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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 02-28-2013, 12:49 AM Thread Starter
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Seeking feral cat wisdom

Hello! I am here mostly to seek information and advice on feral cat training. Although I have fostered many kittens for a local rescue group, I'm working with a feral kitten right now and am likely to soon get her sibling (they are working on capturing it right now, but it's been two weeks longer in the wild). Yikes! I've read the sticky in the feral forum, but I could use some advice on this matter.

Thanks, and I look forward to learning from experienced feral cat handlers!
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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 02-28-2013, 11:32 AM
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We've always had dealings with ferals - I don't know if I can help but ask away!!
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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 02-28-2013, 12:10 PM
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Welcome to the forum. There's quite a few around here that have experience with feral cats.

How old are they? I've read taming two is harder than taming one, but I'm sure it's doable with time and effort.

The general feelings I have on taming a cat: keep them in a single "safe room". Don't allow them to hide under a bed or behind dressers/desks. If necessary block these areas off. Have something more like a cubbyhole for them to hide in, where they can see you and acknowledge that you see them (and aren't harming them despite this), when you feed them try and coax them out of hiding. Use cat treats and other tasty stuff to get them out of hiding. For the first day ignore them entirely besides placing food down for them and then leaving, don't have a bunch of people coming and going to check on them, give them a day to get used to the room as they will be extremely stressed. After that spend as much time as you can in the room, sit on the floor as much as possible. Talk softly, don't make eye contact, don't make any sudden movements and try reading a book aloud or something. It gets them used to your voice and your presents while you're paying no attention to them. Let them come to you, not the other way around. If they walk beside you, offer them your hand to sniff. If they seem super feral, please wear gloves! Work on petting them when their guard is down, like when they're eating. Get toys for them, balls, mice and interactive wand toys.

My essay is done. Good luck. You should start seeing results for your effort in a few weeks to a few months.


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Last edited by Carmel; 02-28-2013 at 12:13 PM.
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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 02-28-2013, 12:49 PM
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Ok I lied, I'm not done.

When you aren't in the room leave the radio on a news station or a TV on so they get used to noise and voices. When you walk around, do it slowly. When they start coming out to eat their food while you're in the room slowly try to move it closer to you/you closer to them. For instance if they're consistently eating their food for a few days while you're in the room, try settling down on the ground a few feet closer for the next few days. You can also start trying to touch them by using extendable things like a broom handle with an oven mitt on it for initial contact. If you're wearing gloves, make sure they're leather. Or wear oven mitts. Or both. I've kept the gloves in my bed for a few days before wearing them, so they smell more like me. Leave a shirt you've worn a few times in the room as well.


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Last edited by Carmel; 02-28-2013 at 12:52 PM.
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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 02-28-2013, 01:02 PM
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Oh wow... forgot something very important! Scheduled feeding times! Maybe a meal at 7 am and one at 7 pm. Cats work on routine and so it's important not to just set some food down and leave, bonding happens with a link through you being their caretaker and feeding them.

Also, it would be best for you to be their sole provider/human visitor until they're ok with you. Then you can start getting them used to other people.


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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-05-2013, 05:12 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the advice Carmel! I feel like we've been relatively successful with the first kitten we got, who was ~9-10 weeks old when we got her. We kept her in a condo for about two weeks until she was very approachable in that situation. She's out of the cage now, and as long as she is limited to one floor of our house she does fine. She is interacting with us voluntarily and doesn't even run under the couch every time we try to pick her up. I think she'll be adoptable soon enough .

However, just yesterday we got the first kitten's sister. This cat was just recently trapped, so she had a good 2.5 weeks longer living out in the bushes. For the past 24 hours she's been cowering in her litter box (in the cat condo of course) and meowing pitifully (and constantly!). I've offered her wet cat food from a spoon, and she has no interest. I'm not sure if this is because she's still totally stressed, or not hungry (I do have dry food in the cage), or both. Maybe I should remove the dry food?

I will have to try scheduled feedings too - great idea.

TIA for any advice on how to do the first approach with this poor meowing creature!
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