This is long since I only just got the blog set back up and I’m waaaay behind, updates will be shorter from here on in.
June 3rd We brought in a new foster cat, an 8 month old black boy-kitty who had been poorly socialized and was terrified of humans. Both his sisters, when brought inside, were pregnant; they’re affectionate and friendly. Houdini, on the other hand, got along great with the other household cats but couldn’t even be caught for his vet appointment to be neutered.
It took an hour for us — Jessica from KAR and I — to catch him and put him in a kitty carrier to bring him to our place. Not so surprisingly, our furkids were unimpressed with an unneutered male in the apartment, even in a single room, and hissed at the door a lot.
June 8th Thanks to Jessica, he went to get neutered. Sean and I had to dismantle half the bedroom to catch him. Understandably, that didn’t help his trust levels. He refused to come out from under the bed with anyone else in the room.
June 13th He was so frightened and so miserably unhappy that I contacted KAR to suggest the possibility that he might need a home as a barn cat, so he could have a life and have minimal contact with humans. I simply could not interact with him at all, to try to help him get over his fear. When I sat and read to him, he wouldn’t even come out to use the litterbox, he waited until just after I left.
Well, he decided to prove me very wrong.
June 14th I came up with a limited form of interaction: dropping one of my homemade rope toys down between the bed and the wall for him to attack. He was bored and lonely and restless as well as scared, and he responded to that — it allowed him to play without having to deal with the fact there was a human in the room.
June 16th Our little Freya (who used to be Tiggs) came into the room to investigate, and he came right out from under the bed. A little later, I knelt in the open doorway and tossed treats to him and gave treats to mine on either side/behind me. He came out and was grabbing the treats even when he had to come completely out from under, and even flopped on his side briefly (sort of half-under) to watch the other kids — first time I ever saw that he has white on his belly!
I have a big metal dog crate that, when collapsed, I’ve used now and then as a kind of baby gate, which doesn’t exactly STOP them but does define a boundary and at least slows them down. It must’ve made Houdini feel very safe, because I looked up from reading to him to find him and Angel sniffing at each other through it. Houdini’s tail was slightly floofed, but no other signs of, well, anything but curiosity. He went in and out from under for the next little bit, at one point I was holding my breath thinking he was going to jump up beside me but he didn’t… but he DID use the litter box while I was in the room.
June 20th Houdini let me pet him. I reached down between the wall and the bed and very cautiously, making sure he had lots of warning, ran a finger along his jaw. He decided he liked this, and allowed me to do it twice more that day. He also fell completely asleep in the window while I was in the room with him.
June 22nd While kneeling in the doorway handing out treats on both sides, Houdini rubbed against my hand. I very cautiously tried touching him, then rubbing his jaw. He decided that he really likes this, a lot. In fact, now he’s insatiable. The next day while I was lying on my stomach on the bed with my netbook, he bumped his head up under my chin like a kitten does to get Mom’s attention. He rolls around and squirms to get whatever he wants petted into my hand. If he hears me in the hall he’ll yell to get my attention, and when I go in he wants to be petted now. He occasionally gets a little excited, he grabbed my hand once but it was gentle and he let go immediately, and we switched to playing and it was all good–but that’s a kitten thing. I’m avoiding his belly, but when I accidentally brushed against it, he gave me a… I have to call it a warning bite, but there was no actual pressure, it was very clearly just to let me know that was not okay.
We spent quite some time playing, too, with me tossing his favourite toy mice and him pouncing on them with great enthusiasm.
June 26th He allowed Sean to touch him, though only briefly… but he did stay on the bed with me and demand petting while Sean was sitting on the edge of the bed not far away.
He’s still easily startled and takes off back under the bed, but mostly it’s very brief now, and a few treats on the floor can bring him right back out most of the time. He really doesn’t like even me looming over him, which I can understand… I mean, we’re 15 or 20 times their size, and I know something that much bigger than me would make me nervous. But if I’m kneeling or sitting or lying, or if he can get up on something closer to my height, he’s more confident. For some reason I haven’t worked out yet, my furkids won’t tolerate him, even though he wants badly to make friends. Something else we’re working on, since he could learn a lot from them.
Current assessment: he is going to make someone an awesome companion, although he may always be prone to some anxiety (ie, I wouldn’t recommend he go to anyone likely to move to new houses/apartments often, probably not anywhere with small children ’cause they’re noisy and move fast and suddenly)… for someone with a relatively quiet and stable life, he’s going to be a very loving, playful, talkative, beautiful, and very smart friend with a lot of personality.
And now, you’d like to see what he looks like, right? I only managed to get pictures of him on the 24th, while we were playing. Here are the best ones: