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Shy kitties (longish post)

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 
Hi, folks. I would like to hear what you have to say about my two furry babies. I have had cats formost of my adult life, but never any that were as nervous and jumpy as these two. Rusty and Olivia are about 6 months old. They are not littermates but were fostered together. Both were feral dumpster kitties before they were rescued by the group I adopted them from. They had been socialized (sort of) by the time they came to live at my house when they were about 12 weeks old. Also, they are strictly indoor, neutered, but not declawed. Rusty is the extrovert, following me around the house, talking away, and insisting on as much petting as he can get and crawling into my lap whenever he can. However,whenever I extend a hand toward him to pet him he flinches and ducks and sometimes moves away, even though he was asking for petting. It can take a few tries and much coaxing before he will allow me to touch him. Heaven forbid if I should try to pick him up.
Olivia remains either under the bed or the couch for most of the time I am home. She will slink around the edges of a room and sometimes sit beside me on the couch and allow me to pet her if I don't look at her or speak to her. Sometimes she will sit in my lap, again only if I pretend she is invisible. If I acknowledge her presence she immediately runs and hides again. If anyone else is in the apartment she may not make an appearance. At bedtime,though
she is up on the bed beside me, snuggling as close as she can get, enjoying petting.....until I happen to shift position, then she is gone. Neither cat will come when I call them unless I am opening a can of food or treats and I don't want to give them too many extra goodies. I know the girl who fostered them and I know she would not have done anything to frighten them or threaten them and she would not have allowed anyone else to. I have never had rescued feral cats before. Is this normal behavior and what can I do to help them be more comfortable? They both eat and drink well. There are no problems with the litterbox. There are plenty of toys and we spend time playing. Not long ago Rusty spent the day walking around the house yodeling at the top of his lungs. I have read that all of these behaviors are signs of stress. It took a lot of work and coaxng to get Olivia to the point where she is as sociable as she is and Rusty has calmed down a lot from the hyper ball of energy he was when he first came here. After three months, what could these little guys be stressing about?
post #2 of 4
Hi jpfuzz and welcome!

So good of you to have adopted these two! Sounds like they found a really good home. Feral cats can take a long long time to open up.

One of my kitties, Gezer, was rescued at the age of 10-12 weeks (we're not sure exactly). He was a real scaredy cat and still is. Like your furbabies, he too would come only when we opened a can

He's now 1.5 years old and I'm happy to say that he is showing signs of change. We don't know why, but during the past couple of months he's turned into a lap cat, but only for my husband. As soon as hubby sits down,Gezer jumps into his lap and starts to purr away. In the past he wouldn't let anyone pet him for more than 2-3 minutes, but now he's happy to be petted for hours - again, only by my husband. If I as much as get too close to them, talk loudly or look at him, he jumps off and goes away. Strange little creature - but very cute.

I think that you should give it a lot of time and not press it. Let them come to you at their terms (like you do now) and I think they'll trust you enough eventually to gradually increase the amount of interaction.
post #3 of 4
It probably has nothing to do with the foster home. Most cats who dont get socialization around 4 to 6 weeks can end up like that. It may or may not change. All they really need is what you are doing. It sounds like you are always letting them know that theres nothing to fear. I have 2 cats like that. They are both 3 now and havnt changed. I just think of them as my 2 shy ones. They will live out their lives with us in peace. I guess I have just gotten used to the way they are. With any luck, your two will come around in time. Just keep up what you have been doing.
post #4 of 4
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the reassurance, folks. I was afraid I was doing something to make them uncomfortable.
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