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Perfect feral Kitten

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
Hello all!

I found this forum while looking into the do's and don'ts of socializing feral kittens.

There are a lot of stories here about people persevering in difficult feral adoptions and putting a lot of love, patience and care into feral cats. I have a slightly different one.

I have adopted a kitten from a litter that lives in an old shed. The cats just showed up there last year, and the owner of the shed puts out a bowl of food every evening since she feels they will keep the rats away. They have never been indoors, and have never been handled. The kittens seem to be about 7 to 8 weeks old.

I knew I was being stupid. Afterall, my wife and children have never owned a cat before. My youngest is only 2 years old. Socializing feral animals is a slow, careful process that may or may not work, even when they are still young. But I had seen some of the kittens scrounging around the street for food in the cold november rain, and now that I had started to think about it, I found I could not give up the idea.

I managed to get my hands on the runt of the litter. Two of his siblings had spun around and proceeded to flay my hands with such an air of casual professionalism that I was beginning to wonder if I knew what I was getting into. I brought him home with only a bare minimum of hissing and scratching, and the kitten took up station under my couch.

And ate. Good god how he eats. He sat on my lap in the car as my wife drove us home, his heart pounding in his chest so hard I could feel it through my jeans and shaking like a leaf, but still he ate at the same time. He hissed and spat at me when I fished him from under the couch and dug his nails into my legs as I held him there, but seconds later all that was forgotten as long as there was food to eat. I was beginning to wonder if you can explode a kitten by overfeeding. He ate and ate until we took the food away for fear of harming him, and then he wriggled clear and darted back under the couch where he mewed in a heart-rending manner and stared out at us supiciously.

I explained to my family what the score was. Things were looking good - the kitten wasn't very agressive, but nevertheless we should remember it was practically a wild animal. Don't expect too much too fast, get all the contact in we can get away with, no sudden moves and slowly win its trust. What a boring old fart I must have sounded.

4 hours later the kitten whose names have included Muffin, Biscuit and now seems to have been dubbed Greebo was asleep on my wifes lap. "he's snoring!" she announced proudly. She'd never heard a cat purr before. I couldn't believe it - it had to be wishful thinking.

I was awoken at 4 in the morning by my daughter. The cat was mewing so sadly and it kept her awake. She had it in a little box in her room for the night. I unceremoniously fished the kitten from behind the bed and stood in the hallway, stupefied with sleep, absent-mindedly rubbing behind the cats ears. He started to purr loudly.

I was gobsmacked. He hadn't been in the house half a day yet. We went downstairs, and with the aid of some more catfood we made friends. By the time I had to go to work he was rubbing his cheeks against mine - I had now been accepted as a cat, and a friendly one at that.

That evening my youngest had him on her lap and was learning how to properly rub a cat. She plays with him with a piece of string with a feather on it. He still hides under the couch when startled, but once you lure him out with the ever-powerful food he is fine. He is incredibaly affectionate, and is rapidly settling into a pattern of eating, playing and sleeping non-stop throughout the day. He likes to sleep on top of people and will climb up onto our laps as long as we don't move around too much. He found the litter-box on the third go and hasn't missed since, although he does have a distressing habit of sitting down on it after everything has been buried to his satisfaction.

It has taken 24 hours. I would never have believed it if I hadn't seen it. From half-wild feral cat to lazy moggy who likes a belly-rub and a nice snooze in the crook of your arm in a day or less. The kids still haven't finished laughing at me.

So to anyone who is considering adopting a feral cat, even when they are a little older than 7 weeks, remember to be ready for anything - including the perfect housecat. And try not to feel silly when it turns out to be incredibly easy.
post #2 of 11

Wonderful news!! Make sure to get the little bugger to the vet though as soon as you can to make sure everything is on the up and up! =)
post #3 of 11
Thread Starter 
yup - were heading there this afternoon. I suspect a belly full of worms and maybe a respiratory infection - caught him sneezing a couple of times and he really is very small and skinny compared to his siblings. Aids is always a worry ofcourse, but usually kittens aren't infected yet. Fingers crossed!
post #4 of 11
Originally Posted by Matthijs View Post
yup - were heading there this afternoon. I suspect a belly full of worms and maybe a respiratory infection - caught him sneezing a couple of times and he really is very small and skinny compared to his siblings.
Sneezing CAN be because of worms too, especially as you are sure he is full of them.
But the vet will look him/herself what is it. Also the vet must make a living!

Good luck!

ps. If the little one is otherwise healthy, dont forget to tell it to all your neighbours: chances are good the siblings are also healthy. Perhaps another neighbour will take the chance to adopt one??
post #5 of 11
This is a heartwarming story! Thank you for helping this little guy out and giving him such a good home.
post #6 of 11
Hooray!!! What a great story and well told!
post #7 of 11
Originally Posted by AddieBee View Post
Hooray!!! What a great story and well told!
Exactly that!!

If you are worried about him over eating: Feral cats/kittens often eat continuously when a food source is made available to them because in the wild, food is eaten when found. To break him of this habit, feed him at the exact same time each day so that you develop a routine with him. Once he feels confident that the food will arrive at the same time each day, he'll stop eating so ferociously.

All of my cats were born feral. The quickest "tame" that I witnessed was with Stumpy. He fought me like the dickens when I first found him in a storm cellar. From the time I actually caught him to the time I walked up the stairs and to the back porch, he started to purr. Tame in less than 1 minute. I then carried him into the house, dropped him into my husband's lap where he immediately fell asleep. That was nearly 13 years ago.

I love the way you tell a story. Please keep us up on your adventures with your "feral" kitten!
post #8 of 11
I hope you can post some pictues, soon.

At the risk of being an old fuddy-duddy myself, unless your neighbor wants a lot of barn cats, spaying mom and spaying/neutering the other kittens is a good idea. She'll be pregnant again soon now that her kittens are weaned.

Go Go was a feral kitten. I just walked up to her when she was sleeping and picked her up. She never even hissed at me. Tame from the start. Only with me though. She darts for the safety of under-the-couch from everyone else.
post #9 of 11
If this was a feral kitten, you wouldn't be able to even get close, let alone would he allow you to pick him up. Chances are the mom cat is someone's lost cat or a neighbors cat long neglected. The eating constantly could be worm related as well as a survival technique. Good to hear you are taking him to the vet.
post #10 of 11
Mine are now all feral borns - as I work with a colony.

1 is so tame you'd never know
he spent 3 months living under a shed and in sewers!

The other is a Siamese kitten, I've posted on. 2 days
to coming out, 1 wk to tame, 6 wks to perfectly wonderful
adoptable house cat = no people fears!!

The third was caught young, in a carrier, escaped out of
it (ate her way through plastic!) and resided for 7 days
in the house. Found pet door, went out and lived in the
sewers out there for 2 wks or so. Decided that when it
rained house was waaaaayyy safer and better place -
is now living in/door out and tame (to me & BF) not to others.

So, feral doesn't always tell the tail (er tale!). Pursonality
has a lot to do with too. I've seen constantly handled domestic
cats born to owned cats that were WILD and NEVER nice.

It does boil down to genetics sometimes...

Kudos for your good deed however, and do get the others FIXED.
Maybe help the owner of shed trap and fix? That would be a true
Christmas gift to HER and the CATS And if some of those
kits were to tame down, a rescue might help place them...

Cheers & hugs for all you've done for that little guy!
post #11 of 11
Originally Posted by hissy View Post
If this was a feral kitten, you wouldn't be able to even get close, let alone would he allow you to pick him up. Chances are the mom cat is someone's lost cat or a neighbors cat long neglected.
Yeah. Especielly as this catmom, like the other examples told here, actually choosed to live near people. A real feral would tend to avoid the situation altogether.
The expression semi-feral is more flexible - and probably more accurate here.

There are several factors why some semiferal/feral cats become easily "tamed", while others take longer/long time.
One of the factors not mentioned yet is individual differences. I think.

I become aware of this when I read this story on a cat lover forum:
They lived somewhere in Greece. Having one friendly homecat. Outside on their street was living a shy semiferal catmom with a bunch of shy kittens.
Being cat-friends they tried to help her giving them some food sometimes. But she was still very shy and suspicious to them.
One day one of the kittens suddenly and spontaneously went straight into their door, get in. Went into the litter, did what he should. Ate from the friendly cats food. Lay down, curled, falled asleep. Behaved like a homecat like he never did anything else!
They of course did happily adopted him. (Their homecat accepting this too!).
The mom and siblings? They never come nearer or become more tame, proceeding with being shy street cats. Their life-prospects being of course not the best...
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