Do the vast majority of rescue cats have big 'ishoos'?

(29 Posts)
AphraBane Thu 01-May-14 22:25:57

Apologies for the provocative title (and the rant below), but I'm feeling a bit despondent about the chances of finding a suitable cat right now. So many of the profiles online seem to detail either major behavioural problems (such that they're only suitable for experienced cat people or those with no kids) or serious ongoing medical preconditions such as kidney damage or diabetes, which would be automatically excluded from any insurance we get (and thus potentially horrendously expensive should an operation be needed).

A very important point: we're not in the UK. In our city there is just one extremely large shelter - at the opposite end of town. We're talking 90 minutes away by car. The shelter generously offers free lifelong medical treatment for pre-existing conditions, but it's so far away there's no way we could put a cat (or ourselves) through that kind of car travel several times a year or more, when we have our own excellent vet 5 minutes away. Obviously we're very aware that any cat we adopt might later get a serious condition, but by that time we'll hopefully have enough experience of cat-caring to deal with it well - that's just part of owning a pet ultimately.

I'm not particularly picky about the age/breed/colour/gender of cat (although a slight preference for 'big boned' cats and no kittens please), because personality is much more important than anything else. I really would like an affectionate, slightly dippy, lap-cat type - the kind who comes up and sits on the keyboard to get attention because it wants a cuddle so much. We have two older children (16 and 12), a lovely garden, live in a quietish area with plenty of woodland access nearby, I work at home and would be there all day for a cat if it wanted attention. I definitely wouldn't get another animal, so it would be perfect for a cat who doesn't get on with other cats. We have limited experience of cat ownership, but many years ago. On the 'downside', we don't have a catflap (so I'd just have to open up the back door a lot), the dog next door is quite barky so would make a nervous cat more nervous, and I'm not quite sure where we'd put a second litter tray (minor logistical difficulty).

On the shelter's website almost every cat listed has either serious medical needs or behavioural difficulties, but it's only a selection of their total cats, so we thought, OK let's go by there and see what they're like. So we were there on Sunday, and of the hundreds (!) of cats there, only a very few were described as 'friendly, confident, not aggressive, suitable for older children'. I fell a bit in love with one gorgeous tabby called Leo who was desperate for a cuddle and the shelter worker let me into his enclosure to see how we get on. After warning me that he was a 2-year-old with an incredible amount of energy who might be destructive (that wasn't on the written profile, but it doesn't put me off)! Leo was a real sweety, but it became clear that he was lacking real socialization (had been taken in as a stray, no knowledge of previous owners) and would need a lot of careful training - he nipped me in play 4 times within a few minutes. Now that I could cope with, I think he could learn to control himself. But then I made one movement too quickly, the poor chap panicked and bit me extremely hard on the arm with no warning - a small but deep bite. The shelter woman said it needed medical treatment because of the high risk of getting infected, so I ended up in A+E getting antibiotics on Sunday evening, then a few visits to the doctor this week to check it wasn't infected. Now four days later the area is still slightly swollen, bruised and sore. Leo is just gorgeous and my heart goes out to the poor lad, but I can't take the risk of letting him live with us, in case he panics again and bites one of the kids like that.

So now I'm thinking, was I just being hopelessly unrealistic to think we could get a healthy cat from the rescue? At what point is the cut-off line between normal cat idiosyncrasy/individual personality and a behavioural disorder?

And I've looked at a lot of different sites both in the UK and here - it's interesting how the profiles differ enormously. Some shelters say very few of their cats are suitable for families or living with other cats, others are much more liberal and far more of the cats are described as an 'ideal family pet'. Is it because they have a different perspective, or just that they take on different types of cats?

snoggle Thu 01-May-14 22:37:31

My 2 don't- they were just moggies who got dumped.
Not that they haven't had the odd clawing/biting/ fighting/spraying incident. But not what I would call major issues, they are usually happy chaps.

Fluffycloudland77 Thu 01-May-14 22:37:44

I've had our cat since he was 17 weeks old.

He has an intolerance to cereals that means he pukes and has diahroea if he eats any (like stolen whiskas) and if we do anything to displease him (buy the wrong scratching post, move house, put curtains up or other outrageous events) he wees on the furniture, walls or radiators.

He was not a rescue. Sometimes I think he might end up as one though wink

GeordieMama Thu 01-May-14 22:41:38

We have two rescue cats.
The first one was described as a grumpy and aggressive cat , she's the complete opposite, she's happy and affectionate.
The second one was adopted later, she was nervous and skittish to begin with but her confidence has grown massively and she's very comfortable and friendly.
They're now 9 and 10 and very healthy. We've had the first for 6 years and the second for 2 years.
We didn't have kids when we adopted them but now have a 7 month old son and they're brilliant with him.
IME cats act very differently in the shelter to how they do once they're in a happy home.
I hope you find the right cat for you and your family thanks

BingoWingsBeGone Thu 01-May-14 22:44:04

My rescue cat sits on my keyboard, cuddles, has never bitten. She doesn't really get on with other cats having been bullied previously, but does a good impression of shouting at the other neighbourhood cats or hiding/running away depending how brave she's feeling

When we visited, she jumped off her shelf and wound herself round my legs.

No medical or food issues, although dh is out to get her as she went on a ham stealing mission earlier grin

pebblyshit Thu 01-May-14 22:47:49

Mine doesn't have any ishoos apart from she doesn't like other cats and when we have people to stay she arses about like an annoying, attention seeking child Look at meeee!
She is a fussy eater and she gets a bit huffy if anyone but me sits in her chair.
She was charming at the rescue and put me in mind of orphan Annie hiding in the cupboard getting Grace to describe her to Miss Hannigan.

AphraBane Thu 01-May-14 22:50:21

"IME cats act very differently in the shelter to how they do once they're in a happy home."
That's part of what makes it all so difficult to tell - it's quite possible Leo wouldn't have bitten in a home environment, but it would be so distressing to adopt him anyway and then to have to take him back because of his aggression, poor boy, so we can't take the risk.

Thanks for the flowers, means a lot because I'm curiously upset about this whole thing. I also feel massively guilty about admitting that I can't take on a cat with extra needs right now.

"if we do anything to displease him (buy the wrong scratching post, move house, put curtains up or other outrageous events) he wees on the furniture, walls or radiators." I would find that very difficult to deal with, but I suppose it's always a risk with cats and I hope I would never hand a cat back just because of that. Doesn't Feliway help calm them down?

AphraBane Thu 01-May-14 22:52:34

"apart from she doesn't like other cats and when we have people to stay she arses about like an annoying, attention seeking child Look at meeee!
She is a fussy eater and she gets a bit huffy if anyone but me sits in her chair. " Mmm, I think I would classify all that as strong personality rather than behaviourally challenged. smile

mrsbug Thu 01-May-14 23:00:30

We got our cat from the rescue centre a few years ago. She is just a typical cat really, regards humans with a mixture of contempt and disgust until she wants feeding, then becomes your best friend.

She is fine with our toddler dd and has become more affectionate over the years we've owned her.

For every cat who has been given to the shelter because of behavioural issues there will be another whose owner developed an allergy.

Most of our cats are just normal cats. Often they come to us when they owners are no longer able to keep them (they've died/ been put in prison/ been evicted/ someone has developed allergies etc etc) or the owners just got fed up of them. Also we have many, many young mother cats with kittens which are dumped on us - none of these are likely to have issues.

However the ones that feature on our website are generally the more difficult to home ones. The ones that are easy to home come in and go out again fairly quickly, so often don't get advertised. That's why, if you were to look at our site, you'd get the impression that we have largely 'difficult cats, whereas this really isn't the case. And I'm sure that is the same for most other shelters too. People who come to us wanting trouble-free cats are offered trouble-free cats. We always try to match the cats to the prospective owners' circumstances and wants.

Lonecatwithkitten Thu 01-May-14 23:50:14

My posh arrogant boy was born into a two parent household rehomed at the correct age, well socialised by me and turn into a vile thug.
The tail less wonder I acquired as the result of a cruelty prosecution at the very least her previously owner failed to seek medical treatment, but I suspect she was beaten by a man. Her only ishoo is she hates my ExH (a cat of excellent taste).
My previous rescue came to me as he had been living in a lady's garden and she was worried he was going to eat her children!! He was only vaguely threatening if you had Chinese takeaway.

Fluffycloudland77 Fri 02-May-14 07:00:41

My cats dad left before he was born, maybe that's why he's the way he is grin

We've had four rescue cats. One sadly died very young from FIP, but they all had lovely outgoing personalities. One in particular comes when she's called to curl up on DS's bed to help him go to sleep at bedtime.

We're currently fostering a mum and six kittens in our spare room. They'll have peace and quiet at first and then lots of gentle love and play with us, the DC and a long stream of adoring visitors. They'll leave, like the last set, as beautiful bomb-proof kitties ready to wrap their new guardians round their little paws.

Not much help for you where you are OP, but I just wanted to reassure lurkers that there are loads of fairly trouble-free child friendly cats looking for homes if that's all you can manage. Good luck with finding a cat of your own OP - if you keep looking there's probably one out there for you - you may even get adopted against your will.

isseywithcats Fri 02-May-14 11:25:11

im surprised that if they have hundreds of cats on site that they only allowed you into one pen to see one cat,

at the rescue i work at we have 17 pens and after asking the questions like any children, other pets etc, we usually have at least two or three cats that are suitable to show to people, and quite a few cats who have had ishoos in the pens have turned into very loving cats in homes with a little patience and time,

as a cat pen isnt the same as a house, maybe talk to the people at the center and narrow down your choices to an age, gender temprement cat for you, as centers rehome cats they may have an intake that would be better for you, or they may be a center that seems to take in the cats that other rescues would not take in,

obviously i dont know which country you live in but the rescue in cyprus (cyprus pride house) where i adopted my dog from has cats aswell as dogs, and their process is very easy to go through, the cats are generally friendly, neutered, vaccinated, pet passported , and if you are in a country that they export to its a simple process

Rollypoly100 Fri 02-May-14 16:01:51

My 14 year old tabby is a rescue. His owners moved house and left him behind. We think he does have abandonment issues, he will never go out if we are all out (maybe because he thinks we won't come back). He is quite insecure, isn't quite sure how to play nicely, does sometimes bite quite hard but we have learnt to give him his own space. He makes it clear he doesn't like being picked up or mauled around. But he is so affectionate on his own terms. We don't think he would tolerate another cat even though I would like one. He has calmed down and become a very loving cat. I would recommend adopting an oldie.

Migsy1 Fri 02-May-14 20:03:23

Some do but many don't. You should be able to spend time with them at the centre to find out whether they have the right personality for yousmile

patothechiefexec Sat 03-May-14 10:42:39

Our last rescue boy's medical notes were as long as my arm when we took him on. He was 7 but had most of his teeth removed, was being treated for conjunctivitis and dirty ears. He had also been treated for a dodgy tummy. I loved him but was a bit worried about taking him on.

We've only just lost him and, other than a couple of cat fight injuries and his annual injection, he needed no other treatment.

Cats in rescue centres have probably had a bit of a stressful time of it and end up getting poorly. I really would take a chance on one. I'm sure as soon as they have a nice home and get settled they will improve in leaps and bounds. You just need to wait until you find the one you feel is right for you.

Best of luck.

TheSpottedZebra Sat 03-May-14 10:50:53

My cats are both rescued mogs, we got them aged about 2 and 5, and I've had them for 9 years.
They are both lovely, and very very loving. No issues apart from one has immense greed and a slightly wonky tail.

Migsy1 Sat 03-May-14 11:45:16

issey You intrigued me with the idea of adopting from Cyprus. I can't adopt any cats right now but here is the link for anyone interested. Am I allowed to post it? Sorry if I'm not!
www.cypruspridehouse.com/

isseywithcats Sat 03-May-14 17:56:12

Migsy yes they need to find homes for all the animals there i dont know how to do links, animal welfare in cyprus is appalling puppies dumped , cats poisoined, hunting dogs shot, the majority of people there have a very backward attitude towards animals, i dopted my dog from these people, they fly into heathrow airport and the process is so easy, you look at their page and if theres someone you like you contact june and she emails you a form to fill in, then arranges a home visit and if approved the animal goes on the flight and if you cant get to heathrow to pick up they have a fantastic network of people who will transport part or most of the way, when i adopted wander i couldnt get to heathrow but a lovely lady who lives in the midlands was picking up her dog and offered to pick up wander as well, so my son drove to her house to pick her up, average donation is around £100 which is way below what vet treatment and flight costs, they have people who fundraise to make up the difference

Migsy1 Sat 03-May-14 21:05:47

Sounds wonderful issy. Such a good idea. Poor animals sad Sometimes I foster cats so if I don't get one for a while I might offer to foster for them.

isseywithcats Sat 03-May-14 21:23:27

migsy june and michael are lovely caring people contact her as they do fly cats and dogs over to foster as well if they cant fill a flight as they have to have batches of five animals a time to get the discount on the flights, i fostered one of the cats last year and she was delightful and was with me for a couple of weeks till she was rehomed

timtam23 Sat 03-May-14 21:52:15

Those poor animals in Cyprus. There are some beautiful cats on that website. I'm not in a position to adopt any more cats now, from any country, but I hope many of them can find good homes.

isseywithcats Sat 03-May-14 22:12:32

timtam yes the cats at junes are fabulous and because there is a good network of people over here who put up posters advertise in shops and local papers there is usually one flight a month with at least 5 animals on it, but for each one she rehomes there are two or three who need them to fill the places left, and the only support they get are michaels wages (shite for brits in cyprus) and fundraising done by people over here

timtam23 Sat 03-May-14 22:20:02

issey I've looked on their website about how to help them. Hard when there are cats in the UK who are also in desperate need of help, but I'll see if I can do something for the cats there and here too!

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