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 !!!!!
Still very frustrated with the Rescue I'm working with. They seem to feel that I have to get this cat to the point where she can be in a room with a lot of people and 'be interacted with'. (impossible!) Or they are still saying I can have her put into the lobby where she can be exposed to people (I would only do that if I could leave her in the a.m. and get her in the p.m. which is a lot on a sick person). Their idea of that is actually to leave the poor cat in a 2 tiered cage for 2 weeks day and night. I am losing faith in this 'rescue'. Their post of her on Petfinder is boring and no one would adopt after seeing it. This cat is not on their radar at all. Does anyone have any experience with this sort of thing? She's perfectly socialized now but only lives with me and still scared of other people. No one comes to visit because of covid plus I've been sick (chronic fatigue) I'd like to switch rescues. Anyone run into a rescue that wasn't helpful at all? I see people adopting cats that are feral, semi feral or just plain scared. How does that happen? Are all rescues like this? Only adopting out cats that are already friendly with every freaking human? I've seen a lot of people adopting cats that aren't necessarily friendly to every human that comes along. How does this happen? I need help doing this and the rescue is no help at all. Ideas? Am so frustrated and actually very irritated (understated) with this rescue and their 'well, if Chris expires we'll cross that bridge when we come to it' and 'cat is not so adoptable' attitude. I need a PR firm it seems to get this cat adopted :-(
Addendum: I'm just venting. I know I've got to get more videos out on her and get them on instagram and "Nextdoor' (I've been too sick and too tired lately though) but my question remains: when the rescue is not cooperating and the cat doesn't seem to be on their radar, how else to get the cat adopted? I've exhausted my network of friends and acquaintances. Shall I just post my 'own' post on Petfinder? The rescue will have one up too (the one that isn't helpful). Any other resources? I'm out of ideas. She is adoptable...perfectly but not ready for a room full of people.
Most rescues I have worked with do not run ideally. They are usually staffed by 100% volunteers, often not very organized, and sometimes politics within the rescue enters into it. Yes, they may see this as you have a cat who has some "restrictions" to being adopted, so they can concentrate on the others and leave this one with you for the duration. Or it could be something else entirely.
Is there anything that prevents you from running your own ads as you suggest? Is there an agreement that the rescue alone can do this? If not, I would proceed with trying to get this girl adopted. You are probably best to advocate for her since she has lived with you and is comfortable with you. Nextdoor is very good for local contacts and is used a lot in my area for cats and dogs who need homes. Petfinder is considered to be the number one group for rehoming pets. Any other local media that you can use in your area?
The Rescue finally edited her post on Petfinder. I think that was my biggest issue. I have adopted several cats off Petfinder and it's such an important tool. People so often go there first to find a new pet. So that really solved a lot of the problem for me for now. I'm sick as a dog with a flare up of chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia right now so not making videos of her...just struggling. I'll get something up on Nextdoor soon as I'm doing a bit better. There is no logic to my previous post here really. I was just feeling abandoned by the Rescue (not especially the adoption coordinator..she is overworked) and still smarting however from the Vet's attitude towards me and this cat (gee we just may have to do something with the cat when Chris kicks the bucket). So essentially I was just complaining but honestly asking for input too. Yep, I know it's on me... I set her up an Instagram and I very well know social media is uber important to this process. I had a teeny nibble so far from Instagram so I'll try to be more patient.
You sounded perfectly coherent and it is entirely okay to come here to vent and get things off your chest. I am glad that the rescue has amended the post about her as it probably is the best tool for adoption. Maybe you won't even have to use Nextdoor. You probably could post on Nextdoor without a picture at first and do a "pic coming soon" ad. But give the updated Petfinder ad a little bit of time to work and you do have the Instagram up as well.
As I said before, I absolutely do not get the very open discussion from these people about what will be done with the cat in the event that you are not around. It is disrespectful and I would be livid about it. Even if this is someone's very odd sense of humor, it is completely misplaced.
You're a doll for putting up with me. Thanks for the calming words. I have more problems than this and they are feeding into my emotions on this (too little support when I'm health challenged) but the feedback here and your support is more helpful than you can possibly imagine.
Update: She has gotten out of the house. Went out the back as I was taking out trash, got onto the deck and scrambled over a 42" gate closing off the deck. I am heartbroken. It is extremely cold out and we have had sleet. I have put out food for her (wet and dry..the wet in heated dishes on a covered deck with the gate open. I have fixed up a warm heated place for her to sleep under my deck if she will use it. (I don't know if she will). A tracker (K9) is coming tomorrow to see if we can estimate where she went. She is trap shy so it will be extremely hard to trap her again. I was not the good option as her foster with an inside outside cat (I have window cat doors) and a hostile FIV cat. I begged the rescue I worked with for another foster but was ignored (but now that she's out they suddenly come up with a foster...too late) and her original committed foster had reneged on her promise. Just venting again. My plan is to put a trail cam on my deck to see if indeed she's eating there (the possum is eating most of the food right now..can't help that) and get her used to the idea that my deck is a food source. After some time that I'm sure she's using my deck (consistency is important with cats...it builds trust), withhold food for a day or so and then try to trap again. This time I'm making the trap myself from wood and plexiglass (wood frame, plexiglass walls and top with holes for breathing, an ingenious trap door : and maybe just maybe she won't be as scared of it. Any input at this point is welcome. I have put her litter box on the deck and some of her blankets.
Update: she's eating on my deck (8:00 pm) but started to run off as I tried to open the door so I stopped. She resumed eating and could clearly see my face as watched her through the door but resumed eating and looked up from time to time. When I tried to talk to her though she looked around but then started to leave (but she had eaten a lot of dry -not wet) and was still a plump girl. Again, any input welcome.
I am really sorry about this and it absolutely is not your fault. You told the rescue that from the beginning and they ignored you. IMO you are doing everything that you can to try to retrap her and it sounds as if you are making some progress as she is returning to your house for food, so that association is made. She may be willing to try a new trap. Can anyone help you with a drop trap? It is a two person job at least, so don't get talked into doing it on your own by this rescue.
Many of the above suggestions will not be useful, but glance over them in case something might be a fit with your situation.
Given that she has stuck around your house, which is a very good sign as it excludes her from the "lost cat" category, she must understand that there is safety and the only access to food which is greatly in your favor.
Please keep us updated and again, I am so sorry that you were put into this position, which is as much a part of this as is the fact that the cat got out.
This site is my sanity it appears (plus my long suffering daughter who listens to my complaints and a fellow cat TNR advocate who is long suffering herself). I actually DID buy the drop trap and a transfer trap (my poor account is bleeding $) since I have now trapped the big...fat....possum in my Haveaheart trap and he is complicating things. I'm putting out a trail camera to see when exactly during the night she shows up (last night it was 8:00 pm). I'm setting up the deck feeding station so that when the trap comes in (a week they said) all I have to do is put the trap in place and feed a line to my back storm door (about 8 feet or so). Thankfully there is a small hole at the right bottom of the door where I can thread a string through to trigger the trap. I'll have to 'sit' guard on a stool behind the storm door (whew! it'll be a cold watch) for however many hours it takes. Geez. I am reading every one of the links you sent me here. And again I cannot thank you enough for the emotional and information support. I get precious little from the overburdened Rescue (my nose still out of joint from them calling her 'not so adoptable'...Pffffffttt She's adorable and sweet) and the wine crowd on Face Book with bad impulse control ;-) . I've been a wreck and it's so good to have support..it really is.
Yep, it's probably a 2 person job but the one local skilled TNR person that I'd lean on (no one else is really stepping up here) is not well and is having to work while sick. I'll figure it out :-) My determination is pretty rock solid here. :-)
ROSIE IS BACK!! The tracker R.V. Wakefield called me and told me to simply keep the back doors open. (cold out there I didn't know how long I could do it) She came onto the deck at 7:00 pm (est) and stuffed herself with the food I put out there and I just kept talking to her through the door. She showed a lot of interest in my voice but would not come to the door. I then thought "just leave and let her take the initiative". She finally did and ran straight back into her room!! It all took about 45 minutes. Thanks SOOOOO very much fionasmom and everyone for supporting me on this!!
That is great news! You have absolutely gone so far above and beyond for the cat and the rescue that you deserve a medal! Also significant that she did enter voluntarily which shows that she does understand that she is better of inside and with care.
Yes, that was critical input for me. I now know that she considers my house 'home base' and does NOT want to live outside. Honestly, the way she bolted made me wonder if she didn't want her freedom. Well, that was a big fat NO as I could tell from her behavior that she displayed on my deck (anxious) and her interested response to my voice and to the smells inside. She ran straight to her room and got on her perch. She wants to live inside and wants company. I have spoken with the rescue and I will keep her as a foster since, moving her to another foster after a trauma, would not be helpful at all. I also feel more confident in fostering her now since I really don't believe she'll attempt that again. She was so grateful to be back inside and I could also see that it wasn't 'all' about the food...she wanted company and 'petting' reassurances. We both learned a lot with this experience. Thanks so very much for the support again :-)
I agree entirely that she made a choice which shows that on her little scared cat level she trusts you and feels safe in your house. For all the stress this caused, it did end up showing something very important about her progress.