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Is my rescue feral,semisocial, or just scared?

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
I was asked to foster a cat ( approx. age 6 months or so) that was part of a 33 cat colony. The cats from the colony all had to trapped and relocated as the houses and shopping center they were living around are being bull dozed to make way for an upscale shopping area. The houses were abandoned months ago. 10 cats were completely wild and went to a feral sanctuary, 6 were very friendly and social to people, the remainder were somewhat social meaning not as wild as the wild cats. All the cats are in foster homes except for those that went to the feral sanctuary; I have one of the semi social cats.

She appears to be a purebred blue point Birman complete with the white mittens in the front and the laces in the back. The amazing thing is that a number of the cats appeared to be purbred Himalayans and Siamese. All the cats were in very good condition, only 2 had ear mites and only one had Feline aids(very friendly and in a permanent home with another feline aids cat). .

My question is: is it kinder to try to socialize her or return her to a really good feral sanctuary. I have read that ferals don't vocalize. My girl hadn't made a sound in the 4 days that i had her then on day 4 when my other cats were in her room visiting (she is in a 5 foot X 3 1/2 foot condo) she satrted making these really soft little noises. Then on day 6 she talked to them for 10 minutes, real soft cute little sounds. This was while I was in sitting in the room. She even got down off her bench and walked over to the side of the condo. I hadn't seen her move an inch off the bench since I had her until then. She seemed very calm. Today she is back on the bench although appears a little more relaxed. I don't touch her but she lets me put treats right next to her paw, almost touching. She won't eat the treats until I leave the room though. She spent about a week or more at the vet clinic. The Vet Tech there said she would let him pet her. Maybe she was too afraid to anything about it?

So is she feral feral or is she a potentially good candidate for socilization? I have had her for 7 days now. By the way she is great with the litter box, no issues. Eats well.
post #2 of 10
I think she will come around, just keep doing what you are doing.
post #3 of 10
It took us a couple of months to get our Lily to become relatively social with us. We've had her for nearly 7 months now, and the only time she's affectionate with us is when we're in bed - we think it's because she know we're flat (and so she's therefore higher than us), and we don't move much, so aren't much of a "threat". She flees when we have company over, and generally runs away when she sees us coming.

And it sounds as though she's similar to your girl - I think she was "semi-feral". Not feral feral, but definitely not well socialised. she was 3 months old when we got her.

But - she adores our other 2 kitties, and when she's on the bed with us she's the most affectionate, sweet kitty and very demanding of our attention. the improvement she has made since she's been with us are fantastic.

Lily is scared of the outside world, and likes to look out windows, but when the front door is opened, she runs away from the door.

So I think - if she is not completely feral (and it doesn't sound like she is), then she will have a much better life inside. After having my own experiences, I would quite happily take on a semi-feral cat any day and do what I can to socialise them. They know what it's like to be stuck outside, and really don't like it!
post #4 of 10
She will come around - even if she is truly feral. If she hasn't had any bad experiences with humans, that will help. 6 months is not too old by any stretch to socialize a feral. You just have to allow her her space and give her time.

Here are a few good links with helpful tips - some start with info that isn't pertinent to your situation, but there is great info:


Tips that are probably in some of the above (and sorry if I'm just repeating stuff you already know):

Get a sweatshirt or t-shirt really good and sweaty. Put that in with her and leave the treats on that. Do the same with another one, and put it under her food dish. These will help her associate you with good things.

Sit with her and read out loud. Just let her get used to you, and create the idea that being near her doesn't mean you need to interact with her.

Don't look her in the eye. This is a sign of aggression. Look at her forehead, or over her head. You can also slowly blink your eyes - real slow - a few times. This helps create trust. I call it "looking at them with your eyes closed."

Does she get out of the crate (without the other cats around) to play? Does she want to interact with a wand toy?

Does she have a few toys in the crate with her (NOT wand toys?)? Ferals don't know what play is - but they learn.

I remember Tuxedo, when he was still outside. We lived in an RV at the time, and one of the inside cat's toy mice (little furry mice - but with beans or something inside that make them rattle) must have gotten kicked out the door. Tuxedo was four or five months old - and we saw him out the window, flinging that "mouse" around, chasing it, jumping on it, tossing it and jumping at it in the air.... it was such an incredible thing. This feral cat, that had never had anyone play with him - just naturally going at it. She'll figure it out, but it's nice to have stuff for her even if she doesn't know what to do with it yet.

The most important thing is to just give her time. Sounds like she's coming out of her shell pretty quickly, actually. Is there a separate room she can stay in?

The issue with cats, especially ferals, is the main driving genetic force is territory. They don't know love is good, and they aren't genetically programmed to make people happy like dogs are. Her territory right now is her crate, which she appears to be pretty comfortable in. The idea is to slowly expand that territory - but in a way that isn't fearful for her. Boxes to hide in, a bed to hide under.... and the more time you spend with her - in the same room, near the crate - but not doing anything at all to interact with her, the faster she'll come to trust you and feel safe in her new territory.

PLEASE feel free to ask any questions, and to give us progress updates!

Welcome to TCS - and thank you for rescuing this kitty!

post #5 of 10
Originally Posted by lyric View Post
The Vet Tech there said she would let him pet her. Maybe she was too afraid to anything about it?
Apparently this is the case. Shy semiferal but docile, and thus trying to survive by being passive.

Chances for her to foster into tame, loved and loving homecat are excellent and the work not too difficult, especielly as you have help of own friendly homecats.
Please, do proceed.

Good luck!
post #6 of 10
Thread Starter 
First, thanks to you all for your help and support. It's really good to get your advice and shared experiences. It helps not to question myself so much, like am I doing the right thing.

She does have her own room with a 5 1/2 foot climbing tree, a futon sofa, and a small table. I haven't let her out yet because I wanted my cats to get familiar with her through her condo. They can come and go out of the room. Once I let her out the door will have to be closed.

One more positive step. The sound of the vacuum through the door at first sent her into her litterbox now it doesn't bother her even with the door open.

Again thanks for all your help.
post #7 of 10
It doesn't sound like she was born feral. After 7 days, a truly feral cat wouldn't show herself and certainly wouldn't let you put your hand next to her with treats. And not running from a vacuum cleaner after 7 days? Most cats run away from them most of their lives! Who knows what her experience was like outside, but that in and of itself could have made her shy of humans (can't blame her).

Also, I have a cat born feral that is one of the most talkative cats around. I think it's a myth that feral cats don't talk.

I strongly suspect that she will come around, and if she's shy, it's probably that she is shy by nature.
post #8 of 10
Thread Starter 
Thanks for your feedback. I think you are so right. Being passive is her survival mechanism.
post #9 of 10
It sounds like you are doing things just right, since she is already becoming more used to you. Its great that you are giving her a nice home. Congrats!
post #10 of 10
Thread Starter 
I have had Lyric, that's her name, for a liitle over two weeks now. She still won't eat in front of me or play...but she was grooming herself in front of me the other day. She was sitting on the widowsill behind the kennel/condo; I think she felt safe behind the bars. One of my other cats was in the room too eating. Lyric started grooming herself. I felt like that was a big step. She still won't budge from the spot she happens to be if I am in the room. Baby steps I guess.

I may be moving to another house about a mile down the road from where I live now. Probably in about 3 weeks from now. How do I move Lyric??? How do I get her in a carrier? My other cats love thier carriers, they even sleep in them sometimes. I have a carrier in Lyric's room that the other cats like to go and nap in. I just don't see me being able to pick her up in less than a month and put her in a carrier. I was thinking of paying the vet tech that moved her from the cage at the vet into the carrier originally to come out put her in the carrier.

Any advice on how to prepare for this or when the time comes, on how to physically move her.

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