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Long time lurker ~ 1st post ~ problem with new kitty

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
Last Sunday we adopted an 8 week old kitten (Pearl ~ DSH/buff color) from the local humane society. She seemed to be very normal while at the shelter, but once we got her home, it was a WAY different story.

(background ~ we have another cat, Egger ~ DSH/male/4 years old, who has been with us since he was 6 months old. He also came from humane/shelter type situation. And last month our other cat, Rocky, ran away He was DS's cat and once DS began saying he wanted another, we waited a bit. DS persisted, so we went and got Pearl last weekend ~ end of background info )

I have had many cats in my life, most of which were strays or adopted from shelters. NEVER in my life have I seen a kitten (a kitten, not an adult cat) so afraid of humans. She has been hiding from the get-go. And she found some really interesting, hard to get-to-her places, too.

My sister, who does alot of work with feral cats/kittens (is that the right spelling?) says I just need to give her time ~ leave the food/water/litter box where she can get to it, and give her time to feel at home and safe ~ eventually she will start to trust us/like us and be a more "normal" kitten.

Its been a week, and she is still very, very skittish ~ bolting as soon as human movement is detected. She will now let us see her (ever so graciously ) and she has let me touch her, but that is all.

Egger wants NOTHING to do with her ~ literally! He acts as though she is going to hurt him ~ like he is afraid of her, its very odd. Pearl, of course, comes running as soon as she sees Egger even if I am holding him ~ as if to say: "Hey you! You're like me! What are these big loud things that control the food? I'm scared! Love me!"

I know if Egger was more welcoming, she would adjust easier and quicker, but there is nothing I can do about that. Egger went thru some saddness after Rocky left, but seemed to have gotten over it. Back when Rocky joined us, Egger took to him almost right away (I thought it was strange at the time ~ there was almost no "Who are you? I'm #1 cat around here, bub!" stuff between them) so I'm wondering why Egger isnt liking little Pearl Is it because he still misses Rocky? Or because she is a girl kitty? Or was he happy to be rid of Rocky and back to being the one and only kitty in the house?

Anyway, do you guys think Pearl will come around and be "normal"? I know cats, and know they can be aloof as part of their nature and that is fine, but she just does not seem to like humans at all ~ so will that stop with time? I've never had a kitten react this way, so I'm a little thrown off.

The folks at the humane society did say she came from a stray litter and the mother was feral (fixed and released) ~ is this the source of her mis-trust? Is my sister right and we should just give her more time?

She needs to go in for her check-up (at adoption they said to take her in 7-10 days after we brought her home) soon and I can see that she has worms, so she really does need to be seen. I'm afraid that the small amount of progress we've made with her will be wiped out by me snatching her up and taking her to the vet, ya know?

Wow ~ this is really long ~ sorry! If you have any advice or words of wisdom, I would really appreciate it!
post #2 of 10
It just takes time to win shelter kitties trust. Most of the time these kittens are born in a feral colony taken away from the mom before the mom can teach them her wild ways and then adopted out. Things you can try is to sit down on the floor of the room where kitty is hiding out. Spread kitty treats all around you and open up a book and read a chapter to her softly. This lets her get used to your voice. Play classical music for her, keep the lights low, give her a cardboard box she can hide it (upend it and weight it down with something) cut a hole or two in it so she can hide in her cave. Give her food and water and a clean litterbox and just give her time. If you can, switch bedding between the two cats so they can get used to each others scent. Good luck
post #3 of 10
Hissy's suggestions are so good, I hesitate to add anything. One thing that worked for me (after the kitten starts coming near you on occasion) was to open a can of the best cat food available and put it on my lap. I did not make this food available in her dish. The kitten eventually came up and started to eat. When I petted her, she hissed at me, so I took away the food for a while. After I repeated this routine for a few days, she decided she liked to be petted; she associated it with good food.
post #4 of 10
eslad - Welcome! I am glad that you decided to post. Good luck with your new kitten. Keep us posted o her progress.
post #5 of 10
Gee, for a minute there I thought you were my old next-door-neighbor! When I lived in Denton my neighbors had a cat named Pearl! But her mom's name was different than yours.

Other than that, I have nothing to add to what Hissy has already said.
post #6 of 10
Patience, patience, patience. Your little girl has never really had much human contact, and she still views you as a threat. Feral moms instill that in their kittens really early on in thier lives. She will eventually come around, but she needs to feel safe and that may take some time.

I was the first person that my Ophelia ever saw. She got separated from her mother cat and was stuck in between walls in our apartment building. She was scared to death, and acting a lot like your Pearl is now. Even with a kitty friend, it still took a couple weeks before she would come out and play with me. It took a good month before she would let me touch her. I had both kittens put up in our bedroom, and I spend almost every minute I wasn't at work in that room with them.

One thing that I think really helped Ophelia was that she saw us interacting with Trent, who trusted us completely. She heard him purr when he got snuggles and she watched him playing and having fun.

When she finally did trust me enough to try getting petted, she turned her back to me knowing I would reach for her. I saw her tense up and get brave and when I touched her she relaxed a little like "hey, this isn't so bad after all." I just about cried when she did this. Now she is a total daddy's girl who prefers to sleep on top of one of us, and who loves a lap more than anything.
post #7 of 10
Dani came from an abusive household. I got her from a local Rescue organization. She has a strong fear of men and will run and hide under furniture if a male enters my home. Unless they stay for hours, she'll remain hidden. When she does appear, it's only long enough to take a peek and off to another room. I've had Dani for 9 months, she'll be 2 in July. While it sounds depressing, Dani would hide from me when I first got her but she would hide where she could see me. She watches me constantly and is now comfortable with my petting her (butt scratches make her putty in my hands) though she only tolerates being picked up for short periods of time. Progress has been made, this last month, she's begun sleeping on the bed with me (and without me). Almost daily I wake up with her curled beside me and she purrs contentedly when I wake up or comes over to nuzzle me. My sleeping body makes a great mountain for her to climb. We got a puppy 2 months ago and it has helped a lot. She sees the love the puppy gets heaped upon him and she wants some too. I get scolded if I pay too much attention to the puppy before I greet her when I come home now. We're working on the male problem but I suspect it will just take more time and patience. I tell my boyfriend, wear fleece if you want her to come to you. I'm a first-time cat owner and I didn't do any special training but Dani still came around.
post #8 of 10
A wonderful gal who rescues Ferals wrote this and gave me permission to post it here. The gals name is Neko

The Condensed Version of the Feral to Housecat Transition
Generalized from the experience of a good sized sample set.

I'm so hungry and so tired. I hope there's something to eat around here. I hope there aren't any humans.

There's food! Oh no, there's a human too. I'll just wait until they're gone before I eat.

There's food here again! Food in the same place each night? Wow. But the human is here again too.

Maybe if I approach the food very slowly, the human won't bother me. Maybe they won't even see me. I'll run if thay make a false move.

There's the human again. Where's the food? Come on human, put down the food already and move away!

The food is in some funny thing tonight. I don't know about this... but I'm so hungry. I'll go in, slowly. HEY!

I hate humans. I really hate them. I'm just going to sit at the back of this trap and glare let them know how much I hate them. Which is a lot. Any of them try to touch me, well, I'll let them feel my sharp claws. OW! They have sharp things too? Why didn't anyone tell me?

I'm free! I'm home! I'm back in my territory! I can fight and chat up the girls and... hmm, those things don't seem as appealing as they used to. Where's the food? Where's that evil human?

Hi human! What's for dinner?

The human keeps sitting closer every night. I suppose that's alright, as long as it doesn't touch me. The food is good.

Hey! It touched me. Ick! Gosh, that could almost put me off my food. Almost.

Well, I suppose the human can touch me a little, as long as the food is good. I'll just try to ignore it.

Actually, the scratching behind the ears is kinda nice.

Human! Get that little spot between my shoulders please! I tell you, this dinner and massage is an awfully good combination.

Wait human! You can't leave yet! I haven't had my head rubbed properly. The food can wait, I want a scritching!

Yay! The human is here! How are you human? What's that big scary thing you've got? Is there food in there?

HEY! What's with the picking up? ACK! I'm trapped again!

I really do hate humans, I just forgot for a while. I don't know what I'm doing here. It's not like they can fix me again. I'm just going to hide behind the big human liquid litterbox. Don't even try to make nice with me, human.

Well maybe a little scratching behind the ears is okay. Just a little.

This place isn't so bad. I wonder what's outside the door? Human, I want out!

Wow, this place is big, and it's much nice than the abandoned building I used to sleep in. Lots of warm sunlight. Lots of stuff to explore. I wonder what's breakable?

This place is neat. It never rains, there are no dogs or cars, it's warm, and there are great places to sleep. Hi human, I bet you didn't know I could get to the top of the linen closet! These lace tablecloths are really cozy.

catnip gud. luv catnip. pretty colurs. luv evrytink, maybe atak it latr.

Human, I'm the one who uses this bed for 20 hours a day, not you. Therefore, YOU should move, not me. Goodnight. Oh, and don't forget, I want breakfast by six. Rub my belly a little please? It's so big these days, it needs more attention.
post #9 of 10
Oh Hissy - that is it right to a T
Your friend Neko is a very wise woman.........her feline companions are so lucky!
post #10 of 10
I rescued my cat from a girl who was mentally neglecting it (and was about to get married, move away, and just let the cat go outside), and she got it from a shelter where it had been previously physically abused. *sigh*

I've had her for about 3.5 years. Took about 3-4 months for her to come out of hiding and stay out. I kept pulling her out from under the bed, giving her affection, placing her on the comfy furniture and letting her be. After a while, she got used to walking around, but would scatter and hide if I made an sudden moves or strange noises.

Today, she's got the run of the house. She darts around like a madcat and hurdles high furniture in a single bound and pounces on me, then curls up under my neck when I'm laying down. She's my shadow...

HOWEVER...she only trusts me. She hides in fear when company comes over (just the sound of the doorbell starts her growling/groaning and she runs away) and totally hates the sound of crunching trash/grocery bags, and when the oven/fridge doors open/close.

You may find that your cat will only take to you, or those sharing the same space. Just be patient and give your cat reassurance, love, and don't yell or talk mean.

Good luck.
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