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Advice needed on socializing an adult cat rescue

post #1 of 2
Thread Starter 
I am new to this group and I found it while searching the internet for advice.

My husband & I have adopted a beautiful adult long haired calico that I will call Miss Greta, from another woman across town. Greta was taken in by this woman as a stray some 6 mos ago when she turned up at her back door in emaciated condition. I am not sure how old she is, but she is neutered so I think she must have been owned at one time and was either abandoned or lost.

I did not realize that lost or abandoned cats could go "feral" and I am treating her as such.

Greta is in her second week with us. She only began eating after 5 days - and only a little at that - but has used the litter box faithfully. I have set up the guest room for her - complete with a Felliway "comfort zone" plug in and the Rescue Remedy drops in her water. But she stays under the bed and growls if I get too close so I only talk to her.

Even though her former "person" says she has had her shots and is FELV/FIV negative, I would like to get her to a vet ASAP, but under the circumstances it is impossible.

What is the proper approach for socializing her or at least getting her comfortable? So far, my husband, me and our other two cats will pile into the guest room for an hour or two at a time to watch tv or read e-mail from our laptops. Our other cats are curious and one has even gone under the bed and "sung" to her. This morning, Greta emerged from under the bed but I did not make an attempt to acknowledge her fearing that I would cause her to regress.

Today I have left her guest room door open to allow our cats to go and "visit" her during the day, in the hope that they will coax her out.

What am I doing right? What am I doing wrong? HELP!!

Thanks in advance
post #2 of 2
Because she is older, she has more fear to overcome. Right now, you are not her friend, you are her threat. You are keeping her, much against her will in a small room with no distractions, and she feels trapped. You want her to come out and socialize, to jump on the bed and purr, and head butt your arm, and she won't do this as long as you are expecting her too. Her not eating for five days concerns me greatly. This could be the beginning for her to develop liver disease. It is a very serious consequence when you are working with older ferals and strays. If she is not eating properly still, get her to the vet and have her levels tested. Don't worry about how she will react to the vet visit, just get her there, or you could face the real possibility of losing her soon. If she is eating well, and is staying hydrated, then keep an eye on her and if she starts losing interest in food- then you should get her to the vet straight away.

For now, ignore her. She is not there. Set up a schedule and stick to it.Food and water at certain times a day. In the same place, always in the same clean bowls. Scoop her litter pans she should have two- every day at the same time(s).

Quit bombarding her with the whole crew. Choose one person to go in every day three times a day if possible. Sit down on the floor, read out loud to her, write a letter and read it to her, do your work, or computering but always talk to her. Once you are finished, get up and leave a tasty treat where your body has left an impression on the rug. The one advertiser in the Market Place Plain Brown Tabby has great cat treats that all my ferals love. Then you leave the room. If she comes out, IGNORE HER. Do not make eye contact with her in anyway (they consider this a threat) If you do make eye contact with her accidentally, blink several times slowly to reduce the threat.

I have been socializing older ferals over twenty years. Ignoring them, lowering your expectations of what YOU want them to do, allows them to relax. Leaving them alone when they are hiding- if you peer into her when she is hiding, of course she will growl at you. She wants to be alone. So leave her be, and then see how quickly she will start to come out of hiding, and first jump on a chair, scrambling for safety the minute you come into the room.

But please get her to the vet- she needs to be evaluated, and keep your other cats away from her for now. When she is ready, she will tell you- right now her world has been rocked and she is confused and defensive, so take the pressure off her and make her an invisible cat.

Good luck!
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