6-14-13 – Leia & Scorch Friday

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I lost my beloved 19 y.o. Zoey in mid-April, and many of you left such kind messages of condolence here – they really helped me get through a very tough time. I still miss her very very much, and am not yet ready to adopt another cat. However, I’ve just started fostering a 7 y.o. calico who was saved from euthanasia a week ago, and would welcome any advice you can share with me.

She’s been declawed and is a total nervous wreck. I collected her on Saturday from the cat rescue people who had taken her from the high-kill shelter, and she immediately retreated to a safe spot under my bed – exactly where Zoey used to hide during thunderstorms and vacuuming ๐Ÿ˜‰ She’s very slowly warming up to me, but is still a stress-ball. She actually sat next to me on the sofa last night, but I suddenly sneezed, and she tore through the room, down the hall and back under the bed. I do pick her up every day at least a couple of times, and give her a cuddle until she pushes me away, letting me know she wants down. She is letting me stroke her under the chin, as well as pet her, and she comes up on the bed every night at least for a little while. But I live on a main road in a big city with lots of traffic noise, and whenever she hears a siren or a horn through the open window, she gets spooked.

She has some teeth that need to come out, but the vet wants her to gain a bit of weight before the op. She is eating, but is so scared she only eats a tiny bit and then goes back under my bed. I’m currently giving her a mix of kitten food and baby food with a tiny bit of water added to make a gravy, warmed up a bit, and mashed together. Any advice on helping her eat more, as well as gently coaxing her out of her shell, would be very much appreciated!

I’ve got limited computer time between now and late Saturday (but because I love y’all there’ll even be a post on Saturday – I mean, Kitturday!) and I’m scattered and unable to concentrate at the moment, but I wanted to get this posted so that y’all could help out. If you have any suggestions for Catherine, please please leave them in the comments!

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Question, and apologies if you’ve answered this in a comment and I missed it: what DID happen to Norbert’s mother and siblings? If you’d rather not say, no problem, but the timing was all so incredibly fortuitous for the little guy, I can’t help but be curious.

I won’t go into specifics, but I will say that they were accidentally killed in a household accident, and it was incredibly fortuitous that Khaleesi was giving birth that night, wasn’t it? That Norbert is one lucky little monkey.

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I’ll try this again, it’s too good not to. Not being all that savey on computer stuff I really hope this works.

YouTube link.

Oh good lord, SO CUTE!!!

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You probably haven’t noticed this one, huh? No one’s mentioned that she’s gorgeous and has floofy, silky fur, and is a sweet little cutie-pie, have they?

Her floof kills me dead. So does her attitude. She’s the total package, this one. Such a little princess.

Oh, how she wanted to come down the stairs.

“But lady, that big ol’ scary cat is down there, and she skeers me!” she said. (The scary cat in question? Miz Poo. Yeah, terrifying.)

Leia skittered back up the stairs to the landing and swooshed back and forth, wanting desperately to come down, but not quite sure about Miz Poo.

“Make her go ‘way!”

Then she went all the way to the top of the steps and pouted.

She is such a sweet girl, this one. She’s got an instant purr. (She made me wait 8 weeks to hear it, but now she can’t seem to turn it off. Not that I want her to!)

It’s a lot of work keeping that floof clean, y’know.

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Oh, Scorch. Talk about beautiful! He is going to be a big boy – he’s got long, long legs and huge feet. He outweighs the next-biggest kitten (Puff) by several ounces.

“I sees you, lady!”

Scorch prefers his little pink toes to be sparkling clean at all times.


I’d like to direct your attention to the belly and the little striped tail.

He loves that little basket almost as much as Puff does.

Oh lord, the teeth. They’re killing me dead.

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“Beautiful kittens come and go. Corbie is forever.”


2012: Since this is a family-friendly site, I wonโ€™t tell you what I suggested he do with all that squash.
2010: This is VERY IMPORTANT, and all members of the feline persuasion must follow these instructions very carefully in the future or FACE THE CONSEQUENCES.
2009: No entry.
2008: No entry.
2007: As you can see, Spanky is a deeply suspicious fellow.
2006: No entry.
2005: Well, sheโ€™s right. Iโ€™m starting to give the kittens nicknames. I canโ€™t help it!



6-14-13 – Leia & Scorch Friday — 18 Comments

  1. Catherine, overall you are doing the right thing. Let her take it at her own pace and as long as she has a “safe place” she will do fine. Continue to spend time with her and talk to her. Tantalize her with treats and toys (play time). You might want to consider putting your radio on a soothing station to drown out some of the road noise. She will get use to it. If you are holding her when you sneeze, (if you have warning), snuggle her a bit tighter so she feels secure and then pet and reward her right afterwards as you talk to her. All is new to her right now, but once she realizes that she is not going to be eaten (ha), she will start to blossom. I think you are doing a great job.

    Leia is sooooooo gorgeous and so is Scorch. All the kittens out of both litters are so special in each of their own unique way! Yes, Corbie, your beauty IS forever!!! As for that YouTube video with the man and the black & white kitten…..oh my, what an adorable little baby. I wanted to grab her through the screen, hold her in my hands and kiss her all over! Her little squeeks…melted me!

  2. Catherine: time and patience. I will tell people with new scaredy cats to just sit nearby – on the floor if you can, and read a book or talk to her. Slowly get her used to your voice. And find something high value that she likes to eat – turkey, chicken, something like that…and use it to coax her over to you. The positive things she associates with you, the more she will warm up. Good for you for taking in this girl – the reward will be worth it. ๐Ÿ™‚

    That Scorch – I want to put him in my pocket and kiss him all day long.

    • That was my suggestion. Don’t push her to be held or sit in your lap until she’s ready. But sit near by, don’t have to touch or speak to her but just let her get comfortable with your presence doing the mundane things.

      As she becomes more comfortable with you and her immediate settings, hopefully the sirens and other external noise may interest her but it won’t be traumatizing.

  3. Catherine, I agree that it sounds great so far! Consider a Feliway diffuser for that room or the living room. Try putting her food near her hiding place too, if you haven’t already. It takes time! My scaredy cat was 15 before we took her in, and it was a good year before she slept on top of anything!

    • Seconding the feliway recommendation. It helps cats feel less threatened and really does help them relax.

      Over the years I’ve had several semi-feral housecats for one reason or another, and I find the most important thing is to ignore them a lot of the time. Seriously, let them just adjust at their own pace, and have lots of interactions where you are barely interacting. Read a book, watch a movie, sit in the same room and be as non-threatening and not focused on them as you can be. You are boring! You are not going to eat them! Nothing to see here! Sometimes, the best tool for the job is just time. If they have no history of safety and kindness, they have to develop one first, before they can start taking risks.

      Good luck to you both.

  4. I so agree with everyone else that’s mentioned patience and love. And you’re doing just that! I found that going into the room a very frightened cat was in and just reading a book or sewing while seated on the floor was helpful. That way, they have a lot of time to realize that we come in peace. ๐Ÿ™‚ Good luck — I’m pretty impressed with how far she’s come in such a short time with your work. And remember, some of us just startle more with those loud, outside noises (I’m one of them!). ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Since you’ve never been one to hold back when it comes to gory details, I’m assuming whatever happened to Norbert’s family was exceptionally bad, so thank you for NOT sharing. I’m just very glad he’s got you and the lovely Khaleesi. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Now about that floofy floofy little Leia…

  6. for Catherine: When I have to tame fearful cats, I limit the space they have. the less territory they have the faster it will smell like them and be more welcoming. I know it is tempting to let them hide in deep dark corners, but i do not let them have access to any place I can’t easily put my hands on them and pick them up. I give them ‘caves’ to hide in, but no ‘under the bed’ access. If you have to struggle to reach them, it will increase your anxiety that you can’t get them and it will increase their anxiety that you are anxious. And on that note, you need to be as calm and peaceful in your thoughts when dealing with her as you can… They do feed off your energy a lot.

    I provide the basics for every cat, no matter how they treat me, but cats who are willing to give me something get something in return. aka I leave dry food and water and litter out for kitties, but bring in canned food or meat or other treats and leave them near me. If they won’t come out to get them, I might offer a taste or two where they are, but then expect them to come closer for another taste. If they won’t come out, I remove the food and try again later.

    talking softly to them helps. Go in and read a book out loud.. I’ll often leave a tv or a radio turned into a channel where they talk a lot (home shopping gets a lot of air time when I’ve got fearful cats) to help them get used to the sounds. make normal human noises from time to time.. a cough, a sniff, a clap, a whistle.. they will most likely be freaky, but when they realize that no harm comes from them they will be less panic inducing.

    impose but do not force. You hold her which is good.. that is imposing yourself on her. You let her go when she tells you, perfect.. that is helping to establish communication. Build trust by always letting her go when she asks, but making sure she gets down safely. Do not let her go until all four feet are on the ground. do not let her ‘escape’ from your grasp, but make it clear you are honoring her wishes by putting her down. If she starts to struggle while you are letting her go, bring her back to your chest (or what ever position you were holding her in) and try again when she calms down. This will help her know you respect her and want her to be safe, and she will be less likely to be ‘looking for an escape’ when you hold her and be able to relax a little and hopefully enjoy it more. It is a fine line between challenging her and freaking her out so you aren’t doing any good so just go slowly when you engage her – but don’t not engage her.

    Rescue Remedy is awesome stuff – available at most health food stores and some major pet stores – all be it in the dog section. this helps calm the pet and break that noise/panic bond so there can be a moment of thought in between the two..
    Feliway is also good stuff. it mimics the welcoming scent that cats mark on things, so it will help her feel more welcome in the environment. If you get the spray, spray it on corners or other areas where she might rub her cheeks. or you can get the defuser.
    Spirit Essences are also pretty good. I’ve really seen good results with “safe spaces” and others have seen results with other formulations, you can look through what they have and see what works for you.

    and then add time and love. it will work..

  7. Catherine: Since the bedroom appears to be the refuge of your foster, I’d consider placing the food and water bowls in there. It would be quiet with minimal activity during the day and might encourage her to eat more. Some pate type canned food would be easy for her to eat with her dental issues.

  8. Leia is killing me. KILLING me! The pouty picture may be my new all-time favorite. ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. R.e. – scared foster kitty – I second the suggestion to put her food/water in the bedroom, or ideally under the bed. In the long term, encouraging her to come out to eat is good. But it sounds like right now, the primary consideration is getting her healthy and putting on weight. Cats often won’t eat when stressed, and forcing her to eat in what is currently a stressful place (i.e., not under the bed) is probably just adding to her overall stress level.

  10. Thank you everyone for your fantastic suggestions! I’m glad some of what I’m doing actually makes sense, beyond being just blind instinct. The Feliway and Rescue Remedy are excellent ideas. I did put on NPR for her the first day I left her alone all day, so I might stick with that every day for the time being. I’ve finally chosen a name for her, Penny.

    One unexpectedly bright side effect of all of this is how much less stressed I am, in my efforts to be soothing and calming to Penny! And of course I’d forgotten just how long it took me to get Zoey (a semi-feral rescue from a dumpster downtown) somewhat calm and able to trust me completely.

    Two of my co-workers also saved death-row kitties the same day as I did last week (one adoption, one fostering like me), and I will share your wonderful advice with them, if I may. Thank you. xxxx