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skiddish kitty

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
About 8 or 9 months ago, we found a kitten outside, so he was feral, but we rescued him around age 2 months of age. We expected him to be somewhat scared at first, but the fear of people never went away. I live alone, and I'm really the only person that has ever touched him. I have a friend that comes over almost every day. She's been able to pet him a couple of times. No one else that has ever been over has ever been able to pet him, most never even see him. The only time I even get to pet him is if I'm in bed or sitting on the couch, he will come around. When I'm walking through the house, if I get within 10 feet of him, he runs and hides under the bed. He has almost a terrified look on his face, all wide eyed and panicky. He only seems to trust me if I'm laying down or sitting. The second you touch him, he starts to purr, so I know he likes it. He's so soft and adorable, and all anyone wants to do is pet him and give him love, and he's just not having it. His name is Calvin, he is a siamese mix, soft cream and tan coat, blue eyes, has his claws, and has been neudered. I have another cat, extremely friendly, the cats get along very well. Can I socialize this cat that is almost a year old?
post #2 of 6
You may be able to socialize him somewhat more but there isn't any guarantee. Kittens receive the best socialization with people prior to 8 weeks of age. If he didn't have the chance to get to know people while he was with his mom, he will find it more difficult to do later on. I have one cat that was a very late socializer as well. She was raised outside with no human contact until about 9 weeks and then from 9 to 12 weeks was minimal contact and no physical contact. When I captured her along with her Mom and 2 siblings (Mom and one sibling were fine) I despaired of her ever socializing. I found homes for the Mom and one of the other kittens, but ended up keeping this one as well as her sister since she was wild still. She wasn't approachable until she was about 5 months old and even then she would only let me touch her and comb her - nothing more. She is now nearly 5 years old and over the years has gradually become more friendly. She still hides if anyone else comes over, and she dislikes being picked up or held, but she seeks me out and crawls into my lap now or on to the bed for petting - on her terms.

With your kitten he is still under a year and I think what you are going to need to do right now is to continue as you are - finding opportunities to pet him and touch him in small doses when he is comfortable with it. If you are walking into the room, try taking smaller steps or walking slower or even stopping when he shows signs of panicking and then starting again slowly. It will be a nuisance, but he still feels like is a tiny kitten and you are a big tall person and that can be frightening. I lived alone then as well and Freija never had the opportunity to meet a lot of other people either. Playing has turned out to be the best socialization skill for her, so try and find any opportunity to play with this kitten interactively. He will get more used to you moving and realize he isn't hurt, plus you may get his competitive instinct engaged and once he gets positive reinforcement for being playful and active, he will seek out more of it. This may give you more opportunities to pet and touch him. I don't think you will ever be able to hold him and cuddle him and he will probably always be leery of other people, but he will probably socialize more with you as he gets older, especially as your other cat is friendly. Good luck

post #3 of 6
What is his favorite place in your home? Get down on the floor and take a nap right there -- he will come investigate you while you are sleeping.

Teach him to play games so he can experience a belated version of kitten-hood. Simple things like Turboscratcher or Cat Dancer. Then reward him with treats at the end of the session.

Do you have a cat tree or a cat condo? He needs to know he has a place to hide if he needs to, but otherwise he can grow comfortable walking around in your apartment when other humans are around.

Just as encouragement, I am still the only one who can handle Nano and only within the last week was my girlfriend able to pet her on two occasions. But it can happen over time. The goal is to get this cat to recognize you as his primary caretaker, but you also need to get him to accept a couple of other humans for when you go out of town or need a cat-sitter. For instance, Nano is beginning to accept a friend of mine and will comfortably walk around the apartment while this guy is around -- he will probably be the third person that Nano willingly allows to touch her. But there are other people who have spent double the time this friend has spent in my apartment, and Nano has showed no signs indicating she is warming up to them. It is definitely not linear or even really predictable.
post #4 of 6
I agree with the posts above. I took Logan in at 4 months and 2lbs. Getting him back up to weight and treating a few minor illnesses took some patience. Catching him to take to the vet was the hardest part, he hardly let me near him. 2 years later he is SOO cuddley! He now comes out when my parents are over, and even seeks attention. He might be seen out when others are here but doesn't wait to find out what is going on as much. Anyway, have patience and it will pay off
post #5 of 6
Every cat is unigue. I have brought in ferals at 2 years old that were perfect affection lap cats in a short while. Then I have brought in kittens at a young age that still do what you describe after 9 years, even with handling from birth. Whenever you are dealing with ferals, you simply have to accept their terms. They may not be the "ideal" pet (whatever "ideal" means to you), but they are who they are. With the tougher ones, you rejoice at the good moments you have with them and let them live life on their terms.

Hang in there. My Tigger still runs and hides from strangers after 9 years, won't let me pick him up, but he won't get thru a night without sleeping by my side, nor an evening sharing my lap on the sofa. (Speaking of which, Tigger just jumped in my lap as I was typing this)
post #6 of 6
You really can socialize a cat at any age. You just need to take your cues from the cat, instead of expecting this stray you rescued to be like other cats. They are just wired differently. Spend more time lower to the floor. Start reading out loud to him, feed him on top of a sweaty tee shirt of yours. Ignore him for about a week, just see to his needs, food, water, litter pan detail. Stick to a schedule and don't surprise him. See how quickly he comes around. Give him places he can hide- if you have a cat condo, try blocking off one of the levels with artificial plants, so he can hide behind them, still see you but feel safe.
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