Caring for Abused Cats – 5 Tips to Make it Easier

One Reply to “Caring for Abused Cats – 5 Tips to Make it Easier”

  1. Kai Takashi

    I adopted 2 cats from a guy at work; the big flame-point siamese he adopted from the SPCA when he was a kitten; the small grey-brown tabby had been adopted by the guy’s sister who had 2 toddler. She gave the tabby kitten to her toddlers as a living toy, parents didn’t monitor the kids so the kids abused the kitten, picked her up by her tail, grabbed her by her head and carried her around like that, dropped her off the balcony, sat on her, stepped on her–toddlers don’t know any better and haven’t realized that living beings need to be treated gently and kindly. The guy saw what was happening to “stole” the kitten and took her home. But he worked a day job, then played sax at night at various clubs and wasn’t home much, sometimes not for the whole weekend, and he admits he often forgot to feed the cats, they drank out of the toilet often, used an overwhelmed catbox. When I got them, both had very greasy, dirty fur because he never cleaned his small studio apartment. The 2 cats also hated each other, the male siamese was about twice the size of the female tabby. The male siamese was terrified when he got to my home and hide for 3 days, and I let him since I figured he’d eventually get curious; I just put out food, water, the box close to his hiding place so when I went to sleep in my bedroom and the place got quiet, he could venture out and have the necessities handy. After 3 days, he was so desperate for attention he came out wailing loud and clear, walked right up to me demanding to be hugged and kissed and cuddled. He was always gentle and snuggly with me, just was over-rambunctious with the female tabby to the point where in trying to play, he’d hurt her so she hissed and slashed at him and they’d get into huge cat fights. The little female tabby wanted to explore straight out of the box but I relegate all new pets to the kitchen and dining rooms for a few days so they know where food/water and the boxes will always be, plus it’s easier to clean up in those two rooms. The tabby was everywhere she could get, jumped up to the top of the built-in china cabinets, on all the shelves, everywhere. But she wouldn’t let me touch her. For about a year, she wouldn’t let me put my hands on her–but I could kiss her head between her ear if I put my hands behind my back. If she saw hands coming at her she’d slice you and she knew she was faster then me, I had slashes all over me for a long time. But she would watch me interact with the siamese, saw me hugging him and he purred and loved it, saw me being very gentle and sweet to him. Both cats also learned they had access to healthy food 24-7, I know they say not to let your cats free feed but I thought it was important for these 2 since they had too often gone without good food. The siamese once stole a buttermilk biscuit off my plate and was chowing down on it early on in our relationship because that’s something he recognized as food because the guy used to eat KFC and leave the biscuits on the table so often that’s all the cats found to eat at his home. Once both cats got used to having healthy cat food, they stopped eating things cats normally don’t eat, like biscuits. I let the cats cue me in to what they needed, what they would allow. I did not impose myself on them although I was dying to cuddle that little tabby. She was just so small and cute, so damn curious, obviously very smart, and feisty. What happened was one day I was sitting on the toilet (and I usually left the bathroom door open since the cats always liked to come check on me if I took too long) and she brought in a rubberband she’s found and dropped it at my feet, made this cute little mew sound and looked at me. Yea, I know what fetch is, I grew up with dogs but I’d never known a cat who played organized games before. So I tossed the rubberband and she went racing off to retrieve it and bring it back to me. We did this for a while, then I started throwing it in other places making her work to get at it–into the empty bathtub, up into the sink, behind the open door (door is solid and heavy so she couldn’t push it, she had to figure out some other way to get the one behind the door but she always did figure something out). Simply by her reaction, this crazy tossing head thing she did when she was surprised and delighted, I knew she loved this new twist to her fetch game. That’s how she finally began to trust me. I started to not throw the rubber band until she let me stroke her back, lightly and quickly but I had to make contact. I did go through the whole apartment hunting down all the rubber bands since I didn’t want her swallowing them, bought her bigger hair scrunchies to use instead–easier for her to pick up too. They were both 5 years old when I got them and they lived to be 18. The male continued to be a love sponge, never seemed to be able to get enough love but towards the end developed hyperthyroid disease and got too sick so I had to have him euthanized. I did have to teach him not to use his teeth, something I find a lot of male cats need to be trained on. The little female was so healthy all her life but suddenly had a bladder infection, vet said we caught it early on, but it migrated to her kidneys where it went viral and after a weeks of hospitalization with a heavily antibiotic infused IV with no improvement, I decided to take her home; she was depressed in the hospital anyway and if she was dying I wanted her to know I hadn’t abandoned her, at least she could know she was loved and cherished at home. She declined rapidly so within 2 days, she could no longer stand up or basically function, I was giving her sponge baths so she felt clean and to simulate the cleaning a mama cat would give her baby, and she’d purr and smile. I finally had her euthanized too because it was obvious she was not going to recover and she was just slowly dying–not eating or drinking, couldn’t keep herself warm, etc. Because she made me work to gain her trust but once she gave it to me, she gave it 100% and I knew it, I knew I had to continue to earn that trust, I bonded with her in ways I still can’t figure out so when she died, something in me broke badly. I know I gave both of them a fine life to make up for their earlier abuse and then neglect; I felt it was the least I could do for them. They had the run of the apartment, had snuggly beds all over the place, almost all the windows had cat window seats or shelves for them so they could follow the sun and see whatever was outside. They had food all the time, clean water (in summer I tried to keep it cool), cat boxes of assorted varieties. I had my handiman put in doors so the cats could go down the back stairs and hang out “outside” since the doors prevented them from getting to the street (and prevented other animals from getting to them). I had a bonded reliable petsitter and a few friends who’d come in to take care of the cats when I infrequently went away briefly. The big male siamese learned how to use door knobs to open doors (more trial and error method though). The little tabby was exceptionally smart, learned how to sit and shake on command, learned a lot of things. She also was the one who’d accost me immediately when I got home from work and would not let me go anywhere in the place, meowing at me very pointedly and when she knew she had my full attention she’d lead me to their empty food bowl so I could replenish their dry kibble (available all the time, except when they ate it all up; they also got wet food daily, and as they got old I augmented their diet with cooked chicken, they never developed a taste for raw food). She was also the one who argued with me and chastised me when I yelled long and loud at the siamese for almost tripping me, I almost took a header out the window because of that trip (wrenched my shoulder badly saving myself that swan dive); she hated him but she felt I had taken my yelling at him too extremely far for too long so she started yelling at me until it dawned on me I was arguing with a cat–and it was just like an argument with another human–at which point I start laughing until I was literally rolling on the floor, tears flowing. She was taken aback by my reaction but it stopped my yelling and made me think about stuff. She was good at communicating and I learned so much from her. I also think she came to love me. I respected her, I doted on her, I protected her when the male (both were neutered) would get too physical with her so she wouldn’t get hurt, I learned to read her language. I loved her. She’s been gone for 3 years now and I still miss her. I haven’t adopted any other cats since either–mostly because I need to work on clearing out my apartment of accumulation before it gets too far gone so cleaning fur and litter and other cat detritus will be easier now that I am getting old. I had hoped she at least would stick around long enough so we could spend a year or two in delightful retirement together but she had other things to do without me. They trusted me enough to learn to let me clip their nails ever week or two, to be brushed, to have their teeth swiped once a week. Initially, the tabby was a hellcat when we went to the vet–at her first wellness trip to the vet she held 3 vets and 5 vet techs hostage in the exam room until they called me to come help control her (she weighed only 8 lbs but she had them all terrified) but annual visits and through trust she came to rely on me at the vet, I could hold her and let the vet do the exam, she’d complain but she would lash out at them as long as I held her and talked to her but her file had a big red “WARNING: CAT IS DANGEROUS” label on it. She was also the one who’d growl and bristle if she heard something threatening–usually in summer when I had all the windows thrown wide open so outside sounds came in. She was the one who hunted down bugs; she’d even catch flies and carefully carry them over the the siamese (I don’t think he could see real well) and drop the living but flightless fly in front of him so he had a chance to play hunter for a while. I never saw both cats cuddled together, they wouldn’t share the same chair or shelf or bed. The male would chase the female away if he caught her feeding if he wasn’t feeling too lazy to get up out of his bed. But she was my favorite and she knew it. I really miss her.

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