Trapped skittish stray with an old injury. Need advice on how to motivate an adopter

Chris Ekstedt

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I've named her Rosie and she has a wordpress site: Rosie's World
I'm a 73 year old lady with deteriorating health. I trapped Rosie after 9 months of effort, identifying her, training her to feed close to us and finally trapping her (she was trap shy). I have her in a bedroom and cannot let her out into the house (I have an FIV cat that can be aggressive). The original foster reneged on a promise to foster her so I'm left with the task. The vet (at a local rescue) deemed her 'not very adoptable' because (I suppose) her skittishness and secondarily? her limp. I am desperate for help on how to best motivate an adopter since I am left with the fostering/socializing task and my health is deteriorating quickly. The rescue's stance on this: "she can stay with Chris until something happens to her (Chris) then we'll cross that bridge when we come to it". No shade on the rescue as they are overworked. I'm trying to keep her out of a long term crate situation since that will negatively impact her mobility and health and I fear will only exacerbate her skittishness. She needs to be fostered or adopted by a multi person household imo and not by the 'casual' cat adopter. My question: How can I motivate an adopter? I have gotten her to the point where she wants me to interact (I motivate with food but she also wants my company) but I cannot hold her on my lap yet (working on it) and she absolutely will not interact with anyone else (so cannot participate in adoption fairs). Help.
 

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God Bless you 1st of all for caring soo much & doing this. I'm on the go here w/out much time tonite, but I think that what you've done so far is admirable. Others will add to this w/ more sage advice. Again kudos for this & Best of Luck w/ Rosie.:)
 
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Chris Ekstedt

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Thank you. I didn't mention her age (2 years) in the first post (I'm new here). I am currently training her to eat in my lap but she jumps off immediately after. I want her to stay for petting to further socialize her. I really need advice and help on getting her to the point where others can at least pet her so I can take her to adoption fairs. She's really not appropriate for the casual cat adopter. I need someone who will take pride and pleasure in earning a traumatized kitty's trust and love. I live alone with few visitors (sometimes months go by w/out any) so it's hard to expose her to others.
 

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10 Must-know Tips For Happy Living With A Shy Cat – TheCatSite Articles
How To Help An Abused Cat Recover – TheCatSite Articles
How To Help A New Cat Adjust To Your Home – TheCatSite Articles
“kittens To Good Homes” – How To Find A Good Forever Home For Your Kittens – TheCatSite Articles

Welcome to The Cat Site and thank you for helping Rosie through that ordeal that was her life. I did look at her story and she is so lucky that you intervened. I do understand that the rescue is overworked and trying very hard, but the part about leaving her with you until you pass on was a little harsh.

The above articles may help with some of what you are facing. Does the rescue allow you to advertise for a home for her? If so, I would try nextdoor.com and see if anyone is interested. However, in her case you will need to do a lot of screening of potential adopters so that you are sure that someone suitable takes her. If you get to that point, there are adoption contracts online which you can use unless the rescue sees themselves as the final word on this. You can certainly continue to come back here for advice.

Is she in her own room now, or just a crate? Don't worry about letting her have the run of the house as it is not necessary or even good with a skittish cat.
 
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Chris Ekstedt

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Hey Fionasmom and thanks so much for all the material you've given me to read here. I'll dig into it all! The rescue has posted her story on their Facebook page but I don't know that they've put her up on major Pet adoption sites. I'll check with the adoption coordinator. I don't think they would mind if I posted her on Nextdoor (yes, I've had that thought) and they would determine the adoption process since she is in their foster program (which pays for all her medical). Thank you for the support on their verdict on her. It was indeed harsh and it felt harsh to me...and depressing. I later asked again and the reply was a bit different as she'd not been so aggressive the second time I brought her in there (once to get spayed and vaccinated, second for boosters and triple test). She was 'adoptable' the vet said but they felt it would take a special person and quite a while.

Right now she's in a bedroom and my main worry there is that I don't feel well too much of the time and I end up not spending enough time with her and I live alone with few visitors. And she does not like being alone. She trills for me to come in there from time to time. I have to take care of my own needs (and 2 other cats..one is special needs) and little time left over for her. My current plan is to try to desensitize her to me handling her (each time I pick her up quickly and put her down she gets a treat....she now eats her meals in my lap) and desensitizing her to others. Since i live alone and have few visitors I'd thought about putting her in a carrier and taking her somewhere where she can be exposed to humans coming and going and talking. Maybe just hanging out at the vet office lobby for a couple hours every now and then. If I get a visitor at home, same...she hangs out with us in the carrier. Any ideas are welcome. The impression I get from the rescue is that she really has to be able to attend these adoption fairs to get adopted. So she must be able to be handled. Right now she likes petting and wants to interact but will not sit on my lap for it and she runs and hides from visitors. I think this cat will need a special approach to attract someone who is a serious cat person who would want to work with her and would find great satisfaction in earning her trust and love. She's skittish but has an absolutely adorable personality. Their rewards would be great. I need a public relations firm for this cat!!!
 

fionasmom

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You can only do what you can do. Try to spend time with her, even if you are lying down on the bed. Spending time does not always mean playing. Or get a wand type toy that you can sit and dangle to see if she will play with it. The fact that she is bonded enough to trill for you is a really good starting point for socialization. Keep trying to desensitize her with treats since she is eating in your lap.

The carrier is a good idea as long as she does not feel trapped in it and misinterprets what is happening. You will have to see how she reacts. If you went to the vet's office or had a visitor, ask them to sit near her and talk to her gently to get a reaction. Will your vet let you go inside and sit down with her? Vets do put adoptable cats in their offices, but I don't know with COVID what the foot traffic would be although maybe the staff could interact with her. If you could get some people to visit, it would help as you could start with the carrier and then see how she progresses from there.

Keep pushing for another foster as well. Someone may come along who could help out; however, you are doing a great job with her and she is progressing very quickly.

I hope you are having a good Christmas. The kitty certainly got a good present being fostered by you.
 
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Chris Ekstedt

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Thank you again Fionasmom!
I intend to ask the vet about hanging out with Rosie in their lobby. I'll put a harness on her (oh boy..good luck!) and tether her in the carrier. There is foot traffic. The vet is the only one in the area that is dedicated to serving the feral problem (with TNR, very low cost medical and foster/adoption) there so there is a lot of comings and goings..both from TNR efforts and foster parents. I could always just ask. I think the adoption coordinator would help interact with her a little if time permitted.
"get some people to visit". Family seems too busy to do that this year but I have a few friends. I'll invite someone over when I have some energy (it's too often a problem). I think my neighbor would come over from time to time to help me with this.

The vet's adoption coordinator offered to house Rosie in a two tiered crate (the taller ones) for 2 weeks (it would be day and night) to expose her (desensitize her) to people but I declined since I don't think crating for long periods is a good idea physically or emotionally particularly for a cat with a physical handicap that cannot afford to lose muscle plus that's not interacting. She also does not do well by herself at night (found that out the first two nights as she cried in my bathroom).

Thanks so much for the encouragement and the kudos. I'll soldier on like I'm doing and press for another foster. This is clearly a long term project and I'm afraid my health may not hold out long enough. Really appreciate the input fionasmom!
 

fionasmom

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Please keep us posted and remember you can always come back here just to talk. I do agree about the tiered crate for a cat with physical issues. Those serve a purpose for showing kittens in vets' offices in order to get them adopted, but a two week stint day and night might really backfire with Rosie.
 
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Chris Ekstedt

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Thanks fionasmom. I certainly will! Thanks for the input on the two tiered crate...much appreciated. Another vet I spoke with about Rosie (you can 'chat' with a vet for $15 on Chewy.com) also thought the same: that it might backfire. I'm thinking about getting a slightly larger top load carrier and go with baby steps: Just put her in it for an hour with a few treats and let her just stay with me in the living room for a time with the television on..just to get her used to a 'human household' environ. Then I can ask a friend over. She's food motivated and I'm also using a calming supplement so hopefully I can build a positive association with the carrier first. Thanks so much again for the dialogue. i've felt quite lonely and unsupported with this issue until I got onto this forum :-)
 

fionasmom

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Was the Chewy vet helpful? Members once in a while bring it up. Using a carrier which is near you where she feels safe is probably a much different idea. She will be in a familiar place but will be able to start to evaluate other rooms and sounds. Definitely use treats as motivator if she responds to that.

Jackson Galaxy is against the idea of the crate as a living arrangement for a cat. Yes, crates have their place and can be used effectively, but to be left in a crate in a new area would probably only make her feel as if she were trapped and about to become prey.

Lots of people from all walks of life feel alone with animal issues, so it is not just you! There is always someone around here who will try to help.
 
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Chris Ekstedt

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Hi fionasmom,
Yes, the Chewy vet was helpful and she confirmed what I had suspected and what you stated. That the crating in the vets office day and night for two weeks could backfire. She also suggested a calming supplement which I bought. The carrier (I've ordered a sort of large substantial one that can be carried..a 'soft side' crate) would only be used at the most 2 hrs and probably less. I am a big fan of Jackson Galaxy :-) I do intend to take her out of my house in the crate but never leave her without me. The idea is to go to visit the vets lobby (me with her) for only an hour or so at a time maybe twice a week. It's hard for me to get people to visit. It only happens at most three times and more often twice a month. Not enough. Most of my friends are in another city and I really need to expose her to others somehow. Again, thanks for the input fionasmom:) !!
 
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Chris Ekstedt

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and we're taking baby steps. I'll get her used to my living room, then dining room then den and my stretch target will be the vet office
 
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Chris Ekstedt

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Coming back here with another plea for help (fionasmom I have read all the links you sent...thanks so much!!!!) I have read the part about 'don't force them to do anything' but at that rate, this cat will never be adopted. I live alone, my family is too busy to visit (they live 18 miles away) and I can't ask my neighbor to come over but so many times and I have few friends due to long term chronic illness plus COVID.

I have had to be the 'bad guy' and force her into a carrier twice to go to the vet. I'm hoping just to be able to visit the vet's office now and then for an hour or so with Rosie in a soft crate (incentivized by treats). Of course she hates the crate and I couldn't get her in it today. In fact when I picked her up and put her in it she freaked and I freaked and I tried to grab her and she vaulted under the chair. Our relationship, however is such, that, a few minutes later she ate her lunch on my lap. (weird)

Any input on this? I am just desperate to get her exposed to others to get fully socialized and I seem hopelessly isolated. My friends are in another city and it's a big ask for them to visit often. I have not posted her on other sites than Facebook and Instagram. I feel I really should work with her more. I am trying to incentivize her with treats and need to get her to see the crate in a less negative light.
Halp.
 

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https://rehome.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/360040399273-How-to-get-an-unwilling-cat-in-to-a-carrier
How to put your cat into a carrier
How To Get Your Cat Into a Pet Carrier - Jackson Galaxy

This is not just you. The above articles/video have the most common suggestions and if those don't work, there are many links about this which you can also check. Many suggest, including Jackson Galaxy, that you train the cat to eat in the crate and to make them see it as a safe place. My personal cats have never gone for that, but it has worked with outdoor ferals.

Can you purrito her? That can help a lot and purrito instructions are included above. What I have to do with my cat who makes the most frequent vet visits is to put the carrier in the bathroom, hidden in the shower, hours before I will need it. He cannot see me doing this. Then I pick him up and go into the bathroom and shut the door. With no hidey holes he is not able to run away and it usually works. Picking her up with a towel would possibly help.

That is a nice crate and certainly suitable. It is the crate that scares her and it is very good that she "forgives" you and wants to be your friend again.
 
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Chris Ekstedt

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Again, you come to my rescue :-) . OK, I'm going to try feeding her in the crate. She really doesn't seem to like feeling 'hemmed in' (she raced around the thing when I finally got her in it...trying her best to get out) but fortunately she is very forgiving and has been from the start. I'll certainly check out the purrito instructions! She is a slippery little thing and I had to move very fast (I mean in a blink of an eye) to put her in her small carrier. I can maybe drape a towel over her when we 'meet' on top of my mid sized bookcase in her room :-) That might be a 'purrito' possibility. "only give them their jackpot treats when they’re in the carrier " good idea! Also "head first" good idea..yes. The carrier will be in her room which has little room now (10x10 with a queen bed on the floor in the middle surrounded by cat trees and bookcase. so I'll have to leave it where it is..handy to the bed on the floor (she goes often and has eaten treats out of it so far) and next to the door. When I actually got her into it last she raced around in it trying frantically to get out and then found that I'd left one zipper ajar :-( and got out. I'll see if feeding her in there will help that. I feed her on my lap currently to get her used to being on a lap and so she'll stay a bit for petting (making progress...she does stay a little for extra scritches) I wonder if trading off (one meal in lap...the next in the carrier) might be helpful.
 
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Chris Ekstedt

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Oh yes, I see 'tail first' if using the purrito technique.
 

fionasmom

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Trading off the meals may help. As you read these suggestions from those articles, remember that you can adapt them to whatever helps with Rosie. There is no real right or wrong way as long as it works. Tail first can work better in some cases as the cat does not have the opportunity to brace themselves on the sides of the carrier. Does Rosie like catnip?
 
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Chris Ekstedt

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Yes, she likes catnip but not enough to be distracted with it. She is very food motivated. Poor thing starved for months before we started helping the small colony. She genuinely appreciates being fed and got friendly with us when we got the wet food out (and likes scritches). She made it alone in a hostile environment dodging cars (she did not socialize with the other cats) and survived by being wily and very alert (and slippery as I've found) She doesn't like being alone for long...food and company motivate her.
 

fionasmom

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That is very sweet and understandable. If this becomes very difficult, see if you can get her into the carrier for a one time food treat like fish or even KFC type chicken. You don't want to soil the carrier with food remains, but it may not take that much.
 
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