Last updated: 22 Jul, 2019
Published on: 10 Jun, 2017
Adopting a scaredy cat
14-year-old Kika will inspire you to save a scaredy cat
The special bond between 14-year-old Kika and her adopted scaredy cat, Beatriz Louelle van Wilde, has melted our hearts. And we hope that sharing their step-by-step journey will inspire others to consider giving a scaredy cat a second chance.
Beatriz (nee Bibby) was our darling grumpy-faced office foster cat from SAFE Avon Valley. She was so timid when she first arrived at PetRescue HQ in October 2016. After a couple of weeks, we coaxed her out of hiding for a head scratch. We found her to be a very affectionate cat once she learned to trust us, and hoped she’d find a home by Christmas. Then, just after the New Year, Beatriz had the most perfect meet and greet. She met 14-year-old Kika!
What follows are the lessons we can all learn from Kika, to help scaredy cats gain the trust and confidence they need to live the happy home life they deserve.
1. Create a peaceful space with plenty of vertical space and hidey holes
Kika spent the week before her new kitty’s arrival creating a quiet haven for Beatriz in her own bedroom. Kika made sure there were plenty of cubby holes, escape routes and high places that Beatriz could easily access and hide in for the first few weeks while she was settling in. Beatriz quickly found her favourite spot under Kika’s bed.
2. Speak in a soft and soothing tone
When Kika came to the PetRescue office for a meet and greet, it was the first time our scaredy office foster cat had ever met a stranger without running to hide, or hissing, or both! Kika sat quietly outside the cat enclosure for at least 45 minutes and spoke in the softest and sweetest, calming voice. Within an hour, Kika was inside the enclosure and was able to give her new kitty a little neck scratch.
3. Give your cat the slow blink “kitty kiss”
From that very first day that Kika and Beatriz met, they exchanged kitty kisses. Kika avoided eye contact with Beatriz completely for the first 30 minutes or so, and when their eyes did meet, Kika slowly closed her eyes, kept them closed for a beat, and slowly opened them again. And Beatriz returned the gesture. They kept this up when Beatriz took up residence in Kika’s room, and now Beatriz has the confidence to hold her gaze - especially when she wants attention or food!
4. Spend some quality quiet time together
Every day, Kika read stories and sang lullabies to Beatriz, or just hung out quietly in the bedroom together. And, every day, Beatriz grew in confidence. After a few weeks, Kika was able to join Beatriz under the bed. She even purred with excitement and sat on Kika’s pillow beside her head! When Kika left the room for a moment, she returned to find that there was no room for her. Beatriz had commandeered it. It was hers now!
5. Lure them with food or treats
Beatriz was not very responsive to treats while she was in foster care at the PetRescue office. We would gently toss or roll treats towards her to try and lure her out of her enclosure. Occasionally she would eat the treat, and we’d roll another one, talking to her in a soft and encouraging tone. Gradually, we’d bring her closer to the enclosure entrance by tossing the treats a shorter distance. She eventually came out of the enclosure, and would happily hang out in the office with her favourite team member Rachael, if she was on her own.
6. Engage them in play
Once Beatriz was confident enough to come out of hiding, Kika started engaging in some gentle interactive play with a feather on a stick - a toy Beatriz had enjoyed playing with during her time in foster care at the PetRescue office. Placing the feather end of the toy on the floor and jerking it around in tiny motions would almost always get Beatriz’ attention. And once she looked at the toy and began playing, Kika would praise Beatriz’ bravery and give her a treat. Beatriz has now developed a keen interest in chasing the laser pointer and loves to play!
7. Let them approach you
Kika is very respectful and waited very patiently for Beatriz to make the first move towards her hand, letting her sniff and get to know her first before even attempting to touch Beatriz. And even when Beatriz started to feel comfortable around Kika, she would always be gentle and patient. Eventually, Beatriz built up the confidence to be around visitors to the house too.
After a few months, we arranged a free photoshoot for Beatriz, with volunteer pet photographer Kaylene Taylor from Taylor Made Moments. Unfortunately, Kika was at school at the time, but you can tell how much confidence Beatriz has gained as she poses for the camera, completely unphased by the stranger behind the lens. She’s a different cat!
“Beatriz can still be quite shy and loves to seek out the hiding places around the house,” says Kika’s mum, Yaz. “It depends on whether she’s had a good sleep or if she’s hungry. She’s lovely first thing in the morning, and in the evening - purring loud, chatting away at us and, sometimes, smooching our legs and faces. We tried to capture her chatter on video, but we forgot to switch the sound on!!”
Thank you to Kika, mum Yaz, nanna Andreja for giving this scaredy girl a second chance at a happy life.
Are you ready to adopt a scaredy?
Check out some of the rescue kitties available for adoption today, some of them are scaredy cats in need of a second chance.