Feral Cat in Korea: What would you do? (Advice Please)
I've just adopted a feral or semi-feral cat. Her name is Myul-Chee (which means 'Sardine' in Korean). I'm having trouble with her and would love any advice. It's been a month and a half and it's been an up and down time for all of us.
We tried a TNR but failed the first time as she escaped the trap and hurt her leg. This ruined her trust in us somewhat but she'd still come around for food, and we trapped her the next week. Our plan was to do TNR, shots, leg repair/checkup, and then have her heal at our home for a few days.
We found out that she had already been fixed! So this led us to think she was maybe a pet at some point, so we decided to try and adopt her or at least see how she'd adjust with us.
One detail is that the vets let her escape the cage and had to hunt her down again inside, taking 4 guys to capture her. She ran up the wall and hissed at them apparently. I'm sure this was a horrible experience for her, as she is scared of humans more than ever now, even my girlfriend and I. I'm pretty sure they had to manhandle her and roughed her up a bit. When we arrived back at the vet, they had taped her feet up 'for our safety' but I told them to take it off her while she was still asleep.
So now she acts very scared and panicky whenever we are near, and she really doesn't want to be around us, even though she used to want to be around us before we trapped her, although we've never been able to pet her.
She's always been skittish, but she's worse than ever now.
She has a small covered balcony with a cat tower and lots of plants and a covered house, but she only comes inside when we are asleep. Other than that she hides in her house or under some linoleum flooring she digs up. The balcony is narrow, so she might feel cornered whenever we go out there to feed her/check her. She can usually come inside if she wants, but she only does it at night when I'm sleeping. I live in a fairly small apartment so even that would be a big adjustment for her.
We've now been able to touch her while she's under the linoleum, petting her side. She just freezes, but sometimes suddenly panics and runs into the house to hide. She's tried to escape out the window twice after the failed pet sessions, so we've backed off a bit.
We just want her to be happy and not be scared of us. We just don't know how to communicate that to her. I never stare at her directly, but when I see her, the look in her eyes is of fear and 'don't come any closer'. She doesn't have an aggressive nature, but the look in her eyes lately is not one you'd want to mess with.
She eats like a queen, uses the litter box, and is very healthy, but we worry about her emotional state. We know she may never be a lap cat, but we want a civil, comfortable relationship with her where she can be happy. Any advice or further questions for details would be appreciated.
Some optional background: For the last year I had been working and living in an education center in Seoul, South Korea. It is a nice campus with lots of trees and forest around, and a few feral cats hanging around the dorm and cafeteria trash areas from time to time.
One of them would sit on the steps and watch people walk by, so I started to feed it whenever I walked by. For the last year my girlfriend and I would make noise to call her and she'd come to eat. She would tolerate us around her area, but never too close. Her safe distance was always about 5 yards or so. Any closer and she'd usually back away. Gradually she got friendlier, even greeting us with meows occasionally and coming much closer. And she'd follow us around to our dorm, even after she ate, and just hang around outside the door. We always thought about adopting her but figured it was impossible as we couldn't pet her and she was so skittish. But she was a total loner and it seemed she liked just hanging around us, even if she didn't interact much. The other cats didn't really accept her and would chase her from the trash area (food source) so we took pity on her, feeding her lots of treats and cat food whenever we saw her (every few days).