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new to this - what to expect? (advice please)

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
I have 4 wonderful cats. I MAY be about to foster one for the first time.

Here's what I know about him.

He was born in July 2008 to a feral mother. He and his four siblings were brought into foster care as soon as his mom weaned them. 3 were adopted quickly and were fairly friendly after just a few weeks of handling. the 1 girl took awhile to find her home. He's the last boy left and by far the most afraid, shy and fearful of the group.

He's VERY cat friendly and loves to play and cuddel with the other cats in his current foster home. But he doesn't trust people and he's very fearful. I'm told you I may not see him for days at first. He's not aggressive just very afraid.

He's been in foster care with a great lady for a long time now. He'll be a year old in July. No one has even considered adopting him. I've never fostered before but am thinking about taking him on.

If he's still very very fearful of people at 10 months old - is there ANY chance he'll change in time? I know there's no way to know. But should I expect he'll always hide under the bed or in the closet etc. if I do bring him in to my home? I live alone and I can be very patient. I'm told it would be good for me to expose him to other people if I do foster him. Is there much of a chance that he can at the very least learn to trust me and maybe accept some pets now and then?

I can take it - what does everyone think would be the likely outcome?
post #2 of 11
I think he will come around, you just have to let them come at their own time, not force anything, talk sweet, and pet when giving food, or whenever you can.

My Pansy was a major scardy cat, I could not pick him up, as close as I could get would sit next to him and pet. Now he climbs on my lap when I am on the computer, he sleeps with me, and climbs on me when I watch tv. The up on the lap with the computer just started a few months ago. I was thrilled that he did that.

Your major problem for now will be to introduce the newby to the cats you already have. good luck with that.

P.S. Pansy will still hide when strange people come in, and I wouldn't recommend you expose your new guy to extra people, just for the sake of doing it. Let him get to know you first. You want him to feel secure.
post #3 of 11
Thread Starter 
thanks so much! I agree about trying to get him to trust me first.

i've been reading about socializing feral cats and how it's hard after a certain age...but I'm not sure if he "counts" as feral. He was born in a junkyard to a feral mom but has been fostered since he was weaned. He's happened to be the most fearful, least adoptable (though apparently sweet based on how well he does with other cats) of the bunch.

i'd love to give him a shot. i won't expect much from him...but it makes me happy to think there's still a chance if i become his permanent home that even though he's almost a year old he may still come to appreciate a little love and affection and human companionship in small doses if i'm super patient.
post #4 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by halebop View Post

i'd love to give him a shot. i won't expect much from him...but it makes me happy to think there's still a chance if i become his permanent home that even though he's almost a year old he may still come to appreciate a little love and affection and human companionship in small doses if i'm super patient.
If you are adopting him, sure. Do it. His fosterer was good, so there is no hope of quick changes. Probably he will always be a shy cat.
But the shy cat has a big charm. The day he comes to you, wants cuddle and give you his love, you know it is you he loves. Not anybody passering by, or just because it is thursday today.
Our older cat is also shy. But still a fine family cat we love.

No hurry with introducing him to other people. Perhaps you will never get to this stage. Perhaps only some of your cat-friendly friends, who can be cat-sitter if you are away on a journey or such.

Do as you plan. Let it take time. You will have some help of your resident cats. Besides, shy cats have seldom issues with residents: they are submissive to them. As long your residents arent aggressive it will go OK.

Ah, yes, you can also try with a Feliway diffuser. Cant hurt, but can help.


Good luck and much pleasure with your new furry friend!
post #5 of 11
Based on his background, it definitely sounds like this kitty isn't a true feral, just shy and wary of people. That can be overcome with patience and a willingness to accept the kitty for who he is, which it sounds like you're willing to do. You deserve tons of credit for that!

My advice if/when you bring the kitty into your home is to start him out in one room with all the necessities. That way he won't feel overwhelmed. Then, spend time with him - reading, watching TV, etc.. Get down on the floor, or at his level wherever he is, and speak to him softly, maybe try engaging him in play with an interactive toy. Depending on how he responds to you and his confidence level, you can then increase his exposure to the rest of the house and to other people.

While he may never become friendly with strangers, chances are he'll likely form a strong bond with you and be a sweet, affectionately companion. There's nothing quite as rewarding as experiencing the love and trust of a shy kitty. Thank you for your willingness to give this special cat a chance. Good luck!
post #6 of 11
Thread Starter 
thanks everyone! i think i'm up for the challenge! i have one more question.

my apartment is pretty small. the only area i can confine him in to start is the dressing area / bathroom. (that will work just fine)

i'm told by his current foster mom that he'll find a place to hide (behind the toilet, in my closet (no way to make it so he can't get in there).

later when i introduce him to his furry friends and the rest of the apartment he can head for under the bed, etc.

i figure that won't be great in terms of my being able to bond / work with him but it also would probably really stress him out / convince him i'm really NOT to be trusted if i were to try to drag him out.

what's the best way to handle this issue? i'm sure it will take a long time for him to come around so it won't be possible to keep him somewhere where there's nothing he can hide under or behind. do i just let him do that (even if it's whenever i'm around / home) until he feels comfortable taking a step or two out and then try to softly praise him and bribe him with food?
post #7 of 11
An idea is to give him "legal" hiding places. Ie a cat igloo, his transport box, and or a sideturned cardboard-box. Perhaps a nice and cosy shell somewhere where you do have access if need be.
Preferably a couple different places so he can choose. With a little luck he will choose these.
If he has a favorite blanket in his old home, let the blanket be in that new hide-place of yours...


And once again, the Feliway diffuser and no hurry: you are on good way with your way of thinking.


You wrote about confining him some time in the bathroom. Sure, should work.

Do he need a quarantene? I presume he has a clean health bill from his first fosterer?
post #8 of 11
Thread Starter 
Good advice! Thanks so much to everyone. He doesn't need a quarantine. He's been to the vet and tested, vacinnated, neutered - all that good stuff. (deworming and some other things as well)

In his current foster home he has the run of the place and loves lounging with the other cats...when his foster mom isn't too close.

It's been a few years since I've done a cat introduction. I figured my current brood would be most likely to accept him and be reasonably nice if I kept him on the other side of a door for at least a few days. Right?

Thanks again for all the good info and kind words!
post #9 of 11
What a wonderful thing you're doing!

You've already gotten great advice. I just want to add that while he may not choose the "legal" hiding places, wherever he decides he wants to make his "safe spot," don't every try to drag or coax him out of it. Cats are all about territory, and feeling safe in his - and letting him - is the first building block in the trust that is the first step in becoming a little more social.

Rather than repeat what I've written before, I'll go look up a post I recently made that you may find helpful with your new little boy.

Just remember... it's almost always two steps forward, one step back with shy little kitties. We're here for venting or support - or claps of encouragement.



Laurie
post #10 of 11
Found the thread.

http://www.thecatsite.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=195638

Please keep us posted!



Laurie
post #11 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by halebop View Post
I can take it - what does everyone think would be the likely outcome?
Quote:
Originally Posted by halebop View Post
i'd love to give him a shot. i won't expect much from him...but it makes me happy to think there's still a chance if i become his permanent home that even though he's almost a year old he may still come to appreciate a little love and affection and human companionship in small doses if i'm super patient.
Going into this with that attitude is absolutely perfect for a cat like this.

The oldest ferals that I've socialized were 2 years old when I brought them off the street. There were 3 of them and they were littermates. 1 became the most friendly cat in the household. Her sister was shy and hid from strangers, but still loved her lap time with me. Their brother would come up for love, but always remained a little on the wild side. Then there is my current Lucky Pierre, who I didn't work with very much until he was 18 months old. At age 6, he slept on my legs for the first time the other night. I get really excited when he jumps on the sofa and lays next to me. I don't expect much from him and therefore it's OK.

It is extremely rare when a feral cat doesn't get some level of bonding with their care giver. The degree of closeness is going to totally dependent on the cat's personality, which honestly, isn't any different than any non-feral born cat.

But socializing a feral cat over time has great rewards. You will rejoice every time that he interacts with you in a way that he hadn't done before. It's a very rewarding feeling to know that you've taken on a cat that everyone else has overlooked, and without you, chances are they wouldn't have survived on the streets.

I vote to go for it. Your attitude is perfect!
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