Helping a New Adopter\'s Kitten Adjust to New Home?

Sara KangSara Kang Member Posts: 403
edited 16 December, 2008 in Behavior & Training
Dear Catsters, I have rescued and adopted out 10 kittens on my own. One kitten that was adopted recently, is having some issues with her new home. She is a really sweet, cuddly kitten, but we didn't know it would take her so long to adjust to a new home. None of the other kittens that had been even more shy ever had this problem. B/c of this, her new mom and I have been corresponding regularly. She is really eager to have the kitten mix with her household, and to be perfectly adjusted as soon as possible. She knows that the kitten was a former stray, and fended for herself for many months. I have tried every idea I could think of, but she is ever so eager, and I don't know if and when this kitten might be returned for lack of more understanding. The new owner is great, but I don't know what else to tell her to give the kitty more time, or maybe my ideas don't work (switching bedding, gradually letting the kitten out to other areas of the home, Feliway, etc.) 1. She is a real cuddly sweetheart w/her new family when she's inside her bathroom, the safe area, but the second she comes outside of the room until other areas of the house-- she will hide and will not interact with her new family. 2. She still swats at the new kitties, but hasn't been aggressive otherwise. The two resident kitties seem to be warming up to her, and there haven't been any altercations. 3. The new owner has a small cat friendly dog, and 2 adult cats--none of which have shown any aggression towards the kitten. I cannot figure out why it is taking her so long, other than the fact that she lives in a house (not an apartment or something smaller), there are 3 existing pets, and she has fended for herself before we rescued her (not feral, but still shy in new surroundings I suppose) Any ideas or feedback on how I can reassure the new owner would be great and/or to help the kitten adjust to a new home (ideas that aren't found on a Google search). Thanks in advance, Milo and Tabifa's Meowm

Comments

  • Tara WTara W St. PaulMember Posts: 939
    edited 13 December, 2008
    It sounds like the kitty is overwhelmed with her big, new surroundings and just needs time to get used to everything. How long has she been with the new family? What does this new family think is an "acceptable" behavior and what time frame do they expect this to be fulfilled?
  • Lissa NicholsonLissa Nicholson SydneyMember Posts: 1,562
    edited 14 December, 2008
    You may need to tell the new mum that her desire for everything to be done as soon as possible is a bit unrealistic. It sounds like this kitten needs time. Is it possible to confine the dog and cats in one area (say, a bedroom) while the new one is exploring? One thing I have found that new kittens respond well to is if you basically ignore them. Remember, if she had to survive on her own, it is highly likely she sees being watched as a threat. When she is out and about, encourage the new family to carry on with their business, rather than watching to see what she will do. I do understand it can be hard to do- I find myself watching without even realising! The quieter the house is when she is first exploring, the better, as she will have so many new smells, sights and sensations to deal with already. Try having only one person home, with the other animals confined. If she has a favourite toy, this can be a way to encourage her out of her safe zone. Try playing in the area just outside her bathroom, and gradually extend into different areas. Treats can also help. Coming up to Christmas, if there are going to be new people around (especially children) it would be a good idea to keep the new arrival confined, or risk undoing any progress made. Good luck:)
  • Joy WaltersJoy Walters Member Posts: 9,276
    edited 15 December, 2008
    Izzie picked me by hanging from my patio screen door a year ago last summer. He was about 12 weeks old and had lived on his own, probably under my neighbor\'s deck for all that time. My vet recommended getting a large dog cage, putting a litter box, food/water and a \"hide box\" (a small box where the kitten can go to get away) and placing it in a room that was busy, but not frantically so. For a while, it was just me, quietly working on the computer. Then, I let Cady, a Springer who is a friend to all cats without really trying into the room. After a few days, I let my late, sweet Ernie (a cat) into the room. I also sat outside the cage and spoke softly to Izzie. I fed him baby food (turkey and sweet potatoes) off my fingers. After about two weeks, I let Ernie into the room and held my breath and let Izzie out, keeping the other animals out of the room. Within five minutes, Izzie and Ernie were wrestling and play-fighting in the den. I just as slowly introduced him to my other two dogs and of course, Miss Delilah the Divine Diva. Considering his beginnings, Izzie has turned into a friendly pain-in-the-butt cat whom I love to distraction. He is a lap cat and company-greeter. I know that patience and time were two things I used to our great advantage. I was so lucky to find a vet who deals with feral kitties. I\'m sure this kitten is just overwhelmed, especially if she\'s getting \"too much\" (albeit well-intentioned) attention. It\'s nice to hear that your adoptive family wants to do all they can to welcome this baby into their home. There were so many times when I was adopting out cats, that the adopters would just give up and return the kitty. :(( Good luck!
  • Sara KangSara Kang Member Posts: 403
    edited 15 December, 2008
    Thank you all so much! All your advice was invaluable! I Googled every tip I could find, and dug through my own personal experiences, but came up empty after awhile (she emails me nearly every day). Her new owner is such a kind person, and has already bought all these goodies and toys and what not for the kitten. She is just eager to have a well-adjusted kitten in her home as soon as possible, so I'm helping her cope with the kitten's shyness. Had we known this would happen, we would not have adopted her out shortly after she was rescued, vetted, etc. A couple months ago, we had anotherfoster kitten returned within a week, but it turned out for the best b/c she came back more cuddly than ever. She was also adopted into an even better home so that worked out well. In this case, I think the owner is awesome, and so are her furbies. So far, no real aggression, and she is really SLOWLY coming out of her shell. Her main fear is the rest of thehouse-- the second she is outside of the safe area (bathroom), she ducks and covers, and won't interact with her new Mom, and her new Mom seems to take it personally. I explained it wasn't a reaction to her, but everything else in that large environment! Thanks again all! I'm crossing my fingers every day that she stays in this wonderful home...
  • Joy WaltersJoy Walters Member Posts: 9,276
    edited 15 December, 2008
    There\'s nothing more sad then when an adopter has to return a kitty. I used to do the adoptions through Petsmart and I know how emotional that can be. Your adopter may have gotten caught up in having a new kitty and buying all this stuff for it and now she has this shy kitty who she\'s going to have to work with, and it\'s turned out to be more than just buying all kinds of goodies for it. I know this happens. I had one cat returned complete with $60.00 bed, pink carrier, scratch post, at least $200 worth of toys, etc. If this is their first cat, that makes it even more difficult. You may want to advise your adopter that if, when the kitty is let out of the bathroom, there are other people around, other animals, active children, etc., it\'s probably freaking out the cat. She will need to keep the househod calm and as quiet and low-key as possible for this little one, even if everyone is just thrilled to have a new family member. And by all means, do NOT second guess yourself about the adoption. Everything will work out fine. A year from now when this kitty is out and about and chasing around, you\'ll all have a good laugh over it!=;
  • Toby_AragornToby_Aragorn Garden GroveMember Posts: 43,438 ✭✭✭
    edited 16 December, 2008
    The main thing to keep in mind is that all kitties are different. Wyatt was a kitten and I hadn't even gotten all my furniture when he came home (yes, he had his already!). He was always shy around everyone, but a great cuddler when there was just me (and other cats, of course). Chandler Ray was only 3 weeks, so he didn't know any different. When Sammy joined us, he walked in and made himself at home. Lilly-Rose was a hider. She immediately made friends with Sammy, but was very leery of the other two, and even me. It didn't take her too long before she became a mommy's girl. When Aragorn first started visiting, he owned the place so by the time he came to live with us permanently, he was one of the family. When Tweety was adopted, he was extremely shy, towards me and the other cats, and it didn't help that Aragorn would attack him. It took a good 6 weeks before he made himself a part of the family. But he was a feral, living with a foster mom, and had been adopted out twice before. Patience, patience, patience. He totally tried my patience, but now, after almost 2 years, he is part of the family and has been for a long time. When Cally came, she had been somewhat traumatized by the events in her life, a lot of changes and moving. Again, patience won the day. She has been with us for almost 8 months and you wouldn't know she was ever anywhere else. She is leery of new people though. Then, a few months ago, I found Toby wandering around outside, abandoned, probably only a few hours (he was somewhere between 4-6 months old). He is super friendly with everyone. I am still in contact with Tweety's foster mom, updating her on his progress as he is still a work in progress. More than any of the other cats, he has taught me patience and acceptance.
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