or Connect
TheCatSite.com › Forums › Our Feline Companions › Cat Behavior › Bentley's fear and terror
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Bentley's fear and terror

post #1 of 38
Thread Starter 
Hello everyone
I've been reading these forums all morning and much of the afternoon. I was drawn in with Lucky's story and how things have progressed. What an amazing story. Good job Sandi. So many people know so much about cats here that I thought I'd pose a few questions myself.
Our cat Bentley is 2 years old(we got him Christmas of 2001) and was born to our daughter's ex-boyfriend's(wasn't an ex when we got Bentley)outdoor cat. The vet told us someone had broken or bent our baby's tail and I figure I know who that was. Who knows what other atrocities were brought on him by this idiot(we had to get a restraining order after receiving a disturbing call from our daughter's counselor at school telling us she felt this relationship was going in a very dangerous direction).
We've solved that problem but I'm hoping there is something I can do for Bentley(and myself-I love him so much). He is very distrusting of males-which I understand-and allows me to pet him when he is relaxing only. He comes to me for play but never really wants me to pet him. He goes and jumps on my wife's lap and wants lots of love from her. I feed him, clean his litter box, always talk softly to him and tell him how pretty he is. He seems to really love this and will close his eyes as I talk with a look of total contentment. What can I do, if anything, to get him to want affection from me? Oh, he loves for me to hold him in my arms and walk all over the house but I have very few days-due to health problems-that I can do this. What am I doing wrong?
My other question is surely tied into the abuse this poor little guy suffered. Bentley will be playing or sleeping or just walking along and become startled horribly and run and hide when nothing has happened at all. I mean he is in the grip of terror. This doesn't happen often but when it does nothing we say will calm him down. He's an inside cat but we do have a body harness leash we put on him and let him get out with us. He loves that and even comes to me so I can put the leash on him. We don't have any other animals so he is our baby. Any help you can give will be greatly appreciated.

Thank you,
post #2 of 38
Hi Bent-

Welcome to the boards! Bently sounds like he just has feral tendencies and has indeed been abused at one time or another. I have one beautiful boy name of Kahuma that is the most loving cat at times, and other times if you make a loud noise, or he hears something outside, he becomes a clawing hissing maniac as he scrambles to the cat door and the safety outside. We have learned over the time with him 7 years, that just ignoring him brings him to us quicker than anything else.

Don't force Bently to come to you, and don't pet him unless he asks first (several headbumps are a good indication) If at all possible, get down on his level, on the floor, just sit and quietly read to him while you have someone scatter cat treats around you. When he comes to eat, keep reading (don't look him in the eyes) and show him you are no "threat." He has likely been hurt by a male and therefore will distrust any man in his presence, this is normal. You just have to show him that you could care less if he is the immediate area. Nothing brings a cat out more than being ignored. See to his comforts, and make sure he has a vet visit when needed, but other than that try and ignore him for about a week and see what happens. We had one fella lived up in our rafters for about a year. But when he came down, he was such a wonderful cat- we had been ignoring him about 3 months other than feeding him and changing his litterbox. You can see his picture in Fur Pictures Only= Ferals Before and After-
post #3 of 38
Sorry, no suggestions, but a kudos. I think that you're doing a great job in observing and trying to pick up on what's making him the way he is. I think it will just take a lot more time for him to trust you any further, and you're doing all the right things to make this happen. He's already in your arms going around the house, that's great.

Hissy and others will have more pointers for you on abused kitties. I'm so glad he found a great family. It sounds like the abuser liked to scare the sh$$ out of him by surprise, so I don't doubt that that's his reflex when he's startled horribly when nothing's happening. And his tail?!? May that kid rot in hell.

Edit: Sorry my post sounded like you'd just gotten him. You were very clear that you'd had him for some time, so I really admired the patience and understanding you've shown. And no, it is not unusual that your cat is still showing post-trauma two years later.
post #4 of 38
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the quick replies. I just thought that after 2 years he would feel safe here by now. I have always had a good rapport with animals and am at a loss but I will definitely try your suggestions Hissy.
SuperKitty, I figured that's what it was too... the kid scaring the hell out of him. I'm not a violent person by nature but I really wanted to hurt that boy.
post #5 of 38
I have nothing to add other than to tell you that I admire the love and patience you have for this poor boy. Bravo to you for rescuing Bently and giving him a loving home.
post #6 of 38
Thread Starter 
Thank you Lotsocats
post #7 of 38
Thread Starter 

For the last 2 days I have been ignoring Bentley but it's hard. I find myself looking at him when he's sleeping and wanting to pet him so bad. I've not broken down yet though. The first day he didn't seem to notice at all that I am ignoring him. This morning(I usually feed him in the morning and he always gets on his hind legs and I'll put my hand out and he pushes his head into it like he's petting hisself with my hand) I fed him but continued to ignore him. He ate a few bites then came and attacked my feet as I sat on my chair watching TV. I just kept watching TV and he attacked a few more times. When I say attacked I mean he ran up and grabbed my ankle with his front paws and kicked at my feet with his back paws then ran off. This has always been one of his ways of playing. He then sat on the floor directly in front of me(looking up at my face) and after a few minutes of me not looking at him he made this little whining sound and ran off. Not exactly sure about this but I think it's already getting to him that I'm not paying any attention what-so-ever to him. God! This is hard though.

Edited to add:
I was going to try lying on the floor at Bentley's level and reading to him while my wife sprinkled treats around me but my wife says that's stupid and she won't do it.
post #8 of 38
Thread Starter 
This just doesn't feel right. Bentley is trying to tell me he needs my talking to him maybe more than I need my petting him. Could be wrong but it doesn't feel that way.

Edited to add:
I forgot to mention in the previous update that Bentley playing after a few bites of food is not normal, just that that mode of play for him is what he likes.
post #9 of 38
It sounds like he likes your attention more than you knew. Maybe the ignoring is working, he is reaching out for your attention Sounds like a good sign to me.
Keep up the good work.
post #10 of 38

Just like to say that it's fantastic that you welcomed the little one into your home. You're being wonderful being patient with him.

It does sound like he wants your attention. I'd give him a little attention now and then at this stage. Don't overdo it.

My best friend has a dog that gets into a grip of fear and will growl at something that is unseen. He was rescued from the RSPCA as his owner had recently passed away. He's never been abused but after a few check ups by the vet, it has been found that he has epilepsy and hallucinates. You may want to take Bentley in and check for this.

But given his history of being abused, it could be at those particular times that something in his surroundings is causing him to remember his past triggering the fear. It could be something as subtle as a scent or change in the amount of lighting.

And the treats, well sprinkle the treats first without your cat knowing. (Good luck on this one as I know this can be quite difficult!) Then sit there and call his name to you. Hopefully he comes and you can start talking to him or reading. This is what I do when no one is available to help.
post #11 of 38
Thread Starter 
Thank you Coco and Gem

This is really hard ignoring Bentley. Last night I had this kitchen chair in front of me as I sat and watched TV and Bentley jumped up in the chair and just stared at me for the longest time and finally laid down and slept on the chair. Then, this morning he laid on this piece of wrapping paper we put down for him and just stared at me again. After about ten minutes or so he got up and went off somewhere to sleep.
Gem, I was thinking about trying that myself with the treats. Thanks for the suggestion.
I'm trying to get pix of Bentley up but am having difficulties with walagata uploading anything. Must be my firewall settings or something and I am still waiting for their tech support to help.
I have a picture of Bentley that melts my heart everytime I look at it and want to share it as well as some others.
post #12 of 38
Now is prbably a great time to start giving him treats while he is reaching out for your attention. And maybe you could give him a little pet on the head too.
post #13 of 38
Russell will bring me a toy and drop it at my feet when he wants to play. It sounds like Bentley's trying another method of getting your attention. Giving you something in the hope of getting some attention which is better than getting your feet attacked. (How do you cope with that? I trained my two not to do that. It hurts!)

It sounds like progress is being made. Lots of luck with the treats.

Good luck with tech support and uplaoding pictures. I haven't figured that one out yet but I will one day and finally let everyone see my two furbabies.
post #14 of 38
Thread Starter 
Hi Gem

It sounds like Bentley's trying another method of getting your attention. Giving you something in the hope of getting some attention which is better than getting your feet attacked.
I don't understand that. Do you mean sitting in the chair staring at me and lying at my feet and whining?

(How do you cope with that? I trained my two not to do that. It hurts!)
He loves to play attack but most of the time he doesn't use his claws. When he kicks and throws his claws out it hurts but I just grunt and play I have other pain that makes what Bent does insignificant.

Oh, and thanks for the luck wishing. I thought it was my system settings but it was just Walagata. I was able to upload a bunch of pix and then make links here. They're in the Fur Pictures thread.
post #15 of 38
Hi Bent

I meant by him bringing you the wrapping paper. Cats will at times bring home something they've killed for their owners as a gift. It seems that's what Bentley is doing with the wrapping paper.

post #16 of 38
Thread Starter 
Oh, he doesn't bring it... he just lays on it where it is. It's only when he plays with it that the paper moves. Bent likes to slowly creep onto the paper(when he's not actually playing with it) because it crinkles and he likes to think nobody else hears it and he's swift enough to get away with it. That's what he did the other morning. He faced me and slowly crept onto the paper and did what my kids call a loaf... He sits enlarged(puffed out but paws underneath him) and then did his whine and ran off.
post #17 of 38
I have a previously abused cat Piper, we have had her a year now, and I also didn't know anything on how to help her, but through people on this site help she is so much better, she will play and actually chase other cats, talks to us now, sits on our laps, jumps on us in bed, things she never even attempted, until we took the advice of totally ingnoring her aside from basic needs.
she is still scared when you make a big noise or she hears a wierd noise, and runs off, but comes back just after few minutes as oppose to hours before!

my advice is to continue the great work, and I know how hard it is too ingore him, but it does work, always wait for him to approach you for play or affection, and end it before he wants it to end..this will keep him coming back for more! it keeps the time positive in his mind! keep us posted!
post #18 of 38
Thread Starter 
Hi Cookie

Thank you for the insight. I've learned that Bentley comes to me for playing and attention. It's not what I'd hoped for but it must fulfill his needs to some degree. He's been so gentle with his playing of late that I've not had to worry about scratches and bites. I know, it's not the affection I wanted. This has all come about though because of the wonderful people here. I never realized I was threatening him by looking him directly in the eyes. He's still very skittish but comes to me and slaps at me lightly when he wishes to convey a certain need. I've been employing a little game of "I don't know where Bentley is and I call him" where Bent can sit even directly in front of me and I keep looking for him to come around a corner or anywhere but where he is and he seems to be relaxing more. I call out for him when I do this and it's very amazing how he completely relaxes then(yea, I see him out of the corner of my eyes ). I hope I'm not promoting feral or abused tendencies. I just want Bent to know he's safe here.

Cookie, I do end the play fairly soon(no more than 3-5 minutes from the start of him stalking my hand around my ankles or diving after a shoe string I pull around my feet-he tends to take a good minute to even get up the courage to "attack") but maybe I should end it sooner... Bent tends to run off-after some play-and sit from a distance just watching even if I make sounds that would normally entice him to play in the first place.
post #19 of 38
Thread Starter 
My wife bought an adjustable bed for me and it came last Thursday. It's on the main floor of our house in our living room and Bentley has been sleeping against my legs on it ever since. He is also sleeping on it from the time we leave till we return(so says my mother-in-law as she sleeps over often and is here many times when we are not). He seems to like when I pet him softly(but not a lot) when he sleeps up against my legs. I just do this when he becomes startled to reassure him and he quickly relaxes his eyes and lays his head back down. Helicoptors seem to really bother him and we've had a good number flying over recently. Anybody else notice helicoptors bothering their cats? I have to mute the tv and let him listen and tell him it's ok and then he'll calm down.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Sicy, the sig you made for me is one of my fav pix of Bentley. This is the look he gives me when I talk softly to reassure him.
post #20 of 38
You are making great strides in comforting Bentley. Having him sleep by your legs in bed is a very good sign that he trusts you. Our kitty Coco usually is a "fraidy" cat. At night, she sleeps on foot of the bed. As if she wants to be beside us when there is not movement or action in the room that scares her.
Bentley is a lucky kitty to have you. Keep up the good work. Bentley has finally found a forever, loving home where he can relax and play and be a kitten again.
post #21 of 38
It sounds great that he will sleep near your leg, that definetly means he likes you and will trust you alot more as time goes on, if you keep doing the awesome job you have so far! Him answering your calls is also a very good sign, piper will do this too, and I can look in her eyes from far away, but never when she is close and I am petting her... try to keep the pets light and soft the way he likes it, and stop that too before he gets too excited...

Have you every tried playing with a straw with you kitty? I play the under covers game with a straw in my hand, and they go nuts, and my hands don't get sratched this way...

keep it up and you will see the more time goes by the more attention and affection he will want! and ofcoaurse don't hesitate to post any concerns or questions you may have!

seeing how happy and relaxed Piper has become is so rewarding, the first few months we had her, her tail wagged when ever she was awake, and she hissed and growled if you approached her, just walking by her she would crouch into this scared don't hurt me position. we don't see any of this anymore and it is such a relief!

thank you for caring enough to help this kitty open his heart to yours!
post #22 of 38
Thread Starter 
Thank you Coco and Cookie. I don't think I described what Bentley is doing now correctly. He's laying right up against my legs when they are under the covers and he is on top of the covers. Bent pushes against my legs like he wants to be as close as possible and just rests his weight on me. He's then able to sleep more peaceful than at any other time. I think he understands I hurt and is trying to comfort me. I think I'm blessed to have such a wonderful creature, even when he wasn't wanting any attention from me. He has such grace when he wants and then can be such a goof at times... I can't help but smile every time I think of Bentley. He's my affair
post #23 of 38
Thread Starter 
Bentley has finally found a forever, loving home where he can relax and play and be a kitten again.
That is a very apt definition of our lives. I just can't imagine life without.
post #24 of 38
Thread Starter 
Cookie, hello

I'll have to try the straw under the covers. I may be too aggresive for Bent with my fingers so using something like straw may help. He'll hear the crinkle without all the huge finger movements. Good idea! Thanks for the suggestion.
post #25 of 38
Wow! I've just read the thread. It sounds like Bentley has started to relax around you.

It's best to use an object if the play is encouraging Bentley to pounce. That way he doesn't learn to see your hands as play toys.
post #26 of 38
Thread Starter 
Yea, Gem, he seems to be coming around. With just a little ignoring him he's really changing. He still has his moments and probably always will... being a cat.

Thanks for the suggestion. I'll give it a try.
post #27 of 38
It sounds as if Bentley is making progress fast. Our last cat was a feral for about 8 years, and it took over a year for him to accept my petting his head (only). He never let my husband pet him, but as time went by (we had him for 6 years), he would rub himself against our legs, and followed my husband all around the yard when he was gardening. He also brought us presents (food stolen from the local supermarket's parking lot). We basically never made eye contact with him, talked very softly in his presence, and if we accidentally looked him in the eyes, we blinked very slowly to signal that we meant him no harm. Jamie, our present baby, was born to an abandoned cat trapped at a feeding site when she was heavily pregnant. He was born in a foster home, and had no contact with men until I brought him home when he was 10 weeks old. He was familiar with me from my visits to the foster home (I'd promised to take one or two kittens when they were born), but was absolutely terrified of my husband. We tried the same tactics. My husband pretended the cat didn't exist, but "accidentally" dropped a few tidbits (meat or cheese) whenever Jamie Cat entered the kitchen during meals. Within a few weeks, JC was demanding attention from my husband, asking to play or be petted, and lying on his chest or sitting on his shoulders. Oddly enough, this loving relationship only exists indoors. JC is trained to a leash, and will not allow any human other than me near him when he is outdoors - he panics otherwise. The only men he doesn't run away from when he's indoors, other than my husband, are my 16-year-old nephew and my father-in-law. He attacked our nephew (literally - bit, scratched and whacked him without provocation) until the latter's voice broke (JC considers kids aliens), but now comes up to him and wants to be petted and played with. My father-in-law has a real phobia about cats and dogs, so JC won't leave him alone - unties his shoelaces, knocks his hat off, sits on his head, etc.. Please be as patient as possible - allow Bentley to define your relationship at his own pace (which you seem to be doing - good job!), and remember that a lot of cats simply aren't, and perhaps never will be, "lap cats".
post #28 of 38
Thread Starter 
Thanks, Jcat! All of the great feedback here has helped immensely. Bentley was so sweet the other night, he came up to me as I was sitting up in my new bed and licked my hand. He must have known I was in pain and was trying to comfort me. Then he went by my knees and curled up against them keeping me warm. He just melts my heart.
post #29 of 38
Thread Starter 
Things are going pretty well now. Bentley will get on my keyboard drawer and head butt me then he allows a few pets and then he's off because he's late for a very important date, I assume. He doesn't run away just trots off looking like he did his good deed for the day. He has also been sleeping between my legs on his side all curled up and does that upside down head thing. He's just so cute. I haven't seen him get really scared at nothing in some time. He'll often jerk awake and look around though. I just tell him, in a very soft voice, that it's ok and he'll look me in the eyes(as if to ask, "Is it really?") then he'll slowly close his eyes and lay his head back down.
Whenever he looks me in the eyes I slowly close mine and this seems to calm him too. I'm just so glad he knows I mean him no harm and would protect him with my life.
post #30 of 38
I am so excited to hear how well Bently is doing. What a brave boy he has become. Congratulations on your success with this sweet boy!
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Cat Behavior
TheCatSite.com › Forums › Our Feline Companions › Cat Behavior › Bentley's fear and terror