April 29th, 2005, 11:58 AM
A couple of nights ago the rescue i volunteer with emailed me because somebody had dropped off a stray kitten (about 4 months old, i was told) that they had trapped. They didn't have any other open foster homes so i took her. They gave me a cage they had been keeping her in and said that if she wasn't coming around in a few weeks they would release her to an outdoor (farm) home. This cat is absolutely terrified. She does not want anyone to come near her and when i went in this morning to clean her litter and get her fresh food/water she was very aggressive. I'm wondering if there is anything i can be doing to make this easier on her or anything i should be doing to get her to "come around" . She was just trapped, spayed, and caged, so understandably scared....should i give her a few days before i even try to interact with her. Another thing, do you think the cage is absolutely necessary? I don't like the idea of crating a dog, much less a cat. Would letting her have the run of the entire spare room be okay or should i wait until she has settled a bit more? I know some feral cats never come around but i was hoping, since she is still young, she will have a good shot with some time.
April 29th, 2005, 12:06 PM
one of my cats was a cat that was stray that hung around my fathers home, I took her in because she ws due to start going in heat soon and she needed fixing.
we caught her and got her fixed, and decided that I would not release her again and preferred she not become a stray again.
it took literally months for her to come around. If the cage is an open concept type of cage[wire or whatnot] Id either get a more closed in cage where shes can feel hidden, or cover 3 sides with a dark blanket.
and give her time, lots of time and slowly get a bit more interactive with her each day that passes, first it may be just hanging out in the same room, then maybe it would be slowly approaching her, and so on till you are able to pat her.
thats the way i did it with my perle, and she came around and tho she still isnt too fond of people when its just her and I alone she will get in my lap and have a snuggle, and she doesnt hiss or fluff up at the sight of people anymore, and doesnt hide anymore either
but seriously take it real slow shes very frightened give her time to adjust to each new thing shes exposed too
April 29th, 2005, 12:15 PM
Yeah, i had a feeling this could take a lot longer than three weeks. Unfortunately the rescue has given her time restrictions...i would like to see her stay indoors. The cage is open, wire-like. I will try covering part of it with a blanket. Thanks for the advice, Eleni :)
April 29th, 2005, 12:15 PM
Don't expect anything after a few days or even try anything. Taming feral cats is a long, frustrating process that can take more patience than you think you have.
This kitten is young and may be tamed, depending on how long her mother, grandmother etc. have been feral. Some cats can never be tamed, but I would sure try with a kitten this age. I've found there are two types of ferals - the "scaredy cats" and the "tigers". The scaredy cats are much preferred!:p
How big is the cage? If it's a big dog crate, with room for bed and litterbox, I would leave her there for now. Cover the back part of it with a towel so she feels she has some security.
For now, just talk to her softly as you give her food and change her water and litterbox. Do not look directly at her and do not put your hand out to her or she will defend herself vigorously. To her, you are a large and terrifying predator.
You want her to know that you are harmless provider of good things and learn to trust you.
If you have the time, just go sit next to her cage, read a book, listen to the radio and talk to her. Only she can decide when to trust you.
When she seems calmer, try dangling strings or toys in the cage and see if she will play. No cat can be terrified and play at the same time.
Bring special tidbits in - like cooked chicken, salmon etc and try to lure her closer to you. If she won't come, toss her the treat anyway. You can gradually toss the treat so it's closer and closer to you. Eventually you can put the treat in your hand and see if she will come get it.
If you put her loose in a spare room, and if there is a place for her to hide, you may never see her again and you run the risk of having an indoor feral.
Never ever reach for her. She must make the first move always.
I've tamed many ferals, with varying degrees of success. Males seem to be easier than females. I tamed an adult male fairly easily and now he is like any other cat. I have his mother, who will never be really tame, and Stinkerbell is in the middle - tame with me but very skittish and shy.
I hope you will try with this kitten. Patience, patience and more patience and take baby steps and never EVER try to rush it. This could take months, but the first time this kitty greets you with a mew, or headbutts you, it's worth it!!
April 29th, 2005, 12:19 PM
Scared? Try terrified. And so young! But her age is in her favour. I would leave her in the cage, if there is room for a litter box (doesn't have to be full size, since she is so small) and a blankie, soft things, she misses her mother. But in a small space, she will feel more secure.
A ticking clock is supposed to be soothing. Is she warm? A heating pad (turned down LOW) wrapped in an old towel so she doesn't get burned, is good. Put the litter box near the front of the cage so you don't have to disturb her too much. Whenever you go into the room, talk to her in a quiet voice, as if you were talking to a human baby, very soothing. Talk the whole time. Sooner or later, she'll let you touch her, but it may be a few days. Sometimes with my strays (none of them were that wild, just shy and freaked out), I would get a book and sit with them, to get them used to my presence.
If it is a big room, I would limit the space in some way after you open the cage, then leave the door open so she can go back in, then gradually increase the space until she has the whole room. By then, hopefully, she won't be of a mind to rip your drapes or shred the carpet.
Good luck! Take it slowly and she'll come around. Touch, voice, warmth, are the keys.
April 29th, 2005, 12:26 PM
Time restraints? Oh, please, I'm surprised a rescue wouldn't know how this works. I can see trapping, neutering and releasing an adult that has been feral from day one, but a kitten? Hawk food.
April 29th, 2005, 12:51 PM
I don't understand. If you are willing to foster her and work with her, what objection could a rescue have to that? We would be thrilled if we had a foster willing to do this and give them all the time they need.
April 29th, 2005, 01:48 PM
Thanks so much for the advice! i will stick to just hanging out in the room with her for awhile and be very careful not to rush things. The rescue is only a feral cat rescue so they certainly should know what to expect, but one of the coordinaters did tell me that they were used to the ferals they tamed being fairly receptive to being tamed or so young it was simple. They said when they encounter a cat as aggressive as this little girl is (according to them) they tend to just release them again, to an outdoor home that is screened (to make sure the cats are provided some sort of shelter and fed) after they are fixed. Right now the rescue has been going through some chaotic changes and i suspect they are taking in more cats than they can handle. They have former ferals in cages that they want to move into their "friendly cat" enclosure and cats from that enclosure that need to be moved into foster homes, but there are not enough foster homes to keep up. I think that's one reason for the time restriction..they would rather keep foster homes open for adoptable cats right now. But I haven't been working with them for too long so i'm not sure, just my perception of things. I will talk to them though, as i would like to work with her for as long as it takes.
Here is a picture of the cage she is in...i will move the litter box to the front and cover part of it so she can hide somewhat. Thanks again for the help!!
April 29th, 2005, 01:56 PM
sidenote: that picture is from when we first put the cage up...the electrical outlets have since been covered with safety plugs :)
April 29th, 2005, 02:35 PM
I don't know anything about feral cats, but I'd like to put my 2 cents in, as long as nobody minds my ignorance that is. :D
With the litter box so far away from the door, it looks as though you have practically climb in to get it. Maybe, using the picture you provided as reference, you could move the litter box to where the food bowls are (on the left side of the cage, but long-ways from bottom to top (like the food dishes are). Move the food dishes to the right side of the cage (below where the cat is, but leave it orintated like it is, long-ways from bottom to top). That way, the cat can hide at the back of the cage if you're working on things at the front.
It's kind of hard to explain, but I can copy that picture and edit it if it would help you to see what I see. :p
Oops - never mind! I just re-read your post that contains the picture. You already mentioned doing this!
April 29th, 2005, 03:29 PM
I have raised ferals - more tho I have helped my grandmother with her feral colony - and I would not give up on this kitten. She is young yet and taming a feral - even a kitten - can be time consuming and just when you thought you made progress, something happens. It is frustrating and heart wrenching. BUT worth every single minute when you see what a wonderful cat she will turn out to be!
The advice given is great - not sure I can add much. Just go slowly and do not expect miracles. Let the kitty think she is coming to you - let her think she is making the first moves!
That cage - moved- should be fine but as mentioned earlier, a towel or blanket over part of it would give her a place she thinks she is hiding.
Good luck and thx for caring!!
April 29th, 2005, 04:14 PM
All those ferals - sounds like Montreal! - heroic chaos - yeah, that sounds about right. Pretty cat! Let us know how it goes!
Did anyone mention - no clumping litter, they lick it off their feet and gum up their insides. It doesn't have to be anything fancy, just not clumping.
May 2nd, 2005, 12:32 AM
I just wanted to thank everyone, again, for the advice. I have just been spending the last few days hanging out in the room with her for awhile, several times each day, usually reading to her softly. I've named her Katharina (from Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew :) ) Today she didn't growl or hiss when I went into her cage for her food/water dish/litter pan and took some salmon from my hand. So...we're making progress. Thanks again!
May 2nd, 2005, 09:45 AM
Yay! Progress!:) Just keep doing what you are doing. There will be times you will be frustrated. If you are, just leave the room and come back later.
Katharina just needs to learn to trust! It may be a bit harder since she was already spayed before being tamed, but it will come.
May 12th, 2005, 09:34 PM
I have a feral rescue as well. It was the best thing I ever did too!! Eden was 4 months as well and it took a lot of time. I never kept him in a cage. He just went flying under the bed and I didn't see him much. I let him do things at his own pace. He bonded with my other cats first and then started trusting me more. He would only come out from under the bed to use the litter box and to eat. I didn't approach him because I wanted him to feel safe to eat. I started lying on the floor and talking to him under the bed. I brought in some toys and tried to play with him. When I could catch him, I took him into the bathroom for some bonding time. I tried to do this more and more. It took some time and a lot of effort, but he came around. I also was scratched a lot in the process :) It's been 6 months and we have a very strong bond. It's amazing how a feral will bond with you. It's the best feeling in the world. Our bond continues to grow too. Just in the past month, he has started sleeping every night in bed with me. He is getting better when strangers come over. He runs to the bedroom (under the bed) and then slowly starts checking out what is going on :) He still gets scared, but that is just him. He truly is a wonderful cat and has a VERY strong personality. He even lets me trim his nails now. I can't believe he is the same cat I trapped and tried to climb the walls.. It was insane, but now he is this cute, little guy that is living with me and my other cats..
GOOD LUCK!!! AND stick to it... I encourage everyone to rehab a feral. It's a wonderful experience and they are great to have in your house :)