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Need some advice!

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 
About 4 days ago my partner found a cat hanging on a wire fence covered in about an inch of snow. It was just draped over the wire during a snowstorm. At first he thought it was dead but when he approached it opened it's eyes and meowed. He immediately picked it up and put it in is jacket where it cuddled in. He took it with him to the hospital, he's a doctor and kept it with him for the day in his office. It was a young female about 6 months. On his way home he picked me up and we took it to the vet. I was taken a little aback when I saw her for she was very thin her sides totally sunken in. The vet checked her, confirmed that she was around 6-7 months. She weighed 5lbs 14oz. Although she was given a clean bill of health we had her vaccinations done and a blood test taken to ensure she was indeed healthy. Everything checked out fine expect that she was starving.
We brought her home and isolated her in an empty bedroom we have that is carpeted. We set her up with a litter box and kitten formula Science diet. Science diet is what we feed all our pets. We have 2 dogs and 4 cats, hence keeping her isolated. We figured she needed time to recuperate and get her strength back.
Although she's friendly, the first day or so she always growled, not particularly at us but in general when she ate, walked around etc. After 4 days she's stopped growling and seems to be recuperating quite well. However, whenever I go to visit her, usually every hour or so from 10 to 30 minutes she's quite friendly by jumping into my lap nuzzling me and purring as I pet her. This lasts about 5-10 minutes until she seems to 'remember' "oh ya, your a stranger" and backs off a foot or so and swats me with her paw and tries to bite me. She did actually bite me already when I tried to pet her as she ate, although she drew blood I pulled back fast enough so she wasn't able to sink her fang in my finger.
If I try to approach her, she always attempts to swat at me with her paw and nip me. She doesn't growl or whip her tail in advance as a warning so it usually shocks me. Although we've already decided to keep her if we can't find her a good home(meaning with someone we know personally) I'm not sure when or how I can make her be 100% friendly. Any suggestions, or is it too soon and I should allow her more time? How much time should I keep her isolated? I certainly don't want to endanger my other cats but she does seem to want to come out. She gets glimpses of our other cats and dogs and doesn't growl or hiss. I definately don't believe she's feral, although skinny and starving she does have a friendly streak. I just believe she's been out on her own for a while and weary of strangers, not to mention hungry, scared and alone. How she survived at all is a surprise as this winter's been the coldest in years, with the temperatures around the -20C for the last couple of months.
Any advice or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
post #2 of 25
Wow, that's some story! You've done all the right things so far: vet, isolating, shelter, food, etc. The poor thing is likely really freaked out by the different experiences she's had in a very short time. Since she does approach you and let you handle her, she does not sound feral.

She does need more time to acclimate. Make sure she's got a couple of boxes (or something) she can hide in/behind/under to feel safe. Keep to a schedule with feedings so that she associates your presence with something good. She's sounds like she gets over stimulated after a while, hence the swatting and biting. Leave a radio turned on low volume in the room so she gets used to voices, leave some pieces of sweaty clothing from you and your partner in the room with her. Keep feeding her and loving on her and she'll come around. Others with vastly more experience should be along to advise you later.

Thanks for taking this kitty in. Have you decided to keep her? How about a name?
post #3 of 25
Thread Starter 
Hi Marion,
Thanks for the reply! As for a name we've called her Whitby, the town she was found in. We have decided to keep her if we don't find her a home with someone we know personally. I figured she still needed more time. We do try to hand feed her treats as well which she readily takes gently and enjoys. We left the crate in there for her to escape if she needs too however she's quite content to lay/sleep on a towel on top of a end table thats in the room. She's never tried to flee in our presence. Interesting thing last night, as we sat in the room with her one of our other cats, Rhea(manx) scratched at the door. We opened and she strolled right in, took one look at Whitby and ignored her. Whitby hissed and growled, Rhea turned around, hissed and growled right back. Whitby backed down and lay there just watching her. Rhea being the cool cumcumber that she is walked over to her food bowl and ate some of her kitten formula. After that she casually strolled back to door and asked to leave. After she left Whitby just lay there totally perplexed. This morning when I went to see her she seemed rather agitated and only allowed me a second or two to pet her. Perhaps I'm rushing her too much? I just should be more patient I suppose.
post #4 of 25

There's an article at this link and a thread at this link.
Please check them out, they'll give you some good advice

When we adopted a third cat late last summer, we followed the advice given at the rescue group's site, Introducing a new cat, which has much the same info as the first link above and things have gone pretty well.

At this point, it is best for Whitby to interact with your other pets only through a closed door. Then she'll have time and space to realize she's in a safe place Oh, and yeah, patience is going to become your new mantra
post #5 of 25
Welcome to TCS! I hope she fits into your home and all the advice so far sounds good to me also. The slower the better because you do not want to have negative experiences only positive ones if you can get them. Also try some of the Feliway products as well as the tips such as feeding them on the sides of closed doors and all the rest. Good luck!
post #6 of 25

Thank you for saving this kitten. Chances are she was to exhausted to make it over the fence and would have died there had she not been saved.

Don't overwhelm her. By that, I mean don't go in there every hour on the hour. Let her adapt to her new surroundings. Set up a schedule and stick to it. Don't deviate from it. Go in at certain times every day, sit your butt down on the floor, prop yourself up to be comfortable, don't look at her, don't pay attention to her. Have a book in your hands and read out loud to her softly. Then get up, and where your body has made an impression in the carpet, leave two tasty kitty treats. Then leave the room. If she comes out and head bumps you DON'T pet her. You will get bit. Her head bumps are leaving her scent on you. It is her first step in trying to trust you. Don't make eye contact with her, and if she gets into your face and stares you down, blink slowly two or three times, to take away the threat of the encounter.

Clean her litter pans (she should have two, not one) at the same time(s) every day. Feed her in the same place every day same time(s) every day, same with her water. Don't pull any surprise visits, don't show her off to strangers. Once she knows she can trust you, she won't bite you or scratch.But right now, her world has been rocked and she is waiting for it to change again. Make sure she has adequate places that are safe in the room to hide as well as to get up high. If she stays on the floor level, then she is a submissive kitty, if she wants to be up higher, she is more alpha. That will come into play later when you introduce her to the group. Dim the lights in the room if you can, just decrease the wattage or burn night lights. That will keep her calmer as well- good luck!
post #7 of 25
Bless you, Steven, for rescuing this beautiful, precious baby!
post #8 of 25
Thread Starter thanks for the advice hissy, as a matter of fact I have been sitting with her reading to her! Many times she jumps in my lap and rubs up against me or pushes her head into my hand for petting and scratching. She's also started to stand up against my chest and licks my chin. It's a little unnerving I'll admit. Here's a pic of her. She's almost identical to Simba my ocicat.
post #9 of 25
hi whitby! welcome to the best place for reassurance and good advice...i'm a new girl here too and have found great information and advice from everyone on the site!
i'm like you with a new girl in the house, i caught my stray 11 days ago...she is still separated from my other cat although they old girl is a little pushy with her but so far so fighting. winnie hid under the bed for about 3 she comes out to eat and have a visit with me when i visit her...she discovered it feels nice to be she drools! like hissy said, take your time with her,...don't push fact winnie responds much better when i ignore her...she seeks me out...anyway good luck, read some of the posts here, they inspire you, make you cry, smile and all that good cat stuff....sending kitty vibes down Hwy 401!!!
post #10 of 25
Thread Starter 
Hey Kim36,
Funny that you mentioned the 401. If it hadn't been for the snow storm last Wednesday and the tractor trailor plowing thru the guard rails(no one was hurt) my partner wouldn't have taken a detour and found Whitby in Whitby. Just glad he didn't find her in Ajax or Pickering or I would have had to name her after one of those cities! Seriously though, she is doing much better, eating well, gaining wait and now having snorting matches with my dog under the door. She will in time fit in with the gang.
post #11 of 25
Can I also suggest that she not be sharing her food, and please don't pet her while she's eating? If she's been without for so long, then maybe that would explain her nipping at you petting her while she ate. She may be thinking you're there to take her food away, even if a moment ago she was lovin' on you. Don't interfere with her food at all, and please don't let her share just yet. She needs to know that there is enough for her, and that it will be there all the time.

And thank you so much for rescuing her. How blessed she is - and indeed you are; whether she's feral or not, the blessing is indeed huge and great.

post #12 of 25
Thread Starter 
Thanks the advice noni, I'll watch that. Whitby is doing quite well now, I moved a chair in there so I can sit and read a book because I felt Whitby was getting lonely. The minute I sit down to read she's right in my lap looking for some petting. She stands up against my chest and licks my face. Her swatting and biting has really decreased and when she does attempt to bite it isn't with the same gusto as last week. This morning as I came into the room she was standing at the door and came face to face with my shepard. He's been standing guard at the room since she arrived. Much to my surprised Whitby and Thor touched noses! They will be good friends one day soon. Anyway, just wanted to give everyone an update on how she's doing.
post #13 of 25
Heartwarming update! So pleased she is doing well, what a lucky cat!
post #14 of 25
I just realized that Whitby was the name of your cat....
I also named my cat after the city he was found in. I live in Wayne, NJ and about two years ago this cute orange cat kept coming to my house I would put food out for him one day he just walked right. He has been living with us and sleeping in my bed ever since so I decided to name him Wayne...

That is so cool that you named the cat after where it was found!!

Great job with the rescue. Whitby is luck to have you!
post #15 of 25
Thread Starter 
I'm just glad we didn't find her in the neighboring towns of Ajax or Pickering!
post #16 of 25
Oh my gosh! Whitby is a VERY lucky little kitty to have both of you!!! What kind and caring people you are! From reading through this all, I am quite sure, that Whitby will be settling in real soon and all will be well at your home! Thanks so much for taking in this sad little kitty and making it's life a wonderful one now!
post #17 of 25
Hi Steven, i have taken in two rescues with some of those issues, one growling, both biting, both swatting. i did a ton of research on it at the time because it perplexed me. here is what helped me. i learned that when a cat hasn't had much love, love is overwhelming, exciting and great but confusing and overstimulating, and doesn't make sense in their cat world. so even when they ask they can suddenly bite. think of it as "emotional indigestion". so, rather than giving them lots of touch, i learned to "always leave them wanting more" just a little, tiny bit at a time watching closely for subtle signs with ears and tail end. they always warned me first in subtle ways that they were about to reach their limit, and i tried never to let them get to their limit. gradually their limit increased. also if they bit me, rather than pull away i stopped cold or pushed gently toward them in order to not react as prey. confused, they stop. then, after i am released, i look away, purposely, for several minutes, not making eye contact or touching them to say in cat language--as big cat i teach you that that is inappropriate social cat behavior. then, i refocus their energy outlet in play. i hope this helps.

how kind of you to save this kitten stuck on the fence in the snow. she'll end up being a big love i bet. take care.
post #18 of 25
Thread Starter 
Whitby UPDATE!
Well, well, well, so Whitby is now out of isolation and is mixing well with the gang of 4 cats and 2 dogs. There are still a few hisses and growls but thats to be expected for a couple more days. Hell, our cats still hiss and growl at each other every now and then! We decided to throw a catnip party for all the cats, a little "getting to know you while I'm stoned party" and spread catnip on the rec room carpet. By the time the party was over all the cats were getting along with Whitby like old chums. Whitby even slept with us last night, another bed hog! She's moving freely through the house, going to the litter boxes, catfood feeders etc. On a sad note though, our best friend wants to take her. He has one cat and has been wanting another as his cat is so lonely being the only cat in the house. She'll have an awesome home, but I can't help but feel sad, I kinda want to keep her, but having 4 cats already and 2 dogs it's getting too much. I keep reminding myself that our intent was to find Whitby a good home with someone we know personally or keep her ourselves. Oh well, we'll have her until Sunday before we take her over.
post #19 of 25
How nice to hear things are going good! If Whitby does get to go to a new home, I hope the other cat is given time to be introduced. It can be tricky sometimes.
post #20 of 25
Thread Starter 
Yes she will have adjustment time, we've explained the whole process to our friend. We've told him not to expect them to be chums in a day or so, but that the whole process will take a few weeks.
post #21 of 25
It's to bad you can't keep her. She won't feel the same toward her new owner that she does for the two who rescued her from the cold and from hunger. Sounds like she is infiltrated into your heart and your home well. Removing her now, will serve to further confuse her.
post #22 of 25
Our youngest cat had similar behavior when we first got him, and sometimes he still does it. What happens is you will be petting him and cuddling him and everything would seem fine, but at some point he might decide he's had "enough" and will rear back and nip you. He doesn't really bite hard, he just hits you really fast with his teeth or sometimes just his paws (with the claws in). Maybe your cat will grow out of it, too, as he gets to trust you more.
post #23 of 25

It is is sad that you can not keep Whitby, I am sure with time she will love her new owner I have had my cat Wayne for three years now and he is now totally in love with me and totally trusts me. So, it may take time but she will be thankful for a warm home, good food, and an owner who loves her. Good Luck
post #24 of 25
Thread Starter 
I'm soooo having second thoughts about giving her away. We brought her out of isolation on Sunday and the change in her is amazing. She hasn't bit or swatted since. Her bahavior is that of a cat who has lived here all her life. She moves freely throughout the house with no fear from anyone. She kisses noses with my two dogs, Thor my shepard licks and cleans her ears(he does that to all the cats). She races around the house with Oberon my 1.5 yr old Abby, one minute he's chasing her up the stairs and several minutes later she chases him back down.
So now I'm torn, what to do, what to do...We're suppose to bring her over on Sunday....
post #25 of 25
Man, I'd keep her, because well.. you two saved her life, and I don't men in a "picked her up from the shelter" kind of way, as respectable as that is, but I mean in a bigger more important kind of way. You're her godsend.. I wouldn't trade being that to a cat for the world.
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