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Help! Caught a stray but think it may be feral

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
There was a black and white cat sleeping on my porch for the last week or two. She slept there during the day, but would run when I opened the door. (today, a DIFFERENT cat, orange, was sleeping there!)
I talked to a lot of people and they all said she was not feral because a feral cat would not be seen in the daytime and would not sleep so exposed or right up on the porch like that. So I borrowed a cat trap and left it out for 2 hours earlier tonight, and when I checked it I had trapped the black and white cat. The problem is now I am worried that she may actually be feral because of how she is acting, and I don't know what to do with her if she is... I was able to transfer her to a dog crate with food, water and litterbox but now what! I was planning to bring her to a cat rescue but they won't take her if she is feral... Help?
post #2 of 16
Ah, if she is semiferal you can hopefully foster her. The beginning is already done!
Both semiferals, and many long-time strays, may be quite aggressive when catched. It is mainly a defensive aggressiveness.

the trick is to take the trap /transport box into a prepared room - or dog crate(!) in a quiet room - and let them out. And go away. Let them cool down and stress down. One important detail you must add: a cat igloo or a sideturned cardboard box with something to lie on. they must have something to hide a little to stress down completely.
You may also lay something over part of the crate.

When they notice nobody is threating them and no evil awaits them - next fase begins... Here they may be shy, but usually they arent aggressive. Usually it isnt not too difficult to foster such a shy semiferal, if you know how to do. Although some caution is prescribed!
A long time stray may behave quite similiar, but is usually easier to foster then the semiferal cat.
She is of course no real feral.

Good luck, and thanks you do care!
post #3 of 16
Thread Starter 
I guess I did things right then, that's good to know! When I caught her last night I put her in a dog crate in a very quiet room, and then covered it with a blanket. I didn't have room for a hiding box inside it because the litterbox is taking up too much space...
How long should I leave her alone though before checking on/feeding her (I only had canned food to put in the cage, so it's probably gone by now)?
post #4 of 16
Can you let that room be her room? Does it have doors, and will your other kitties not complain too much if they're not allowed in there?

IF all of the above are the case, make sure the room is "cat proof," then the best thing to do is open the door to her crate, move the litterbox out of the crate, and give her the option to leave the crate, but let the crate be her safe space. She will likely not leave the crate at first while you are there.

She is terrified, and her whole world has just been turned upside down.

I'd still contact the rescue - but perhaps you can officially sign up as her foster. She should see a vet. She may have tics, fleas, and worms. All of these need to be treated by a vet, over-the-counter meds ill NOT work and may harm her. But if you're signed up as a foster through the local rescue, they may provide all of the above, including the vet visit. Then you can foster her while you're officially part of a rescue program/shelter that is trying to adopt her.

If you need to search for other rescues/shelters, or people that can help, you can try, and you can also e-mail the Best Friends No More Homeless Pets Campaign. Here's the page for resources for individuals:, and this page has an e-mail address where you can join the Best Friends network or e-mail them - the e-mail is also on this page:

LOTS of resources and info there!

I'd invest in some Feliway. It is a synthetic hormone that is a synthetic hormone that mimics the "friendly" scent markers in cats' cheeks. This will help calm a stressed kitty. You may also want to try Flower Essences. Feliway is available at most pet stores these days, but a Rescue Remedy Flower Essences (and Feliway) are available at this site:

To socialize your new semi-feral friend, spend as much time in the room with her as you can. But IGNORE HER. !!! The very first thing she needs to learn is that you don't want anything from her. Don't reach out to pet her, and if you look at her, look at her forehead or over her head. Looking into her eyes is a sign of aggression. Sit in there and read.

Tune a radio to a classical station. If you can find harp music, play that low on a CD for her. (Harp music really calms down cats for some reason!).

Keep the lighting low - put a nite lite in there for her.

If you have a laptop, work on it in there. Just be in there, let her get used to the new territory, the new sights, the new smells - and let her figure out that being trapped in a home isn't horrible. Let her figure out that all you want to do is make sure she has food, water, a clean litter box - and then she'll want love.

Put some toys out for her. Little things to play with. Balls, little furry mice, cat coils, whatever. Once she's not afraid being around you - which can be a few days or a few weeks - it is totally up to her - try playing interactively with a wand toy.

Food is a great motivator. And cats learn by association. So get a couple of t-shirts really sweaty, and put one under her food dish. Then leave treats for her out on the other one. You don't necessarily have to be in the room when she eats them - she may not want to come out of the crate when you're there at first. But she will learn to associate you with good things.

Knock lightly on the door before you enter the room. And the more of a schedule you can keep for going in there to sit, or to clean the litter box, or to freshen up her water or food, the better. Cats totally groove on a schedule.

If you can't let her loose in the room, then can you afford one of those large multi-level cages? She can't stay in that small crate. Even a bathroom is better than just the crate.

Put out paper bags and boxes - lots of hidey places. This will also help her to feel safer.

The most important thing to remember is that cats operate on their own schedules. What you are trying to achieve with her is trust. To help her to learn that she can trust people. She obviously chose you - but she didn't know what she was in for. She may not have known love in her life, so she doesn't know it's a good thing yet. And cats are curious. The more you ignore her, the faster she'll come around. And she'll get curious. She'll want to check you out. To sniff. And then she'll bump you. That's your cue to reach out your hand - palm down - to let her sniff, to let her rub.

Once she feels comfortable being in the room with you, you can also try food - again, a great motivator. See if she'll eat some wet food off a spoon you hold out to her. This will help her learn that "reaching hands" aren't necessarily menacing or bad.

to you for rescuing this kitty! She is not feral if she was sleeping on your porch.

Cats are very territory oriented, and when that changes, they are scared. If she was abused by humans, it may take some time for her to come around. If she was loved at some point, it probably won't take long.

Most importantly, if you have any questions, please ask!

post #5 of 16
Oh almost forgot - here's a great article on socializing ferals. A lot of it applies to all kitties in a new space.

post #6 of 16
Thread Starter 
Unfortunately I can't let her loose in that room, it's the basement and there is too many things she could get into that could be unsafe (plus she could get into the ceiling--my last cat used to do that before we stopped letting her in the basement.) My pets are not allowed downstairs which is why I had her down there, but it is really not a place where I could sit for long periods easily either... I don't really have a room where she could be loose except for my bedroom but that may be too scary for her because I go in and out all day (the computer's in that room.) I wouldn't be able to do that until she has been to the vet though because it's too close to my other pets (concerned about parasites etc.)
I do have a larger cage I could transfer her to if I need to.

The problem is I thought I had somewhere to take her but I don't, and I can't afford to bring her to the vet without a rescue helping with expenses. I would be willing to foster her but I can't afford the vacc. and spaying...
post #7 of 16
PLEASE check out the links I put up in that long thread! will list all the orgs that may be able to help in your area (obvisouly ignore any dog-only or rabbit-only or ferret-only rescues). You can also search for free or low-cost spay/neuter services there too. You can also try here:

I would also take the time to e-mail the best friends network. That was this one:

Don't give up hope yet! There may be people, organizations, shelters or low/no-cost spay services out there for you.

post #8 of 16
Originally Posted by Nekochan View Post
Unfortunately I can't let her loose in that room,
I do have a larger cage I could transfer her to if I need to.
Yes, it is a workable solution for time being. NOT perfect in any way, but acceptable. You are doing right so far.

One of the forumites here told she did successfully fostered about 10-12 shy semiferals into adoptable cats - who all DID get adopted by families - in such a big dog-crate. Worked fine for her and them.

Most of us believes, I think, this is rather extreme, but still a wonderful lesson: in a dire necessity is a dog crate much better then no help at all or even something worse... "because I dont have anywhere to keep the cat".

But with time you will surely work up a good and proper solution.
post #9 of 16
Thread Starter 
I am hoping that once she realizes she is being fed and not being hurt she may turn out to be a little more friendly. Right now I really can't tell if she is really semiferal or just very upset/scared because of being caught.
The big problem right now is I need to find a way to get her vetted...I've contacted some organizations but no luck so far. I checked the free clinic programs but I don't qualify for them. The only other one I know of is the big shelter downtown has a clinic, I am going to contact but I'm not hopeful-- the last time I contacted them about a foster pet I had who needed to be neutered, their message said they had a multiple month waiting list for their clinic and then they never responded to the messages I left for them...

The only thing I know for sure right now is she will NOT be going back on the street or to a shelter unless they are no-kill...
post #10 of 16
Oh please try to get her to a vet asap. She can't stay in the crate. I took in a feral and she has been basicly living under my bed for the last 2 months. She comes out just to eat and use the litter box (at least while I'm in the room). Two nights ago she allowed me to touch her (first time since bringing her indoors). You should really call a vet and ask if you could make payments. I also have other pets (two male cats). It cost me about $300 to get Pumpkin tested for viruses, worms and to get her shots. Vets will work with you. Please call a few and ask if they would work with you to save this kitty. Try to do it as quickly as possible because once you let her out of her crate, it may not be so easy to get her back in. Good luck to you.
post #11 of 16
Thread Starter 
Ok she is definitely not feral... I am calling the cat a "she" although I haven't gotten a close look at that region but I do think it's a female...
Anyway, last night she let me touch her. She was at the front of the cage because I had been fixing something near the back of it, so she had ran to the front away from me; but then when I went around to the front and moved very slowly she let me touch her without dashing to the back. She is still very scared and when I open the cage she gets scared and tries to find a way out the back, and she is mostly laying at the back of the cage still...but she is not defensive or aggressive...

I am waiting to hear back from a small cat shelter on whether they may be able to take her or to put her into their program while I foster her. Fingers crossed!

Here is a photo--

(don't worry, I didn't put the camera right up to her! I just cropped out the rest of the cage on the computer so it is more of a close-up.)
post #12 of 16
Thread Starter 
The shelter I was waiting for said they can't help because they can only deal with friendly cats

A little update, I was able to have more of a peek today and "she" is a "he". Oops!
post #13 of 16
Your problem is the vet bit... Which you must solve this way or another.

But he looks healthy so it shouldnt be too troublesome, with any luck.

After it, it will be much easier to foster him, as you can have help of your own cats. I hope they are friendly!
Shy semiferals usually dont have difficulties to get along with homecats.
In this way a shy semiferal is usually easier then, say, a new homecat you did buy.

They get pals with the homecats, and get socialized almost by themselves.

I know one wonderful example of such one, still way too shy to let him be touched by the human, but following his pals, the homecats. Thus, when they at night went to sleep in the humans bed, he followed all the rest onto the bed

If they dont seem to get along, you can have him behind a net door or something like that. Looking at your homecats interaging with you. It does helps some...
post #14 of 16
Again, I'd contact the Best Friends Network, and also let your fingers do the walking through local shelters/rescue at

I would also look for low/no-cost spay/neuter services - most of these are also trap-neuter-release rescue organizations, so the vet involved with the spay/neuter may be able to provide the check-up for free or minimal costs:

You can also click on the picture of SaveSamoa Low-Cost Spay/neuter in my signature line to find low/no-cost service providers.

And as others have suggested, you can call local area vets to find one that will work with you re: a payment plan. Explain the situation, as many times as you need to, and you'll probably find one.

post #15 of 16
Thread Starter 
Just wanted to give an update!
After contacting many many places I finally found a place that could help with the vet issue! They said I could qualify for their low income program and I was able to get the cat an appointment! He went in today and he got neutered for free, plus for $15 they did rabies and distemper-combo vaccinations and flea/parasite treatment. For $15 more they also did FIV and FelV tests (which came back negative thankfully!) Luckily I was able to get that money together so I could be sure he was healthy... I am still not sure if he is feral or not but I am going to foster him for now and see if I can get him to the point where I can find him a foster or permanent home... Unfortunately our housecat does not like other cats so I have to keep them separated. After he came home I moved him to a crate upstairs in my bedroom to hopefully get him more used to being in a home....
post #16 of 16
That sounds promising. I'm so glad you didn't give up and finally found a place to help you. Bless you for doing this for the poor kitty.

Is the ginger cat still coming around?
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