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Update: Adult Cat Adoption I Regret

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
As I mentioned in a previous thread, my beloved orange tabby cat Opie died in March. He was a cat with lots of opinions, who knew how to irritate his humans. But he also made us feel loved. He'd jump in my arms and sleep. He'd lean against my leg while I watched television. He'd curl up with my husband for naps. And towards the end, he slept in the bed in my arms every night.

After a month of grieving, it was time to get a new cat. For ourselves, as well as our resident cat who was lonely. Enter Finnegan. He was really affectionate at the shelter, and he was really sweet for the first few days at home, but then rapidly became aloof and aggressive. He would even growl at us when we fed him.

Due to kindness and patience, with my husband and I moving his plate (like you would do to train a dog to stop growling), and petting him constantly while he eats and making nice noises so that he feels this is a happy time, the growling has mostly stopped. I would have never thought that using dog-training techniques on a cat would work, but for Finnegan, they did.

The aggression against our resident cat has mostly stopped too due to complete surrender. Finnegan has displaced our resident cat from the bed, and asserted his dominance over the household. My baby Mercury, who used to snuggle in my arms, and knead on me every morning, is afraid to now.

Finnegan, for his part, comes to cuddle every night and every morning, but has to be pet mechanically, and gives the impression that a robot could be cuddling him for all he cares. In fact, I saw him cuddling a blanket the exact same way, by himself.

There are days that I think Finnegan and I are making a connection. He'll look right at me, or make a noise, and last weekend, when I was watching television, he came up and leaned against my leg. A rare, but wonderful treat.

The Humane Society called today, asking how the adoption had gone, and I sugar-coated it, because there is no way I could give him back to them as they are a kill shelter.

It came crashing in on me that after a month of having Finnegan in our house, he's still not our cat. He doesn't want to be held, he doesn't rub against our legs, he doesn't nuzzle our hands, he's never grateful for food or treats.

He does not love me, and shows no interest in doing so. I think if I weren't so needy of affection from a new furry friend, I could bear up better under it. But not only does this cat not love me, he has also alienated me from the affections of my existing cat. So, I feel doubly-unloved.

If Finnegan and I eventually bond, I'm sure I'll feel differently about all this. But if he doesn't, I feel like I've entered into a bad marriage, and committed myself to 15-20 years with someone who doesn't want to be in the relationship. And there's no way to get a divorce.

Right now, all I can say is that I will never adopt another adult cat again. In my experience, what you see in the shelter is NOT what you get at home. And it is NOT just as easy to bond with an adult cat as a kitten.
post #2 of 20
Try some Bach flower remedies. Water Violet is supposed to help with aloofness. Can't hurt and might help!

I'm sorry you didn't get your dream kitty. Hang in there.

post #3 of 20
I think you should really consider finding Finnegan a new home. More than likely he senses your feelings for him and it can't be helping the situation.

Maybe if you had been honest with the shelter lady and told her it wasn't working but you will not give him back to a kill shelter she might help you with finding a home for him.

Some cats need to be in a single cat home.

No shame in admitting you made a mistake. Cats like people are individuals. If you married the wrong person you don't stay married because everyone involved is miserable.

The person you divorce may go on to marry someone else and both are very happy.

From what you say everyone in your house is suffering. I think it's time to think about divorcing Finnegan.
post #4 of 20
I agree... surely there's a one-cat home somewhere for Finnegan. I know you want to do the right thing, and you are -- by not giving him back to a kill shelter. But it sounds like both you and Finnegan (and Mercury, too!) would be a lot happier if he were in a good, loving one-kitty home. It can't hurt to look around!
post #5 of 20
It sounds to me that it was too soon for you to get another cat. From the sound of your post you were looking for a replacement for your beloved Opie. Each kitty is an individual and it's mighty hard to fill the paws of a dear departed kitty.

I know you miss Opie, but Finnigan is a different kitty all together and has his own personality.

If you really don't love him, rather than resenting him for not being an Opie clone, please find him another home with a family that will give him unconditional love for who he is and not wanting him to be something else.
post #6 of 20
A month is really not very long at al, especially since the moving is TRAUMATIC for them.

It's taken about 3 years for Leo to come out of his shell, but he's doing so well now.

Is it the other cat he's wary of? Cats who have had to live in cages are often very slow to adjust to sharing space with other cats.

I don't think its the age of the cat AT ALL, I think it's the cat himself. Every single cat will have its owm personality and own adjustment period. I've heard countless stories of kittens who were adopted from our shelter only to grow into a totally different individual; there are no gaurantess and at least with an adult you have the satisfaction of knowing you've saved a life that would have most certainly been euthanized as it is kitten season. For what its worth, out of 3 adopted adults, I have 2 cuddlebugs and one aloof. And I just accept that's how they are

Hang in there, try to see it from his eyes, and please, please, please reconsider your feelings about adult cats. They are wonderful animals and they really deserve a change. In most cases, I actually recommend adults as being the best choice.
post #7 of 20
This will take much longer than you have given it - so I want to offer you some hope and say there is light at the end of the tunnel.

If you rescued an adult cat from a shelter you need to understand that there could be all kinds of things in this kitty's past that make him the way he is. I have a rescue that took me one year to settle (Cairo) and I got her when she was 8 weeks old. The trauma she went through in that 8 weeks, though, was enough that it took me 12 months before she trusted me.

Your other cats will adjust - cats know each other much better than we know them - and for now you might try just backing off a little and leaving him to settle in on his own. Dog training techniques can work remarkably well with cats but mostly, you need to leave them alone to work out their own stuff. They react to attention and advances as being threatening, and to a cat that already feels displaced and anxious, it may not be helping. The best thing to be would be to just feed him and care for him, whilst staying pretty aloof from him - give him time.

If you adopted a child, who was, say 13 or 14, no way would you expect that child to assimilate into a household with other children and new parents and where everything is new - everything.

This cat has come into a home where there is not one, single thing that is familiar to him. Cats are creatures of habit - an upset to their routine is very traumatising. He needs consistency, calmness, boundaries, regulations and alone time to get into a feeling of routine again, to familiarise himself with all the alien smells and sights, the alien cats, the alien family. He's probably bewildered and depressed.

Most likely he's had no stability in his life and it's your job to give it to him. And if he came from a home where he'd been for a while, he'll be utterly lost - wondering what on earth happened and where he is. Give him time, and you'll be rewarded.
post #8 of 20
You've gotten some good advice here.

First on your lost kitty, I think it may have been too soon and you're still grieving. This new cat will not be your old cat, but it's really too soon to know. They do pick up on "bad vibes" and act accordingly.

Please don't think it's the age of the cat that makes him aloof. I adopted two totally unrelated adult cats from a rescue and they are both love bugs, but they are also two individuals with different personalities. I have to respect that and give them both affection on their terms.

As for the dominance, look for ways to increase the "territory"; that may reduce the tension. Some good books are "Think like a cat" and "How to be a Cat Detective"; they might give you some ideas about the dynamic. They have to make a family, or at least come to a détente so that they can be roommates. Can you put up a new kitty tree somewhere or make a safe room for your other cat? Are there multiple litter boxes so that one can't be guarded?
post #9 of 20
Awww... I'm sorry that Mercury isn't like what she use to be.

However if you give Finnigan a few more months, you'd be surprised what the difference is.

When we took in Whitey, Luna had changed completely. She use to play with Patches, but Patches and Whitey began to click. Luna felt left out and often times I would sit in the bathroom with her (that HER room) petting her and giving her extra love.

I swear it was the FULL 6 months that it took for Luna to accept Whitey. She and him still have some personal issues with each other, but over a year later I actually got them to play together.

I would say give it another month or two, if you don't see improvement then find a new home or a no-kill animal shelter near your home.
post #10 of 20
Will feliway help in this situation to help Finnigan out, do you guys think?

When I got Gizmo from a shelter, he was 3 years old. On arrival, he was so wary of us..didnt want anything to do with us. A cuddle would be out the question. I was a 'cat beginner' then and found it tough to settle him in, but I had wanted a cat for so long that there was no way he was going anywhere. I cant rememeber when the breakthrough was but this cat became the most loving adorable cat in the world with the most amazing quirks. There is hope. It doesnt always happen so quick.
post #11 of 20
Giving a cat the responsibility of responding to you as another person, does this cat a disservice. I realize that you have a deep need to feel accepted, but you cannot undue the damage that this cat experienced before he arrived at your home. You probably have very little history on him. Your other cat is not angry with you, she is submissive. He is alpha. She takes the lower role, because she recognizes that he is the one she has to be careful of.

Back off from him. Stop expecting him to respond like other domesticated cats, shelter cats just don't! They live in crowded, stressed conditions, unless you have a shelter that is privvy to the cats needs and they don't cage them up together, but let them roam in large rooms. Most of these cats suffered horribly before they arrived at a shelter. Usually by the hands of inhuman humans.

The shelter should have a return clause in the adoption contract. If he isn't working out and you are starting to resent him, then contact the shelter and tell them this. You won't get your money back, but he will get another chance to find a home that is better suited for his personality.

If you want to send me a private message, I can give you some tips on how to make headway with Finnigan, but it is going to take time. I will say that one of the best tools to get a cat to accept you is a Zoom Groom, all my ferals and strays love this brush and wait for me every morning to groom them. Half of your battle with this cat lies inside of you. Let go of your expectations of how you want him to perform and things will smooth out for you. It just takes time.
post #12 of 20
Originally Posted by pee-cleaner View Post
I'm sorry you didn't get your dream kitty. Hang in there.
... I could to tell you that With so much patience and deep love you can make it!...

Catulina wasn´t a kitty when we adopt her from the streets....is long, long process to introduce to a adult kitty to other adult kitty, in fact Milky try to make friendship with her but she didn´t trust in him yet.........I just only ask you MANY patience...............
You effort will be rewarded for sure and you will save a kitty ( finegan ) from the death! that is noble action your´s......

Hang on, God will rewarded for this!... I´m sure.....
)))))))))))))))))))))))) ((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((
Sending good vibes for hang on!!!
post #13 of 20
I also agree a month is not very long and it sometimes takes awhile for new cats to get their bearings. I had a similar situation myself with the loss of my cat Flip after 14years. I adopted Linus a few weeks after that and it has taken him sometime to fit in. Although he got along fairly well with my other cat within a few days it has taken him a couple months to warm up to me. It has been in just the last week that he has started jumping up on my lap or letting me pet him when he sitting on the windowsill. I can actually pick him up and he will rub his face against mine now. I knew we had reach the turning point when I woke up one morning and he was sleeping with me. It has been a slow process but in Linus's case he had been locked up in a cage for almost a year and he was very much not into being held and cuddled. I would give it a bit longer but if there is no improvement finding a new owner with no other cats may be the answer.
post #14 of 20
Thread Starter 
You've given me some great advice, and I have to tell you, it's like Finnegan knew I wrote this post yesterday.

About an hour after I wrote it, Finnegan got curious about what I was doing and came over to me, and just plopped right down beside me, eyes all intent. Later in the evening, he let me pick him up.

Then, when I went to feed him, instead of growling at me, he actually rubbed against the can. He doesn't rub against me or my husband, but at least now we know he's capable of loving something--even if it's food!

To cap it off, last night, instead of fleeing the minute the robotic petting session was over, he actually fell asleep between my husband and I in the bed for about an hour.

And, to add icing onto the cake, this morning when Finnegan was busy eating breakfast, my baby Mercury "snuck" up onto the bed for some affection without getting caught and punished by "the mean white fluffy stranger."

So maybe it's just going to take some more time. A month seems like a long time, but given what some of you have said, a normal adjustment period seems like it might take longer than that.

I think the call from the Humane Society convinced me that Finnegan should have somehow fit in by now, and that everyone should be thrilled. I guess the best thing is to give it more time.
post #15 of 20
Awww I'm so happy that things went well last night!
post #16 of 20
I'm happy it's going better. I started to reply to your post a couple of times and then thought...no, I can't say that. But I guess now I can.

I felt the same way about a couple of cats maybe 15 years ago that you do now about Finnegan. About a month after Cinder died of FIP I adopted Toby. He was a year old, and like Finnegan, seemed pretty mellow at the shelter. When we got halfway home with him sounds started coming out of the carrier that could only be described as something straight out of hell. DH told me that if the cat started to get out of the carrier (the cardboard kind with holes) he'd pull over and I should open the door...immediately. Fortunately we made it home, cat still in the box. He was probably 12 years old the first time he jumped onto my lap. I was disappointed in him at first, but over time (and a dozen more kitties, mostly rescues) I came to adjust my expectations. Cats are as individual as snowflakes...no two alike. My two most affectionate cats now were once ferals, the kind you couldn't get within 50 feet of. Now they make complete pests of themselves. Several cats that I raised from the time they were 6 weeks old have never come close to being as affectionate.

Toby is fifteen now and I love him dearly. But there was a time fourteen years ago that he almost got tossed out a car window. Finnegan will never be Opie, but you'll probably grow to love him just the same.
post #17 of 20
I would stick it out. It's just like children when thier placed in foster homes, they sometimes have alot of trouble adjusting to thier new lifestyle. It's only been a month, give it some time. Hopefully he'll turn into the loving kitty that you met him as at the shelter.
post #18 of 20
I'm so glad you're giving him another chance, and he opened up to you a bit! I wonder if he sensed a change in your attitude?

It sounds as though it'll be a long road, and I know how you feel. I wondered if I'd made the wrong decision adopting my Stumpy. I was fostering her and she was the sweetest cat, but once we adopted her and she healed (car accident, and why we were fostering her), she never wanted to sit on our lap or be picked up, and would tear the house apart. She was definitely affectionate, and a purrer, but we wanted a lap cat which she isn't.

She was just such a livewire, and I didn't think we could handle a cat like her, that she needed more space, and we'd made a mistake.

We got a friend for her, and she settled a bit, and now she's a little older, she's settling down even more, and has even gotten much more snuggly again lately. So we've had her close to a year now, and I think she's only just settling in to what is her "normal" personality.

I often joke about giving her up to anybody who'll take her, but I adore my Stumpy cat - she's such a character, and given time I'm sure you'll feel the same way about Finnegan

Definitely try getting some Feliway plug ins - it's amazing how much they can calm a kitty down!
post #19 of 20
I must admit I found this amusing as reading through the thread as I have been having various probs with my Nuit but I just put in a the last thread i posted "have you ever knowticed when your thinking about rehoming a cat how they suddenly get affection, like they know you are thinking about it" I just though it was great how your guy came around. I swear these cats are mind readers, they prove it to me quite often!
post #20 of 20
Annabelle was a stray kitten who was terrified of us. She growled, hid, ran away- you name it. It took her about a year before she finally trusted us. Now you can't keep her off your lap. She goes up to visitors to our home and insists on being petted- by forcibly rubbing her head against your hand! She sleeps on my chest, sleeps on the bed, sits on my lap, and follows me around. It was a real treat to see how she changed and got more affectionate. The fact that he is starting to rub his food can and not growl at you is a great sign- it look Annabelle several months to get that far! Although she did love DH more than me for a long time : )

Don't give up the hope you've gained!
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