Mimi was in the shelter a really long time

daftcat75

TCS Member
Top Cat
Joined
Sep 7, 2018
Messages
10,765
Purraise
20,698
I'm just going to copy-paste something I wrote in another thread.

Tldr; treat her like a roommate rather than a fur kid and let her initiate affection. In the meantime, you can use the training below to establish good feelings between the two of you. Do this where you relax rather than where she relaxes. You've blocked off her unders. So treat her spaces, wherever she chooses to be, as sacred. Invite her into your spaces with these ideas below.

...

Cats seem to prefer those who want nothing to do with them. I would let her set the pace rather than trying to approach or pet her. Something you might try in the meantime is having treats with you on the couch or wherever you relax. When she shows interest in you, toss a treat her way. Slowly close the distance by tossing the treat closer to you than her. This may take a long time. Don't rush it. If she seems very hesitant or fearful about closing the distance, then go back to the distance she was comfortable with. Don't go too heavy on the treats either. Maybe do this a few times a week. Intermittent rewards work better than a reward every time. Every now and then, jackpot her for no good reason. Give her several treats instead of one. Make the jackpots rare and unpredictable. Just like gambling, she'll try harder if she thinks another jackpot is possible. Cats normally don't like to be hand-fed. Even if she comes right up to you and begs for a treat, set it down next to you and let her pick it up. Don't make affection a condition of the treat. Just because she comes to you asking for a treat, don't think that you can bribe her affection with treats. You can hurt the trust you're trying to build by reaching for a pet when she only wants the treat. Let her initiate. If she head butts you or rubs against you, then you may see if she's open for petting by putting a hand at her cheek level. Don't immediately go for a head pet. If she wants to be pet, she'll rub her cheek against your hand. If you go straight for a head pet, she may be fearful again and lash out, run away, or both. It may take a long time to make friends with this cat depending on her history and her socialization.

If possible, if she likes them, use freeze-dried meat treats over those carb-heavy franken-treats like Temptations. But if Temptations is all she wants, then use those. But sparingly. You don't want treats to replace her food and you don't want to create a treat-crazy monster either.

Until she says otherwise, I would treat her like a roommate more than a fur kid. By respecting her autonomy and not demanding affection (or bribing it out of her), she will learn to trust you. With trust, affection will follow.
 

flybear

TCS Member
Adult Cat
Joined
Nov 13, 2018
Messages
211
Purraise
278
Cats are not dogs and you will have to be prepared to always have a cat who might been the timid side .... However - like mentioned before ... Cats choose who they like and it doesn't always make sense but I have found that ... most cats want to be recognized ( walk in the room, get as close as you think she is comfortable with, look at her , slow blink and tell her hello , then ... go about your business ), don't push but try to bribe when you can ... feed small pieces of sardines or tuna ( make sure she sees you bring it, , hold the food dish out to her so she can smell ... she will associate you as the food bringer, treat her as it it is the most normal thing in the world for her to hide - show her that you know where she is but ... that you won't go after her. I do think some petting is good if she lets you , keep it brief, she'll let you know how long. Cats can take a very long time to trust ... and if she was feral and not just a stray ... she might or might not choose to become your friend ... I find cats fascinating because unlike dogs, who are pack animals - they are choosy with their friendships- there is about no bigger compliment than a cat choosing to like you ... and that isn't always expressed in snuggling ... I have one kitty who lets me know every day with tail swishes and chirps and running after me that he is firmly bonded with me but ... he not a snuggler - a little pet ... maybe ... on his terms but he does LOVE to watch me and follows me wherever I go and we have full conversations ...Thank you for saving this lucky baby from a horrid life in the shelter or worse!
 

bfls

TCS Member
Young Cat
Joined
Sep 20, 2018
Messages
46
Purraise
83
I recently took in a very timid cat who had a lot of experience with other cats but not with humans. He is 3 1/2 and was rescued from a hoarder.

I set him up in my spare bedroom but let him hide under the bed if he wanted to. I would go in to visit him, talking to him or just sitting quietly reading. I would slide his food bowl under the bed. Initially, so far under I couldn't see it when I was sitting on the floor but later closer to the edge.

This is the timelime to get him comfortable.

1 week - would eat when I was in the room but only if he couldn't see me.
2 weeks - would eat when I was in the room, even if he could see me. Once or twice came out from under the bed if I was laying down and not moving.
4 weeks - would come out and wander about the room when I was there. At this stage I started doing short, supervised interactions with my other cats.
6 weeks - the door to the spare room is permanently open and he will roam the house but will bolt back to his safe space if he sees me moving around.
8 weeks - HE LET ME PET HIM! And he's decided he loves being petted. He wakes me in the morning demanding cuddles and breakfast. But is still nervous if I walk around too briskly.

In short, it is going to take a long time to get Mimi feeling safe and comfortable with you. Don't rush it. Let her go at her own pace. Nothing is more heart warming than seeing a cat go from a scared lump huddled in the most remote corner they can find to a happy soul who headbutts you to wake you up in the morning to feed them and just basically attend to all their desires.
 

danteshuman

TCS Member
Top Cat
Joined
Mar 27, 2017
Messages
4,640
Purraise
5,357
Location
California
Bless you for being willinv

In my experience one of the best ways to calm a frightened cat, is to have another well socialized cat. If it is safe for that other cat, it is probably safe for them. Plus cats are social creatures. So if you can accept/afford another cat, maybe a nice little calm kitten that loves people might help. If she is cat aggressive then I wouldn’t get her a kitten. However a kitten may be just the thing to bring her out of her hiding spot & to help her realize humans are great.

Can you keep calling her grave for a few months? Like MimiGraceMimi so you transition her into her new name? With Jackie, I found out which part of his name Sunny he responded to. Then gave him a new name with that sound in it. He responded to anything ending with a y sound. Lately I have started calling him Jack slipped in with the Jackie. 🤷🏻‍♀️ It might give her less confusion.

Can you give her a pot of grass, bird watching perch by the window with bird feeders (and maybe s bird bath) in view of her bird perching window? Kinda bring the outdoors in a bit? She might light watching/listening to cat tv videos to. Jackie really likes the ones with squirrelsin it or nature documentaries with stingrays & coral reefs in it.
 
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #28

Jerseymeow

TCS Member
Thread starter
Young Cat
Joined
Feb 1, 2021
Messages
62
Purraise
175
Location
New Jersey
Our vet recommended Royal Canin calm dry food, that is in their vetinary line. Also the calming treats that are mostly thiamine. And, I have continued to talk to Mimi, sing to Mimi and give Mimi treats.
Mimi usually hisses when I approach but today...today she surprised me. I brought some treats in my hand and showed them to her. I put them on her blanket she ate some of the treats. She even ate some treats - out of my hand. Then she licked my fingers.
Wow! I am so happy for US.
 
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #29

Jerseymeow

TCS Member
Thread starter
Young Cat
Joined
Feb 1, 2021
Messages
62
Purraise
175
Location
New Jersey
February 25 was our one month anniversary with Mimi, our shelter cat. In my life Mimi is the fifth cat I have owned. Because we always raised our cats as kittens, I have realized that there is a lot about cat behavior that we have not experienced, and did not know about. And, some funny things have happened along the way.
  • Hissing - I don't think I have ever been hissed at until we took in Mimi. Our cats were always super friendly and mellow and loved people. So, this is a new experience.
  • Hiding - Our cats did not hide. They would be out in the open, spread out on their backs, showing off their tummy, looking silly.
  • Unders - What's that? I did not know about the pros and cons of letting a cat hide in unders until I read about Jackson Galaxy, and cat mojo. We did after the first week close off the unders (bed, dresser, desk) but provided new and better hiding places for Mimi - like in the corner on the baseboard heater. If you have a "new" all grey cat that is under a queen sized bed....that is not good because you can't care for it...or see it (without a flashlight).
  • Wide eyed fear - nope. No experience.
  • Play - I could always play with our cats and we had a lot of fun. Mimi plays at night when I am not there. I know because she moves the toys.
  • Staring - We learned just now "don't stare at a cat". Really? I feel really stupid with this one. I would look at our cats all the time and I suppose I was staring, but did not really think about it. Now I am paranoid about staring at Mimi. I blink a lot and look away when I talk to her.
  • Walking - I love to watch a cat walk across the room. I hope someday Mimi will relax enough to let me see her walk across the room. It's such a simple thing.
  • Don't touch me - Our cats loved to be touched. Mimi, not so much. Once in a blue moon she will let me scratch her head, and then she will move away when she is done.
  • Food - Mimi loves to eat and she drinks water from her bowl. Therefore, there is a litter box that needs to be changed at least twice a day! Our other cats were not really foodies.
  • Home decor - There is a litter box in our daughters former bedroom, because that is now Mimi's room. She has everything she needs including a nice high cat tree in the south facing window where she can lounge. She seems very content there and allows me to visit frequently. All of our other cats roamed the house. The food and litter were in our basement (and I did go down and change the LB frequently).
The point of this update is...TieDie, Molly, Starlight, Pigpen (former cats) were all nothing like Mimi. Mimi is a 5 year old cat that I really know nothing about. I thought as a cat owner I knew a lot about cat behavior, but Mimi has taught me there is still much more to learn. Mimi likes it when I sing to her.
 
Last edited:
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #30

Jerseymeow

TCS Member
Thread starter
Young Cat
Joined
Feb 1, 2021
Messages
62
Purraise
175
Location
New Jersey
I have seen Mimi walk in the room several times now. What a treat to see her whole body. One time when I came in the room, she couldn't decide if she should retreat to her hiding spot or sit under the cat tree on the blanket. She chose the cat tree, but hid her head behind the post. :)
She still hisses at me every time I enter the room. I don't try to touch her. I just ignore the hiss and talk and sing to her. Maybe she hates my singing!
 

bfls

TCS Member
Young Cat
Joined
Sep 20, 2018
Messages
46
Purraise
83
I have seen Mimi walk in the room several times now. What a treat to see her whole body. One time when I came in the room, she couldn't decide if she should retreat to her hiding spot or sit under the cat tree on the blanket. She chose the cat tree, but hid her head behind the post. :)
"Hiding" behind the post is so cute. I've had cats do something like that. They seem to think if they can't see you, then you can't see them :)
 

danteshuman

TCS Member
Top Cat
Joined
Mar 27, 2017
Messages
4,640
Purraise
5,357
Location
California
Next time she hides behind the post, try sitting down & tossing a small tempting toy 3 from her, then ignore her. I suggest the ones that look like feather torpedos. Hopefully she will play.

Also try no high pitched opera notes and keeping the volume low. I don’t think cats appreciate singing.
 

susanm9006

Resident Cat Willow
Top Cat
Joined
Feb 20, 2011
Messages
10,801
Purraise
23,567
Location
Minnesota
Next time she hides behind the post, try sitting down & tossing a small tempting toy 3 from her, then ignore her. I suggest the ones that look like feather torpedos. Hopefully she will play.

Also try no high pitched opera notes and keeping the volume low. I don’t think cats appreciate singing.
I don’t know about them not liking singing. My former girl loved for me to sing to her and especially the song “Pretty Baby”. She would purr and knead as I sang.
 

danteshuman

TCS Member
Top Cat
Joined
Mar 27, 2017
Messages
4,640
Purraise
5,357
Location
California
I was watching a video on YouTube of cats attacking their owners when they sang. I think it was the volume, that they were holding the cat or right next to the cat, that some sang off key & that some were singing such high notes.

If your cats likes it, sing away. If kitty seems agitated, hum.
 
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #36

Jerseymeow

TCS Member
Thread starter
Young Cat
Joined
Feb 1, 2021
Messages
62
Purraise
175
Location
New Jersey
Next time she hides behind the post, try sitting down & tossing a small tempting toy 3 from her, then ignore her. I suggest the ones that look like feather torpedos. Hopefully she will play.

Also try no high pitched opera notes and keeping the volume low. I don’t think cats appreciate singing.
Ha. My singing is very low. I just keep singing her name over and over. Mimi, Mimi, Mimi. Like a chant. But...maybe she does not like it! But I think she does. She closes her eyes.
 

susanm9006

Resident Cat Willow
Top Cat
Joined
Feb 20, 2011
Messages
10,801
Purraise
23,567
Location
Minnesota
Routines are part of what makes a cat feel safe in their environment. So when you come in and sing and the cat sees that nothing bad had happened or that something good like food follows, that routine becomes a reassuring thing for the cat.
 
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #38

Jerseymeow

TCS Member
Thread starter
Young Cat
Joined
Feb 1, 2021
Messages
62
Purraise
175
Location
New Jersey
Well....it's been 7 weeks. And, I am sorry Mimi. I have done everything I can to keep your room quiet the way you like it. But, I can't take it anymore. I can't keep putting your needs above my own.
Today is the day. I am sorry.
I HAVE TO CLEAN YOUR ROOM!!!!
 

bfls

TCS Member
Young Cat
Joined
Sep 20, 2018
Messages
46
Purraise
83
Well....it's been 7 weeks. And, I am sorry Mimi. I have done everything I can to keep your room quiet the way you like it. But, I can't take it anymore. I can't keep putting your needs above my own.
Today is the day. I am sorry.
I HAVE TO CLEAN YOUR ROOM!!!!
NOT THE EVIL VACUUM CLEANER MONSTER?!
 
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #40

Jerseymeow

TCS Member
Thread starter
Young Cat
Joined
Feb 1, 2021
Messages
62
Purraise
175
Location
New Jersey
I "tried to sleep" in Mimi's bedroom last night. I learned she is very nocturnal. During the day she sleeps in her hiding spot and sits in the sun on the cat tree. During the night she roams the room. She eats. She makes a racket in the litter box. And roams some more. And, she MEOWS a lot. She walked around meowing and every time she did I meowed back, mimicing her voice. I think she was MEOWing at me, but she did not jump up on the bed to say hello.
Any thoughts on all the MEOWing?
 
Top