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Feral cat taming?

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
My mom has been trying unsuccesfully for over 6 months now to tame a little black and white cat we call Sweetie who visits us. She is very skittish and will not let anyone touch her. She has gotten better gradually with allowing us to get almost within touching distance before she skitters away. I was wondering if anyone had any ideas on how to win this skittish kitties trust?
post #2 of 14
Stop trying to pet her or anything else. Feed her, and when she comes to eat, just sit nearby, talk softly to her, any nonsense will do, and let her come to you and sniff you out. It may take ages, but with cats, it's what you must do... resist all impulses to grab, stroke, etc. If and when you do get her close enough (right there!) to actually grab her, don't do it unless a) you're willing to risk losing the trust you already have, b) you're very sure you can do it - with the intention to make her a full time house cat (and deal with any issues that might arise as a result). Are you sure she doesn't belong to anyone nearby and just getting free lunches on you?
post #3 of 14
I have a feral. She is almost 2 yrs. I've had her since she was 3 months. Her mom who also is feral had 3 babies. The other two were captured and the local shelter put them up for adoption. My feral will not let me pick her up. The only place she lets me pet her is in the bathroom and on my bed since she does sleep with me. If I approach her any other place in the house she runs and hides behind the couch. However she will sit on the floor near me and if I go upstairs she follows. She has bonded and wants to be near me but with limitations. She will always be feral. To trap her to cut her nails is a chore. She doesn't fight while we're doing it but puts her head down and tries to hide in my arms. If she ever needs medicating there is no way I could do it. Even to get her to the vet is terrible since we need to trap her first. She will hide under the couch or beds. My grandson needs to pull her out. Its her basic distrust of humans. But I love her and thank God that I'm able to shelter and feed her and keep her out of harms way. Good luck
post #4 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Larke View Post
Stop trying to pet her or anything else. Feed her, and when she comes to eat, just sit nearby, talk softly to her, any nonsense will do, and let her come to you and sniff you out. It may take ages, but with cats, it's what you must do... resist all impulses to grab, stroke, etc. If and when you do get her close enough (right there!) to actually grab her, don't do it unless a) you're willing to risk losing the trust you already have, b) you're very sure you can do it - with the intention to make her a full time house cat (and deal with any issues that might arise as a result).


My experience with ferals has taught me that it takes patience, food, a calm voice, a smile (no teeth showing), and no aggressive move to win them over. And even then it's not a total trust.
post #5 of 14
Food, specifically wet food works the best. Get a large table spoon and try feeding her off of it. Slowly bring the spoon closer to you as she gets used to eating that way. Stinky canned fish, like mackerel may work too. Let her hear you opening that cat too!

Make pleasing sounds. Cats usually respond to female voices better, so your mother obviously has that advantage. Try "brrr"ing at the cat and imitating some of the noises the cat makes. Just remember that low and long sounds with the "ow" on them usually mean "back off" or "I'm not happy". Light "meeh" sounds work well.
Never use the "ssshh" noise as it sounds a bit like a hiss.

I think the Feliway may have little spray bottles too? (does it?) If so a little of that sprayed on pants around shin level - where a pet cat would normally rub may help.
If someone else can verify whether that might help?
post #6 of 14
Thread Starter 
Ok, i will tell her these things. My other question is, how good of an idea would it be to trap her? She is definatly a feral, as she was one of a litter of kittens born outside to a feral mommy cat in our neighborhood. When she came to us she was pretty young and sooo skinny. Now she is a little porker thanks to my moms feeding, but I am afraid because this neighborhood is a very cat dense area and she hasnt had her shots OR been neutered. I want to have that done, but if we trap her I am afraid she will run away once we let her free again, never come back and get sick because nobody else feeds her.
post #7 of 14
I understand that fear, but if you don't trap and spay her she'll be bringing you a bunch of little feral mouths to feed soon. It's breeding season (depending on where you're at).

Chances are she knows how good she has it, a nice daily meal she doesn't have to dig out of the trash or steal from another cat. So she'll come back, but you may have to start taming her all over. Another option is to try to contain her inside and tame her... At best your mother may have a semi feral house cat then.

Check/ask in the feral section for tips and suggestions on safely trapping her.
post #8 of 14
Why let her go free again after spaying? Why can't she be kept as a full time house cat?
post #9 of 14
I'm hardly an expert, but I found that by making it clear that I was the one supplying the food (actually treats) I made the most progress. I had a feral cat that was confined to a guest bedroom for about a month and at the beginning I would go in there and be very careful not to confront him in any way. Then I tried tossing the treats to him where he was hiding under the bed and soon he was coming out and trying to investigate the treat container.
Again, I have very little experience especially compared to most people on this board, but who knows, it might help ya.
post #10 of 14
Here is my story.
I had Mom and 4 kits in my yard. I fed them for 3 month to gain trust.
Kits ate from my spoon but Mom was very skittish.

Then I trapped and they are all fixed.
I kept them indoor over the winter to tame them.
I converted my guest room in to cat room.
Mama cat was the last one to purr and accept petting, but she only let me pet in certain enclosed location of the room.
I let them free few days a go. I am sure they may never let me touch them again, but it was wroth it.

Either way, if you love your kitty, you MUST fix and vaccinate. In order to do so, you MUST trap her.
post #11 of 14
Here is one of my experiences with feral-taming -

A few years ago, aiming to trap a kitten, I accidentally trapped his feral Mama. I promptly got her spayed and she lived for a few months in a cage in my room. (I always keep post-spay cats in for a few post-operative weeks, and it was winter, cold & rainy.) During all this time, Mama Cat was furiously wild - even putting food into her cage was a fearful experience, and getting the catbox to change it was an adventure. She also "sang" all night, so I got little sleep during her tenure. As soon as it got dry, I brought the cage outdoors and she shot out. I promised her (though she did not seem to stick around to hear it) that I would feed her for as long as she cae around.
Fast forward a couple of years, during which "Princess" has come by to dine chez my backyard on & off. A large, abandoned white male I named Tommy Boy appears & settles in for daily meals. Princess, attracted wither by Tommy or the regularity of food, becomes a regular. Tommy is an affectionate guy & loves petting as much as food.
Surprise! One day super-wild Princess rubs against me! From that day, she has become as affectionate as Tommy, loving petting, coming to say hello every time I go out the door, waiting for me at night. Guess it takes a cat to teach a cat.
post #12 of 14
If I might please put in a word or two? If you feed the ferals, just talk to them as you are feeding them.

I told my ferals time and time again....."I'm not going to hurt you.....I'm not going to hurt you."

It took two years before I finally touched Princess and when she liked it, Lyssa-Lyssa and Sicorro came over too. MotherCat took 5 and half years before I could touch her.

Please don't give up. Talk to them, talk to them, talk to them. You will be well rewarded.
post #13 of 14
It sounds like she is an outdoor cat?

All of mine (11 of them) were born feral. I'm a firm believer that if they live outside, they will always remain at least semi-feral. They might learn to trust you as their caregiver, but you'll never fully socialize them. My Lucky still goes outside and is the least social of the bunch. But that is his nature and he'll never fully tame.

If your intent is to socialize her, then you need to have her spayed and move her into your home where you can work with her. If you are committed to do this, then there is a long list of things you can do once inside. Even if you don't bring her inside, spaying her will calm her down tremendously.
post #14 of 14
I adoped my male cat, Pumpkin, nine years ago. He had been found with frostbite, and big infectations of worms and fleas, by a state patrol. He was quite big for his age which is why I believe he made it. He was feral and for the first four or five months, I was bitten and scratch numerous times. I kept him lose in the house and he would sleep under my bed. Fast forward about 6 months and Pumpkin had turned into a friendly doggy type. His vet thought it was funny that he would wag his tail and get excited when he saw new people. He is a very large orange tabby and some people get a bit nervous when he runs to them, even when he is in a leash. There is hope for feral cats as long as you give them lots of love.
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