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Discussion Starter #1
It seems my fish pond attracts ferals simply as a source of fresh water. There is a new orange feral/stray coming around. The other ferals that come at night all run at the hint of a human, this guy comes to the door and looks in. (much like the feral I could not trap 2 years ago) I started feeding him and he lets me leave my hand next to the bowl while he eats. We never see him much, only at night and he never stays longer than it takes to finish the food. We know he is there because our 2 indoor cats want to kill him and will make sure we know something that doesn't belong is in the yard. I want to try a touch but am unsure what will happen. The goal would be to TNR or if he is calm, attempt to tame. Suggestions welcome?
 

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Fanwoodguy,
This is how Mr. Jazzy started out!
He just started showing up to eat, late at night, and at first he was very wary, and would back away a good distance from me, as I filled the dish, then I'd go into the house, and he'd come right in and eat...
This went on for a while...then I just started backing away from the dish, but not into the house, he still came in to eat, so I would just talk softly to him...
This went on for a while...
Then he started making appearances during the day! I'd put some food in the dish, back away, talking to him, he'd eat and leave...
Then we progressed to him sitting on one of my outdoor chairs, and spending the night curled up on it!
Then we had a late, nasty cold spell, so I turned 'his' chair into a cat house/bed setup, he was a little wary, but checked it out, and decided it met with his approval! So about another three weeks go by, and he's staying pretty close now...
The breakthrough came, when I was sitting in the other chair, one night, I'd filled his dish...here he came sauntering in, and greeted me with the raspiest meow I'd ever heard! AND...instead of heading for the food, came straight to me, and jumped up in my lap!! And he was purring up a storm!!
He was fully intact, and had been in fights...
However...it was also apparent, that at one time, he was owned...before he had to fend for himself, for who knows, how long...
He's my Black ghost tabby house cat, and he was so happy to be in by the fire, instead of only looking at it through the sliding door...
He and I have a Special bond, he's my head butt'er, curl up in my lap boy, and when he looks at me, he softens his eyes somehow...and transmits his love and contentment to me...I'm so happy he found me 'Cat Worthy'!
♡♡♡♡
In your situation, see how this boy does with just you talking to him, as you rest your hand on the dish....
If he doesn't spook, just try covering a little more of the dish with your hand, so he knows your hand is there, but it's not a threat to him, it will also tie your scent into a good thing, getting fed!
Kneeling or sitting will make you look smaller, and not so threatening...
If he's remaining calm, after a few nights of this, try moving your fingers, on the food dish, to give him a chin rub...
I think you have a very good chance with this one!
Wishing you all the best!
Sharon
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Sharon, thanks for the response. One time he let me touch the back of his head with the spoon, the second time he tried to bite the spoon in half. I suppose whatever is going on before he gets to me sets the table for the response. He is sniffing my hand when I offer him treats so he knows the hand brings good things. My single clue is he has what I call "soft eyes". Very fearful cats always present with dilated pupils and the area around the eyes seem to stiffen. This guy never presents that way even in the face of the two hissing demons that hide behind me. I am just not certain I want to place the fingers near the teeth just yet. His body language is also not quite in the fight or flight mode. He is clearly nervous but not so much that he runs far. There is never a sound however, no purr, no rrorr, and the tail remains motionless, straight and low. So far with ferals in my lifetime I am 4 for 5. The last one was disappointing because I never caught or turned him. The others converted quickly and either ended up in nice homes or sleeping on my chest. If anyone else has anything I am more than willing to listen and learn.
 

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Fanwoodguy,
Just keep presenting your hand, with the treats, like you're already doing.
From what I've seen with ferals or just plain scared cats, any movement of a hand over them is a threat...
I've found that a hand offered lower than their head, is accepted much easier, that's why I suggested a chin rub with a finger to start...
As for being fine, one time with the spoon touching him, then not so much, the next time, it probably is because of whatever has transpired before getting to the food dish! Maybe he was extra hungry, and just didn't want to be bothered, or felt he had to guard the food...
It does sound like you have a good understanding of Cat Body language!
I'm Keeping All Paws Crossed for you and him!:)
Sharon
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Well last night he was fairly calm except for wanting to taste my hand. Wasn't a bite so much as a nip, not sure what that was all about but we both scared each other when I pulled my hand back.
 

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Well, I've got All Paws Crossed for you and him!
I'll be following with interest, to see how you guys progress!
Sharon
 

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Sounds brilliant progress!! Only aside is to ask if you are sure that he isn't just a nervous kitty who may have a local home? If you are sure, please try to get him. You sound a lovely match.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Well he continues to show up around 10-1030 pm for a meal and again at 1 AM according to the critter cam. He and I are a bit wary of each other. Saturday he pawed my hand but kept the claws fully retracted. He apparently was very hungry and could not wait. Last night he was skittish, looking over his shoulder with every bite, not a good night to interact. He apparently returned much later because Buddy our indoor male was expressing his unhappiness with the presence of another male. This orange guy had a fairly large gash on his neck, with a large swath of fur missing. He seems to be healing. As far as being owned, I doubt it. He is an intact male for one and he is never out and about during the day. I would think an owned cat would have had that injury taken care of. That to me is the sign of a feral. Anyway I am reducing the food he receives for the next few days so that he is a bit hungry, then I will try feeding him in the trap with the door jammed open. If he falls for that, the trap will be set by the end of the week. Then it is off to the vet and into a very nice habitat I built. He will either warm up to people or be TNR'ed.
 

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Fanwood,
That sounds like a pretty good plan! To bad, he got injured...I really hope it doesn't become infected...
Again, he may not be a "True Feral" but a cat that got dumped, and simply has had to fend for himself, as best he can, and in the process, has learned to be wary of people, like my Mr. Jazzy was!
Keeping All Paws Crossed for you and him!
Sharon
 

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Discussion Starter #13
So last night the feral experienced a bit of tough love. He came to the door as usual. Waited patiently for his meal. I opened the door to place the food in his dish (yes he gets a dish) and he very calmly with no vocal or physical warning took a swipe at my hand resulting in several claw marks and some blood. I bet he is wondering why he spent the evening hungry. Maybe he will be better behaved tonight. My wife who is not on board with the idea of feeding ferals scolded me for taking offense. He comments were something like "duh, it is a feral, what did you expect?"
 

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LOL! I think I would have held the dish, made him wait a moment or two, then tried it again! If he was polite, he'd get to eat, otherwise, I'd do the hold food, and repeat exercise, till he figured it out! Calm cat gets to eat...impolite cat, has to wait a bit!
Good Luck tonight!:p
 

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Discussion Starter #15
An update with nothing much to report. Orange cat visits generally at 1030, looks in the window patiently until the food appears, waits for more while grooming himself if an insufficient amount is offered and leaves. He returns again around 1-2 am and again around 5-530 am. I have no interest in interacting with him at that time but his visits are recorded by the outside camera or the screaming inside cats. He is rarely seen in daylight and seems most comfortable receiving food from an open door. Me moving outside makes him bolt. If I have the presence of mind to place the food in the fixed open trap he doesn't seem to mind entering but given his fear and our inside cats wanting to kill him on sight I am not certain if I want to trap him. The last time I had a regular feral the local rescue group said get him fixed, leave him be and if he tests positive for FIV put him down. Clearly there is a colony somewhere near by but I have no idea where.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Well "orange" still visits once or twice an evening but never stays long enough to have any quality interaction. He has been wormed (Amazon is great) and treated for fleas so he appears to be putting on some weight. The old wound has healed but we are wary of each other. If I stay by the door he is fine, if I go outside with him he immediately places some distance between. He seems docile for the most part but did encounter my indoor male who had escaped for the moment. Buddy received a pretty serious looking bat to the face and quickly returned to the house. Amazingly no harm but the swat looked hard. Anyway what do I do for Orange when we take a vacation. Should I ask the person who will be visiting and feeding our cats to leave out a bowel of dry food for this guy or just let him fend for himself. Water is always available in the pond, but food will be an issue.
 

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Hi Fanwood!
Yes! Have the person who's checking on indoor kitties, put some food out for Orange boy!
Sharon
 

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It surprises me that he started out relatively docile and then became so distant. The opposite of how it's suppose to work.:sad:
I've just never seen that happen before. Could someone be threatening him?
 

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Discussion Starter #19
I only ever see him after dusk. It is impossible to tell where he goes or where he sleeps, all I know is my yard is dog free, has a clean water source and he has learned he can get food. He will approach as long as I am in a doorway but outside is a non starter. We haven't seen anything else lately so placing dry food for the time we are away should ensure he gets a meal. At this point I doubt he will ever be a tame cat so the goal is some nutrition before winter.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Well it is 3 months later and "Orange" continue to frequent the yard most evenings for a meal. There was a time he would run, put his ears back and hiss. That time appears to have passed. He vocalizes once in a while, knocked the crap out of my indoor cat the one time they met outside, but for the most part arrives, eats, leaves. Not sure what to do. He is at least a year old so domesticating him is unlikely but he touches my hand through the window screen, pushes it out of the way with his head if the food serving is slow and lets me sit within a foot of him when he eats. There are none of the typical cat social cues however. Tail never goes up, no trill, body language is somewhere between tense and almost relaxed as long as there is no sudden movement. The last two days he has eaten 3 cans of food per serving which tells me that his other food sources are drying up. Suggestions? TNR? Trap and try to tame? I have only been successful with one feral to pet conversion, I think that was a fluke. Winter is fast approaching so I want to do something if there is something to be done.
 
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