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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey guys,

So, last month I mentioned here how I had caught a feral kitten with a net. He was c. 10 weeks old, and, after a couple of days in our bathroom, became quite lovable. My wife and I decided to keep him to make him our second cat:




He (Toby) was one of four kittens outside. In the course of trying to catch the other members of his litter with a Havahart trap, I ended up catching this guy, who I was also able to socialize, take to a vet, and eventually find a home:




Two days ago I caught one of Toby's brothers in the Havahart trap:



Its been 4 weeks since I caught Toby, so this kitten is c. 14 weeks old. He is substantially more wild than either Toby or Stella (the black kitten) was when I caught them. I first had him in the bathroom for 2 days, but he would constantly just tear around it, jumping, trying to cat out. I could throw a towel on him to grab him and hold him and he wouldn't try to fight me, but he also wouldn't purr.

I also noticed he wasn't eating at all; he just seemed too scared.

Yesterday I bought a large cat condo-cage thing, and set it up for this kitten (we have named him Bobby since he looks kind of ilke a bobcat with a tail):



We figure this way we can put him in our office/bedroom (we can wheel it around) and he can just "see" us and get used to us. So far, after c. 12 hours he is still not a happy cat, to say the least. He is continuing to growl/hiss/climb the sides of the cages trying to get out. He will nibble on little bits of food but will also not eat consistently.

Is it possible I waited too long to catch this guy? Do you guys have any recommendations on how to overcome this initial fear/anger/cat angst? My vet gave me feline prozac to kind of mellow him out, but that only works if I can get him to eat his food! If I can't socialize him, I will pay to have him neutered and put him back outside in his "territory."

Thanks for all your help, I hope this kitten isn't too old. Bobby thanks you too!

 

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I do not think 14 weeks is to old, I think the major issue is, he is entering the teenage years. which is about 4 months to 9 months in most cats. so a Neuter would help. He is also at the age where some male cats will leave a colony to get their own territory, basically he is just now becoming fully independant and will take more time to socialize, but is not set in his ways.

I wish you luck. he looks lovely. Just don't give up on him, treat him like you would any teenager. give him, time.

if he had not been at a feed station, maybe try a piece of raw chicken.. he may not be used to kibble....
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Right now he has half canned-cat wet food and half kibble. Where he was caught was next to a large pile of dry food someone leaves out for the local feed colony. I will also get some tuna/chicken like you suggest to see if I can overcome his... hesitance.

Silly question, perhaps, but he won't let himself starve, right? At some point, even if he is scared, he will eat if he gets hungry enough?
 

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I definitely do not think he's too old to be socialized. Some of the sweetest cats who've come out of the rescue where I got Pedro & Apple were kitties who lived a year or more on the streets as adults. They're now lovey lap cats - some of them retained their skittish feral distrust of strangers - who have come to trust their people quite well!

I think what you're doing is great, but neutering ASAP will help your efforts a lot. I also think a little forced snuggles (wrapped in a thick towel or blanket!) now and then doesn't hurt.

It looks like his cage doesn't allow him a hidey spot for feelings of safety for him. Might I recommend a small hidey hole? Even something as simple as draping a blanket over the top so the shelf above is sheltered. Definitely some way for him to hide from your eyes and the eyes of other kitties.

I wouldn't bother with the prozac just yet. He's scared and fear is an appropriate response in this situation! He's been captured by this rather large being! The prozac could interfere with his ability to learn to accept love from humans since he won't be able to work through his fears and whatnot relating to it. If he has having completely inappropriate responses to his situation then it might be a worry, but I'd hold off on the prozac really. Have you called around you area to see if there's a vet who specializes in or regularly deals with feral kitties? It might not hurt to do that and/or check with the local feral rescues to see which vets they use since you'll likely get the best quality of vet care from a vet used to dealing with these poor scared little babies.

Also to get him used to being touched a child's plastic toy rake simulates the sensation of fingers touching him and approximates something reaching for him while saving your hands and fingers. Often army surplus stores will have thick gloves rather cheap that are useful for scooping a kitty to wrap up for snuggles or also for putting into a carrier to take to the vet.

There is one kitty who has just gone to foster now and was trapped last fall. It was 6 months before anyone could touch him. He's now one of the sweetest boys ever! Time and patience. Those are really the best things you can offer this baby. He's definitely not too old to tame. He just might be stubborn enough to take a little extra time. 2 weeks of learning to love is barely a moment with some ferals. And he might end up being what we refer to around here as a "house feral" which is a kitty who just really doesn't want to be touched under any circumstances, but enjoys vocal interaction and being nearby humans.

As for food, if he's eating some then I wouldn't worry so much. It might not hurt to put his food in a more sheltered area of his cage though. That way he's not constantly worrying about being attacked while trying to eat his yummies.
 

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You are doing great, and what a nice roomy set-up for Bobby. Don't worry, he will come around. In terms of socializing a feral cat, it hasn't been any time at all. You say you can grab him with a towel and hold him - well, the job is more than half done if you are that far along.

Once he is out and mixing with your other cats, they will also be a very calming, positive influence on him.

This kit doesn't need prozac, he just needs more time. This will happen slowly, by degrees, over several months.
 

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I think SpellQ's ideas are best, especially the hidey spot, but I'm not sure about the forced affection -- not yet anyway.

For me, Prozac was an evil drug.
 

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There is a great 3 part series on youtube about taming feral kittens, and they look even bigger than your guy. Maybe some of his tips will help. They are called "Tough Love: Socializing Feral Kittens"

 

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Looking again at the last photo, there is something in his eyes that makes me say he wants to trust, but it's going to have to be on his terms. I'm fond of cats that want to be their own bosses. One of the reasons I was so taken with Zenobi (otb) was that she bit me because she mistook one of my actions. She was furious and wasn't going to put up with any of that crap, so to speak.

I've got the feeling that this one will make a wonderful companion for the right caretaker(s).

How's mum doing?
 

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My latest feral kitten, Stubby, has been living with me since late June. He was caged for nearly four weeks because of a broken leg. For the first two weeks he lashed out and spit at me whenever I opened his cage. He was completely feral. After he healed he had the run of the house and now he is even going outdoors with the other cats for hours at a time. He knows his name or "Kitty, kitty, kitty," and is good about coming back.

But I can't touch him and I can't pet him. It's OK - that will come. We've found ways of adapting to the concessions that he was willing to make to me.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Looking again at the last photo, there is something in his eyes that makes me say he wants to trust, but it's going to have to be on his terms. I'm fond of cats that want to be their own bosses. One of the reasons I was so taken with Zenobi (otb) was that she bit me because she mistook one of my actions. She was furious and wasn't going to put up with any of that crap, so to speak.

I've got the feeling that this one will make a wonderful companion for the right caretaker(s).

How's mum doing?

Thanks for all the great feedback! I will definitely read through/watch the suggested links today.

The mom is no longer around the kittens. I have seen her around and tried to trap her to do a TNR, but every time i have tried, either the black kitten above, or Bobby has gone in. I have also caught a couple of adult ferals, but they have already been neutered (suspected by the notch in the ear, confirmed by the lack of testicles).


I'll just give him as much time as he needs. Like I said, he flips out (starts running into the sides of the cages, etc.) whenever I try to grab him, but if I towel him and wrap him tight, he kind of submits. What I do then is gradually loosen the towel and comb what I can see with a little flee brush with really fine teeth. He seems to like that, but any sudden movement/noise and he is gone.

The other two "ferals" I caught (Toby who we are keeping, and Stella who a local family is adopting) will come in and sit by the cage and just look at him like "dude, chill, its cool here." I think its been too long for either Bobby or Toby to realize they are siblings.

One other question I had: I am an attorney and am gone from like 8am till 6pm and my wife is a teacher who is gone from 7am till 5pm. Is it ok for him to be alone during those hours, or will that make socializing him that much harder?
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Well, tonight I scruffed him out of his cage and held him in a towel for a little bit and brushed his entire body with a flea brush. No purring, but he also didn't run away.

He also ate a very little from my hand which I take as a good sign.

He eventually jumped off of me and slinked away (meowing the entire way) into a corner. He hissed and fought me a bit when I went to get him again, but I was able to get him back in his little condo.

So I think tonight is a good sign. I guess will just keep up with that every evening...
 

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One other question I had: I am an attorney and am gone from like 8am till 6pm and my wife is a teacher who is gone from 7am till 5pm. Is it ok for him to be alone during those hours, or will that make socializing him that much harder?
Cats like to sleep a lot during the day. Give the kitten plenty of toys - mine love Turbo Scratcher - and he'll be fine.
 

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It sounds as if you're making some good progress. If you're feeding him 3x/day, make one of his meals before you go to bed. He may eat more than if he feels safer when there's no hustle and bustle or noise. Eating from your fingers is good to instill trust in you. As others have said it's going to take time and patience, perhaps a bit longer because you're both not home during the day so your hours interacting with him are limited.
 

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the more interactive play the better, Ive tamed down to ferals that were over a year old at the time they were trapped.. feather wands were the kitten can play but you are not rite on top of them work well, small toys on the string on a stick also, just make sure the toy isn't to big to scare them,,
 

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Just wanted to say you're the man for taking on these cute kitties and doing everything you can to socialize them. I remember your account of finding the cat in the parking lot (is that your first cat?), and you seem to really be on a roll here! Keep up the great work.
 

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No, he won't starve himself to death. But if he doesn't eat at all in 48 hours, he'll need a vet visit to put liquids in him and something to stimulate his appetite. I very much doubt he'll reach that stage. Have you tried the Gerber they show in the youtube? I've always loved watching that youtube.

Op, you and your wife are such beautiful souls.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Just wanted to say you're the man for taking on these cute kitties and doing everything you can to socialize them. I remember your account of finding the cat in the parking lot (is that your first cat?), and you seem to really be on a roll here! Keep up the great work.

Ya, the parking garage cat *was* our first cat (Herbie). He died about 2 months ago while being groomed; went into respiratory and then cardiac arrest while being dried with a towel. The necropsy revealed he had a congenital heart defect, so it was only a matter of time. He had a good year and half with us though. He lived like a prince and made my wife and I very happy. Now his ashes are in a cedar box on our mantle with this picture sitting on top:



When he passed, my wife and I adopted a Siamese with some behavior issues from the local humane society (she had been there for 4 months). We have calmed her down and now she is a big love. Our other cat is Toby--- the brother of the kitten I am now trying to tame. I caught him with a net about a month ago, so he was much easier to tame.

So, the current feline population in my apartment is:

(1) Sadie: 2 year old Siamese snowshoe
(2) Toby: 14 week old tabby with very distinctive "bullseye" markings. Is shaped (and acts) like he is a heat seeking torpedo of love and fury.
(3) Stella: a 12 week old black long hair kitten I trapped last week. I have a local family who is interested in adopting her. Just need to meet the whole family first.
(4) Bobby: 14 week old medium hair tabby with spot markings. Toby's brother. Trying to socialize.




So, today I scruffed him out of the cage (amid many a hiss and growl) and petted him and brushed him. No purring, the occasional soft hiss, but no attempt to get away. I then fed him a lot of wet food via spoon and hand, so I know he is eating. Once he calms down a bit more I will put revolution on him to get rid of the roundworm I can tell he has.

I am assuming after a while he will come to associate me with food and back scratches...
 

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try to coax him out with the food, if he's eating from a spoon he should come out on his own and start everything on a calmer note.. when I tamed my smokey cat I had to use an ice tea spoon (one of them long ones) smokey's front paw wack had great range and would leave a bruise as well as holes..
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Had a good, though kind of funny, break through, I think.

I tried luring him out tonight with food, but he wouldn't come, so I scruffed him out while wearing my thick work gloves. I held him and brushed him with a flee comb, pet him, and fed him an entire can of wet food by hand. He didn't try to get away until I tried to lay down.

Then he ran into the corner and started this plaintiff meowing. So I went over to him and scruffed him out with my glove again. He hissed, bit for the glove, etc. I put him on a towel and laid him on his side so I could see his belly and just started rubbing it gently. He started to purr, knead and close his eyes. Every 15-20 seconds or so he would look at me and hiss and then start purring and kneading and closing his eyes again.

So it seems like he is conflicted between his instincts and what he is feeling. Seems like an improvement, that's for sure.
 
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