Meet Mystique. She’s my newest project.
Excuse the poor lighting and photograph, but it’s the best I can do for the moment, for reasons that will become clear. Mystique was part of a very large (40+ cats) outdoor colony that was TNR’d this past summer. She’s about 9-10 months old now, so she was young when trapped, but she had a bit of a rough road. She had Ringworm, which means four weeks of pills and baths in stinky sulfur-smelling shampoo. All of which is hardly the way to convince a feral kitten that humans are nice.
She all well now, and spayed and ready for adoption, but she is so scared of people that everyone who comes to see her…well…doesn’t. She just hides. And shakes. She a beautiful, medium-haired cat, with the cutest mustache and many people have been interested in her, but she doesn’t exactly sell herself. It is my job to help her develop confidence so she can get a great furever home.
So she came to our foster room last night and headed under the futon promptly. She hasn’t ever been away from other cats before, and now she has just me for comfort and companionship. I didn’t mess with her too much last night, but today I’ve been pulling her out from under the futon and holding her (lightly) on my lap for pets and cuddles. Very, very light restraint. The poor girl shakes hard for a moment, but over a little bit of time she relaxes and accepts pets. I’ve been able to let go of her entirely and she stays with me, and this afternoon she even started purring for me and leaning into pets. We have a long way to go, but its a start.
My goal will be to do clicker-training with her, the same clicker-training I do with the dogs. I need to get her a bit more comfortable with me before I can start that. Right now she hasn’t eaten in her first 24 hours here, and we need to get relaxed enough to eat and engage with me easily. But then we will give the clicker a try. Clicker-training develops confidence and Mystique needs confidence big-time. Maybe I can even teach her a trick or two that will endear her to adopters. That’s my hope anyway. Keep your paws crossed for both of us!
And for those of you who are regular followers here: Gracie has completed 7 days without an accident in the house. Woo hoo!!!