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Doing the right thing?

Posted: Tue Jul 29, 2014 12:20 pm
by RockRollDie
Hello everyone,

I apologise in advance, this is a bit of an essay but I really want to get this all right....

My names Simon and myself and my partner have just adopted a beautiful 5 year old half Ragdoll called Ruby and would just like some advice / reassurance that what we are doing is right.
Firstly I would like to give a little back ground, I apologise if it goes on a bit but I wan't to give a clear picture.

She belonged to a friend of of our family James who also has two other cats, an 8 year old half Bengal and a 10 year old what I call "standard cat". James and his wife are also foster carers and over the years have had many lovely kids living in the house and the cats have always got on pretty well with the kids.

Unfortunately a little while ago James was given a 4 year old girl to take care of, sadly she had had the worse possible life up until then and had had things happen to her that no one, let a lone a child should ever go through. James new something wasn't quite right as Ruby started to be a little more skittish than usual, but couldn't work out what was going on. Then one day they walked in and the little girl had hung Ruby, by the neck in the curtain blind. This obviously really upset her and made her even more nervous, they kept a close eye on everything and all seemed well (turns out the little girl had also been 'Hanging' her teddies and toys), until one day they heard a horrible noise and ran in to find lots of beads tightly around Rubys neck and her trying in vain to get them off.

That really broke the poor cat. She turned into an absolute shell and the most nervous thing ever. Any noise, any movement and she would run and hide even with James and his partner. Over a short period she got a little better but her biggest fear is kids and being foster parents they decided the fairest thing to do was find her somewhere safe to live. (I'd also like to note the poor little girl is also now living somewhere they can cater for her and look after her 24/7)

This is where we step in. My sister told us about Ruby and that James was looking to re-home her and new that we had been thinking about rescuing a Cat and did we want to go to meet her. I spoke at length on the phone with James and he explained her back story and invited us over to meet her and if we liked her / she liked us take her home with us.

When we got there she let James pick her up but when she saw us did a runner and hid, the few times she came through the house she let us stroke her very briefly but then ran off. We decided to bring her home and she cried the whole journey (was only 20 mins give or take). This was only Sunday and we decided it was a good idea as my other half is at home all week on leave from work.

James gave us her food and her litter tray along with her favorite toy. We set up her food station and put the cat box there, opened the door and left her there for a while. She came out sniffed at the food and went back in the cat box. She did this a few times and then she decided to stay in the box. After a while we took the lid off of the box but let her stay there and she straight away jumped down and tried to get down the ONLY gap in the whole house we hadn't blocked (side of the dishwasher) managed to get her out and she ran to the bathroom and went and hid in the sink.

We decided to leave her be for a while to adjust, every half hour or so one of us went into the bathroom to chat to her and give her a stroke. I went in after about 90 mins and she had moved out of the sink to behind the toilet, she saw me and curled up really tight, I lay on the floor and she came out and let me stroke her before running back in, again she stayed right where she was for a few hours, we went in and spoke to her every once in a while and she started coming out when she saw us, for a quick stroke before ducking back behind the toilet. I know that cats like to have a couple of hidey holes across the house but behind the toilet was really inconvenient especially as the shower likes to spray that area when ever its on so next time she came out to see us we picked her up and put her in the hallway and she went into our bedroom... at that very moment it was like she was a totally different cat from the bathroom.
She was jumping up on the window ledge, empty shelves, exploring all the nooks and crannies, scenting everything (including us) and asking for strokes and cuddles. She was rolling around on her back and acting like you'd think a cat would in their own house.

On the first night we let her stay in the bedroom as she had been through enough as it was and didn't want to force her out of another room and she was quite comfy. Through the night she woke each of us once, just by nudging with her head because she wanted stroking, both times we put her back on the floor and went back to sleep.

Yesterday she was apparently following my other half around while she did the washing etc but wouldn't go in the living room (which she needs to cross to get to the kitchen) and I think its because we have a house Rabbit (caged and the sweetest most human rabbit you can imagine). Once the mrs had finished her bits and pieces she decided to go sit in the living room and take Ruby with her to give her a chance to explore the room, but instead of explore she jumped off her lap and into her basket under the table and pretty much stayed there all day. Coming out a few times to investigate and apparently took a few looks at the Rabbit hutch and the black furry monster within.

Once I was home she came out, said hello and went back out to the hallway and in and out of the rooms that she has already been in and claimed as hers. She seems really happy and to very much like us. As we sat in the living room that evening she was sitting at the door looking in, I called her over and she cautiously came in, had a quick stroke and nuzzled her head into my leg and then ran out again, this happened a few times but she so far has not explored the living room enough to feel comfortable in there it seems.

Last night we decided to try and keep her out of our bedroom if possible as we ideally don't want her in there at night and thought maybe best to start as we mean to go on (especially as we tend to sleep with the door shut) so shut her out and she didn't fuss, scratch the door or cry. I thought this may be a good thing and found her hiding behind a curtain in the hallway this morning.

I'm not really sure what to do about food and water. We want to keep this stuff in the kitchen if possible but she wont go in there and the once or twice we have taken her in there she runs straight back through the living room to the hallway. I have given her a hand full of biscuits where she was and took her some water (the little miss INSISTS on drinking from a tumbler and not from a bowl).

After that she went for a mooch about the hallway and rooms she has already been in and back to our room.

And that leads us to now I suppose. I just really want to make her happy and feel safe and love her to bits already.

Is there anything we can do to encourage her into the living room / kitchen? Are we doing things right so far?

She eats and drinks (when its put in front of her), She has used her litter tray, and seems really happy for the most part, I mean not like she can tell us but she 'asks' to be stroked, she likes to sit near us in the other rooms and as well as the standard scent rubbing against our legs likes to nuzzle her head into us at any chance she gets.

Should I leave the food and drink in the kitchen and make her go and 'hunt it out'? I'm just worried that she might not get any if we do that?

If you made it this far many thanks for reading and hello again. After reading through some of the posts here I think us and Ruby may be here for a while :)


Re: Doing the right thing?

Posted: Tue Jul 29, 2014 12:39 pm
by Jacks
Dear Simon,

Firstly thank you and your partner for being Ruby's saviours! As a ragdoll she will want to be interested and affectionate and the fact that she has done so well in such a short space of time suggests you are the perfect forever home for her, where she can rediscover her confidence after such an awful trauma. She is indeed lucky to be alive, poor little girl.

You don't say how long you've actually had her in your home but it sounds like a matter of days. If this is the case, fantastic progress. Let her lead the way - her early hiding was exactly to be expected - cats look for tiny holes they can defend when they are insecure or threatened - and she evidently loves your bedroom.

Why do you not want her in the bedroom at night? I ask because she'd probably like to be with you - cats are like that - and evidently sees it as her home territory.

Cats prefer their water to be in a different place to their food - and apparently they prefer transparent containers - hence the tumbler being popular. Glass vases of flowers can also be very popular... A couple of glass bowls, one on the other side of the room to the food and one upstairs, maybe in the bathroom, will probably do the trick.

I would get a Feliway plug-in for the living room (synthetic cat pheromone, nothing else will smell it, makes them feel at home as if they've 'marked' and area) - the cheapest place is Amazon. This will help her to claim the area that has the black monster :-) In time I'm sure she'll make friends with the house rabbit and they will be good companions. Cats are very accepting of other creatures if they have that sort of nature, and it sounds like your Ruby has.

Sounds to me like you're doing a grand job already! Gentle fuss for the lovely, lucky Ruby. x

Re: Doing the right thing?

Posted: Tue Jul 29, 2014 12:51 pm
by RockRollDie
Hi :)

Thanks for responding.

Yes it has only been since Sunday that she's been with us, it does seem that she has made amazing progress however I think its going to take a long time for her to bring her confidence right back up again, poor thing. Our friend really didn't want to get rid of her but it was the fairest thing as they still have foster children and would like to continue fostering.

We live in a flat which isn't a problem for Ruby as shes a self imposed indoor cat, the others used to come and go as they pleased but she never went further than the front step from James but I will definitely place a couple of tumblers around where she can get to them.

I will look into the Feliway idea too.

Its me who doesn't really want her in the bedroom at night, for two main reasons. Firstly when I was a kid we had cats and they used to come and pester and night, they never seemed to settle and with Ruby waking us a few times in the first night I don't really want it to continue. Second is a purely selfish reason but not all that comfortable to have her around when we want to get a little more intimate, without being too crude.

Re: Doing the right thing?

Posted: Tue Jul 29, 2014 1:48 pm
by Jacks
No problem with being straight-forward, Simon. It sounds like she's making herself comfortable in the rest of the flat at night, and you might invest in a couple of little rectangular blankets from Pets at Home ... suede-navy" onclick=";return false; to put on surfaces at night, to see if she adopts one as a 'bed'. It's not easy to know which kind of cat basket, if any, they'll like. Of my 4, two like 'donuts' to curl up in ... t+cat+beds" onclick=";return false; - one likes an igloo with a nice high pitch roof, and the other a dog basket or (preferred now) one of these blankets on a chair!

She's much better off with you. Your friend did the best thing finding her a loving home - she would unfortunately probably associate other children in that home as objects of fear, and no wonder. The thought of her being hung by the curtain cord... glad she is safe now.

Re: Doing the right thing?

Posted: Tue Jul 29, 2014 2:43 pm
by hgale
Hi Simon

After just 2 days, I would say Ruby is making fantastic progress, especially considering what she has been through. My late cat Kitten took 2 YEARS to trust us fully after being abandoned and lived wild in our Conservatory during that time.

I would let Ruby dictate how quickly she settles, I can't really offer any more advice that hasn't been mentioned, but well done, keep it up and a big fuss to Ruby from me and Denver. Please keep us all updated too.


Re: Doing the right thing?

Posted: Tue Jul 29, 2014 3:44 pm
by RockRollDie
Hey, thanks for the warm welcomes and advice.

I will definitely be sticking to the forum, even if its just to read up on everyone's advice and tips.

I've added a picture of Ruby.

Thanks for everything so far guys!

Re: Doing the right thing?

Posted: Tue Jul 29, 2014 11:31 pm
by Crewella
She's gorgeous. As has been said, it sounds like you're doing everything right, just give her some time. Cats do love a routine, it makes them feel more secure and in control, so in your position I'd put her bowls and bed where you want them and see how she goes (as you say, let her hunt it out), rather than keep changing spots. If it makes you feel better, I don't let my lot in the bedroom at night either - I'd start as you mean to go on.

She's a lucky girl to have found you. :)

Re: Doing the right thing?

Posted: Wed Jul 30, 2014 8:15 am
by bobbys girl
Hi Simon,

welcome to CC. What a lovely girl you have there. She is lucky to have found you. I think you are doing just fine so far! :)

I understand what you mean about keeping her out of the bedroom. You think 1 is bad - try with an audience of 5. :lol: We did try to have a cat-free bedroom, but 2 of them can open the door and Willow puts her paw under the door and vibrates it off the catch. The first time she did it we thought there had been an earthquake, and you know with cats once they decide to do something there is no stopping them!

I can only echo what the others have said about where you leave her food and introductions to your rabbit and if we could have a rabbit and a Lurcher living in harmony, you should have no problems (she was a very BIG rabbit).

Hugs to you and your partner and fusses to Ruby.

Re: Doing the right thing?

Posted: Wed Jul 30, 2014 9:05 am
by RockRollDie
Thanks to everyone for their comments.

Because yesterday she still wouldn't cross the living room I have placed a small bowl of food for her else where, I guess once she is fully comfortable with the place it won't matter where we put it she'll soon find it.

When we were sat watching TV last night she made a few small ventures into the living room but soon ran out again but she's getting braver each day. Going to pick up a Feliway today to see if that helps a bit.

She is very VERY vocal and kinda purr/meow/speaks the whole time you're with her which I think is a good thing as she seems to be happy and wanting attention.

Its a shame she is so nervous and the smallest noise really freaks her, I hope that in 6 months time or so we look back and see huge changes.

Thanks again everyone!

Re: Doing the right thing?

Posted: Wed Jul 30, 2014 9:10 am
by Kay
when she starts to come into the room it is important to ignore her - don't even look at her - if you pretend she isn't there it makes it much easier for her to pretend you aren't there

I don't think you'll have to wait anything like 6 months to have her fully at home with you - and she is certainly a stunner

Re: Doing the right thing?

Posted: Thu Jul 31, 2014 3:06 pm
by Grace56
Awwww, she's a real beauty. Thank goodness you were able to adopt her. Poor baby must have been utterly terrified where she was.
You're obviously doing a good job with Ruby. That's wonderful. :) Keep us posted on her progress.

Re: Doing the right thing?

Posted: Thu Jul 31, 2014 3:42 pm
by RockRollDie
She's doing really well considering.

This morning while I was getting dressed she followed me into the living room and had a look around, again spotting the Rabbit in the corner and running out, but then came right back in, got close to the cage and had a good look. She didn't stick around but is deffo getting braver.

I wish she'd sit still though haha. She still has her hidey hole where she spends a lot of time, but comes out and does the rounds of scenting everything in sight, and if she wants fuss she will let us know, but wont stop for long, 2 strokes maybe and then does the rounds again.

Going to pick up a Feliway at the weekend, as she has made so much progress by herself I'm hoping that will help the last bit.

Thanks for everyone's help, chatter and opinions :)