Mimi was in the shelter a really long time

Whenallhellbreakslose

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Whenallhellbreakslose Whenallhellbreakslose and @tarasgirl06, I think it would be wonderful to start a thread about flaws in the system, with both shelters and fosters. This is a subject that needs to be explored in depth. I hope that one of you will do that. I will certainly take part in the discussions!

Now, back to the subject at hand, J Jerseymeow , how is Mimi coming along?
I will put a post up soon about this. These are very trying times where we need to come up with better solutions to help homeless animals.

There was another thread I also wanted to post about the use of birth control being used in the winter, if tnr is not possible. The tnr clinic in my neck of the woods was closed for quite awhile and the enviable happened-- a kitten boom in the region I live. This pandemic has definitely caused major setbacks in tnring community cats. I really like to discuss this as well in another thread. What do you think?
 

Mamanyt1953

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Here's another thing you can to do help Mimi. You say she seems comfortable with you six feet away. Sit down on the floor and simply read a book aloud in a gentle, soft voice. Do not look directly at her. Just sit with her and be...that makes you far less intimidating than you are when you are standing, or even sitting elevated by a chair. I've seen this work with very fearful cats before.
 

Docs Mom

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I agree with Mamanyt1953 Mamanyt1953 , just hanging out in her room doing your own thing. Reading, watching TV,, surfing, knitting whatever.... Just completely ignore her and she might get curious about you.

Do this at times separate from feeding scooping etc. Hang in there.... I had a kitty growing up that had growling and purring or meowing backwards. It took quite a while to figure her out 🙃...
 

PushPurrCatPaws

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Hi Jerseymeow - I'm just joining in on this thread, and wondering how you and Mimi are doing? Are you still at the stage of only being able to be about 5-6 feet from her, and with her hissing being her main communication to you?

I don't have experience with nurturing a shy, abused or shelter-bound cat (one whose life may have only been in a shelter setting), but I still feel I could contribute a few thoughts and perspectives. It makes sense that a cat who has only known shelter life is used to a choiceless life, a pretty much powerless life, and one where the fall-back position of interacting might be such that hissing is the main form of communication she would use. Often a shelter cat is stuck in a cage day in, day out, people approaching the cage to do heaven-knows-what, even if it is just to love her, feed her or give her medicine or clean the litter box. And with no true hiding place for the cage-bound, shy or nervous cat to go, a hiss would be something a "survivor cat" would rely upon. "Back off", the cat says! After all, she just wants her safety and she is not sure you will be "safe". You are dealing with her learned experiences, whatever those might have been, although probably they involved a life of not a lot of clear choices for her.

After reading through this thread, I was trying to think what I would do in your place at this moment. If you are still experiencing many of the same scenarios with her since you got her on Jan 25th (hiding, hissing, etc.), have you changed up the "structure" of the room since then? If the structure of the room has stayed the same, that might be one reason why you aren't seeing a lot of change? You see, I think where I would start is to try to provide more choices for her, in how she might respond to you when you come in the room. Or even in how she moves about when she is by herself in the room, at night, for example. I may forget some of the things already written by you or others in this thread, so forgive me there.

I would start by trying to increase her choices: try to change the pattern she's learned that she thinks she is trapped in a confined, choiceless space. A space where hissing is the only way to get some of her power back.

Do you still have that large box in the corner, the one your husband set up with a top and "just one entry hole" in it? If it were me at this point, I would start there and open up a choice or change with that box. That box should always be her safe space, if possible. Leave it in the same place, have it still be her place of safety, but if you can open up the side of it that faces the room a little bit (where she could see you) by cutting a low, long rectangular 'window' opening in it -- like a long peephole where she can observe you in the room from the safety of the box. And maybe cut out a second hole in it opposite the first hole, where she can leave the box out the other side of the original entrance hole, if she wanted to. I think having the box with just one opening in it could be replicating the idea of a choiceless "cage", which only has one opening and no secondary opening to escape from. I would get a cat tunnel and put it at the opening of the second hole in the box. She can hide in the box, or she can continue through a second hole and hide in the adjoining cat tunnel. So, now you have a "safe" box, which is hers, but now it has two alternative openings/exits, and also a peephole to watch the world go by. *That gives her more choices.*

I was looking at her cat tree, and another thing I would do, or try out with Mimi, is to drape a towel from that cylinder part of the tree, and have it hang down so that it gives her a partial "hidey place" on that second shelf part of the cat tree. So that if you come in the room, she can stay on the cat tree itself, but move to the second shelf and "choose to hide from you" behind the hanging towel. She wouldn't have to resort to running to hide by the baseboard heater. I'd also put a comfy bed on that second shelf, as it looks like she can't really stretch out in that space she is sleeping on in the photo.

Meanwhile, keep doing all the things you are doing to calm her with your presence, and keep her safe spaces pretty much intact, but offer her other choices to move to and "hide" in, or spots to just watch you without having her go hide back by the baseboard heater again. You know, like little portable boxes, or beds, set here and there, choices for her which she doesn't feel powerless or trapped into "choosing". I think you said she has two cat trees (lucky girl!) so that's great. I suppose you have to get inside her head a little, and essentially try to show her a new way of being "safe" and in control.

I think the more free she feels to choose her hidey places and her reactions, the more power she'll feel she has, and then she might come out of her shell more when around you. The stress will decrease for her. It's like slowly enriching her environment in that room. It'll take time, but who knows.

You don't have to try any of this -- as obviously, it may not work with her, but I thought I would offer my advice. :)
 

dustydiamond1

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Hi Jerseymeow - I'm just joining in on this thread, and wondering how you and Mimi are doing? Are you still at the stage of only being able to be about 5-6 feet from her, and with her hissing being her main communication to you?

I don't have experience with nurturing a shy, abused or shelter-bound cat (one whose life may have only been in a shelter setting), but I still feel I could contribute a few thoughts and perspectives. It makes sense that a cat who has only known shelter life is used to a choiceless life, a pretty much powerless life, and one where the fall-back position of interacting might be such that hissing is the main form of communication she would use. Often a shelter cat is stuck in a cage day in, day out, people approaching the cage to do heaven-knows-what, even if it is just to love her, feed her or give her medicine or clean the litter box. And with no true hiding place for the cage-bound, shy or nervous cat to go, a hiss would be something a "survivor cat" would rely upon. "Back off", the cat says! After all, she just wants her safety and she is not sure you will be "safe". You are dealing with her learned experiences, whatever those might have been, although probably they involved a life of not a lot of clear choices for her.

After reading through this thread, I was trying to think what I would do in your place at this moment. If you are still experiencing many of the same scenarios with her since you got her on Jan 25th (hiding, hissing, etc.), have you changed up the "structure" of the room since then? If the structure of the room has stayed the same, that might be one reason why you aren't seeing a lot of change? You see, I think where I would start is to try to provide more choices for her, in how she might respond to you when you come in the room. Or even in how she moves about when she is by herself in the room, at night, for example. I may forget some of the things already written by you or others in this thread, so forgive me there.

I would start by trying to increase her choices: try to change the pattern she's learned that she thinks she is trapped in a confined, choiceless space. A space where hissing is the only way to get some of her power back.

Do you still have that large box in the corner, the one your husband set up with a top and "just one entry hole" in it? If it were me at this point, I would start there and open up a choice or change with that box. That box should always be her safe space, if possible. Leave it in the same place, have it still be her place of safety, but if you can open up the side of it that faces the room a little bit (where she could see you) by cutting a low, long rectangular 'window' opening in it -- like a long peephole where she can observe you in the room from the safety of the box. And maybe cut out a second hole in it opposite the first hole, where she can leave the box out the other side of the original entrance hole, if she wanted to. I think having the box with just one opening in it could be replicating the idea of a choiceless "cage", which only has one opening and no secondary opening to escape from. I would get a cat tunnel and put it at the opening of the second hole in the box. She can hide in the box, or she can continue through a second hole and hide in the adjoining cat tunnel. So, now you have a "safe" box, which is hers, but now it has two alternative openings/exits, and also a peephole to watch the world go by. *That gives her more choices.*

I was looking at her cat tree, and another thing I would do, or try out with Mimi, is to drape a towel from that cylinder part of the tree, and have it hang down so that it gives her a partial "hidey place" on that second shelf part of the cat tree. So that if you come in the room, she can stay on the cat tree itself, but move to the second shelf and "choose to hide from you" behind the hanging towel. She wouldn't have to resort to running to hide by the baseboard heater. I'd also put a comfy bed on that second shelf, as it looks like she can't really stretch out in that space she is sleeping on in the photo.

Meanwhile, keep doing all the things you are doing to calm her with your presence, and keep her safe spaces pretty much intact, but offer her other choices to move to and "hide" in, or spots to just watch you without having her go hide back by the baseboard heater again. You know, like little portable boxes, or beds, set here and there, choices for her which she doesn't feel powerless or trapped into "choosing". I think you said she has two cat trees (lucky girl!) so that's great. I suppose you have to get inside her head a little, and essentially try to show her a new way of being "safe" and in control.

I think the more free she feels to choose her hidey places and her reactions, the more power she'll feel she has, and then she might come out of her shell more when around you. The stress will decrease for her. It's like slowly enriching her environment in that room. It'll take time, but who knows.

You don't have to try any of this -- as obviously, it may not work with her, but I thought I would offer my advice. :)
👍Most excellent advice about creating hidey holes and leaving an exit for her choice.
 

bfls

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Hi Jerseymeow - I'm just joining in on this thread, and wondering how you and Mimi are doing? Are you still at the stage of only being able to be about 5-6 feet from her, and with her hissing being her main communication to you?

I don't have experience with nurturing a shy, abused or shelter-bound cat (one whose life may have only been in a shelter setting), but I still feel I could contribute a few thoughts and perspectives. It makes sense that a cat who has only known shelter life is used to a choiceless life, a pretty much powerless life, and one where the fall-back position of interacting might be such that hissing is the main form of communication she would use. Often a shelter cat is stuck in a cage day in, day out, people approaching the cage to do heaven-knows-what, even if it is just to love her, feed her or give her medicine or clean the litter box. And with no true hiding place for the cage-bound, shy or nervous cat to go, a hiss would be something a "survivor cat" would rely upon. "Back off", the cat says! After all, she just wants her safety and she is not sure you will be "safe". You are dealing with her learned experiences, whatever those might have been, although probably they involved a life of not a lot of clear choices for her.

After reading through this thread, I was trying to think what I would do in your place at this moment. If you are still experiencing many of the same scenarios with her since you got her on Jan 25th (hiding, hissing, etc.), have you changed up the "structure" of the room since then? If the structure of the room has stayed the same, that might be one reason why you aren't seeing a lot of change? You see, I think where I would start is to try to provide more choices for her, in how she might respond to you when you come in the room. Or even in how she moves about when she is by herself in the room, at night, for example. I may forget some of the things already written by you or others in this thread, so forgive me there.

I would start by trying to increase her choices: try to change the pattern she's learned that she thinks she is trapped in a confined, choiceless space. A space where hissing is the only way to get some of her power back.

Do you still have that large box in the corner, the one your husband set up with a top and "just one entry hole" in it? If it were me at this point, I would start there and open up a choice or change with that box. That box should always be her safe space, if possible. Leave it in the same place, have it still be her place of safety, but if you can open up the side of it that faces the room a little bit (where she could see you) by cutting a low, long rectangular 'window' opening in it -- like a long peephole where she can observe you in the room from the safety of the box. And maybe cut out a second hole in it opposite the first hole, where she can leave the box out the other side of the original entrance hole, if she wanted to. I think having the box with just one opening in it could be replicating the idea of a choiceless "cage", which only has one opening and no secondary opening to escape from. I would get a cat tunnel and put it at the opening of the second hole in the box. She can hide in the box, or she can continue through a second hole and hide in the adjoining cat tunnel. So, now you have a "safe" box, which is hers, but now it has two alternative openings/exits, and also a peephole to watch the world go by. *That gives her more choices.*

I was looking at her cat tree, and another thing I would do, or try out with Mimi, is to drape a towel from that cylinder part of the tree, and have it hang down so that it gives her a partial "hidey place" on that second shelf part of the cat tree. So that if you come in the room, she can stay on the cat tree itself, but move to the second shelf and "choose to hide from you" behind the hanging towel. She wouldn't have to resort to running to hide by the baseboard heater. I'd also put a comfy bed on that second shelf, as it looks like she can't really stretch out in that space she is sleeping on in the photo.

Meanwhile, keep doing all the things you are doing to calm her with your presence, and keep her safe spaces pretty much intact, but offer her other choices to move to and "hide" in, or spots to just watch you without having her go hide back by the baseboard heater again. You know, like little portable boxes, or beds, set here and there, choices for her which she doesn't feel powerless or trapped into "choosing". I think you said she has two cat trees (lucky girl!) so that's great. I suppose you have to get inside her head a little, and essentially try to show her a new way of being "safe" and in control.

I think the more free she feels to choose her hidey places and her reactions, the more power she'll feel she has, and then she might come out of her shell more when around you. The stress will decrease for her. It's like slowly enriching her environment in that room. It'll take time, but who knows.

You don't have to try any of this -- as obviously, it may not work with her, but I thought I would offer my advice. :)
Thank you for that (long! and) thoughtful reply. I've recently taken in a new foster, Fergie. All I know about her is that she wasn't doing well at the shelter. I don't know how long she was there. I don't know her history before she got there. So far it has been 2 weeks and she stays in hiding whenever I'm around. She also doesn't seem to move much when I'm not there. Poor love. Any attempt to interact with her or just get close results in hissing. I think your advice will be very helpful in getting her to feel safe and loved.
 

dustydiamond1

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:redheartpump::hearthrob::catrub:Poor Fergie, bless you for taking her in. How old is she? Do you have any photos? Following the excellent advice here and patience, patience, patience will hopefully reassure her to trust you. Don't rush and don't give up. You may want to start a thread just for you & her. Let us know when you do. :touched:
 

PushPurrCatPaws

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Thank you for that (long! and) thoughtful reply. I've recently taken in a new foster, Fergie. All I know about her is that she wasn't doing well at the shelter. I don't know how long she was there. I don't know her history before she got there. So far it has been 2 weeks and she stays in hiding whenever I'm around. She also doesn't seem to move much when I'm not there. Poor love. Any attempt to interact with her or just get close results in hissing. I think your advice will be very helpful in getting her to feel safe and loved.
Your welcome - I tend to write too much sometimes, though. agh!

I don't come from a position of experience with very shy, nervous or abused cats, so there are other members here that know much more than I do. But just thinking about a choiceless shelter cage for a kitty makes me feel sad! It could take a while for a cat to learn a new way of existing!

My cat rarely hisses, but when she does, I know she means business. My reaction, for her benefit, is to stop in my tracks, say a familiar phrase like, "Yikes, okay, okay!" and drop my eyes and move just a bit farther away from her -- just so she knows I respect her business-like attitude, lol. Luckily I don't have to say, "Yikes, okay, okay!" very often with my cat, Milly, but I cannot imagine being around a kitty that hisses at me constantly. It would be very disheartening! Hopefully, that can change with Mimi.... and your kitty as well. It may just take a lot of time. A cat usually feels more confident when they know the regular daily patterns of their human, too, and patterns take time to recognize and learn.
 

bfls

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:redheartpump::hearthrob::catrub:Poor Fergie, bless you for taking her in. How old is she? Do you have any photos? Following the excellent advice here and patience, patience, patience will hopefully reassure her to trust you. Don't rush and don't give up. You may want to start a thread just for you & her. Let us know when you do. :touched:
I'm told she is about 2 1/2. Below is the only photo I have of her right now. It isn't much of a photo as it is very hard to make out, but I'm very proud of it. She is snoozing on her back with her feet in the air - while I'm in the room!

Fergie_relaxed.jpeg
 

dustydiamond1

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I'm told she is about 2 1/2. Below is the only photo I have of her right now. It isn't much of a photo as it is very hard to make out, but I'm very proud of it. She is snoozing on her back with her feet in the air - while I'm in the room!

View attachment 376153
Oh that's a great photo! Tummy up while asleep is a gigantic sign of trust! Hopefully she someday will allow tum rubs.
(Tummy up while awake can be getting teeth and razors in fighting position :lol: )
 

dustydiamond1

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I really am sad that we haven't heard anything about poor Mimi. Is she still hissing? Perhaps her name was changed too soon since she had been called Grace for 4 or more years. You mentioned on another thread she had never had a home. That's so sad and I hope she is not in a cage back at the shelter. Please let us know what happened.
 

dustydiamond1

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Well I don't think we will ever know poor Graces fate. Probably guilt on the humans part. Prayers she will find a furever home with someone who will love her and wants the best for her even if she doesn't behave how they expect her to. I hate endings like this.
 
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