Cheyenne still nervous

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notjustacat
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Cheyenne still nervous

Post by notjustacat » Wed May 07, 2014 7:52 pm

Well I have had Cheyenne a black 4 year old rescue cat for 8 months now. She has progressed from never leaving the room she originally started in. To going outside but always returns. However she still wont let me approach her. Now recently, she has taken to living in the airing cupboard (which is fine). But there has been a progress problem. A few days ago while she was in the garden I noticed her pawing at her mouth and I could see a long piece of grass lodged between her teeth. Knowing there was no way I could assist her with the problem where she was, I waited till she had gone to her cupboard. Well when I tried to approach her all hell broke loose. She hissed, spat, growled and tried to scratch me. Eventually jumped over me and disappeared outside till the next day. Now she wont go near the cupboard and has chosen of all places, the bath to sleep in. I of course regret trying to help her. Suffice to say the grass is no longer in her teeth now anyway. So now things have take a large step backwards. I would appreciate your advice on whether I have lost the progress that had been made so far?. Also how will I ever get her to the vets if she needs it?.

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Kay
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Re: Cheyenne still nervous

Post by Kay » Wed May 07, 2014 10:15 pm

she would have panicked in the cupboard because she would have felt you were trapping her there - but the fact she ran off but came back suggests very little of your progress has been lost

8 months is a long time though - I'm no expert but I do wonder if it isn't time to force her to share a room with you in the evenings - shutting her in with you for a few hours, with litter tray food and water, whilst you ignore her apart from talking to her, might nudge her into a bit more progress

you could set up a cat carrier with a comfy blanket inside, which she might use as a bed, so that you would have a better chance of getting her to the vet in it if you had too

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Re: Cheyenne still nervous

Post by SarahT1 [PLLE] » Thu May 08, 2014 7:42 am

Mike, I'm no expert either, but I wonder if something has to change in Cheyenne's environment. She is getting everything her way (as we want to do for our babies) but it may be that she needs to be persuaded, lovingly and gently, to face her fears. Kay's suggestion of closing the door on you and her in a safe room, but one where she can't run away, sounds a useful suggestion. There must be others.

This is totally off the wall, and I appreciate I may be completely shouted down by the people on here who are way, way more knowledgeable than me. This is completely counter intuitive I know, but is there the remotest chance (please just advise, guys, don't shout at me!!), that Cheyenne would benefit from a very laid back kitty companion who would show her that things are cool with Daddy. I appreciate that Cheyenne might go completely off her rocker with another kitty, but on the other hand, maybe it's humans she's scared of, but she might be okay with other cats and she could learn from a friend. The rescue she came from might be able to give some guidance.

Mike - I know this sounds completely daft, but it's just a thought. I know you don't want to do anything to make things worse for her or set her back further, so I appreciate this would need enormous thought and planning, and it might likely be completely the wrong thing to do, so should be jettisoned immediately! But someone on here might have a suggestion about this...

I really felt for you last night, Mike, when my girl was on my lap, loving her Mummy and I knew how precious it was for us both, and I want that for you and Cheyenne. You are a wonderful Daddy - you have taken the hardest route to giving your baby security. There must be a way she can be reassured.

Please offer Mike as much help as you can, folks. I am only 18 months into cat guardianship, and I'm trying to learn fast, but there's lots of folk on CC who have years of amazing experience. XX

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Re: Cheyenne still nervous

Post by Camdengirl » Thu May 08, 2014 8:02 am

Sarah may be onto something, I am sure my ex-feral Pip (also black) learned something from seeing my other cat snuggling in my lap and sleeping with me on the bed. But after she'd settled in I did also force contact from time to time, mainly because I didn't want her to associate being picked up with going to the vet. Have you tried sitting in a room with Cheyenne, reading to her and maybe trying to hand feed her treats? That's how I started with Pip, I let her come to me but bribed her to do it!!

It is a long road with timid cats, it took Pip a good eighteen months to come around to the idea that humans are useful, at which point she suddenly turned into a bossy little madam. Around that time she and my other cat went on holiday to my parents and when Pip didn't run to hide on arrival but instead stood shouting for food my Mum asked whether I'd been given the wrong cat back at the vet! It is very rewarding when they make positive steps, but I know it is also very frustrating at times. Don't lose hope!

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Re: Cheyenne still nervous

Post by notjustacat » Thu May 08, 2014 9:49 am

I can see the logic of having another furry to show Cheyenne there is nothing to be afraid of. Unfortunately due to a number of reasons it's not an option. The single room is also good advise, again unfortunately my living area is open plan and doesn't lend itself to closing an area off. I do feel so guilty that I have deprived Cheyenne of her comfort sanctuary. I think I will just have to learn to ignore her and get used to her being aloof.

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Re: Cheyenne still nervous

Post by Camdengirl » Thu May 08, 2014 11:22 am

Presumably the bathroom is not part of the open-plan layout though? If she's sleeping in the bath, can you not spend some time in the bathroom with her each day? I know it's not anyone's first choice of location for hanging out, but twenty minutes here and there should be doable?

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Re: Cheyenne still nervous

Post by Crewella » Thu May 08, 2014 11:47 am

I agree with Camdengirl, at this stage I would push myself at her a bit more - with some shy cats, they stay happy with the status quo, so it's up to you to move the boundaries a bit. The bathroom sounds a good idea, and I would set up a routine of spending time in there every day and getting a little closer. She won't like it at first, but cats love routines as it makes them feel more in control so if you keep at it she will get used to it.

My Peaches was a feral mum when the rescue caught her. She's now been with me a couple of years and is still very wary and doesn't like to be trapped or feel her escape route is blocked. She will, however, come up for a stroke and roll over for a tummy tickle in certain rooms, but if I meet her outside she still runs for cover, though she will come in when called.

I have certain rules, I will pick her up from time to time, but I always tried not to betray her trust and grab her somewhere she feels safe or when she's approached me. She now loves a scritch when she's curled up in her bed, and I wouldn't want to spoil that and grab her from her bed for anything. I found feeding time is the best time to approach, I have always insisted on stroking her as I put the bowl down, and she's happy with that now - I think she just got bored of dodging my hand!

She was recently hit a glancing blow by a car, and I've never been so grateful that I did spend time 'forcing myself' on her a bit, as it made taking her to the vets and handlng her so much easier - she didn't like it, but submitted.

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Re: Cheyenne still nervous

Post by SarahT1 [PLLE] » Thu May 08, 2014 11:59 am

Mike, I think Camdengirl and Crewella are absolutely right. I understand you can't get another furry, that's fine, but you don't have to simply accept that you and Cheyenne will always be at a distance from each other. You both deserve more. Please think about putting their suggestions into action. My heart I really aching for you both.

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Re: Cheyenne still nervous

Post by Lyn from Australia » Thu May 08, 2014 6:11 pm

Just a thought - the length of time it is taking for Cheyenne to settle reminds me a bit of Maureen from the US and Izzy. Some of you may remember how long it took for Izzy to leave her safe spot in the basement and explore upstairs - and it turned out that Izzy is blind!!! and this hadn't been picked up by the shelter or the vet, but a different vet (I am assuming) quite a long time, perhaps 12 months, later. It's just made me wonder if Cheyenne might having a sight or hearing problem. Has she had a thorough physical check?

And of course it is very possible that it will take her even longer to "warm up", although I don't know that I'd go so far as to say she never will - even my problem child Summer has warmed up to me, even if she'll never be great friends with the other cats - although this took about 2 - 3 years!!

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Re: Cheyenne still nervous

Post by Jacks » Thu May 08, 2014 10:53 pm

Dear little Cheyenne! I am thinking too that after 8 months, as long as there are no physical problems like lack of vision or hearing, you could do with forcing the issue as otherwise she's simply reinforcing her own feral behaviour.

The problem is that she is 4 years old and patterns are harder to break when they're older, but it can be done. I've heard of success stories through using a large dog crate in a lounge area (open plan would be ideal) with all facilities and a 'den' but which force the cat to get used to human company, noises and general goings-on. Of course the problem for you would be getting her in to it, and it may be absolutely NOT the thing to try, but it's a thought...

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Re: Cheyenne still nervous

Post by notjustacat » Fri May 09, 2014 1:48 pm

Thank you all for your most welcome and sensible advice. I tried closing Her and me in one room i.e. the bathroom as advised. Which was kind of a Mexican stand off, with Cheyenne spending our quality time together looking for somewhere to escape. Unfortunately, as expected, she now doesn't go in there and has moved onto one of the living area sofas. But not if I am in there. When I turn up she heads for the garden. I think it's a man thing. However, I will continue to tactfully pursue her around the house until hopefully she gives in. If it's OK would like to keep anyone who may be interested updated with her progress, or not as the case may be.

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Re: Cheyenne still nervous

Post by Jacks » Fri May 09, 2014 2:36 pm

We would love you too - in fact we demand you keep us updated ;)

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Re: Cheyenne still nervous

Post by Kay » Fri May 09, 2014 2:54 pm

I second that - apart from wanting to know about Cheyenne, one day someone with a similar problem will find your experiences invaluable

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Re: Cheyenne still nervous

Post by Willowgill » Fri May 09, 2014 6:41 pm

Hi - I was just wondering if you have tried playing with her with either a stick and string or maybe a laser beam (be careful of her eyes!). Also with a huge amount of patience a spoon of tuna or her favourite biscuits? I have a stray who will come in and sleep and feed but after having to catch him to take him to the vets has now lost all confidence in me again so it's back to the drawing board. Sitting on the floor with bits of ham also worked. If she's now frightened of the airing cupboard and bath how about a box with a hole in facing away from the main room and a blanket of hers in it which she can hide in and feel safe? I have a part feral like Crewella - after nearly 3 years I can only stroke or touch her when she's feeding and then only on her terms. I think the main thing is she obviously feels safe in your house - it takes so long to gain trust so give her space again and eventually she will respond.

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Re: Cheyenne still nervous

Post by notjustacat » Fri May 09, 2014 7:34 pm

Hi Willowgill. When I first got her she was scared of everything and decided to live in a cat carry case in the corner of my living area. So she got the day to day noises i.e. t.v., kettle and me walking about. She would only come out at night when I had gone to bed. That included eating her food which was near the case. I also put a litter tray in the near area also. I tried the tip bits chicken, salmon and tuna which she would take but always returned to the back of the carry case. I did use the fishing rod toy which she started to play with. So, although she was still very wary I thought we were getting somewhere. At this time I restricted her to the open plan living area. Then just after Christmas I forgot to close the door to the kitchen. The back door has a cat flap in it. So off she went. Well I thought that was the last I would see of her. But the next morning she was back in her carry case. That's when she took to living in various places around the house. It was also at this point she was no longer interested in playing. Her routine is eat, sleep in strange places and going out. That's been the routine for the last 4 months. Until the upset as outlined in my opening post. As I said there have I undone the little trust she may have had in me. Perhaps that will change but unfortunately Cheyenne holds all the Aces,

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Re: Cheyenne still nervous

Post by Kay » Fri May 09, 2014 9:28 pm

it's huge that she got out but came back - it shows she thinks of your home as her home, even if she isn't too keen on sharing it with you - yet

I wonder if it is a man thing - do you have a woman friend or relative who can try talking to her for a while, in the sort of soft wheedling tone us crazy cat women use so much of the time - it would be interesting to see if Cheyenne responds

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Re: Cheyenne still nervous

Post by Crewella » Sat May 10, 2014 12:15 am

Personally, I don't think you have gone that many steps back, and the fact that she comes home vouches for the fact that she feels safe with you. She's just not used to being forced to make contact with you, and the only way she will get used to that is to keep trying. If you look at it from her point of view, she feels safe as things are, but any deviation from what she's used to looks scary, so she protests. She's not suddenly scared of you personally, she's just scared of you doing something different from what she's used to. She has, actually, come a long way since she arrived, and as long as you are gentle and take small steps, she will, if you persevere, gradually get used to you trying to get closer. In my view, repetition is the key, then she will start to learn what to expect and so feel more in control and less scared.

You're doing a wonderful thing for her, and yes, please do keep us updated. :)

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Re: Cheyenne still nervous

Post by Willowgill » Sat May 10, 2014 5:52 am

I agree - if she didn't want to be there she would've left so don't beat yourself up too much as she obviously feels that this is her home. It may be that she's had a bad experience with men so it could take a long time to gain her trust completely. Over the years (a lot of them!!) I've found that cats like to vary their sleeping/hiding habits on a regular basis - what was once a favourite settee will suddenly be out of favour and the top of a chair or under the bed will become a new one. Just go with her moods and talk to her as you pass although it does benefit to be able to touch her in case you need to get her to the vets so a gentle stroke without approaching her directly with your hand whenever you can will help.

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Re: Cheyenne still nervous

Post by Camdengirl » Sat May 10, 2014 9:29 am

I agree with Crewella. Cats with no/little experience of humans are frightened of the unknown simply because it's unknown. When it happens, their immediate response is panic, but when nothing bad happens to them it becomes a bit less unknown and a bit less scary. It takes a long time to overcome that instinctive response, but bit by bit they do get there. When I first had Pip I was terrified of doing anything that might 'set things back' between us, but she repeatedly surprised me with how well she coped with the unexpected. Much better than my anxious boy Hops, who has cuddled with me since day one but had very traumatic experiences before coming to me. Pip had to go to the vet a number of times in her first year with me (I used to have to grab her as she shot past me and still have scars to show for flailing paws!) and I was surprised to find that each trip out made her a bit braver, rather than the opposite. Do keep trying to interact with Cheyenne, she goes out and comes back to you so clearly feels safe in her new home, and if you keep trying she will learn that humans aren't as scary as they seem.

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