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new to caring for feral cats

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 
I have a female cat that is about 2 yrs old. She was born in the underground parking of the building I live in. I started feeding her and she eventually recognized my van, and would come running whenever she saw it. I live trapped her 6 mos ago and have recently had her spayed. The thing is she does not seem to socializing at all. I have no experience with feral cats but I have always had cats and dogs when growing up and I do love them. After reading some information online I realize I have made mistakes with her that would prevent her from trusting me. I have spritzed her when she has hiss and spit at me. I have pet her a couple of times when she first came to live with me, but now she hides whenever she knows I am around. Is there any chance that I can still socialize her? Its October and I hate to put her back outside. Please help or submit my message to someone you think can. Many thanks.
post #2 of 3
Yes there's a chance you can still socialize. Patience is the key along with food. Do you have a room, like a small bathroom, you could seclude her in? This way she has nothing to hide under and will have to learn to trust and depend on you. Here's a link that provides some good pointers:


Don't give up. The cat may never be a lap cat but doesn't mean it won't be your friend and tame up.
post #3 of 3
I just scanned the link and don't know if I agree with everything in it. I live with a large household of former ferals and have been working with them for about 17 years now. The most successful tips for me:

- Never, never, never stare at them. If they happen to catch your eye, slowly blink your eyes at them. Staring is an aggressive behavior in cats. Blinking is a sign of greeting.

- Try to get on their level. A cat in a higher position is threatening and as a tall human, you are naturally in a higher position. When in the room with them, sit on the floor.

- Get them used to you using their sensory organs. When sitting on the floor with them, pick up a good book and read aloud to them to get them used to your voice. Leave a tshirt that smells like you in their room (preferable one that you've worked out in and has a good stinky smell).

- Confine them to a room for a while, but don't let them feel that they don't have a place to escape to. Even ferals that are caged for recovery after speuters should be given a box to hide behind so that they don't have to face the world. I prefer a larger room than a bathroom like a bedroom, but I will place the bed on the floor so that they can't always hide under it, but will give them a box with it open to a wall so that they can go inside to get away.

- Don't force yourself on them. They will come to you when they are comfortable with you. Sometimes it takes a few weeks, sometimes it takes a few years. You are on their schedule, they are not on yours. Patience is truly a virtue here.

- I do use "ambassador" cats with my ferals. Cats learn best from each other as they speak a language they understand. If a social resident cat becomes a friend with a feral, and the feral cat watches the resident socialize with you, the feral cat starts to understand that the "big scary human" might not be all that scary after all. Hey, my friend plays with the human, why can't I? It is true that the feral may only bond with the resident for a while, but I would much prefer to see a feral make any type of friend than be isolated and have no friends at all. Cats are social creatures and need interactions.

- Set up a rigid feeding schedule. Feed at precisely the same time every day. Make at least one of the meals canned food that they love. As they get more comfortable with you (e.g. they don't run away when you bring the food), sit next to the bowl when they eat. Then try to feed them from a spoon (the extension of your hand).

- If you attempt to play with them, use wand toys with lures that mimic things they would find outside (feathers, etc). Da Bird is a good toy. Don't expect them to play and put the toy away if they show fear of it.
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