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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-16-2009, 03:00 AM Thread Starter
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Next Step for Feral Kitty

We got our feral kitten last Thursday, someone had been feeding her an her
siblings but was moving and concerened for their welfare (unfortunately I could
only take one on!).

first day she was frozen/second day frozen/third day she used the litter tray and
after buying some mackeral she eat that evening. She won't let anyone near her
yet although we have been in the bathroom talking and ignoring her and also once
when she went back into the carry box brought her into the living room just to get
used to the light and noise.

That night she disappeared and was found under the bath (once the panel was removed)
she had got there through the back of the sink unit. Now everything blocked but she is
at last sleeping (under the bath), she is eating - what next - can someone advise how
to teach her to play and to be handled....We understand this may be a long process, so
any advice would be more than welcome!

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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-16-2009, 01:09 PM
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Re: Next Step for Feral Kitty

Welcome to CatForum, and I think I you for taking a little feral one into your home.
I foster, tame and socialize for adoption feral, semi-feral, abandoned and poorly socialized cats/kittens for a local rescue. I have a fairly intense program I work the kitties through and I'll send you a link.

First, I think it is very good you are keeping the kitten in a small room with few hiding places. However, one of my rules with fostering cats for taming and socialization is to provide them a 'safe cave', but for me to have access to it whenever I want. I would not like for a cat/kitten to be able to get to an area where I could *not* reach the kitty in an emergency. I use cat carriers with the doors propped open, a towel in the bottom to sleep on and another towel draped over the top of the carrier, leaving a small gap at the bottom doorway for the kitty to go in/out of their 'safe cave'...but any time I *must* get them, I can. Or I can just close the carrier door and have them contained and mobile.

Instead of typing it all out here, I'm going to provide a link to what I jokingly refer to as: Kitty Cat Boot Camp.
I first want to stress that the overall KCBC goal is to show the kitten it can trust us to never harm it and you will need to judge very carefully what speed to move through the steps, finding what is comfortable for you and the kitten. But in my opinion, you cannot get an animal socialized to handling unless you actually handle it. It will be a slow process until you reach the actual physical handling point, but it can be done in a manner that is respectful of the cat, while still making forward progress and helping the cat to accept more and more handling as it becomes socialized.
One thing I do not do, is wait for the cat to come to me. Sometimes, many times, these feral cats will *not* willingly come to me, so it is up to me to show them they *can* and that it can be a Good Thing. The cat is only obeying its' self-survival-instinct and I work slowly and steadily to show the cat it can trust and accept people into its' life.

I sometimes feel that my work with feral cats is like learning to play a musical instrument: you see the fluidity with which one plays and hear the beautiful musical notes strung together in a pleasing melody, so you commit and practice until you are able to replicate what you first saw/heard.
But how *do* you reach that point?
You learn. You watch, listen, apply the techniques and practice until you and the instrument are smooth, fluid and creating your own song.
THAT is the EXACT same way I work with cats. I read them, I touch them and listen to what their reaction is, I practice touching them often and continue to do so until my handling of them and their reaction to my handling is fluid and no longer jerky. In time, every stroke of the cat is a musical note heard in contented purrs.
Basic facts: You cannot play the piano without touching it. You cannot get a cat accustomed to handling without handling it. ...and that basically sums up my philosophy about socializing cats.

Following in the below link, is a lot of information. Some of it may not apply to you, your kitten and your situation, but the overall goal remains the same: Slow forward progress without frightening the kitten. Try to make every experience a positive one, as negative experiences will hinder the socializing progress.
Please give it a read-through, and if you have any questions, I will be happy to help you.
heidi =^..^=

PS ... My own progress through KCBC is what I would consider 'fast', but I don't have much time to work with these cats before they must go to the adoption center. It is my job to get them handle-able quickly, keep them at that plateau for as long as I can (the time they are with me) so by the time they go to the adoption center, they are relaxed and confident with these new behaviors "set", instead of their fall-back feral behaviors.
This helps make them able to find purrmanent homes. With this kitten being your *own* kitten, you can take your time and move slower through the KCBC ... but fast/slow, my techniques work and provide good results for setting the cat on a course for a happy home-life.

Good luck with your lucky little kitten!

Additional links with helpful information:
Feral Cat Coalition...
Feral Cats of Sonoma County...

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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-16-2009, 01:36 PM
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Re: Next Step for Feral Kitty

A quiet, dimly lighted room, rewards and patience are the keys. Sit in the room, reading a book, playing soft music, and have a bowl of great food at a comfortable distance. Every day, I would move the food a bit closer, never forcing the issue. The cat should make all of the choices. Have an interactive toy ready for the kitten to play with. Eventually, the food will be very close, and the kitten or cat will approach you. Don't pet the kitten or cat until it is actually rubbing against your hand, almost asking to be pet.

Patience, kindness, and a soothing atmosphere...and most imiportant with a feral cat, let the cat make the decisions....all of them.

This is the method used by experts. I wouldn't even consider forcing the cat! You are very kind to care for this little feral. The time varies, but kittens are easier to socialize than cats. I wish you the best.


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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-16-2009, 02:32 PM
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Re: Next Step for Feral Kitty

Of course. Once the kitten has allowed the first tentative overtures of touching, that is when you move slowly and smoothly into dedicated socialization and handling, helping the kitten to become confident and relaxed in its' ability to trust people. However, there will be times when particular kittens/cats do *not* take that first step, and those situations are where I feel we must help the kitten/cat take those first steps on the path of socialization or risk their reticent behavior becoming a permanant factor in their domestic lives. I feel it is beneficial to have that information available before it is needed. If the information is not needed, it can be disregarded. Like I said earlier, some things won't apply to particular situations but it is nice to have the information and/or theory available as a whole, to see how it all meshes and works together towards the common goal of helping a feral to become a relaxed and confident cat.
I am always looking to learn new things that help me with my work with ferals. If anyone has any first-hand experience, please share your socialization techniques so we all may learn.
Wishing srjoyce41 success with their kitten!

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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-18-2009, 10:59 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Next Step for Feral Kitty

Dear Heidi and Jeanne

Tks your advice, we shall be following.

Sunset (my daughters name for the kitty) is still under the bath, she is eating most things put out for her, still using the tray. I tried playing with her yesterday and she jumped for the toy first time and second time hissed at it so I left alone. I also tried offering her some chicken, she ignored when I tried to offer some by hand she hissed again but after
I left and return she had eaten it.

This weekend we want to try to get her out from under the bath and block it up again, I hope this won't set us back too far!!.

Again, tks your help and advice - I hope to be able to post that she has settled soon.

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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-18-2009, 01:30 PM
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Re: Next Step for Feral Kitty

Sunset sounds like a beautiful name, and I am sure you will be able to make great progress with her, I can 'see' the love/care you have for her between the words you've typed. I think it probably will be a little traumatic to fish her out from under the bath, have a covered carrier handy to place her in so she feels 'safe' in a little hide-y-hole. Then you can make whatever repairs or things that need to be done to block off that inaccessible area and begin to slowly let her get used to people being near her and bringing her Good Things.
Best of luck!
heidi =^..^=

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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-14-2009, 07:20 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Next Step for Feral Kitty (2)

Sunset update

After a month of hiding behind pipes and a lot of patience she finally went into the
cat trap and after it being there 2 weeks and her avoiding tipping it she was there this

Not fun for her but without major building work we could not get to her once she found a way down to the pipework.

This morning she hissed everytime the cage was moved. I've left her with food, a bed a travel cage for her to hide in and the trap open - hoping I can now start the familiarization process. She is extremely aggressive at the moment (probably just scared as she ha been hiding and only coming up for air, food and litter tray when everyone was in bed!!).

I hope I can have a good update as the one from 'feral' I saw posted recently.

I'll let you know how it goes, and thanks again for the tips (any more also gratefully accepted!!).

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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-14-2009, 11:33 AM
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Re: Next Step for Feral Kitty

Wow. A month. I didn't realize it would take that long to capture her. You really will have your work cut out for you, in order to reach her and turn her around.
How old is she now? As kittens get older, and closer to the 5-8mo old age-group, they develop a particular mind-set that is difficult to work with, BUT, if you *know about it*, you can take steps and work past it. As kittens approach weaning-time, and most especially when they approach adolescent/adult-hood, their behavior becomes much more solitary and self-survival oriented. Kittens raised outside of a loving family/home, who do *not* develop this behavior, do not survive. Rescuers talk about a "cut-off-point" where some organizations just will not accept feral kittens this age.

Luckily for me, the first time I *did* get feral kittens this age, I *didn't know* what a tough job I faced, so I just did what I needed to do. It certainly took longer, but I did get them tamed. It WAS a challenge.

I need to make up a sandwich for my husband, he's coming home for lunch, so I'll be back in a few...

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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-14-2009, 12:15 PM
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Re: Next Step for Feral Kitty

Okay, I'm looking for my feral stories...

Photo-journey of my ferals:

Tortie female:

Here is Auntie Crazy's feral story:

Ah-ha! Here are the stories I wanted to share with you, about older feral kittens:

...Pretty was TNR'd in late December, 2004...
Pretty's socialization progress:
Pretty stays inside all night:
Pretty is now a very relaxed and confident housecat who allows strangers to approach and pet her. She is now getting comfortable with being handled by my husband. We noticed what a great job he has been doing when she let a strange man (to her, friend to us) pet her and she didn't get alarmed at all.

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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-03-2009, 05:11 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Next Step for Feral Kitty

Since last post on 14th October, Sunset has now come out of the cat carrier and onto our landing where she has found a step to sit on.

Watches everyone very carefully and does not like anyone to come too close, she will put
up with you sitting in front of her and sometimes talking, sometimes ignoring.

I really could do with getting her to the next level - although she has lost the 'stare', well most of the time, she still will not eat in front of anyone and only moves around in
the middle of the night. I want to be able to handle her - she lets us stroke her with
a stick with a furry end, and although she went for it the first time, she will now only hiss a bit and then allow it - we've made fair progress so I am loathe to force anything
on her, but my other cat is actually very scared of her and so I need her to start to
socialize. I noted that all sites say kitty should come to you before you handle, but she
is, I believe, no where near that level.

Tks for all you posts and help to date, and any stories that may help us to the next stage would be welcomed.

Tks again,
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