I did get her into the crate and the next step is to take her to an adoption fair at the Vet's office and just keep her in the crate (geez, I had to find a small small litter box to put in it...whole thing heavy now) which they've agreed to. This is to get her 'desensitized' to an environment with people. They suggested just putting her in a room where people could come in and interact but they would see a terrified cat climbing the walls at this point since she's terrified of others. She's eating on my lap now and will stay a few moments for petting but not long. She resists being picked up and, when I do it, I have to do it fast. My strategy is to give her a treat each time we accomplish that (picking up fast, putting down). Picking her up for any length of time is a matter of holding her at her armpits (not for long) scruffing goes very very badly...she gets angry. MY QUESTION NOW: I can see that I have to train her to be a 'cuddle bug' since this is what people seem to want. BUT HOW? She is very food motivated, and, after she's been hungry for awhile and then eating on my lap she will show some affection. But very very soon after that she jumps down and resists being picked up. She's 2 years old so this is late for this kind of socialization. She does really want to play and we do that at least 45 minutes a day in 3 sessions. But from what I see of this Vet Rescue office, what gets adopted and also watching the Flatbush Cats videos...being a cuddlebug is what gets adoptions done. ANY INPUT IS WELCOME. Thanks again everyone on this forum (and esp fionasmom)
Good to hear from you! The thing about cats all becoming "cuddle bugs" is that some very lovely pet cats who are completely integrated into the life of their owner do not like to be picked up. It can be sort of a hardwired mental attitude. Kittens, especially ferals, are taught by their mothers not be picked up as the only time that they will be picked up, aside from their mom carrying them from place to place, is by the predator that kills them. My avatar and her sister are both former ferals, brought in as young adults, who are completely bonded to me....but hate to be picked up. Will sleep on top of me, sit in my lap for hours, but get very reactive about any kind of picking up. Jamie, who is slightly older than they are and was rescued by me at about 4 weeks, is the same way.
The fact that she does not want to be picked up may never change. Using food as a motivation is a good idea. You could try that with food; conditioning her to allowing her self to be picked up for a treat. Try to lift her slightly off the floor and then offer a treat and see if she makes the connection.
Going to the vet's office for an icebreaker is a good idea. She will be scared at first and not the cat who will be adopted, but it might help her to get used to new places. She will need to be adopted by an experienced cat person no matter what.
An excersize I was told about (but didn't try it...) was to work with her on allowing being picked up. Every day, pick her up only about an inch or two off the ground, starting off for just a couple seconds. Then give treats. Gradually increase the length of time and height of being picked up, always supporting her properly, always rewarding, and if she freaks out (too long or too high) to take a step back and go back to the time/height she was comfortable with. They may never *like* to be picked up, but at least they will know that it isn't a terrible thing. Especially knowing that your girl was mishandled in the past, it will take a lot of time and patience if you want to break that idea. Like someone told me just the other night, they don't remember the good stuff, but they never forget the bad stuff. (from The Cat Site May 2005)
The way I trained her was to start slow and do 5-10 minutes sessions each day. I would gently place a hand behind her front legs and give her a treat. Once she was okay with that, I'd do a hand behind her front legs and another in front of her hind legs. Then I'd lift her an inch and immediately place her down again. Then I'd lift a little more. Once I could lift her up completely, I'd start extending the time I held her. And she would only be allowed down when she stopped squirming. That way, she learned that relaxing would get her down faster. With each step, she would get tons of praise and treats. Once she was okay with being picked up, I'd keep associating it with good things. Every time I got home from work, I'd pick her up, put her in my lap and give her lots of chin scritches. (from The Cat Site July 2017)
That's great advice! Maybe I'm trying to take this too fast. She readily gets into my lap to eat for sure. I'll try this suggestion you've given me here :-) I totally agree with your view that it should be an experienced cat person and I think I will adopt the same criteria that Flatbush Cats does (at least). She will come with a rather extensive set of instructions :-) Thank you fionasmom !!!!!