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Introducing Sasha - the new kid on the block

Posted by koijoyii NE Ohio (My Page) on
Wed, Feb 18, 09 at 12:15

We (Boa, McLovin, Willow, my son and myself) just adopted Sasha from the Forever Friends Foundation. She is approximately 1 1/2 years old and is a tokinese/balinese mix. She was a stray that was rescued by the Hudson Fire Department before going to live with her foster mom and dad. The family who owned her abandoned her and she met with some very unkind humans who may have mistreated her. At the present time she is a feral cat who does not trust people. Her foster mom has never been able to pet her and has had to handle her with anti-bite veterinarian gloves. She was able to brush her with a brush attached to a dowel rod. At the present time, she is living in my small 4X4 half bath. She has been vet checked and is negative for communicable diseases and is up-to-date with her shots. I picked her up last Friday and feel we have made progress since then. At first she hid behind the toilet and wouldn't look at me. She doesn't run now when I enter the bathroom. She doesn't growl or hiss at me and is letting me reach her treats when my hand is four inches away from her head. She met me at the bathroom door last night when I got home from work and I couldn't get in. She was sitting up on her hind legs begging to come out. I played with her for over 1/2 with a feather toy and a drawstring from a pair of jogging pants. I really don't like keeping her in the bathroom, but if I let her have the run of the house I may never see her again. She was living in a shed with several other feral cats who went into the insulation in the ceiling when we went to visit her. I do have tiles missing in the ceiling of my basement and don't want her to go into the ceiling and not come out. I am trying to bond with her before I release her from the bathroom.

I know never to reach towards her with an open palm and not to make direct eye contact with her. She has not met the rest of the girls yet because I don't want her to bond with them before she bonds with me. Sometimes I'll take food in the bathroom and sit on the floor and eat it hoping to tempt her.

Does anyone have suggestions as to how I can make the transition easier?

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Jenny


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Introducing Sasha - the new kid on the block

She is beautiful. And she looks so certain she is going to get hurt. Best wishes, Jenny. I am sure you will manage but I quail at the thought of the damage a feral cat can dish out. I have scars enough from my NON-feral cats. Sandy


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RE: Introducing Sasha - the new kid on the block

She is a beauty Jenny. We had a semi feral cat growing up and she did inflict some nasty bites and scratches on us. Please make sure visitors or family who visit do have "dog" smell on them when they visit. My brother pet a neighbor dog once and our semi feral cat attacked him and left gashes and bites that were horrific. I still remember him screaming, as the attack was vicious.

From my experience you can never trust them with company. So she may need to be kept in the bathroom when company visits. I hate to so negative. I apologize. In time and with your love I am sure she will become the best she can be.

Regards,
Lisa


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RE: Introducing Sasha - the new kid on the block

Wow! What a beautiful kitty! Congratulations to you AND to Sasha for getting a loving home! :-)

Gaining her trust will take a long time. Food is a great bribe. Experiment with different kinds of food, salmon, tuna, ham, chicken... Jarred baby food like Gerbers form of strained ham, turkey or chicken will intice her *quickly*! She'll know you are not going to eat her but look forward to seeing you and your goodies.

Catnip is always great schtuff. If you have access to some fresh plant you can give her some leaves and stems and let her get high and drop some of her inhibitions. The dried stuff or catnip toys are OK too. The only drawback is ... if she had not experienced catnip before now she may not respond but it won't hurt her. She'll just ignore it.

The pheramone spray, Feliway is fantastic stuff! It mimics the ~feel good and comfy~ scent that kittys rub on surfaces with their faces. Don't spray it on her but **SPARINGLY** here and there in her room. It doesn't sedate but just let's her know there is no reason to be afraid. Before she ventures out to the rest of the house, spray some of that schtuff here and there as well.

Get a towel and rub your other kitties with it. Put that towel in with Sasha so she can become familiar with their scents. Take Sasha's bed out to the rest of the herd so they too can be introduced through her scent.

Get one of those kitty toys that is a ring with a ball inside. Place it on the floor and show her how to play with it. You can also get one of those stick toys that has a feathery thing or other object at the end of a line and wriggle it on the floor too. Gently introducing her to a play situation will convert her mind-set and allow her to relax. A ball with a bell inside would be nice. When she's alone you can hear if she's playing with it. :-)

If you have a kitty that is particularly laid back and you feel comfortable doing so ... let the laid back one in with Sasha. Sometimes that has a profound calming effect on the frightened kitty.

One vet hospital where I worked would trap and bring in the ferrel kitties. Our hospital cat was always concerned about the other animals. When the wild kitty would come in, the hospital cat literally would camp out in front of the ferral cat for one or two days. By the time he was done with whatever he did ... the cats were very much calmed down and could be handled, Felv/FIV tested ... neutered or spayed and turned over to BARF for adoption!

But with your situation ... use caution since neither kitty would be caged and safe if a fight began.

Hope some of this rambling helps Sasha accept her new family.


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RE: Introducing Sasha - the new kid on the block

Oh, I knew the Chick would have some great information. I even knew about the Felaway (that I heard about from her several years ago)and didn't think of for your kitty. Her advice has helped so many of us with our furred and feathered friends. The towel is a great idea.
Isn't it strange about the hospital kitties? Do they do their magic on other species, too? Sandy


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RE: Introducing Sasha - the new kid on the block

That particular hospital kitty *knew* which patient needed the most help! Didn't matter if it was a puppy with a broken leg, a duck with a smashed pelvis, an ancient Chihuahua with heart problems ... Mama Cat and her kittens ... sick parvo doggy ... Who ever was in most need had Mikey's full attention until they were better. And the object of his attention DID respond to his presence and seemed comforted by him. :-)


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RE: Introducing Sasha - the new kid on the block

Thanks for all your compliments and suggestions.

Lisa:

She was once a house cat that somebody dumped in the woods. When they started building a new development her foster mom ended up trapping 19 feral cats. If she was born feral I don't think I would have adopted her. I had a chance to adopt two cats whose owner died. They were both spayed, front declawed and microchipped. I always surf petfinders.com and I kept going back to Sasha's pic. For three months I kept going back to Sasha. It was like her picture was talking to me. I wanted to give a special needs cat a chance because I knew nobody would want her. When I went to visit the shed she was living in she didn't run. She jumped up on the shelf but didn't go into the ceiling like the other cats. She froze on the shelf and just stared at me. We bonded right then and there. Her foster mom and dad were amazed and tried to talk me out of it, but we connected as soon as I saw her pic. Her foster mom and dad said she never did that with anybody that came to visit her.

C3D:

Thanks for all your suggestions. When I picked her up from the vets she would let me give her treats from my hand. But I think she was still The vet didn't need to sedate her to remove the bandages either. Her foster mom and dad could believe they didn't have to fight to get her into the cage after I visited her. I can give her treats if I give them to her with a closed fist. We have made progress in just one week. I sit with her for 1/2 hour every day. I face the wall and sit sideways, and do absolutely not make direct eye contact with her. She loves treats so before I leave I give her about seven of the moist ones. I bought a feather wand and she plays with it. I use the wand to run it over her back and head so she gets used to being touched. I play with her with a drawstring from a pair of jogging pants. Her foster mom and dad were never able to play with her. Yesterday after I played with her she got tired and laid down on her blanket, so I pretended I was sleeping too. Curiosity got the best of her she walked over and smelled my hand and feet. I didn't reach for her because her foster mom and dad said she would pee when they tried to touch her. I am moving at Sasha's pace. I know you can't make a cat do anything it doesn't want to do. If you let the cat think it's their idea it works. Her foster mom and dad can't believe she is playing with me. We have a whole basket of kitty toys so she is never bored. At night I can hear her playing in the bathroom. Every morning when I go in to check on her she has put a new toy in the water dish. I already had to rescue a fluffy ball, a furry mouse and this morning it was a cloth catnip mouse. She seems to like putting her toys in the water. All of my kitty's are special in their own way. I don't want to say I have a favorite (McLovin) because they are all my favorite, but they all have their own personalities. McLovin is the only one out of all four that will snuggle up with you. Willow did when she first came, but once she had the run of the house she stopped. I am trying to bond with Sasha before she is introduced to the other cats. I read that she will bond with the other cats and no people if I introduce them too soon. She certainly is a challenge but animals talk to you if you listen. Sasha spoke and I heard. I know she will be a good cat, it's just going to take some time.

Jenny


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RE: Introducing Sasha - the new kid on the block

Congrats and best wishes. I have no doubt that with such solid, sound advice from C3D, plenty of patience, and in due time the new addition will blend in splendidly with the rest of the clan and everyone will live happily ever after.


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RE: Introducing Sasha - the new kid on the block

C3D:

Thought you would get a laugh out of this story. I made round steak on Sunday and took a dish of it into Sasha. What cat wouldn't like steak? When I checked on her an hour later to see if she ate it she had unrolled the whole roll of toilet paper and piled it over the steak in the dish. She had such an innocent look on her face when I opened the door. So much for my home cooking. I was laughing so hard I almost wet my pants, but had to hold it because there was no toilet paper left on the roll.

She is adapting pretty good so far. When I sit in the bathroom with her (I need to buy a tushie cush my floor is tile) she will chase a string and climb on my legs and feet to get it. She is OK as long as I don't try to touch her. She wants out of the bathroom when I open the door and if I put my foot in and gently nudge her away she will move back so I can get in the door. This morning I thought I would try to nudge her with my hand and she freaked. She started spitting, but wouldn't back down. I ended up using my foot again. For some reason she is afraid of hands. I wish she could talk. I would love to be able to explain to her that I'm not going to hurt her. I feel bad leaving her in the bathroom for so long (it'll be 2 weeks tomorrow), but it's the only way I can work with her. If I let her out she may hide and I won't be able to tame her. I'm not expecting miracles. I knew when I took her she would be a challenge. I know she will never be a social cat. I am planning on giving her a month in the bathroom. If she won't let me touch within that time I will give her the run of the house anyway.

Jenny


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RE: Introducing Sasha - the new kid on the block

Keep it up Jenny, I know you can work a miracle here with time :) S


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RE: Introducing Sasha - the new kid on the block

LOL, Jenny! :-) Sasha may not recognize steak as a food item. It sure sounds like she's doing great. Too bad she can't talk and say why she is so afraid of hands ... but maybe it's better she can't. Her story may be heartbreaking.

She might be someone who will never allow you to pick her up or to pet her unless it is on her terms exclusively. If you show her your hands and then show her as your hands disappear into mittens. Maybe covering your hands will be less scary and she would allow your hands to get nearer. Let her make the actual contact with your covered hand. On her terms and at her time.

Did you ever see the kitty toy which looks like a glove with loooong fingers that are toys on the ends? That might be a fun way to get her to be less frightened of hands because she's distracted by having fun. Again ... do this cautiously. We don't want you tp get hurt.

Once you decide to open the door to the rest of the house she will be frightened and hide for a while. All this is new foreign territory and she doesn't know who may be lurking around the corner or under the couch to potentially eat her. You could decrease the number of hiding places by closing off as many rooms as possible and gradually open more rooms to her once she's more comfortable.

You're a VERY patient Mom. I'm sure in time Sasha will respond to your loving care it's just she's never experienced someone as nice as you!


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RE: Introducing Sasha - the new kid on the block

Thanks again all. I think she may associate hands with the gloves they used to pick her up with. They showed them to me and they were pretty scary looking to me let alone poor Sasha.

C3D:

I stopped at Petco after I got off work last night and bought a spray bottle of Comfort Zone. OMG. It works too good!!! I only used two sprays and sprayed my hands hoping it would help. She was sniffing the air like a bunny rabbit. Then she started yawning, and yawning, and yawning........after about ten yawns she curled up and went to sleep. I couldn't get her to play after that. Maybe I should have only used one spray. I sat with her for 1/2 hour singing Jingle Bells while she slept. She seems to calm down when I sing to her. Then I saw something moving out of the corner of my eye. I jumped and she woke up. There was a spider crawling up the wall about a foot away from my head. I had the kitty toy laser pointer with me and pointed to the spider with it. Forget our lessons. She was climbing the wall trying to get the spider. She crawled across my lap, but as soon as I moved my hand slightly she ran behind the toilet again. I left her with the spider and told her it better be gone when I returned (I hate spiders). It was gone when I went back.

That toy kitty glove is a great idea. I will pick one up when I go shopping this weekend. My original plan was to have her stay in my bedroom, but I thought we could be more up close and personal in a smaller area so I housed her in the bathroom. Since the bathroom is off my bedroom I had planned on giving her the bedroom and bathroom for a while. Then hopefully the rest of the house at a later date. I have a kitty condo in front of the window in my bedroom that will be a change of pace for her. Of course it will be off limits then to Willow, McLovin and Boa. But they can have the sunroom. I just don't want to make the mistake of giving her too much room too soon and undoing the progress we have made over the last two weeks.

Jenny


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RE: Introducing Sasha - the new kid on the block

Hi, I've been lurking for a while, mainly because I don't even own a pond or aquatics. I actually don't remember how I ended up over here, but it had something to do with a search. I enjoy the animal stories, and I really enjoyed the contests, particularly the "add your own caption" ones. (No, I haven't been lurking that long, just found the caption contests when I did a search for something else, ha.)

Anyway, this is a response to the steak story. It's possible that she was actually burying the steak for later. Apparently when cats don't feel certain of their food supply - for instance, when they've been a stray for a while - they bury their food to find it later. My new cat was picked up as a stray, and she always eats half her food, and tries to bury the rest for later. I think it's because I have another cat, and she wants to hide the rest of her food from her. The thing that's funny, though, is there's nothing on the floor for her to bury the food with. Doesn't stop her from "burying" it for 5 minutes at a time. The one time, someone dropped a dryer sheet. I came back later to find the dryer sheet draped over her bowl.

Good luck with your new pretty baby! At least you don't have to medicate her... My kitty had a URI when I first got her. Eye drops and syringe feeding liquid antibiotics... not fun!


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RE: Introducing Sasha - the new kid on the block

You're right. Sasha might have been hiding the steak to have for later. Rani, our GSD, will get a dog treat and spend lots of time burying, hiding, checking and re-locating the treat throughout the house. Hide the cookie in the cat bed ... check to see if Daisy saw ... go back to check if the cookie is there ... check on Daisy ... take the cookie out and bury it in the toy box ... check on Daisy ... LOL!

Sasha seems more comfortable with her hiding skills! :-)


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RE: Introducing Sasha - the new kid on the block

Thank you for the mention of burying the food. Ginger Kitty started it and it is driving me up the wall. She burys everything and if there is nothing portable at hand she scratchs the floor, walls, furniture and a large brushed stainless trash container. Now, I think she does it for the attention and the noise. When we tell her to stop, she does, but with a most satisfied expression.
We need a thread on eating habits. Ginger Kitty wants fed every two hours or if she is bored, more often. If I tell her no, she stalks the bag of dry cat food. It winds up on the floor several times a day sometimes. Thank goodness for powerful snack bag clips. Now if I could only get DH to put them back on the bag. Sleepless


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RE: Introducing Sasha - the new kid on the block

Speaking of bags of dry cat food: I switched my cats over to wet food, partially because I've decided that it's better for them, and partially so I can feed on a schedule and monitor food intake. (Older kitty needed to go on a better diet, since she never managed to lose any weight on her previous one.) Of course the new kitty was stubborn about switching, but she did start eating it fairly quickly. Well, she still thinks that she should have food whenever she wants, though. I was informed by my roommate that new kitty had been attacking the bag of dry food for a couple days. When I went to go look at it, it looked like a large rodent had been at it... big hole nibbled out the side of it.

The leftover bags of dry cat food have now been carefully put away - inside a latched cat carrier... ha! I'll use em as cat treats.

Oh, by the way, it's nice to hear about Comfort Zone (or the like) from someone who actually used it. I may have to pick some up if I foster again. For now, my house is still getting used to two cats, who are getting along okay.


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RE: Introducing Sasha - the new kid on the block

How is that lovely Sasha doing?


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RE: Introducing Sasha - the new kid on the block

Hi C3D & everyone else:

She is an amazing animal. It seems like she can read minds. I don't think she is as feral as her foster mom thought. She likes to follow me around like a dog and it seems like if I think of going to a specific room BAM! she's there. She scares the living daylights out of my son and myself. She just materializes out of nowhere. Chessie would have been the perfect name for her (after the Chesire Cat)but that's Boa's given name. Then we were going to call her Vapor but that just didn't seem to fit. We renamed her Luna because she is very nocturnal. She adopted a furry mouse with a feather tail as her favorite toy. We have yet to hear a peep out of her. I thought maybe something was neurologically wrong with her because for the longest time her eyes didn't dilate. Her pupils were always so big we could hardly see her beautiful blue eyes. They finally started dilating when she wasn't terrified of us anymore. She gets along with Willow, but Boa and McLovin want no part of her. We still haven't tried to touch her yet. She still freaks when you put your hand anywhere near her. I did buy one of those glove toys but she was terrified of it. We aren't pressing her. I told my son when she is ready to let us touch her she will let us know. If she is never ready that's fine too. She is just a pleasure to have around, and I know now when I got lost in those big blue eyes it was meant to be. She just discovered the sunroom yesterday. When the temperature dropped I couldn't close the door. I didn't want to scare her.

Jenny


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