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A milestone - then a setback

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
Well, last night Ferris came up onto my bed, and for the first time ever, allowed himself to take a snooze in my presence, right at my feet on my bedcovers. Until last night, he would always be on full alert, never allowing his eyes to close in front of me and always hiding somewhere to take his naps or to sleep.

So I was all happy - thinking to myself, yay, he's not feral anymore, he's becoming a housecat!

That euphoria lasted until this morning. I tried to pet him in the kitchen after feeding him breakfast, and he kept ducking his head and pulling away from me.

Stupid, stupid me - I tried to force it, and what started out as me trying to hold him and calmly and quietly tell him how much I love him while giving him scritches turned into him going all feral on me with wild eyes, claws out, hissing and screaming at me!

When he started to get wild, I tried to scruff him, and that was my biggest mistake - I'm now clawed to ribbons, and he won't come anywhere NEAR me.

It seems like it is a bit of a pattern - we make great strides, then something unknown happens to cause him to regress, then days later we have even more progress, so I'm not going to let this bother me too much, and I plan to completely ignore him (well, ok, not completely, and he's so darned cute he's irresistable, but you know what I mean) so that when he's ready, he can come back to me for affection. He's starved for it, so I know he'll be back around within a matter of a few days, probably long before my scratches heal.

But ARRGGHH, I was feeling so happy because he was finally showing real trust, and now this. SIGH...

Well, only 3 weeks until he gets neutered, he'll be approximately 5 months old then, and maybe things will go along even smoother with taming him after that. What a stupid human I am - but I guess I can be forgiven, after all, he's my first feral rescue (leaving that door WIDE open, LOL) and I'm allowed to make mistakes. That's what we humans do, and we do it SO well.

It's really weird how they can be so sweet and loving one minute then totally off-the-wall wild the next.

Have any of you got similar stories with taming your feral kittens within the first couple of months that you had them?
post #2 of 11
Hi Ginger's mom, sounds like we are in the same boat, except my boy will be easier to tame. For one thing, I think he is deep down a friendly cat. For another, someone else has already done most of the work for me.

If you want a blow by blow, have a look at the threads I started with regard to Brady.
It starts with me losing him
getting him back
keeping him a prisoner in a spare bedroom
winning over his trust
trying to understand what he was trying to tell me
worrying about what nasty things he may have picked up outside
getting to finally understand what he was telling me
and finally the big breakthrough!
So... here's to those ferals, they are every bit worth the extra effort!
post #3 of 11
Thread Starter 
I'll check out those threads, thanks.

Ferris isn't that hard to tame, as far as I'm concerned. He's actually come incredibly far in a very short period of time. This was just a minor setback, obviously based upon miscommunication. I just have to learn to be a little more patient and read his body language better. He really is a little lovebug.
post #4 of 11
Thread Starter 
Reading through those threads...Wow, what a bit of effort you've put forth for that little man.

Ferris was only outside for the first two months of his life, then into foster care for a month and now he's been with me for about 5 weeks.

It's interesting to read through your threads about Brady. There are quite a few similarities in the way that Ferris behaves, but Ferris came around to cuddling against me quite quickly. I've even been able to trim a few claws here and there when he's relaxed.

The first toy I gave him was a fuzzy mouse, and he's been toy-obsessed ever since. He loves the crinkly shiny balls, and loves to carry those and the furry mice around in his mouth.

I took him in to be a playmate for Ginger, so he's supposed to be her cat, anyway, not mine. As long as they are building their friendship and I keep delivering the food and scooping poop, we all ought to get along just fine.
post #5 of 11
Sounds like you're just going to have to take it really slow and let him come to you. The second he starts to back away, just let him go . . . he'll be back when he's ready!
Good luck!
post #6 of 11
When my cat shies away from being petted, that's a sign that she's just not in a lovey mood at the moment. It has absolutely nothing to do with me, just that she's more into doing whatever it is she's doing. I let her go and know that later on she'll come to me for lovins or she'll be more receptive.

As mentioned, you'll just have to take it slowly and really not expect too much at all. That way, when strides are made it's on Ferris' terms and timetable.

post #7 of 11
Well I am flattered that you read all that! Maybe the reason Ferrris was quicker to warm up to you is that I am not that good with cats-at least not yet. I made some cardinal errors.

Still I wish you the best of luck. Can't give you advice-all I have is my very limited experience.
post #8 of 11
Gingersmom, I know what you're going through and it does hurt when they lash out after being so sweet. It's so unexpected when they do that, although after a while you do know to expect it.
Pru is a feral and acts the same way. She can be a total love, but only on her terms and when she approaches us. I have to remind myself not to try to treat her like the other cats because that just doesn't work with her.
Ferris will come around again and neutering will probably help a lot. Pru was spayed a few months ago and she has evened out a bit.
Try not to beat yourself up too much for not reading Ferris' mood, it just takes time for that.
post #9 of 11
And if it makes you feel any better, our cat, Phoebe, who was someone's pet for probably about 4-5 years, then abandoned in an alley for a month, then taken in by us over a year ago, still does that! She's just not a very lovely cat, except on her terms (usually at 2am when we're sleeping and she head butts us until we pet her). But I agree with the above posters, if he starts to back off at all, just leave him alone, unfortunately all cats are like that, even the housecats!

Good luck and keep up the good work!
post #10 of 11
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by 2dogmom View Post
Well I am flattered that you read all that! Maybe the reason Ferrris was quicker to warm up to you is that I am not that good with cats-at least not yet. I made some cardinal errors.

Still I wish you the best of luck. Can't give you advice-all I have is my very limited experience.
Thank you - I seriously think the simple difference between Brady and your experiences and Ferris and my experience is that Brady was caught at close to a year old, while Ferris only spent his first 8 weeks living outside.

I have an update to this story, will be posting in a new thread, titled: It's all about the cheese.
post #11 of 11
Welcome to the world of being owned by a feral. IMO, they are never "tamed" just socialized. And while it's one of the most rewarding relationships you will ever have with a feline, it can also be one of the most frustrating. If all goes well, expect three steps forward, two steps back. It's like they make that great leap of faith and trust and then second guess themselves. We've had Ophelia for 7 years now, and I think we're to a point of real trust with her as well as love and companionship. But it honest to goodness has taken this long to get to that point. Don't get me wrong - she's been a joy in our home the entire time, and those leaps of faith and trust have been slow and steady the whole time. The only thing you can do with a feral is to accept them on their terms and never expect any more than they are giving you right now. Then you will always be surprised and thrilled when they do open up just a little more.
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