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Help With A Cat I Adopted 3 Months Ago???

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
Hey there,

Happy Holiday's to you all. I am a first time cat owner and I adopted a cat, aged at about 2, in September. Now, things have been a bit rough and confusing, and I could use some advise.

OK, first thing is that Mandi always runs under the bed, which some have said is no big deal, when ever I leave a room and enter the other room where she is; I have a two room apartment. If I am sitting on my bed and get up, she hears me and scatters. Now, at night when I go to bed she sleeps in the bed, so it seems strange that she is so skittish, but she will come sleep in bed with me at night. What also seems really "off" is that when I try to play with her outside of my bedroom (her favorite toy is a long rod with a feather attached at the end), she will not allow herself to play inside with me or play if I get off the bed. She will only play with it if I sit on the bed and play allow her to play with the toy. I simply do not want to be restricted to sitting on my bed and keeping a distance from my pet when she wants me to play, and I do not know what to do? Another thing is that she is the ONLY cat I know that will not come to me to get treats. I have to leave them on the floor and then she will get them later.

HELP! This upsets me and do not know how to handle it.
post #2 of 19
Do you know her history? Was she abused, or sick a lot?
Sounds like she is scared of people, probably for some reason.
She sounds a lot like my cat, who runs and hides all the time because he is sick a lot and is scared of being medicated.
I think she likes you (since she sleeps on the bed with you) but is scared of you. Maybe because people weren't nice to her in the past.
post #3 of 19
Thread Starter 
Well, all I know is that she was abandoned, and living outside when she was found. I do not know whether or not she was ill alot. I just do not know what to do? I have had her three months, is that not long enough to know that I will not hurt her?
post #4 of 19
I have a cat who I found in our barn when he was about 4-5 weeks old. His mother had apparently disappeared, we didn't even know there was a feral cat living in our barn and we never saw one. He was very feral and scared and ran from us... took us over an hour to catch him, surprising since he was so tiny. I took him inside and I raised him. He is now a little over a year old and despite having been raised by humans, he is still very much a feral cat. He will lay in the bed with me, but runs from me if I move towards him, and runs away if I attempt to pet him. It's just his personality, and he'll probably always be that way no matter what I try.
post #5 of 19
Thread Starter 
That's discouraging. I want her to be calm and happy, and also to be my pet, not a ghost in my house that OCCASIONALLY comes around.
post #6 of 19
She may come around with time, just be patient with her. Spooky Bear is not the only feral I've had... many other feral cats have become the most loving cats I've ever met. In fact, several of my other cats were also ferals as kittens and they aren't fearful at all. I've learned every cat is very different no matter what their past may have been like!
post #7 of 19
Thread Starter 
THANKS FOR THE WORDS OF WISDOM. What can I do to help her come around? Any tips? What should I be doing?
post #8 of 19
I have a cat who was very skittish when I got him and still pretty skittish, though not as much.

He hates to sit on a lap or be picked up. When I lie down to just relax, and every night when I go to bed, he'll come and snuggle for as long as I'm awake. I think there's something about my lying down that makes him feel safer than when I'm sitting up. Also, when I'm standing he'll rub against my legs and when I'm in a chair, he'll come say hi by tapping me with this paw but he won't jump up.

I say if she's like that, let her be like that. If her behavior changes over time as her trust in you grows, that'll be swell. But you have to let her make the changes in her own time, not yours.

You have to just love them the way they're comfortable with it. You'll stop being upset if you can let yourself stop expecting her to behave in certain ways, rather than in her ways.

PS I've had my cat almost 8 years. He's sat in my lap a grand total of two times in that time. He just shows his affection in a way that makes him feel safe. I don't know what his history was (he was a street rescue) but I know this is how he's comfortable, so I just let him be.
post #9 of 19
Originally Posted by Rain(bow) View Post
Well, all I know is that she was abandoned, and living outside when she was found. I do not know whether or not she was ill alot. I just do not know what to do? I have had her three months, is that not long enough to know that I will not hurt her?
She is just scared of people. People most likely weren't very nice to her. I think you should just continue being nice to her, and hopefully she will be less scared and come around.
My cat hasn't been abused, but he thinks he is because when he is sick, he would be medicated.
So he is the same way. He runs away and hides, but then in the morning he would show up on my bed, head butt me, jump up on me, purr, etc. I guess for whatever reason humans seems less scary when they are in their beds. Mine's a real freak, so I gave up hope he'd ever be normal. Other cats seems to adjust much better if given medications, but mine must think I am trying to hurt him.
Hopefully your cat will become less scared if she sees you are nice to her.
post #10 of 19
Originally Posted by Rain(bow) View Post
THANKS FOR THE WORDS OF WISDOM. What can I do to help her come around? Any tips? What should I be doing?
Just be nice and hopefully she will start trusting you more and more. Cats also like people who feed them. Are you giving her wet food?
post #11 of 19
Originally Posted by Rain(bow) View Post
THANKS FOR THE WORDS OF WISDOM. What can I do to help her come around? Any tips? What should I be doing?
Spend time sitting in the room with her, talking softly to her or even reading to her. If you can, devote an hour or so to this every day. Make calm and slow movements when you're around her. Never look her directly in the eye, but look in her general direction and blink slowly, it's got a huge calming influence on them. Another thing you can try is if you're currently free feeding her, stop free feeding and feed her scheduled meals. This worked well with one particular feral I had. After about a week, when she saw that I have food she started to rub against me... I still couldn't reach out and touch her yet, but it was a start!
post #12 of 19
I'd have to agree with the others. I don't think you can force the issue with her; but give her as much time as she needs, and you may very well be surprised by what a wonderful companion she may become.

My second cat, my angel boy was so frightened of me when I first brought him home. He also would not approach me if I was standing up. Eventually though, he grew to trust me, and from that point on I couldn't have had a better friend. I have something similar going on with my fourth cat. Tady is a very skittish boy, won't go by anyone who is not me. He also won't let me near him if I am standing up, but he also stays well away anytime I am wearing shoes, whether I am sitting or standing. I often wonder what happened to him before I adopted him. I'll never know, but I imagine it had a lot to do with his skittishness now. My fifth kitty, Paisley is somewhat different again. She stays very much to herself, but will come over, or let me approach her to pet her. But I am never, ever allowed to hold her. She hates being held. She will not sit on my lap. I suppose that is just part of who she is. Very loving in her own way, but perhaps not quite the way I would really like her to be. But you learn to accept that too, because in the end, whatever they are willing to give is always a gift, and always just makes life that much better.
post #13 of 19
I agree with the advice given her already. Another suggestion is to sit on the floor, again, making yourself less threatening. Talk to her in a soft voice- what I refer to as cat whispering. Toss her treats so she will eat them in your presence. Let her come to you. And as other have said, you will need to be patient. If she comes to you for a little attention, praise her. It may take a while to get pas whatever fear or defenses she might have.

I had a very shy cat in rescue. I spent a lot of time working with her. Her nature is to be shy and skittish. But after a couple of months, I began to see breakthroughs. She would come to the edge of the cage and call me for some pets and skritches. I would do so for a little bit and then stop, letting her dictate the frequency and type of petting. If she wanted more, she would nudge me with her head. She started to come to me when I was sitting and occasionally would let me hold her in my lap. I never held her against her will... and she would walk back and forth across me and seek attention. Also she was in the upper row of cages and the last breakthrough I had before unfortunately she was moved to another site, was that she actually stepped out onto my shoulder and neck.

Even so, when I would bend down to pick her up she would run.... or pull herself into a little ball. I knew she liked me, but that was her default instinct and response.

Good luck working with your kitty. I hope things get better. Don't get discouraged. And She may always be skittish cat.

post #14 of 19
I'm not sure where you live or where she was found, but some cats have some terrifying stories they could tell. Anything horrible we can imagine, then add some. People will throw cats, throw rocks at them, kick them, beat them, starve them - all kinds of torture. Any cat that has been a stray has probably been abused in some way, even if by abandonment. It is a huge, scary world out there for a little cat.

So, she could have all kinds of issues and you'll never know what trauma she's experienced. Just trust her to know her limits and what feels safe to her. It sounds like she loves you and that is wonderful Also sounds like she is trying to trust you and has made the bed her safety zone.

Please just give her time. Imagine a toddler or small child who has been abandoned and how much time they would take to learn to trust completely. Bless you for taking her in! You have a big heart and that is exactly what she needs Would love to see photos.

Sending lots of trust vibes to your kitty

Edit: what is her name?
post #15 of 19
Thread Starter 
Thank you all. As far as free feeding her, since someone asked about that, she is on a scheduel. Moring and night she hets treats and her allotted food. I also will try the way one of you suggested getting on the floor and letting her wat the treats in my prescence. All the suggestons on working with her are great, too, and I shall try all of them.

post #16 of 19
Thank you for loving this precious kitty. I also have a scaredy cat who is just the love of my life! A calm home environment, a constant and patient love, and a calm, quiet voice really feed her soul. She also LOVES to be brushed, so I do that daily and that helps build the bond we have. My little girl used to run everytime visitors came over. She's still wary of visitors, but at least she stays to greet them!

You've gotten some wonderful advise. The one thing I don't know that anyone has specifically said is that it will take T-I-M-E to win her over. It may take 6 months or it may take 6 years, but patience and accepting her as she is will win out in the end.

Since she's sleeping with you, she likes you. She's just unsure of you and the bigger world she's in now. You might try getting a couple of Comfort Zone with Feliway diffusers and putting them in your room and the other room of your apartment. This might help her calm down some and feel more comfortable in her environment.

When you're sitting on the floor talking to her (I used to sit on the floor and read the newspaper to one of my kitties and talk to her like I'd talk to any human so she'd get used to my voice!) get the toy she likes and try to play with her that way. It might draw her out.

Whatever you do, don't rush her and celebrate the small steps and improvements. Tell he she's pretty and she's such a good girl. And tell her how much you already love her. Kind words work wonders!

post #17 of 19
Right now the bed is an "outpost," where she feels safe. Where is she fed? Where is her litter box? These are also "outposts" that she uses, or you would have mentioned it.

Waving a toy around is actually kind of threatening, when you think about it. She doesn't feel safe away from her "outpost." So I'd try getting a different kind of toy, maybe one on a string that you can make move with tiny movements, instead of big ones.

If you are sitting around watching tv or working on your computer, make a habit of calling her over and tell her how much you miss her. This is another way to make your spaces, her spaces. Don't expect her to react right away, but telling her where she is welcome, and expressing it in a way she understands, will get the point across.

And just a note about time; they have their own. You are doing very well with a cat this skittish. Remember what drew you to her in the first place; what was it? And build on that.
post #18 of 19
It sounds like you're doing quite well, and have gotten good advice! Getting down on her level, sharing food, talking, singing or reading softly all will work. Something that will get you petting her eventually is if you are giving her treats (I used to give Elsa a little turkey this way), and after the treat just stick your finger out and they will often rub their nose or ears on your finger. Do that for a while, then move your finger a bit until you can touch more areas. The tail is usually last.
post #19 of 19
Rain(bow) - Best of luck to you. We are in the same boat with a cat we adopted 1 week ago. The little cat is afraid of everything and has spent the last 24 hours in a little cubbie hole in our garage. We've tried everything to coax her back inside to no avail. We finally went ahead a moved her food/water and litter box out there. Don't know if that was wise or not. Anyway, we certainly understand your frustration. Here we were hoping to make a difference for this cat but he seems to hate his new home. It probably didn't help things that we also adopted an additional cat(at the same time) who readily made our home his own.
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