I am getting a rescue cat from a local charity, she is 3 to 4 years old and seems very affectionate in the videos. She has had a hard life so far, though, stolen and repeatedly bred, then booted out when she got a severe case of mastitis so she went home and got locked in a shed because the original owners situation "had changed".

My question is, what are the chances she will bond with us or will she be scared? Will she remember her former life? I just want her to be happy and would like some advice on how to make her as comfortable and content as possible. Thank you.

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    Like people, all cats are different. They aren't computers where if you follow steps X, Y, and Z, you will always get result A. Your best bet is to treat her with kindness and respect her boundaries.
    – Allison C
    Feb 25, 2021 at 17:49

2 Answers 2


I have personal experiences with abused dogs and stolen cats who returned very ill and potentially abused.

Will she remember her former life?

Yes, definitely. People and animals remember traumatic experiences to be able to either avoid them in the future or deal with them better if they cannot be avoided. You may notice some quirks of hers. Maybe she's afraid of loud voices, dogs or men, or maybe just men with beards or blondes in particular.

You should accommodate for her fears and always offer her a safe place where she can retreat. A living room or kitchen is not ideal because that's where people and especially guests usually are. A bedroom, unused guest room or guest bathroom is a better choice. This should also be the room where you keep her for the first days after adoption.

If you have guests over (especially children) and your cat hides in that safe place, you must make your guests understand that they are not allowed to follow the cat and try getting her out of hiding or pet her despite her attempt to hide.

If you notice a specific trigger of hers, like a certain noise, you should try to avoid making that sound (like a squeaky door, try oiling the hinges).

My question is, what are the chances she will bond with us?

Her traumatic experience doesn't necessarily make her a recluse. She may need more time than usual to trust you, but she can be as affectionate as any cat.

Just keep in mind that whether or not a cat is cuddly and affectionate is a question of her individual character. If she never was cuddly in her life, chances are low that she'll start now. If she was very cuddly before, she will probably be just as affectionate with you.

To avoid a common obstacle in gaining her trust, remember to never stare into her eyes. Whenever you look her in the eyes, do the "lazy cat blink" instead. That is nonverbal communication and tells her that you don't want to start a fight but be friendly instead. Give her room to approach you on her own time without approaching her or touching her first.


I once lived in a street with two sister cats rescued from a previous life. I don't know the prior circumstances (neglect, abuse, fantastic owner died suddenly and the cats had to be rehomed...). One of the sisters only ever left her new house to venture out into their back garden. The other acted like she owned the street, and particularly singled out my husband and I to be her kitty cat day care centre.

You won't know what your cat is like until you bring her home and give her time to settle in, which could take a while.

My advice: be patient, gentle and understanding. Spend time near her but doing your own thing, and occasionally talk to her in a calm, quiet voice so she can get used to you being in her space without seeming like a threat. Ensure she has a variety of safe spaces to go to, especially if you have guests over. If she initiates contact, respond but let her wander off as soon as she has had enough. When she seems comfortable being with you, try some simple playtime, e.g. wave something wriggly or throw a paper ball for her to chase, and see if she's interested (stop immediately if she seems spooked!). If you know what sorts of litter and food she has had before, try and use the same (at least to start) to give her a sense of familiarity. Ensure she has a variety of toys to play with, both on her own and with you. Pay attention, and you should soon learn her temperament and preferences.

You might find that the best you can get is knowing you have provided somewhere safe and calm for her to live. On the other hand, she might headbutt you awake on her first morning with you, demanding to play and generally be fussed over. Hopefully it's something in between, and you get a lot of joy and companionship from each other :)

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