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Need advice for taming my 3 ferals

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
Hi, I'm new here and new to handling ferals. My background: I own 1 tame female, 1 y.o., "Mimi" that I raised since she was 5 weeks old. She comes when she's called, sleeps next to me, spends every weekend with me at my boyfriend's, in short; perfect. I wanted to get 2 more kittens to keep at my house so Mimi would have friends during the week.

On mother's day a feral my mom befriended showed up at my mom's with kittens. Three weeks ago I took two of the kittens, a boy and a girl, after they had been neutered. The vet said they were 10 weeks old, so now they are 13 w.o. My mom got the mother of the kittens fixed as well. When the mother returned from being spayed and found her kittens gone, she stole some other feral's 5 w.o. kitten. On father's day I took that kitten. I've had that kitten for 11 days so she's a 6 to 7 w.o. I think.

So, I have a 13 w.o. boy named "Vincent" who is fixed, a 13 w.o. girl named "B.G" (for "Baby Girl") who is fixed and a 6 w.o. girl named "Stella"

I looked at the N.Y.C. feral taming videos on You Tube and followed them to get all 3 eating out of my hand, allowing me to pet them, and pick them up in a controlled situation, i.e. my bathroom. I had Vincent and B.G. only for the first 10 days.

Vincent graduated after 11 days and is out of the bathroom and in the rest of the house. He's as tame as a 13 w.o. boy full of explosive energy can be. He let's me pick him up, he comes to me to play, he rolls over and asks for his tummy to be pet etc.

B.G.'s taming is going slowly. She's not out of the bathroom yet. She hid, hissed, trembled and slinked away for days but she's finally where I can put her on my lap and she rubs against me, kneads and plays with her favorite toys. She still will go hide but as soon as she does she turns around and comes back out. She does better when the other cats are visiting with her in the bathroom. She loves Mimi.

Stella is my problem because B.G. is too nasty with her to let them be together. B.G. terrorizes tiny Stella to the point that Stella is not allowed to eat, play with toys or even move because B.G. hisses, growls, and slugs her. Consequently, I had to let Stella out of the bathroom with Vincent and Mimi. According to what I've read she should've been tamed up by now but she continues to not let me touch her except when I feed her or when I'm playing with her and her toys. She's with Vincent at all times and she sees Vincent make a lot of contact with me but Stella is not having any part of it.

I only have 1 bathroom.

Here are my questions: 1) Should I let B.G. out of the bathroom and put Stella in it? 2) Should I take Stella with me to by b.f.'s over the weekend and stick her in his extra bathroom and leave B.G. in the bathroom? (I have a cat sitter taking care of the babies when I'm not there) 3) Will Stella tame up if I leave the situation the way it is? 4) How can I ever let Stella and B.G. be together if B.G. is such a bully?

Thanks for anything you can share with me.
post #2 of 11
I'm going to throw out some random thoughts because your situation is a bit different than what most folks go thru. All of my cats were born to feral moms, and I started to socialize them anywhere between 10 days and 18 months old.

An optimal time to start socializing a feral kitten is about 6 weeks, so Stella should be very easy to socialize. B.G. missed that window by a month if you didn't take her in until she was 10 weeks old, but that only means that it might take a little extra time in fully socializing her.

I had brother/sister pairs where the girl was the rowdy of the pair. I had Muddy/Koko isolated from the other cats when they were young, and poor Muddy got so annoyed at the aggressive antics of his sister that he would leap in my lap when I entered the room to get away from his sister. And about a month later when Oscar and Spanky were dumped on my doorstep, she redirected her aggressive play at poor Oscar. At 6 years old, Koko is still the rowdiest cat in the household, and still plays like she did when young. Some cats are just that way. It took Oscar a few years to realize that all Koko wanted to do was to play with him.

It sounds like the dynamics are more based on the kitten's ages than the fact that they happened to be born to a feral mom. B.G.'s might have witnessed her mom being aggressive to strange cats, but she wasn't with her long enough for the lesson to totally sink in. My bet is that even if B.G. was totally socialized, that she would still have an issue with Stella. I'm saying negate the fact that she was born feral from the equation.

For B.G.'s sake, stick with your socializing techniques, and apply them to Stella if she needs it. But for their relationship, look for general introduction techniques.

If I were in your shoes? I would socialize Stella and B.G in separate rooms and not start introductions until they are more confident in their surroundings. Let B.G. out of the bathroom and put Stella in there. Stella is younger and needs less space. B.G. will learn more by watching her brother interact with you on a day to day basis than she will by you visiting her in the bathroom. Give her space and she will come around in her own time. The only time I've ever isolated a feral cat is when they first come into my house and I want to make sure they don't have any diseases and during introduction time periods.
post #3 of 11
What Mom says, I second.

I would be careful though, true ferals can't be tamed, they can be socialized. It is better to say socialized so that your guard will always be up around the cat and it takes down the chance of being hurt by them. Most strays, are just that, strays with feral tendencies. I tell folks who consult with me, that it is siimilar to if we were left in the middle of nowhere, with no help, no food, water or means to survive. Over time, depending on how long we were left there, we too would revert to our "wild" ways, simply to survive. Cats are the same way, even if someone tosses a beloved cat outside because, say he sprays everywhere, over time, denied access to the home, the cat will revert to its wild ways to stay alive.
post #4 of 11
Thread Starter 
Thanks you guys.

All of these cats are true ferals but B.G. and Vincent did live in my mom's kitchen with their mother, with no attempts at taming made, for about 3 weeks before I took them. So they were exposed to humans during that time.

I'll swap out Stella and B.G. B.G. is dying to get out of the bathroom.

I think that when Stella, who is about half B.G.'s size, gets bigger, B.G. will stop being a jerk to her.

I'm just worried about Stella being sad about being alone in the bathroom. Do you think that it would be better for Stella if I took her to my boyfriend's house for Friday eve through Sunday and stuck her in the bathroom there? Or should I leave her in the bathroom that she knows? On Saturday and Sunday she'll be visited by my cat sitter who will probably spend about a half hour with her and I'll be home on Sunday afternoon. At my b.f.'s I can spend a few hours with her. I just don't know if caging her and driving with her for 45 minutes in the car each way might cause her to be more scared of me.

Again, thank you very much for giving me advice. I get a lot of encouragement, for which I've been very grateful, but I haven't been able to get specific advice until now. I'm desperate for hands on advice.
post #5 of 11
Take Stella with you whenever you can. She will socialize more quickly, and part of socializing a feral born kitten is to expose them to as many people as possible, and the younger the better.

As she calms down with you, don't keep her in the bathroom at your BF's place on the weekends. Very young kittens can be confined to a bathroom only because they don't always make it to a litter box. Feral kittens are sometimes confined just so that they don't hide under a bed the entire time and you can work with them. At that age she is most impressionable and needs exposure to you.
post #6 of 11
Give her a cave of her own t hat she can hide in. Use a corner of the room that won't get main traffic, put up a cardboard box on it's side with the flaps cut off. Pile soft bedding inside and drape it with a dark cloth until only a few inches show off the floor (so kitty can slip in and out) This way she can "see" you while thinking you can't see her. Keeps them out from under the bed which can be a major pain when you want to see the kitten and gauge how it is doing.

You are welcome to PM me any time with questions if you like, or check out my blog that shows in my sig. If you search for Room Service, you will read how I set up the room for newcomers no matter what age.
post #7 of 11
Thread Starter 
Thank you so very, very much. I'll let you know how it goes.
post #8 of 11
Thread Starter 
O.K. here's my apres weekend report (and list of questions):

On Thursday evening I let the older female (B.G.) out of the bathroom into the living room with her brother (Vincent) and I took the little baby (Stella) and segregated her from them in the bathroom. From Friday to Sunday night, Stella and my tame 1 y.o. female Mimi, stayed with me at my boyfriend's house while Vincent and B.G. stayed at my house and were visited by the cat sitter (who said that neither of them came out from under the couch). At my b.f's Stella went from hiding from me to playing with me and letting me pick her up.

Last night, in my own house, she and Mimi slept with me and Stella actually slept on top of me and played with me in bed in the a.m. I took her into the kitchen with me and she came up to me, jumped into my lap and cried about not being able to go into the living room with Vincent and B.G. What a change! Stella's totally relating to me and sees me as the person who can get it done for her. I did let her into the living room to play because I knew I would be able to get access to Stella once I went in to feed them. But sure enough, when I entered the living room, B.G. ran like I was a monster and Stella was right there with her. I separated Stella and put her in my bedroom with Mimi for the day.

Meanwhile, B.G. has reverted as a result of being in the living room with Vincent. She doesn't come to me to sit in my lap and be petted. But, she has gotten better and now does not hide, except when I first enter the room, and will sit in my lap to eat. I pet her then. Yesterday evening she went into the bathroom and I played with the toys with her like we used to do when she lived in the bathroom. She was about 70% as tame as she had been. Vinnie runs and hides 50% of the time when I enter the room but he always comes right back out for hugs and kisses. B.G., however, only gets the hiding part.

It's becoming apparent to me that no one is ever going to want B.G. She's 1/2 siamese so she's beautiful but I can't see anyone having the patience needed for her. And I don't want to give up Stella because she's my little girl. B.G. is cruel to Stella so I'm hoping that Stella can grow up and defend herself against B.G. and put an end to the bullying. Vincent can stay or, if someone wants him, he can go. He's a character that anyone would love.

So, more questions..

1. Is it bad for me to let Stella have playtime with the 2 older kittens?
2. Is putting B.G. together with Vincent bad?
3. Do your cats cry to be with each other and, if so, what do you do?
4. When and how do you adopt them out?
5. Would it be wrong for me to give B.G. to my boyfriend to be his barn cat? And if I did that, what age would be best and how long should she live in his house to learn where her home is?

thanks to everyone for your advice.
post #9 of 11
Originally Posted by Ellsworth View Post

1. Is it bad for me to let Stella have playtime with the 2 older kittens?
2. Is putting B.G. together with Vincent bad?
3. Do your cats cry to be with each other and, if so, what do you do?
4. When and how do you adopt them out?
5. Would it be wrong for me to give B.G. to my boyfriend to be his barn cat? And if I did that, what age would be best and how long should she live in his house to learn where her home is?

thanks to everyone for your advice.
1. I would give both Stella and B.G. more time to socialize, particularly B.G., before you try to introduce them. Remember that B.G. was older when you started to socialize, so she will take more time than Stella.
2. I don't see an issue with allowing them to be together. If Vincent is more socialized than B.G., he will set a good example for her if the 2 of them retain their brother/sister bond.
3. I really can't answer this as I don't have mine separated.
4. I wouldn't adopt them out until they are more socialized. Get them used to you first, then start very subdued visits by others. You could approach a rescue group and ask for help in adopting them. If you say that you will foster them until they find a home for them, they will more likely take you up on it. If you advertise on your own, DO NOT offer them as "free to a good home". There are people who respond to those ads then sell the cats to laboratories.
5. I disagree with you when you say that B.G. is unadoptable. I think she hasn't enough time with you to make that call. Kittens that are not socialized when they are younger (like Stella) simply take longer. It might take months. With this, I have to discourage you from giving her to your BF to become a barn cat. Give her more of a chance to learn to trust people.
post #10 of 11
Just want to say that Amy's answers are spot on! I agree with everything she said

Good luck to you - I have a bedroom with a mama cat and her two kittens so can totally relate. It's hard work, but it's worth it! Give BG more time, her socialisation will just be slower. Have you been playing with her much? I find interactive toys such as Da Bird are great for socialising ferals.
post #11 of 11
Thread Starter 
Good news girls. B.G. is no longer terrorizing Stella. I plugged in Feliway last Friday. Do you think that might have caused the truce?

This a.m. I fed B.G without the others being in the room and she was down right affectionate to me. I agree. I think she's going to come around.

Today when I was watching them be wild with each other I sort of resigned myself to having a 4 cat household. In the scheme of things, a lot worse could befall me

I left the 3 ferals and my poor tame adult cat Mimi together for the day. Hopefully they will all survive unscathed.
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