Need help with a once feral cat. - Cat Forum : Cat Discussion Forums
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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old 05-11-2018, 01:31 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Apr 2018
Location: Olympic Peninsula, WA
Posts: 5
Need help with a once feral cat.

I met Soxx in 2013. Did TNR and the vet said he was 3 or 4 months old and definitely feral. On my covered deck he has a small insulated house with a warming pad and a small video camera so I can see when he is "in residence". He normally spends time in his house during inclement weather. Don't know where he goes at other times. (This is a rural area with lot sizes from 1 to 5 acres and heavily wooded. Our house is on a cul-de-sac so there is little traffic.) I've placed a litter box outside on the deck but he's shown little interest in it.

I feed him in the morning and late afternoon. It took a long time but he feels safe with me as long as I don't make any quick moves. About 8 months ago birds and an occasional dog started going after his food so I started feeding him indoors in the living room. He gets very upset if I close the door behind him so I leave it open slightly. After he eats he'll come over if I'm sitting in the living room and jump onto my lap. He stays there, often sleeping, for 15-20 minutes and sometimes an hour or more. Then he just gets up and leaves.

He is the least curious cat I've ever met. He shows no interest in explorings inside. If I'm in the kitchen or dining room (all open to and visible from the living room) he'll just eat and leave. I've tried all manner of toys and he just ignores them or is sometimes frightened by them

He's 5 years old now and I guess him to weigh 12-15 pounds. I feed him 30 grams of dry food twice a day plus 30 grams of wet food in the morning. He definitely isn't skinny but I can still feel his ribs so I'd say his weight is OK to maybe a little over ideal.

I'm looking for suggestions in these areas:

Am I feeding him too much or too little?
  1. How can I get him to use the litter box?
  2. How can I teach him to play?
  3. How can I get him to explore inside so he learns the entire house is a safe place?
I would definitely like him to become an indoor cat!

Last edited by marie73; 05-11-2018 at 10:19 PM. Reason: font
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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old 05-11-2018, 06:34 AM
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Congratulations, Soxx has come a long way. You are doing every thing right by letting him find his comfort level every step of the way. The fact that he actually sleeps on your lap is amazing. Some particularly cold rainy day he might just show you that he's ready for the next level of trust.

Outdoor cats don't always show interest in toys; they get all the stimulation they want from stalking real birds and critters.

Does he enjoy it when you pet him? Is there any chance you could have a cat window that allowed him to come and go as he pleased? I have one of these for warm-weather use.
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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old 05-11-2018, 07:43 AM
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Location: USA
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You are way ahead of me, or maybe Soxx is way ahead of Smokey! In your lap? Amazing.

I feed half a can morning, half a can evening, no dry food. In winter I make some additions to that for extra calories to keep him warm. No critter troubles here, the food is eaten quickly.

Smokey is very frightened of any sudden move and of anything metal, like a bracelet or my watchband. He has come in a few times to eat on the doormat, but the door must remain open. He does not like to do this.

Why would Soxx use a litter box when he has the whole outdoors to use? Smokey only (occasionally) used the litter box when I had him confined for some weeks in one room after a surgery, and he really was not impressed and preferred the floor.
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post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old 05-11-2018, 10:03 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Apr 2018
Location: Olympic Peninsula, WA
Posts: 5
He does enjoy being petted. When he first jumps onto my lap he kneads with his front paws while I pet him. Then he lays down and sometimes he even lays on his back for a tummy rub! He lets me hold his paws and even extend his claws which are very sharp. I've not tried clipping them because I think he needs them living outside.

Of course he doesn't need a litter box. It's just that I hope he'll decide to be an indoor cat some day and he'll need to know how to use a litter box then.

Maybe Smokey needs more time. When I first started feeding Soxx he'd wait by the door but when I approached he'd run out onto the lawn and wait until I'd put the food down and returned inside. It took a year before he'd stay on the deck while I put down his food

Of course I'm retired so I have a lot of free time and I'm very patient.
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post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old 05-11-2018, 10:54 PM
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Location: Roanoke, Va
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Hi there!

Your situation with Soxx sounds so similar to mine with a neighborhood stray (definitely not a feral) that I took care of for several years - though I didn't have a camera to see what Mr. Casper was up to. He had a house, with a heated pad, on my covered deck (and then later in my screened-in porch when I moved), and he'd spend quite a bit of time there when it was cold. Otherwise, he'd disappear all day and come running for food. He was super affectionate, and occasionally left me gifts that I would have preferred not to receive. He liked to come in but only for a little while. He'd get antsy after a bit. I kept in overnight a couple of times so that he could be seen by a mobile vet. He yowled all night, and after the second time, was very hesitant about coming inside.

Anyway, personally, I'd be feeding him more. If I converted correctly, 90 g. is about 3 oz. For a kitty his size, and who is probably very active, I would think he needs twice that amount.

If he becomes an indoor kitty, he'll figure out the litterbox very quickly. One thing you could do at first is to sprinkle some soil from outside (and if you know where he pees, from that area would be perfect) over the top of the regular litter.

As Greenport ferals said, kitties used to the outdoors might not show a whole lot of interest in cat toys. One of my kitties had clearly been an outdoor kitty before I adopted her, and any time I got a toy mouse out, she looked at it with such disdain, as if to say "I've seen the *real* thing. What do you want me to do with *that*?" However, both she and Mr. Casper the stray would play with certain things - it was just a matter of finding what appealed to them.

It's amazing that he'll even let you give him tummy rubs! Bodes well for his potential future as an indoor kitty!

Last edited by marie73; 04-16-2019 at 12:11 PM.
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