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Help taming an older kitten

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  • Help taming an older kitten

    I am fostering a litter of kittens and they were all standoffish when I received them and their mother, but the mother was very friendly. I was able to get the whole litter to play with my JRT and lounge around the house comfortably. I could pet most of them and if I set them on the couch with me or in my lap, they would stay and let me pet them.

    I met an adopter to drop off one of the kittens and told her that he was still a bit shy, but that he was comfortable laying around and watching TV with me and my dog. She said that she understood and that she was going to work with him so that he could travel between her two homes with her. Well, last night she messaged and said that after a month, he will come to sit by her and play with her, but will not let her touch him. She said that he fusses and slaps at her if she tries. She's going to give it another week and if she still can't touch him, she will be returning him. She asked me for any advice on taming him, but she has tried all of my tricks to no avail. Do you guys have any ideas?

    I still have the rest of the litter and they are all incredibly affectionate now. They come running at the sound of your voice and beg you to pet them, so I'm not sure why this one has such a different personality. He wasn't even the most standoffish when I got them.

    Does Feliway work in this scenario? Do you think it's worth a try?
    Rhode Islands are red;
    North Hollands are blue.
    Sorry my thoroughbreds
    Stomped on your roo. Originally Posted by pAin't_Misbehavin' :

  • #2
    Oh, there's always one that HAS to be different. I have a couple like that. It's okay of they approach to play or lapsit but no petting or snugging. I liken them to those autistic folk that don't want to be touched.

    Maybe another kitten in this case. Not so much as an example for him as he was already exposed to that and it clearly had no effect on him, but for her so she will have something to pet. Maybe treats for every touch. Or ignoring him. Not completely but mostly. I had a cat like that - refused to be petted and if you did would slash at you. SO we just started ignoring her. She was fed and we spoke to her - briefly- but no real attention. Boy, did that confuse her. Pretty soon, though, she came around and wanted to be petted. We limited the touching to just a quick pat and done. Within a few months she loved attention and pets. She loved to be brushed and blowdried and was quite the spoiled princess.
    "Cats aren't clean; they're covered with cat spit."
    - John S Nichols (1745-1846,writer/printer)

    Don't come for me - I didn't send for you.

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    • #3
      Some just take longer, and some are more independent personalities. One thing I've found to help bring kittens out of their shell is "fishing." Lunging whips are great if she is a horse person. String on the end of a broom handle would work, even. Something with a bit of distance, and resist the temptation to make a grab. Just play a nice game for several rounds.

      It sounds like the kitten is slowly coming around to her on his own time if he comes to sit by her. Hope she can have patience a little longer.
      Now available in Kindle as well as print: C-Sharp Minor: My Mother's Seventeen-Year Journey through Dementia. 10% of my proceeds will be donated to the Alzheimer's Association.

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      • #4
        I agree, the fishing play-style is what gets them out of their shell. I hope she can have a little more patience.. he was fine with you, but it's still a new scenario for him; one month is not much time, for a feral kitty.

        I have had really good luck getting feral cats to reform to house-cats by playing. First thing you do when you see them, is give them their favorite treat. Then, pull out the "toy on wand"/fishing toy, and play with them for a half an hour. Repeat as many times a day as you can.

        We have a litter of three ferals too, they're about 8 months old now. Two are sweet, want to be pet, but it took them a few months to come out of their shell. One is still in feral mode. It's been months and months.. we've just accepted that she may never be snuggly, and that's ok. She's fine chilling near you but does not like being pet.
        AETERNUM VALE, INVICTUS - 7/10/2012

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        • #5
          How is she feeding him? If it's just filling a bowl of dry food when it's empty, a high value wet snack every day could go a long way toward making him think people are neato.

          The feral baby kitties I've had take very little time to come around when food very obviously comes from momma.

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          • Original Poster

            #6
            Originally posted by Simkie View Post
            How is she feeding him? If it's just filling a bowl of dry food when it's empty, a high value wet snack every day could go a long way toward making him think people are neato.

            The feral baby kitties I've had take very little time to come around when food very obviously comes from momma.
            As I understand it, she is hand feeding him as much as possible and trying high-value foods. She even went so far as to buy fresh fish to try because he seems to like that flavor of cat food the best.

            She is doing the fishing thing and says that he plays well with that, but still no touching is allowed. I am going to print out the responses here and send them to her. Thank you!
            Rhode Islands are red;
            North Hollands are blue.
            Sorry my thoroughbreds
            Stomped on your roo. Originally Posted by pAin't_Misbehavin' :

            Comment


            • #7
              Hmmm.

              This sounds maybe crazy, but what about pain?

              Years ago, I had a kitten who started normal, maybe a little shy, but nothing unusual for a feral barn kitten. But then she got VERY afraid.

              When we spayed her, her uterus was several times normal size for her age and her ovaries were super cystic. We didn't have her spayed as an itty bitty, but it was well before her first heat. The vet said it was very unusual. Good chance it was causing quite a lot of pain, which was impacting her behavior. She got a better after the spay, but was always a little weird. Figured that some habits were pretty entrenched, and perhaps there were other oddities in her, too.

              If he's been neutered, maybe it would be worthwhile to check him for scar tissue that might be pulling?

              Comment

              • Original Poster

                #8
                Originally posted by Simkie View Post
                Hmmm.

                This sounds maybe crazy, but what about pain?

                Years ago, I had a kitten who started normal, maybe a little shy, but nothing unusual for a feral barn kitten. But then she got VERY afraid.

                When we spayed her, her uterus was several times normal size for her age and her ovaries were super cystic. We didn't have her spayed as an itty bitty, but it was well before her first heat. The vet said it was very unusual. Good chance it was causing quite a lot of pain, which was impacting her behavior. She got a better after the spay, but was always a little weird. Figured that some habits were pretty entrenched, and perhaps there were other oddities in her, too.

                If he's been neutered, maybe it would be worthwhile to check him for scar tissue that might be pulling?
                That's a good idea. I know he has been to see the new owner's vet, but I'm betting they didn't completely check him over. beyond the basics. I'll see if she can take him in. Thanks!
                Rhode Islands are red;
                North Hollands are blue.
                Sorry my thoroughbreds
                Stomped on your roo. Originally Posted by pAin't_Misbehavin' :

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                • #9
                  I have two kittens that were feral in our barn - something happened to their mother so we brought them into the house. They promptly disappeared, as in we did not see them at all, for 2 weeks. Found them under a bedroom dresser with a false front by using a stethoscope to locate the purring I could hear. Apparently they were coming out at night to eat and use the litter as there were no surprises under the dresser and physically they were fine. Took us four months to be able to touch them at all, and it has literally been a couple of years before they morphed into lap cats who love pets. Even now, if we have to forcibly hold them (as in getting them into a carrier), they become a serious ball of claws. They are still quite cautious, and disappear rapidly if anything startles them. Worth it though - very sweet girls.

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