Ultra skittish cat, need help moving her along

bear

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Thank you for your thoughts on helping Forte become less skittish.

Two year old Forte joined me when she was 10 weeks old.

I have only picked her up once, at 10 weeks to go to vet for spay/shots.

That was very bloody for me and very scary for her.

Her two sisters from the same feral mom came back and off anesthesia effects quickly.

Forte remained very groggy for three days, so Vet may have needed to tranquilize her heavily.

Sisters socialized rapidly and found homes in days.

I think Forte beleives that I ate her two sisters, as well as the other feral kittens that have been rehomed through the last two years.

Forte is a very sweet and gentle cat. She just does not want to be touched or picked up.

Attempts result in her hiding for days or if you get a hold of her, the back feet come up and cut deeply into your arms. She is not being agressive, she is "frightened to the extreme" on being picked up.

I made the decision when she was young to not force her into being held. I chose not to wrap her in a towel. Instead, I took a slow gentle approach. With her that was "not the best decision". Yet it is how we have progressed. Forte does show slow progress, yet it is so painstakingly slow.

Forte loves Valentine, the big formerly feral tomcat (altered). When I pet him, Forte will come over and rub against him. I can pet her and she loves it. At least until she sees my hand. Then she walks off. As long as she can (fool herself)  beleive the tomcat is petting her, she loves it. She really knows it is me. Yet on visual confirmation she leaves. Funny, odd behavior.

Forte will come eat food from my hand.

She will rise on her back legs and very gently take food from my fingers.

Yet if you touch her, she runs off.

When she is fed, it is required that I touch her. She tolerates it for about 2 seconds.

If touched underneath, she bolts and hides.

Forte will come lick my hand. Yet she will only do this if my arm is fully extended, like sitting on a recliner with hand near the floor or reaching out to her. She needs to know that you cannot attempt to pick her up. She will lick my hand to ask for treats.

Her house manors are very good.

By nature, she is a very kind and gentle cat. She shows this me and to other cats. She is not aggressive in playing with larger cats or even the tiniest or roughest kitten.

By nature she is skittish and I beleive frightened of being controlled.

Since my health continues to decline, I need to move Forte along, I need her to be able to be picked up, taken to the vet, checked  by her owner, so that she will be able to find another home when I am gone.

She trusts me. Yet she knows that I want her to be picked up, like the other cats.

She does not want that to happen.

She trusts that picking her up is what I want to have happen. She dissagrees with that goal.

Your thoughts on moving her forward are appreciated.
 

feralvr

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Hi Bear :hugs: :hugs: I am sorry to hear that your health is declining AND BLESS YOUR HEART :heart3: for the kindness and love you have shown these many feral kittens. Forte.... well..... what can I say because I have a cat that is quite similar and hates to be picked up as well. A feral born barn kitten. She is also two years old. Finally, she allows me to pet her behind her head, down her back and under her chin. She is a gentle soul, and shows love in different ways towards me. I can also hand feed her and she also licks my fingers :lol3: I think Forte IS what she IS.... I mean, some kitties feral or not are lap cats. Some hate to be pet. Some refuse to ever be picked up or at the very least, do not appreciate it. I am sure she does not think you have "eaten" the ones who found homes, :lol3: :hugs: You gave me a laugh on that one. :D BUT good and excellent sign that she will allow petting "through" Valentine. OH these kitties, SO SMART!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! As to how to move Forte forward so you can place her in a home? Not sure IF there is a clear answer here for you. I just hope that you can find someone who will love her just the way she is. Miss Independent :rub: :heart2: :vibes::vibes::vibes::vibes::vibes::vibes::vibes::vibes::vibes: for you health :vibes::vibes::vibes::vibes::vibes::vibes::vibes: and for Forte to find someone understanding of her needs. :cross:
 
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StefanZ

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How to, if necessary?  Spraying Feliway on your hands beforehand may help.  Or if you can get hold on Felifriend, a similiar spray who is used for handling such cats. Although Felifriend is not sold in the USA, you may perhaps find it online.

Wrapping up as you yourself mentioned, is used by some cat owners who do hate to be nail clipped.

Laying somethin on the eyes may be tried. I know some forumite wrote about it once. I had myself seen some vet having such a masque for eyes...

Otherways, as Feralvr wrote, not all cats are lap cats. Some dont even like to be carried either. So Forte isnt that unique in this.  As long she is giving her friendly company, it will be enough. For you, and if necessary, for another owner too.

Im sending prayers for you Bear and your cats, if the necessarity should ever arise.

Warm hugs!
 
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bear

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Thanks Feral Lover and Stefan

Interesting thought about the Feliway. SInce it is like the cheek hormone, that may be part of why her reluctance diminishes some when I first pet Valentine.

It does seem like she "fools herself" into thinking Valentine is petting her.

I hoped to find a home for this kitten, At 2 years of age, whe likely has a dozen or more left.

I added Forte to the will addendum this week. Hopefully it won't be needed for a few years, yet it is something I have in place in the likely case that some of my feline friends out live me.

Her younger brother, Amoroso goes to his permanent home this weekend. He has stayed with me until his new home was remodeled. No one expected that to take 12 months! Forte's mom has been spayed too now (difficult to trap).
 

catwoman707

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I have dealt with, handled, and tamed countless ferals successfully. Here's where I think that your kindness and patience allowing this kitty to go at her own pace may have not been best for you and her now.

She MUST allow you to pet her. When I first get a feral they are caged and allowed to rest and relax a bit before it begins, but after the first time I feed since I don't know how long it's been since they ate last, I leave a large amt of food in with them and cover the cage completely.

After a day I uncover the cage halfway. I pull the food dish.

Let me add in that anytime I am near the cage or dealing with them at all, I talk, sing, whatever softly.

I use a very calm and gentle voice, as unintimidating as I can. I don't try to stare in their eyes, this is threatening.

Starting that night I come to them with tuna, I put a small amt in my hand, usually the first time it's not going to happen. But wait a day and try it again, they are so hungry they will reluctantly come to me and eat it. I put more tuna in my hand, and do this until he's had enough to be at least semi content with their hunger.

After the first time of this, the next time, as soon as he comes to eat from my hand, my other hand goes in a touches him. He will jump back.

In other words, I repeat this process until they learn (quickly I might add) to overcome the feeling of being pet if they want to eat. Reluctantly, they all do.

Period.

It progresses from there until they learn that your hands are not a threat at all. It's foreign and uncomfortable but just as a feral kitten will not know how to play with a toy mouse at first, they learn.

Eventually they can accept your pets with no food to bribe.

Once you are able to pet, and the petting should gradually become more and more pressure, petting all over, tummies too, etc. When this is accomplished the cat will have learned trust and dependant on you.

Then it progresses to putting both hands on him at the same time, in a 'I'm trying to pick you up' way. No they do NOT like it. But with the gained trust and continuously trying and trying, and the feel of both your hands on him, slowly but surely you should be able to hold, at least to pick up.

Unfortunately I doubt she will ever be a lap cat per se, and it will def. take some time and patience, but you must be known as the boss. You call the shots, and you can achieve this by witholding food.

There's no reason why she shouldn't progress and re-learn that it's a good thing to be pet.

Picking up/holding can eventually happen without getting the deep scars for life from the back feet!

I would suggest wearing long thick sleeves and maybe even gloves for your protection in the beginning.

Good luck.
 

hersheys mom

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I am sorry to hear about your health, and wish you well. I recently lost my best furry friend of 17 yrs to cancer. Hershey and I were soul mates in another lifetime. She was the best thing in my life. We gardened together (I gardened, she sunbathed), slept together (her head under my chin), played together, took baths together - you get the picture. In 2010 Hershey became the only licensed Service Feline in California. She could detect my "siezure" attacks before they happened, she would nip my hand or my head to let me know to take my medicine. Yet, in all the time I had her, she would not tolerate being picked up. It took me 7 years to teach her the pleasures of belly rubs. But she simply had a fear of being picked up. I know quite a few people who have had their cats for years and can't pick them up. I know others whose cats ride on their shoulders. Each cat is different. Her not wanting you to pick her up probably isn't personal at all. My Tortie has one spot on her back where you can't touch her without getting bit. Her vet says there is nothing physically wrong with her, just avoid that spot when I pet her. Who knows why she has a problem with that one spot? I just make sure to avoid it and I can pet her all I want. Catwoman's suggestion about feeding and petting does work - I am doing that with my feral Burmese I adopted 2 weeks ago. You might try a drop of Bach's Mimulus or Rescue Remedy for pets (google Bachs Flower Essenses) on a piece of kibble or a treat, that works nicely also. The Rescue Remedy calms the cat down, the Mimulus helps them get over their fears (in this case, petting). I am on day two of using it and my feral ate out of my hand today, and, for the first time since I got her, is happily sleeping - with me in the room, something she's never done before. Many blessing to you knowing your medical condition and putting the cat first.

Blessed be
 
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bear

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Thank you, I wanted to provide an update on Forte.  Slowly we have made minimal progress in the last two years. I have picked her up and moved her to desk top twice and tried to pick her up other times. She is staying out of reach unless she wants to ask/receive treats.

Although I slowed down my health decline, I still look for ideas to get her able to be put into carriers. I trained her to go in, yet she saw another cat go in and off to vets. So she understands that.

I need to schedule "tenting" of the house. Obviously, she cannot remain in the house or she will get gassed.

If necessary, I will blanket her that day. She is very sweet unless she thinks I am going to pick her up or hold her.
 
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