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Trouble with my feral Bumpkins :(

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
Hello all,

I took in a feral cat about a year ago by the name of Bumpkins who was living outside on his own for around 3 years since birth.

Apparently he was beat up upon when he was a kitten and youngin by other cats since he was the runt, and a friend of mine (the one who actually gave us the cat), was the one that helped feed it. Occasionally she said she was able to approach Bumpkins and pet him but not often.

So - we've had him for a year, when we first got him we had kept in the bathroom for two weeks to help him get adjusted to the fact that he was in an entirely new enviornment. Of course he was frightened, and he stayed either on top of the medicine cabinet, or in his carrier hiding. After the two weeks we let him out into the apartment where he bascially went into hiding, or climbing on top of the cabinets staying out of sight and reach.

Fast Forward one year to the future -- we have 2 other cats now besides Bumpkins, named Holiday and Sebastian, both loveable house cats, that starve for attention and love it. They get along great with Bumpkins, playing at night and sometimes out in the open when we are around. But going back to Bumpkins.

-He hides all day, and only comes out at night to eat, use the litter box and play with the other 2 cats.
-He used to hide under the bed but I was told to block off that spot and force him to interract with us, which I think is the wrong thing since he seemed to be extremely stressed by this, so I have opened up the bed for him to hide under again.
-He hisses when we get to close to him, and I have only been able to pet him a few times in the past year. But after a few seconds he'll always hiss. He never swipes, only hisses..he swiped MAYBE once or twice because he felt cornered.
-He sometimes freaks out and will run away scared shuddering at hiding in a corner.

However those are the bad times....its like he relapses..for a week he will be out in the open during the day, sleeping on the couch while I'm right next to him. He'll come out and play with the cats during the day or just walk around and look out the window. Then suddenly without notice he'll change for a week and go into his scared cat phase. Mind you I still cant pet him, no one can get near him without him running away, he just wants to be left alone.

Any ideas or hints as to what I can do with Bumpkins, or is he just the type of cat that wont be comfortable with human contact? I took him in for the reason of taking care of him, and I can live with the fact that he'd want to be left alone. I just wish there was more I can do for him so he wouldn't be so scared. I don't know If Ia m doing anything wrong...as if should I just ignore him for awhile? Pretend he isnt even here and see what happens?

post #2 of 5
What a wonderful thing you've done taking in Bumpkins. It sounds like you've made great progress with him. Hopefully over time he will learn from watching the other kitties interact with you that you are no threat. I've fostered feral moms sometimes, and they similarly have some setbacks and bad days. I often found that something had changed in the routinue or the environment that had put them off (i.e. someone came banging on the door, road construction outside the house etc). I would often leave a radio playing in the room with my ferals so as to drown out some of the unexpected and scary noises from outside. I also spent some time devoted just to my ferals with a wand toy and temptations (or other irresistable treat). We would have fun with the wand toy, and at the end of a good session she would get lots of treats and praise from me.

Just some thoughts. I'm sure there will be some much more knowledgable people come by with suggestions.
post #3 of 5
You are doing a wonderful job! It takes time. Sometimes less, sometimes more. Good you accept having one of the cats shy, not being a lap-cat.

One possibility you can try is Feliway. (Google).
Cant hurt, but may help a lot. Or something in between...

That you say to seemingly ignore him is a common way to work with shy semiferals. Look more about it.
post #4 of 5
I had a cat like that (Tigger). There were times where he would do something that totally surprised us (like the first time he climbed into my lap or the first time he let me pet him) and I cherised those moments. At the golden age of 8 he decided one night to sit on my husband's lap. DH was flabbergasted as he just assumed that Tigger hated him.

He will relax over time and you will brag about the moments when you make contact with him (we are all ears btw). If he is happy with his cat playmates, and he is not living outdoors with the dangers of a feral cat, you have given him an outstanding life.

I agree with the advice you were given about not forcing yourself on him. It will only set him back. He will reach out to you when he is darn good and ready to.

A couple of tips if you are not doing this already:
- try to remain at his level. If you tower over him, he will feel threatened. Sit on the floor if necessary.
- never stare at him - another threat. If you catch his eye, slowly blink at him as this is a greeting in a feral cat colony.
- keep your routine as consistent as possible, particularly around feeding time. If you don't give a little snack of canned food once a day, start that ritual and do it at the same time each day.

He sounds like my kind of cat!! (I live with 12 former ferals, some of which are still shy).
post #5 of 5
Thread Starter 
I was checking out that Feliway site and I also stumbled across these flower essences??


Does ANYONE have any experience with these at all and if these are effective? I would love to be able to give Bumpkins a push in the right direction, and if anyone has any idea how these work, please let me know.

In the mean time Ill work on giving bumpkins his space and try to start some routines with the cats and maybe he'll come out for some treats
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