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Question about feral behavior with petting

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 


I'm new here wavey.gif but have been reading all the posts about ferals since trying to tame my new little girl, Felicia. I brought her into the house about 6 weeks ago and we have taken lots of steps forward and backwards as other people have posted about.


We are in a good place right now with her coming up to me and asking for pets. She is still very afraid of my hands even though she will rub on them. Sometimes when I'm petting her she will suddenly whip her head around, see my hand and will hiss and swat me with her paw (no claws out and no tail fluffing). She then runs under the bed. I don't know what to do when this happens but I try to not have any reaction. I also don't want to leave the room after this so I let her relax a little and then initiate some play. She comes around immediately to that!


Am I on the right track? Will this get better? Is there anything else I can do or should be doing?


Thanks for any help or support!



(I also have two other cats hence threebabies heart.gif)

post #2 of 7

Its late here, but shortly:


Yes, you are surely on the right track, and yes, it will surely get better and better. You had apparently come a good part of the way already...


How was she in the beginning when you took her in?


Had you let her met your residents yet?? IF so, how are they doing?



Welcome to the site and forums!


Good luck!   *vibes*

post #3 of 7
Thread Starter 

I had been working with her outside for a while before bringing her in and she was letting me pet her outside. We took a step back for a while when she came in and wasn't letting me touch her at all. So we have come a long way. I know I have to keep to her timeline but I just love her so much!


When she was outside she and the other cats saw each other through the back door. There was never any hissing or growling. She was always very excited to see them, purring and head butting the door. They were interested but would get bored quickly and wander away.


Now that she is inside, they have been sniffing each other under the door and I have been trying to do the scent swapping. No face to face meeting yet. Very scared about that paranoid.gif

post #4 of 7

Im thinking. Her reaction may be because for ferale cats hands are not necessary something you cuddle with, it is more often you do swap or even claw with..  It is not completely true, cats can pet with their paw too. You can see it in the morning when your resident comes and cuddles a little with the paw on your face when you are half asleep...  :)   

But you are telling you HAD already doing some petting when outside. So it shouldnt be too much fear here. Perhaps a little uncertainity, but not fear.


I suspect here it is simply she is a little sensitive getting "iching".  So that is why she swats with soft paw "teaching", no clawing.  My oldest, very friendly resident sometimes pretends to bite in this situation... HIS way to show: enough now, Dad.

Do you see what she does afterwards?  Does she scratch or lick the place you touched??


I asked about your residents, mostly  IF she thinks the hand is hostile / feels unsecure, she would look and see you cuddle the residents, and see how they do react.


6 weeks, so the necessary quarantine should be done now...  I suspect you can introduce them whenever you wish now.   I think it should go well.  You had also tried to prepare.


There are several modells.  The modell I advocate, when I think the cats are friendly is:

If you have several residents, begin perhaps with the most friendly.  One on one.


When beginning to introduce, make sure the door into this bathroom/here quarantine room is open a little, so she can go back there whenever she wish, as it is her safety zone.

And of course, make sure there are a lot of possibilities for both of them to go away, so nobody is forced to make her "last stand". Take out the resident from the meeting room, let newcomer search out the room in her own tempo, at least one hour.  In with the resident... 

Some "dutiful" hissing may occur, but it is seldom more than this.


Is one possible modell usually working fine.



Good luck!    *vibes*

Edited by StefanZ - 1/31/12 at 11:50am
post #5 of 7
Thread Starter 

Thank you for your thoughtful replies. I will watch carefully to see if it is always the same area that triggers the response. I know she doesn't do it when I just scratch her back.

post #6 of 7

ah, about the introduction.


If you are anxious they may fight, do  have a big towel or blanket near.

IF they begin to fight, or get really vicious threating with laid back ears and everything (more than just some hissing), set this blanket between  them.  End of the situation.

If they had began to fight, throw it simply over them.  End of the fight.


Another tip may be to clank loudly with something metallic, perhaps kitchen utensils.  This also usually breaks the beginning conflict.


Do not ever try yourself to interfere with the fight, perhaps trying to drag one away.  They may bite or scratch you severely.  Both of them.


This shouldnt be necessary, but it is reassuring for you to know what to do IF, and that you do have suitable weapons too.    :)



ps:  Btw, Playful wrestling matches CAN look rather serious.  But when they fight for real, you cant miss it.  You know. 



Good luck!



post #7 of 7
Welcome to the site biggrin.gifclap.gifclap.gif. You ARE doing a great job with Felicia!!! Just perfect. Stefan has given you great suggestions and I second everything agree.gif. It takes a whole LOT of patience and a whole LOT of love - which you obviously have both of. I have had the same issue in the past when socializing an older feral kitten. In the "safe" room, I would sit on the bed I have in there, she would eventually jump up to be near and play with the interactive toy I had on the bed. It took many, many days to even be able to scritch her under the chin. She would do the same thing after a few pets - would freak out looking at my hand and run off. Eventually, she stopped doing this AND actually started pushing herself on my hand laughing02.gif to be pet. Sometimes I would make her work hard for a pet - this way she was almost desperate for the pets..... but each kitty is different in how much is too much.

Good luck with the intros too cross.gif. Completely agree with Stefan's advice. I really doubt Felicia will be aggressive though. I have YET to have a feral I am socializing be aggressive to my cats - usually the opposite - they are happy to have another cat friend. It usually is the resident cats that will be the ones upset over the new addition. Make sure you DO leave her door open so she can retreat to her safe room. In the initial stages of opening the door - Felicia might not even venture out too far - a few feet before she runs back to her room. Keep us posted vibes.gifvibes.gifvibes.gifvibes.gifvibes.gifvibes.gif
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