As we know, not all pet cats are lap-cats. Some kitties require time and patience to get to know and trust their humans, and even after years of living in a home may not be the cuddliest. We think that shy and semi-feral kitties deserve our love and time just like any other cat, and so wanted to share an experience from Sarah - one of our adopters who took in Pumpkin and Daisy - two less-than-friendly kitties. The following is her story on how they adapted to being in her home and becoming friendly-ish companions. It recounts lots of helpful advice on how to manage scared or semi-feral kitties, as well as tips and tricks for getting them out of their shells.
"I was asked by L.I.C.K if I would be interested in homing nervous kittens. I have worked with nervous cats before and some of my cats before Pumpkin and Daisy were very timid and took time to gain their trust. Mr Bobcat [Sarah's other kitty] took me a year to gain his trust but when I did, it was unconditional.
I remember picking Daisy and Pumpkin up and it was quite the affair. Nervous hissy kitties.
I brought them home and they did what all nervous cats do and hid. I couldn't approach them or calm them at first. I decided to use a very large pen until they adjusted. That way I could see if they were eating and drinking and using a litter tray. After about four weeks of this (on vet advice) we opened the pen and allowed them to explore.
Daisy was more confident but too nervous around me. I would hear her talking to Pumpkin in the middle of the night. She has quite the singing voice 🤣 Pumpkin set up residence in the kitchen under the worktop behind my kitchen bin. He would just about allow me to put bowls of food and water down. He would hiss loudly at me.
At one point I really thought that I wouldn't reach them at all and very nearly asked L.I.C.K to take them back but Gillian very gently reassured me and encouraged me to try again. I persevered.
Daisy and Pumpkin now join the rest of the fur family. They are very close to Mr Bobcat. They are still very wary of humans and I am still unable to stroke them but I do believe that will come in time.
I honestly believe that the reward for me is seeing the transformation from two almost feral cats into two cats that are comfortable around my other cats, seeing them play with each other and toys. Daisy will sit near my feet as will Pumpkin but they bolt if you move. Sitting near my feet is much better than behind a dustbin. What I have observed is that Mr Bobcat who they trust explicitly is slowly bringing them to me. He shows them they can trust me by sitting with me and allowing fussed whilst in their close proximity. He sometimes ignores Daisy to make her come down and sit near the two of us.
One thing I have learnt is that not all cats are cuddly and that is ok. Daisy and Pumpkin have a warm loving environment, they are fed and loved very much. Watching them play where they didn't know what that was is reward enough. Time and patience is hard when all we want is for our nervous cats to love us as much as we love them but that is what they ask for, time and patience.
I still just sit in a room with them and allow them to explore around me as I talk to them. It is now their choice to come to me when they are ready which I am confident they will in time. If I had any advice for people adopting, please don't ignore the nervous ones. They have been traumatised in ways we do not know or understand and just need time to adjust. There are so many resources out there to help us with these animals including cat behaviourists and even people like me who have travelled this journey with them. If you think you could spare the time and patience these animals need, consider them. They want our love but need to adjust slowly. They will give us their love and when they do the reward will be indescribable."