Several people asked in yesterday’s comments about Emmy, since I hadn’t mentioned her in a while, which I’ve been meaning to. I’m blaming it on Vacation Brain. I can still do that, right? Right!

Emmy is still with us, still upstairs in the foster room, and has made no progress. This isn’t through lack of trying on our part, believe me – I’ve spent hours upon hours in that room with her and tried every trick I know. We caged her after she was spayed, intending to try the slow process where I’d lure her in with food, continue on to getting her to play with me, and then we’d become BFFs, but she freaked out so badly when we put her in the cage that we had to let her out (we tried covering the cage with a towel, to no avail). I was actually afraid she’d hurt herself. I’ve never seen anything like it. I thought maybe she was reacting to the whole surgery thing, so we tried a few days later with the same results.

Girlfriend does not want to be caged or crated in any way.

I actually spent a couple of nights in her room with her, and she moved around the room easily enough, my presence doesn’t really bother her (though I get the definite sense that it displeases her), but I cannot get her to let me pet her. She shies away, she gives me dirty looks, she is NOT having it. Fred can pet her a little, but after a few pets, she nips at him to let him know that she’s done with the nonsense.

I’ve tried to play with her, and had no luck. In fact, no matter the toy (feather teaser, jingly balls, toy mice, catnip kickers), if I spend too long trying to get her to play, she fixes me with a LOOK, stands up and turns her back to me. We can hear her in her room, playing by herself, but as far as playing with Fred or I? Not happening.

Since she lived with a bunch of other cats when she was found and we thought maybe she was lonely, Fred tried taking our ambassadors (Tommy and Jake) into the room with her (not at the same time). She was fine with them – in fact, she “talked” to Jake – but they were scared of her, and demanded to be let back out of the room immediately. And they can’t be convinced to go back in that room for anything. Her kittens can get to the outside of the foster room door, and they have – they followed Fred upstairs – and they will sit outside the door and stick their paws under the door. Emmy will walk over to the door, sniff the paw that’s sticking under the door, and then hiss.

She spends her days curled up in the wall basket or sitting on the shelf by the window watching the birds and squirrels in the tree out there. She spends her nights (as far as I can tell) doing the same, and occasionally playing.

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So what’s next? Well, we’re going to keep trying. I don’t honestly expect to make any more progress with her, but that’s not going to stop us from trying.

I think that she would make someone a really good barn cat, is what I told the shelter manager. So she’s put the word out to her contacts, and Fred has put the word out to his coworkers, and I’m putting the word out to y’all. If someone out there would like a cat who is a sweet girl but has no interest in being your BFF, who doesn’t like to be petted, but is really no trouble to care for at all, and you have a safe place for her to stay, please let me know.

(I hope y’all understand that when I say “barn cat”, I don’t mean that we’re going to place her in any kind of situation where she’ll be booted out the door and barely cared for. Wherever she goes, she’ll be cared for, be fed and watched over and regularly vetted. If that’s you, I’ll do whatever I can to make it happen.)

Until then, I guess she’ll be here with us, suffering our presence with barely-concealed irritation.

Are you disappointed? I’m disappointed too. Every little bit of progress we’ve made with her has been hard-won and has encouraged us to keep on trying. But not every cat can be tamed, no matter how much we want it. I believe she’s as tame as we’re going to be able to make her, but that’s not going to stop us from continuing to try.

So put the word out, would you? Good, sweet, wonderful cat (who was a fantastic mama) needs a home where people will love and care for her and won’t expect her to snuggle or like being petted or play with you. Surely someone needs a cat who is NO trouble, to catch varmints in their house or their back yard or their barn.

If we didn’t already have a house feral, or if we had a safe, fenced-in area for her to be, I would love for her to stay here. But we haven’t got room for another permanent resident, and so we need to find a home for her.

(On a too-much-information side note, Emmy’s litter box leavings have been A+ perfect since day one. I’ve only had one other foster with such unwaveringly perfect poops, and that would be Cindy Brady. All of Cindy’s siblings had issues (that eventually went away), but I used to say that Cindy Brady’s innards had to have been made of Teflon, because nothing on earth put her off her stride, so to speak. Same thing with Emmy – she’s used the litter box perfectly since the day we brought her home, and she’s been a solid girl the entire time. Is it odd that I really appreciate that in a foster?)

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So, the routine for the kittens these days, is this. Fred lets them out of the guest bedroom when he gets up in the morning, and they run around the house like their tiny little butts are on fire. Before he leaves for work, he comes upstairs to kiss me goodbye, and they follow him upstairs. Then when he goes back downstairs, they follow him.

For the first few days, they then stayed downstairs and played until I got up, whereupon they gave me the puppydog eyes of “WE IS STARVIN'” and followed me around while I scooped the litter boxes and then got them their morning snack. Yesterday morning, though, after Fred left for work they all followed him downstairs, and then Logie came back upstairs and meowed sadly.

“I am so sad and alone,” she cried.

“Come here, baby!” I called in high-pitched baby talk.

“Where are you? I can hear you, but I cannot see you, and I am sad!” she cried, a bit closer to me.

“Come on! KittyKittyKitty!” I said.

“HERE I AM! ACHOO!” said Miz Poo.

“Am I close?” Logie said.

“Come here, baby. Come on!” I called. And a few moments later, she climbed on top of me and stayed there while I snoozed. When I got up, she followed me into the bathroom and watched with interest as I showered and dressed. Then she followed me around the house while I scooped litter boxes, etc. I imagine it’s only going to be a few more days before all four of them are laying on me while I snooze, and following me around snoopervising.

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Newbery and Logie, snuggling.

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The three tabbies on the Room with a View, and Logie sleeping where she’s most likely to be petted regularly.

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There was some sort of bug on the other side of the window that caught their attention.

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That’s not exactly a look o’ love Sugarbutt’s giving Razzie.

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“Dat big kitty skeers me.”

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Sweet Miss Logie.

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Grumpy old man Spanky would like you to know that he’s tired of your shenanigans.

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2011: “Am… under… attack… SAVE YOURSELF!”
2010: No entry.
2009: No entry.
2008: All the babies are now using the litter box, hooray!


5/16/12 — 36 Comments

  1. Emmy is so gorgeous! It’s a shame she’s not a cuddler, but I am sure that somewhere out there, there is a perfect home for her.
    That picture of Spanky is possibly my favourite ever! There is nothing I like more than a picture of a grumpy-looking cat! 🙂

  2. A friend of mine took in a feral and her 4 wee wittle ones that was at her place of work. Mama was a GORGEOUS white kitty with SCREAMING blue eyes. The prettiest thing you have ever seen. There was NOT a thing that could be done to socialize her. Yes, a neighbor even had to go to the hospital for the wounds to his hand. It broke my heart. My friend ended up keeping all 4 of her kittens and she was spayed and released where they had found her. She brings her vanilla icecream on occassion (it was the only thing that enticed mama). So, you are doing MUCH better with Emmy. There is a place on this earth for all of us including barn cats. They are just as valuable as the lap kitty. Sending lots of hugs (virtual) and love her way!

  3. You can officially blame vacation brain for as long as you want, Robyn! It’s your blog!!

    I’m a bit sad to think that Emmy won’t get more tame. I appreciate so much that you have performed superhuman feats of patience and perserverance for Operation Tame Emmy and I’m glad you tried the cage technique! But you’re right – some cats can’t be tamed without years of effort.

    I hope someone has need for a barn cat and she can live out her days sunning herself, hunting mice and generally being herself while being cared for. It would be great if she had some feline companionship if she wants it, too.

    On the other hand, I’m happy the Noms are running around and getting snuggled as necessary. They are going to make some people great pets!!

    Thanks for everything you do, Robyn!

  4. While it’s sad and a little disappointing that Emmy isn’t completely tame and comfortable with people, she has been given an immeasurably better life than the one she had before. I imagine the life of a barn cat will suit her well. She can have a bit more freedom to hunt the little creatures she spends her days watching on the other side of her window. I’m with Doodle Bean that a bit of feline companionship on her own terms may make her happier than being in the foster room. I can’t help but wonder, though… What on earth do you think she said to Jake to make him want to leave and never come back?

    I love that our drama queen Logie has turned into the snuggliest kitten. I love Miz Poo’s ACHOO even more. But the absolute best part of today’s post? Old man Spanky’s disapproving lower lip.

    • She said, “I’ll make your toons even loonier if you stick around here much longer!!”

      • Ha – actually, it was before we realized Emmy was going into heat, so I suspect it was along the lines of “Hell-O, big boy! Come here often?” 🙂

        • I wonder if things might go more smoothly between them now that she’s spayed? Not that I blame the boys for being too skeered to go back in there.

          We actually do own a barn on a piece of property that’s used by a community group to grow vegetables for food pantries up north. My husband used to live on the property five days a week while he was working out of town and away from the family. Problem is, we moved 4 hours away from it late last summer and there isn’t a consistent human presence there anymore to make sure she’s well cared for. If there was, I’d already be on my way south for her. ((And if I thought she’d tolerate the feline and canine boys here, I might be putting a thought in my husband’s head anyway… after all, we don’t have a house feral, but we do have kitchen cabinets with lots of room to walk on top of!)) I know that with this publicity, our girl will find the perfect place for her. Thank you for doing everything you have done for her so far. Your kindness and care means a whole new and better life for her.

  5. Well, it does sound as if Emmy will remain a semi-feral all her life. I had a cat like her, a stray that wandered to my house. While I got her tame enough that she’d sit beside me, if I tried to pick her up, all hell broke loose. I did get her in a carrier (don’t ask!) and the vet had to muzzle her to examine; then spayed. I lured her into my house a couple times, and she would freak out. Took her to the small farm when we moved, and she LOVED the horse barn. I called her “City Kitty”…but really her heart was in the country. If I didn’t live in the city now, I’d take her. As it is, I have 3 indoor cats, at least 3 regular outside cats…and feed unseen, unknown ferals (mostly come around at night, or so freaked at seeing me, they run).

    I know Emmy will be happier in a country setting, or where someone can let her be outside. Good luck to her!

  6. Is it not the funniest/cutest thing when the little babies meow like they’re lost and you’re in sight but until you talk to them some they can’t seem to find you!?! A couple of these babies that I have do that and I was actually a little bit worried that something was wrong with them (hearing? sight? smell?), so it’s good to know that yours do it too.

    Yes, I’m a little bit sad that Emmy can’t be tamed, but at the same time, she is what she is and at least she’s not mean if you leave her be. I’m sending wishes for the perfect home for her!!

    • My Sweetpea is 13 years old and still meows piteously as if I’m not right there. Brat.

  7. LOL your grumy old man Spanky has the exact same look as my grumpy old man Blanco!
    Why arent you sitting down so I can sleep and be fussed on your lap? dont you know thats what your for woman??

  8. I’m really sorry about Emmy. I live in fear of the same situation where we’ll end up with a mama who is unadoptable. I thought our current mama, Mata Hari, might be like that, but thankfully, she loosened up. Because we live in an urban area, finding a barn home would be tough. I’m sure the right person will come along for Emmy–I hope it’s soon!

  9. I had a litter with a feral Mama that was the same (Rosie, the CH kittens’ Mama). Same exact behaviour that Emmy is giving you. I had a feeling that Emmy was going to be that way right from when you took her in, but didn’t want to mention it – hoping that you would have some magic to work that I wasn’t able to with Rosie. It’s disappointing and frustrating not being able to tame them when you’ve tried so hard. I certainly hope that someone caring will take Emmy as a barn cat. That’s probably the life she’d most prefer anyway.

  10. I’ve read somewhere that kittens’ distance vision doesn’t really get good until approximately six months, so even though you were in sight, maybe she couldn’t really see you well? Anyway, the story is adorable.

    It’s a shame about Emmy, but as others have said, you’ve already given her a better life than the one she had, and you’re a good person for that. ♥

  11. Too bad Ireland is just too far away – I just finished introducing one new barn kitty and the three boys could use a female to keep them civilized which I am sure Emmy would do!

  12. Hi Robyn,

    I volunteer for a local rescue group here in NY, at a Petsmart adoption center. Sometimes, when I run across a cat who doesn’t like to be touched, I have some success by “petting” her (usually around the top of the head and the sides of the face) with a feather wand or a catnip filled toy, rather than my hand. If you don’t already know this trick, you might want to give it a try. They eventually realize that they actually like it and will then let you pet them with your hand.

    It’s worth a shot!

    Jean Marie

    • Thanks, Jean Marie! I have tried that – repeatedly – with Emmy, and while she’ll tolerate it, she gives me the filthiest looks. I try it every so often just in case she’s changed her opinion of the whole thing. Hasn’t worked yet, but who knows.

  13. I wonder if one of those grooming gloves would help getting her used to being petted (and protect your hand from nips). She’s got long legs!

    • Would you believe that there’s not one cat in this house – including Emmy – who likes those grooming gloves? I thought I must be doing something wrong (I mean seriously, how can they NOT like to be petted with that thing), so Fred gave it a try, and nope. Well, I should say that Miz Poo will tolerate it (Miz Poo would tolerate just about anything from us), but she acts like we’re beating her.

      • My two reacted the same way. I think it pulls on their fur too much or something. I mean, I can rough up Sweetpea’s fur by rubbing it vigorously the wrong way and she loves it, but the grooming glove? Like you said, she acts like I’m beating her up!

  14. Emmy might be a good fit for someone in need of a mouser in a big old house. She could find her favorite spots and not have to be around her people too much. Wouldn’t want any children in the house, though.

    Horses and cats seem to naturally like each other. A horse barn might be a good option, too.

    • Fred and I have discussed the fact that she’d be a perfect house feral for us if we didn’t have one already. God knows she’d be no trouble at all!

  15. I’d love to know what, exactly, Emmy said to Jake and Tommy?

    The only feral cat we’ve ever had was barely 4 weeks old when we got her. Our golden retriever decided she was it’s mother and took over, cleaning her and even taught her to do her business in the back yard. It took us two years to get her to let us touch her, and then only when she wanted. In her old age, she was a love bug, but until then she only liked dogs.

    Our favorite story–when our vet retired, the new one wanted to take the animals into the exam room without their people. I told him it wouldn’t work, but I was thinking he was only giving a booster shot, so it was ok this time and then I’d find a new vet. He took her away and approx. 2 seconds later I could hear her making that horrible warning yell. He came out with a horrified look on his face and asked me to hold her for her shot. We never went back and he was soon out of business (not because of us, of course, just that I’m sure no one else liked him either)

    • That’s nuts – I have never trusted any doctor who wants to take the patient away from the patient advocate in order to do the examination or treatment.

      When my son was little, I took him to a dentist who would not allow parents in the treating area. Now, having worked for a dentist myself in the past, I know that sometimes the kids DO actually do much better if the parent leaves the room. Some kids are drama queens who scream and holler and sob while mom or dad is there, but as soon as you ask mom or dad to step out into the hallway where the kid can’t see them, the kid settles right down and becomes an ideal patient. But the kicker there is that you give the kid a chance first, to see how s/he behaves with the parent in the room. And initial exams are *never* done without the parent present. Well, this guy was hardnosed about it – no parents, no way, no how. Against my better judgment (“not wanting to make a scene” and because I’d had to take time off from work, etc) I finally said okay, but I whispered to TJ that if he needed me, holler and I’d find him. That S-O-B dentist proceeded to take the child back, do an initial examination, AND do something like six fillings WITHOUT MY CONSENT. I filed a complaint against him (they also refused to give me a copy of the papers I had signed, which is against the law – if I signed it, I am entitled to a copy of it), which was when I learned that he had a long record of similar complaints. He was ex-military, and I guess he was just accustomed to being The Boss and never having his decisions questioned, but excuse me, I’m not your soldier, SIR.

      My current vet is one of the best I’ve known when it comes to handling the animals – he’ll ask before he ever even approaches the pet, “Anything s/he doesn’t like? Face, tail, belly?” The only time they’ve taken one of my pets out of my sight to do anything was when MrT was so sick, and I’d known they were going to have to do IV and stuff, so it wasn’t an issue. (And MrT was too weak to fight, as he normally would have.) Sad to hear that the vet in your case went out of business, but honestly if you’re a vet and you think you know any given animal better than its owners/constant companions do… wow!

  16. Robyn, honey, I am so touched by what you and Fred have done – and continue to do – to try to socialize Emmy. I just know there will be the perfect home for her coming along soon. She is such a beautiful little thing, and what a good mama she was to the Noms! She deserves to have a terrific life on her terms.

  17. I wouldn’t consider Emmy to be feral or you to have “failed” at socializing her. I think she is just very independent and not much interested in people. I have a couple of friends who have house ferals who are so feral that they can’t be taken to the vet because they can’t be touched or put into a carrier. Emmy is much better than that. I think she would be a very happy housecat (I’m always nervous about barn cats because I am afraid they don’t get the care and attention they need, but I could be wrong) in a house with a couple other cats and with people who didn’t expect a lot of attention from her. And it is also entirely possible that she may mellow as she ages. She’s still pretty young and has had a fairly challenging life so far – at least until she landed in the Crooked Acres paradise!

    PS I think when “vacation brain” wears off it’s time to go on vacation again!

    PPS I forgot to mention this the other day, but I loved that your neighbor thought to get between the bush and the road before he tried to rescue the baby kitty, to keep it from running into danger. He sounds like a good guy.

  18. Seeing as I just got off a roller coaster of poopville, I’m so with you on Teflon digestive tracts..

    It always stinks when you are reminded that you can’t save them all. And since Emmy isn’t going to say it, I’ll say it for her. Thank you Robyn, thank you for giving me a safe place to hunker down and feed my kittens. Thank you for the food and the warm beds. I’m so glad they didn’t have to risk the great outdoors and all that comes with it, and thank you for helping them understand that trusting humans isn’t all bad, even if I can’t seem to get past that hurdle. now leave me alone..


  19. My little lady kitten came to me aloof and not interested in peoples. But she was bonded to her brother whom is a social butterfly. So as a gift to my man kitten I adopted them both. It took over a year living with me and playing near me and my husband before she came around and decided we weren’t so bad. She was hissy smacky with her foster mom, but neutral to my husband and I. She eventually came around to be interested in humans when she wants her ears pet, claws trimmed, and to be told she’s pretty… Took a long time and she HATES everyone else… but loves my mother… everything with fur loves my mother…

  20. Spanky’s face breaks my little heart. What a cutie!

    And thank you for trying so hard with Emmy. Every cat is perfect in their own way, and this is her version. 🙂

  21. You know, my Harley was feral and about a year and a half old when I adopted her. She will never be a snuggler, although she usually sleeps with me, and will sit behind me on the back of my comfy chair. She has no desire whatsoever to go outdoors, except occasionally out on the balcony. She likes to be petted and brushed, but getting her to the vet is usually a nightmare. But she loves me – she purrs like crazy – and she gets along with most other kitties. Anyway – I think Emmy will be a fine kitty for the right family, one who understands that she’s kind of a loner.