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Sad little kitten

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
Hi, my fiance and I just took in a stray kitten and need some advice and/or help.

We found her literally hiding under a rock. She's a gray and black tiger striped tiny thing, with the most delicate little paws. I took her to the vet, who puts her at about 10-12 weeks, though she looks about 6-7. She did have a case of worms, but other than that, appeared to be surprisingly healthy, if thin. Put her through shots, deworming and she will be spayed shortly. We've decided to keep her as she stole our hearts the moment we saw her.

Here's my question/concern: Lila (what we named her) is the saddest little creature I've ever seen. She's very beautiful and very lost, I think. We kept her separate from our dog, a GSD till she was vet cleared and have now let her explore a little, which she hasn't done. Jaeger is excellent with cats as he was raised with them and in fact, his best friend was my old tom who was starting the last leg of his life when Jaeger was just a little furball. So far, he's been Mr. Gentleman with Lila, checking her out carefully, then leaving her be. There was next to no reaction when he checked her out, she lifted her head slightly but that was it. The rest of the time, she'll lay on the floor, paws tucked under her, head slightly tilted, eyes staring into nothing. We've both had strays since we were kids but have never had one as young as this or as apathetic.

She eats (the one and only time she shows any energy), she goes into the litter box without hesitation, so my feeling is she was in a house at some point. My fiance and I have taken turns picking her up and holding her, which she usually responds to with a slight tensing of her body and eventually the slighest tremble. Sometimes she squeaks but it's not a happy sound. She rarely meets your gaze, and seems almost out of it when you try to interact with her.

We're not sure how to help her at this point. We've had cats that have freaked, have scurried and hid and not come out for days, who went into hissing fits, or would just start wailing but never this. How can we help Lila? We don't want to push her but at the time say, we don't want to let her become anymore of a loner than she already has, if that makes sense. She has made a step with Jaeger, I found her curled up his side this morning, which was so beautiful. Any ideas or tips on how we can maybe loosen her up or make her more comfortable?

Thank you and apologies for being so long-windeded!
post #2 of 13
First off I would take the kitten in for a check up to rule out any health problems. How old do you think she is?
And how long have you had her? If she checks out ok. I think she just needs sometime to adjust to her new home. Show her attention and let her be around you.
post #3 of 13
I would say that she is probably just overwhelmed right now, she might've had a traumatizing experience outside, like something chased her, I would just give her time, continue showing her love and affection and she'll come around- your doggy will probably help out a lot too, that's so cute that she was sleeping by him I hope you got a pic!
post #4 of 13
How long has it been since she's been to the vet?

Many times vaccinations will make a kitty feel punky for a day or two. Worming meds are actually a poison to kill the worms, so she will likely feel pretty sluggish and down for a few days after that. Be sure to keep an eye on her to ensure that it is a normal reaction to the vaccinations and worming and not a more serious adverse health reaction. Watch to make sure she's eating, not dehydrating, and using the litterbox.
post #5 of 13
Thread Starter 
Hey, thanks for the first responses!

We've had her approximately 3 weeks and so far, the only reaction she's had is to her food. You know, I actually thought it might be all the meds, and took her back to my vet, but it's not that and it's been a while now. She eats, she drinks and uses her litterbox like any other kitten and that's it. The rest of the time she's zoned out. Not shy, because she doesn't hide, just stays there, lost in Lila-land. We, and our vet, suspect she might have been abused. If she was a person, I'd say she's trying to disappear. She doesn't even react around other kittens or cats. Absolutely nothing.

Yes, I managed to get one picture of the two sleeping before she toddled away! Jaeger's great with other animals, I've done some fostering (dogs) and he's just so friendly and gentle. I really want to help Lila, I guess I'm just feeling helpless.
post #6 of 13
Aw, it so sad that your new kitty isn't happy. She probably had a rough time before you found her, and is just kind of confused. One day soon she will realize you love her and will start loosening up. She just has to gain your trust, so make sure to be gentle and calm around her.

Good Luck!
post #7 of 13
Make sure she knows you love her, keep the house as quiet and calm as possible, and don't pressure her. Once she realizes she's in an OK place, she'll loosen up. I had a cat like this once, though, and if it got noisey or crazy around her, she'd go back into her shell until things calmed down, so if this happens, don't worry too much, she'll come back.
post #8 of 13
Originally Posted by MandiniTheGreat
Make sure she knows you love her, keep the house as quiet and calm as possible, and don't pressure her. Once she realizes she's in an OK place, she'll loosen up. I had a cat like this once, though, and if it got noisey or crazy around her, she'd go back into her shell until things calmed down, so if this happens, don't worry too much, she'll come back.
I agree . Sometimes it just takes a while. Especially if they've been abused.My odd-eyed Turkish Angora was abused very badly by her breeder before she was dumped off at the shelter. When i rescued her, she was sooo withdrawn that she wouldn't even have a thing to do with me...she would cower in the back of her cage and cry- it was soo sad to see a little foster kitten like that...but over time, she began to trust me and realize that she was safe with me and wouldn't be hurt. (it took a few months, but it was welll worth it) I formally adopted her ( there was no way she would have done well in the adoption agency i worked at...i was the only human she'd go near) and i fell in love with her. It's been over a year now, and i couldn't ask for a more lovely kitty! This just goes to show that given the right amount of time and a nice quiet enviroment- there is definitely a ton of hope for your little Lila! She will come around, just give her time, and let her approach you. I suggest putting her in the same room with you and closing the door....just sit in the middle of the floor with some kitty treats in your hand, open for her to sniff at....don't talk to her or try to pet her (after being abused, imagine how she might see you- "this huge giant's hand is trying to get me"- so it's only her instinct to tell her to run and hide) So put the game in her hands and let her approach you, that way she feels safe....over time, i promise this will work, and she'll be much more comfortable around you. I wish you the best of luck. Also, i wanted to welcome you to TCS!!! Feel free to explore all of the threads and enjoy the site!!If there's anything else you need, please let me know. I'd be happy to help you.

Here is a link to pictures of my little girl Isabella-
she was once just as scared as Lila, and now she's best friends with my Siamese Jasmine (Izzy is the white one)...they're inserperable. Now Isabella knows she's safe and sound here. Your little kitten will come around too.

sorry about the photo size
post #9 of 13
I concur with StarryEyedTiger - I think that poor Lila was abused, possibly by small children & has somehow decided that her best defense is to play invisible. Perhaps you could PM Hissy as she has EXCELLENT advice re: abused cats.
Sending {{{prayers and vibes}}} to Lila, that she learns to trust & enjoy love again soon!! Please keep us posted & Bless you for rescuing her! And congrats to Jaeger on his new baby sister - any pics available of Lila cuddling w/Jaeger??
post #10 of 13
I could have posted the same thing when Zissou first came here. She was found just laying around in someone's yard but she had by that point already passed that scared stage into the apathetic stage. Because she was so sick. She was also about 10 weeks, maybe younger. And covered in fleas so bad she was anemic. After the vet saw her she slowly started getting better but she didn't do much of anything except lay around sleeping on a blanket.

I know how sick she must have been because I had this bed I was putting her in at night and after while if you'd try to put her in it, even while she was sleeping, she would jump out of it like it was on fire and hiss at it because it reminded her of when she first got here. Needless to say I threw it out!

Anyway, hang in there, she may still not be feeling well. Also, some animals and some people as well freeze when they're scared instead of acting out or running away. So it could be that you kitten is scared but is not acting like it.

I would treat her the same way you do an animal that is acting scared, let her come to you and don't force anything on her unless she needs a vet, etc.

Congratulations on your new baby! She will certainly be grateful for her home once she feels better and realizes that she is safe and with someone who will love her and not dump her or whatever has happened.

Also at that age you never know if she was ever in a house, because she may have stayed with her mommy long enough to know how to use a box and such and have always been outside, or maybe not! Ah, the mystery and the joy of a rescued kitten.
post #11 of 13
I agree with everyone else. Give her lots of time to adjsut (several months probably) and love, good food and water and a quiet calm environment. It sounds like she's had a hard life before you found her and is more than overwhelmed. She'll love you forever for rescuing her.
post #12 of 13
My 2c on this is that she sounds like she was either sick, fearful or depressed.

I think the one true constant in kittens is that the time from 3 weeks to 10 weeks is like a century in their emotional development -- a feral kitten at 3-4 weeks can be socialized pretty easily; the same kitten at 10 weeks might be a whole different story. And there's a whole gray area with ferals -- some have been around humans (a half- or fully invested caretaker) and some not.

I tend to think these things come down to "mommy" issues. I don't want to psychoanalyze a kitten -- but if I WERE to psychoanalyze a kitten, I'd say that becoming separated from siblings or the mother, or some other traumatic event, may play into her behavior. We've got a kitten (now 9 months) who still has attachment issues because she was separated from her mother and siblings early (I believe because of ringworm). She's a lot better now, but you can tell her behavior goes back to whatever it was that she felt during those formative weeks.

Some cats who are fearful try to be invisible. Our rescued feral Tiki (who has almost miraculously recovered from a serious eye infection as a kitten) is the most loving and affectionate cat in the world. She drools beyond belief to give and receive love. Yet when we take her to the vet, she gets so introverted that she practically turns herself inside out. Her version of scared is to stay extremely still and to try to shrink into nothingness. She's got to remember those first few experiences at 3-4 weeks when she was at the vet getting re-hydrated and treated for her eye infection(s).

Since mother cats tend to be protective, if she was abandoned, that makes me think she possibly was sick.

I agree with everyone else -- time, love, etc..., general TLC, are very helpful on bringing her around. Ease her into it, reassure her, try to bring out her instinctively playful nature with light play, etc... It sounds like you've covered the bases with the vet.

The key word here is "patience." It takes time, but a loving and nurturing relationship pays definite dividends....
post #13 of 13
Dont give up on Lila.

Smidge was a rescue from a shelter, brought in as a badly injured stray. She was maybe 10 mns old when I brought her home and I couldnt get over how mellow and withdrawan she was. Eventually, as she came out of her shell, it was clear that withdrawing was her way of coping with how stressful her life became at one point. She also seemed to avoid attachment to me - I'm guessing b/c some humans had let her down.

From her early behaviors I assume she was abused. My gut says she was pregnant and abandoned - as in "thrown away" - randomly. She was old enough to spay but wasnt and it looked like she had been nursing up till recently.

Anyway, Smidge is still skittish with strangers and is v. attached to me now but takes time to warm up to others. Lila is allowing contact with you (good sign) and I wager she will warm up to you greatly as her trust for you grows.

Thank you for taking the little one in.

Oh, and pics please! We love pics here!
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