Shelter cat is broken and super depressed

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VAMama

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I definitely need help on how to proceed. As a 3 yo adult she remains in a baby state where she expects to lay there and have someone else do everything. I'm quite sure she'll be happy to live in her box receiving weekly baths. She doesn't seem to know how to meow. Hissing is her only vocalization, even when she's not really angry. If I don't find a way to socialize her it won't happen. I need to give her personal space while 1) keeping her clean and 2) getting her to walk around.
 

Margot Lane

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I had a puppy that didn’t bark for a YEAR b/c its previous owner had tied it with a piece of wire to a radiator and left it in the dark all day. It became a wonderful, loving, vocal, trusting pet. This will just take time and having conversations with her. This is all still very new. For inspiration you could search in TCS for “meet buggy”…that was a long but ultimately positive story!
 

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I definitely need help on how to proceed. As a 3 yo adult she remains in a baby state where she expects to lay there and have someone else do everything.
A three-year old cat that's lived in a cage for six months has lived a sixth of its life being locked up. She's going to need to spend more time in freedom than she did inside before she starts to come around.
 
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VAMama

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Just for the record, the shelter didn't have her in a cage. My city shelter has a large play room for cats. She was free to roam around with toys and scratch posts. All she did was sit under a blanket. They never saw her even try to socialize.
 

Caspers Human

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Just a thought... What if you put her food in a different place every day so that she's forced to venture out to find it?

Don't hide it, of course! Start placing food close by. Then, one day, place it across the room where she can still see it but has to walk across the room to get it. When she's used to finding food in a different place within her room, put it near the door, just outside the door and progressively farther away until she's used to roaming the house.

It might help if you could find her "Jackpot Treat" and use that to lure her out, little by little... Near the door, outside the door, down the hall, etc. until you can shake the treat container and say, "Come and get it!"

Same for catnip. Start near then far. Let her have as much as she wants. Leave little piles of it in random places for her to find.

It might also help if you played the "I'm Ignoring You Game."

For cats, ignoring somebody is a kind of sideways complement. If you walk into a room where a cat is and it goes "all eyes" on you, that means it's looking out to see if you are a threat. If the cat doesn't look at you and ignores you that means you aren't a threat. If you ignore the cat, you are returning the complement.
 
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VAMama

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Yeah I've thought about moving her food. It's the one thing she'll walk across the room for. I could move it a few inches at a time until she's in the hall.

Tried catnip yesterday and she had no reaction. I've also tried a red laser and a remote-control mouse. In both cases she sat there stone cold. I haven't found the jackpot yet, but I'm still experimenting.

Sometimes I visit her room without speaking to her.
 

Kwik

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Just for the record, the shelter didn't have her in a cage. My city shelter has a large play room for cats. She was free to roam around with toys and scratch posts. All she did was sit under a blanket. They never saw her even try to socialize.
Were here to support your efforts,I don't believe anyone is saying anything against your local shelter but from experience and what you've described this animal was caged... I have no idea when they took her from a cage and put her in a " cat room " but to be quite honest an unsocialized and terrified animal does not fare well " out of a cage" and put in a room full of cats so it makes perfect sense why she doesn't move and is so shut down

Our many shelters here in South Florida have "cat rooms" but only cats that get along well with other cats are placed in there- it was unfortunate & counter productive what happened to her BUT the good news is that she can and will be reconditioned to trust,to feel safe ,secure and her true personality will emerge in time-her past does not determine her future Isn't that remarkable how cats can forget their past? What incredible little wonderful creatures!

You're asking for help on how to proceed,right? The first thing you should do is not worry about socialization right now- First things first,first and most importantly a feline must feel safe in their environment- you have to shelf the idea of weekly baths or you are setting yourself up for failure ....she is not in a " baby state" wanting everyone to do everything for her- she does not have that thought process--- she's frightened,she only knows to " shut down" because she sees everything as a threat and
doesn't know what to do

So just let her get comfortable,to see there's no other cats around,nothing threatening- take in the scents,the sounds ,see you as no threat,expecting nothing from her and let her get familiarized to finally established a territory...

You can sit at a distance and read or talk softly to her ,don't make direct eye contact. Glance with a slow blink ahd turn away ,no threat
.You know how people will bend down,looking at a cat & oohing & awwing about " how cute she is" .... that's got to me the most threatening sight for a cat-in cat language it's confrontational

I sure hope this is helpful for you. Have you ever had any cats in the past- is this your first kitty ?And I'm only asking to know how we can help- we have no idea if you have ever had any experience or not❤
 
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VAMama

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Yes I've had many stray cats through the years. I've been around ferals. This is not normal. The shelter agrees she's not a typical case. They put her in the playroom to get her out of needing a box. She just sat there for six months letting her hair and claws overgrow. Volunteers came for regular visits to sit with her, and no one could bond with her. Six months later she was still like day one. We had to clip her claws because they were curled in and she couldn't walk without snagging the carpet.

The shelter was on the verge of euthanizing her because they saw her as a lost cause.
 

Caspers Human

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Yeah I've thought about moving her food. It's the one thing she'll walk across the room for.
Yup! Inch by inch! :)
Move the food a little farther away every couple of days until she has to search for it. Don't hide it. Just put it in a place that's different so she has to look around for it.

Tried catnip yesterday and she had no reaction.
Some cats don't do catnip. :(
For others, it takes a few times. Sometimes, after several exposures they learn to like it. Keep trying. :)

I have no idea when they took her from a cage and put her in a " cat room "
"Too much, too soon!" :eek2:
She probably got the $#!T scared out of her! If she was an outdoor cat, living on her own, suddenly brought inside where there are dozens of other cats, all in one place, it would have been quite traumatic. No wonder she's totally "shut down!"

you have to shelf the idea of weekly baths
The only time a cat needs a bath is if they get dirty or get into something harmful that needs to be cleaned off.

The only time Casper, the eldest cat, has ever had a bath was when he went to the vet for constipation problems and had to have an enema which left him with a poopy butt. Elliot, the younger, has never had a bath from us since we brought him in, almost a year ago.

Except for the situation, above, the only thing we have ever done is to use a wet washcloth on the cats or the occasional brushing. Casper doesn't like brushing, at all. Elliot will tolerate a little brushing if we are gentle.

Generally speaking, cats don't need to take baths. It wouldn't be a bad idea to write them off, completely, except for a flea bath but only if necessary.
 

IndyJones

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Yeah I've thought about moving her food. It's the one thing she'll walk across the room for. I could move it a few inches at a time until she's in the hall.

Tried catnip yesterday and she had no reaction. I've also tried a red laser and a remote-control mouse. In both cases she sat there stone cold. I haven't found the jackpot yet, but I'm still experimenting.

Sometimes I visit her room without speaking to her.
At this point I would not use any kind of electronic or remote operated toys they make very high pitched sounds that could scare her or hurt her ears. Even if it sounds silent to you in her ears its like a key being cut. Plus she doesn't know whats controlling it.

As I said she is scared right now. Please be understanding of this.

Quiet and understanding is what she needs.
 

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How about putting several layers of newspaper inside the box. Then you can just lift the top layer and dispose of it if/when it's soiled.
 
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VAMama

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Oh sorry for confusion. She goes potty in her box. She loves her clay litter. In fact she fought me when she thought I was changing her litter. After she potties, she'll step in her deposits and then climb out, never cleaning her paws. The poo follows her back to her spot.
 
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