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Feral-Vs-Stray - Page 2

post #31 of 41
Well, then you've found the right place. The Cat Site is FULL of people who understand this kind of love!!! If you have pictures in electronic format, or have a way to scan in pictures, if you need help posting, there's lots of people willing to help you figure out how to get his pictures up in the Fur Pictures Only! Forum, up in The Cat Lounge. You can tell Mr. Scruffy's story there too when you post his picture(s), and believe me, a lot of people will appreciate your love for him. If you want to, you could also visit the Crossing the Bridge Forum and write his story there, as a kind of memorial to him. Everyone who visits there certainly understands our love for kitties that are no longer with us.

I grew up with a dog as a pet, and I only "discovered" cats a few years ago. But now we have five rescued kitties living inside with us as pets (they were feral kitties), and we help rescue other feral kitties and cats too. I haven't had to deal with the death of any of our kitties, and I hope I don't have to for a long, long time. But I hope that my love for all our kitties is as apparent as your love for Mr. Scruffy, even years after they're gone.

BTW - your feral kitty Poe sounds like a very special kitty too. I do so hope you can save up the money to get him neutered. It's so much healthier for him!
post #32 of 41
I recently inherited my dad's house, and with it, two female ferals who live in the back yard. My dad was feeding them and provided them with two domed sleeping baskets, and through friends it was assumed that he was hoping to befriend them enough to take them in for neutering. I saw no reason for that plan of action to stop, so I have sort of adopted them. I continue to feed them and spend time around them while they are eating. They are really quite beautiful and I've taken enough of a liking to them that I'd really like to keep them. It's been about a month now and things have been progressing pretty well between us, I think, though slowly. They'll come up and walk around my feet while I serve up the food, though they're still very jumpy when I try to pet them.

Now my new complication is that during this time, they have both gotten pregnant and had litters already! Both cats had their litters in the same place, and they feel safe enough to keep their kittens in the domed shelter right by my kitchen door. I really want to take care of these kittens and find them good homes; moreover, I'm hoping that by having a good repoire with the kittens, that will accelerate relations with the moms.

I want to do this right, but I'm not sure where to start. The kittens are only about two or three days old at this point - they're still squirmy little worms of kittenish form. Now, I'm assuming that I shouldn't touch them until they are old enough to venture out of the basket. I don't want to cause a rejection and I don't want to scare the moms into taking them away. For now, though, they are notably trusting of me. They are not territorial around the basket when I come out to feed them or when I come out in the afternoons to take pictures (I've been documenting my progress - increasing the comfort zone between the cats and myself is an exciting game for me) and spend time around them. I've just been keeping the mothers well fed.

Are there any suggestions about what else I can do for them, or things that I should definitely not do? Any advice about timing? Is there a timeline when it comes to familiarizing with the kittens?

Please help if you can! Thanks!
post #33 of 41
aesdanae..it is good that you want to care for these kittens and find them homes. In the meantime, just continue to "watch"...once the kittens are weaned (8-12 weeks)...you can then trap the mother cats and take them to be spayed. You can also start taking names of people who would be interested in adopting one of the kittens...I recommend you find a vet who will perform pediatric spay/neuter so that the kittens can be fixed prior to going to their new homes. That way...they are unable of adding to the overpopulation. You will want to get a humane trap (contact local vets/shelters) for when the time comes to trap the 2 feral cats. Bless you for caring for these 2 ferals.

post #34 of 41
What a good soul you are for caring for these cats. I agree with Katie that as soon as the kittens are weaned, you should trap the momma cats with a humane trap and take them to the vet to be spayed. Believe it or not, this is an easy thing to do. If you need help trapping or paying for the spaying, please let us know so we can help you find resources in your area.
post #35 of 41
aesdanae, what an angel you are! You'll be glad you're documenting this too. We didn't think of that at first, and now we really regret it.

Yes - we have lots of advice for you!

As Katie suggested, right now do nothing. Continue feeding them. Being there while they eat is terrific - and not reaching out to touch them, as it appears you have done, is the best course of action. Because they trust you, once the kittens are eating hard food, the moms will bring them there to eat. Again - I wouldn't reach out to touch the kittens. Some will be shy - others may be bolder. Let them come to you. What you can do is just get them used to your presence. Sit and watch them. Maybe move a few inches closer each day. Bolder ones will come to you. We started petting the kittens while they were eating after they didn't mind us being there at all. Two of five were into it - the other three weren't. We didn't push it. And you have to go really slowly - it is very easy, especially for cats that aren't used to it, to get overstimulated.

We have one feral living inside with us for over a year now, and he can't take more that 7 or 8 strokes at a time.

If you can afford it, or if you can find a low-cost spay/neuter service in your area (there's links in my signature line that will help you search), it really is the best idea to have the kittens spayed and neutered before adopting them out. I'd also HIGHLY recommend charging at least a little bit for them, and using an adoption agreement. There's one you can change and adapt - also a link in my signature line. It costs money to care for pets, and if peope aren't willing to make that commitment, then they shouldn't have pets. Please also let anyone adopting the kitties know that they've not lived inside, so it may take them a few weeks to get used to it. There are some excellent articles you can print out to provide to anyone adopting a kitten about how to introduce a new cat into the home. People should not expect kittens or cats to be immediately comfortable in new surroundings.

Here are several links: Bringing Home a New Cat
Keeping Your Indoor Cat Happy
Bringing Outside Cats In

It is safe to have kittens spayed or neutered as early as seven weeks, though some vets are not familiar with the study: Winn Feline Foundation Early Age Spay/Neuter Study

Finally, you do not need to wait until you have the cats' trust to spay or neuter them. Call around to local shelters or vets to see if anyone has a have-a-heart (or other humane trap) you can borrow. When you are ready to trap them in order to get them to the vet for vaccinations and spay surgery, start placing their food inside the trap without setting it to spring. Once they're used to eating in there, then set the trap. You may feel this is cruel, but it is not. Just imagine if one of the cats/kitties was ever somehow injured or seriously ill! You'd have to be able to get them to the vet. Of course, if they trust you enough, you can feed them inside a carrier and just lean over to close the door, though you have to be VERY quick about it.

Either way, if you decide to use a trap, there are trapping tips here: Helping Ferals...

Let us know if you have any other questions!

Thank you for being their angel.
post #36 of 41
Ooops! One last thing. I'd wait until the kittens were 10 - 12 weeks old before adopting them out. It's around 12 weeks old that mom usually leaves them on their own and they've learned all they can from her. Some organizations recommend that you adopt out the kittens up until they're 8 weeks old. I disagree with this. It is easier to adopt out younger kittens, but they sometimes have behavior problems (litterbox issues, biting issues, etc.) because they didn't finish learning what they need to from mum. I'd wait until they were at least 10 weeks old, though 12 weeks is better (it's just easier at 10 because they're still tiny and extremely kitten-y. They're still kittens and incredibly cute at 12 weeks, they're just a little bit bigger). FYI: no serious professional breeder would adopt out kittens before 12 weeks of age.
post #37 of 41
Originally Posted by hissy
What is a feral? According to the American Heritage Dictionary, a feral is defined as “Existing in a wild or untamed state. b. Having returned to an untamed state from domestication.â€

What then, you may be thinking, is a stray? According to the same source, a stray is “a domestic animal that has gotten lost, or wandered away from its human host.â€

I have been working with ferals and strays for over a dozen years. The difference that I have observed in the two types of cats is that a stray cat is easier to approach, than a true feral. A stray hasn’t been in the wild for its entire life and although its trust meter is on a low setting it is often more accepting of humans, unless it has been abused.

A feral, on the other hand has lived his entire life outside, fending for himself, fighting tooth and claw for food and survival. The toms mate at every opportunity. The females get claimed every mating season, sometimes more than once by over zealous Toms. Ferals are adept in hiding, and will launch an attack if you decide to crawl underneath a house for a visit, or they will simply run off. They respond on a fight or flight pattern only.

Some people claim that ferals should never be pets, and I beg to differ strongly. Once you win the trust of a feral, you will have a loyal, wonderful loving cat. Winning this trust does not happen overnight, and you have to reset your thinking when you are working with a feral cat. You must establish a routine with him and stick to it so that he knows he can count on you. His first sign of trusting you could be hours, days or even months away, and will come initially as a head-bump against your arm. You will not ever have a domesticated pet per se, as a feral will always retain his natural instincts and will for example, flee at the slightest unaccustomed sound. But you will have a wonderful cat who has retained a certain independent streak that is essential to his survival, and that defines his character.

If guests come to your house, your feral cat will revert to the behavior he first exhibited when you brought him home and hide the duration of their stay. A stray on the other hand will show some mistrust right at first, but he is easily won over and will soon be purring away on your guest's proferred lap.
The advice you have given is interesting. i have recently taken in a beautiful little smokey grey cat that i now know is a stray. she was very afraid at first but after a few weeks of being fed and not being hurt she has now come to trust us enough to give her affection. she has just statted wandering into the house aswell. My only fear is that we just noticed she seems quite pregnant. I,ve always had male cats in the past and have a fixed male now who seems very keen to care for this new cat, so i've never dealt with a pregnant cat before and wouldn't know where to even begin! All i know is this precious creature picked us and we need to do all we can to give it a good life.
post #38 of 41
Originally Posted by Rock&Fluff'smom
I can definately tell he is a feral then.....what is soo neat and out of the ordinary is I always have my windows open, and my kitties sit out there and if this feral happens to be out there, they sit and look at each other in amazement....even if I happen to be sitting in the chair next to the window where I can see him, he will just sit and watch us..I talk sweetly, and soft to him, and he looks at me with his sweet loving green eyes, like he wants to be a part of us, but he is just too scared.... .
That's how Adelaide was. She was trapped inside 6 weeks ago and apart from the first few days has shown absolutely no inclination to be outside. She'll have the odd look at the chickens when they come up to the conservatory door but that's about it. Even when the door has been open for a second or two, she moves into the dining room and sits on her chair. When Tippy sits outside the conservatory asking to come in, Adelaide won't stop meowing until I let Tippy in - Adelaide doesn't seem to like outside at all now.

Having read Mary Anne's description, I'm convinced Adelaide was a feral. We have many farms near us (less than a quarter of a mile away as the cat walks!) and I feel she was probably born in one of the outbuildings of a farm.
post #39 of 41
Hmmm ... by that definition maybe "my little ferals" are in fact strays. They let me come close to them and they like to sleep in my backyard during the day. They are not "scaredy-cats)
post #40 of 41
I hope this is the right website and forum for a question like this. My wife and I found 4 feral or maybe semi-feral kittens approx 4 months old in August of this year by our new apartment when we moved in. They were scared and hungry and we began feeding them. Months have passed and all 4 cats have followed us inside our apartment. 3 of the cats are now very tame, we got two of the Males neutured, and are preparing for the females to get spayed. One of the females will not lets us touch her, she hides all day and only comes out for food, and won't eat if we are watching. We decided to keep all the cats inside, with a busy road right out front and only garbage to eat, and the winter coming we thought it would be cruel to keep the only unfriendly one outside by herself. Long story short does anyone have any tips or advice? I have been reading websites and the threads here, so far not much has helped. Can anyone tell me if its a good idea to force this cat to be inside? she really wants nothing to do with us and wants to go outside? Thankyou.
post #41 of 41
Thread Starter 
If you want to send me a PM I will be happy to help you with this shy kitty. I would say with the extreme weather approaching, keeping all the cats inside is the best bet, especially if you are near a busy road. But I will be happy to help you or you can check out my blog for information as well www.feralcatbehavior.com
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