This is what you call learning from experience, lol! Bet you'll never bring in another rescued kitty and let it loose in the house, right?
I know the situation isn't actually funny - it just makes me think of all the crazy things we learned along the way.... and a separate kitten-proofed room is where we let trapped cats go. :;
Most importantly - thank you for rescuing these cats!
How can people just leave their cats behind - and confined to the home to boot? GGGRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!!!!
I agree with jkrodger - best to try to trap the little guy. You can contact local vets, shelters or orgs to see if someone has a Have-a-hart trap you can rent or borrow to do it. Lay newspaper down over the floor when you set the trap, and put tuna or herring (no sauce) in it - something stinky that will definitely draw him in. Just make sure you know where you're taking him when you do it.
He won't hurt your kids unless they try to play with him. Are they old enough you can explain that he needs to be left alone? If you don't want to work on taming him, it would be best to contact local shelters to see if there's some place that can take him (and the litter-to-come if need be - but sounds like you've got that already worked out). PLEASE make sure they are no kill shelters and WILL foster feral kittens! Some "no kill" shelters mean they don't kill cats they think they can adopt out - but they will kill "unadoptable" cats.
Good resources for finding shelters or organizations that may help: http://www.pets911.com
- just type in your zip and click on the "Find a Local Shelter or Rescue" button on the left.
If you want to foster the wild kitty so he can be adopted out, or if you decide to socialize and keep him, it is possible if you have a guest room or will keep him confined to your bedroom or an older child's room or something.
The basic idea is to get him used to people, to learn that he can trust people, and to let him get used to the idea that people are OK. Simply providing food, water, and a clean litter box is the start. Being in the room with him but ignoring him is next. Leaving a radio on a classical station may help. Working on a computer in the same room, doing the ironing, folding laundry - any basic work or chores that can be done in the same room are great. Reading aloud. Singing. People are around and doing things - but aren't trying to do anything to him. And he'll get used to the sounds and presence of people and the sounds of the house. The less you seek him out the better. When he's willing to come out to eat in the presence of a human, or there are signs that he's been playing with toys left out for him while everyone sleeps, wand toys or food on a spoon can be used for interaction - but for short periods of time, and they should not be "forced" on him. The basic idea is to let him learn to trust on his own time. After whatever time he needs, he'll get curious. Maybe he'll sit in a corner and watch. Maybe something will just "click" one day, and he'll want to play, and a few nights later you'll wake up and he'll be asleep on your bed - but the minute you reach out to pet him, he'll run away. This is the process of socialization - one step forward, two steps back - or three steps forward one step back. It could be a couple of weeks, it could be a couple of months. But when you've fostered a kitty like this for a couple of months, it's darn hard to adopt them out!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! If you want a read of a socialization like this, but with an older kitty (6 - 7 months), this is just amazing: Lucky's story
It is with this type of cat that the most special bonds are formed. There is no other bond or trust like that between a formerly feral cat and a human/family that has come to earn his trust.