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The Autobiography of Russell
Life from a different perspective
zimzat
zimzat
Mistakes in adoption and dealing with failure

A month ago I adopted a couple of cats; two sisters named Mindy and Mandy. They're short-hair domestic cats with primarily black hair and white on their bellies. The adoption fee was 100$ each, plus all the basic stuff I had to buy (carry box, food, litter, litter box, water and food dishes, scratching post, and some toys). I made a mistake in getting them because I liked how they looked rather than making sure they would be interested in me.

Barely a week after I had them they both developed redness on the outer white part of their left eye. I took them to the vet to get checked out and came home with some medicine for it; 200$+ between the two of them (40$ just for the checkup just for one). I gave them the medicine for a few days and it seems to have cleared itself up after that.

I was supposed to get their vetinary papers in the mail. I haven't gotten anything yet. I got a call from the adoption lady a week after I adopted them asking how they were doing. I haven't heard from them since.

This morning I was attempting to pet Mindy but she has a habit of hiding under my bed covers when I'm not in bed. For a second time she took to biting me for attempting to pet her. The first time only scratched the skin but this time I actually have almost half a dozen different spots where I started bleeding.

Both cats will run from me if I get too close. If I corner them I can pick them up to pet and hold, but they both will jump off and run away the first chance they get. If I let them into the bathroom or kitchen they will hide in the corner space between the cabinets where it's next to impossible for me to get them out of.

I haven't had the energy or initiative to play with them much. A freelance project took up all my extra free time the last couple of weeks. I may also be looking to move soon and it would help uncomplicate things if I don't have to factor them into it.

As such, I'm starting to think it would be in my, and possibly their, best interest to return them to the adoption group (they have a no-kill policy). I don't want to be a failure, though, so I'm hesitant to return them without putting more time and effort into them.

I dunno... I have to make a decision about this, and what I'm going to do now that my condo lease is up. More on that in another entry, though.

Current Mood: pensive pensive
Current Music: "Standing Still" by Jewel

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Comments
legolastn From: legolastn Date: February 26th, 2008 06:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
If you want lap cats, it would probably be best to return them to the adoption group, and look for a cat or cats that fit your needs.

But, not all cats are lap cats, and it doesn't make you a failure if your cats aren't. Some cats prefer to be left alone most of the time, and such cats can make wonderful companions - but they're more like roommates. And that has little to do with you, especially if they're already mostly or fully grown.

Often over time they will become more social - and there are techniques to improve their attitude towards you (feeding them twice a day so they associate you with their food source, playing with them indirectly using string toys or "laser" lights, etc - you can probably find free tips on the Internets). Cornering them and picking them up is not usually one of those techniques unless they are very young kittens. It is not generally going to improve their attitude - cats that are not already "tame" or "lap cats" generally want to approach you on their own terms. Imagine how you would feel if someone 10-20 times your size cornered you when you didn't want to be touched - you would probably be terrified and/or ready to fight for your life.
zimzat From: zimzat Date: February 26th, 2008 08:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
You are correct, of course.

I've only tried to pick them up after they ran away a few times. I've limited most of my interaction to simply petting them if they don't run away. I've tried feeding them tuna around the second or third week, and I've played with them a couple of times. They still show no interest in coming to me on their own.

The sign that was above their cage said they're about 10 months old now, but based on what the lady said of when she first got them I would peg them closer to 12 months old. They're certainly not kittens anymore, and it probably doesn't help that they're sisters so they have each other to rely on

I'm going to think it over a little longer then probably call the agency tomorrow to give them a heads up of my intent. I simply don't have the time and energy it would take to tame them properly and don't know when I would. As for getting another cat, I'm going to wait until after I move and things have hopefully settled down first. If the situation is then conducive to getting a cat I'll reconsider again, and pay more attention to how they react before being adopted.
From: gethenix Date: February 26th, 2008 07:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
I seem to be focusing on the fact that you place the dollar sign after the number. Why is that?

Sounds like you have either anti-social cats that have not been tamed to human interaction/haven't had enough human interaction or you have your run of the mill feral cats. Without vet papers, how do you they don't have rabies or any other disease that could be transmitted to you when they do bite you.

If the place did not have a no kill policy, I would keep them and at least bare with it, try to make it work, but since they do and the situation really isn't conducive for either of you, I agree that maybe you should return them. It's a sad thought that the cats have to be returned; it's almost as if we're saying they're not good enough. But the agency should've done a better job at adopting out unstable cats.
zimzat From: zimzat Date: February 26th, 2008 07:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
heheh, simply because that's how it is read. "Two-hundred dollars" as "200$" instead of "$200". I also do a few other things that aren't common (but are less unheard of), like putting dates as 2008-02-26 because it's easier for file sorting that way.

Well, the place I adopted them from is called "Friends of Feral Felines" which supposedly takes feral felines in and tames them for adoption or for permanent housing at one of their shelters. Mindy is supposed to be the more friendly of the two and Mandy is supposed to be more inclined to getting along with other cats. Mindy has on occasion started purring while being petted, but that was also what she was doing right before she tried to bite me the first time. The purring is still a rare thing, though.

As for knowing that they don't have rabies or other diseases, I don't but they said they've had all their regular shots and tests and would mail a copy of the papers as they didn't have them there at the location. Rather than take for malicious intent I'm simply assuming forgetfulness.

I'm going to think it over a little longer then probably call the agency tomorrow to give them a heads up of my intent. I simply don't have the time and energy it would take to tame them properly and don't know when I would.
starwind_ From: starwind_ Date: February 26th, 2008 08:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
You say "cat" so I am assuming these are not kittens. Being also that they are/were feral, they have probably already developed a strong personality. Getting used to humans as an adult cat takes a lot longer than as a kitten. Also, they probably are not used to/need love and affection as a younger cat would be, added to the fact that they have each other -- they have no reason to look to you for attention.

I am a bit leery that the shelter did not mention to you that feral cats, even rehabbed ones will require extra patience due to these and other acclimation issues. Not to mention 2 cats at once is a lot to take on.

I would suggest returning these cats so they can become used to humans properly. Then I would wait until you move (moving is pretty traumatic even for loveable house cats who are used to you) and get a kitten. Kitten will bond with you. Adult cat says, who the hell are you? feed me, good, go away plz.

Also, the shelter may or may not give you your money back. Perhaps ask, if you cant get it back, that they apply it to the adoption of a kitten.
zimzat From: zimzat Date: February 26th, 2008 08:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
They're about 10 to 12 months, maybe +1.

When the lady called to check up on them a week after I had adopted them she was surprised they hadn't taken more to me, especially Mindy, and compared my lack of response to the response an older lady had gotten from a adopted kitten. It sounded like she wanted to swoop in and reclaim them, but that may have just been me reading into her tone. She hasn't tried to get back in touch since anyway.

I highly doubt they would be amendable to a refund or applying it to the adoption of a kitten. The adoption contract specifically says, in underlined capital letters larger t han most other text on the page, "Adoption fees are nonrefundable !!!". It also includes this paragraph:
I am aware that animals are different than human beings in their response to human action. That the actions of animals are often unpredictable and that "Friends of Feral Felines" makes no representation as to the behavior or temperament of animals put up for adoption. I hereby accept possession and title of this animal at my own risk and hereby release and waive any right against "Friends of Feral Felines", which I may have now or in the future for any damages to person or property caused by this animal.
From: gethenix Date: February 26th, 2008 08:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
It is not an easy task to take the wild, feral behavior out of an already feral cat. From experience, this can take months. I admire you for taking the route of trying to rescue cats from an agency committed to take the feral behavior out of a cat, but the onus to prove that they are no longer feral and wild is on the agency. They should assert, especially in writing, that the cats are now tamed to Human interaction.

It sounds like they are still feral. You can work on taming them, but this requires a lot of time and attention, and if you have another project that comes up that requires a lot of time, it will not allow for consistent effort.

Simply put, if they come from an agency committed to taking the wild out of the feline and they are showing these feral behaviors, still, they were not ready for human adoption and should not have been allowed to be adopted to you.

I would inquire what their criteria are for removing the wild behavior is and what the critera are for adopting them out when they're tamed enough.
zimzat From: zimzat Date: February 26th, 2008 08:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
I don't think there is any real commitment to making their human friendly. I heard her saying that certain kittens she had brought with her weren't ready as they had to be tamed (and mentioned the feeding them from hand and what-not), but they didn't say that about their other cats. The adoption contract also includes this paragraph:
I am aware that animals are different than human beings in their response to human action. That the actions of animals are often unpredictable and that "Friends of Feral Felines" makes no representation as to the behavior or temperament of animals put up for adoption. I hereby accept possession and title of this animal at my own risk and hereby release and waive any right against "Friends of Feral Felines", which I may have now or in the future for any damages to person or property caused by this animal.


The tag line on their business card says An all-volunteer, tax-exempt, non-profit organization dedicated to saving the lives of abandoned and homeless cats and kittens.

Thank you for the advice. I still feel bad about giving them back, but realize that holding on to not failing would probably be worse right now.
From: gethenix Date: February 26th, 2008 09:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hey, I found this article on feral cats on wikipedia. It is interesting. Food for thought.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feral_cat
queenexodus From: queenexodus Date: June 21st, 2008 01:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
CAts!! And you never told me :( I miss cell phones!
zimzat From: zimzat Date: June 21st, 2008 01:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
I didn't keep them very long. Only a month or so. My new place doesn't allow pets and I haven't been inclined to see if they're interested in changing that to try again.
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