I foster abandoned cats and kittens until they are ready for adoption. Recently, I came across a 5-month-old male kitten in a vet kennel, waiting for a home. This particular male presented me with a problem that I have never dealt with before. He was very sweet all by himself, but when I brought him home, he turned on me. I can pet him one minute, and then he will hiss and try to bite me, as he does with my other cats. I have two very calm cats that I use to socialize the cats I foster, and it usually works well. However, I cannot get this kitten to relax. What should I do? If send him to a shelter they will put him down.
It sounds like this little one is biting and reacting out of fear. My assessment is based on your description of his sweetness at the shelter and then his subsequent metamorphosing into Cujo after bringing him home and introducing him to your resident cats. There’s too much activity and change for this kitten.
Many cats are frightened when they first come home from the shelter. Some don’t do well with change and need time to adjust to the unfamiliar sights and smells of a new home. Every cat is different. Some adjust within hours, and others can take days, sometimes weeks until they feel safe. Cats have their own schedules. Most of the time, their schedules don’t coincide with ours.
Instead of forcing the new kitten to interact with your resident cats, confine him to a room where there are no other animals. Make sure there are boxes or other places for him to hide. This confinement room will be his safe sanctuary for a while. Provide him with a comfortable place to sleep, plenty of food and water, two clean cat litter” rel=”noopener” target=”_blank”>litter boxes, things to climb on and a way to look out of a secure window, if possible.
Don’t attempt to pet him or pick him up. He needs time to feel secure. Instead, sit in the room with him, talking, reading and singing to him. When he’s ready, he’ll come to you. Use bribery and coercion. Find a yummy, irresistible snack for him. Whenever you go into his room, toss a couple of treats in his direction. Eventually, he’ll associate you with the food and will come to you for treats and attention.
Hold off on introducing him to the resident cats again until he feels safe and he’s bonded to you. Take your time. It may take a few weeks until he is integrated in with your two feline social ambassadors.
By: Marilyn Krieger
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