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Old 01-04-2012, 03:36 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Advice on newly adopted feline sisters

Let me start out saying that I have owned cats ALL my life (been around since the 50's ) but, I just adopted the cutest pair of sisters - Russian Blues - 9 months old - and it has been over 17 years since I last adopted. My two elderly (over 17 years old) cats passed within 6 months of each other and I couldn't stand not having a cat in my house. I have had Misha and Raina for exactly two weeks.

Misha is very bold, NOT timid and a real lover. Raina is almost opposite. Raina is shy, timid, skiddish and spent the first four days living under my upstairs bed. Only coming out to eat and pee and poop. If you sat by the bed and quietly spoke to her she would come out and love on you but when you got up she would go back under the bed.

I am pleased to announce that I see progress with Raina every day and she now comes downstairs and hangs with her sister and with us, but she still retreats to the upstairs for sleeping. BUT, not under the bed! Progress!

I have no small children. It is my husband, myself and my adult daughter. Two hedgehogs and some misc. critters.
They eat great, drink great, pee and poop just fine. play together so sweetly etc.

All that background to tell you now what I am struggling with.....with both of them.

They are still horribly skiddish when you go to pick them up. The shelter they came from use to take them to PetSmart one weekends for display (that is actually where I saw them) and so they got so they hated to be dragged there and so they in turn think eerytime you pick them up they are going to be shoved into a cage and taken to petsmart!!!! This is what I have been doing daily - eI try to touch them all over their bodies with both hands. Then i slip my hand under them and pick them up and Misha (the bold one) fights a little and meows but I do get to hold her for a few seconds and then I gently put her down. Raina is another story! She is near impossible to even think about slipping your hand under - she flips right out! Runs under the bed when she thinks you are trying to pick her up.

Do you think with patience and time they will get better? I have always clipped my cats nails and I want to do it with them but that is near impossible right now! Maybe I am being too impatient. That sounds funny coming from a hedgehog owner doesnt it?????
Thanks for listening!
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Old 01-05-2012, 08:19 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Advice on newly adopted feline sisters

Sounds like you are doing a good job and maybe with more time things will improve! Sorry i'm no help but at least I can bump this up for you bump!
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Old 01-05-2012, 08:42 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Advice on newly adopted feline sisters

Hehe, sounds like you're gonna be busy for awhile! It'll probably just take lots and lots of time. How are they with treats? Just treats and letting them actually climb on you, try putting your arm around them but not under them. And just see how it goes. Of course there's the "forceful" way to get all their nails trimmed, but it's up to you to decide how badly you really want them done. With a quick and effective scruff and put them on their side, then have someone else quickly get all their nails. It won't involve any sort of picking up, just arm along their back, grab a hold of her scruff, then gently put her on her side. But you'll have to assess how they react to that.

At school, it took around 3-4ish weeks for one of our group cats to open up more and stop cowering at the back of the cage. We're responsible for socializing with them while they're at the school, and it did take awhile for her to actually open up more. But honestly, it sounds like you're doing a good job already.

If you want a better explaination of the scruffing, just let me know and I'll try to answer better, and even see if I could find some pictures or something from my restraint manual.
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Old 01-10-2012, 01:08 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Advice on newly adopted feline sisters

To be honest as far as nail trimming goes, I personally think scruffing is far less stressful for MOST cats. I trim nails for all of our rescues cats . Unless a cat is thoroughly comfortable (laying with his stomach up on my lap with no problem) I think scruffing is just more efficient and in turn goes more smoothly. As long as you do it confidently, have someone that is familiar with trimming nails, the whole thing is done is seconds (in comparison to a much longer struggle that in turn is more stressful when you don't have control over the cat).
Anyway, this wasn't your main question. We show out cats at Petsmart as well, but our cats are never caged otherwise so not many develop the exact types of behaviors your explaining. That being said, we have had cats that are quite skittish in their new homes, and would not let anyone TOUCH them, let alone pick them up. Some cats take a long time to adjust, others are fine in a couple days. I think you are right, that you just need to keep being patient and things will turn around. Once they realize that picking up does not mean going to the petstore, they will slowly get better and better about it. Of course, some cats just don't like to be picked up. My Calico hates when I pick her up, she is a huge snuggler but on HER terms. If anyone besides myself even touches her she hisses. Obviously your cats are not to this extreme, but be patient and cherish the times they are comfortable with you guys. As time goes on, they will get more and more comfortable. Some cats take months to fully becom acclimated in their new homes, and since these guys are rescue kitties, their time in the shelter could have set them back a little. They're in a loving home now, something they may not have had before and with time they will come out of their shells and let their guards down. I've seen cats when given time and patience do amazing things, keep doing what your doing and it will pay off!
As far as kind of stroking them all over like you are, I'm not sure if I would do that. Possibly if there is a nice treat involved afterward, but its less of a desensitization thing and more of an acclimation thing from what I understand (I could definitely be wrong). I would pick them up once and awhile, then put them down and give them a treat. Make sure when you're holding them they feel nothing but secure. For the kitty that is not to the point of being held yet, give her more time. Pet her and give her treats when she comes down where everyone else is. Take it at her speed, so she doesn't feel rushed or uncomfortable.
Anyway, I wish you the best of luck- I hope this helps a bit!
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Old 01-11-2012, 04:15 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Advice on newly adopted feline sisters

As long as they are eating, drinking, and using the restroom ok then I wouldn't worry about it. Its going to take some time, maybe months or even years before they feel completely comfortable with you. They have been through a lot with the adoption fairs and now a new home, smells, and people. Its fine to pick them up and pet them all over, but don't force them to stay put on you. If they want to jump down let them (it will show them they can trust you when they are on you and that they aren't going to be forced into anything).

Just let them come out on their own to explore and come to you on their terms. As you know cats are very temperamental at times and need things their way and in their time frame. Not pushing them is probably the best thing you can do for them right now. They are still young enough that they will probably come around pretty quick if just let alone most of the time. Try acknowledging them when they come in the room and then just act like you are ignoring them so they don't feel defensive or scared of you.

As far as nail trimming unless they are extremely long and painful or are curling around into their paws then I wouldn't worry about it until they get more settled. All that is going to do right now is stress them out and cause them to retreat even more and not trust you. Give them time to settle into the home they have already been through a great deal and you don't wanna traumatize them more.

Good luck can't wait to see pics of them
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Old 01-11-2012, 04:27 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Advice on newly adopted feline sisters

Their personalities sound just like my two Russian Blues, and they're siblings!
Best of luck to you guys.
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