5-mo old bengal pair not socialising with owners

Erica-J

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Hi, cat and kitten lovers! New pet owners here who are struggling with socialising our 2 recently adopted bengals, we're hoping for advice. They are 5-mo old male/female siblings from a breeder who had 24 cats (7 kittens including ours when we adopted them); we don't know how much physical interaction they had with humans. During our visit, one was very playful, one was running and hiding. The kittens have now been with us for 9 days and they're less shy than they were, but we're still unable to pet either one - the shyest one, we can't even get close to.

We realise they haven't been with us for a massive amount of time, but we're on coronavirus lockdown so have shared ALL our time with our kitties (we're both working from home ATM, and our 'office' is in our kitchen/dining/lounge area, where we've even slept on the sofa a few nights... which is also the only area the cats are safe in). They have places to hide, to climb, to sit comfortably; they play with us (one is a bit reticent but will interact with toys on strings/poles/sticks). We've tried different methods to encourage them to be more comfortable with us: lying on the floor; extending hand only limply to get them to smell us; we're using a Feliway plugin; they're not big on treats (and on a raw diet); the only method we haven't spent a long time trying is 'ignoring' due to our work stations/kitchen/lounge setup.

We need to get them to the vet to be spayed/neutered within the next 3.5 weeks and are becoming concerned we can't put them in the carrier. My husband's so bummed he's considering returning them to the breeder (assuming we could get them into the carrier!). I still think they may bond with us in time, however, they are very happy interacting with each other and aren't concerned about us.

We don't know if 5 mo is 'too old' to change in a month's time assuming they may not have had this type of human interaction previously? We're happy to put the work in and don't take cat ownership lightly but need to get them to the vet; and, we want animals that will thrive in a family environment (planning for baby #1 sometime soon). We realize every cat is different (& of course, they have each other - we wanted 2 so they'd have company once we're back at work, but it may be backfiring on the human bonding)... but how much time is reasonable to expect for them to be 'pet-able' and 'pick-up-able'?

Apologies for the long post but wanted it to contain pertinent information. Thanks in advance for your time and advice.
 

Furballsmom

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Hi! Welcome!!

My husband's so bummed he's considering returning them to the breeder
My suggestion would be to really adjust the expectations - that in itself will make things much better all around because cats are super sensitive to our emotions. The articles I'm linking below are good but TCS member Silver Crazy Silver Crazy is a better source regarding the truly amazing breed that's a bengal :thumbsup:

Maybe this will help both of you :)
Blue Met the Neighbors

Bengal Cats – Cat Articles the quote below is from the Comments;

Endless fun, laughter and everyday something new. And a loyal loving cat..you are really owned by a Bengal. That is the way I describe all the Bengals I have owned. Definitely a cat for the experienced cat owner but a lot you have learned about cats you throw away as well when you get a Bengal. Forceful characters especially if they set their minds on something, don't let them see you open a window or something..they will watch you do it and have it open in a flash. One of mine was a toilet flusher, loved watching the water flow. My last one before Blue was my guard cat, would not let people into the house unless they come in with me, would get jealous if I talked to someone for too long..would get between us and start yelling his head off drowning out any conversation. He chased the gas meter man down the road one day...my ribs were sore from laughing at the poor guy. He was also a thief and had a habit of burying car keys in his litter tray. Totally fascinating creatures with their intelligence and vocals and other little quirks but not a cat for the faint hearted or someone that's wants a quiet peaceful house..it will never happen!! Earplugs are a good accessory to go with a Bengal..they are LOUD!!

First-time Cat Owner’s Guide – Cat Articles

Why Do Cats…? A Guide To Understanding Feline Behavior – Cat Articles
 
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Furballsmom

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Oh, by the way, from another TCS member Mamanyt1953 Mamanyt1953
As for the cat-proofing, you might think about ordering museum putty. It will stick almost anything to almost anything, but will not damage surfaces. The name says it all...it is used in museums to secure fragile items to shelves so that they won't fall off. VERY popular in earthquake zones, and with cat owners (which can feel like the same thing, come to think of it!).
 
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Erica-J

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Thank you Furballsmom Furballsmom for the quick reply and for the reassurance.
My suggestion would be to really adjust the expectations - that in itself will make things much better all around because cats are super sensitive to our emotions.
We're just concerned we may not be able to get them to the vet when we need to... but hopefully we can bond more in the following days/weeks 🤞

Thank you for passing on the links; we had actually already read those articles (your site's a great resource - thank you for sharing!), but hadn't read Silver Crazy Silver Crazy 's posts - Blue sounds pretty fab :)

BTW... we have already seen some of this in action already (from a quote you pulled from the comments on the Bengal Cats – Cat Articles page:
"you are really owned by a Bengal."
...We've decided there's ONE AREA on top of our fridge/cupboard area that we'll allow our felines to perch on (it's higher than their climbing trees).

We'll continue to work on them. And, thank you for the museum putty tip. that will 100% be useful!
 

Furballsmom

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There are YouTube videos, by veterinarians that show examples of how to get cats in carriers, and some say to leave the carriers out so the cats get used to them :)
 

Silver Crazy

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Hi, cat and kitten lovers! New pet owners here who are struggling with socialising our 2 recently adopted bengals, we're hoping for advice. They are 5-mo old male/female siblings from a breeder who had 24 cats (7 kittens including ours when we adopted them); we don't know how much physical interaction they had with humans. During our visit, one was very playful, one was running and hiding. The kittens have now been with us for 9 days and they're less shy than they were, but we're still unable to pet either one - the shyest one, we can't even get close to.

We realise they haven't been with us for a massive amount of time, but we're on coronavirus lockdown so have shared ALL our time with our kitties (we're both working from home ATM, and our 'office' is in our kitchen/dining/lounge area, where we've even slept on the sofa a few nights... which is also the only area the cats are safe in). They have places to hide, to climb, to sit comfortably; they play with us (one is a bit reticent but will interact with toys on strings/poles/sticks). We've tried different methods to encourage them to be more comfortable with us: lying on the floor; extending hand only limply to get them to smell us; we're using a Feliway plugin; they're not big on treats (and on a raw diet); the only method we haven't spent a long time trying is 'ignoring' due to our work stations/kitchen/lounge setup.

We need to get them to the vet to be spayed/neutered within the next 3.5 weeks and are becoming concerned we can't put them in the carrier. My husband's so bummed he's considering returning them to the breeder (assuming we could get them into the carrier!). I still think they may bond with us in time, however, they are very happy interacting with each other and aren't concerned about us.

We don't know if 5 mo is 'too old' to change in a month's time assuming they may not have had this type of human interaction previously? We're happy to put the work in and don't take cat ownership lightly but need to get them to the vet; and, we want animals that will thrive in a family environment (planning for baby #1 sometime soon). We realize every cat is different (& of course, they have each other - we wanted 2 so they'd have company once we're back at work, but it may be backfiring on the human bonding)... but how much time is reasonable to expect for them to be 'pet-able' and 'pick-up-able'?

Apologies for the long post but wanted it to contain pertinent information. Thanks in advance for your time and advice.
Hi and welcome Erica-J Erica-J
And welcome to the fun/crazy Bengal cat world.
I wouldn't be to concerned that after 9 days you aren't having much contact with the cats as yet.
As siblings they would be relying on each other for company and comfort and growing up with such a large group of cats they probably haven't had much human interaction.
Also being closer to their wild cousins their survival instincts are a lot stronger so sudden movements and loud noises make them react quite strongly and will be quite stand offish at first.
First rule with your cats is to start a strict routine with meal times and play. Routine builds trust. Same time every day for dinner and play.
Mealtimes same time every day, you feed one, hubby feeds the other. Before feeding talk to the cats like asking.. Are you hungry?..and when getting the food say things like.. you ready?..here it comes...build a bit of excitement and verbal communication and you become part of the mealtime routine. When they start meowing back answering you and asking for food you are on your way to getting them more social.
Bengals can be very verbal and talking to them is as important as petting.
When they put their heads down to eat a quick scratch on the back and a tug on the tail will get them more used to being touched.
Try hand feeding the first bits of food before putting the bowl down too.
With play bring the play close to you so they are rolling over your legs or the are jumping on you so they are initiating touch not you.
This will build confidence with them being close to you.
Patience... patience and routine.... are the key with these crazy cats that never grow up..they will be always be a kitten.
Welcome to PM me anytime with any questions.
Just basics here like with any cats...the Bengals just take a little more time as they are hyper and so easily distracted and strong willed.
 
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Erica-J

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There are YouTube videos, by veterinarians that show examples of how to get cats in carriers, and some say to leave the carriers out so the cats get used to them :)
We kept their carrier out after bringing them home so they won't freak out when we need to use it... We will definitely check the videos out - I think we'll need the education, thank you!
 
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Erica-J

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Silver Crazy Silver Crazy - thank you, these are great tips! We can stick more closely to a routine if it will help them. We've been feeding at the same times but playtime has been a bit more ad hoc.

Making mealtime an 'occasion' is a very good idea, we'll try that. Just last night my hubby had tried to hand feed, with a bit of success with the more outgoing one. We'll definitely follow your recommendations for talking to/with them, hand feeding, touching lightly when eating, and your advice on play (funnily enough, only earlier today, we'd just tried getting them to play closer to ourselves - will be more mindful and do this more often).

I like your suggestions for how and when to touch them to get used to the feeling.

This:
Bengals can be very verbal and talking to them is as important as petting.
Is also a very good tip. We have been speaking with them a bit, but happy to 'up' it if it's important for bengal socialization.

We will keep all of this in mind:
Patience... patience and routine.... are the key with these crazy cats that never grow up..they will be always be a kitten.
Welcome to PM me anytime with any questions.
Just basics here like with any cats...the Bengals just take a little more time as they are hyper and so easily distracted and strong willed.
Thank you for the offer to answer future questions, too. They truly do seem to be a fantastic breed, I really do want to keep them. Glad you don't think 9 days is a terribly long time for them to still be standoffish... 2 weeks and counting of 'social distancing'/self isolation (we are in the UK) may also be messing with our sense of time!!

Hope you are keeping well and thanks for the advice and encouragement.
 

Silver Crazy

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Glad to be able to help Erica-J Erica-J .
One thing you can try with the shy one is get a small feather or bit of paper and twirl it between your fingers near her.
Don,t look at her or make eye contact just let her get curious and pounce.
Should get her confidence up pretty quick doing things like that.
Give me a yell when cats are letting you touch a bit more and we can go to next steps.
 

Kieka

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Welcome!

You've already gotten great advice on dealing with the situation. Just to repeat, the routine is extremely helpful in getting them acclimated. I would also stress getting them into the idea that once you go to bed the playtime with humans is done. Which basically means you don't interact with them in a play manner in bed and if they try to play you ignore them. They will likely go through moments of testing you on it, if they try to play in bed just become still and don't acknowledge them and they will get the message.

My boy was so hyper as a kitten he never had time to really pay attention to us meer humans. And when Rocket was a little one Link and her would be so into playing with each other they rarely noticed anything else. Rocket on the other hand didn't like humans for a long time so it took time for her to learn we weren't half bad. Give it time for them to get used to you but also for them to get out of the crazy kitten time (which for your two might last a little longer then most). Once they've gotten more used to you, you might want to look into leash training them so you can take them outside for a little energy release from time to time.
 
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