Tink and Bell were in my home for about 1 month. They were living in a cage in our bathroom. Tink became very friendly when approached. She could be brushed for hours. Unfortunately, she and her sister just weren’t able to roam freely.
Why do some socialized cats have to stay confined to a bedroom or even a cage?
If you’re a cat terrified of people, and I were to bring you through the front door and open the carrier, what is most likely to happen? You’d probably bolt underneath the coach or the bed, and stay there until you absolutely have to pee or eat. A human can’t reach you don’t there. What happens when a human tries to approach you while you’re not under the couch/bed? Bolt right back under.
Part of socializing a cat is touch; you can pet the cat once, let it move away from you. They can’t run somewhere where you can’t reach and touch them, yet they’ll understand that human touch didn’t harm them, and that you’re not looking to manhandle them without reason. Another thing we do is sit in close proximity to the cat, and perhaps read a book or toy with our electronics. Even if we’re not touching or even interacting with the cat, this is still socializing. We’re teaching the cat that we’re not there to hurt them, and that even though we could reach out and grab them, we’re choosing not to. The cat hopefully realizes that we’re not actively out to get them, that we won’t harm them, and that peaceful co-existence can be possible, maybe even pleasurable.
Anyway, eventually another fellow cat rescuer took Tink and Bell in hopes that she could break through to them. She kept them in her bedroom with her mattress on the ground, so that they would be in the room while she sleeps. Believe it or not, this is also socializing. Again, you’re in proximity to the cat without actually paying them attention. Additionally, you’re in a position where the animal recognizes that you couldn’t get up and grab them anyway. This is a good time for the cat to wander the room, examine you while you’re asleep, etc.
Tink has since come around nicely. She returned to adoption events two weeks ago. She loves being pet by customers, and will come lie on your lap when the mood strikes her. She still hates being held, but even socialized cats will be that way.
Bell might not ever be socialized in a way that makes her easily adoptable. These are always tough cases, because they’re great cats, but they want their space. Bell needs to find a home where the owner is fine just letting her be herself. Of course, usually people adopt pets for companionship or entertainment, and with Bell, it’ll be more like co-existing. We’re hoping that someone out there might be willing, because we don’t want her to be turned outside like a feral cat.