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Help with F2 male quarantine!

kmp

Site Supporter
#1
Hello everyone!
Hoping someone can shed some light. Me and my partner recently got an F2 Savannah, he’s 12 weeks and 5 days old, we just picked him up on Sunday evening wearing his harness. He wouldn’t come out of his carrier with us in his quarantine room (we’re using a 7x6 office with just a desk in it, because our bathroom has too much hiding space). After an hour trying to coax him out with feather wands we went upstairs to eat dinner.

I came down an hour later to check on him, he was finally out of the carrier but as soon as he saw me he hissed and hid in the corner of the room. My partner and I proceeded to stay in the quarantine room with him for a couple hours to try to play but he was crying so badly and seemed terrified of us. We gave him a break of a couple hours and read that sometimes sleeping in his room can help.

We returned at midnight to check on him and set up our sleeping corner and he was back in his carrier hissing and swatting even more if we came within 3 feet of him. We stayed in our corner trying to sleep with him until 7am to no avail. He started hitting the carrier with his paws and basically screaming at us. We left for our bedroom.

Next day he was still in his carrier. He hadn’t eaten so I put some new wet food next to the carrier and he swiped at the carrier wall as I got near. We checked in with our breeder and she said to try to get his harness off to make him more comfortable. She also said she recently trimmed his nails, he was sitting in her lap, he’s never swiped before, etc. But I’m wary if he’s been socialized enough or had enough human contact.

We were in his quarantine room Monday from 2pm to 7pm trying to play. Sometimes he’d be into the feather wands and sometimes not. When he seemed sleepy we tried to approach to take the harness off and he swiped and hissed. So my partner used a towel slowly to try to cover him like the breeder told us to. He grabbed him by the harness and scruff and held him in his lap but the kitten was so terrified and flailing and scratching and screaming and slipped out of his harness and ran away.

Later that night again we set up our sleeping area around midnight and the kitten incessantly hissed at us. Even if we weren’t doing anything. We finally left at 4am again and here we are.

It feels like he won’t ever trust us. We’ve done so much research but never expected him to act like this. We have the same litter, the same food as he’s used to, we play the radio 24/7 in his room, we don’t ever approach him, we play sitting on the ground, we talk to him and put our dirty laundry in his room so he can recognize our scent. We don’t make eye contact, we cleaned his litter box each night, we made chicken breast which he had no interest in.

Nothing seems to be working. He just constantly hisses, and not the friendly kind of hissing. He scratched my partner in the harness ordeal, and I haven’t been able to come within 3 feet of him without him striking. My partner is now getting protective of me because he thinks the kitten will attack me.

What do we do here? We’re heart broken. We’ve seen so many videos and read so many stories of other people struggle in quarantine but it seems nothing can compare to our situation.

Thank you.
 

Brigitte Cowell

Moderator
Staff member
#2
It sounds like your poor baby is terrified. When you picked him up on Sunday evening was it of necessity a handover of the carrier with as little contact with the breeder as possible due to Covid concerns? It's made it hard to do a better handover where you can sit with the kitten and breeder for a little before putting kitten in carrier, I'm sure to the kitten it is like he has been stolen and taken from everything he's known. Had he been outside the house before for trips to the vet?Do you know how he was with that? It may not be a lack of human contact but possibly unfortunately a little affected by social distancing in that there may not have been a variety of people coming into the breeder's home such that kittens get to interact with strangers. Thus a kitten might be great with the breeder who is the only human he has known, and now he's going to have to learn that other humans are great too.

I think that likely given how distressed he was on arrival, he should have been given some time to quietly come to grips with the new circumstances... some cats/kittens need more time than others...and he may not be terribly confident. A day to just be left to himself to explore the room probably would have been better.Now he's had a series of negative interactions so my guess is that you are going to have to step back and reduce your interaction to quiet sitting in his room...ignoring him and sit there either watching ipad or tv or reading a book. If you picked him up Sunday night, then this is only two days in.

I'm thinking that you are trying too hard and too much. I get that handling him to get the harness off was necessary but it has added to the kitten's fear of being touched. Was this is his first time wearing a harness?

As to your partner's fear that you will be attacked, cats generally only strike and attack if they feel cornered...so try not to make kitten feel trapped. I would add a nice cave for your kitten to spend time in that he can feel secure in. If the carrier he arrived in is large, so like at least a medium dog sized crate...then drape a blanket over one of those with the door propped open and it makes a good cave. You mention that you chose this room with the idea that there was little to hide under/behind but that can also work against you when the kitten is so fearful that they may need a place to feel secure to calm down and observe from.

As to the fear that he will never trust you, that strongly depends on your actions here...if you can step back and work slowly and patiently I am confident this situation can be resolved...but it really takes patience and understanding how scary all these changes have been for your kitten.
 

WitchyWoman

Admin
Staff member
#3
Wow, that's quite a story. So sorry you, your DH, and the kitten are having such a difficult time. Brigitte has given good advice. Some specifics: For a few days just tend to his needs by feeding and giving him water but don't linger in the room. Then start staying in the room for short intervals but not interacting with him. Sit and read or work on a laptop -- no more than 15 minutes -- then leave. Slowly increase the time you spend in the room and use cues from the kitten's behavior for next steps. If he seems curious about you, let him approach at his pace and sniff you but don't try to touch him. When he seems to be gaining trust in you and relaxing when you're in the room, put a bit of food on the back of your hand and see if he'll take it. Try leaving a radio on low in the room with him at night and remember to use a cord protector in case he's a chewer. Right now, it's all about gaining his trust and the more positive interactions he has with you, the better. He might be one of those sensitive souls who doesn't like change and takes a long time to adapt. I have an F2 like that and it took me 3 years to be able to pet him without him acting like I was torturing him.

If his health seems to be degrading or if progress isn't made in a couple of weeks, talk to your vet about options. It's possible that putting a bit of gabapentin in his food to ease his anxiety might be an option. It would at least relax him enough for you to be able to be in the room without him feeling threatened. Drugs are a last resort but it's worth a chat with your vet if all else fails. In the meantime, an abundance of patience on your part is the best remedy. And remember that cats are good at picking up on emotions so try some deep breathing and relaxation exercises before you enter the room. If you're calm and not sending out worried vibes, he will pick up on that.

Best of luck and please let us know how things are going.
 

cbain

Site Supporter
#4
I agree with Brigitte ,give your new kitten some time and space to adjust to it's new home, step back and let your new kitten come to you, he is a young F2 and he is more stressed with being moved from his mother
 

kmp

Site Supporter
#5
Hello everyone,
Thanks for the advice. We’re really trying here but it’s now Thursday evening and though we’ve made some progress as he no longer swipes at us it seems he has no interest in us whatsoever. He stills hisses whenever we glance his way, enter the room, go to clean his litter box, etc.

He won’t eat the wet food we bring into the room with us, he won’t approach the chicken we lay on the back of our hand, when we try to play with the feather wand he won’t go past a certain point of proximity to us and loses interest within 20 minutes.

Is this normal behavior 5 days into quarantine? I’d love some insight as what to do to get him to trust us and even bond with us.

Thank you.
 

kmp

Site Supporter
#6
And just now I got a little scared, he was in the corner of the room by his bed so I went to the storage bench in the middle of the room to get his dry food out to replenish it. He jumped towards me on the back of the chair so he was over me and staring at me and hissing. Is this a sign of aggression or fear?

Thanks for your help.
 

Brigitte Cowell

Moderator
Staff member
#7
It sounds to me that you are still trying to approach him, the chicken on the back of your hand ought to be something you try weeks' away. The days between Tuesday and Thursday ought have been minimal contact, just food, water and clean litter. It's not truly 5 days as you were meant to restart this process.
My advice would be to move that storage bench so it is closer to the door, and make it easy to just come in to do those necessities but leave him alone. Truly alone... with just the radio on for white noise.
 

admin

Paige
Staff member
#8
Agree with everything said here. Is he eating and using the Litterbox? If so, then right now, your interaction with him needs to just be food and water and Litterbox cleaning - that's it!

He is a very scared kitten and needs time and patience. Starting over is the best way to go at this point.


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