Help with feral/stray kitten

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Hi, there! I found this site last week and I've been reading a lot of helpful stuff, but I feel like I need extra tips.

My bf and I already had two cats (both 1 year old) and wanted a third so we went to a shelter. The original plan was to adopt a young kitten, but there was a 5-6 month old meatloaf and I fell in love. Apparently he showed up a couple of weeks before and they took him in. He was really scared of humans, he tolerated being touched just because he was paralyzed (you could hear his purr, but it might be because of fear).

Sooo, we adopted him. The thing is the other two (also from a shelter) were 2 months when we got them and they were previously socialized and adapted quickly, so we don't have a lot of experience with shy/fearful cats. We prepared him a safe room and the first week was tough, he was terrified, wouldn't even eat in front of us, he hissed and hide constantly.

It's been a month, he was spayed last week, he adores the other two cats, they play a lot and nap together. There's been small improvements with us, but he is still scared, he tolerates being petted for a second and then runs away. If he sees us walking around he hides. On rare occasions if he's taking a nap he lets me pet him, rolls on his back showing the belly and purrs (I always announce myself when getting closer, so he knows who's coming and I let him some time to adjust and decide if he's comfortable with that). Overall I'm trying to spend time with him playing and talking, trying to respect his boundaries and luring him with food.

I know it's going to take a while, but what I didn't expect was the setbacks. It's one step forward and five steps back, makes me feel a bit sad. He might grow up into a not very affectionate cat and that's fine, my goal is to give him a good place to be, for him to feel safe.

I would appreciate tips, your personal experiences with strays/ferals :redheartpump:
 

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tabbytom

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but there was a 5-6 month old meatloaf and I fell in love. Apparently he showed up a couple of weeks before and they took him in. He was really scared of humans, he tolerated being touched just because he was paralyzed (you could hear his purr, but it might be because of fear).

Sooo, we adopted him. The thing is the other two (also from a shelter) were 2 months when we got them and they were previously socialized and adapted quickly, so we don't have a lot of experience with shy/fearful cats. We prepared him a safe room and the first week was tough, he was terrified, wouldn't even eat in front of us, he hissed and hide constantly.

It's been a month, he was spayed last week, he adores the other two cats, they play a lot and nap together. There's been small improvements with us, but he is still scared, he tolerates being petted for a second and then runs away. If he sees us walking around he hides. On rare occasions if he's taking a nap he lets me pet him, rolls on his back showing the belly and purrs (I always announce myself when getting closer, so he knows who's coming and I let him some time to adjust and decide if he's comfortable with that). Overall I'm trying to spend time with him playing and talking, trying to respect his boundaries and luring him with food.

I know it's going to take a while, but what I didn't expect was the setbacks. It's one step forward and five steps back, makes me feel a bit sad. He might grow up into a not very affectionate cat and that's fine, my goal is to give him a good place to be, for him to feel safe.
Thank you for taking this kitty in and for giving him a warm and fur-ever loving home and a safe sanctuary to live out his life :clapcat: Bless you hearts as he may not have a good home to go to.

So far, what you've been doing is great. One thing you have to understand that you do not know the background of this kitty and therefore you have to be more aware of his needs. Some unpleasant things may have happened to him before he was brought in to the shelter and now he's at your home.
These are some changes the cat is going through and therefore he's a little skittish when and hides when you walk around.

Announcing your arrival is a good move and keep doing that so that he gets used to your voice and also while announcing your arrival, it's also good to pause for awhile and go low and see where he is before you walk right in. making yourself smaller is not so intimidating to him. He sure needs lots of assurance since it's only like his first week in a new home where all things are strange to him.

Lying on his back exposing his belly is a very good sign except at times the signal kicks in to be afraid. Associating yourself with food is also a good idea. Just give him time to adjust and time is on his side. Once he feels super safe, he may not be so afraid but he still will be kind of weary about things but at least he knows he's safe and in a good home and have good cat daddy and mommy and two other feline buddies.

Do keep us updated of the progress.

Here are some articles for you to read :-

How To Get A Cat To Come Out Of Hiding? – TheCatSite Articles

16 Top Cat Experts Share Tips For Dealing With Timid Cats – TheCatSite Articles

10 Must-know Tips For Happy Living With A Shy Cat – TheCatSite Articles
 

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This will all improve in time. It has not been long in a cat's world, the fact that he gets along with your other cats is immense! You are right, he may never be a confident, lovey cat, but he is what he is. He will grow to love you and his family in time. Setbacks are expected and are always present. Getting him back to the vet to be neutered was a major one. Believe it or not you have made big advances in just a month. He has been traumatized severely. He needs to build up trust. Watching how your other cats interact with you WILL teach him how to act. Play with them and interact in front of him. NEVER force him in to doing something. Right now just let him slide by and adjust. Never stare at him, that is a sign of aggression to a cat, as is focusing your attention on him and approaching him before he is ready. Offer your attentions and then let HIM approach you. It will all work out in time......
 
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Thank you for taking this kitty in and for giving him a warm and fur-ever loving home and a safe sanctuary to live out his life :clapcat: Bless you hearts as he may not have a good home to go to.

So far, what you've been doing is great. One thing you have to understand that you do not know the background of this kitty and therefore you have to be more aware of his needs. Some unpleasant things may have happened to him before he was brought in to the shelter and now he's at your home.
These are some changes the cat is going through and therefore he's a little skittish when and hides when you walk around.

Announcing your arrival is a good move and keep doing that so that he gets used to your voice and also while announcing your arrival, it's also good to pause for awhile and go low and see where he is before you walk right in. making yourself smaller is not so intimidating to him. He sure needs lots of assurance since it's only like his first week in a new home where all things are strange to him.

Lying on his back exposing his belly is a very good sign except at times the signal kicks in to be afraid. Associating yourself with food is also a good idea. Just give him time to adjust and time is on his side. Once he feels super safe, he may not be so afraid but he still will be kind of weary about things but at least he knows he's safe and in a good home and have good cat daddy and mommy and two other feline buddies.

Do keep us updated of the progress.

Here are some articles for you to read :-

How To Get A Cat To Come Out Of Hiding? – TheCatSite Articles

16 Top Cat Experts Share Tips For Dealing With Timid Cats – TheCatSite Articles

10 Must-know Tips For Happy Living With A Shy Cat – TheCatSite Articles
Thanks for taking the time to reply! We have no clue about what happened to him before. Somethings set him off, for example we were watching tv and there were traffic sounds... He startled and looked for the safest place to hide. The second we turned it off, he came out and continue playing with the other cats.

There are times were the oldest are with us in the living room for a long time and he's all by himself dozing elsewhere, I always feel the urge to look for him and check in, but I'm not sure if I should.






This will all improve in time. It has not been long in a cat's world, the fact that he gets along with your other cats is immense! You are right, he may never be a confident, lovey cat, but he is what he is. He will grow to love you and his family in time. Setbacks are expected and are always present. Getting him back to the vet to be neutered was a major one. Believe it or not you have made big advances in just a month. He has been traumatized severely. He needs to build up trust. Watching how your other cats interact with you WILL teach him how to act. Play with them and interact in front of him. NEVER force him in to doing something. Right now just let him slide by and adjust. Never stare at him, that is a sign of aggression to a cat, as is focusing your attention on him and approaching him before he is ready. Offer your attentions and then let HIM approach you. It will all work out in time......

First of all, thanks for the advice! I feel a bit more confident now after reading about setbacks being something to expect.
Is he really going to learn from the other two? I thought maybe because he's already 6 months, he wouldn`t mirror that much. The orange-tabby is very affectionate in is own way, he's definitely not a lap cat, but he follows us around, likes to play, headbutts, being pet, sleeping near us and loves people and receiving attention. The back one is a cuddlebug, though a bit shy with strangers.
 

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They definitely take ques from each other. I had only one lap cat and then after the other two kept seeing him get all the attention, now I have three! I have one fraidy cat that turns and looks really spooked, (at any little noise) ready to bolt. But if the others stand their ground and then look unconcerned he relaxes. You can see him checking out what the other cats are doing.
 

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Thanks for taking the time to reply! We have no clue about what happened to him before. Somethings set him off, for example we were watching tv and there were traffic sounds... He startled and looked for the safest place to hide. The second we turned it off, he came out and continue playing with the other cats.

There are times were the oldest are with us in the living room for a long time and he's all by himself dozing elsewhere, I always feel the urge to look for him and check in, but I'm not sure if I should.
Yes, for sure something bad had happened to him and loud noise or sounds freak him out. Best is to keep noise level down and if he ever scurry away after a loud sound be it from the tv or dropping something on the floor or from talking to loud, just try to tell him it's ok and don't be frighten in a soft calm voice.

You can go look for him if he's sleeping elsewhere and just whisper to him and say good boy. This is also to assure him that you care for him. Just don't startle him when you go look for him. Sometimes when he's sleeping elsewhere, you may be in his line of sight and he's watching you from afar and if he can't see you, he's just taking precautions from the sounds.

This boy still need lots of assurance and speaking softly and lovingly will help him.
 
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They definitely take ques from each other. I had only one lap cat and then after the other two kept seeing him get all the attention, now I have three! I have one fraidy cat that turns and looks really spooked, (at any little noise) ready to bolt. But if the others stand their ground and then look unconcerned he relaxes. You can see him checking out what the other cats are doing.
I'm definitely going to have this in mind, I usually extend a finger to greet him and sometimes he taps it with his nose and then withdraws (I'm sure he's just checking if there's food on my finger :lol:) I'll try to do the same with the other two when they are together and I'll keep interacting with them as usual. The thing that drives me a bit crazy is the contrast between his normal behaviour (scared and skittish) and the rare occasions when he's napping and purrs/shows belly if touched.


Yes, for sure something bad had happened to him and loud noise or sounds freak him out. Best is to keep noise level down and if he ever scurry away after a loud sound be it from the tv or dropping something on the floor or from talking to loud, just try to tell him it's ok and don't be frighten in a soft calm voice.

You can go look for him if he's sleeping elsewhere and just whisper to him and say good boy. This is also to assure him that you care for him. Just don't startle him when you go look for him. Sometimes when he's sleeping elsewhere, you may be in his line of sight and he's watching you from afar and if he can't see you, he's just taking precautions from the sounds.

This boy still need lots of assurance and speaking softly and lovingly will help him.
When I approach him that way I always announce myself, walk very slowly, making sure he knows where I'm coming from and I sit on the floor nearby and try to make myself tiny. There's something else that I wonder, what if appart from scared he actually is a very independent cat, not very fond of company and I'm pushing too much when checking in from tome to time? I guess I don't want him to feel overwhelmed.

-------------------------------------------------------




There has been a tiny improvement, I just realized he started following me while I wipe the floor. If I look slightly at him he runs away, but eventually he comes back.
Btw his name is Cloud, and the other two are Tidus (orange) and Noctis (black).
I'll keep posting updates, reading the links and other threads, thank you so much :redheartpump:
 

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There has been a tiny improvement, I just realized he started following me while I wipe the floor. If I look slightly at him he runs away, but eventually he comes back.
Btw his name is Cloud, and the other two are Tidus (orange) and Noctis (black).
I'll keep posting updates, reading the links and other threads, thank you so much :redheartpump:
That's great! Following you means he trust you although he is still apprehensive. Try too look at him from the corner of your eye and once you see him looking at you, blink your eyes and look at him. By looking away after the blink, it shows that he is in control and you are submissive. This will help him gain confidence.

If you want to pet him or even as he allows you to pet his nose, you may want to form your hand into a fist and let him smell your hand and then slowly rub gently with your fist along his cheek towards the ear. You may also hide a treat in your fist and let him smell your fist and let him rub his face on your fist and you open up your fist to let him have the treat. All this practice will help him gain confidence in you.
 
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That's great! Following you means he trust you although he is still apprehensive. Try too look at him from the corner of your eye and once you see him looking at you, blink your eyes and look at him. By looking away after the blink, it shows that he is in control and you are submissive. This will help him gain confidence.

If you want to pet him or even as he allows you to pet his nose, you may want to form your hand into a fist and let him smell your hand and then slowly rub gently with your fist along his cheek towards the ear. You may also hide a treat in your fist and let him smell your fist and let him rub his face on your fist and you open up your fist to let him have the treat. All this practice will help him gain confidence in you.

Thanks for the tips! I've been trying both.
There was a huge breakthrough this week, I didn't expect it and it caught me by surprise. One day he started to allow us to pet him more often even when he's not sleepy and he even showed the belly. I didn't try petting him there since few cats enjoy it, but my bf did and well... Turns out he loves it, he purrs loud.
But at the same time he keeps running away from us, won't come near the couch if we're there, he hisses here and there when feeling trapped.
Is it normal for a scared/timid cat to lower his defenses so much for a minute while still having that constant fear?
Btw he's spending more time with us in the living room staring at the tv, he enjoys watching videogames (especially breath of the wild:lol:).
 

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Is it normal for a scared/timid cat to lower his defenses so much for a minute while still having that constant fear?
Btw he's spending more time with us in the living room staring at the tv, he enjoys watching videogames (especially breath of the wild:lol:).
This is perfectly normal for him to do this as mentioned before we do not know his background. What he's doing now is great and what you've been doing is also great and keep it up.

He still have many things going on in his mind and many things still reminds him of the past and that's why he behaves in such a manner. Just keep assuring him and try not to do the things he don't like. Let him make the advances and enjoy that moment.
 

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You've already gotten fantastic advice from two fantastic & experienced members/staff. I know I'll echo alot of above (like announcing arrival into wherever he's chosen to feel safe now -softly and high as possible - I'd die if anyone ever recorded what I sing to new ones I'm socializing when I enter the room - horrifying to humans I'm sure!), so I'll TRY to keep it semi-short (soooo hard for me to do but I'll try! :)).

You're doing SO much right, and believe it or not, your new guy's integration is moving more quickly then many! After waaaay more TNRS, shelter work, socialization and fostering then I can count - I can tell you it really is going well. It's hard to remember when there are set backs, but that can happen with well-socialized cats that have lived together for 10 years (as happened to us this week - argh). It's just part of the process. Cats are as different as people, with different histories (from how they were raised/socialized/not socialized/treated/mistreated), different needs and wants, and what works with one won't always work with others. But it sounds like you're being VERY aware and doing things slowly - - which is a BIG plus! Most people bail way too soon (often one intro session goes bad and people say "won't work - I'm out!) - - I think it's the #1 (besides litter box issues) reason I see cats returned to shelters.

A few tips I use (and I read the thread - but think I'm mentioning stuff at least one of the great CatSite folks said above - but figure doesn't hurt to offer one more person it worked for!): make sure he has a permanent "safe space" to get to when he's extra nervous. He's likely been scared & barely socialized - so he's either been self-taught or taught by mama that anything he doesn't understand or isn't comfortable with he needs to get away from NOW. Until I feel sure that the kitty's pretty darn confident, I always make sure that in their sleeping/safe space area they have a radio set low to talk radio (some say classical music - I use talk radio to get them even more used to human voices so when others come over, or when we're not home if they hear noises they don't panic as easily), and we use Feliway spray and Plug ins. Far from cheap, and don't work (in my experience) all the time, but they often at least help.

And yes - the "fist bump offer" is one of the greatest things ever. Cats see it as another cat head shape, and since cats often great by head bump, it's a super easy way to say "I'm super-friendly and one of you! Come say hi!" We also use extendable forks and spoons (you can get them on Amazon cheaply) to offer super enticing food to get them closer bit by bit, and you can also use them for petting from a distance, working up to closer and closer.

Bottom line - you're doing fantastically! Once of my favorite bits of advice I got when I joined this group was to remind yourself that every cat teaches us something - - and often it's patience (ain't that the truth!). I've also learned through the years that I need to let go of what I "wanted" from a new kitty, and learned to be happy if we end up with happy cats - - they won't all be lap cats, or party social cats, but they all contribute to our beings as humans in some way or another, and, selfishly, it feels great knowing we've saved theirs.

Keep us posted - I'm hooked on your thread now!
 
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Just keep assuring him and try not to do the things he don't like. Let him make the advances and enjoy that moment.
I'm trying to learn how he tells us what he does and doesn't like, there are times where I'm not sure if he is warning us or just trying to play by lightly biting our hands like in the picture :sweat: He's very delicate, he prefers to run away without biting/scratching.



You've already gotten fantastic advice from two fantastic & experienced members/staff. I know I'll echo alot of above (like announcing arrival into wherever he's chosen to feel safe now -softly and high as possible - I'd die if anyone ever recorded what I sing to new ones I'm socializing when I enter the room - horrifying to humans I'm sure!), so I'll TRY to keep it semi-short (soooo hard for me to do but I'll try! :)).

You're doing SO much right, and believe it or not, your new guy's integration is moving more quickly then many! After waaaay more TNRS, shelter work, socialization and fostering then I can count - I can tell you it really is going well. It's hard to remember when there are set backs, but that can happen with well-socialized cats that have lived together for 10 years (as happened to us this week - argh). It's just part of the process. Cats are as different as people, with different histories (from how they were raised/socialized/not socialized/treated/mistreated), different needs and wants, and what works with one won't always work with others. But it sounds like you're being VERY aware and doing things slowly - - which is a BIG plus! Most people bail way too soon (often one intro session goes bad and people say "won't work - I'm out!) - - I think it's the #1 (besides litter box issues) reason I see cats returned to shelters.

A few tips I use (and I read the thread - but think I'm mentioning stuff at least one of the great CatSite folks said above - but figure doesn't hurt to offer one more person it worked for!): make sure he has a permanent "safe space" to get to when he's extra nervous. He's likely been scared & barely socialized - so he's either been self-taught or taught by mama that anything he doesn't understand or isn't comfortable with he needs to get away from NOW. Until I feel sure that the kitty's pretty darn confident, I always make sure that in their sleeping/safe space area they have a radio set low to talk radio (some say classical music - I use talk radio to get them even more used to human voices so when others come over, or when we're not home if they hear noises they don't panic as easily), and we use Feliway spray and Plug ins. Far from cheap, and don't work (in my experience) all the time, but they often at least help.

And yes - the "fist bump offer" is one of the greatest things ever. Cats see it as another cat head shape, and since cats often great by head bump, it's a super easy way to say "I'm super-friendly and one of you! Come say hi!" We also use extendable forks and spoons (you can get them on Amazon cheaply) to offer super enticing food to get them closer bit by bit, and you can also use them for petting from a distance, working up to closer and closer.

Bottom line - you're doing fantastically! Once of my favorite bits of advice I got when I joined this group was to remind yourself that every cat teaches us something - - and often it's patience (ain't that the truth!). I've also learned through the years that I need to let go of what I "wanted" from a new kitty, and learned to be happy if we end up with happy cats - - they won't all be lap cats, or party social cats, but they all contribute to our beings as humans in some way or another, and, selfishly, it feels great knowing we've saved theirs.

Keep us posted - I'm hooked on your thread now!
It helps reading as many people as posible, even if it's mainly echoing from previous posts. It's very reassuring and I needed it, so thanks!
Funny thing he likes the finger touch on the nose offer and hates the fist bump offer, he runs away from it.
I've been reading about feliway but I'm not fully convinced, does it really help?

I'm keeping track of the advances and stepbacks week by week, it eases the frustration. Cloud is doing great, I'm proud of him. I can tell he's a very nice kitty, just affraid and traumatized. I'm glad we chose him.

Btw, he jumped a couple of times on the sofa while I was reading (apparently he likes to bite books), stayed for a minute and then ran away IMG_20221119_104630.jpg IMG_20221120_123427.jpg incredibly fast -second picture-

I'll keep this updated, thanks again for your help




:heartshape:
 
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Happy update: Cloud has improved a lot! Still gets scared from strange noises, hides under the bed's blankets whenever someone comes to visit or when the doorbell rings and sometimes gets scared from my bf. We can tell he wants to spend time on the couch or the bed, but he's not confident about it yet.

He won't run away from us when we walk, even enjoys being chased by me (carefully) and waits for me to catch him if I'm too slow :lol:

He also enjoys sitting on my books when I study, on my laptop, sleeping next to my chair on a little bed (pictures), we even bought him a small bed-cave to hide.

I just wanted to thank all the help and advice you gave me and share the results of Cloud's hard work :redheartpump:
 

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I'm trying to learn how he tells us what he does and doesn't like, there are times where I'm not sure if he is warning us or just trying to play by lightly biting our hands like in the picture :sweat: He's very delicate, he prefers to run away without biting/scratching.
Sometimes it's hard to tell what they want or don't want. If there's no response in the next few seconds, that's probably they don't want. If they want something, probably they'll meow more or even move to the place and show you what they want from there.

Light biting could be just love bites your cat is giving to you and sometimes it can be real hard. You can tell between a love bite and just biting.

Happy update: Cloud has improved a lot! Still gets scared from strange noises, hides under the bed's blankets whenever someone comes to visit or when the doorbell rings and sometimes gets scared from my bf. We can tell he wants to spend time on the couch or the bed, but he's not confident about it yet.
Great to hear that Cloud has improved :clapcat: Most cats are afraid of sounds and it's normal and also normal for some cats to hide when someone visits. There's nothing much we can do about it except to give words of encouragement and let them view the scene from afar which they think it's the safest place for them. Once they find out that it is a normal thing and no harm is here to harm them, they may eventually build up confidence and come out but still will be cautious.

As for the couch and bed, also give words of encouragements and invite him up to the bed or couch and try to make little movements when he's up there. Sudden moves may jolt him and he may not find it safe there. Place his favorite toy and sprinkle some catnips for him on the bed or couch.
 
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