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I just don't get it ?

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
Hi Guys,

Maybe somebody can enlighten me as to this issue that has got me scratching my head and wondering "huh?" whenever it comes up.

I know that many of you rescue cats, and deal with new litters & kittens on a daily basis, and I also know that the USA is a lot different to Australia...

However, I also have rescued, and I've also helped rear/raise quite a few litters of kittens myself, and this is where my huh? moment comes in...

I have seen quite a few threads, where people seem to just give up on 5, 6, 7, 8 week old "ferals" because they aren't socialized enough...

I find myself blinking and in my huh moment, because I've had kittens, gone through all the ages and stages, seen them develop, various litters etc, and to me, anytime up until 4 months (16 weeks) they can be rehabilitated - they're babies, not adults but people keep refering to them as if they are beyond hope?

Two of my eldest cats, Lilly-Jade & Jessavyn were feral kittens. I rescued them when they were 8 weeks old, living in someones front yard. Lilly was emaciated and lying on concrete in 117 degree Fahrenheit temperatures.

I took them both, and pulled them back to health, and they are both the most loving, cuddly, big fat cats that you could ever meet... young + feral doesn't always = doomed.

Any opinions on this? am I taking something out of context? is there something I'm missing when people talk like this?

thanks!
post #2 of 18
It is basically giving into the myth surrounding "feral cats." Sadly, many who claim they know all things feral will state that after 8 weeks old the kittens can no longer be "saved." Which, in actuality is bunk. They can all be saved, no matter what their age, with the rare exception of perhaps two percent of true feral cats that cannot be socialized.

I have worked with all ages of cats here in various stages of feralness and in the thirty some years that I have been socializing them, I can count on one hand those who did not respond to any attempt to reach them.

It is generally because people want these cats to follow a time schedule, which they do, but it is their time, not people time these cats follow. It can take weeks, months even years to make headway with the older cats and kittens, but it can be done.

Perhaps because we are such an "instant" society that people get tired of waiting. Patience is a rare commodity anymore and few possess the patience to wait for the cat to trust again.
post #3 of 18
I agree. I rescued my Beeba and his mother Spot when he was 12 weeks old. His mother was about 2. After about 2-3 months, she tamed right down and Beeba is now the most loving lap cat I have ever had. But he sure was scared of me then. I couldn't even sneeze and he would disappear. We now share the couch in the early morning darkness, me rubbing his belly. He will come up with me and just fall right over on my lap. That is mega trust. He even loves my husband and vice versa. My Hister cat I rescued when he was an adult. So scared, I couldn't even look at him. Hence his name. Now, as long as I move slow, I can rub his belly, scratch his chin and generally pet him anywhere. He gets on with all my other rescues and I love him so. There is no cut off age as far as I am concerned.
post #4 of 18
There's probably no cut-off age, and it's possible to socialize a lot of cats.

But at a shelter, where we have very nice cats waiting for a cage to be available in the adoption area, there's just no future in keeping every little wildcat in the hopes that someone will take them in. We have fosters who can do a few.

And that brings up another problem. So many feral kittens have serious disease and parasite infections that it's not at all unusual for them to die in the first couple of weeks of fostering.
post #5 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by mrblanche View Post
There's probably no cut-off age, and it's possible to socialize a lot of cats.

But at a shelter, where we have very nice cats waiting for a cage to be available in the adoption area, there's just no future in keeping every little wildcat in the hopes that someone will take them in. We have fosters who can do a few.

And that brings up another problem. So many feral kittens have serious disease and parasite infections that it's not at all unusual for them to die in the first couple of weeks of fostering.
Unfortunately, my local shelter addresses the issue of feral cats by simply stating to trap the cat and take to animal control, or have animal control trap the cat in the first place... where the poor thing will be lethally injected for being 'unadoptable'. Nothing at all about TNR.

When we trap one, we test for FIV/Leukemia, vaccinate, spay/neuter, and release if we don't have enough space or time. From the colony, we've taken in four and three are still outdoors. I'd love to socialize everybody, but we don't have the resources to do that. Although it isn't an ideal situation, I feel releasing and maintaining is a much better solution than taking their lives. It's a small number of cats we've worked with, but I imagine their quality of life has improved. The kittens we took in wouldn't have survived the winter, I think.

I'm totally with the OP regarding the age issue. Our two boys were around 4 months when we trapped them and they socialized beautifully. It's just a matter of patience and consistency, I think. My Loki hissed at me for a full 2 months after we got him- now he's incredibly affectionate and you'd never suspect he was once feral. I hope if anyone reading this has doubts about socializing ferals, they will take heart in what has been posted and not give up on their cats.
post #6 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Going Nova View Post
Unfortunately, my local shelter addresses the issue of feral cats by simply stating to trap the cat and take to animal control, or have animal control trap the cat in the first place... where the poor thing will be lethally injected for being 'unadoptable'.
This is pretty much what we do here. We find farm homes for the ones we can - but the really feral cats or kittens are euthanized. Yes, they can be socialized - but by whom? We don't have any fosters who will take them (but me).

Right now we have 2 white 14 week old feral kittens sitting in a cage. They aren't getting socialized that way - I can't take them - and no one else will. We literally have 4 cat foster homes, I make #5.

Yes, we kill feral kittens. There's no beating around the bush or putting it politely. Our alternative is to sit on them in cages in hopes they get friendly while we kill friendly cats/ kittens.

Hissy said it best - feral cats do not follow a time schedule other than their own. Many shelters don't have the time to spend to socialize them, nor the capabilities. I'm keeping Camille - in turn a marginally friendly kitten is being euthanized next week. I could take that kitten if I didn't have Camille. And that makes it hard to sleep at night - either way someone pays the price. I can keep Camille for months to socialize her - but how many others die in those months? If I did not have Camille, I would have another kitten with Itty Bitty - and in 3 weeks they could be altered & adopted - but with Camille I will likely be a "full foster home" for several months to socialize her.

Does that mean I give up on Camille? No. Does that mean I will second guess whether or not I'm doing it right - whether or not I'm making her worse? Yes.
post #7 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by white cat lover View Post
This is pretty much what we do here. We find farm homes for the ones we can - but the really feral cats or kittens are euthanized. Yes, they can be socialized - but by whom? We don't have any fosters who will take them (but me).

Right now we have 2 white 14 week old feral kittens sitting in a cage. They aren't getting socialized that way - I can't take them - and no one else will. We literally have 4 cat foster homes, I make #5.

Yes, we kill feral kittens. There's no beating around the bush or putting it politely. Our alternative is to sit on them in cages in hopes they get friendly while we kill friendly cats/ kittens.

Hissy said it best - feral cats do not follow a time schedule other than their own. Many shelters don't have the time to spend to socialize them, nor the capabilities. I'm keeping Camille - in turn a marginally friendly kitten is being euthanized next week. I could take that kitten if I didn't have Camille. And that makes it hard to sleep at night - either way someone pays the price. I can keep Camille for months to socialize her - but how many others die in those months? If I did not have Camille, I would have another kitten with Itty Bitty - and in 3 weeks they could be altered & adopted - but with Camille I will likely be a "full foster home" for several months to socialize her.

Does that mean I give up on Camille? No. Does that mean I will second guess whether or not I'm doing it right - whether or not I'm making her worse? Yes.
Very well put. So many places just dont have enough volunteers that can work with cats like this, and are already struggling to find spots for the healthy/friendly moms and babies.
Although of course there is no cut-off age, I think when people say these things they mostly mean that before that age it will probably take less time and allow more kittens to be helped. Very sad for the feral babies Like white cat lover said, either way someone pays the price
post #8 of 18
I think I should also add - in the case here I do think when we cannot find farm homes for them they are better off euthanized than spending an indefinite time stuck in a cage terrified when there aren't the people to work with them/socialize them. We don't have the space, the staff, nor the funds to save them all.

My Molly was a scared former feral who came around fairly quickly - black/white bi-color with a mustache. God I remember how many people came to look at her (that mustache of hers was a big plus)! Yet once everyone met her they didn't want her - she didn't like to be picked up out of her cage. We had sooo many approved applications on her - but when people met her they didn't want her. I've had her for a few years now - she wants to walk up to you to be picked up rather than just be picked straight up, she'll lay on her back in my arms - but for 5 months she sat there unadopted until I took her home at the last minute.

Even in a rural area it's hard to find farm homes - we have so many who want "kid friendly" cats their kids can pick up! And to get people to adopt to indoor homes - we get people who flip because we charge money for a cat! They think we should be grateful they're willing to take them & give them away free. (Actually had someone say that to me today)
post #9 of 18
My shelter is great about ferals, unless they are so bad the vet cant handle them - we either TNR or socialise them. Kittens are always socialised (we have never come across a kitten that we couldnt handle enough to vaccinate etc)

But - we only have three people who can socialise them and it is a lot of work for us. We have lots of people who think they are helping and undo all the work we do. For example a black male feral about a year old. I had been working with him a while and he finally trusted me enough that I could pick him up etc. I picked him up and put him on a cat tree near a window to take a better photo of him for the website. In walks a volunteer with a black older kitten and shoves it in his face saying oooh look you have a twin. I got scratched pulling apart the two cats and they were both put on quarantine (public health are strict here - we are supposed to report if one licks us!). Unless it is a very nasty unprovoked bite we dont euthanise for quarantines and they were both feral and sticking around a while. But that quarantine note stayed in the minds of volunteers and when adopters were in the room - not knowing the circumstances of the quarantine - they would tell people he was nasty because he was on quarantine at one point.

Even with a well organised socialisation team, it just isnt always possible. My black kitty turned into a sweetheart and was adopted by someone who looked at him and said 'he needs me' but there are not enough of those adopters - everyone wants to take home the sweet loving ones.

Personally, I took home one of the nastiest cats we had in the shelter, two years later and she is a little princess and adores attention - not your typical socialised feral behaviour and she was 3 or 4 years old when I adopted her. I see her feral tendencies if there are strangers in the house but thankfully she has turned into the scared hiding one instead of the eat your face off type of feral in those circumstances. But it is a huge commitment and not for everyone
post #10 of 18
Some people are just clueless about cats. I don't mean the dedicated volunteers who work at the shelter tirelessy and endlessly to find better lives for those subject to kitty jail. I understand that many shelters are understaffed and under-funded to be able to work with strays with feral tendencies, versus a cute kitty surrendered because it was growing up and outliving its cuteness.

I had a lady last year call me about adopting out a kitten. She filled out my adoption form online, I called her vet and references then contacted her and told her she could come out and meet the family and we would see how it goes.

She arrived here, looked quite matronly, a bit older than she sounded on the phone, but she looked okay.

She walked into the living room where I had several kittens on the floor playing, while a few were perched on the top of cat condo. She squealed when she saw the kittens- ran over and took one of the kittens off the top of the condo (6 feet high) then dropped it in the middle of the floor onto the group of kittens underneath! Then she danced around them like a drunken sailor in a circle squealing "kitty fight! kitty fight!" I swear true story- she also couldn't understand why she was escorted rather quickly out my door and told NEVER to return! It took me weeks to rebond with that cluster of kittens and show them that all humans aren't loco.
post #11 of 18
Good God!!!!!!!!!!!!
post #12 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by hissy View Post
Some people are just clueless about cats. I don't mean the dedicated volunteers who work at the shelter tirelessy and endlessly to find better lives for those subject to kitty jail. I understand that many shelters are understaffed and under-funded to be able to work with strays with feral tendencies, versus a cute kitty surrendered because it was growing up and outliving its cuteness.

I had a lady last year call me about adopting out a kitten. She filled out my adoption form online, I called her vet and references then contacted her and told her she could come out and meet the family and we would see how it goes.

She arrived here, looked quite matronly, a bit older than she sounded on the phone, but she looked okay.

She walked into the living room where I had several kittens on the floor playing, while a few were perched on the top of cat condo. She squealed when she saw the kittens- ran over and took one of the kittens off the top of the condo (6 feet high) then dropped it in the middle of the floor onto the group of kittens underneath! Then she danced around them like a drunken sailor in a circle squealing "kitty fight! kitty fight!" I swear true story- she also couldn't understand why she was escorted rather quickly out my door and told NEVER to return! It took me weeks to rebond with that cluster of kittens and show them that all humans aren't loco.
This is why it is soooo hard to part with cats you have spent a lot of time working with and getting into emotional and physical shape.
post #13 of 18
The first family (of 3) ferals that I socialized were 2 years old when I took them in. I didn't have a clue about feral cats at the time, but managed to socialize them quite well. I later took in a pair of 4 month olds with no issue - one of them bit me and I had to quarantine them for rabies and thought, what the heck, just socialize them while I'm at it. Lucky Pierre was about 18 months before I really started to work with him. The rest of mine were born feral, but I did bring them inside before they were 8 weeks old.

Younger than 8 weeks old is a no brainer to socialize. Anything older than that takes a little bit more time and patience. I think that's why you hear people giving up once they are older than that - there's a perception that it is too hard and frankly too many people want to adopt the perfect cat with no work.
post #14 of 18
TCS is definitely one place that works to fight the myth that kittens older than 8 weeks old cannot be socialized. There are so many wonderful success stories here.

I really HATE that the two U.S. National orgs that support feral cats really don't help break that 8 week old myth.

Seriously - even kittens up to 6 months old don't take so long to socialize if you've got the right place and mind set to work with them.
post #15 of 18
not me, I never give up, I have socialized ferals as old as 5 years old, so I dont believe there is an age limit to where they cant be socialized, my oldest, Midnight , vet said she was about 5 years old when I brought her in, yea she was wild at first but little time and she was socialized with the other 5 resident cats I have here, so I dont belive that there is an age limit or a time when a feral cat cant be socialized at all , and Midnight was just 1 of many older cats rescued to. you love and care for them no matter what age they will eventually trust you and the other cats in the house and become one with family, older ones just need more time especially ones that have never had human contact,
Quote:
Originally Posted by Autumnblueangel View Post
Hi Guys,

Maybe somebody can enlighten me as to this issue that has got me scratching my head and wondering "huh?" whenever it comes up.

I know that many of you rescue cats, and deal with new litters & kittens on a daily basis, and I also know that the USA is a lot different to Australia...

However, I also have rescued, and I've also helped rear/raise quite a few litters of kittens myself, and this is where my huh? moment comes in...

I have seen quite a few threads, where people seem to just give up on 5, 6, 7, 8 week old "ferals" because they aren't socialized enough...

I find myself blinking and in my huh moment, because I've had kittens, gone through all the ages and stages, seen them develop, various litters etc, and to me, anytime up until 4 months (16 weeks) they can be rehabilitated - they're babies, not adults but people keep refering to them as if they are beyond hope?

Two of my eldest cats, Lilly-Jade & Jessavyn were feral kittens. I rescued them when they were 8 weeks old, living in someones front yard. Lilly was emaciated and lying on concrete in 117 degree Fahrenheit temperatures.

I took them both, and pulled them back to health, and they are both the most loving, cuddly, big fat cats that you could ever meet... young + feral doesn't always = doomed.

Any opinions on this? am I taking something out of context? is there something I'm missing when people talk like this?

thanks!
post #16 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by buehler740 View Post
not me, I never give up, I have socialized ferals as old as 5 years old, so I dont believe there is an age limit to where they cant be socialized, my oldest, Midnight , vet said she was about 5 years old when I brought her in, yea she was wild at first but little time and she was socialized with the other 5 resident cats I have here, so I dont belive that there is an age limit or a time when a feral cat cant be socialized at all , and Midnight was just 1 of many older cats rescued to. you love and care for them no matter what age they will eventually trust you and the other cats in the house and become one with family, older ones just need more time especially ones that have never had human contact,
I absolutely agree. You never know the timeline. We had a DEAF feral kitten that couldn't be touched or loved or played with and then one day at the age of 2 years old, she decided to be a lap cat. She turned into the neatest lovebug who loved being brushed and loved on. I really think that all this time she'd been watching our interaction with our other three cats and it finally penetrated that she wanted some of that! YOU JUST NEVER KNOW AND NEVER GIVE UP, because one day they will blow your socks off! And it is the coolest thing in the world!
post #17 of 18
I have four seven month old feral female kittens, we have had them since they were four months old. They were terrified when they first got here, would keep thier backs turned to us and would never even look at us. They are not completely social, but we have made GREAT progress! They will eat in front of me and two will eat off my hand! two of them will let me pet all over them and I am working on getting to the point I can pick them up. One will let me touch her on the head only with my finger and one is pretty darn scared still! but she is making progress.....it takes time!
post #18 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Momofmany View Post
and frankly too many people want to adopt the perfect cat with no work.
There's no such thing as no work with any pet. Having pets, like children, is and always will be work. Sadly, a lot of people don't realize this and aren't responsible, so you get unaltered dogs and cats running the neighborhood or they get dumped off somewhere.

I think the OP was speaking more about individuals on here giving up before really starting and poor information found, not so much about shelters.


And hissy's story spooked me! If I had been there she probably would have been pulling me out from under the furniture along with the kittens.
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