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Bringing a feral into the house

November 29th, 2006, 08:25 AM
OK, so some of you already know about Ted, my feral cat. I had him neutered and vaccinated last week and have built him a super duper shelter under my back porch. I have finally gotten DH to agree to having Ted in the house on very cold nights in the winter. Ted can have his own room, but my problem is that I have to be careful picking him up because I'm pregnant and can't risk a cat bite. He absolutely adores me, but you just never know. So for the past few days he's been coming in the back door and hanging out in the kitchen, however now that he's comfortable there I want him to get used to being in his own room. I think it's best if he stays away from the other cats for now. I coaxed him upstairs today and he's with me now in his room. I want to do this every day for a few hours, is this a good way to proceed? He's clearly not happy at the moment with being confined to one room. Also, how do I get him to use the litter box? I have trained many kittens before, and dealt with previously trained adults, but I haven't ever litter trained a feral. There is a box in the room with us and he's sniffed at it a few times but hasn't used it. Am I doing this right?

November 29th, 2006, 09:12 AM
I think your supposed to scratch his paws in the litter so he knows what to do?

Otherwise it sounds like a good idea....who knows maybe you can even get a whole new kitty out of the deal ;)

Good luck with Ted


November 29th, 2006, 03:08 PM
I have to be careful picking him up because I'm pregnant and can't risk a cat bite. ?

I wouldn't pick him up, if I were you. He is trusting you now, but it won't take much to have him not trust again...I know! I am going through the same with my 2 ferals.

I think it's best if he stays away from the other cats for now. ?

If your cats have not had time to deal with him, keep him away...if they have had time to see each other, then let them introduce themselves at their own pace...cats know how to read body language way better than we can.

Also, how do I get him to use the litter box? ?

Put him in the litter box...they know what to do. My ferals picked up that part without any problems...good luck

November 29th, 2006, 03:54 PM
If anybody knows CPietra does:thumbs up
I also would not pick up a feral cat,the confinement might make him bite,I never carry my own cats around and they are not even feral.
Other than beeing 16lbs,they just don't like beeing carried,they just follow me around anyway:cat:

kashtin's kin
November 29th, 2006, 05:34 PM
I'm sooooo not an expert on the subject, but having pretty much survived a feral cat 'crash course' over the past few months, things with 'Ted' sound like they're going really well. Most of the people who have posted above helped me out tons with advice and support :thumbs up .

I agree with not making a point of picking Ted up, of sloooowly introducing him to other household cats, and not leaving him for stressfully long periods of time alone in his room (esp. at first)...I too am sure he'll figure out the litter thing.

My 3 feral kittens were initially fascinated by the idea that someone was cleaning up after them; I was apparently great entertainment till they got used to the whole routine. The kitten's TOTALLY feral mother was inside in a cage for just over a week after being spayed, and she had no problem knowing what to do with the litter box!

Good luck with Ted :D !

November 29th, 2006, 11:32 PM
I agree with everyone' comments but I just wanted to add "thanks" to your hubby for agreeing to let Ted come inside. :thumbs up :grouphug: ......even if it is just on cold nights ;) .....for now. :D

November 30th, 2006, 07:32 AM
Kashtins kin,I would say,you are pretty close to beeing an expert:thumbs up

November 30th, 2006, 09:50 AM
Thanks everyone! We are on day 2 of getting Ted used to his room. He and I spent about an hour yesterday in here and he didn't like it much. Today he seems much more relaxed and curious, not quite so stressed as he was yesterday. He has sniffed the litter and even put a paw in it, but I don't think he needs to go. I'm guessing eventually he'll figure it out, but I don't have the time to spend ALL day in here with him and I don't want to leave him alone. Besides, it's so nice and warm out that we should both be outside today. I think tomorrow morning I'll try feeding him in here, maybe that will get his bowels moving and he'll use the litter, it'll also make him feel a little more comfortable here. I am impressed with his reaction so far, very un-feral like. He is currently sprawled out in the middle of the floor and giving himself a bath. :thumbs up

November 30th, 2006, 10:10 AM
Pictures! Pictures!:D

November 30th, 2006, 03:38 PM
Iwas just going to say the same:D we need pics of Teddy:cat:
It's great to hear he's doing better,just give hime time and a lot of space,soon enough he'll realize how lucky he is to be getting a home and cuddles:thumbs up

December 1st, 2006, 08:59 AM
I'm working on the pics. Have to recharge the batteries first. Is it normal for Ted to be so attached to me? He behaves as though he can't live without me. I thought I'd be able to tame him enough to feed him and pat him, but he's become extremely attached. He wants to always be in my lap, and follows me around the house like a puppy. I'm not complaining, but if he does become an indoor cat he's going to have to share my attention with 4 other cats, 2 dogs, and a baby. He's spent quite a bit of time inside in the last 2 days, but whenever I do put him outside he waits at the door and begs to get back in. He seems pretty uninterested in the rest of the household, he just wants to be with me all the time. Is this normal behavior for a feral? I'm pretty sure he's never had any human contact before me. Should I start leaving him alone in his room a bit more so he becomes more independent?

December 1st, 2006, 09:58 AM
From everything you've posted here, Ted sounds like a lost/dumped pet, not a feral. What makes you think he hasn't had human contact?
In my mind, a feral is born outside and has not been socialized = wild. Then there are the cats who spend virtually all their time outside and only go home to eat - if they don't get lost or swiped by a car - and never establish a bond with the 'owners'; they are also, nominally, ferals.
I think Ted was once a pet and he can't believe his good luck at landing in clover once again. He can't get enough of you because you are his mother goddess! Every time he comes back inside he has to re-establish his status. Can I stay, can I?
You sound like you've got your hands full.

December 1st, 2006, 10:55 AM
From everything you've posted here, Ted sounds like a lost/dumped pet, not a feral. What makes you think he hasn't had human contact?

We have lived here for 2 1/2 years and I've been seeing him around for that long. The vet estimates he's between 3 and 5. He started hanging around when I had my 2 unfixed female kittens (they both had health issues and couldn't be spayed until about 6 months old). It took me several months before I could get within 10 feet of him, and then a few more months until I could actually touch him, he was totally wild, he would hiss and spit at me and then run off. It took me a long time to be able to pat him and a lot longer before he actually seemed to like it. The only way I could do all this was while feeding him. It wasn't as if he suddenly remembered that he used to like it when his previous owner did that, KWIM? It was completely foreign to him. I am still the only person he will tolerate, he runs off and growls at the sight of anyone else. He didn't quite seem to know what to do with cat food when I first started feeding him, he'd pull it out of the bowl or stand in the bowl to eat. I'm sure no one else was feeding him because he was deathly skinny. We live out in farm country and a lot of people don't have their cats fixed so they just breed and hide in barns and eat mice. There are socialization basics that I would think Ted would remember if he'd been someone's pet before, like how to use a kitty litter. I put him in it and he doesn't seem to know what it's for. He also freaked right out when I put him in the cat cage to go to the vet. He's clearly never been in one before, and it took me a couple of weeks of feeding him in there before he would actually go right in. I get the sense that Ted is confused; he wants to be with me but at the same time he doesn't really know what to do in a house.

December 3rd, 2006, 08:06 AM
Here's a little update on Ted. He has used the litter box 3 times now! I put one in the bathroom which is close to where he spends most of his time. I put him in it a few times and left a pee from one of the other cats in it hoping he'd get the idea. He came in on Friday and drank some water so I figured he'd have to pee soon. I locked him in the bathroom for about an hour and when I went in he'd peed in the box. Then last night he went in there twice. Woo Hoo! He also spent the night inside last night, but I don't think he was very happy about it. DH stayed at his parents house last night because we had no power and he has a terrible flu and the chills. Perfect opportunity to bring Ted in the house! He spent the night in the bathroom as I am not yet comfortable with giving him the run of the house. He meowed a lot and was very happy to see me this morning, but at least he wasn't out in the cold. He seems to be fairly non-aggressive when it comes to the other cats but has swiped at the dogs a few times. I'm hoping that once he gets more comfortable in the house I won't have to lock him up. I think he'll go in the computer room tonight which is much bigger than the bathroom, and hopefully he won't keep us up with his meowing. Also, he's shown no signs of territorial marking (spraying) which was my one biggest concern, especially with a tom cat. AND, he even let DH pat him yesterday! Smart cat :thumbs up

December 4th, 2006, 12:34 AM
Since he's neutered he is no longer a "tom" cat. I also rescued a feral that was "attached" to me at first but the more I got my hubby to spend time with him he got less "attached" to me.

December 4th, 2006, 03:24 PM
Still, even a "non-Tom" can spray! I had one who was very upset at the arrival of another "non-Tom" and stank up the whole house for a couple of weeks!

Ted sounds like a great cat. At least he's intelligent enough to have realized it's better to be fed and housed and warmed than straying and being hungry and cold! If you love him (which you obviously do) he'll love you right back, cats are like that. Fiercely independent cuddle-bunnies :)

Think we were lucky on Friday, most people we know lost power, we just had a few "blinks" of the lights.

December 5th, 2006, 06:35 AM
Sarah, you were very lucky. We lost power Friday at 3 pm and didn't get it back until Saturday at 10 pm. We had just been discussing getting either a wood stove or a generator, and sure enough we could have used one! We are on a well out where we are so when we lose power we lose water too. Luckily I keep a supply of water in the house for emergencies, but it's amazing how quickly 12 litres of water gets used.

Anyway, Ted spent the night out last night and seemed to fare quite well. I tried confining him to the computer room but he howled too much and I had to let him out so DH could sleep (I'd stay up all night if it meant Ted could be warm :cat: ) He came in this morning and his toes and ears were cool but not cold. I suspect he's using the shelter I built him. He doesn't seem to have a problem with the other cats; he's curious but not aggressive. However it's another story with the dogs. They tend to stay away from him but he stands by the door and swats and hisses at them when I take them outside. I shoo him away, but the dogs are terrified. Any ideas on how to get him used to them? My dogs are so low key, I've never had a cat that didn't like them before.

December 5th, 2006, 06:46 AM
I am sure he'll get used to your dogs eventually,when he realises they are no threat to him.
Right now they are a couple of really HUGE scary cats in his eyes,maybe he's had some scary experiences of beeing chased by dogs before:cat:

December 5th, 2006, 10:27 AM
That could be. We have a neighbor whose dog runs away frequently, although not since I told her if her dog came on my property again I would call the police. Not trying to be evil, but I got sick of her dog coming over here and growling at my dogs while they're trying to do their business in their own yard. :evil: Anyway, I'd be willing to bet that dog has chased Ted before.

I need to call the vet. I'm not sure how I'll get Ted there, and I doubt they'd be able to examine him even if I did get him there, but I think he has a UTI. I watched him get in the litter this morning and squat, but nothing happened. He got out and then got back in a minute later and had a big ole pee. Then he was lying on my lap a while later and when he got up there was a little puddle on my pants. Now, he had been playing in the cat water a few minutes before that so it could have just been water. I smelled it and it smelled really faintly of cat pee, but that could have been the smell of the litter box on his paws when he got in my lap. Does anyone know how I can get a urine sample from a cat? After being neutered a few weeks ago I doubt if I'll be able to get him in the cat carrier anytime soon.

December 5th, 2006, 04:06 PM
Once with one of my cats,I managed to follow him to the box and quickly put a little cup under him to catch some pee,the vet does not need much,but that was my old Peppi(:rip: )
With Rocky a few weeks ago,I had to leave him at the vet and they somehow extracted urine,I really did not want to know how.:eek:
But like with Ted,it's very important.

December 6th, 2006, 08:00 AM
Well, the puddle on my lap yesterday was just water. I've been watching him, and he digs in the water bowl for fresher water (I had another cat who did that) and splashes it all over the floor. Then he crouches in the puddle and drinks out of the bowl, getting his tummy all wet in the process. :roll: However, I have noticed that every time he goes to the litter box he squats once, nothing happens so he gets out, then he goes back a few minutes later and has a big pee. I also caught him having a nap in the litter box last night. The vet says that this could be just behavioral due to just having been litter trained and the fact that there are other pets in the house which may make him a bit nervous and give him "pee anxiety" when he gets in the box the first time. But without a urine sample the vet really can't do much. I tried slipping a little cup under there today when he went but he got out of the box right away when I did that. I don't want to ruin his litter training so I don't think I'll try it again. I doubt if I could get any anyway as he basically sits down in the litter to go pee; he squats lower than my girls do! So, I guess I'll have to try and get him in the cat carrier again. I tried feeding him in there last night and this morning, but he's not interested. He's meowing at me like crazy to feed him, but won't go in the cage. Eventually he'll get hungry enough and I'll snag him!

December 6th, 2006, 08:06 AM
Well,my cats are definetly not feral and I think I told you the trouble we have getting them in the carrier(except Vinnie)it's always a 2 person affair:D
The only time they are in there,is a visit to the vet and I think they know that,hence the holy terror!! Good Luck:fingerscr

December 6th, 2006, 09:26 AM
Thanks chico2! I put some dry food leading up to the cage and some fishy canned food inside the cage. He ate all the dry food but won't go inside for the canned stuff. I guess I'll have to be patient, he doesn't seem in pain and he is able to pee just fine so I have some time to try and get him. Normally I'd wrap him in a towel and shove him in there, but being pregnant I really don't want to risk a cat bite. Here are some pics of Ted:

December 6th, 2006, 09:32 AM
Hello there vfrohloff!
I've been following this story from the beginning and I just want to say that I think you're an :angel: for trying to help Ted and bringing him in to join the rest of your family, even when you have 4 cats, 2 dogs AND a baby on the way! :cloud9:
You're doing a great job! Bless you :thumbs up

December 6th, 2006, 02:12 PM
ted is adorable, and i love those jammies too, lol

sounds like hes a lucky little fella to have a great home now, good luck with ted, and the new baby :)

December 6th, 2006, 02:42 PM
Thanks for posting the pics....Ted is very handsome. :cat: I was expecting him to be a lot thinner so you've obviously done a good job looking after him all this time. :thumbs up :D

December 6th, 2006, 03:35 PM
Aww,he's a sweety and a very lucky kitty:cat:
He looks like he's been roughed up a bit,is there something wrong with his eye???
He is very pretty though and you certainly are an angel for giving him a chance at a good life.
You are obviously not one of those"I am having a baby the cats are going to eat him/her,got to get rid of the cats"kind of person and if I could give you a hug for Ted,I would:love:

jesse's mommy
December 6th, 2006, 10:21 PM
I love the last picture, it looks like he's smiling. Must be thinking, this is the life I've been waiting for. :cloud9:

December 6th, 2006, 10:29 PM
I love Ted in his little tuxedo outfit. I think he loves you!

December 7th, 2006, 01:05 AM
Awww, he's a good lookin' cat. He looks very content on your lap :D .

December 7th, 2006, 07:40 AM
ted is adorable, and i love those jammies too, lol
Thanks! I love these jammies, they're the only ones that still fit me!

He looks like he's been roughed up a bit,is there something wrong with his eye???

Yeah, he had pretty bad conjunctivitis in both eyes. I have been putting ointment in them and they're almost better, but the ointment makes his eyes look runny and makes him squint a lot.

You are obviously not one of those"I am having a baby the cats are going to eat him/her,got to get rid of the cats"kind of person

No, and it drives me nuts when people get rid of their pets just because they had a baby. The cats and dogs in this house will never be allowed in the baby's room, period. I hear of too many people getting rid of their pets because the pet harmed the child in some way, but then these same people turn around and say "well I thought the dog was fine with the baby until he bit her". God knows what the child did to the animal before they were bitten. Keep pets and kids separate until the child is old enough to behave appropriately around the animals and even then be very watchful. I don't think it's ever safe to let your guard down.

I was expecting him to be a lot thinner so you've obviously done a good job looking after him all this time

Thanks rainbow! He eats like a horse. I had him on kitten food at the beginning of the fall to try and fatten him up a bit for winter. Guess it worked, he weighs 13 lbs! In a typical day he was eating about half a large can of wet food and about 3/4 of a cup of dry food. He's slowed down a bit now that he's in the house more, and he had tapeworms too so that didn't help but now he's been dewormed and seems to eat a bit less.

I hate putting him outside at night, I feel terrible. Eventually he'll be in, but I just don't think Ted or the other pets are ready for that yet. He still needs to relax a bit more and establish where he fits in here, and that will take time. Yesterday he tried to pick on one of my other cats. There was some minor hissing and swatting which is to be expected I guess, but I don't feel comfortable letting him have the run of the house when I can't watch him. My attempts to put him in his own room don't seem to be going so well, he panics. So for now he'll be out at night and in when I'm home during the day. Thankfully it hasn't been too cold yet, and when he comes in in the morning he doesn't feel cold, his ears and paws are pretty warm. I have to keep reminding myself that he's got it a lot better now than he did before, and even if he's out at night he's probably a lot warmer than he was in previous years during the winter. :thumbs up

December 7th, 2006, 08:31 AM
If the eye meds are actually causing him pain, I'd give the vet a call. If a treatment hurts, I tend to get suspicious. Also if an infection doesn't clear in a matter of days. JMO

There is something about it the slightly cartoonish appearance? Never mind, he's adorable.

December 9th, 2006, 09:51 AM
The infection in his eyes hasn't cleared up as much as I'd like. It has much improved but I'll call the vet on Monday and see if we should put him on another type of ointment. For as long as I've been seing him around here (2+ years) his eyes have been runny, so it could take a bit to get rid of the infection altogether. At least he is able to see now. When I took him in for his neutering he wasn't opening his eyes at all.

On a different note, he's not getting along with the other cats the way I'd hoped. He has a tendency to chase them a bit which worries me. I haven't been letting him roam free in the house without close supervision, but this morning DH let him in before I got up. I awoke to the sound of hissing and other such theatrics, only to find that Ted had one of my other cats, Martin, backed into a corner. Not good. I also found a spray under a rocking chair that one of my other cats hides under a lot. Not sure if Ted did this, but it's more likely that another cat, Charlene, did (a female who's very aggressive and territorial). The spray is not on the chair at all, only on the floor which makes me think it was her and not Ted. On a more positive note, I put him in his own room today after the incident with Martin. He didn't meow and howl as usual, in fact he was pretty quiet. So I think that he'll just have to be in his own room for now until everyone adjusts (if everyone adjusts). :shrug: On warmer days he can be outside and it will give everyone a break, including me. He's extremely affectionate which is cute, but with all my pets I have to distribute my time equally and Ted is very demanding.

December 9th, 2006, 10:18 AM
Awwww such a cute kitty...he looks like he's got a smug grin on his face all the time!

Hope his eyes clear up and soon :D

I'm sure they will adjust eventually :) Keep your hopes up there :)


December 9th, 2006, 10:46 AM
Awwww such a cute kitty...he looks like he's got a smug grin on his face all the time!

Hope his eyes clear up and soon :D

I'm sure they will adjust eventually :) Keep your hopes up there :)


He is quite smug! I think he thinks he's won the lottery or something! I'm sure everyone will adjust, it just takes time. I have a tough crowd here, they don't take to newcomers very well, never have. Charlene in particular is a problem. She and Martin still duke it out on a semi-regular basis and they've been living together for several years. Ted shows signs of wanting to intimidate the others, but hasn't really been overtly agressive physically. Mind you, he hasn't been given much of an opportunity since I am always watching. :D We'll see what happens. At the very least he can be in his own room when it's really cold out. It's kind of too bad that I didn't tame him earlier, that way I could have done the adjustment really gradually while it was still warm outside. I can still do it gradually, but not without feeling bad that Ted is sometimes outside in this weather. :( I'm such a suck!

December 9th, 2006, 02:14 PM
My oldest cat, Jasmine, was semi-feral when I rescued her. She also had an eye infection but only in one eye. It took close to a month to clear up.

Good luck with Ted. :fingerscr

December 9th, 2006, 03:28 PM
VF,if I ever brought in another adult cat to my household,my 3 cats would go crazy,so you are doing really well:love:
It will take a while,I am sure,until your own crew realizes Ted is there to stay.
A little hissing an growling is ok,my Chico still does with Vinnie,he just does not like him,but seems to have resigned to the fact(after 4 yrs)that Vinnie is here to stay,just not too close to Chico:D

December 10th, 2006, 07:32 AM
VF,if I ever brought in another adult cat to my household,my 3 cats would go crazy,so you are doing really well

Thanks chico2! I think it will probably be fine eventually. The good thing is that Ted doesn't seem to show much of an interest in Charlene, he pretty much ignores her. This is the best possible scenario I could have between the 2 of them (speaking from experience having brought in several cats over the years!). She'll probably never accept him 100% but at the very least there won't be bloodshed. On another positive note, I let Ted into the kitchen briefly last night while I prepared the cats' supper (I heat it up for Ted so at least he has a warm meal to sleep on :D ). Anyway, one of my other cats Minew was in the kitchen and Ted walked right up to her with that "I'm going to scare you off stance" and Minew smoked him one. Yup, one good wallop across the top of the head! :highfive: Ted sat down right away and looked down at the floor, all submissive like. I had been a bit concerned about Minew because she tends to be a little timid and Ted seems to like to intimidate. One place in the hierarchy established, three more to go!:cat:

December 10th, 2006, 07:43 AM
I think female kitties tend to be a bit bossier:D
If I did not know diffrent,I'd think Chico was a female,he is incredibly cuddly and affectionate and he does not seem to understand why we would cuddle"the others"when he's around:D clearly gets jealous..
He'll take swipes at Rocky too and Rocky backs off,but never any real cat-fights.
You might have seen in my pics,as long as they are sleeping,they are fine close together:confused: