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Posted: Fri May 24, 2019 7:57 am
We have two kittens from Cats Protection and have had them at home for 2 weeks now, they are about 10 weeks old, brother and sister. They are still very nervous kittens, will run away from us when we try to stroke them or pick them up. They don't come to us unless it is feeding time, but they seem very happy they play constantly, mainly with each other. They will come to us and take treats off us and if they are quiet and resting they will generally let us stroke them and we are getting purring, but it doesn't last long. I would have expected by now they would have been socialised quite well and not be so nervous. Any tips on how we can help them become more relaxed would be appreciated.
Re: Kitten help
Posted: Fri May 24, 2019 8:50 am
best advice I can give is to stop trying to stroke them and pick them up - at their age play, food and sleep will take precedence over their humans - you can join in the play by using interactive toys with them, and as they get older they will want more fuss fr om you
be patient and you will get your reward in purrs and cheek rubs - for now just enjoy watching their madcap adventures
Re: Kitten help
Posted: Fri May 24, 2019 9:42 am
Very much with Kay on this one.
I would focus more on play, play is extremely important for them to develop skills and is often a 'way in' with cats who have had a difficult, traumatic or simply unusual start in life. They have each other for cuddling and affection and unless they have already been used to a lot of the right kind of handling they won't experience your attempts at affection as comforting, more frightening.
I say this as someone who shares my home with a 12 year old cat who has been with me for 6 years (6 years tomorrow actually) who is utterly traumatised, fearful, odd and antisocial. It took a couple of years before I was able to share any real level of affection with her although she is a very loving cat but she is also afraid of it. Her story? Her mother was young and not attentive or protective enough, and her first 9 months were spent in a loud chaotic household where she was subjected to unwelcome and inappropriate handling. She is loving, but only once she knows you will leave her alone, not attempt to grab or restrain her in any way. All this to illustrate that the mental scars of unwanted picking up and cuddling can run extremely deep and often never truly heal.
Please, give your kittens their space, play with them, and let them choose when they are ready to be touched.
Re: Kitten help
Posted: Fri May 24, 2019 10:08 am
Hi and welcome
Yes, I agree with Kay and Mollycat; at present it's early days. Kittens are odd beings; some are instant fusspots; others want to reserve judgement - and with your two, at present they are focused on each other. This is good as they will keep each other out of bother, playing, fighting and sleeping together, and you'll end up with better-adjusted cats. Socialisation to humans takes longer; they aren't instantly friendly like puppies.
I used to breed Siamese and when my first kitten arrived, the breeder had written in the list of instructions: always give a kitten a place to hide. So I did, and within a few hours she was sitting on the landing, watching me between the banisters. But she slept in her hiding place a few days longer before taking over the bed.
I got the opposite advice when I had to rescue a litter of feral kittens and was told, 'these kittens will never get homes unless you socialise them. DON'T let them hide.' Well, I gave them a reasonably private sleeping box, and they enjoyed their grub so they emerged mewing every time I brought them a dish. I only had them a few days, and spent a lot of time sitting with them, and playing with a bunch of feathers or dried grass and allowing them to 'catch' the 'prey' - when they'd clambered on to my jeans. So without realising it, they were assimilating the smell and presence of a human, while having fun at the same time. I talked to them a lot too. They all got homes. But this was an intensive course, so as to get them taken on by the rescue; a settled home and relationship like yours has all the time in the world. I used the same technique in a more leisurely way with the kittens' mother and elder sister; they became very loving (and loved) cats.
It just takes time; as they grow, kittens' personalities develop; they become more outgoing; it's a fascinating process and they'll surprise you. Your two sound to be off to a very good start; pretty normal for their age and background, and I hope you all have many happy years ahead of you together
Re: Kitten help
Posted: Fri May 24, 2019 10:20 am
The recommendation is to handle kittens as much as possible in the first few weeks of life. It is possible that that was not done as much as it could have depending on how the kittens were cared for within the rescue center.
My 2 news kittens were with a "foster" mum and were handled daily by the foster and their children so are well used to humans.
On the other hand I have another cat that took 2 year before we could touch her!
I agree with the other replies, play and hand feeding is the way forward. The kittens desire to play and eat will help them overcome their fear. They will get used to your smells and will eventually make contact.
Patience is the key here let them do it at their pace but do what you can to help them
Leave a hand dangling
A worn piece of clothing as bedding
hand feed suitable treats
Gently stroking their tail with your hand is a far better than stroking their head or body
Re: Kitten help
Posted: Fri May 24, 2019 10:47 am
Congratulations on the two new additions, and I can't really add to what has already been said, patience is the key and letting them come to you. Sit with them, play with them, watch tv or read a book, be with them but don't be intrusive. They will soon realise that you have a warm comfy knee to sit on. Some would say that 8 weeks is a bit young to be separated from their mother, but during kitten season homes sometimes have to be found quicker than is idea. They will learn from each other, but you will also have to be involved with teaching them a few manners and how hard to play. When they do relax around you more and start playing with you be prepared to get up and walk away if they play too rough, that is all the punishment they need and they will soon learn to control their biting and clawing. It may still be a few weeks before it gets to that stage, but it is best to be ready for it and know what to do.