I now think most ferals are "tameable" - Cat Forum : Cat Discussion Forums
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post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old 01-13-2013, 08:53 PM Thread Starter
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I now think most ferals are "tameable"

Four months ago I took in two ferals who had been hanging around in our yard. One was just weary of people but got over it within a few weeks. However, the other one who was about 6-8 months old, was completely feral and fearful of people.

We believe the "stray" was dumped out here a long time ago and the "feral" is her kitten. (Names are Gimley and Gandalf).

Anyways, he was obviously passed the feral kitten stage to pretty much adult. But after working with him almost daily for a few months he suddenly switched. It was an overnight thing. One day he was running from people in terror and the next he was begging for attention! Basically he let me full on pet him for the first time and he realized how amazing it feels and bam, no longer feral.

It saddens me that people and especially shelters give up on ferals quickly or give them no chance at all.. I think most of them would eventually be tamed. But of course with all the friendlies out there, I can see why they don't bother..

Still sad.

Here's the kitties I saved:

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post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old 01-13-2013, 09:07 PM
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Oh yay for you!

My grandma has a garage and people would dump cats there all the time. I tried so hard to tame the ferals. I have a scar on my arm from trying to pet one.

The shelter thought my Moosey was a feral, but she is the sweetest.


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post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old 01-13-2013, 09:07 PM
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i agree that almost all feral cats can be socialized, at least to a degree. the obvious variable is how feral they are, meaning are they an older cat that was born feral, a cat that was dumped and has become feral, a younger cat that was born feral but has had some interaction with humans, etc.

the former feral that is sleeping on my lap right now (my avatar) was about four years old when i trapped her and started the socialization process. she spent nearly five months in a dog cage as i worked with her and even now, over a year and a half since she left her cage she still will not let anyone but me get near her.

most people are not willing to put in the time required to socialize a feral cat, they may "want a cat" but socializing a cat that was/is on the higher end of the "feralness scale" is a lot of time/work/patience/dedication.


good for you, you have saved lives and will be rewarded with the most dedicated cats you could ever imagine.

PS- they are beautiful!

"In studying the traits and dispositions of the so-called lower animals, and contrasting them with man's, I find the result humiliating to me."
--Mark Twain
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post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old 01-13-2013, 09:47 PM
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I agree to a point. It definitely depends on how feral they are, there are different degrees, and it totally depends on their unknown background. Some can become tame in a matter of weeks, others months, others years. Some can be around people the rest of their life and never become properly tame, maybe they've been abused or on the street too long, or had no human interaction in the past. Some cats to start with just aren't as friendly, it could be genetic as well. Some are so feral you never even know they're outdoors, they aren't going to show their face when they know there's a human around.

I've got one on my bed that took a year to allow me to pet her and another one in the garage downstairs that has come a long way in the last few months - I still wear leather gloves and oven mitts around him.

It can be dangerous taming a feral, their scratches and especially their bites can be very serious, scratches can cause cat scratch disease and deep bite wounds can lead to blood poisoning as cat mouths are full of bacteria, I've known people that have received both from cats. I'm pretty sure I've got a a few scars on my hand from the kitty in the garage, too. Even with gloves I wasn't totally safe.

It's also a lot of work so it's only for those that are ready to be fully dedicated to the process. It can be very discouraging, especially at first. Often a previous feral cat will not warm up to most people - ever, and when you pass that cat along to someone else, that other person would have to be willing to work on socializing that cat all over again. Most people opt for the more sociable ones to start with, as shelters are crowded, there sadly isn't time to tame them all... I can't blame them, it isn't for everyone. It is, however, a very commendable thing to do. Good for you!


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Last edited by Carmel; 01-13-2013 at 09:50 PM.
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post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old 01-14-2013, 03:30 PM
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This thread reminds me of my little femal feral Ben, she was about 1 1/2 yrs. old when I trapped her 4 months ago, I don't believe she had any human contact, now I'm working with her in her room. There are days I do get discourage, but she has progressed so much, able to sit with her pat her - she loves it. It has been a long slow progress, but we ARE making progress and that is what counts. I am in and out of her room constantly all throughout the day, alot of work, but it is so worth it to see her coming along slowly! I do believe if you are willing to make that commitment, anything can happen!!! I am living for the day that she can roam freely around my house, even if it is a very long ways away!!!
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post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old 01-14-2013, 04:31 PM
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I've got scars but my upbringing was such that I I was taught to regard it as going with the territory - maybe my weird clan have been doing so long we have some kind of immunity from the horrible problems I hear about other people having.

As well as feral cats, I have, either permanently or temporarily, kept all sorts of wild animals and the vast majority of mammals and birds (even many reptiles) can be "tamed".
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post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old 01-21-2013, 04:23 PM
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My policy on taking in and rehabilitating ferals is that you should only do so if you are ok with the prospect of caring for that animal for the rest of its life, regardless of whether it becomes well socialized or not. It's hard to find homes for well-adjusted house cats, never mind a semi-feral that spends all of its time under a bed.

I agree that almost all ferals can be socialized to an extent where they can interact, at least minimally, with people, and that their lives can be greatly improved because of it. Many people who care for feral colonies have established a certain level of trust with the cats and can interact with the colony cats in a way that belies their feral nature. It's trust that isn't easily gained, and is easily lost. But, the sad fact is that some cats are never going to be "adoptable". I use quotations because, to those of us who have taken in and socialized ferals, not being "adoptable" to the average person is a far cry from hopeless.

Rescue organizations generally don't accept ferals or semi-ferals because they simply don't have the resources and man-power to devote to a long rehabilitation process, especially when there are countless other cats being brought in every day that are immediately adoptable. Do I think their policies on, and, in some cases, beliefs about ferals are correct? Not really. I have had a couple of very heated arguments with a woman who works in the office building adjacent mine (this is the area where the colony I am caring for is located) about my plan to rehabilitate and foster Autumn and Ramona, a 2 year old queen and her kitten. This woman was extremely upset that I had taken it upon myself to trap these cats, so that I could have them, at the very least, spayed. When I explained to her that I feel that it's important to evaluate ferals on a case by case basis, and that I would not be returning Autumn to the colony if she was, as I suspected, only semi-feral, she became belligerent and accused me of all sorts of horrible things--her vet had apparently told her that adult ferals cannot be rehabilitated and would be miserable and live in a constant state of fear if placed in a home situation. Incidentally, the tortie in my avatar there is Autumn. I have had her and Ramona in my house since getting them vetted in mid October. Autumn comes running when my mom or I enter the room she's in, purring, and weaving around our legs to the point where you can hardly take more than a step at a time without tripping; she gets along really well with all of my other cats; she loves to play and will meow, and wind around your legs, and try to lead you over to the area where we usually throw bits of kibble for her to launch herself at; and she spent most of yesterday on my bed, sleeping pressed up against me, while I used my tablet. We have a cat that we've had since he was a 4 week old kitten--he's now 8--who's not nearly as friendly or affectionate as Autumn is. Autumn was only semi-feral when I trapped her, but she had gotten somewhat used to people leaving food out for her and her kittens. She had been living in a desolate office parking lot with no real human contact for at least a year, according to other office workers in the area, and she behaved like a full feral when I first started seeing her. My guess is that she was probably dumped as a kitten.

Honestly, so much is dependent on a cat's personality. I know of people who have tried to socialize semi-ferals who seemed like great candidates for rehabilitation and had no luck, even after several months. I also know of people who have taken in ferals that were unmanageably aggressive, destructive, and fearful that were very quickly brought under control and became wonderful, affectionate cuddlers.

Rehabilitating ferals is a long, difficult, and sometimes bloody process, but, as anyone who's ever been even marginally successful comes to realize, it's also a really rewarding experience--and one that can result in a lifetime of love, trust, and companionship with an animal that would have likely otherwise not had much of a life at all.
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post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old 01-25-2013, 08:30 PM
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Very interesting thread, and that photo is absolutely awesome. I hope it's ok that I've set it as background (wallpaper) on my computer screen? It looks stunning there.

The Royal von Meouw Dynasty: His Royal Highness the late Prince von Meouw,
Her Royal Highness Princess Gatita von Meouw, Nikita Duchess of Meouw and
His Highness Cuchi-Cuchi, next in line for the throne of Prince von Meouw.
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post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old 01-25-2013, 08:52 PM
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How can you tell between a very fearful stray and a feral? I always thought the former could be tamed in a matter of months and the latter would take years if they could be tamed at all?

Four of my strays, whom I've been caring for intensively and spending hours with every day, still don't let me touch them after 2+ years. They all show very marked progress in their trust of me and the amount of closeness they'll seek with me / tolerate from me. They keep surprising me with a new step in the closeness direction when I least expect it. I still think that one day they may let me pet them...

The Royal von Meouw Dynasty: His Royal Highness the late Prince von Meouw,
Her Royal Highness Princess Gatita von Meouw, Nikita Duchess of Meouw and
His Highness Cuchi-Cuchi, next in line for the throne of Prince von Meouw.
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post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old 01-29-2013, 09:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Straysmommy View Post
How can you tell between a very fearful stray and a feral? I always thought the former could be tamed in a matter of months and the latter would take years if they could be tamed at all?

Four of my strays, whom I've been caring for intensively and spending hours with every day, still don't let me touch them after 2+ years. They all show very marked progress in their trust of me and the amount of closeness they'll seek with me / tolerate from me. They keep surprising me with a new step in the closeness direction when I least expect it. I still think that one day they may let me pet them...

strays vs. ferals - Feral and Stray Cats - An Important Difference - Alley Cat Allies

"In studying the traits and dispositions of the so-called lower animals, and contrasting them with man's, I find the result humiliating to me."
--Mark Twain
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