Need help with undersocialized kitten

noeynkuro

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Hey all, just wanted some advice on socializing this kitten. About 5 days ago, I adopted a cute black kitten named Kuro. He is currently 9 months old. They had told me that he is a bit undersocialized and don’t know much about his past. I used to own an old cat who was very shy at first, but is very friendly and was okay with being pet and picked up (before she went missing :sniffle:). I was ready to take on the challenge and commitment as I want to gain some experience with socializing and I would love to see the outcome. I believe that he has the potential to be a lap cat and am okay with it if he doesn’t become one. I’ve also learned a bit of how to socialize on the internet, though I would like some personal advice.

I have a good environment for him (very quiet, not many household members and no children). I currently have him in my bedroom (I’m sleeping in a guest bedroom for the time being). I was told to put him in a bathroom, but our bathrooms are extremely small and I want enough space to be able to put his litter and food away from each other, as well as some scratching posts and balls he likes to play with.

Ever since I brought him home he’s been hiding under my clothes rack and every time I get near him to give treats and put food for him, he hisses and growls at me. It scares me a little, not gonna lie, especially when i’m not even that close to him. But, he seems to be warming up a bit since we’ve been exchanging slow blinks every now and then. Each day I also spend at least 10 mins sitting down near him, sometimes talking to him. One day I saw him sleeping a little when I sat down near him. I try to play with him using a wand toy, but he just looks at it and doesn’t really do anything.

At night, I can hear him meowing sometimes and playing with a ball that has a bell in it. He’s definitely more active at night since we’re all sleeping and won’t bother him. But, one night I went to get something in my bedroom and I caught him out of his hiding spot. He immediately hissed and growled when he saw me, and I was just like “nope” and left the room right after so that he doesn’t try to attack me. I came back to see him hiding again, although maybe I should’ve stayed and got lower at his eye level so he can see that I won’t do anything bad to him.

I was thinking that maybe I personally need to be less scared of being hissed at, but I don’t know much about Kuro or if he’s going to claw me. I know that he needs more time to warm up to me, but I also haven’t gotten to the stage where he comes up to me and smells my hand so I can try to pet him. In fact, he still can’t even eat in front of me or eat his treats that I throw near him yet. His foster parent also sent me videos of her interacting with him. He was definitely more comfortable with her and was coming out of hiding at times because she had him for two months. He even eats in front of her too. In the videos, he would swat her hand when she makes him eat treats out of her hand, even when she just holds it out for him to sniff. When he approaches her and when she moves, he hisses at her. She also told me she couldn’t get to petting him. I’m not sure how I would deal with that. I’ve seen videos on socializing kittens that are in their socializable stages, but not much on older cats/kitties which are more harder to socialize. They make it look so easy because the kittens are small and they can easily pick them up and feed them with their hands. I guess for now, during these early stages of bringing him home, he definitely needs a lot of time to warm up to me and the sounds that go on in our home.

Any advice on what I can do better and more tips for socialization? I also want to know when I can move on to the petting/picking up stage, and any advice on how to do that. I’m mostly nervous for that part since I don’t want to get clawed and hissed at. Lastly, when should I open the door to the rest of my house for him to explore? I know that I have to be patient and time is key, but help for the long run is greatly appreciated! Feel free to ask any questions as well :)
 

Elphaba09

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You are off to a good start. If he was not well socialized, it will take a bit of time. Continue to tread slowly. Do you know how long he was with the foster mom? Or any part of his history before coming to her? If he spent more time outside than with humans, he is a semi-socialized feral, which means he will need extra time, extra patients, and more comfort.

He definitely can sense that you are afraid. Do you have calming spray? Have you put some of your things in the room with him? It is a good sign that you hear him playing. That means that he is more comfortable than he appears to be. A truly terrified cat will not play.
 

susanm9006

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Thank you for adopting this guy. It may take a while but most young cats can be socialized. And when he growls or hisses at you he is not preparing to attack, he is just telling you he is afraid and to stay away from him. As long as you respect his need for space, he will just stay where he is or hide. So ignore him and don’t look directly at him until he seems more comfortable.

The fact that he is coming out at night and playing is a great sign that he is getting adjusted. Assuming you cat proof your place you can start leaving the door open so he can get used to your whole space. My girl was also unsocialized and we didn’t start making significant progress until I let her out of her safe room.
 
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noeynkuro

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You are off to a good start. If he was not well socialized, it will take a bit of time. Continue to tread slowly. Do you know how long he was with the foster mom? Or any part of his history before coming to her? If he spent more time outside than with humans, he is a semi-socialized feral, which means he will need extra time, extra patients, and more comfort.

He definitely can sense that you are afraid. Do you have calming spray? Have you put some of your things in the room with him? It is a good sign that you hear him playing. That means that he is more comfortable than he appears to be. A truly terrified cat will not play.
Hi! He was with his foster mum for two months (when he was 7 months), and she told me that she didn’t really know much about his past or where he came from. I also did purchase feliway, but I’m not sure if it is working. But, it might’ve sped up the warming-up to me process!
 

Elphaba09

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Hi! He was with his foster mum for two months (when he was 7 months), and she told me that she didn’t really know much about his past or where he came from. I also did purchase feliway, but I’m not sure if it is working. But, it might’ve sped up the warming-up to me process!
It sounds like he was a feral, from a hoarding situation, or from an unethical breeder who dumped him. I may be wrong, but his behaviors indicate that he really has not had many positive interactions with humans, and my money is on one of those three situations. You might want to try a couple of different sprays. Some cats react differently to different calming products. I keep three or four on hand because I have 12 cats. You can also try some supplements that help calm cats. One of my cats is on melatonin and hemp seed oil because she became aggressive when she went into heat. (The pandemic caused her surgery to be canceled. She finally goes on the 11th!) My 17-year-old male is on hemp seed oil because he is a cranky old man. The vet recently mentioned Nutricalm for him to take at night. Here is a link: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003PQWU1S/?tag=thecatsite

It might be something worth discussing with your vet.

Is he using the litter box? This is a strange question, but does he sleep or sit in the litter box at all? Three of our little ones came from either a hoarder or an unethical breeder who kept them in a small cage with other cats. They piled on top of each other inside the litterbox for weeks after we found them. If yours came from a similar situation, providing him with a box or one of those cat cave beds might help him feel more secure.

If I can think of anything else, I will let you know.
 

Mamanyt1953

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Unless Kuro feels trapped by you, you almost certainly won't be attacked. That hiss is "I'm afraid, don't get near me!"

One positive thing you can do to help him get used to you is to sit quietly on the floor in his room and read aloud to him in a calm tone of voice...almost a monotone. Do not attempt to make eye contact at first. Just relax, and let things happen on his terms. This presents you in an unthreatening manner, and does so in two ways...first, when you standing up, you look gigantic to Kuro. Second, the fact that you are not in a position to move quickly (and believe me, he knows this instinctively) is also calming to him. Try for a zen-like attitude, do not be too attached to "success/failure" but rather to "we experience each other." And when it is time to leave the room, get to your feet very slowly while speaking calmly.
 
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