Former feral who is still untamed after four years... - Cat Forum : Cat Discussion Forums
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post #1 of 3 (permalink) Old 10-07-2008, 10:44 AM Thread Starter
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Former feral who is still untamed after four years...

In August of 2004 a little tortoiseshell kitten appeared at our door. She wasn't a tiny kitten, but a kitten nonetheless who was frightened to death of humans, thus signaling us that she was feral. Gradually we began to gain her trust, but she would only come within a foot of us... although she loved feeding time. It took us until January of 2005 to finally catch her via a humane animal trap, blanket, and tuna (our previous attempts excluded the blanket, which was our mistake). Anyway, she's been with us for four years, aside from November 22 to December 23, 2006 when she escaped and disappeared for a month (my mother sent her to live at my father's house which was two miles away, and we discovered a month later that she had taken that time to trek back to my mother's house). She almost practically feral again by the time we re-caught her, although with lots of patience I was able to finally pick her up.

Years later, however, she is still the frightened, feral-minded girl of the past. She panics and hisses when she is corned, and when anyone goes past her she tends to turn and bolt in the other direction. You would think that after four years she'd be a bit better, but she's not. She doesn't scratch or bite, and she only calms down when you begin to pet her... but getting near enough to pet her is a difficulty in and of itself.

Is there a way to make her more... lovable? Or at least more accepting of humans? With noisy kids running through the house it makes it more difficult, as well as five other cats at my mom's... What would you suggest?
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post #2 of 3 (permalink) Old 10-07-2008, 02:29 PM
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Re: Former feral who is still untamed after four years...

I think the biggest problem is the noisy and unpredictable children.
Where she mine, I would confine her to a large bathroom and visit her multiple times a day, bringing canned food, cooked chicken or other food treats to encourage her to come close and learn "I bring good things". I would also force-handle her. This doesn't mean to man-handle them, but it does mean you pet them, pick them up, place them in your lap and hold them there, or hold in your arms. Pushing the cat beyond its' comfort zone a little more each time. This technique takes time, patience and consistency...but it works.

My Malibu (former feral) didn't really become a snuggle cat until I'd had her for several years, she was a very stand-offish cat; come in the house to eat/sleep but if you wanted to touch her...only the tail first, and then maybe she'd let you pet her shoulders. She almost died in late 2006 and I had to treat her at home with force-feeding, where I'd hold her on my lap and syringe food into her 8-10 times a day for a week. She now sleeps on my head or snuggled to my chest. I can also pick her up abruptly, give her a smooch on the head or nose and a little love-squeeze and she doesn't struggle to get away. It was a life-changing experience for us. I really think it was the close, sustained contact that made the difference. She learned to trust me.

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post #3 of 3 (permalink) Old 10-07-2008, 08:06 PM
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Re: Former feral who is still untamed after four years...

I would also take her into a room and use food and interactive toys to help gain trust. However, most cat behaviorists (including Dr. Jean's partner) suggest that you allow the cat to decide when to approach you, touch you, and climb on your her pace. I would never force anything. I would allow the cat to make the decisions. In other words, start from the beginning. Patience is the key. Don't rush anything. This has proved to be effective with feral cats. I wish you the best.


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