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Am I being unrealistic? Advice needed please.

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
Sometime in December I noticed a gray and white long haired kitty hanging around my home. Knowing he was probably a stray I started leaving food out for him, the poor thing was starving, the first time I fed him he ate a half a can of cat food in literally one bite. So anyway since then I've been feeding him regularly. He was quite skittish at first, but his hunger quickly overcame his fear of me, and soon he would come right up to me while I was putting the food in the dish for him. He wouldn't let me touch him, but he would confidently sit within a foot or two from me. I also noticed that he moved into one of our old barns, and was sleeping there every night. At this point I knew he was a stray and was here to stay. So just the other day I trapped him with a have-a-heart trap and brought him to my veterinarian to be vaccinated.

At this point it became quite apparent that he has never been handled at all, he is terrifed of being touched. The vet estimates that he is between 2 and 3 years old. He's in good body condition, I've been feeding him well. I plan on having him neutered soon, so I'm keeping him in a large dog crate in my house right now. I don't want to release him back outside because I'm not sure that I'll be able to catch him again. And I can't let him loose in the house because he's so terrified of me touching him, I'm pretty sure I'd never be able to catch him again. Right now if I sit next to the cage and talk to him he'll relax enough that he'll even fall asleep. But if I reach into the cage to change the litter box or feed him he hisses and bats at me.

Rght now I have a few concerns, the first is with the litter box. He consistently pee's in the box, but for the most part he doesn't poop in it, he poops in his bed. Anyone have any idea how I can teach him to poo in the box and not the bed? My second question is about taming him. At two or three years of age, and being completely wild during that time, am I being unreasonable to think that I will be able to tame him? Do any of you have any tips to speed up the taming process? Will he always be terrified of me? I've had many strays over the years, but none have ever been completely unhandled. Should I continue to try and tame him? Or am I fighting a loosing battle, maybe I should neuter him and return him to the outdoors? Thanks in advance for any advice you guys have.
post #2 of 13
try the Cat Attract litter or the additive. worked really well w/Firefox when i first brought her inside. she was doing the opposite - peeing on the floor, pooping in the box. she hasn't had a problem since i tried the Cat Attract, tho. it also helped w/Chip, who had/has a tendency to poop on my bed occasionally.
post #3 of 13
He may be one of those cats that won't do both in the same place. You could always try moving his poo into the ,litter box and letting him see that's where it should go.

Poor little guy. It's hard telling what he's been thru. Sending many calm down kitty and be tamed his way.
post #4 of 13
It will take time but he will eventually calm down. He can probably be tamed but right now he's just very afraid. After he's neutered he'll calm down alot more.

Try having 2 small litter boxes and see if he'll pee in one and poo in the other. Give him treats while he's in the carrier to help win him over. Good luck. Keep us posted.
post #5 of 13
This is a difficult decision to make. Either way, he should be neutered ASAP. Do you want a friendly barn kitty - or a kitty that may be a ghost for quite some time inside your home? There is so no way to predict that's going to be the case. But he's feral, he's in a new, TOTALLY ALIEN territory - and he's not a kitten anymore.

But whether you're releasing him back outside or into a room in your home, neutering is a priority.

Because he trusts you already (though the torture you put him through at the vet will probably set that back a few steps), if you have time to spend with him and want to keep him inside, it's best to release him into one room. Don't worry about him being confined - he's got to make that territory "his" first.

The number one ingredient to helping him feel comfortable with you and your home is going to be time, and if you're not a patient person, you may want to consider leaving him be a barn kitty. If you don't mind having a kitty living under the bed in your guest room or your bedroom (wherever you're going to keep him) that you can't touch for maybe many months, then I say go for it. Because he will come around at some point, and that bond created by trust - there's just nothing like it.

Here's a great thread to read - it's really long, so you can skip a couple of pages at a time - but it took two years for Jenn rescuing an older feral to being able to hold him, though he was happy and OK inside the home long before then: http://www.thecatsite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=90779

So the answer is - it is not unrealistic to expect this kitty will come to love being loved and indoors. The time in which you expect it to happen may be unrealistic.

But purchasing some harp music for him: http://harpist1.tripod.com/id32.html may really help. Spending as much time as you can in the room into which you release him will help - just be in there. Sit or lie on the floor and read out loud. Sing. Work on a lap top. Fold laundry. Knit, sew - whatever you do. Give him hidey places. Also sounds like he needs two litter boxes.

Get a couple of t-shirts really sweaty. Put one under his food dish. Leave treats out for him on the other. Knock gently on the door before you enter to give him warning. For scooping litter, cleaning water dish, checking food dish - make routines (if you can) and stick to the schedule as often as possible. Routine really helps.

Don't reach out to him. He doesn't know what play is or what love is, so he doesn't know he wants either. But get an interactive wand toy to try to engage him after a couple of weeks. Make sure not to leave it in the room - ferals tend to eat the string, and can require surgery after that. But leave some little mouse toys, crinkle balls, furry mice, different kinds of toys out for him. Rotate them. You'll probably find, after a few nights or a couple weeks, that they're in different places in the morning that when you left them.

If he does begin to come out while you're in the room, not moving towards him or reaching towards him will go a long way to help earn his trust - and that's what it's all about.

Baby food is your friend. Meat baby food with no additives, like Gerber's or Beechnut. On the end of a spoon, held out to him. Not at first - but when it seems he's more comfortable or less freaky. See how he reacts.

You might want to read the "stickied" thread at the top of the forum too - Lucky's story.

There's lots of info here on socializing - even if it's kittens, a lot of the advice is similar. It's just with an older feral that's never been outside, it will take more time.

Whether he stays inside or you let him back out into the barn, this is a wonderful thing you're doing.

post #6 of 13
Yes, I agree about it taking a LONG time. I rescued (trapped really) an injured kitty almost 2 years ago. And only in the last few months has she let me pet her. I just was really patient and let her hide under the bed and in her room for many months. Now she comes toward me instead of running away from me. Most of the time. But it's so worth it - she's a sweet beautiful kitty.
post #7 of 13
you never know...

Pita, she's a kitty that lived as a stray for at least a few years before we found her living in my grammas back yard.
she was very skittish and didn't want anything to do with us for at least a year (other than the food we were leaving her).
I started out very slow with her, putting her food very far away from me but sitting there the whole time she ate.

It took a long time, and she has to be an only kitty but she is now living very happily as an indoor/outdoor kitty at my mom's house.

she's still a little skittish but she sure is a lover, one of the sweetest babies I've ever met.

be patient
post #8 of 13
I say take the time and try to tame him/her! You can do it! It will be the best thing for her! That way, after he's nuetered, maybe you could get a collar and a leash and take him for walks so he would still be able to go outside!!
You can do this, you really can. I think taming him in the house would be the best option, and you could start with after he gets nuetered he will need you a little more, bring his food to him, and other stuff and he may come to trust you! Either way its a wonderful thing you're doing
post #9 of 13
Thread Starter 
Thank you all for your great advice. I've named him Yoshi. Just a little update, he seems to be calming down a little, he doesn't get quite so nervous when I reach in the crate to get the litter box or give him food. He's also stopped using his bed as a second litter box. I guess he was just confused in the beginning. He'll hopefully be getting neutered sometime this week if a spot opens up at my vet, if not it'll be next week. After that I think I'll let him live in my spare bedroom and give him some time to adjust to everything. I can't wait to get him out of that dog crate, I think he's more fearful in there than if he were loose in a room, because he feels trapped. But I can't let him out until after he's neutered, in case I can't catch him.

I do have one pic of him. It was hard to get a decent one, he hides from the camera, so I just snapped one quick. Here he is, the pic really doesn't do him justice, he's a big beautiful boy

post #10 of 13
oh what a sweetie.

I love the name too. yes, I think he'll be much happier in your room, out of that scary crate...
post #11 of 13
Oh my goodness!

And yes, he is very frightened - totally obvious in that photo!

You are doing a wonderful thing for him. He will have such a better life and he will eventually understand that - but on his terms.
post #12 of 13
Hooray for rescuing Yoshi - he reminds me of my own JC, who is a Maine Coon. As for older ferals, I have a cat named TommyScott (he likes both "Tommy" & "Scott") - it took months from him to advance from an "orange streak"-to attacking my legs when approaching the food- to the most cuddly, loveable "chub-bub" who chooses to be inside-only and is Official Foster Parent to all my rescue kittens. He was TNR'd in 2000 (there's a note in his card for being agressive & MEAN), but he is incredibly nice & trustworthy now. He was at least 7 yrs. when he chose to have a people-family
post #13 of 13
Awww....... he looks soooooooo sweet. But definitely scared. I really hope you decide to keep him inside!

I agree, it's best to keep him in the crate until you can get him for the neuter. But after that - even though he will hide, I have a feeling it won't take too long for him to make the space his own.

You're doing such a wonderful thing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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