Rescue kittens might be from abusive home???

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exlibris
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Rescue kittens might be from abusive home???

Post by exlibris » Tue Oct 22, 2019 4:55 pm

Hi all,
We have the weirdest pair of kittens. When we first brought them home from the shelter they did a bit of exploring, then just started playing chase for ages. Considering how upset Whisper was travelling (her breathing rate was disturbingly quick) we thought it would be ages before they'd settle, but they were exploring their environment and quite chilled about their strange new home. What they seem to have a problem with is us!
They just ran away constantly to begin with, which is what you'd expect initially, but it's been REALLY slow to gain their trust. It's been 5 weeks and if you move too suddenly they will run away (though we seem to have gained their trust well enough to not move off the stairs when we want to use them!). Guess where they're totally friendly, only the most inconvenient place - in the bathroom, when you're on the toilet! Even my mother-in-law once failed to close the door properly and was treated to 'being observed'.
Winston now reluctantly allows us to hold him and be fussed, but you have to catch him first and he's not happy. He has now decided to actively get on my lap for a snooze - a great result. But if you walk to towards him too quickly he rushes off.
Whisper is very reluctant to be picked up, though has purred in a 'I object to my location, but am enjoying the fuss' sort of way. She too rushes away if you walk towards them too quickly.
They are very startled by loud or unfamiliar noises (they have even fled in terror over a very loud instance of flatulence :D ).
My partner is particularly confused as he normally has an also mystic ability to befriend all animals he comes across (including owls, bats, and random wild birds at the beach), yet they seem particularly unhappy with him. HOWEVER, at other times they are happy to be fussed by him and chase cat toys he uses. My partner is 6'6" so is an impressive size. Maybe he looms too much?
Any sudden movements can also cause them to run away. However, whatever causes them to scarper only does so for a few moments, they're back pretty soon.
It seems so odd. The person from the RSPCA shelter said they were born there to a female who was brought in. However, considering she also told us they were both neutered and defleaed and they weren't, I question if she knew what she was talking about. Have they in fact come from an abusive home?
Winston and Whisper are extremely close and had to be adopted as a pair, so maybe they're bonded more closely to each other?

Are these classic signs of an abusive home, or do we just have weird cats? I dare say no matter the answer we just need to purrrrsevere, but if anyone has advice it would be handy.

Sarah, James, Winston & Whisper :)

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Re: Rescue kittens might be from abusive home???

Post by booktigger » Tue Oct 22, 2019 5:16 pm

I wouldn't say abusive, but they do sound like they weren't well socialized at a young age. I thought they had been with a fosterer, which had caused the medical mix ups? Even being born in a house doesn't mean well socialized kittens unfortunately, some of my tamest have been living outside and I've had some really aloof ones that were born here, a lot has to do with mum, if she is nervous around humans the kittens will be, although that can change once homed. My weirdest was a litter of 6 born here, 3 tabby, 3 black and white- the tabbies would climb your legs to sit on you, the black and whites ignored you, but 2 days after homing the most aloof black and white I got a pic of her curled up on the daughters knee! I even had my neighbour come round while I was at work and sometimes in the evening to try and give all 6 equal attention. Mum however growled as soon as I opened the door regardless whether she could see me and I couldn't get near the kittens till they were 3 weeks old. She ended up an affectionate cat after neutering though, sadly she had only been here 2 days when she gave birth so not enough time to build up trust

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Re: Rescue kittens might be from abusive home???

Post by Mollycat » Tue Oct 22, 2019 7:15 pm

I certainly wouldn't jump to the abusive home conclusion for some skittishness around people. Running away in playfulness and bouncing back again is pretty kittenish along with stalking human feet and running away when they get near because they are so much bigger than they were when we started stalking! Maybe not very well socialised as BT says, but what you describe there doesn't immediately ring alarm bells. My girl wasn't well socialised and was in a chaotic home for 9 months, then was rescued to a peaceful home for 5 years, before coming to me - she was handed to me with "Molly will always be Molly, there will always be setbacks, she won't ever be normal" and now at 12 I'm sure she was right. Socialisation or not really can have lifetime impact.

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Re: Rescue kittens might be from abusive home???

Post by exlibris » Tue Oct 22, 2019 8:50 pm

booktigger wrote:
Tue Oct 22, 2019 5:16 pm
I wouldn't say abusive, but they do sound like they weren't well socialized at a young age. I thought they had been with a fosterer, which had caused the medical mix ups? Even being born in a house doesn't mean well socialized kittens unfortunately, some of my tamest have been living outside and I've had some really aloof ones that were born here, a lot has to do with mum, if she is nervous around humans the kittens will be, although that can change once homed.
Sounds like it might be something inherited from the Mum then. I really think the foster person didn't get them properly socialised, but she may not have had them very long.

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Re: Rescue kittens might be from abusive home???

Post by exlibris » Tue Oct 22, 2019 9:42 pm

Mollycat wrote:
Tue Oct 22, 2019 7:15 pm
Running away in playfulness and bouncing back again is pretty kittenish along with stalking human feet and running away when they get near because they are so much bigger than they were when we started stalking!
Alas it is different to playful stalking. I really hope we're not too late to properly socialise them. Winston is starting to come around, if he'll be a lap cat with me, he'll probably warm to my partner. Whisper is a bit more tricky. They're both keen at arms-length games, i.e. string chasing and that cat rod thing with feathers on it. I just hope they realise its James who is doing it!

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Re: Rescue kittens might be from abusive home???

Post by Sana » Tue Oct 22, 2019 10:05 pm

It's never too late to socialise with them

I think the most important thing is to show them love and affection

Keep doing that and by no time they'll become a cuddly kitten :)

My cat looks for every opportunity to sit on my lap now

I remember when we first got him, he was very scared and just didn't want to interact with us

So yes, it can take time

This article has some real good tips and advice and worth a read :)

https://catloverhere.com/2018/07/23/how ... be-cuddly/

Hope this helps

PS - patience is key (Y)

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Re: Rescue kittens might be from abusive home???

Post by Mollycat » Wed Oct 23, 2019 5:21 am

I'm not suggesting it's too late by any means, just that it might take more patience and be a bit more intensive, but the first 2-3 months are important and a rough start can and often has long lasting effects. In some ways it's probably that little bit harder with two because they have each other and so don't have to rely so much on people.

Drifting off topic a bit but I know I underestimated the influence pets have on each other and have learned a lot every time one is lost from a multi pet household. At the moment here it's showing most in the dog, who was making great progress with his fear of fireworks in the last two years since he came to live with two cats that weren't one bit bothered by them, and now the chillest one is gone the dog has gone right back to the way he was before crying and whining at the first bang. Or my ex's remaining cat who I'm pained to say has really blossomed since my angel boy died, it seems he bullied her more than we realised without ever confronting her.

We forget sometimes that we are not the only influence - or even in some ways the main one - on their behaviour. This might help explain better why your kittens might be more of a challenge https://www.cats.org.uk/uploads/documen ... sation.pdf Experiments done in 1970s psychology found that kittens raised in an environment with no vertical lines (don't ask me how that was created!) were literally unable to see vertical lines. That's how critical the early weeks can be.

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Re: Rescue kittens might be from abusive home???

Post by fjm » Wed Oct 23, 2019 7:23 am

Tilly was returned to the rescue by her first adopters for being "too wild". Her fosterer worked hard socialising her, and told me she was much improved but still not your usual kitten. She came to me at around 5 months old, and immediately attached herself to Pippin, who was only a few months older but almost twice her size, who taught her even more confidence in humans. In return she provided an outlet for all his excess energy, and saved our ankles from his depredations She grew up into one of the sweetest, gentlest, most politely sociable cats you could ever meet. So don't despair - just keep working on socialising and setting boundaries, rewarding what you like, ignoring or distracting from what you don't.

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Re: Rescue kittens might be from abusive home???

Post by booktigger » Wed Oct 23, 2019 12:09 pm

I certainly wouldn't say too old, as long as you are willing to put in a lot of time and patience and don't expect certain things- as someone here recently said to me "The important thing is to let go of our ambitions for them and see them as they are." Yes, they may not be your average kittens, and being a closely bonded pair does hinder them wanting human attention/affection, but the fact they are coming round is really positive. Another thing you may find is that even when they act more like 'normal' kittens, certain things might never leave them.

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Re: Rescue kittens might be from abusive home???

Post by kittycatcare » Wed Oct 23, 2019 5:14 pm

I had similar issues with my coon. She wasn't abused but wasn't well socialized with humans because mom was a little skittish too. But after 3 days at home I had her curled up on my tummy watching football with me! Just give them attention and time, they will come around :D

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Re: Rescue kittens might be from abusive home???

Post by Sana » Wed Oct 23, 2019 6:33 pm

All cats want are attention and love (and treats!)

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