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Years Down the road

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 
We've now had two feral cats for 8 years, so I thought I would share with everyone how they are doing. Lucy is an approximately 9 year old manx, and Ricky, a manx-tabby cross, is her only surviving offspring. We successfully trapped them in Dallas 8 years ago, Lucy first, then Ricky. Outdoor and feral cat mortaility was high in our neighborhood, and these two would frequently and cautiously come to the food bowl we set outside. Based on an impending move to New Mexico, we got them, took them to the vet and had them both spayed and neutered. Lucy was not quite as fearful and skittish as Ricky, which leads us to believe she probably had some home time before hitting the streets. Not Ricky, he was born oon the street. He spent about the first two-three years either in a room or a closet, making his way back and forth as he chose. Lucy bridged the socialization between our other cats/dogs and Ricky. Lucy was approachable, sometimes, but it took coaxing. We would just sit on the bed for awhile, and every now and then she would come up and meow and allow brief petting. Neither would allow being picked up. Ricky didn't meow at all, at least not to us. They were guarded and healthy.

After about three years and two moves, one night Ricky wandered downstairs from his room and hopped up next to the fireplace and laid down near Bosco, our black cat. This was curious as well as joyful, as Bosco, like Ricky, is black (except Ricky has a patch of white under his chin).

Today, Ricky and Lucy move freely and interact with all other animals. Ricky still however, when moving from room-to-room, walks the perimeter. He still doesn't like to be stared at, though he will look at you and hop up on the couch to be petted. I think I heard him meow a couple times, but it was so soft it was barely detectable. Neither will allow being held. When people come to visit, they're nowhere to be found. Lucy, for some reason (help here!) will occasionally pee on our bed, or on places where we sit. Our approach to this is temporary isolation in their room.

So, they are both healthy and comfortable. To anyone who might catch a glimpse of them they might seem like normal house cats....they're not, but they seem pretty well adjusted.
Jeff and Jane
post #2 of 4
Well, Jeffrey - I'm sitting here with tears running down my cheeks. God bless you both - for understanding your ferals and loving them the way they are.

We too have kitties no one ever sees. People think we only have two cats, when we really have six!

If more people would recognize that, like people, some cats just aren't as social as others, a lot of ferals might be given a second chance.
post #3 of 4
10 feral born cats here (ranging from 6 to 14 years old), and I can totally relate to your story! Big kudo's for working with these cats all of these years!!! Many people wouldn't have bothered with them.

If Ricky is still intimidated by a "stare", have you tried blinking at him? Cats in feral colony slowly blink their eyes at each other in greeting (do this very slowly). A stare is considered a threat. If you blink at them, they often blink back to return your greeting. About 4 of my cats will always blink back at me when I do it to them.

I have found that the earlier you rescue them off the streets, the better chance you have at having them become "normal" housecats. But with that said, only 4 of mine consistently come out in the open with strangers in the house (these 4 were orphaned young), and some of my deepest hiders were rescued at about 6 weeks old. People on this site will tell you that they have non feral born cats that hide from strangers. Feral born cats will also often bond to a single caregiver (or pair of them). So Lucy and Ricky are not all that odd.

Where to start with inappropriate peeing? There's an entire sticky on the topic http://www.thecatsite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=9563 and you might want to start there. I doubt that Lucy is doing it because she was feral at one point - she's been inside with you long ago that she would have dropped any habit of peeing in any available place. Always start with eliminating any health issue (vet visit) before you start to work on behavior issues. And if you don't treat the areas with a strong urine neutralizer (I like Nok Out the best), she will repeat in those areas. If she does this on your bed, treat the mattress, then buy a mattress pad with a plastic liner so that you don't lose your mattress while you try to resolve the problem. You can get one of these in any size at a decent bedding store - people use them for their incontinence problems.

And welcome to TCS! We'd love to see pictures of your kids. (hint) I'm very partial to Manx's and feral cats.
post #4 of 4
Welcome to TCS!

What wonderful people, making such a commitment to your feral babies! Hope you stick around to help others given your experience.

We've got seven kitties, all feral rescues, though the oldest we brought inside were 1 year and 1 1/2 years. The 1 1/2 year old MUST not have been born feral though, because he just talks WAY too much! You're proud of your Ricky for talking - and we were happy with the silent household.

Ferals, of ALL cats, are FAR more fastidious about peeing in a box, actually, so if they're peeing outside a box, it is something that ought to be addressed. When cats pee outside of a litterbox, about 80% of the time it is a health problem. We had problems with one of our ferals peeing on the bed, but it wasn't a health problem, it was stress. If kitty gets an A-OK from the vet (and don't forget to have her teeth examined - Spooky gets aggressive to the other cats, talks, and pees outside of the box when her teeth hurt, and she's slowly losing all of them), I'm with Amy - take a read of the link she provided and see if you can help your kitty.

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