Shelter cat is broken and super depressed

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VAMama

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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.
Yeah I'll have to think of something.
 

artiemom

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Cosette is tracking poop into her box.
By tracking, do you mean it is clinging to her and dropping off in the box? Or is it on her paws?
After reading you response, I now understand!! Geoffrey does that also!! He is a big boy, but no matter how big the litter box is, he will still step in his stool! Go Figure.. Cats.. It could just be a quirky habit. She may not have learned to wash, or is to frightened to groom.
Is she amenable to your using a baby wipe to just wipe her paws? Her back paws?

As others have suggested, she is emotionally shut down.. not thinking strait. She is not thinking as a cat. I would not describe her in a little kitty state, expecting everything to be done for her. It is a matter of her being so terrified that she is frightened of life. She does not know how to proceed; as you do not also..

I also agree with iPappy iPappy about her having too much open space..and covering the table to give her more hiding area.. It worked for Geoffrey, and Pumpkin.. Artie was just Artie.. but he hid from strangers, especially men..

I am still thinking of some type of medication to calm her down. Can you call and speak with the Vet about her behavior?

I agree about no laser toys, no mechanical toys.. just quiet.. and peace. Who knows what traumas she has been through; either physical or emotional. You do not know what happened to her.

I am not an expert, by any means. I have never had a feral cat. I had a very sick kitten, a diabetic cat, a cat with Megacolon & IBD, and. now a cat with IBD & Small Cell Lymphoma.
By far, Geoffrey has been my most challenging, when it came to adjusting to a new environment.

I do agree that if a cat is put in a socialization cat room, and they are frightened; then it can be senseless, making them more frightened.
I am really surprised that the shelter did not address her claws at all. They just left them. But what is done is done.

Does Cosette use the litter box? There is "Litter Attract" litter and the same substance to sprinkle in regular litter. Dr Elsey's sells it. Is the covering up her stool and pee?

I like the idea of positioning the food and water bowls just outside her box.. see if Cosette eats from it.

Also, if she will take some food from your hands, You could slowly, gently, stroke her, while eating.

As far as her box, Cosette's new little home. I am not talking about positioning it with the opening facing the wall. I am talking about putting it on it;s side, with the opening in front, and partially covering it, with a towel. Once she gets used to this arrangement, Then, you can slowly extend the opening. I suggested a clear plastic storage box, so that she can still look out, while feeling covered and safe inside.

A soft catnip or sliverline filled kicker toy is something for her. It can be hers.. and keep it in the box with her. Not outside the box. Let her scent get on it..
Leave some worn clothes in the room so she can get used to your scent. Just a jersey, and leave it somewhere in the room.. not near her, bothering her.. Leave the door in her room, partially open.. in between, so she can hear a bit, but not enough to frighten her.
And soft classical music can help.. a radio, Alexa, etc..

It seems it will take time for Cosette to open up.. It can be done.. do not give up.. She has been through HE@@ !!
Try to Keep remembering that.

I really feel as if you need advice from your Vet. I hope it is not the same one the shelter uses. Seems as if they may have stopped caring for her, and decided she was just going to be put down. Was she ever in a foster home? That could have helped..Many cats do not do well in a shelter environment, but have a different personality once they are in a home. I wonder if not being in a home, continuing in a shelter, in an open room, caused her to be more and more withdrawn? but, as I said before, what is done is done.

Have you tried Feliway?? for Multiple cats? or the generic version?
Jackson Galaxy still has some scents on his websites.. It may help.. and can you watch some of his videos?

I still think you need to get the Vet involved. I think Cosette needs some type of calming agent, added to her food. Or transdermal.

I am not the type to suggest medication for a cat. But in this circumstance, I firmly believe Cosette needs a tranquilizer. while you are trying all the above mentioned options...

I hope you understand...
 
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VAMama

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Okay guys I have an update with good news. Cosette is very calm inside her box. She lets us pet her with no hissing or anything. She's tracking the litter on her feet, but we'll find an answer for that, and tonight was the first time she didn't hiss at the sight of me. I know a cardboard box is not ideal, but she's claimed it, and I don't want to change things again. For now it's facing the wall to give her lots of darkness. My plan is to slowly spin it around.

Also she really likes the vitamin oil. She's learned what the jar looks like, so she (almost) perks up at the sight of it.

She's due at the vet for labs next week. I'll see about anxiety medication then if need be.

Also, I think I discovered her breed. She's a dead ringer for a Russian Blue. She looks black in photos but she's really gray, with big green inquisitive eyes, and a petite frame. One thing that attracted me to her was her exotic color.
 

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I know a cardboard box is not ideal
Cats and boxes go together like hands and gloves! :)

If you leave a cardboard box on the floor, anywhere in our house, one of the two cats will be inside it within a minute's time!

Your kitty has her own "clubhouse" and, if she likes it, there isn't any reason why she shouldn't keep it. :)
 

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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.
I would try this, if not now, at some point in the future. While I do think cats need a hiding place or two, eventually it becomes an unhealthy crutch and a way to avoid dealing with the world. Venturing out for a bite or two of something she really likes would be very beneficial. Even if she doesn't come out right away when you're in the room, if she ventures out when she's alone, that's progress. :)
We boarded a very scared tiny dog once. The owner brought his little crate, which he loved, but it severely hindered any progress because he just absolutely would not come out. It was almost as though having that spot enabled his shut down frame of mind. After about 10 days, we made the decision to remove the crate from his room. He made so much more progress. (We hesitated to take it away much sooner than that because he was still sorting out his environment, so it really is kind of a case by case basis.)
 

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Okay guys I have an update with good news. Cosette is very calm inside her box. She lets us pet her with no hissing or anything. She's tracking the litter on her feet, but we'll find an answer for that, and tonight was the first time she didn't hiss at the sight of me. I know a cardboard box is not ideal, but she's claimed it, and I don't want to change things again. For now it's facing the wall to give her lots of darkness. My plan is to slowly spin it around.

Also she really likes the vitamin oil. She's learned what the jar looks like, so she (almost) perks up at the sight of it.

She's due at the vet for labs next week. I'll see about anxiety medication then if need be.

Also, I think I discovered her breed. She's a dead ringer for a Russian Blue. She looks black in photos but she's really gray, with big green inquisitive eyes, and a petite frame. One thing that attracted me to her was her exotic color.
This is very encouraging!!! Try to remember she's only been with you for just over a week. That's minutes to a traumatized cat.
In another few weeks, you might be asking us how to calm her down and get her off your lap! :)
 

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Is it possable she has pain in her joints? Has she been declawed prior you getting her? Not being critical I'm just trying to figure out why she could be stepping in her feces. You did meantion something about her claws being overgrown could be residual pain there especialy if they had to declaw any of those toes, not sure how bad it was.
 

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In another few weeks, you might be asking us how to calm her down and get her off your lap! :)
That's what happened with our Elliot. The day we brought him home from the vet after getting him snipped and chipped then having his wounds looked after, we opened his crate to let him out and he hopped right up on my lap.

He's been a Velcro Kitty ever since! :catrub:
 

Kwik

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Okay guys I have an update with good news. Cosette is very calm inside her box. She lets us pet her with no hissing or anything. She's tracking the litter on her feet, but we'll find an answer for that, and tonight was the first time she didn't hiss at the sight of me. I know a cardboard box is not ideal, but she's claimed it, and I don't want to change things again. For now it's facing the wall to give her lots of darkness. My plan is to slowly spin it around.

Also she really likes the vitamin oil. She's learned what the jar looks like, so she (almost) perks up at the sight of it.

She's due at the vet for labs next week. I'll see about anxiety medication then if need be.

Also, I think I discovered her breed. She's a dead ringer for a Russian Blue. She looks black in photos but she's really gray, with big green inquisitive eyes, and a petite frame. One thing that attracted me to her was her exotic color.
Russian Blues have some characteristics that are very typical of the breed,they like their space,they are the type of cat that will always be in the same room as you are but they are unobtrusive,not invasive of anyone's space and probably one of the sweetest ,most tolerant of all breeds- usually not a lap cat but they will always be by your side- these are common traits Russian Blues share- they are extremely fast,excellent climbers and very strong.... probably because they were once hunted for their beautiful coats and it's incredible the breed survived

Anyway,as I mentioned early on - she may also have an underlying health issue ( not grooming) so soon you'll know after labs- but remember,even though cats are meticulously clean animals the smell of their own feces & urine is not offensive to them,it's comforting

Having said that this is a sure sign thst this little girl is not,never was " feral"-a feral,a healthy feral,no matter how shut down would never be so filthy....possibly abandoned or semi but I seriously doubt thst- she was someone's cat,young,neglected and then " shut down" and was given to the shelter---- who knows? A tiny kitten for kids Christmas present- a very sickening thought

She needs peace,quiet( you nearby and speaking in a conforting voice posing no threat)..... you don't know me from Adam but this is what I do for a living( did,I'm retired)

Her box( cardboard is GREAT) should be against a wall sideways so the opening does not face the door.... no,she should not see you coming in and out ,she will hear and smell you( use your voice to approach )..... big mistake many folks make is petting or reaching in the safe box/den/cubby/carrier..... it MUST be their SAFE space where they think you will not intrude- intruding only encourages a cat to remain a hider

When you leave her be you will eventually see that little face peek around---- that means that little den is HERS and her confidence will start to build,next she will want to expand her territory provided she sees there are no potential threats....

Just remember the golden rule.... sound,scent,sight in that order and territory first ,then you..... anyone can get a cat to tolerate being petted,coax them to approach( using food) etc etc but if you want a confident cat that doesn't hide and is eager to please then let them move at their pace and be a comfort,not a threat

I mentioned my newest addition breifly,Timmy- he was an F1,7yrs and rogue- no one even noticed him for 6ys,you don't "see" a true feral- he is now my love bug,not a lap cat( yet) but pretty close -in just shy of 9 months

I'm not a Genie or a magician,there is a process and yes,he shut down,was depressed but all he'd hear was me" it's okay baby,it's okay" and I never ever ever pet any of my cats in their safe space - why,because I don't want hiders- as frightened as they could possibly be ( a jackhammer right outside!) They will run to me,or someplace where I can see them .....even my ex- feral boy,he's terrified of people if they come in the house,he'll slip out onto the patio and watch from out there

He has been given enough time & space to well eatablish HIS territory and he is sure it is safe,he trusts me to know no harm will come to him because " its okay baby,it'd okay"

I assure you,Cosette will be okay - it's just going to take time with love and patience- have no expectations of her and she will be your best friend,I promise
 

artiemom

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Okay guys I have an update with good news. Cosette is very calm inside her box. She lets us pet her with no hissing or anything. She's tracking the litter on her feet, but we'll find an answer for that, and tonight was the first time she didn't hiss at the sight of me. I know a cardboard box is not ideal, but she's claimed it, and I don't want to change things again. For now it's facing the wall to give her lots of darkness. My plan is to slowly spin it around.

Also she really likes the vitamin oil. She's learned what the jar looks like, so she (almost) perks up at the sight of it.

She's due at the vet for labs next week. I'll see about anxiety medication then if need be.

Also, I think I discovered her breed. She's a dead ringer for a Russian Blue. She looks black in photos but she's really gray, with big green inquisitive eyes, and a petite frame. One thing that attracted me to her was her exotic color.
Such an awesome update!! Happy dance!! Progress...

Please keep us updated...

Kwik Kwik Such great advice...

love,
 
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VAMama

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I got a hiss this morning. She seems to associate morning with chores/appointments and is always more hostile. Later in the day she relaxes.
 

IndyJones

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It could just be because you are rushing about with cleaners and the dreaded vaccume. Most cats (and dogs) hate the vaccume.

Cleaners smell funny and erase her scent so thats probably part of it.
 

Kwik

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It could just be because you are rushing about with cleaners and the dreaded vaccume. Most cats (and dogs) hate the vaccume.

Cleaners smell funny and erase her scent so thats probably part of it.
That's so funny you mentioned thst- with Timmy in the enclosure half of my house I didn't vacuum for 6 months( and I have carpet)- no lie ,I was bent over at the waist with a small stiff brush and dust pan- it was brutal but he was terrified when the A/C kicked on and the refrigerator!

For the other half of the house I bought the lowest decibal stick vacuum I could find,it's terrific btw and pretty quiet ( Fabuletta)- excellent with litter and fur too
My others don't even move when I vacuum and now Timmy just WALKS out to the patio until I turn it off- he watches calmly

For me,they are much more important than deep cleaning the rug,6 mos is not a long time to sacrifice a little to gain a cats confidence and trust- right?

Now the enclosures gone,no hiding,not skittish- well worth a temporarily furry carpet,lol
 
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VAMama

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Trust me I know better than to vacuum in front of a new cat. 😂 Mornings here are quiet. I refilled her dish at lunchtime, and she was calm. We spent a few minutes together for pets. She enjoys a massage once she gets into it. We haven't disturbed her in the box so far, but eventually we'll have to get the nasty litter out of there.

We also made a bit of progress with the red laser. She doesn't like it approaching her, but she's captivated when she sees it move on a distant wall. Her curious eyes will watch it.
 

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With as much progress as she's been making, I'm starting to agree with some of the others. I don't think she's a truly feral cat. I think she's a homeless cat that got lost or abandoned.

I think that's why she's so depressed. She had a home but, for some reason lost it. She found herself in a shelter and was like, "WTF?" After six months, her humans didn't come back and she just gave up.

If she responds to you petting her, looks to you for treats and shows interest in the kitty laser, she must be acclimated to humans.

If all goes well, I have a good feeling that Cosette will come around and, with time and patience, you'll become her human. :)
 

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I got a hiss this morning. She seems to associate morning with chores/appointments and is always more hostile. Later in the day she relaxes.
A little hiss is ok. It’s her way of saying she doesn’t like something.

My boy is a rescue and I have him for 8 years already and he still hiss at me when I clean his legs. He does not like it when I clean his legs. All I did was to tell him lovingly ‘It’s ok, I’m just cleaning your legs, no hissing’.
 
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