I have a very loving male tabby cat who when he came to us at about 3 months old which is close to a year and a half ago, he was a totally different character. In fact his sister came with him and she was even worse than he used to be and seemed to have real issues. She was overly vicious and lacked any interest in social skills for a long time.
The two were given to me by my Father who has 4 cats and so I was given two of their offspring. Never to have been handled by human hands had serious disadvantages. They arrived in a cardboard box with a lead around their necks and only God knows how they were captured. They were hissing and snarling crazily and after releasing them from their box were left in a room where they lived for several weeks as I took them through the taming process. I remember my hubby telling me “You will never tame those cats”, but I was confident things would change. I was determined they would have to change so with a lot of patience and love for these cute kitties my task had begun.
They spent their early days despairingly crying for their mother, climbing to the highest point in their room, keeping a close and very wide eyes on me. The ferocious hissing and snarling continued if I got too close and tails were firmly tucked beneath them. I spent a lot of time talking to them about everything and nothing and they would just listen. Over time I took a few steps closer and backed away when they became overwhelmed. As time went on, I would gently scold them when they hissed at me and it eventually subsided. They rarely took their eyes off me.
I spent more and more time in their room when they were feeding and the safe distance of 6 feet gradually reduced. I took opportunity to sit in a chair while they ate and the chair moved closer and closer to their eating point. They eventually jumped down off the windowsill when they saw food coming and kept one eye on the food and the other on me as I now stayed to watch.
They used their litter tray very well from the start and I gave them a box to sleep in which they also used for playing, but again, this came later as there was no play at the outset. Gradually I left their door open a little wider and longer each day and they became braver and started to take little trips down the corridor. I remember one highlight – the smallest kitten came right up to me as I sat at the bottom of the step. She sat for a few seconds and looked right in my face then turned and went back to her room to join her brother. That was so touching as simple as it sounds.
The next big move was literally touching them. I used the occasion whilst they were feeding to give short and quick strokes. A couple of strokes initially so they didn’t get too frightened. This took a lot of getting used to, but they minded less and less. Another highlight was when one day my hubby called out for me to look at him. He had one of the kittens in his arms. Gradually they succumbed more to the human touch and they would rub themselves against our legs as they are known to do. Sadly, while I was out of the country, one kitten went missing and never returned . Her brother is still with us and I think he considers me to be his Mummy as he still follows me everywhere, even when half asleep. He is extremely chatty, will answer and respond to his name and there is definitely a strong relationship between us now.