Newly adopted senior cat - advice/reassurance required!

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jcliney

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I'll be honest, after 2 months my expectations are that she is able to be touched and doesn't fear the slightest movement in the house. From the extensive reading I did beforehand, this seems like quite a long time for a cat that hasn't been mistreated. Unfortunately my issue is that we don't have time; I've been working in Switzerland for 2 years and have recently found out due to coronavirus I'll be finishing my contract and having to return to the UK at the end of the year. I'm concerned if she still has no kind of bond with me by then, the trauma of the move will be even more damaging for her, so am really keen to make sure she feels safe enough with me by that point that she can cope with the unexpected move.

I've felt quite stressed about it but have made sure when I'm visiting her in her room I'm calm, speak softly and happily for a little bit, and then just get on with my work or whatever so she can get used to me. She still seems to have a look in her eye like she hates me!

Thanks for the link, will have a look at that now, it's much appreciated. Will keep my fingers crossed!
 

calicosrspecial

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I'll be honest, after 2 months my expectations are that she is able to be touched and doesn't fear the slightest movement in the house. From the extensive reading I did beforehand, this seems like quite a long time for a cat that hasn't been mistreated. Unfortunately my issue is that we don't have time; I've been working in Switzerland for 2 years and have recently found out due to coronavirus I'll be finishing my contract and having to return to the UK at the end of the year. I'm concerned if she still has no kind of bond with me by then, the trauma of the move will be even more damaging for her, so am really keen to make sure she feels safe enough with me by that point that she can cope with the unexpected move.

I've felt quite stressed about it but have made sure when I'm visiting her in her room I'm calm, speak softly and happily for a little bit, and then just get on with my work or whatever so she can get used to me. She still seems to have a look in her eye like she hates me!

Thanks for the link, will have a look at that now, it's much appreciated. Will keep my fingers crossed!
"I'll be honest, after 2 months my expectations are that she is able to be touched and doesn't fear the slightest movement in the house. From the extensive reading I did beforehand, this seems like quite a long time for a cat that hasn't been mistreated." - 2 months is not long at all. Don't worry, just love her, give her good food, go at her pace, say calm and confident around her. She will respond. I would not be worried at all.

"I'm concerned if she still has no kind of bond with me by then, the trauma of the move will be even more damaging for her, so am really keen to make sure she feels safe enough with me by that point that she can cope with the unexpected move." - You have much more of a bond with her than you think. A move is traumatic but sometimes it can actually bring a cat closer as the human is the constant and cats like constants.

BTW, I am sorry that your contract is up but I am sure you will find something else and hopefully even better.

"I've felt quite stressed about it but have made sure when I'm visiting her in her room I'm calm, speak softly and happily for a little bit, and then just get on with my work or whatever so she can get used to me. She still seems to have a look in her eye like she hates me!" - She would be totally different if she "hates" you. So don;t worry, I guarantee she doesn't hate you. Cats sense our emotions and sometimes no matter how hard we try to cover them up they are there. I do think she is picking up on your stress and that is holding her back some. I think she is doing great. She is going to come around. Just accept where she is and love her and just give her good food, feel the love you obviously have for her and let it just happen. Talk lovingly to her, use food

What you wrote is incredibly positive - "She eats and drinks normally, and seems to explore the house when I'm asleep; I've even heard her come up onto my bed a couple of times whilst I'm asleep"

"I occasionally try to stroke her but she backs away" - Let her initiate contact. She will rub on you, then maybe a while alter headbutt you. Etc. Then you can offer your hand from low. Never reach from above her, or stand above her or stare at her. She will come around.

"I have spent hours a day at times in the room with her, quietly working on my laptop or reading. I've also given her plenty of space when I'm out at work." - Perfect!!

" I give her treat (wet chicken food) every night and speak softly to her" - Perfect, keep it up.

" and have tried play with just about every toy I can find - including trying some homemade ones! - none of which she's interested in, even when left alone with them overnight." - That happens. Just keep trying and make the toy act like prey (a mouse, or rabbit, bird, etc). Halting movements, hiding around corners, etc. Just don;t force her to play. She will eventually come around. Not to worry.

You sound a like a great person. I KNOW she can sense that (also judging by how she is doing which is better than you think). It is going to be fine, she will build more trust and confidence. Some where down the road you will see. I have no doubt all is going to be well. When I don;t know but I do know it will happen. I am not at all worried about that. She is lucky to have you!!!

We are always here for you so feel free to post anytime and ask anything (or just update us).

Hang in there on the job, sometimes change can be good. If we never give up we always win.
 

Furballsmom

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C calicosrspecial is right :) about everything :thumbsup:
at the end of the year.
You have time - keep doing what you're doing, forget if you can that the move isn't on the horizon. Not too long ago it wasn't even part of your mental landscape. It'll happen with her, --it already is :purr:
 

pearl99

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One thing I did with mine was lay on the floor in the room rather than sit. When you are flat out completely at their level you are less intimidating. I did that every day, and didn't make any eye contact with him.
Also I could tell Waffles was enjoying watching a toy even if he didn't play. So waving a wand toy and having it move on the floor is a good thing. She could be quite interested and getting some enjoyment out of it even though not playing.
I also think her exploring and getting on the bed while you sleep is fantastic progress!!
It's been 4 years with Waffles and he's just recently gotten to the point that I can walk up to him and give him a pet. Before I always had to let him come to me. Time is on your side.
 
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jcliney

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Hello again everyone!

6 month update and further requests for advice coming your way...

Saffie has come on leaps and bounds since we last spoke; she now walks around the house whenever she fancies, often spending time following my feet and sitting nearby as I watch TV etc. She also has an adorable habit of rolling onto her side and showing me her back (but only ever in the hallway!) which I've been told is a sign of trust/contentment. I'm delighted to see she's feeling comfortable and settled in. However...

One of my main motivations for getting a cat was for affection, and she still won't let me touch her. I understand cats can take time to settle in, and need things to be on their terms, but after 6 months it seems faintly ridiculous! She will let me stroke her if she's in her bed and can't really escape, and she has occasionally let me give her a quick stroke whilst she lays on the bed without running off, but she's still largely uncomfortable with it. I've tried to limit it for this reason, but it's beginning to feel like it's never going to change.

She's not food motivated particularly - she's turned her nose up at every single treat I've tried with her, and whilst she loved her wet food treat at night, I've had to stop this as it was giving her diarrhoea/vomiting which has cleared up since. I've tried a few different brands - even organic! - and they've had the same reaction with her. It's a real shame as I imagine this was the highlight of her day, so any suggestions for alternatives are welcome! (She was on Purina Senior chicken before, and won't eat anything beef/lamb based I've tried).

As I say, I'm delighted to see how much more comfortable she is and don't regret taking her for a minute. We have little chats and she makes me smile every day, but I'm desperate for any advice that could help her be comfortable with direct physical contact. She doesn't jump, cry, or immediately run away, so I don't think she has a history of abuse. It seems to be more mild irritation/annoyance!

Thanks in advance
 

calicosrspecial

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Hello again everyone!

6 month update and further requests for advice coming your way...

Saffie has come on leaps and bounds since we last spoke; she now walks around the house whenever she fancies, often spending time following my feet and sitting nearby as I watch TV etc. She also has an adorable habit of rolling onto her side and showing me her back (but only ever in the hallway!) which I've been told is a sign of trust/contentment. I'm delighted to see she's feeling comfortable and settled in. However...

One of my main motivations for getting a cat was for affection, and she still won't let me touch her. I understand cats can take time to settle in, and need things to be on their terms, but after 6 months it seems faintly ridiculous! She will let me stroke her if she's in her bed and can't really escape, and she has occasionally let me give her a quick stroke whilst she lays on the bed without running off, but she's still largely uncomfortable with it. I've tried to limit it for this reason, but it's beginning to feel like it's never going to change.

She's not food motivated particularly - she's turned her nose up at every single treat I've tried with her, and whilst she loved her wet food treat at night, I've had to stop this as it was giving her diarrhoea/vomiting which has cleared up since. I've tried a few different brands - even organic! - and they've had the same reaction with her. It's a real shame as I imagine this was the highlight of her day, so any suggestions for alternatives are welcome! (She was on Purina Senior chicken before, and won't eat anything beef/lamb based I've tried).

As I say, I'm delighted to see how much more comfortable she is and don't regret taking her for a minute. We have little chats and she makes me smile every day, but I'm desperate for any advice that could help her be comfortable with direct physical contact. She doesn't jump, cry, or immediately run away, so I don't think she has a history of abuse. It seems to be more mild irritation/annoyance!

Thanks in advance
Hello!!

"Saffie has come on leaps and bounds since we last spoke; she now walks around the house whenever she fancies, often spending time following my feet and sitting nearby as I watch TV etc." - Fantastic!!

"She also has an adorable habit of rolling onto her side and showing me her back (but only ever in the hallway!) which I've been told is a sign of trust/contentment." - That is a big sign of trust as cats are most vulnerable like that. So a cat that does that trusts. That is really great to hear.

" I'm delighted to see she's feeling comfortable and settled in." Agreed

"However...
One of my main motivations for getting a cat was for affection, and she still won't let me touch her." - That is very common.

"I understand cats can take time to settle in, and need things to be on their terms, but after 6 months it seems faintly ridiculous!" - To us it does but to a cat it is very common. 6 months is actually a very short time. I have worked with families where the cat has hid for over a year.

"She will let me stroke her if she's in her bed and can't really escape, and she has occasionally let me give her a quick stroke whilst she lays on the bed without running off, but she's still largely uncomfortable with it." - Wow, that is a great sign. It is a beginning. What I like to do is let the cat initiate contact. Usually they rub on the legs, then if a hand is presented low below eye line they might sniff then rub (in time as the first times they can often hiss, swat, etc).

"I've tried to limit it for this reason" - That is good as we don't want to "force" attention and want her to feel like she is initiating contact.

"but it's beginning to feel like it's never going to change." - It may feel like that but given all the positives signs I have no reason to think it will not change. She is showing all the signs of being comfortable. Now, how cuddly she will be? We never know as some just aren't as much. And some once they figure out a lap is nice, a rub her feels good, etc they come along really well.

"She's not food motivated particularly - she's turned her nose up at every single treat I've tried with her, and whilst she loved her wet food treat at night, I've had to stop this as it was giving her diarrhoea/vomiting which has cleared up since. I've tried a few different brands - even organic! - and they've had the same reaction with her. It's a real shame as I imagine this was the highlight of her day, so any suggestions for alternatives are welcome! (She was on Purina Senior chicken before, and won't eat anything beef/lamb based I've tried)." - Food is only a part of the process. The most important thing is she feels well, etc. I don't have great food recommendations (hopefully others do).

But "Eye Kisses" are a great alternative. Look at her and slowly close your eyes. Hold them closed for 5 seconds or so then slowly open them.

"As I say, I'm delighted to see how much more comfortable she is and don't regret taking her for a minute." - Great

" We have little chats and she makes me smile every day" - THAT is WONDERFUL!!!

"but I'm desperate for any advice that could help her be comfortable with direct physical contact." - Just being loving, giving eye kisses, being calm and confident, talking lovingly to her, giving her good food. Things like that.

"She doesn't jump, cry, or immediately run away, so I don't think she has a history of abuse. It seems to be more mild irritation/annoyance!" - What does she do to suggest mild annoyance/irritation? She seems to be doing really well and loves you.

It does take time for some cats. I think you are doing the exact right things and she is coming along well realizing your love for her. Just keep loving her and taking great care of her and give those eye kisses and talking lovingly to her. I think she will come along. She sounds like she loves you and is loving life so so far it seems to be progressing really well. We'll see how affectionate she will become.

Keep up the great work!! You obviously are doing all the right things!!! :clap2:
 

pearl99

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Maybe you've tried these- but does she like to be brushed, or will accept a few brushes instead of direct hand pets?
Also will she accept a cheek or head scratch with a long stick type something? Not from a tree haha but like a stiff wand toy.
Those can be a start to getting used to hand pets.
I used those with Waffles and use it at the shelter with the shy, scared kitties.
Sounds like things are going great!!
I agree it can take cats a loooong time in human terms to get used to things. Yes she loves you!
 
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