8 February, 2009 at 8:47 pm #24860
We adopted this beautiful 8-week old kitten yesterday from what looks like a horrible situation. She had been in a cage alone in a basement for three weeks surrounded on the outside by pit bulls. The man said she did not like humans — and with good reason, we suspect. We took her for her vet visit yesterday and then to her new home with another cat in it. She perked up on seeing our other cat, but has been scared and avoiding us all day. She eats, poops, but scampers away when she sees us and hides in her litter box. We have given her a safe place (a semi-covered box-size “cat house” which resemlbes a cave) and her food and drink are outside this box. She has the run of two rooms which appears to be much larger than to what she has been accustomed. She is very sweet, but very scared, and certainly not social or playing. How should we handle this? How can we socialize her without scaring her? When should we start playing with her? Is 8-weeks too old to forget trauma?8 February, 2009 at 8:55 pm #382156
Give this little sweetie some time… Go into the room where she is and talk to her in a soft reassuring voice.
Bring some toys and food or treats with you. If you can , just sit quietly with her for a while so she gets used to you being there.
When you can’t be with her play some soft music or turn a TV on at low volume…
Good Luck! By the way, many more TDKers will be online after the weekend so keep checking back and keep us posted.8 February, 2009 at 8:58 pm #382157
Caroline answered while I was typing. I heartily second her suggestions! I had typed:
I’ve never personally raised a kitten that traumatized before coming to us but have taken in several young strays or ferals in years past.
You are doing all the right and wonderful things this kitten needs. In answer to your question, start by spending time frequently in the room with her, talking gently and lovingly but not trying to handle her at first. Start out with rather brief visits quite frequently. Gradually build up to longer and longer visits. As you do, you can slowly settle closer to her during these visits, a little more each time. Give the kitten time to acclimate to you as non-threatening. Try getting her a stuffed animal she can snuggle and go ahead and rub your smell on it. For that matter, if you have a sweater or shirt with your smell on it you don’t mind sacrificing for awhile to cat use, put that in or near her cat bed to get used to your smell in a “safe” place. That way kitty begins to associate your smell with being safe.
Good luck and keep us posted. I’m sure others here at TDK with experience raising traumatized kittens not acclimated to people can give you more clear direction.8 February, 2009 at 9:00 pm #382158
Hi CT, welcome to TDK Chat. So far your little kitten is displaying what I would call pretty normal behaviour for a little cat only 24 hours into a new home, so don’t worry! You’ve done absolutely the right thing in providing her with a “safe place”, and if she’s eating and performing normally then that’s all to the good. The next few days will determine if she’s “just” adapting to new surroundings, or if her experiences have let her a bit skittish and nervy.
Give her time, show her love, let her have the odd little treat and get her some toys – a little stuffed animal to snuggle up with is a good start, then some mice and wand toys are good. Spend time playing with her, and keep to her limits – when she’s had enough, don’t push her. I think she’s a very lucky little girl to have been adopted by such caring humans – please keep posting here, TDK is an excellent site offering support, advice, friendship and frivolity!
We look forward to seeing some pictures when she’s ready to come out of hiding.8 February, 2009 at 9:10 pm #382159
Hi CT lady,these other suggestions and what you’re doing are all good,I’ve tamed feral cats this way. I would put them in a secure room with many hidey places and go into the room and just talk,chatty style in calm and reassuring voice,drop a few treats like greenies and reward any eye contact with a happy but not too enthusiastic sound and let her set the pace.It’s also good if you have other cats to let the new kitty see you interact with the other kitties so they can sort of “pass it on” that you’re not a bad sort. 😉
I am rehabbing an 11 year old cat that was in a terrible situation,in a cage surrounded by dogs too(Yorkies though) and she’s finally warming up to me after about 4 months. She is getting quite affectionate and coming out for pets,doing “elevator butt” and so on. She is much more comfortable and makes eye contact and is even making a few playful moves so it is definitely possible to bring a cat around at any age(I think).
You’re doing great please come back and tell us how you do,this is a great community of cat lovers,they are really nice folks.
BTW we’d love a picture. 🙂 A lot of folks set up catster accounts,it is free. Click on some of the other avatars(not mine) and you can see their furry family and again,welcome!8 February, 2009 at 9:23 pm #382160
Hi, CTL. I can’t add to what the others have said. But welcome to TDK! You’ll get lots of support here and there’s always tons of great advice. It can be a little bit slow on weekends so keep checking back.
You are wonderful to take in this poor little kitten. No one she is frightened! We’d love to see a picture of your little one. When you can get her to calm down a bit!8 February, 2009 at 9:29 pm #382161
Welcome to the furriest place on the internet. Thank you for rescuing the little fuzzbutt. I would do exactly what the others have said, be patient and non threatening and she will come around. Poor thing hasn’t had a really good start in life. Once she realizes that the rest of her life she’ll be loved and spoiled she’ll turn into a loving happy girl.8 February, 2009 at 9:32 pm #382162
artistabobbi TX 1/17Participant
Welcome to TDK ct. Sounds like you are definitely on the right track.
It may take several weeks to assure her that her life has changed for the better. Please hang in there, and just love her – like you are already doing.
And please keep us posted. She sounds like a darling.8 February, 2009 at 10:37 pm #382163
Thanks for these excellent suggestions many of which I followed already. I bought her a stuffed toy. I have the TV going (Turner Classics). I will put in an old shirt.
We think she was picked up by the scruff of the neck (as the man we bought her from did) and shaken before the pit bulls (bred we beleive for fighting) to rile them up.
Here is little Natasha with my husand at the vet yesterday:8 February, 2009 at 10:46 pm #382164
aww Natasha is a darling,I’m so glad that you rescued her and saved her from a very bad fate.8 February, 2009 at 10:46 pm #382165
What a pretty little girl! She looks just like my Annie BraveHeart! Click on my avatar to see my kitties on Catster. I agree with everyone above that you are doing great with your new kitten and she is behaving very normally for everything she has been thru and brand new to your home. Time will heal all. Welcome to TDK!8 February, 2009 at 10:46 pm #382166
That poor darling wee baby. Her life so far must have been full of terror. Everyone else has given you marvellous advice. The only thing I would add is to avoid eye contact with her (which you probably already know). Cats regard staring as a challenge. If you meet her eyes, blink slowly and exaggeratedly to reassure her (it means, I’m no threat), or turn your head away, and once she feels more comfortable, she will do the same. The best way to reassure her right now is with your voice. Thank you for rescuing this little doll!8 February, 2009 at 10:46 pm #382167
What a beautiful kitten Natasha is! Poor baby – how could anyone treat a kitten like that? She is so fortunate to now be in a loving home!
My girls think that Natasha definitely need some kitty friends and so send an invitation!8 February, 2009 at 10:47 pm #382168
Hello dear CTLADY…I’m so happy to see you here on TDK..It’s the most wonderful kitty loving site on the web! I’m hoping that if you really suspect the pit bulls are being used for fighting, that you will report this man to the local authorities or ASPCA facility. The worst that would happen is that they’ll investigate and find no problems. Would love to see pics of your little one someday…when she’s not hiding. Give her time..their instincts are strong at that age and she just needs some healthy, patient convincing. =)8 February, 2009 at 11:43 pm #382169
Welcome to TDK and thank you for rescuing this little beauty. You have excellent advice here but I would like to add 2 things if I may. First for a kitten that small bigger is not necessarily better. She would feel more secure in one small room until she realizes that the wide open spaces are safe. Also if you have an alarm clock or watch that ticks, stick it under or in the stuffed animal. It simulates the sound of a mother cats heart beating. Make sure you kitty proof your home. They can get into all kinds of tiny spaces that you never think of until they are lost. A kitten this young will not take more than 4 or 5 days to feel at home. The introduction to your house cat is important to have a harmonious house and there is excellent information and advice on this site about that. There are a number of tricks you can use but the most important is to not let the resident cat see you making a fuss about the new kitten. They have their pecking order and it is all about territory so make sure the resident cat gets fed first, greeted first when you come in, etc. Once it realizes it is not losing its place with you it will not feel threatened by a newcomer. Looking forward to updates. Here is the url:9 February, 2009 at 3:31 am #382170
CTL, welcome to TDK. You’re doing all the right things for your precious Natasha. My kits left a treat and sent a catster friends invite to Natasha.
Mac Grommie9 February, 2009 at 11:30 am #382171
CTLady, you’ve already gotten tons of good advice from others, so I won’t repeat their suggestions. There are a couple of things I’d mention as being specific to this kitten’s situation, however.
First, if you can, I’d sit or lie on the floor when you’re in the room with the kitten; it’s less threatening, and makes you more approachable. (One room would be better than two.) At her young age, I’d start spending as much time in the same room with her as possible.
Start serving a tablespoon of wet food in a shallow bowl or plate on the floor, a few feet away from you (not within arm’s reach). After a day or two, start moving the bowl or plate closer to you. In a few days, the kitten should be eating while the bowl is next to you. Then you can try to pet her. Then switch to a scant tablespoon of plain, unsweetened yogurt. After a couple days, dip your fingers in it. Let her lick the yogurt off your fingers. This will help her learn that hands and fingers aren’t as scary as she first thought. Do this until she’s actively seeking out and sniffing your hands; reward her behavior with using her name in a happy tone of voice, and petting her (briefly).
Second, this kitten will never likely respond well to being ‘scruffed.’ However, that’s a standard veterinary technique used to help handle frightened or feral cats (used initially to control the cat while getting the other hand under the cat for supporting body weight). Your best bet is to choose never to have her handled in such a manner – and warn any vet she sees about this; indicate that her records should clearly indicate that scruffing is a technique not to be used on her.
However, should it be needed in the future, it’s wise to teach her how to tolerate it. (Preferably when she’s at the licking-yogurt-gladly-from-your-fingers stage, and thoroughly distracted from whatever else you’re doing to her.) While she’s licking up yogurt, go ahead and gently grasp the scruff of her neck; then let go, and pet her, use her name in a happy tone, and tell her how happy you are that she didn’t struggle. A bit of repetition, graduating to a firmer grasp and picking her up (while supporting her body weight with the other hand), and lots of praise and petting immediately afterward will probably go a long way toward helping her learn positive associations with being scruffed (and compensating against the conditioning of her earlier treatment).
She sounds as though she’s been rescued from a very bad situation, indeed. Bless you for helping her out! And good luck!9 February, 2009 at 2:37 pm #382172
Natasha is a sweetie, and should hopefully be young enough to forget her traumatic start to life. thanks for giving her a loving home!!9 February, 2009 at 7:36 pm #382173
She’s absolutely beautiful, she seems quite snuggly with your husband, so I hope she starts to feel more at home soon. We sent a friends invite too!9 February, 2009 at 8:06 pm #382174
Oh… thu -ploof ! I have a weakness for grey kitties. She is a doll! I’m not an advice giver, and you have already received great information. I will just say – welcome !9 February, 2009 at 10:25 pm #382175
Something that has always worked for me, but is difficult to describe.
Holding kitty firmly put your second finger just under an ear, the moving it and rottating your finger move it down under the chin up the check over the ear round the back and start all over again. Similar to the lick of a cleaning mother. Do this fairly firmly and once you feel kitty relaxing (which it will) try doing it both sides at the same time. Keep that up on a very regular basis and you will soon have a very purring kitty. Do this before you put food down and after you pick it up.
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