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OK, first real post here. I'm looking for comments on how to proceed.

My wife and i bought a cat for our daughter last year as a birthday present. My daughter (13 now) is doing real well taking care of the animal and she has become the household pet. I guess this is what got my wife and I interested in cats.

For the past month we had been seeing a small cat (really a kitten) hanging near our home. It looked so beat up we were calling it (don't know the sex) Scruffy due to its appearance. We started feeding the cat on a regular basis as the cat would return every day. Over a couple of weeks the cat started getting very healthy looking - and a very attractive cat it is.

As it can get very cold here in Michigan in the Winter, we wondered how the cat would survive and thought about capturing it to bring it to the Humane Society (it's where we got our cat). Just today, we opened the door to our family room with a plate of food. Usually we put the food outside, but this little cat, Scruffy, had been getting closer and closer to our door - becoming more and more comfortable.

With the food inside, Scruffy moved cautiously inside (we were amazed) to get to the food. I slowly closed the door and Scruffy just went ballistic. she tried to jump right through the glass. I was amazed by the desperation to escape. As Scruffy ran back and forth looking for an escape, I grabbed "it". Of course she bit me (but I was wearing thick leather gloves). While the bite hurt me (just slightly) it didn't puncture any skin (although it feels like a small bruise is there).

My next attempt was successful as I forcefully grabbed Scruffy and put "it" immediately into a cage (the same cage we use to transport our cat to the vet). We then put some food into the cage. Scruffy is looking very calm inside the cage, but extremely alert. I'm sure he/she is very scared.

We plan on taking Scruffy to the Humane Society where they might be able to domesticate the cat and give it a good home.

My question(s) for you other cat people:

Are we crazy for trying this?
Is 4-5 month old cat readily domesticated after being in the wild? Anyone have experience with this?
(Now the paranoid me) - Is it possible to get a disease/rabies from a bite (I did feel it) when the bite doesn't even break the skin and you had thick leather gloves protecting your hands?
 

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If the bite penetrated your skin there might be a problem, but a bruise shouldn't need a doctor's attention

It takes patience and time, but this kitten should be able to be socialized. Sometimes, with full grown cats it takes as long as a year, and sometimes adults cannoet be socialized. There are some great videos about this. I'll move this to the feral forum, and give you the links.
 

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Have you checked out your HS's website? There may be some that will take them in and work with fosters who tame them, especially if they're kittens. My Humane Society will not accept ferals, and some that do simply put them to sleep. :(
 

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I think it would be best to try to tame these kittens first.

Mitts "n Tess (Merry) posted these great videos:

Produced for the Urban Cat League (http://www.urbancatleague.org)
with a Partners in Caring grant from the ASPCA (http://www.aspca.org).




Why they called these videos "Tough Love," I don't know! There's a bad connotation to that phrase! This approach is gentle and gradual.
 

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Feral cat and human society will not go together.. they will put the cat down and all your effort you made will go to waste.. i am just wondering why you don't want to keep her, hopefully with your effort and some research you might be able to get her more domestic and then if you still want to give him for adoption.
i have one just like that myself.. total feral that i feed her and after a while i brought her in. it has been 4 years and she is the sweetest thing she can be but still not 100% domestic in certain behaviors but who cares, she is happy and she has a good life.
 

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Taming a feral cat is very time-consuming,takes a great dedication and also costs money. Plus you have to have the space to keep the cat isolated, the meds they may need, etc.

Finding a place that will TNR the cat and maybe getting some advice from members here with experience on how to make an outdoor shelter for the cat for the winter, while trying to work with them and trying to tame them, might be more realistic.
 

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I TNR, have tamed and socialized for public adoption AND kept many of the adult ferals to become our personal housecats. I would like to comment that our former ferals have been some of our BEST housekitties. Many places (rescues and other organizations) won't spend the time/effort to tame adult ferals as it ties-up their foster resources.

*I* do it because I *have* the time and inclination to do so on my own and I have been successful with every feral animal I have interacted with. The kittens were all adopted and the adults remained as our own cats.

However, I've never tamed an adult feral indoors.
I do think it would be easier, especially if the kitty could have a room of its' own for you to interact safely with it. I do NOT recommend letting *any* cat have the run of the house until it will respond consistently in coming to you so it can be closed into a room when necessary.
All of the adults I tamed on our open back patio where the cat could leave my presence at any time it wished. Every step I made in the socialization process was with complete permission from the feral because it *could* leave. The techniques I use are very similar to Merry's videos from The Urban Cat League. I speak about them in my Kitty Cat Boot Camp but the UCL videos are fabulous because the SHOW you the techniques and how they work.

Best of luck with whatever you decide. If you wish to try to socialize this kitty yourselves I will try to help in any way I can. If you need to take the kitty to a shelter, at least know that the kitty will never have to suffer a cold winter and struggle just to survive, possibly dying a slow or horrible death, unloved and alone.
heidi =^..^=
 

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While we plan to bring the kitty to the humane society, note that the Michigan Humane Society has the following policy:

"Once we place an animal up for adoption, there is no time limit in which he or she can remain up for adoption."

And given how docile he/she appears (at least at the moment), I have no doubt that Scruffy will be domesticated and find a good home. Anyway, I will request updates in case their plans change.
 

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It takes a lot of patience to tame a feral, even one who you've already got indoors. Scruffy needs a room of her own and lots of patience from you. It could take months before she trusts you.
The alternative is to build her a winter shelter, preferably in an outbuilding, and continue to feed her outside. She can survive; there are many ways to help a feral cat get through the winter.
But bringing her to the Humane Society will be the end of Scruffy.
 

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bb62, that may be their policy, but it doesn't say anywhere there that every cat brought to them even GETS put up for adoption. Their resources are probably tight, just like everywhere else, and they may well decide Scruffy is unadoptable and just put him/her to sleep immediately. They may try to take her out of the cage, get bitten or see that she's cowering or hissing at their hands, and immediately label her "unadoptable" and put her down.

It still would be a better ending for her than starving and/or freezing to death in a Michigan winter, so if you can't/won't keep her, definitely bring her in to the HS. Just know that there are so many former housepets and sweet, friendly, cuddly kitties who sit in the shelters and don't get adopted, that it's highly likely that there won't be room or a home for a feral cat, no matter how docile she looks in her cage right now.
 

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The Michigan humane society is not a no-kill shelter. I fear they will put the cat down.

It does not always take a lot of time and effort to socialize/tame ferals. I did it with a two-year-old female. Go to the Alley Cat's website and they walk you through it. The cat needs its own room/area. My feral was tamed within two weeks - it took longer for my male cat to get used to her.

It does not take a lot of expense - a small extra litter box, a water bowl, a food bow. Go into the room and talk to the cat - or simply read or work on your lap-top there. It will come out of hiding.

She is a perfect angel now.

With a younger cat, it is much easier.
 

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Congratulations on taking in that homeless cat. However, a true feral cat will take more than two weeks to tame. Sometimes it takes a year; other times it can't be done. Months might do it, though.

I think you took in a stray which had been lost for quite a while, and was forced to fend for itself. Either way, I'm glad you took it in! :p
 

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It takes a lot of patience to tame a feral, even one who you've already got indoors. Scruffy needs a room of her own and lots of patience from you. It could take months before she trusts you.
The alternative is to build her a winter shelter, preferably in an outbuilding, and continue to feed her outside. She can survive; there are many ways to help a feral cat get through the winter.
But bringing her to the Humane Society will be the end of Scruffy.
As I unfortunately found out today, this is true. The Humane Society told us either to bring "it" (still don't know the sex) to Animal Control or to leave it there for them to euthanize (at a cost of $18). This left me few options. I can't keep the cat indoors. I don't have much time to tame it (you would not believe my schedule) and my wife is uncomfortable with a "wild" cat indoors. But we absolutely could not have it killed. We brought Scruffy back home and released "it". Boy did that cat bolt out of the transporter cage. My wife thought we wouldn't see scruffy for days, but within a few hours, the food we put out was gone!

I plan to build a little shelter in the next month. I can put it near the heating system exhaust which exits sideways from our house (new fangled high efficiency heaters). As it is, we've seen Scruffy near there in the evenings so this might work. I just plan to take a slower route with the cat - and enjoy Sally, our indoor cat, at the same time.
 

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Hey! This is really good news. I think this is the best solution for everyone for now.
There is lots of information right here on how to shelter outdoor cats.
Your heart is in the right place.
Of course, she will need to be fixed at some point. But again, that can be a trap/spay/recover/release.
 

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I think you're doing the right thing, bb! If the feral decides to stick around, I'm sure you can domesticate the little guy and then either have Scruffy as part of your family or give him to a no-kill shelter to adopt.
 

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The alternative is to build her a winter shelter, preferably in an outbuilding, and continue to feed her outside. She can survive; there are many ways to help a feral cat get through the winter.
I would second that. With blankets and warmer, you could make a cozy home for her. However, her survival also depends on how big she is, how long her hair is, and how much body fat she stored. Another concern is that when you release her, she may never come back.
 
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