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Emotional rollercoaster of integrating unsocialized kitten into the family

  • 1.  Emotional rollercoaster of integrating unsocialized kitten into the family

    Posted 11-24-2019 04:51 PM

    Hi forum friends,

    I didn’t have anywhere else to put it so here it is. Yesterday I adopted a new kitten. She was from a hoarding situation and unsocialized when I met her at 5 months old. We did three visits before I brought her home and made baby progress then ( no eye contact to slow blink to sniffing my hand by the third visit and eating treats in front of me)
    I decided to adopt because my one cat who I’ve had for 7 years is so loving and social and recently has moved with me to a home where she is the only animal so I thought she could use a friend. I also thought her and I could do wonders for this kitten who obviously wanted to trust people and be loved but just didn’t know how. Bringing the kitten (I’m deciding in names but leaning towards Newt; my other cats name is Ripley) home broke my heart because I could tell just the car ride home brought us right back to level zero in trust. She barely ate her food the first day. When I woke up this morning and saw that it almost broke my heart. I’ve never adopted a cat from a situation like this and I honestly kept questioning if I was capable and going to be enough to help her love her best happy cat life. There’s been a lot of self doubt- one of the reasons I am writing this is I am hoping others have experience with this emotional rollercoaster of being unsure. Well this morning I changed out her food, gave her some space after good treats and space;

    on my last visit today, day two of her being home in her safe space separate from my other cat in a quiet room, I tried play with her again with a new toy (Hunt-catch-kill-eat, as jackson galaxy says) and she couldn’t have been less interested. I laid on the floor for a little while talking to her quietly. I was about to leave her be and leave her a few more treats when I noticed she was leaning toward my hand as I put the treats down... so I lifted it to her and she began rubbing her face on me giving herself pets!! I couldn’t believe it, I kept talking to her nicely telling her how proud I was of her and she loved the contact so much she took steps until all four paws were out of her kennel and spent three minutes or so with a heavy pet session. After that a random noise in the house got to her and she hopped back into her safe space so we left it on a good note with more positive affirmation and treats and I gave her back her space for the night.

    i can’t believe it. I’m sitting here almost in tears because I kept thinking up until that moment that I had made a mistake and I wasn’t going to be able to give her what she needed. I was scared she was miserable or there was a better family out there than me who had experience... I was just doubting myself really hard. But then that happened and I couldn’t be happier- but I’m also writing this because It’s scary! Only two days and we’ve made so much progress! It’s really scary to think that we could backtrack because of the most minuscule thing- 

    anyone else out there been on this emotional rollercoaster or similar and have any words of encouragement?? 
    Any and all thoughts welcome- Thank you!


  • 2.  RE: Emotional rollercoaster of integrating unsocialized kitten into the family

    Posted 11-24-2019 09:34 PM

    I don't have as much experience with cat rescue, but a favorite behaviorist, Patricia McConnell, noted that one of the most important things to have while integrating a rescue into the family is "patience, patience, patience."  She was talking about dogs, but I would think it would go doubly for cats.  Looking at it from your kitty's point of view, this is her third home (hoarder, foster/shelter, yours) in a short period, and she doesn't know how things work yet (who are these people, strange cat smell, where is it safe).  Kitty may be somewhat shy and skittish by nature (we have an 8 year-old boy who has never been without shelter a day in his life, but he still startles at a sudden noise) but has come around pretty quickly to you.  Our kitty hid in the cupboard for two days when he first arrived.  

    You'll probably continue to have times when she regresses, but take heart that she'll come around.  She'll probably play when she feels relaxed, but even if she doesn't, if she takes treats from you and wants petting, that's even better. Be very slow in introducing her to your new cat (Jackson Galaxy's protocol is good).  If it takes weeks, or even several months, that's okay.  

    Thank you for giving her a loving home.