|This is written
in an effort to help both you and your adopted adult Abyssinian make an
easier transition. It helps to remember that cats in general are very cautious
In the wild, they would live their entire lives in one territory, only to leave if they are driven out by outside factors. They learn every smell in this area, every normal sound, every tree and every twig, every visiting creature.
Our homes are their territory and they become very comfortable
with their surroundings and the creatures (us) they have to share their
territory with. They learn the routine sounds like television sounds, dishwashers,
washing machines, and most of all they learn our moods, body language, voice
tones and habits. I have found that a suspicious-natured cat will relax
more and more each year that we have them and even at the ages of 9 or 10
still allow new liberties they would never have allowed at a younger age!
This is how a cat feels when they are rehomed with a new family. They weren't
expecting it, they didn't do anything to deserve it, and it is a shocking,
upsetting experience. The upheaval frightens them so they will be on full
alert (fight or flight) when they arrive to your home.
Be prepared to BRIBE your way into the Aby's heart. Please remember that Abys do not take change well at all. Before you get your cat, have a room prepared, fixing it up with a litter box, food (what the rescue was eating prior to coming to you) and water and a nice place to sleep. When you come in, always either bring a toy in with you or bring some canned food on a plate. Do not touch the Aby or attempt to touch even when you first bring him/her home. Just take the carrier to "the Aby's" room and open the door and quietly take a seat and watch the exploration and then leave the room.
Know that it is possible that he/she could hiss and growl at you for a couple of weeks while he/she gets used to the surroundings. This is normal!
Try to understand that your rescued Aby's whole world has been turned upside down and the only way of reacting is to show how "unhappy" he/she is.
Looking directly at this cat for more than 5 seconds at a time could upset her. We humans have "predator" faces, with two eyes facing forward. When we are looking at a smaller animal (birds, cats, small dogs, rabbits, deer) directly, their instincts tell them that we are sizing them up for dinner. Until this cat knows that you are a friend and trusts you, it will be relying purely on instinct. Keep your glances short. Don't look directly at the Aby but around the cat (as in just over the cat's left shoulder).
Talk softly and carry on a soft conversation,
even if you are telling yourself a bedtime story. If the Aby stops and lays
down and relaxes, glance at over and blink slowly. If the Aby blinks back,
it is telling you that you are being trusted.
Some may take minutes and some may take days and some even weeks to months, but let the cat signal to YOU that they want to interact. During this time, you can still speak to them in a soft, reassuring voice, don't stare or look in their eyes directly and try to be aware of the fact that you will probably have habits that they have never seen before. Some people don't realize they make noises like coughing, sniffing, barking laughter or slapping their shoes when they walk. All of this may be completely strange and foreign to your new cat, so give them some time to get used to it.
I throw cat kisses
to my new cats and that helps them feel welcome. (A cat kiss is when you
glance at a cat, and when they meet your glance, squint your eyes a little
and do a slow blink….when they do the same thing, you have just exchanged
a friendly sign of affection!) When they come to you and rub on you, then
that is the signal that they are ready to open up a dialog with you and
maybe even be friends if you are respectful enough!
Helping things along in any way you can will be appreciated by your adopted cat and also reward you with feline interaction a lot sooner than if you did nothing. I have found the direct route to an Abyssinian's heart is through their stomach. While you may not plan to feed canned food on a regular basis, the first few weeks of acquaintance are very important. You want your cat to look forward to interacting with you and you want them to associate your presence with positive feelings.
Coming with a bowl with a tablespoon or two of yummy canned food two or three times a day will really help this. I try to use the same bowl so that they associate the one bowl with food treats and not run around at my feet every time they see me carry any bowl or plate! Try not to change things too much for them. Feed them the same food they're used to eating at their old home, if you can, get their old bed (helps if it's not washed) and use the same kind of litter they are used to using. Don't introduce them to other pets or small children for at least 4 weeks, and when you do, make sure the introduction is quiet and respectful, keeping the newcomers at a distance for the first few introduction periods.
Do not encourage your children to "pet the kitty" yet. Let the
kitty "ASK" the children for all interaction.
Ways to form a great relationship with an Aby:
When you get your new cat home, don't introduce him to either your children or any of your pets right away. Please have a bedroom where you
can have the adopted Aby apart from your animal family for a minimum of
4 weeks. Have food, water, toys, bed, litterbox in that bedroom. While you're
not doing a FORMAL introduction, they are becoming familiar with each other
because you are letting them smell and hear each other under the door. Your
Cat will be angry and hiss and growl at first, which is normal, but eventually,
since she can't see him, her anger will turn into intense curiosity. USE
THAT TO YOUR ADVANTAGE! After your cat stops hissing at the door (minimum
of 2 weeks), lock the new cat in a carrier (in its room) and let your cat(s)
go into the room. Let your cat(s) smell all the adopted cat's stuff AND
feed your cat a yummy snack in the adopted cat's room. Talk to it in happy
positive tones and play with favorite toys (including catnip) while in the
adopted cat's room. We want your cat to associate the new presence and smells
with happy feelings. Let your cat take its time in there and don't let the
new cat out of the carrier yet. Do all happy things (smelly food, playing)
in the new cat's room for several days (minimum of 2 weeks) until
it no longer feels threatened by its presence. When your cat is relaxed
in its presence, leave the carrier door shut but not locked. Eventually
the new cat will push on it and it will pop open and they can meet each
other. Make sure that both cats claws are clipped short when you do this
in case someone decides to pop someone else (the popper won't hurt the poppee
and so they won't be so offended).
We do not pet the kitty yet, we want the kitty to ask you to be petted. When the kitty comes to you and rubs on you, then it is asking you to be petted.
We want your new cat to associate your child with nice things, so letting
your child feed the kitty is a good way to do that. When you bring your
child into the room, give them a small bowl of canned food and let them
set it down for the kitty to eat before seating them nearby to observe the
kitty eating. Find feather toys or wand toys so that you can keep your child
occupied with trying to get the cat to play. Once the cat is comfortable
with your child, she will play and therefore associate your child's presence
with good things.
Some cats only take days, some take weeks, but an Aby is an Aby and will one day decide that it likes you and will initiate interaction. At that point it is okay to pet the Aby. Be patient, quiet, gentle, understanding and they will eventually make more overtures, allow more liberties and gradually learn to love and trust you.
After you have petted your rescue Aby at least 100
times, you might want to see if he or she will allow you to pick him/her up. If you are able to, your Aby has just paid you the highest compliment.