Cheyenne going AWOL

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notjustacat
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Cheyenne going AWOL

Post by notjustacat » Mon May 19, 2014 3:55 pm

I recently posted a concern that my 4 year old rescue cat Cheyenne would no longer go into the cupboard which was her den after I cornered her in it in an attempt to remove a piece of grass from between her teeth. Well after a week she is using it again. However her new routine is causing me a lot of concern. The old daily routine was I got up and fed Cheyenne. She would first go out into the garden then after about 10 minutes would go and eat her breakfast. She would then go back outside and return about midday. Sleep in her cupboard till about 5pm, which is when I refilled her dish. She would then go outside again and I wouldn't see her till the next morning.
But now she has gone outside before I get up and doesn't come back for her morning meal. In fact the only time I see that she is still around is if I look in her cupboard in the early hours of the morning. Where she goes to I have no idea. It almost looks like she is getting ready to leave. What do you think? any thoughts would be much appreciated.

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Re: Cheyenne going AWOL

Post by Kay » Mon May 19, 2014 4:16 pm

I think you are going to have to bite the bullet with her and keep her in overnight - I doubt she is going to leave altogether unless she is being fed somewhere else, but you will never be able to bond with her if she is absent so much of the time

the longer days and warmer weather make most cats want to be outside more, but road traffic accidents, and fights with other cats, are much bigger dangers when it's dark

if she is gone all day but returns at any time in the evening, I would shut her in and not let her out again until the following morning, after her breakfast

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Re: Cheyenne going AWOL

Post by notjustacat » Mon May 19, 2014 4:43 pm

Thanks for that swift reply Kay. Unfortunately like today, I haven't seen her at all. She was gone when I got up and she hasn't come back yet. So locking her in at night will be difficult. She was there around 2 this morning so seems to stay in at night anyway. But it's all a bit up in the air at present. Also with Cheyenne, bonding hasn't been an option that she is prepared to try.

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Re: Cheyenne going AWOL

Post by SarahT1 [PLLE] » Mon May 19, 2014 5:19 pm

How is Cheyenne getting in and out of your house? Have you got a cat flap or do you leave a window open for her? I appreciate this may be a retrograde step but is it possible to stop her going out at all whilst you try again to bond and settle her in her home? She may not like it but at least she will be safe.

Have you spoken to the rescue she came from? Do you know her history? Was she feral, stray, or had been given in to rescue by owners who had found all this impossible to deal with? My cynical and hopefully wrong instinct is that the rescue knew that Cheyenne would be trouble and were all too quick to rehome her when you lovingly showed concern for her. She may have needed much longer being rehabilitated there or in foster before rehoming. When I rehomed Lou Lou from Battersea although she was no problem at all the after care was great and I spoke to them on the phone several times for guidance. Perhaps you've done this, Mick, but I am so sorry for this heartbreaking situation and I want you to get as much support as possible.

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Re: Cheyenne going AWOL

Post by notjustacat » Mon May 19, 2014 6:50 pm

Hi Sarah
She came from an RSPCA rescue center. As far as I am aware the owner had too many cats to look after properly. She was scared of everything and although I haven't even stroked her in the 8 months I have had her she has come a long way. I do have a lockable cat flap but have been loathe to start our bonding process from day one again. However as you suggest that may be the only solution. As a post script I haven't seen her all day and her food is untouched.

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Re: Cheyenne going AWOL

Post by Jacks » Mon May 19, 2014 7:21 pm

Mick, I'm going to be even more controversial. After 8 months with not even a stroke this little cat is actually confident enough to go outside and do her own thing - but it sounds like she doesn't actually like people... I wonder whether she'd actually be better as a barn cat - so somewhere warm to sleep, food if she needs it, feline company and little contact with humans. This is not a nervous anxious cat who hides all the time; she handles herself well and has chosen her main environment as outdoors. As you don't know what she does outside it could be that someone is feeding her or that she is hunting.

I would start to wonder whether the previous owner didn't actually have a lot to do with Cheyenne - she was able to come and go as she pleased and there was food if she wanted it. For you, who want to give her love and companionship, this is very hard. Maybe she wasn't actually 'scared of everything' but scared of everything human...

I know everyone (including myself) has been encouraging you with ideas of how to win her round and convert her to indoor life with a human, but maybe this is not what she actually needs. Sounds to me like Cheyenne is letting you know what she is comfortable with and that it doesn't include her human. All that love and attention you have to give might be better going to another little cat who is desperate for a home and the touch of a human hand. There are a lot of them out there - and perhaps Cheyenne could either be relocated as a barn/sanctuary cat or still use her cupboard as 'home base' and you can give another kitty all the home comforts as well.

I think sometimes we credit ourselves with too much power over cats - we offer choices but they make their own decisions much of the time! Eight months after neutering my wild feral boy (took me 5 months to trap) has decided I am his home base - he no longer wants to sleep outside at night but in a dog basket in our kitchen, uses a litter tray and is loving and attentive, following me around and loving learning to play. I can even pick him up. He enjoys the outdoors but it's home he wants best. The vet nurse on the phone recently was stunned; she remembers the scraggly, wild, hissing thing they had to put under anaesthetic even to examine.

I'm thinking maybe this is nothing that you've done or not done - this is just Cheyenne being who she wants to be. Something to think about, maybe. x

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Re: Cheyenne going AWOL

Post by Willowgill » Mon May 19, 2014 7:35 pm

I think Jacks might be right - either that or she has found an alternative hiding place outside and perhaps even an alternative food source. With the warm weather she's possibly happier outside but I would be worried about her being gone for so long. My Alfie sometimes disappears for hours - he'll go out after breakfast and not arrive home until either bedtime or even occasionally after we've gone to bed :o We've no idea where he goes which is such a worry! Does your cat flap have a two way locking system? Could you lock it from the inside so that once she's in she can't get out again so that if she does come in through the night at least you'll see her in the morning? The bonding thing is a difficult one and you might find that you just have to accept Cheyanne is not a people cat :(

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Re: Cheyenne going AWOL

Post by notjustacat » Mon May 19, 2014 7:59 pm

Jacks that is great advise. I will see if she continues to come home on a regular basis, but I think she has found her niche. As you have alluded to. Perhaps I should contact the RSPCA center from whence she came to take her back and rehouse her more appropriately. I don't think it would take her long to go feral as things are now. It's fortunate that, as we have not bonded, losing her will not cause the emotional upset that the loss of my previous 16 year old cats dying did. I must just add that I feel I have totally failed and let Cheyenne down. I think I will give the thought of another cat a miss as I feel I have lost my touch.

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Re: Cheyenne going AWOL

Post by Jacks » Mon May 19, 2014 8:13 pm

Mick, Please do contact the RSPCA, but also please don't think you've done anything wrong! We've been with you throughout these months and sensed your commitment, patience but ultimately frustration. You haven't let her down at all; she never had the bond with you your previous cat did but there ARE other cats who do want that human bond and comfort.

I would be really sure to only have a cat with a good history with humans in future though - it's tempting to think that love can always win the day and it's not what some cats actually want, but others do!

Please let us know how things go from here, and please don't beat yourself up about it. x

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Re: Cheyenne going AWOL

Post by Kay » Mon May 19, 2014 8:27 pm

Mick, there is a loving cat out there somewhere who would make you a perfect companion - you just need to find him or her - a cat who has been owned as an only cat by someone who has died, or had to go into a home, might well be ideal

the RSPCA homing bods are the only ones at fault here, as they really should have known Cheyenne was not the cat for you - but if they won't take her back, do you have an outside shed or other building you could put a catflap in, and let her come and go as she wishes - she may disappear altogether, or may decide to come inside at times, but it can be entirely on her terms, and you can feel free to offer a home to another more needy cat

you certainly haven't failed with her - believe me many people wouldn't have been so patient over 8 months

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Re: Cheyenne going AWOL

Post by SarahT1 [PLLE] » Mon May 19, 2014 8:42 pm

Mick, I am in tears here because everything said here is so true, both about Cheyenne and you. You are a wonderful Daddy and there is a little boy or girl who is longing for a loving touch from you. You have done everything right. I was trying to imply earlier that I thought the rescue had mucked this up and should offer to rehome Cheyenne but didn't have the courage to say it, but others have done so now so and I think that's right. But please don't lose confidence, you have given Cheyenne so much and now, once you know she is looked after as best she will allow, you deserve a loving relationship with another needy furbabe. X

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Re: Cheyenne going AWOL

Post by Hunnybunny » Mon May 19, 2014 8:51 pm

Can she not still stay with you and live the life she wants to live without the stress and an uncertain future in the hands of the RSPCA? Can you not just accept her for what she is and give hr the security of a home to return to and food as and when she chooses? Sorry but I think its very wrong to send her back because she doesn't fit the ideals and especially with the RSPCA she may never even leave the re homing centre again.

Are you in a position to take in another cat but from a more reliable rescue that will tick the right boxes?

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Re: Cheyenne going AWOL

Post by Camdengirl » Mon May 19, 2014 9:36 pm

I agree with Hunny, animals aren't just homewares we can return if they aren't what we wanted. And it doesn't sound as if Cheyenne is the one that is unhappy with the current situation. I don't think returning her to the RSPCA will work in her favour at all, they are often all too quick to pts cats that prove hard to home (I know this is not always true, some branches are very much better than others, but it is a reality). It feels as though you've suddenly had enough of her and are giving up, which strikes me as rather odd given that for months you have been reluctant to do anything to push her to bond for fear it might scare her away.

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Re: Cheyenne going AWOL

Post by Jacks » Mon May 19, 2014 10:11 pm

Camdengirl. please don't put words into Mick's mouth! He is certainly not treating her like a 'homeware'. He is simply preparing to admit that she doesn't want his attention, although she may appreciate the warmth and comfort of a home base. I agree that maybe a good outcome would be letting her have her freedom to come and go whilst providing some security for her, but equally if an appropriate barn home was found this might be a good outcome for her too. Mick might well be perfectly happy to care for her until such a place could be found. And there are too many cats in rescue desperate for human care.

At the end of the day too, this is Mick's life and Mick's struggle with Cheyenne, not ours and I think we should be as understanding as we can be. You can't actually force anyone or anything to bond with you - although I agree there are strategies that work in 'most cases', but there are exceptions, especially if a cat has (we don't know, of course) a feral history.

Your point about caution with RSPCA branches is a good one, I'm sure Mick would not want that to happen to Cheyenne. Our RSPCA is very good and don't PTS hard-to-homes but I acknowledge this is not a universal principle.

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Re: Cheyenne going AWOL

Post by Janey » Tue May 20, 2014 5:52 am

Hi Notjustcat, I've not been following your story so I don't know the ins and outs here. I was just wondering though, have you tried actually picking Cheyenne up and putting her on your knee and if so what happened? The reason I ask this is that I foster for RSPCA and I get a lot of sad cases whereby the cats are very scared when they come to me. What I've found is that very often they will hide in a corner somewhere when they first come to me and I leave them a few hours only to settle then go and pick them up and put them on my knee and talk gently to them and stroke them. I've found this works better than leaving them. They often relax then but go back to their corner after a while. I keep bringing them to my knee a few times a day and over a few days they will start coming out themselves and they often turn into the most loving cats. If Cheyenne was feral then that will be different, I look after feral cats outside too and know that will be a different story, not that you can't tame them but it will take longer the older the are.

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Re: Cheyenne going AWOL

Post by Camdengirl » Tue May 20, 2014 5:59 am

It is also Cheyenne's life, Jacks, and I don't agree with encouraging someone to give up on a feral cat so soon. Eight months might seem like a long time, but a feral cat can take much longer than that to come around, especially if it isn't pushed to interact. I have a formerly feral RSPCA reject (the lady I adopted her from was told 'come and take her or we pts') and she spent most of her 18 months in rescue living under a foster carer's bath, only coming out to eat and use the litter tray at night (we had to hire a trap to move her from there to my flat). I am not convinced more upheaval would be in Cheyenne's interest, she always comes home so clearly isn't unhappy there. With the nice weather a lot of perfectly happy, friendly pet cats disappear for hours and sometimes even days at a time (I have several friends with cats that do this), it doesn't mean they're unhappy at home, they are just enjoying the sunshine and, particularly at this time of year (unfortunately), all the exciting little furry and feathered critters out there. It's not a reason to send them away.

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Re: Cheyenne going AWOL

Post by SarahT1 [PLLE] » Tue May 20, 2014 7:25 am

Take heart, Mick, I'm sure no one imagined for a minute that you would want the little girl to be at risk of PTS. Rescues do make mistakes because they desperately need to rehome kitties. Two rescues took a risk on us. Even BATTERSEA overlooked a home check which I found astonishing. How were they to know we would be the right home for Lou Lou? Likewise we weren't home checked for Edgar and the rescue didn't vet check him and we are now nearly £2000 worse off becsuse he had serious dental issues! It didn't matter to us but it might have been impossible for someone else and he woukd have to go back. I think the RSPCA hadn't assessed Cheyenne properly and didn't understand her needs. That is not your fault. You're not an expert in dealing with cats like her and you have been doing really well. Perhaps the little girl would like a Mr Snugs kennel in the garden? Cheyenne sounds a little like Mama Cass who walesgang care for in the garden.

Take care, we are thinking of you both.

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Re: Cheyenne going AWOL

Post by Jacks » Tue May 20, 2014 8:21 am

Again, good points from Sarah, and quite possibly the best option (if Mick can accept it) to let Cheyenne find her own way, continuing as she is, as she's clearly making her own choices. A Mr Snugs kennel sounds a great idea - they really are very good.

I still think, Camdengir,l that we have to remember that not everyone is cut out for handling ferals. I count myself very lucky in having managed a 4.5 month feral kitten and a wild boy in that both have gentle temperaments and are drawn to humans as food sources (not to eat the humans, lol!). The little one seemed to decide early on that I was a suitable substitute Mum and never having owned a cat before I just went with it. It worked.

I really feel for Mick in that he has tried to give Cheyenne what he thought was best for her - and asked for advice from all of us along the way. Whether we would have done differently with more success is pure speculation; we don't live with Cheyenne.

I do know we all agree on the hope that there's a happy outcome for both of them. x

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Re: Cheyenne going AWOL

Post by greenkitty » Tue May 20, 2014 9:42 am

Can you not accept that this is how she wants to live, she's obviously a very scared girl but she does come back on occasions so knows that she has a safe place at your house if she needs it and whilst she may never be a lap cat or even one you can pet what would be the alternative for her? She'll be terrified in an RSPCA pen, hiding from anyone that comes to see her and potentially spending months if not years waiting, if she does ever find a home she'll have to go through all this trauma again. As others have suggested could you not make a suitable outdoor shelter for her (this doesn't have to cost a lot) and accept that this is how she chooses to live? You gave this girl a chance please don't give up on her.

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Re: Cheyenne going AWOL

Post by notjustacat » Tue May 20, 2014 9:46 am

I really appreciate all of your advice and comments and it has not been my intention cause conflict within this wonderful group of people. Cheyenne was in her cupboard when I looked at 2 am this morning but had gone when I got up. So she didn't feel the need to wait for food. However I have taken all of your comments on board and have made a decision. Cheyenne didn't ask to come here so any problems this situation has thrown up are mine not hers. As she seems happy enough with the situation as it is then so am I. Thoughts of re homing her and the stress it would cause her is therefore a non starter. As Sarah has said, perhaps an outdoor living accommodation would suit her. So I will open a shed at the bottom of my garden (that she has tried to get into on a number of occasions) so that she can occupy it if she wishes. All I have ever wanted for Cheyenne is for her to feel secure. Thank you all for taking the time over my dilemma. Rest assured all thought of giving up have been firmly dispelled.

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Re: Cheyenne going AWOL

Post by Jacks » Tue May 20, 2014 9:49 am

That's lovely Mick, we are all really pleased for Cheyenne. Who knows, in time and at her own pace she may get to know you better. She obviously sees you as 'home' and the shed is a marvellous idea since you have one - maybe a cat flap on it, if she's used to using one?

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Re: Cheyenne going AWOL

Post by SarahT1 [PLLE] » Tue May 20, 2014 10:05 am

Oh Mick, that's brilliant. I am sorry for the heartache this has caused you. We all wish you well with the little girl on the terms she will accept. If we haven't upset you please come back with any updates. Fusses to Cheyenne - or perhaps not! Blow her a kiss in her cupboard at 2am. Hugs to you.

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Re: Cheyenne going AWOL

Post by meriad » Tue May 20, 2014 10:27 am

Mick, I'm pleased for both you and Cheyenne.

My Abbie is similar to your girl; she is also very independent; she will come in to eat and then head off out again. When the weather is warm and dry (like it is now) then it can be a day or two before I see her. When she does come home (and I happen to be home) then I'm lucky enough that she does come for cuddles and fusses which I realise you don't have, but still.... Abbie is happy; she loves being outdoors and doing what cats do best. So if you can accept that that is what your girl is like then you'll both be happy.

The one thing I would possibly do if you haven't already - is put a collar on her so people know she has a home and don't feed her. Kitty Collars do personalised ones so you can have a short message printed on the collar if you wanted.

Good luck

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Re: Cheyenne going AWOL

Post by Lyn from Australia » Tue May 20, 2014 10:43 am

I miss a lot of posts due to a lack of time, and I didn't realise that Cheyenne wasn't just living as a cat in hiding, but spends time outdoors, sometimes a lot of time. This is wonderful for her. As has been mentioned, as she returns to your home on a regular basis for food and shelter she must feel very comfortable there, so I absolutely think you've made the right decision for the both of you. I think in time that Cheyenne may surprise you, but in the meantime don't give up on being a "normal" cat daddy - assess her behaviour over time and you may find that at some point down the track you'll feel safe to bring a second cat into your home, if you are able to, to provide you with the face rubs and head butts that you are missing out on with Cheyenne. Of course you'd have to feel confident that an addition wouldn't stress her out too much.
You've been wonderfully patient Mick, and provided a lovely home for a girl who many rescues would deem unadoptable.

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Re: Cheyenne going AWOL

Post by notjustacat » Tue May 20, 2014 10:49 am

Thanks for the collar advice Meriad. Unfortunately she won't let me get within 10 foot of her let alone put a collar on her. But it is good to know that there are other wandering cats out there.

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Re: Cheyenne going AWOL

Post by notjustacat » Tue May 20, 2014 11:38 am

Well having left the shed door slightly ajar and having put a sheep skin rug in there early this morning. I had a look in there at midday. Lo and behold there she was stretched out with not a care in the world. Although not quite what Sarah had in mind (a Mr Snugs kennel). However any port in a storm. I wonder if she'll abandon her cupboard upstairs now. Do you think I should move her food bowl to the shed?. Or leave it where it is, giving her a reason to still come indoors?.

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Re: Cheyenne going AWOL

Post by SarahT1 [PLLE] » Tue May 20, 2014 11:44 am

That's lovely, Mick. 'Daddy has given me my very own shed and snuggly rug! I think I'll have a snooze right now!' Well, she may abandon her cupboard, you'll have to wait and see. I don't suppose you can really check the shed in the middle of the night in the same way! I don't know what to advice about the food bowl. I know that Val who adopted feral Jesse and who is indoor with outdoor access to a playrun, has said she won't leave food outside in the play run otherwise Jesse would never come indoors again. He is still more inclined to the outdoor life and I don't think he's particularly into cuddles either, though he is more compliant (probably the wrong word!) than Cheyenne. It's tempting to put the food where she is, but also it would still be nice if she comes inside on her terms for her dinner. I'm sure other folk will get back to you on that pretty soon. I will message Val on Facebook and ask her to follow this thread and see if she can add anything about Jesse and Mama Cass that might help.

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Re: Cheyenne going AWOL

Post by Kay » Tue May 20, 2014 11:55 am

I think I would leave a smallish amount of dry biscuits in the shed, with a water bowl but not wet food, which would attract flies - and not much either as you don't want every stray in the district popping by for a free lunch

will you be out and about a fair bit in the garden during the summer months? you might find she will tolerate you being around much more readily when she knows she can get away whenever she wants to

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Re: Cheyenne going AWOL

Post by meriad » Tue May 20, 2014 12:04 pm

Does Cheyenne use a cat flap and is she chipped? Could you maybe install a microchip catflap into the shed door?

As for the food; to be honest - not 100% sure I would - because you do after all want her to come inside for feeding time. If for no other reason than should a vet visit become necessary you need to have a way of getting her inside.

But if you do put food down, then as Kay says only dry; not wet

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Re: Cheyenne going AWOL

Post by notjustacat » Tue May 20, 2014 2:24 pm

Thanks girls I do appreciate your input. That comment from Kay about a free lunch did make me chuckle.

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