.

I won't lecture, but you do realize that if you declaw and haven't addressed the fundamental aggression problems, she will most likely turn to biting? I personally would rather be scratched than bitten.

There are so many things you can do with Snowy. She appears to be the type of cat that doesn't take change very quickly. Leave her alone. Let her come around to your family in her own time and on her own terms. Even if it takes a year to do so. Lower your expectations of her. She's not ready to be the cuddly lap cat and frankly some cats will never be. Get a rigid schedule with her so that she knows what to expect from you at what time of day. Feed her at the same time, give her canned food as a treat a set time, and even if you go to visit with her in her space, do it the same time and do the same routine each time. Cats love routine.

There is a great thread in the behavior forum about aggressive cats. Many folks, including myself have used those techniques with great success. I've had both scratchers and biters, and I've learned when to back off from them when they start to exhibit the behavior. http://www.thecatsite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=20837

Keep posting on your problems with her and let us help you. Many of us have faced your problem before.

post #27 of 38
Thread Starter 

Actually, I did not realize that this was an antideclawing site. I just knew that it was debated heavily when I last heard anything about it.

You bring up a good point though. If she just turns to biting instead, that would not solve the fundamental issue. Also, I didn't realize that it was illegal in places. This makes me have to re-think this.

My real concern is that she not harm other family members. She really wants to be affectionate. She always jumps up in front of my computer screen and has even kissed my nose once. So, she is open to it. She allows be to pet her with her brush and very seldom has reached out to scratch lately. I still am afraid to use my hand though.

I just really want to integrate her with the rest of my family and have not figured out yet how to do so. She is still living in my study and doing well, eating well and hasn't actually scratched me in a while. She lashes out, but with her claws in now.

Anyway, thanks again. I'll check out the site. I'll post a picture of Snowy on here when I figure out how.

Karen (and Snowy)
post #28 of 38
Karen, Momofmany gave some really sound advice, and I totally agree---I'd rather have a scratch than a bite any day!
It does sound as if Snowy is adapting at her own pace, and you are being extraordinarily patient with her. Has she shown any interest in leaving your study when you open the door? Do other family members visit with her, so that she's becoming acquainted with everyone?
As others have said, give the little lady lots of time and affection and routine. I definitely think she'll come around and, if not quite a lap-cat, at least she'll be a sociable girl. Best of luck with her (and please give declawing her some serious thought; it could do more harm than good)
post #29 of 38
The above posters are right, biting is a serious concern. Puppy was declawed by his previous owners, and he's a biter now.

Have you tried Soft Claws? We have Soft Claws on Bunny to prevent her from destroying the house and hurting Puppy when they play. We can put them on her ourself. With your situation, you will want the vet to apply them. This might be a good solution for you until she's learned to trust you and not scratch.
post #30 of 38
What was the specific "abuse"? Do you know? What did they tell you before you adopted the cat?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Cat Behavior
TheCatSite.com › Forums › Our Feline Companions › Cat Behavior › Rescued Cat - Very Abused - need some advice