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Socializing a feral: The story of Lucky - Page 12

post #331 of 369
Thanks Laurie -

It's so funny because Lucky tends to favor Kevin, even though she has really warmed up to me in these past months (after all, I'm the one who feeds her, cleans the litterbox, brushes her, plays with her, etc); and Charm has taken to me. I am so happy that she loves Lucky, but if I come in the room, a lot of times, Charm will run up to greet me - and, of course, she sleeps with me. If I'm not ready for bed by a certain time, Charm will just sit and watch me as if telling me, "Okay, Mom, let's go - ready to go to bed now". Lucky will come in and sit on the window sill or even the bed for a bit, but then she always leaves. I cannot get her to stay and actually sleep in the bedroom with us. Maybe in time.
post #332 of 369
Aw, looks like Charm got a great big sister!

LOL Sandi - you sound so much like me and Ophelia with Miss Lucky. I feed her, clean the litterboxes, play with her, sleep with her - and she's STILL Daddy's girl! It did take a little while for Ophelia to be comfortable sleeping with us, but now she DEMANDS that hubby go to bed with her! Sometimes she tells him to go to bed in the middle of the day so she has someone to snuggle with.
post #333 of 369
thanx for the pics Sandi!They are great! How cute! Charm reminds me of my Leo from the coat pattern, and same thing, Piper never sleeps with us on the bed, but will stay on the floor or window seal, and Leo always sleeps with us! Thats a cute story about ophelia! Piper demands to be on hubby's lap, even when he is busy working and puts her down, she jumps back up! what daddy girls they are when we do all the work!!!
post #334 of 369
Taming a feral cat is not for everyone. Not everyone has the patience or the predisposition or the time to commit to the undertaking. Just the apprehension associated with facing the teeth and claws of a wilkd cat is enough to elimate m,any people from the ranks of potential tamers. Fear is the greatest enemy of the tamer-the uneasy feeling in the oit of the stomach when faced with the possibility of bodily harm-this can ber "read" by the cat. But for some, fear notwithstanding, it is a challenge whose rewards far outweigh the possibility of physical discomfort. When this "wild" cat crosses over to the tamer"s world it offers up its true personality and inherited nature, its trustandits love. Tat is what makes the challenge irresistable.-carrol clancy from book"taming the feral cat"
post #335 of 369
Having worked with ferals for over 12 years now, and dealing with the ones that have behavior problems, the ones that people readily give up on- I have to say that when people claim they can tame a feral cat that bothers me. Socializing them, yes. Getting them to accept certain humans in their lives, teaching them to use the litterpan- though most of them already do this readily enough anyway as it is an inherent survival trait in all of them.

But expecting them to behave like domesticated cats, sit on laps and not leap off at the first unexpected noise or vibration, and to not ever bite or scratch is unrealistic and why in many cases so many ferals are given up on. You have to reset your thinking about cats when you have a feral and you have to follow their time schedule not yours. They do not have predicatable behavior, but in my opinion, they do make the best cats of all once the bond has been set!
post #336 of 369
Yes, hissy, feral cats CAN be tamed to sit on the lap,purr bumpheads with you.. That is why I wrote my book"taming the feral cat". I have been taming them for over 20 years. I developed a three week program tha tdeals with the "hands on tmaing process." as I quoted in my previous note to the forum NOT all people can tame a feral cat, And you are right NOT all ferals want to be tamed. Maybe 2 out of 5 will WANT to be tamed. Yes the percentages are low, however THEY CAN be tamed.
post #337 of 369
Well that's good that you think that. I don't recall ever seeing your book? I have most books about ferals in my personal library. Where can I obtain a copy of yours?
post #338 of 369
hello, again. The book is self published so it is not on the open market, I reprint them then usually advertize them in several sites or in magazines. I have just a few left as I want to advertize them on my web site as soon as its done> I am awaiting that now waiting for donations to recopy the next batch. I wrote it in 1999. I have sold and given away at least 1000 of them they only sell for 13.50. they are about 60 pages long I would send you a copy , if you give me your address.
post #339 of 369
This thread is incredible. I have gone from tears streaming down my face to a big fat smile.. back and forth. Unbelievable.. Sandi you are so amazing and this story is just awesome. I am speechless.
post #340 of 369
Thanks Sicycat,

I am just so happy that our story has touched so many people. I, too, got educated about feral cats as I went along - which at times was so difficult. But...tonight as Lucky came and stretched out on the bed for snuggles, I realize how well worth it the whole process was. We currently have 2 ferals we've been feeding for a couple months now (maybe longer - time gets away from me). One is a male and another a female. We're hoping to do the trap-neuter-return program, but first I want to double check to make sure these feral felines aren't going to be given over to animal control. If nothing else, we'll trap them and take them to our own vet for sterilization and return them to the outside when they're ready. They are both so darling, but we don't need anymore kittens born in back of our garage.

Again, I'm so glad Lucky's story has affected you - the transformation in our girl was absolutely amazing.

One sidenote - my mom came and stayed with us for a few days and during that time, I thought Lucky would stay hiding, but my mom was in our home no longer than about 10 minutes and Lucky was right by the window watching the birds. She'd just look at my mom (as if to study her), but I was thrilled she didn't hide away the whole time. Another hurdle overcome. Hurray!!!
post #341 of 369
Sandi, that's great! Tuxedo was OK with Gary's mom - surprised the heck out of us!!!!

Good luck trapping those two. Personally, I think taking them to your own vet & then releasing them is the best idea.
post #342 of 369
Yes, that's what we're leaning toward - just to be on the safe side. I just wouldn't be able to bear the thought of those two going to Animal Control and being put down. It's like they are ours, only they live outside. I really believe they've been outside way too long to live indoors (or should I say, take to it, as easily as our Lucky did). We're hoping to do something this week or next week. I'll let you know what happens.
post #343 of 369
We've had Lucky for one whole year today!
post #344 of 369
Wow a whole year??? Congrats!!
post #345 of 369
Thread Starter 
Congratulations! I am so glad that Lucky found you and you found her! *hugs*
post #346 of 369
Happy Gotcha Day Sandi and Lucky!!! She looks so happy and healthy with you - what a difference from those first pictures you posted of the scared, skinny little girl outside.
post #347 of 369
Lucky really has come a long way. A year ago, I wouldn't have thought it possible, but I'm so glad we hung in there. So...for anyone debating whether to take in a feral or anybody that's frustrated with their feral's progress - it's well worth it - it just takes time and patience - and, of course, LOTS of help from TCS boards.
post #348 of 369
Wow I just finished going through this entire thread. What an evolution you had with Lucky, and look at how much she taught you along the way. This could easily be a children's book, or a mini series......
post #349 of 369
It sounds like its way too late to respond, but I would have said, "Forget making friends with the cat -- trap the cat. Soon the cat will forget all about it and will be a survivor."

When I started I wasted lots of valuable time in late fall trying to befriend cats and coax them to me. It was nothing but wasted time when I could have been saving cats. I even thought that once I tamed one I could use him as a poster child to show the others not to be afraid of me. Turns out the "poster child" was terrified when I brought him back to the colony to do his thing. His value as a poster child was negatory. I was able to coax cats into cat carriers which had strings fastened to the door so I could pull them shut. This was just slower and marginally less stressful. We all go through this phase when we think we will learn cat language and teach them to trust and our love will be so obvious the cats will be tamed. It's a pipe dream but winter is real. Get trapping.
post #350 of 369
Originally posted by Susan Wolcott
"Forget making friends with the cat -- trap the cat. Soon the cat will forget all about it and will be a survivor."
Lots of people would have said the same thing. Thank goodness Sandi didn't listen to that kind of advice. Because of Sandi's love, time, and energy, Lucky is now a happy and healthy indoor cat.

Sandi, I admire your work with Lucky and wish you success in trapping, neutering, and returning your other two ferals.
post #351 of 369
post #352 of 369
I know that some of my ferals will never be friendly cats, I'm just glad none of them are really terrified of me anymore. I am gald for the progress we have made not mournful of the set backs we've had. Just because I'm making nice with one cat does not mean I can't be trapping another, there is room in my heart for more than just one... and I'll help all I can until I can't anymore.
post #353 of 369
Hi All,

My local group does TNR, socialization and adoption and colony management. We've struggled for several years, because we fall somewhere BETWEEN the pure Alley Cat Allies TNR 'em all concept and the local traditional humane groups' ignore 'em or kill 'em concept. I think there is room for a spectrum of approaches, as long as they are non-lethal approaches.

Susan Wolcott's work TNRing high numbers of cats is fine with me. If someone has the time, resources and inclination, resocializing and adopting or placing former ferals is fine with me, too. I know that makes it harder for someone new to the whole scene to decide, but I also think that we have a better chance of making an impact if we are flexible, than if we insist on "my way or the highway." I think that we have a lot more in common in wanting cats not to be killed, than we have NOT in common.

Somewhere long ago, cats became a "domestic species," and feral cats are still the same species. So I think of it really as making reparation, the effort that some of us put into making individual former feral cats feel comfortable in our indoor homes. In a way, I think we owe this to at least some of them.
post #354 of 369
Certainly it should be a case by case basis and what the caretaker can handle.

post #355 of 369
Just for the record, in this case there was one lone older kitten, not a colony of cats, and the family was interested in adopting her. They didn't waste time trying to make friends, but decided to trap her and get her to a vet for a check-up and spay, etc. right away. The process of socialization was done in the home, not outside, though the option for doing that was presented to Sandi before she made her decision.

And boy am I glad Sandi and family did what they did! Lucky is one lucky kitty, and so is her adoptive family. This thread now provides an invaluable resource to others that want to adopt older ferals, and I'm so glad that it's all here, step by step - a success story that proves that unlike the recommendations of Alley Cat Allies and many other rescue groups and feral advocates, that feral kittens older than 8 weeks of age can come to love and trust us and be very happy indoor pets indeed.

I agree with Linda - there's room for all styles of rescue. I respect and admire anyone who wants to rescue in any way - whether it be high volume colony management or a single feral they want to bring in as a pet, whether that feral is four weeks, four months, or four years old.
post #356 of 369
I just now read this thread, and I would like to take a moment to congratulate Sandy and family. What a tremendous accomplishment! This story could be a movie, it seems. It is soo inspirational what you and hubby did! I realize that this thread was started a few years ago, but I wish I would have been around to offer my words of encouragement! People like you, and hissy, and laurie, and many, many others are absolutely amazing with what you do. What huge hearts! What incredible amounts of patience, unconditional love, and devotion you have! Truly kind and admirable souls you all are This story brought with it every emotion imaginable, from sadness to happiness. I cried and laughed interchangably many times through this thread, and I want to thank you for sharing this story with everyone, Sandi. Thank you all for your hard work, kind words of encouragement, and knowledge. It makes me feel better knowing that there are people such as yourselves still among us.
post #357 of 369
hello im new to this site but i too have a stray that kind of mooved in to our garden when we came here she is black like my older cat so we call her mini me she has just had 3 babies( in next doors green house) so when they were 7 weeks i thought ill get them and save them from a life in the garden an oh my goodness was it hard very hard all they did was hiss and spit but i never gave up they stay in my back room, then it was time to get mum and spay her so we borowed a trap from the cats protection then came the job of transfering from trap to cat box she bit through my husbands thumb (to the bone) but we made it in the end, then we took her to the vets yesterday to get her done she is now recovering with her babies on the sofa in the back room ive seemed to beable to tame the babies a bit but they still bite and hiss so at the moment we have 5 cats in our home they are called wendy, flo and top cat and they are really cute, if evrey body cared about cats as much as we do on this site then the world would be a better place.
post #358 of 369
I have trapped over 100 ferals in the last eight years. All the kittens(under 4 months old) we managed to socialize and find homes for them. The adults we rereleased where we found them and have about 30 of them that are still with us the youngest being about 4. Some of these ferals get very friendly and can be picked up and hugged etc. Some never get tame. I guess it depends on the cat. I have 2 living in my house. One is now 6 and friendly to all. The other is somewhere between 4 and 7 and only lets me near him. But I can bathe him, cut his nails etc. and he never ever bites or scratches me.

So what I am trying to say is some ferals get friendly and want to come inside and some don't.

If you are going to trap, make sure you put one sheet of newspaper folded to fit bottom of trap. tape it down with masking tape so wind doesnt blow it. Cats don't seem to like walking on wire. I leave them in laundry room overnight with trap covered(let air in though) and take them to vet in morning where they are tested for aids and leukemia, spayed or neutered, given shots and dewormed. I have dog size carrying case that is big enough for litter box and keep females for a couple of days before rereleasing. Males can be released 24 hrs after neutering
post #359 of 369
[quote=Sandi]I called our Humane Society today to get some more info on all of this live-trapping, etc. Anyhow...the gal there said that now that this cat is 4-5 months old - it will most likely never be a cuddly, overly friendly cat. Most likely, she'll just be one to hide all the time. True??? The woman was really a large help, but also stated that we might decide to keep her as an outdoor cat and they would spay her and tag her ear so people would know she's being taken care of. I would prefer to welcome her into our home, however.


Being 4-5 months old does not necessarily mean Lucky will never be a cuddly cat. I have 9 feral-born in my house and all come onto my lap & love affection, some brought in at age 10 months. All but the couple brought in at 5 weeks flee & hide whenever anyone else comes in, thought if the "stranger" stays and is immobile, e.g. watching videos, some will streak through.
All but two can be picked up. A brother-sister pair whom I trapped at 10 months sleep cuddled against me at night.
I agree with keeping the cat in a small place, not too bright, at first. One dedicated feral-tamer I know brought in a couple of adult cats & kept them in a large (well-aired) closet. Every day she went in and spent quiet hours with them, talking a little. They got used to her presence and gradually let her touch, then pet them. Now they are Quite tame.
The local homeless cat network uses a different method. When they trap and being in a wild young cat, they pick it up wrapped in a large towel & pet its head. Gradually, the cat associates the petting with pleasure & it accepts being picked up. They do this because it's their mission to tame these cats & find them homes, and people only want "tame" cats.

Best of luck with "Lucky" - you may be surprised at how loving he/she will be!
post #360 of 369
It does my heart good to read about people and their feral cats. I have a story about that too. It is not impossible to tame them. I had two pregnant cats living in my neighborhood that were so wild. My husband was working in another state so I had time on my hands. For a year, The Mama Kitty and the other feral friends ate on my porch. At one time, I was feeding approx 15 cats who I could not pet or love on.

I kept their food and water on my porch and they would sit and stare at me from a distance of approx 20 feet as I got their kitty food ready. I would walk off but remain in their visual eyesight and then they would eat. I finally [after 6 months or so] was able to sit on the porch while they ate. Then finally, I was able to pet them while they ate their food.

My husband came home from Virginia and he couldn't believe all the cats I had acquired. But I still couldn't pick them up.

We moved to Missouri to an acre on the lake. I could not leave this kitties behind as I had been feeding them for a year. So I slowly spent more and more time with them getting them used to me before our move. Winter was coming so I propped my door open and set their food about 5' inside the door. They started coming in to eat.

I would sit in the floor and pet them when they would let me. The wilder ones would watch them and I believe it helped them in learning to trust me. They ALL became my tame feral kitties except for Starlett. She is still very aloof but very loved by me. I can pick her up but she resists. It's a little scary for her when I pick her up. But she doesn't run away. When I eventually get her on my shoulder and love on her, she relaxes but she does not approach me to initiate the love. But she does lay her head on me when I hold her. But even after more than a year, she does not purr but whe knows this is her home and that I take care of her. She meows to come in the house now.

They are my sweethearts and they will always have a home with me. Some of my kitty pride disappeared as I was in the process of taming them. I have 11 cats who are named: Angela, Dovey the love bug kitty, Cookie Cutter Kitty, Tink, Mama, Yellow Man, Toe Kitty Man, Turtle, Kissy, Cleo, and my Starlett.

Starlett and Turtle are both Tortoise shell cats. But there is just something about Starlett. It might take years but one day my goal is to have her approach me and get in my lap. All the others do.

Also, there are only a couple that will even come in for my husband. They only trust me but they are getting better.

When I sleep on the couch, I am surrounded by kitty love. They just needed somone to care.

It's not impossible to tame a feral cat but it takes time.

The little things mean so much. Starlett is my "Star Feral Kitty". It feels me with pride when I now hold the door open and she will come through. She is starting to talk to me as well. This has taken a year and a half.

They are all fat and sassy now. To worm them when they were in the wild, I would get a teaspoon of milk and put wormer in it. I would set it on the porch in a tiny bowl only large enough for 1 cat to drink. I kept records of who was wormed and when. They became shiny and pretty.

We all live on a wooded acre now at the lake and they are very happy. They are all in/out kitties and who know how to use a litter box now and also how to go outside to do their kitty jobs.

I am so happy how this turned out.

When 1 mama kitty had her babies, it was on my porch. At 12 hrs old, she let me bring them in and put them in a closet. I put her in there too on a comforter.. She accepted this. I kept the door closed when she wasn't in there and it made her feel safe. She was an excellent mother. I kept two of the babies who are now 7 months old. Angela and Dovey who are both love bugs. The other three were not so lucky. One died 1 day after birth and I had to have 1 put to sleep a couple weeks later. I gave 1 to my son. But the mother of these kittens is very very loving and tame now. Her name is Mama. She doesn't have milk as I had her fixed when the babies were about 3 months old, but she still lets them nurse and she still grooms them.

I have happy cats!

With much Kitty love,

p.s. They are also all fixed with current shots. That was a job according to the vet.........hehe Toe and Yellow were not feral. Toe Kitty, I have had since he was 5 weeks old.

Yellow was a dumped cat that showed up needing a home a couple years ago. He is crippled and takes kitty muscle relaxers for his arthritis. He has an old break in his leg that gives him pain but there is nothing the vet can do except alievate his pain.

All the cats took to the move really well. I had to make two trips from Arkansas to Missouri to get them all moved. I know people say it is hard to mve a cat but I really had no trouble with 10 of them. Maybe it is because they consider themselves a 'kitty pride' and they were all still together. Yellow, my gimp cat, did get lost after the move, but yesterday he showed up on our door again. He did fine for the first week here but then he disappeared. I called him and looked for him for 8 days. It drove me nuts worrying about him. He was hungry, thirsty, tired and beat up looking when he got home and he needed his meds. I yelled his name so many times every day that I probably drove our one set of neighbors nuts. We live in a remote area that is very wooded and he had always been a city cat I think. I kept hoping he would finally get to an area of the woods and mountains where he could hear me and he finally did.

He had a cut on his head and had 4 ticks. We cleaned him, doctored him, fed him, watered him and he has slept for 12 hrs now. He is so happy to be home and we are so relieved. He slept between me and hubby last night purring and working his little feet. He is an older cat who is just wonderful.

Noone understands why I have these cats but I love them all in different ways. Right now, he is laying his head across Dovey who is nursing her mother. He is very happy to be back in his Kitty Pride.
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