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Discussion Starter #1
Hey there
I have been on this site once before and found the answers very helpful and was after a little more advise. In February, my husband and I rescured three feral 12 weeks old kittens. They have been with us since and have really come around and are loving cats. They have not been allowed outside yet untill they were netured plus I wanted them to become more confident first. The neturing was done yesterday. The vet said these guys were so wild in the vets he couldn't get near them. They had to be sedated in there cage. Is this normal behavious? The vet said that when wild cats are in familiar enviroments, they are condifent cats but when they are in a non familar enviroment, the revert back to feral behavious as a confidence things because when they were initally feral, this is where they were most confident. He also said that with time and more situations they are faced with, they will get better. Will they? My next question is, I want to let them outside in another month or two. We live in a very quite location with farm land behind us. My intention is for outside during the day (eventually) and inside at night. Are they likely to run off and become feral again? My husband and I also want to go away on a vacation but unsure of how these guys will go in a boarding cattery - any suggestions? My mum suggested leaving them overnight for one night and slowly increase the time as time goes on.
Any suggestions would be much appreciated.
 

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Well, I agree with your vet about the more things you expose them to, the more confidence they will gain in strange surroundings. I've never had any of my socialized kittens react in that manner ... but if all they've ever known is you and if you are still working on helping them become relaxed and confident, then I could see them getting freaked-out at the vet's.

As for letting them outside, I would begin slowly. Pick a weekend day and go out with all of them in the yard, leaving whatever door open that they come out of. Have all family members sort of stand around to encourage and contain them. The first times they come outside, you mostly just want to familiarize them with the scents/sounds and help them recognize the door they need to come back to.

We used to let our kitties out the back door and used our neighbor's sons to help 'stand watch' as we had a couple "runners". Mister, BooBoo and Reilly would sometimes try to make a break for it and reach the woods. When they had been outside long enough (around 5min) we had everyone standing furthest away start clapping their hands and we slowly moved in a half-circle towards the open back door to 'herd' the kitties back inside.
We don't let our cats out because we are too close to a 55mph road, but they enjoyed being able to get outside for a bit and the neighbor's boys liked doing the Kitty Cat Round Up with us.

Anyhow, open the door and call them out with you, walk around with them to help them gain confidence and also help them back to the house. When you want them in the house, make whatever call you want to use to call them in; "Here kitty, kitty!" or "Babies!" or a whistle-noise through your lips. You can increase the amount of time they spend outside with you and when you see them feeling confident enough to explore on their own, and they return (or at least stop and look at you) when you call, then they can stay out longer and unsupervised.

For trips, you could either keep them indoors with a pet-sitter coming once a day to care for them, or put in a cat-flap so they can have access at their whim. I would also consider building them an outdoor shelter near the door they will be coming in/out of, so if they are out during bad weather they have a place to hang out until someone opens the door for them. When I was a kid, my kitty hung out in the barn during bad weather and when I'd call her in at night it sometimes took her a while to hear me (wind/rain) and come to me from the barn where she was snuggled and warm.
 

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I recommend that you don't allow these kittens outside at all. An enclosure would be fine, but I would never let them loose. It's dangerous out there, and if they sometimes display feral behavior, I would not take the chance. Good luck.

I'll move this to the Feral Forum. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks for the replys. When we first got kittens, they were kept in a large dog cage for three days and then let into 1 bedroom. From there, we played with them, patted them, feed them and eventually, let them into the passage way or hallway. I had a very sick and old cat that I kept in the remainder of the house but he has since passed away so as a result, they have the remainder of the house (with the exemption of a couple of rooms). When we are not home, they only have access to the passage way and two bedrooms which they are happy with. When we come home, they run and greet me although, they hate the sound of the front door being opened and ran away. When I'm in there room (the one they first were put in), they are on my knee and purring away, just like normal cats. When in the rest of the house, they won't really come on your knee as they are so busy exploring and playing. When there names are called, there tails go up and they purr away and come when called. When they do have a nap, it is usually on the floor near the fire. They are used to noise such as the TV, dishwasher on, washing machine on etc. If there is a sudden noise, they do run away but are back within minutes. I thought they would be a bit difficult at the vets but am surprised they acted like this (I was not there with them) They are now 6 months old and appear to be making great progress and have been with us for 3 months now. Plus in our house we have no children and there is just my husband and I and because we live out of town, don't get a great deal of visitors so when strangers come around, they hide under the bed but I guess some (normal) cats are like this too
Thanks
 

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If you got them at 12 weeks they were right at the cut off point as far as the ease of socializing them. This is only my experience but I’ve found it depends on how well the feral mom taught the kittens or how much feral is in them!

I have two brothers who were brought to me at 12 weeks. One is very skittish, keep going backwards socially when I started not being home a lot and will only relate to me. There other is social and is social around other people. They both have feral actions like bolting at strange sounds, the way they hide, how they are willing to be held and handled. The interesting part is never once have they bitten me. I’ve clipped nails, had to ringworm bath them for several weeks, & medicate them.

Your group sound like they aren’t totally socialized but that is OK. There is more you can do to keep bringing them around. I’m also thinking from what you wrote about your vet is that they don’t get many feral cats or semi ferals? There are ways to make cats feel at ease in a vet office. But it takes a few minutes and there are ways to approach them when removing them from crates esp when they are stressed by the new the experience. It just sounds like your vet office is not familiar with these techniques and doesn’t deal with nervous, scared cat often.

Could you have someone come out and feed your cats while you are gone rather than board them? It’s so stressful for cats to be boarded. The price you’d have to pay for boarding 4 cats would more than cover someone coming by to feed and scoop cat boxes or stay at your home to cat sit.

There are lots of dangers when you let your cats back outside. Your cats are not savy to the dangers so you have to be prepared that you may loose a cat to other wild life, cars, poison etc. Your cats will need to be kept up on their vaccinations so they won’t contact felv or Fiv or rabies. They will fight with other cats coming on your property which can result in injuries so be prepared for extra vet bills. There is no guarantee that your cats will stay around either. I don’t mean to sound negative but I just want you to count the cost and know the challenges of having out of door cats. It may go smooth and nothing happens or it may not.

It is wonderful you rescued these kitties. I know you want what is best for them! You’ve come to the right place to be informed. Plus we always love pictures! Best of luck!
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for the reply. Yes they are almost fully vacinated. They require there second vacination within the month. Yikes yet another vet visit. The vet I took them too is not my usual vet. This vet should specilize in Feral cats because it was arranged but a cat resure organization who deal with Feral cats. I didn't like them very much - they didn't have any compassion for these poor cats. My cats too have never bitten or scratched neither my husband or myself. Ralph only hissed at us a few times when we first trapped them and he took the longest to be able to pat and he is now one of the friendlest - he follows us everywhere and like his pats. Boris is the boss (hence the name) and bosses them all around but all in all, they are lovely and friendly cats. If you saw them how they are around us, you would never know they had been feral. I'm aware of the cut off point at 12 weeks also. The vet organization said that after 8 weeks most kittens are untrainable. I always had the perception that a feral or wild cat is one that would hiss, spit and be climbing up the walls to escape but not these guys - they just hid. I guess it has only been 3 months and they hopefully are young enough to adapt. I think that cats should be alowed to be cats and allowed outside although this is my option only - but only during the day hours and preferably when we are home. I know there are a lot of hazzards out there such as cars and dogs etc but we live in the country and on a very quite road with all farm land behind us. There are only a handfull of cats in our neighhourhood and know exactly what cats fighting are all about. My old boy who was put to rest was the biggerest fighter on the block. He was netured young but still very very territorial and was only allowed out during daylight hours. Is there any suggestions on my these guys more confident?
 

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Well, the only way to help them become more confident with being handled is to handle them. Do it often and for short duration, slowly increasing the amout of time you handle them. You'll have to watch their body language to see what they will tolerate and when they are ready to progress forward with more and more handling.
Just like every other skill, it needs to be practiced to perfect it.
 

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Sounds like you already made up your mind to let them out. I just wanted to let you know the challenges. You sound cat savy so I didnt need to post that. Its just I cant tell from your posts whether you were or not. Most people posting here have no idea what they are facing and need the tips. I would follow Heidi's advice as far as intros to outside.

Just a suggestion. I would nicely tell the TNR group that helped you with s/n about your impression of their vet. They need to hear those things. Im sure this guy is giving them a discount but if he isnt compassionate about the ferals they need to hear that. I know my group would want the feed back.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks for the advise. However I'm after some more and any helpfull tips would be appreciated. I have had these three boys netured now and have found that this hasn't really settled them down. I can best describe them as three very bosterous boys. They are 6 months old which is understandable but they don't seem to seattle well in our living areas. They will have a quick nap for about 5-10 minutes on the floor and be off again running around. If one is asleep and see the others awake, he will get up and have a play around. They wont come on our knees or sleep beside us if we are sitting in the living areas (although they have once or twice). Do they do this because they are still nervous? Also, they seem to have bonded with me more than with my husband. I do spend more time with them on a "one on one" basis playing with them etc but my husband does feed them and plays with them too but when he approhes them, they run off. They didn't used to be like this with my husband and he has been very patience and loving towards them. They don't run far but just out of his reach - why is this? What can he do to get them as friendly with him as they are with me - he is getting a little frustrated with this. Also, I haven't let them outside yet because I'm worried that they will run away because of being feral in the past - do you think this could happen too? Also, since the mother cat was feral, could this likely be breed into them and is it likely this will become normal cats? I feel they can't be rehomed as they have bonded with me too much. Thanks Joanna
 

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Well, IMO, once a cat has bonded with their people, established their 'home' and knows where the food is at ... they don't run off unless they've either found a better deal or have been frightened away and lost or injured.

These young kitties are just rambunctious teenagers. Bear in mind they could remain this playful all their lives. Being playful isn't a bad thing, but as long as you still encourage contact they will learn how to be playful with themselves and loving with their people. Right now, teenage cats are all about the whole 'Mom-don't-kiss-me-in-front-of-the-guys!' stage. Your husband can work on his relationship with them, with a little help from you ... first, your husband needs to become The Bringer Of All Things Good. Treats, toys, petting and anything else they are interested in. You can step back a bit and encourage the kitties to go to him for lovies. Use your hand to lure them close to him so he can take over petting them. You don't need to isolate yourself from them, only restrain yourself when your husband is around and encourage the kitties to go to him for attention when he's home.

I used to pet Pretty and urge her to get near me, who was sitting next to my husband, and when she got close enough, we both pet her and as she relaxed, I would stop petting her and let my husband do all the petting. If Pretty left his immediate area and queried me for attention, I'd tell her she needed to let hubby pet her and would lure her within his reach and then stop petting her and letting him pet her.
 

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Thanks so much for the reply - it has made me feel a bit more at ease but.....These three guys have just all of a sudden become very frightened of my husband and I have no idea why. I tried some of your advise last night but it didn't make a difference. With each day they are getting more scared of my hasband. They used to greet him at the door when he got home but now they just run as fast as they can and hide. I can walk into a room and they keep doing what they are doing but if my husband walks into the room, they run in all directions. Why have they gone like this all of a sudden - he hasn't frightened them. Apart from the odd firm "no", which I do as well when they scratch the furniture, that is all he has done. We both work full time and have been very busy with other activities resulting in us not being home a great deal but when I'm home, they are fine with me. For intance, my tabby boy will be playing with my husband and then all of a sudden I can see him looking at my husband and then will take off. They tend to like the sound of my voice because I'm constantly talking to them and they run and greet me when I get home. My husband tends to move around the house slightly quicker than I and they don't like it at all. However, this isn't anything new so not sure why all of a sudden they don't like it. They don't mind the sound of noises as I was using my hairdryer this morning and they didn't mind it all. They only time they used to run and hide is when strangers came around, or a sudden noise but that was some time ago. Why would they slowly start to revert back to skittish behaviour?
 

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How old are they again? Kittens around the age of 4-9mo go through a stage of development that heightens their wish to be independent and reclusive. It is a survival instinct. Kittens who do NOT learn this, do not survive. Again, it is instinct. We cannot change instinct, nor can we irradicate it ... but sometimes we can modify it.

Your hubby will need to speak to them more, move slower, give more treats. Results won't happen overnight ... he needs to win-them-over and it will take time.
 

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So does that mean that once he wins them over, they will be fine and not revert back to this behaviour or will it continue to happen?
 

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Well, there are a lot of factors that can affect what happens. Generally, I believe that consistency and patient persistence wins-out in the long run. Expect for there to be some steps backwards as you try to make forward progress. Don't dwell on it, apologize to the kitties (they are very forgiving to sincerity - I know that sounds crazy-cat-lady, but I do feel our body language and voice tone tells our pets a LOT) and move on.

Just like in any relationship, you have to work at it, practice being the way you want it to be ... say what you mean and mean what you say, lead by example ... and eventually it becomes the trusting relationship you wanted. This happens because as you continually work towards that goal, you are teaching the kitties how you want to interact with them. If you sit like a lump and only pour them food, you aren't going to have a fulfilling relationship with them. If you offer treats, play interactively with them and talk to them they will respond to that and become more participatory with their people. If you keep offering these things, and working towards getting them used to being handled ... you won't *miss* when the cat finally decides to fully give their trust to you ... because you have been handling them all along.
 

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Thanks so much for the advise. I just can't beleive the progress they have made. I can now pick them up without them struggling and my tabby boy Boris, likes being picked up and me walking around with him. Little Henry is still a bit shy - I can kiss the other boys on the head but Henry is still not sure but slowly he is getting closer to me. I was playing with just him the other night for about half an hour on the bed and he was going crazy and rolling around purring and putting both paws over his ears like he was washing himself - it was so funny. Ever since that little bit of one on one time, it's made a huge difference to him. He comes over and rubs around my legs and I can approch him without him running off. I have tried so hard to have one on one time with him but the other two push him out of the way when playing. He does not like being picked up but I do this in a room where he feels secure and seems more receptive to it with less struggling. I try to pick them all up all the time. Ralph is just lovely - he loves sleeping on the dinning room table and rolls around for tummy rubs. He is also one that will put both paws on my face and rub his head all around my face. In terms of playing with them, I don't think I have sat down and watched TV in the evening since we've got them (4 months ago). I spend heaps and heaps of time playing with them but also like to give them a little time so they can relax and just lie and sleep where they like. So tonight when I get home I'm going to suggest to my husband he needs to spend at least one hour in the evening playing and offering them treats - they love being hand feed ground up beef. Don't get me wrong, he doesn't ignore them or anything but he would spent probably only half the amount of time with them than what I do. It's not intentional or anything but we have our own business so evening time is also work time for him. So time is precious but so are these boys. They mean the world to me and I believe they were sent to us for a reason. Thanks again. Joanna
 

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Yay! :luv It sounds like you are doing wonderfully with them. My husband has a sort of similar relationship with our cats like your husband. Mine will play with them and spend time with them if they come to him or we are watching a movie. I am more the one who will give them undivided attention for long periods of time so it stands to reason that they will bond more with me and feel very comfortable around me. Luckily, some of our more easy-going cats will hang out with him so he doesn't feel shunned. I also credit a lot of Pretty's successful socialization in the last 12-18mo to my Husband working towards winning her over. Tonight, Pretty approached my friend's 3yo daughter and let her and her mom pet her. Pretty was *completely* feral when I began interacting with her in 2004.
 

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An update on my feral boys

Helllo all. Well the last time I was on this website in March and just had to provide you all on a quick update on my three rescured boys. They are a year old and have become very loving and confident boys. Since I have let them outside (only a month ago) the transformation has been amazing. They have become so much more confidant and don't run and hide when they hear a noise or see strangers. My mother inlaw came around the other day and was able to pet two of them whereas a month or so ago, they would run and hide. Henry is the most shy but very very slowly is overcoming his shyness. All three of them play and chase and love it most when the wind blows so they can chase the leaves - they are totally inseprable. They come straight inside when called and all three of them sleep on our bed and purr all night. Outside is off limits when we aren't home and at night when dark. They have adapted well to this and are just love us to bits and boy, the feeling is very mutal. It has been a very long road but well worth every minute. I would do it all again in a heart beat. All the best...Joanna
 
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