UK Pet Forums Forum banner
  • Please post in our Community Feedback thread for help with the new forum software! If you are having trouble logging in, please Contact Us for assistance.

1 - 20 of 20 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
12 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi

My partner and I rehomed a cat from an SSPCA rescue centre in Scotland three weeks ago, and we're having real problems - help!

The SSPCA told us that Socks (female) was 10, based on the info the previous owner had given them and their vet examination. We have had her checked out by our own vet, who has said she wouldn't have thought she was more than 5. That's a big gap, and we are now really unsure of her age. The SSPCA could not really tell us about her circumstances before being handed in, just that she was signed over to an inspector. They did not give any indication that she had been abused, and she is in very good physical condition. She was very frightened and withdrawn in the shelter, but they felt that once she was in a home environment she would come out of her shell. To add to her suffering we were told that she was handed in with a much older male cat who had to be put to sleep due to ill health and age. Apparently she was very friendly when she was initially with this other cat, and changed when he was taken away. Poor girl. The owner also told the SSPCA that she was an indoor cat.

We have another cat, a male aged 11 who has previously lived with other cats and he is having normal reactions to her - hissed at her smell when she was first brought in, and I think he will get used to her if given the opportunity.

The problem: it has been three weeks and Socks is hiding herself away all the time. When we try and engage with her and pet her she sometimes appears to enjoy it, nuzzling my hand and purring, but she will often suddenly get terrified, cower back, flatten her ears and attack my hand (claws, not teeth).

She has been seen by our vet and given a clean bill of health, so no medical issues behind the aggression. If left to her own devices she will seemingly just hide away so we are wary of waiting for her to come to us. However we are very nervous of touching her and getting clawed.

There is a Feliway plug-in in the room she spends time in, but we haven't used rescue remedy as my partner does not like using homeopathic stuff.

Does anybody have any advice as to what we should do? If she just needs space and time then we are more than happy to give her that, but worry about her isolating herself. I have only ever had cats from kittenhood before and this is my first rescue. Really struggling with what to do for the best.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
29,781 Posts
Hi there:)

For the moment I would keep Socks separate all the time from your other cat. Socks needs to be in a place where she can feel safe, so if possible confine her to one room (but not a bathroom or utility room as they are too small), with her litter trays, water, food, toys, bed. Provide her with some cardboard boxes turned on their side so she has somewhere to retreat to, when she wants.

It is important to spend time in her room with her, so she can get used to you at her own pace. This may take a while. Sit with her for an hour or so at a time, several times a day. Sit on the floor, and read a book or newspaper out loud in a gentle, friendly tone. Don't worry if she doesn't come out of hiding at first -- she will, when she feels more confident.

Have some treats ready to give her in case she does approach you. Let her set the pace -- if she comes up and rubs against you, then you can probably safely stroke her. Do not pick her up. You will be sitting on the floor and she will climb on you if she wants to.

Get some interactive toys ready, such as the wand toys and the fishing rod toys (e.g Da Bird) and encourage her to play with these.

When she feels confident enough to stay next to you, and not run and hide, you can increase the areas of the house to which she has access. But still keep her separate from your other cat. After a few weeks you can start the process of introducing her gradually to your other cat, with scent swapping etc

Edit: it might be an idea to give her a course of Zylkene, a supplement which calms stressed cats. It is available on line or through the vet, and has good results in increasing self-confidence.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks so much for that advice, the staff at the centre were lovely but couldn't offer any helpful advice - said to scoop her up, keep stroking her and deal with the scratches etc. definitely not the best course of action!

I have just spoken with the vet re Zylkene and they recommended sticking with just Feliway till the end of the week, and then they'll prescribe Zylkene if no improvement.

I'll follow the plan you outlined and let you know how we all get on. I just try and keep in my head when I get disheartened that if somebody with less patience had rehomed her, they might have just given her back, which would have been awful for her.

Again, thanks so much, and here's a picture of the wee lady.

Jenny, Gary, Oscar & Socks
 

Attachments

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,015 Posts
Chillminx's post is brilliant. I just wanted to add that my mum had a rescue cat with not a lot of "history" and she spent months and months upstairs in her safe room. She had food, water, litter tray etc etc up there and my mum used to spend hours up there (she had a tv in there) soothing and calming her down and eventually in her own time she started to very tentatively explore the rest of the house but she did it in her own time.

With the handbiting I think its best to follow her lead and lit "her" stroke "you" that's also another thing my mum did too. I think she might be getting slightly over-stimulated and its her way of saying "enough"!

Hope this helps!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
It's not biting, it's attacking with claws. It's definitely not overstimulation, our other cat bites and rabbit kicks to let you know he no longer wishes belly rubs. It's a sudden fear response with Socks.

Since taking the advice to keep distance, sit and read and spend time in there with her without putting pressure on her she's visibly relaxed this evening. Quite often before when we'd go in we'd be greeted with a hiss, but that hasn't happened. She's sat in her bed and had a wash while my partner and I were sat in there having a quiet chat. Was pleased to see that as I've heard it can signify feeling comfortable. She has washed while we've been there before but not much.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I took her breakfast in this morning and she got out of bed, came over and nuzzled my legs and my hand, allowing me to gently stroke her before settling down to eat her biscuits. She does this when food is brought first thing (dry food), but not in the evening (wet food). I popped back in before leaving for work and sat with her for a while, but she had gone back into bed and was just curled up watching me.

Will carry on waiting for her to come to me. Just really worried that it won't happen, but fingers crossed.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
1,595 Posts
Hi there:)

For the moment I would keep Socks separate all the time from your other cat. Socks needs to be in a place where she can feel safe, so if possible confine her to one room (but not a bathroom or utility room as they are too small), with her litter trays, water, food, toys, bed. Provide her with some cardboard boxes turned on their side so she has somewhere to retreat to, when she wants.

It is important to spend time in her room with her, so she can get used to you at her own pace. This may take a while. Sit with her for an hour or so at a time, several times a day. Sit on the floor, and read a book or newspaper out loud in a gentle, friendly tone. Don't worry if she doesn't come out of hiding at first -- she will, when she feels more confident.

Have some treats ready to give her in case she does approach you. Let her set the pace -- if she comes up and rubs against you, then you can probably safely stroke her. Do not pick her up. You will be sitting on the floor and she will climb on you if she wants to.

Get some interactive toys ready, such as the wand toys and the fishing rod toys (e.g Da Bird) and encourage her to play with these.

When she feels confident enough to stay next to you, and not run and hide, you can increase the areas of the house to which she has access. But still keep her separate from your other cat. After a few weeks you can start the process of introducing her gradually to your other cat, with scent swapping etc

Edit: it might be an idea to give her a course of Zylkene, a supplement which calms stressed cats. It is available on line or through the vet, and has good results in increasing self-confidence.
CM-I think we should be sponsoring your stay on here, I`d trust you over my vet every time! :thumbsup:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
29,781 Posts
Will carry on waiting for her to come to me. Just really worried that it won't happen, but fingers crossed.
It will happen.......in her own time........ I promise you:)

I reckon your cat probably had a bad time in the past, with a human who treated her badly, or neglected her, so it will take time for her to trust again. But cats (and other animals) are enormously forgiving of humans, and eventually she will find the confidence to trust again, I am sure of it.

It sounds as though there has already been a little progress -- well done! Keep up the good work!:)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,015 Posts
It will happen.......in her own time........ I promise you:)

I reckon your cat probably had a bad time in the past, with a human who treated her badly, or neglected her, so it will take time for her to trust again. But cats (and other animals) are enormously forgiving of humans, and eventually she will find the confidence to trust again, I am sure of it.

It sounds as though there has already been a little progress -- well done! Keep up the good work!:)
Another great reply! :thumbup1: My mum also thinks that Lucky was abused in her previous home. She hates being picked up. She absolutely FREAKS if you even try! So mum just doesn't even go there. It makes it interesting when she has to go to the vet though lol! However, the vet can "cat-handle" her no probs: listens to her heart, look in her ears and eyes, check her teeth, weigh her etc etc. Go figure lol!

Give it time. You just have to respect the cat you've got at the moment. I'm sure she has some lovely traits.

Can you post a pic so we can see what she looks like?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
302 Posts
Just to add, she may also be grieving the loss of her companion cat - poor girl - she's had a lot of change to adjust to. You know that old saying 'slowly, slowly, catchee monkey', that's exactly what you have to do here. Give her the space and she'll expand into it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12 Posts
Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Last night I was sitting with Socks and I put a few treats on the floor in between us and just sat and waited. After about ten minutes of us watching one another and blinking slowly, she got up from her cosy hooded bed, stretched and came and got the treats. I put another a little closer, she came and got that, and then another. I was about to put another down and she decided she'd had enough and went into her 'cardboard box with a door cut out' bed. She seemed in a playful mood so I got a wand toy and dragged it past the door, after a few goes she shot out a paw and dragged the mousey toy into her box. We did this for a good few minutes before my partner came in, which spooked her and she retreated into the back of the box, so we left her in peace.

Progress? :-D

I think she's a pretty lady too.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
1,595 Posts
Last night I was sitting with Socks and I put a few treats on the floor in between us and just sat and waited. After about ten minutes of us watching one another and blinking slowly, she got up from her cosy hooded bed, stretched and came and got the treats. I put another a little closer, she came and got that, and then another. I was about to put another down and she decided she'd had enough and went into her 'cardboard box with a door cut out' bed. She seemed in a playful mood so I got a wand toy and dragged it past the door, after a few goes she shot out a paw and dragged the mousey toy into her box. We did this for a good few minutes before my partner came in, which spooked her and she retreated into the back of the box, so we left her in peace.

Progress? :-D

I think she's a pretty lady too.
Sounds very positive!

I think its just a question of time and space. With patience I`m sure the waiting will be rewarded. :) Best of luck!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
29,781 Posts
Last night I was sitting with Socks and I put a few treats on the floor in between us and just sat and waited. After about ten minutes of us watching one another and blinking slowly, she got up from her cosy hooded bed, stretched and came and got the treats. I put another a little closer, she came and got that, and then another. I was about to put another down and she decided she'd had enough and went into her 'cardboard box with a door cut out' bed. She seemed in a playful mood so I got a wand toy and dragged it past the door, after a few goes she shot out a paw and dragged the mousey toy into her box. We did this for a good few minutes before my partner came in, which spooked her and she retreated into the back of the box, so we left her in peace.

Progress? :-D
This is brilliant news!! Well done you:thumbup1: And well done Socks for her trust!:001_wub:

With such a great start I am sure she will continue making good progress!:)

Would love to hear how things go!:)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12 Posts
Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Update and request for more advice!

Socks is venturing over to get treats and has been chasing a wand toy around the room on a couple of occasions. However, only when wanting fed at mealtimes will she come over and allow herself to be stroked. She has a cardboard box bed with a hole cut in for a door, and when she goes in there I try and leave her in peace so she can see it as her retreat. She also has a cosy bed, and when I'm sitting in the room with her she will be lay in there rubbing up against the side, purring, and obviously looking for attention, but she won't come over to get stroked. I have caved in and stroked her when she's in there, and she loves it, rubbing her mouth and head against my hand, licking, purring etc. - it feels like she enjoys being stroked in there because she feels safer in there than out in the room... this obviously goes out of the window when food is on the horizon though, or she is distracted by a wand toy.

My first question is whether I'm doing the right thing by caving in and petting her? After I gave her space for a good few days she no longer hisses at all, and does not aggressively attack my hand anymore.

The other thing is that she is meowing and scratching at the door often, dying to get out to the rest of the house. Last night my other cat Oscar heard her and went and sat outside the door, meowing in reply! - is it time to lock him away in our bedroom for a while and allow her to explore? Should I do scent swapping on blankets first?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
29,781 Posts
Sounds like things are going well -- great news!:)

I don't think you are "caving in" at all -- you are behaving intuitively, which is often the best way with cats. As she is no longer hissing or attacking your hand when you go and stroke her in her box it appears she is happy for you to do so. It may just take a bit longer before she has the confidence to come right up to you for strokes.

The main thing when you go to her, to stroke her, is to be alert to her body language and be ready to back off at the least sign she has had enough petting for the time being. Then she will learn she can trust you to give her own space when she needs it. :)

I would let her explore the rest of the house, with Oscar safely shut in one room away from her for the moment. I would do some scent swapping first though. Using a soft cloth (or a clean sock) stroke around the cheeks and neck of Oscar, (where the scent glands are located) and then immediately stroke the cloth around the cheeks and neck of Sox, then back to Oscar again for the same. Also, swap the bedding between the two of them.

Good Luck!:)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12 Posts
Discussion Starter · #19 ·
This might sound like a silly question but how should I proceed after letting her have an explore? Should I put her back in her room, and let Oscar have a smell of the flat after she's been about? (if so, how should I get her into her room without picking her up? She doesn't tend to follow treats or anything).

Or should I just let Oscar out without shutting her away again?

Thank you so much for this advice - been so helpful!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
29,781 Posts
Here is a link to a very helpful website, which will give you lots of useful advice:)

Integrating Cats

I believe it explains it is better not to let the cats suddenly come face to face, but to get each other's scent under a door and glimpse each other first through an ajar door.

I would let Sox out of her room before a meal and then coax her back in with a tasty dish of food, before you let Oscar out of his room. If she refuses to go back you may have to pick her up and put her there.
 
1 - 20 of 20 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top