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post #1 of 45 (permalink) Old 05-22-2012, 02:03 PM Thread Starter
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Once a feral...?

Will a feral cat,if taken in,ever lose his wild ways and become more...DOMESTIC? Or will he always have some 'woods' in him?
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post #2 of 45 (permalink) Old 05-22-2012, 02:52 PM
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I have heard that the older they get the harder it is to "tame" them...so if the cat is less than 2 you have a good chance of them being somewhat friendly with a lot of time and hard work. Even feral kittens take time and patience to socialize..and if the cat is 5, 6 or older....not likely. Are you thinking about taking one in?

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post #3 of 45 (permalink) Old 05-22-2012, 03:32 PM
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Even though that seems to be the conventional wisdom, that they can't be tamed past a certain age, it probably depends on a lot of factors:
-the cat's personality
-the cat's experiences with humans and the humans that are around it
-the new environment (enough space, some plants, relative peace and quiet, etc.)
-how much time and energy you can put into it while not pushing the cat's limits

I've had a feral cat for almost two months, and so far it's more wild than ever.
Then again, the vets did a number on her and she's really scared of humans now.

At best, they'll probably always be a bit skittish and standoffish, but maybe others here have some success stories for you?

Good luck!
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post #4 of 45 (permalink) Old 05-22-2012, 03:52 PM
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The proper age to tame a cat is

from 0 to 3 months this according to the Feral Cat Coalition..
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post #5 of 45 (permalink) Old 05-22-2012, 05:08 PM
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Short answer: it really depends upon the personality/genetic make up/DNA of the cat. It can be done, but it can take four weeks to four years. It is rewarding, and it changed my life.
Long answer: My friend rescued four kittens, approximately 4 to 6 months old, the day after Christmas 2010 after a 20 inch snow storm. They and the mother cat were abandoned at my condo building when the in-humane person moved. She socialized them; I helped at little. Prior to this time I'd never been around cats. Taz and Ritz became socialized relatively quickly, in about a month. Ripley and Riley took almost six months. I adopted Ritz and she is the love of my life. She learned how trust, I learned how to be trustworthy.
I take care of a feral/stray/abandoned cat colony in front of my condo building. In January 2011 my friend and I moved four (eventually five total) cats into a spare room my friend converted to a Cattery. The purpose was to socialize them and adopt them out to Forever Homes. Two or three "turned" fairly quickly; we have placed four cats into Forever Homes. We have been working with "Mystique" for well over a year. Only recently have we been able to pet her briefly, and that is only because same friend introduced her two large DOGS to Mystique--love at first sight. She absolutely adores the dogs, headbuts them, lets the dogs groom her, and will even jump into bed with my friend just to be near the dogs. Mystique is still a 'work in progress'; prior to the introduction of the dogs we thought we'd have to return her to the colony.
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post #6 of 45 (permalink) Old 05-22-2012, 05:09 PM
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PS: the cats were generally under a year old but certainly older than six months; Mystique was pregnant when we trapped her. Princess Leia went into her first heat after we trapped her (we couldn't get her spayed immediately).
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post #7 of 45 (permalink) Old 05-22-2012, 06:40 PM
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It really depends on the cat, they're all different. Are you sure it's always been a feral, for instance? Some feral cats can tame quickly, others take ages, others don't tame at all. Even ones from the same litter/background will act differently to people. I think usually a once truly feral (no prior human contact) will always remain at least a little skittish, unless tamed at a very young age.

Blaze was caught around 6 months... he didn't move off the couch for a few weeks, was very nervous for the first year, always has hid from strangers, and afraid of garbage bags and garbage truck noises. Also, while this may not be related, it likely is, he sprays around the house and occasionally attacks at random. Past that, he's an extremely loving boy, very vocal and even plays hide and seek!

Meanwhile, Blacky had prior human contact, she was spayed and had unreadable numbers in her ear, no idea on her age at the time we started feeding her, she had been on the streets for some time, she had poor teeth and wasn't a kitten. She was semi-feral (meaning she'd had previous contact with people)... but she'd reverted to a feral state and was afraid of people. She was outside, and with persistent effort while feeding her, she eventually let me get close enough to pet her a year later. It was like a switch was flipped; I hadn't hurt her on contact, and she allowed me to get somewhat close to her from then on. With more and more work, and slow progress, she eventually became a great extremely well adjusted - although independent - cat. She sleeps on my bed at night curled up on top of me, sleeps on my lap at the computer, follows us on walks... doesn't allow people outdoors to approach her unless it's us, but is not afraid of strangers. She is perfectly happy at the vets! And she isn't afraid of a vacuum unless it's in the room she's in, she'll just saunter out of the room. 10 years ago, just shutting her inside the house (once she allowed me to pick her up) caused her to freak out and jump out a broken window! She's come a long way, for the first few years she'd bite and hiss if we scratched her tummy but eventually she even allowed us to do that, it just took a lot of trust to build.

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Last edited by Carmel; 05-22-2012 at 06:44 PM.
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post #8 of 45 (permalink) Old 05-22-2012, 06:46 PM
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Originally Posted by bluemilk View Post
Will a feral cat,if taken in,ever lose his wild ways and become more...DOMESTIC? Or will he always have some 'woods' in him?
If you're lucky. Domestic is cool, but it's the wild what makes 'em special.
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post #9 of 45 (permalink) Old 05-23-2012, 02:36 AM
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It is generally true just about all feral cats can learn to be domestic pets. It depends on how hard their life as a feral was whether they will ever be close and loving pets; but in my opinion ALL ferals have the potential at at least live amically with humans.
My Apache was a three month old feral when my dad trapped her and gave her to me. Now at 16 years old, she is my heartcat, rarely far from me, and has been since she was 18 months old. It takes much patience and time and I could not touch her for the first six months I had her without her slashing and biting me severely. Now here she is, in my lap constantly and asleep by my side.
Some severely abused cats will never trust humans, but can learn to live beside humans as friends on an individually accepted basis. A friend of mine has one cat that was kept in a very small cat carrier for over a year before being rescued by the ASPCA and rehomed. The little cat had a broken foreleg, tail broken in multiple places, broken ribs and two skull fractures. Apparently when the little cat was let out of its cage, the father of the house used to kick it across the room whenever it was close to him... Lugh is now a very timid cat when it comes to humans and trusts only my friend. During the day, no human lays eyes on him, but every night Lugh (pronounced Lew) creeps into Sue's room and into her bed where he sleeps with her every night, purring and happy. If he hears movement in the hallway, proof! he is gone and hiding in Sue's closet until the sounds outside her door go away.
Truely unmanagable ferals are actually few and far between and live in areas where people are not commonly in contact with the feral colonies. My one uncle is a dairy farmer and monitors a TNR colony that lives in the State forest lands next to his farm. The only people these cats see are the TNR devotees that come and trap the new cats for spay and neuter and they are and can be very viscious. They definitely are not pet material. But other places, where cats live close to humans, almost all those cats could be tamed and live with humans if someone put the time effort and money into doing it.
Last summer, my BFF and I rescued an abandoned pet off the streets. Her name is Rosie and she was kept in the house of her former owner until she became about six months old. Then the owner got tired of keeping up with the litter pan and starting letting Rose and her brother, Jesse, out to "do their business". The boro trapped Jesse and neutered him in their TNR program and marked him with a tipped ear. But Rosie did not frequent the TNR dry food station that attracted Jesse and so remained unspayed. So, of course, she got pregnant. I was sitting on my friend's porch and noticed this really, really skinny black tiger with cinnamon tortie markings in the year next door. I asked Kim about her and she told me it was Rosie, her neighbor's abandoned cat. I asked to borrow two cans of food and went over and offered Rosie some food. When Rosie was gulping down her food I noticed she was lactating and told Kim she had a litter of kittens and Rosie was starving to death. Kim immediately took over feeding rose several times a day and I agreed to take Rosie and whatever kittens she had in so I could tame them and find them homes. When the kittens turned about six weeks old, they started crawling out from under the garage where Rosie had her nest. Kim caught the babies, then bent down and picked up Rosie and put them in her downstairs bathroom. Kim kept the kittens and Rosie until the kittens weaned and then they came to my house and I set them up in the spare bedroom where I finished taming Rosie and started on socializing the two kittens. It is slow and it is very fulfilling watching the kittens go from skittish, scared babies to trusting and affectionate pets over the past year. Taking the three of them for spaying set back to trust needed for socialization for a while, but they have recovered. The problem is I am in love with them now and I cannot give them up
Hoist on my own petard!
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post #10 of 45 (permalink) Old 05-23-2012, 11:18 AM
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both of my ferals were trapped at around 1 year old, tammi took a hard 2 years, smokey decided that safe place to sleep and food every day was a good deal and went to just about lap cat in three months...

yeti cat: two toes short of the record books
eons ago there must had been a creature with a roar
like a vacuum cleaner, it most likely ate cats.
smokey,yeti, pansy, violet, ember and brullie
jolene, tammi and emma the ghost kitties in the house
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