When nervous cats go home

Scrapper's Story


Here at the Adoption Centre we always have in our care nervous/anxious cats. These cats are not feral: feral cats are wild cats that live out of doors and cannot be touched/domesticated. Often nervous cats have come in from multi-cat households where the sheer number of cats means that the owner cannot give them the time that they need to be fully confident and at ease around people. Cats like these are always extremely difficult to rehome as they are fearful in their pens and do not interact with potential adopters.

Scrapper was with us for months before we found him the home he needed. Below is his story, as written by his foster mum, Gail. His story is very common and we hope that it will encourage more people to help one of our timid cats. A bit of patience and sensitivity go a long way to ensure that you have a happy and rewarding relationship with your cat. In addition, if you are looking for a friend for your present cat, these timid cats make great additions as they love other cats and usually like dogs as well.

Scrapper, now renamed Bentley, was rescued from a flat in Bristol along with 80 of his friends. Many of them are still with us looking for new homes.

During the three months Bentley has been with us, he has changed from a terrified little cat, hiding and hissing, and swiping with his paw, to a gentle, friendly cat who now struts confidently around the house, his tail held high. He no longer has any need of his ‘safe room’ and spends his days playing with his toys and chasing around with the younger cats…Evening sees him relaxing in front of the log-burner.

He has fit in really well with the household routine, is a good eater and is reliable with his litter tray. We have six other cats in the household, a mixture of male and female, ranging in age from two to thirteen. Bentley adores all of them…He has made a special friend of Nelson, an older and extremely confident cat and has learned much from him by imitation…this has helped him to progress much quicker.

Admittedly, he is still on the nervous side, but he loves to be spoken to and always answers you when you call his name and happily comes for a stroke and a rub under his chin. He often comes to sit on the sofa beside me and will purr contentedly, however any sudden movement still alarms him so all contact needs to be slow and gentle.

During the last week or so, I have actually managed to pick him up and hold him close to me and stroke him for about twenty seconds…This is a huge step forward, as previously any form of restraint, however slight, would terrify him.

I am sure that Bentley has the potential to make a lovely pet in a home that ideally has one or more other cats, providing that the owner is prepared to be patient and give him the time, love and understanding he needs to settle in, and accept that he is not instantly going to be a cuddly lap-cat.

If you have the time and love to give to one of our poor little darlings please contact us about them today on 01395 232377!

Mabel and Lucy

Cats, like humans, have individual personalities and individual ways of coping with stress.  We find that nervous cats are difficult to rehome as it can take some time - months sometimes, not days - and patience to let these cats settle in and become the loving animals that they are on the inside.  If you are thinking of adopting a nervous cat, you really have to be sure that you are doing the right thing for yourself and the animal, as no-one wants to be unhappy, and the last thing the cat needs is to come back to us.  This is the story of two nervous cats, Mabel and Lucy, and how rewarding it can be to take the time with a nervous cat.

Mabel and Lucy’s story is a testament to the dedication of the staff, volunteers and fosterers at Axhayes, and to that of a wonderful owner.  It shows how time and patience can be rewarded with a happy relationship with contented cats, freed from fear and confusion.

Mabel and Lucy were rescued from a caravan in the middle of some woods in Wales.  Their elderly owner died, so they were brought to Axhayes to find new homes.

They had had little contact with humans other than their owner and were understandably frightened and confused, and they did not do well in a pen environment.

The staff tried hard and spent time just sitting with them, trying to calm them, but the hustle and bustle of day to day life at the Centre was too much for them.

Fortunately, Anna, a fosterer and volunteer came to the rescue.  She had pens constructed in her garden especially for cases like these, and she took the girls home.  She spent months going quietly into the pen, talking gently to them, and sitting with them.  Eventually, they stopped hiding and running away, and the next step was to try to stroke them.  When both cats were relaxed and happy, and loved to have their heads and tummies tickled, Anna decided it was time for them to come back to Axhayes to try to find a new home.  She kept popping in to see them, and all the staff tried hard with them so that there wouldn’t be a repeat of their last stay.

After months, their purrfect owner finally found them.  Everyone knew that the change to a home environment would set the girls back and scare them again, but their owner was fully briefed and prepared for this, and he decided to give the girls the chance they so desperately needed.

It was really lovely to hear from their new owner a few months later.  He said that for the first two months or so, they hid under the sofa, but then they began to come out at night and eat.  He let them take their time and adjust at their own pace, just being gentle with them and not giving in to the urge to try to pick them up and cuddle them.  Anna, their foster ‘mum’ dropped in from time to time to give him support and let him know that he was going about things the right way, and that things would get better given time.  The breakthrough came after another month, when they came up and sat on the settee, and eventually allowed their owner to stroke them.  It was a really happy moment.  Now, although they both dislike being picked up (and plenty of cats feel this way!) they are content.  Lucy will venture into the big wide world for about a quarter of an hour at a time; Mabel prefers the safety of her home.  Both love to sit on the settee with their owner, put their paws on his lap and knead.

So a sad story has - with time, patience, a lot of love, and an understanding of the cats’ needs - had a very happy ending!