Lucy's New Mom
August 8th, 2008, 05:11 AM
We have just made a new home for Lucy, our friend's cat of 5 years. She roamed freely in and out and was very attached to her 80 year old owner and little house.
We have a big house and 4 of us here, plus a gentle dog that Lucy knows well as he has stayed with her before several times when we are away. We put in a cat door just like her old one and kept her in for the first 3 nights. She hates it inside & got out and stayed out for 2 nights. We coaxed her back in 3 times, but she found an open window in a bathroom and escaped again - then we didn't see her at all or hear her for four nights - thought we had lost her.
She came in last night through her cat door, which we had made one way in only -- but ran for the window again and got back out before we realized she was back.
No she came back again (at 2am) tonight for a nibble, and we had closed everything -- so I cuddled her for an hour and have put her back in the laundry room with all her things & food, etc. (where she stayed the first 2 nights). She is not happy. If we let her just come and go, it's clear she stays nearby, but seems to becoming more and more wild. She doesn't come in to socialize at all - just sneaks in, in the middle of the night to eat and runs back to the bushes. We live on a farm, very private, and she is fairly safe outside here and has lots of shelter in bushes around our house -- the way she was used to at her old house.
Suggestions on getting her to become part of our family, and not be too furious at us for inprisoning her?!
Thank you for any help... I just don't know what to do.
Lucy's New Mom
August 8th, 2008, 06:43 AM
Cats don't like change, that's for sure.:) especially from what sounds to be a very quiet home, to one that has more activity. It sounds like she is scared and it will take some time for her to be comfortable. Does she have a covered box or some type of covered bed so she can hide in the laundry room? How big is the laundry room, maybe it is too small and she feels much too scared when somebody comes into the room, especially if there is no place to hide.
I do recommend she stay locked into a room (especially during busy times in the house) with short supervised times to roam the house when it is quiet in the house (and when the escape window is closed, lol). Don't pick her up or follow her, but allow her to come to you and your family. Eventually you will find she will get used to her new home and being inside;). I find sitting on the floor makes humans seem less intimidating to cats, so you can try that too, perhaps with some treats in your hand or a toy.
Even though you think it quiet where you live, there are always predators that come out at night so Lucy is safer to be indoor only, with supervised outside time during the day. It is up to you to ensure she is safe, even if she doesn't like it at first (think of teenagers and how angry they get at their moms:rolleyes:)
Good luck and we sure would love to see some pictures of Lucy and your dog.
Lucy's New Mom
August 8th, 2008, 10:06 AM
Thank you for the speedi response. Lucy has always been an outdoor cat and has lived her life freely coming and going. She likes to be outside - both day & nite and spends about an equal amount of time both in and out. Her old Mom would say how she would tear out a screen to get out if she found herself trapped (which we found out!)
So we do want to allow her to get back to enjoying both, and we do have a particularly safe environment (although I know there are other animals, our Barn Cat Patches has lived 14 years, on her own as master of the barn domain... sometimes we have had to live trap possums and feral cats when they get in her space and we can see she's being bothered by something - but she has her safe territory, we can only assume and is a tough little cat).
Lucy is also pretty shrewd, and has lots of thick cover to hide in (and has been alluding us well enough!). But for now, our problem is getting her to WANT to come IN. Part of me worries that by keeping her penned up in a few rooms - even with lots of attention - when it comes time to let her out, she'll just blast again and be relieved to have her space and not want to come back in again.
She did ok in the laundry room overnight, and is at least eating and drinking (she is pretty thin from 5 days out) and she purrs like crazy when I sit on the floor and pet her & talk to her. BUT I just found that when my husband poked his head in to say Hi Lucy she immediately growled big time... Did so again when we could hear his footfall going by the door later.
So I guess he's going to have to try loving her up -- we know she's not used to men, living with a little old gal all her life.
Today I'm going to put her in our bedroom & ensuite space as it's bigger and has lots of windows she can see out, and she can start to get used to both of our smells more. Will visit her often. Think I'll keep to these two sets of rooms - laundry room by night - so we can sleep - for several days. The rest of the house has too many screens and possible escape routes.
Any other suggestions greatly appreciated.
Lucy's New Mom
August 8th, 2008, 02:53 PM
I think you're on the right track, keeping her inside, and stimulating her as much as possible. You want her to be attached to you and that takes time. But with the purring and liking to be touched, it sounds like she's on her way. She'll warm up to your husband too, don't worry about that. I don't imagine there were many men prowling around her previous residence :laughing: In fact, the different noise level alone may be temporarily freaking her out.
Once you see signs that she is settling down, happy to be in the same room with you if not in your lap and even asking for affection (the first hip check always makes me swoon), I don't see why she couldn't be transitioned back to going outside. I've often longed for a cat door but in a way it gives them too much autonomy. jmo.
But keep her in for a good few days at least, I would anyway. If she cries, ignore her or distract her. Let her explore anywhere it's safe (unless you are out, then she goes back in her suite).
Lucy's New Mom
August 9th, 2008, 12:49 AM
Things are looking up at last.
Thanks for the support & good advice.
Lucy had a very good day in our large mbr & ensuite. Lots of visitors & lots of petting & purring & eating treats & regular food. Even starting to warm up to husband & son already.
She even seemed happy to head into the Laundry roomtonight. Getting familiar & feeling safe I suspect.
Our plan is to keep on with this for several more days then let her roam the rest of the house for a while after that before opening the cat door again. I think we'll use more control over the exit function on the cat door than she was used to -- not quite so much autonomy.
We bought a halter to take her for supervised wandering around the yard when it's time.
Wish us luck.