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Feral Cat Taken in Two Years Ago

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

My family consists of myself and my two cats. Miles is an orange tabby, very outgoing, quite the conversationalist and extremely affectionate. Lise is absolutely the opposite.

I adopted Lise two years ago in May. She was a foster cat of one of my former roommates for nearly a year. We knew very little about her except that she was definitely feral, she'd had at least one litter of kittens but she was found severely injured. She and Miles (then a kitten) really hit it off and are inseparable. I could not leave her behind when I moved. However, Lise has never warmed up to me. She sleeps/hides in the boxspring of my bed. She scrambles from any room that I enter. She will only come near me if she thinks I'm asleep - during the winter she will get into my bed. In two years, I've only touched Lise twice - once to move and once when she got stuck in the drapes in the living room.

Is this just the way it's going to be for the rest of our lives or am I being negligent by letting her "do her own thing?"
post #2 of 6
Her behavior is typical of cats that have been abused, scared hurt or were feral. The easiest way for her to warm up to you, and I know this sounds nuts, but if you are sure she is healthy, then you just flat out ignore her. If she comes out, don't look in her direction, don't look in her eyes, see to her basic needs, but just flat ignore her. We had one kitty that lived in our rafters for a year. I finally resorted to ignoring him, and two weeks later he was down and he was the most loveable of cats we had ever rescued! You can see him in this thread- along with all the other ferals that members here care for.

post #3 of 6
Thread Starter 
I have a friend who works for PAWS (Pets are Worth Saving) Chicago and she suggested a guy who does a scent evaluation in your home. My sentiment has always been that as long as Lise and Miles are playing together, she's eating and she's mainly content, I shouldn't force myself on her. I do talk to her and I call her and miles both when I get home - Miles, of course, is always sitting at the door when I come home, Lise ignores me. I will try ignoring her and see if we make forward progress.

I really just wanted to make sure that I wasn't doing some disservice to Lise by not engaging her.

BTW - your kitty and the others on that thread are WONDERFUL!
post #4 of 6
About 3 years ago, I took in a barn kitten that had been severely abused. She lived in my box springs for months, then she began interacting with the other cats. About a year ago, she began slowly making some progress toward being social. Just 2 days ago, she let me pick her up and sit her in my lap. She has startted coming up on her own and snuggling next to my leg. She will sometimes come snuggle under the blankets with me at night, and has begun to let me hold her for a few seconds at the time. We let her do things at her own pace, just made sure she always had plenty of food and water, and watched her closely for any signs of illness. It has been a long process, but I was so thrilled the first time she came up to my lap on her own, turned her pretty little face up, and looked at me, so content. Pearl has been worth every bit of patience we spent on her, she is so sweet now. She is still very skittish, but makes progress all the time.
post #5 of 6
Hi! I don't know how much exploring you've done in this forum, but this is very typical behavior. Each cat is different, and abused cats generally take longer and require more patience. The trick is to find within yourself infinite patience - and the rewards are spectacular.

Here is a great thread about socializing a feral. This one was not abused and only about six months old when trapped and brought inside. It usually takes longer the older the cat - and like Hissy pointed out, abused cats have more fear to overcome than ferals that have had little or no human contact. http://www.thecatsite.com/forums/sho...threadid=11395

...and to give you hope, there's a cute comment in this thread, the jist of which is never give up hope! http://www.thecatsite.com/forums/sho...threadid=31293

Please keep us posted!!!!
post #6 of 6
Thread Starter 
I didn't update everyone for so long because there really has been no change in my daily interaction with Lise. She will now take especially savory food from my hand, she will doze on the arm of the sofa - if I am safely dozing on the other end - and she will sleep at the foot of the bed.

I don't want to do anything to damage the small amount of trust that she has in me, so I never push the envelope. It hurts me from time to time to know that if anything ever happened to me she would have a very hard time finding another home that would understand her past and her need for space.

We seem to have an understanding, right down to the cat carrier. If I leave it out with the door open she will go in and move all the way to the back (I guess to make sure she is out of reach). This was very very helpful when I thought she had a UTI and when she lost a patch of fur on her hind quarter unexpectedly.

Lise and Miles are still inseparable although I have noticed that he is getting more domineering and aggressive toward her.

All in all, Lise and I accept each other as we are.

Thanks for your kind words a few years ago.


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