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Thawing out a cat: How long?

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  • Thawing out a cat: How long?

    I have an older foster who has been damaged by both nature and nurture.

    But she is thawing out in my house. I have had her for 3 weeks or so.

    Nevertheless, all of the other foster cats I have had haven't taken so long. I mean, I'd say I have had them more or less adjusted within a week. So all those "Cat hid under the bed upstairs for 2 years and now he's great!" stories don't make sense to me.

    So I have questions about the pace of cat defrosting. How do you know when your cat is as-cooked-to-desired-tenderness as it's going to get?
    The armchair saddler
    Politically Pro-Cat

  • #2
    I have one feral now domesticated feral = deral ``` still thawing 10 years this Aug.

    I have one 'deral' = domesticated feral who is still in the thawing process ``` ten years this August ~

    I'll recognize his full thawed=outness when he no longer becomes frightened and runs to hide in his 'safe place' when the door chime sounds ~
    Zu Zu Bailey " IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE ! "

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    • #3
      My feral one, as a 6mo, took two weeks to thaw out for me. Nearly two years later we've grown to checking out weird noises instead of hiding, and a quiet and calm retreat when people she doesn't know come over instead of a panicked scramble (and when they leave, I usually close the door, turn around, and she's sitting there).

      she did growl and stand her ground over a neighbour making weird noises (playing with an RC car) the other evening...
      "Adulthood? You're playing with ponies. That is, like, every 9 year old girl's dream. Adulthood?? You're rocking the HELL out of grade 6, girl."

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      • #4
        I had one that took 6 months to thaw out, and he wasn't feral. Was my aunt and uncle's cat, they were pretty much recluses and he was always afraid of anyone that wasn't them. He was 9 when I got him, a neurotic probably overbred little Burmese. Turned into the most awesome lap cat ever, but I literally did not see him for the first 6 months I had him. He only came out to eat and drink and go potty when I was either not home or asleep. He hid inside an old box spring.
        What's wrong with you?? Your cheese done slid off its cracker?!?!

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        • #5
          I was going to say 24 hours is an appropriate time once you take it out of the freezer.
          --Luck is what happens when preparedness meets opportunity--

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Justmyluck View Post
            I was going to say 24 hours is an appropriate time once you take it out of the freezer.
            I was thinking along the same line as you, it was close to -40*C with the windchill here this morning, barn kitties might be a little chilly!

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            • #7
              I have one cat that wasn't feral. Turned into the pound because the couple had a baby. It took almost six months before she got off the top of the dresser. She was fed and watered there and her litter box was right below. She'd dash down, use the litter box, then go up to the top of the dresser again. Of course, I had 5 dogs at the time. Now she's comfortable around me and the dogs, more than the other cats. Still a love bug, though.

              StG

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              • #8
                It takes as long as it takes. When I adopted my super timid kitty, it took weeks before she'd be in the same room with me. I can't remember, but it was probably at least 6 months to a year before she'd snuggle.

                I adopted her in 2000. Now my biggest problem is getting her to respect my personal space

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                • #9
                  I've got a 15 year old, not feral, had since she was a kitten, icicle. I think there are, maybe, two people (the cat sitters) who have ever seen her, besides me. She's just naturally timid. But, with me, she's Ms. bold and in your face.
                  If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.
                  Desmond Tutu

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                  • #10
                    It does take as long as it takes.

                    Hissy came inside under her own steam, at warp speed. She retreated behind the fridge, only coming out to eat and use the litter box. Two years later, she now thinks using me as furniture is the best thing ever but it took a long time because she was not just feral but wild. Her timid brother took a short time comparatively - within weeks, he decided that inside (he followed Jack inside) was a good place and was settling in nicely within a few weeks. He is still timid, but learned that getting picked up and moved will not kill the cat and had bonded with Louie in particular. That helped a lot with him learning things every house cat should know - the best window for naps, humans are softer than window ledges, beds are great for cat heaps.

                    Just be patient, how long depends on the cat.
                    Founder of the Dyslexic Clique. Dyslexics of the world - UNTIE!!

                    Member: Incredible Invisbles

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                    • #11
                      Yeah, I couldn't figure out why you'd want to thaw out a frozen cat.. Although, funny story, when I was about 5 or 6, I came home from a weekend winter camping with my dad to learn that my sister had found one of our cats frozen outside... I couldn't figure out why they didn't just bring her in the house and set her by the woodstove to thaw her out and bring her back to life. (ETA: she didn't freeze to death, she had a heart attack or something and died, then her body froze.)

                      mvp, I found an 8-10 week old stray kitten in May 2006. He's just now getting to the point where he lets my parents pet him, but he still can't be approached--he has to come to you. We had another cat that we got as a wee kitten, mother was a sweet barn cat that we'd gotten several other kittens from (different litters), and he never thawed out. Until the day he died, he hated people. I accidentally petted him once while he was curled up asleep--he woke up immediately, glared at me, and left the room. If we saw him playing, he'd stop, glare, and walk away.

                      Point being, some cats thaw out slowly, some never do, and you won't know until it either happens or the cat dies of old age.
                      Last edited by amastrike; Jan. 28, 2014, 04:13 PM. Reason: Added info so I don't seem like a terrible person
                      Against My Better Judgement: A blog about my new FLF OTTB
                      Do not buy a Volkswagen. I did and I regret it.
                      VW sucks.

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                      • #12
                        I have one cat that I "inherited" when an aquaintance died. He had been sick with cancer and likely AIDS for a while before he died. I believe that in part contributed to her neuroses. I was told she was never friendly with strangers but would come out and watch the poker games. But don't touch.

                        She hid in a closet at my house for 1 month. We then moved, she spent the weekend at a local vet/boarding facility while we moved, then spent a month in the new closet.
                        While she was at the vets I had them update her shots as she was about 2 years overdue. She ripped up the vet. God forbid they tranq her like I requested. (Not my normal vet's office)

                        After the move I would sit in the bedroom with her and read. I would wear a welding glove and just keep that hand near her. She would swat it and be very confused when I didn't retreat. I would periodically throw cat treats at her. We set up the room so that she had to leave the closet to eat, drink, use the litter box. She had the bedroom to herself. She would "talk" to me some while I would read.
                        One day she just came out of the closet, stuffed her head in my hand and was like "Okay, dammit, its been 2 months without a good scratch. You will pay attention to me NOW and make up for that 2 months in the next 10 minutes." I got DH out of bed, made him go in the room and just sit there. She ran out and was all lovey dovey to him.

                        She came with the name Spider. (His other cats' names were Talon and Dragon- ugh) The first two months we just called her Psycho Kitty. Her name is now Jasmine/Jazz. She still does the dissappearing act for anybody but DH and I but she is now obnoxiously friendly with us.

                        Some just take longer than others.
                        Oh, well, clearly you're not thoroughly indoctrinated to COTH yet, because finger pointing and drawing conclusions are the cornerstones of this great online community. (Tidy Rabbit)

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                        • #13
                          After having 6 ferals and a former feral all in a tiny home this past fall, I got to see how much it can vary. All of them took at least two weeks. The two adult ferals are still making huge leaps and bounds several months later. For the ones that took the longest to warm up we started taking away hiding spots, and closing off rooms. They only ate if I was sitting in the kitchen and the bowl was right next to me. Being forced out into the open and eating near me made a huge difference. They also responded well to quiet chunks of time where I was on the couch occupied surrounded by lots of warm snuggly blankets so that they could bunny up near by while still feeling like they had an exit.

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                          • Original Poster

                            #14
                            Thanks for all those long stories of slow defrosts. And I get that some cats have pretty low set points-- they are close to 0 degrees Kelvin (yanno, where electrons don't even vibrate)-- and thus will never show much even at their very warmest.

                            So with these Slow Defrost Cats. Did you see constant progress or progress and plateaus or what?

                            I guess that I'm getting impatient with Wiggy Foster Cat, though I do see progress. I'm trying to use her pattern of getting better in order to predict her maximum.
                            The armchair saddler
                            Politically Pro-Cat

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                            • #15
                              Hahahaaaa, you're trying to predict cat behavior??? The ony thig I can predict is that my asscat will be on the counter at some point today. And he will be a pain at feeding time.

                              His stray co-cat slept on the top of the cat tree for weeks, maybe longer, when we first brought him in. I wondered if he was sick but he'd been to the vet, ate fine, looked fine. He's pretty good now, although more timid than the asscat, and more reclusive. He's also nervous around the dogs and has a particular dislike/distrust of one dog. We've had him for over a year. He likes us, but doesn't hang out with us as much as the other cat, and is nervous being held. We think he couldn't hack it at the barn down the road so he sought out a cushier life.

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                              • #16
                                MVP, how was she at first? What sort of thawing have you seen?
                                Against My Better Judgement: A blog about my new FLF OTTB
                                Do not buy a Volkswagen. I did and I regret it.
                                VW sucks.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Most I've known have come around in a few weeks, but there are exceptions. My little Ruby, who truly had a man trying to stalk and shoot her at her old life in an abandoned home in a town when I trapped her, is now friendly, lovable, pettable - by me. If I move steadily. If I do something suddenly or a loud noise happens, I can still spook her, and it's been about 5ish years. When I was having the Pipe Crisis of 2014 and the plumber kept coming out repeatedly, Ruby missed a few meals because you won't see a whisker of her if strangers are around or for several hours after. The other cats, of course, were all, "It's meal time. Come on!"

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Completely thought you had a cat with frostbite!

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by mvp View Post
                                      So with these Slow Defrost Cats. Did you see constant progress or progress and plateaus or what?
                                      Both. It depends on the cat. Sometimes it's like a light switches on, and sometimes they need to go slow step by slow step while they learn to trust people.

                                      Also, I've never known a cat to hit a "maximum." I'm not even sure what you mean by that. They grow and develop, they respond to changes in environment. Don't try to box her in or limit her -- just enjoy her for who she is and the little challenges of figuring out what will make her more comfortable, relaxed, and willing to come out of her shell.

                                      Even if she never comes around for you, the better you understand who she is (not who she might become), the better you can find her a permanent home where she will really thrive and grow.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        For Spider/Psycho Kitty/Jazz she did things in plateaues:
                                        1. She stopped panicing when my hand would be resting on the floor near her. I would keep my hand near her and not try to pet her. Over time I could get the hand closer and closer to her.
                                        2. She would meow and talk to me and no longer growled.but still wouldn't let me touch her. The talking was more like I want attention but don't actually touch me yet as I am not ready for that
                                        3. Then she suddenly wanted lots of attention NOW, NOW, NOW, pet me, pet me, pet me, franic and drooling.

                                        So the first two steps were plateaus and lasted weeks each. The last was we went from not being able to touch her at all to her stuffing her head into my hand demanding attention and practically climbing in my lap to get it. I was like a switch got flipped in her little brain.
                                        Oh, well, clearly you're not thoroughly indoctrinated to COTH yet, because finger pointing and drawing conclusions are the cornerstones of this great online community. (Tidy Rabbit)

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