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Help! Taming 6 Month Old Feral!

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 

Hi everyone,


Four days ago I adopted a 5-6month old feral girl (Emmy). We had success taming a 3 month old feral kitten earlier this year and I fell in love with this girl and couldn't leave her (her 2 litter mates were being adopted together). Currently, she is crated in our bedroom. At night she cries but when we open the crate she comes out (happily) and explores and climbs. We have another kitten (Oscar) who is the same age as her and they both get along well. We were going to wait to introduce them, but Oscar snuck into the bedroom and set up camp right next her to cage. He refuses to leave her side! At night when we let her out he chases her and they play, and she does not seem stressed out by him one bit.


She is stressed out by my boyfriend and I, on the other hand. She is eating and using the litter box. We only feed her wet food when we are there, and we spoon feed her chicken flavored baby food (and pet her as we are doing so). She still hisses and spits if we get too close, we have to really convince her to come to the baby food. 


I know it has only been 4 days but I am wondering if there is anything else anyone would suggest? I know people say that 6 months is a little too old to socialize, but I really think we can do this and give this little girl a wonderful home! 


Thanks, everyone :) 

post #2 of 22
6 months is definitely not too old - the one that is sleeping on my lap right now was +/- 4 when i trapped her.

check out this thread - - it is a somewhat similar situation. please feel free to ask as many questions as you may have, there are lots of knowledgeable people here to offer assistance and support.

you are doing a wonderful thing - thank you!
post #3 of 22
Originally Posted by kmaher View Post
I know people say that 6 months is a little too old to socialize, but I really think we can do this and give this little girl a wonderful home! 



Nay, nay! It seems some folks at Human Society and the alike tell so. I dont think they really mean it. I think they want to discourage people without conviction, patience or true love.  Which is well done, of course.  If you arent determined, you shall not do it, just for a try. "Dont give promises if you cant keep them". 

You can try out a used car if it feels comfortable, but not if a cat who needs fostering.

Them cats will just go back and give problems to the shelters too. OR get abandoned without being used to live outside, after living most part of their short live in the shelter and the "fostering" place....


But for these others, the determined, these with love, these with patience.

6 years is difficult and takes years, I admit. But can often be done, with enough time etc... 

- 6 months is "nothing".    :)


And you had her just 4 days?  You have already gone astonishingly far!  You are doing very well, and as you have also help of your friendly resident, it will go even easier...   She perhaps will always be a little shy to strangers, but she will surely become a nice family pet with time. Months, not years.

You will succeed, not any doubt.    :)


The ONLY reservation I do have, you apparently didnt had an appropriate time of quarantine, as is usually recommended...  Hope you had her vet checked, and got OK.



Welcome to our Forums!


Good luck!

post #4 of 22
Thread Starter 

Hi All,

Thank you for the responses! Last night we had a major breakthrough and we were able to swaddle her in a t-shirt and pet her for 30 minutes until she stretched out and fell asleep! She also decided that she is done with the cage and prefers to explore our bedroom instead.

As for the quarantine, she was fixed and given all of her vaccinations before I even got her (she was trapped on Dec 29th). She was checked out by the vet, and when I called about getting her vet records faxed to me the vet said she is perfectly healthy and has no health issues that would prevent her from meeting Osar immediately (given she was willing to). So, thankfully that worked out.


I agree with you that the rescue league was wrong in saying that 6months is too old! She is just a tiny baby and I think we can earn her trust :) 

post #5 of 22

My feral/tamed is 8-9 months old.  Yes there were people that told me she was too old too. The first time I brought Iris home she was in a big dog cage and she hated it!! Second time around which was a few weeks later, I brought her home and just let her stay in a room by herself. Check out my posts "feral turned tame".

sounds like she really wanted out of that cage and you being able to cuddle her for that period of time is great.  I know the exact feeling! Glad your other kitty is so loving.

Thanks for sharing your story. Lets see pictures.

post #6 of 22
Thread Starter 

HI All!


Thank you so much for your replies! I need some help again! 


We have had Emmy for about 2 weeks. She has come a long way and is no longer in her crate, but now she is in our home office. Our other kitten, Oscar, loves Emmy and they play together all day and night. They sleep together, clean each other...are really just in love. I think it is wonderful that they are able to get along so well and Oscar has been so friendly to her, but she is not warming up to my boyfriend and I at all. We are not pushing her, and not touching her. We sit across the room from her when she eats and talk quietly to her. We lay in the room and she just stares at us. She is no longer hiding under things,but just sits in the corner and looks at us. She is comfortable eating with us around, but hesitant to start-once she starts she is fine. Last night she was even playing with a feather toy! Seemed she had come such a long way. 


Last night at 2am we woke up to the sound of a pingpong ball (Oscar's favorite toy) bouncing around our hallway. My boyfriend walked out into the hallway and the two kittens were in the living room playing! Emmy had left her safe room! My boyfriend automatically swaddled her in a towel and put her back into the safe room (we had been told by the ASPCA that letting her roam around the house was too risky, as she may just hide and not come back out). 


This morning though, it's as if she is a different cat. She won't let us sit near her and she won't eat. She is back to hiding under things, and the second she hears us she starts hissing. 


HELP! Should I let her wander around the house at night? Do we keep her confined to one safe room? There is so much conflicting info around, I really just don't know what the 'right' thing for her is.


I would love to continue the great progress she has been making! 


Here is a picture of the 2 love bugs: Emmy is our new feral (grey) and Oscar is our kitten (adopted as a feral at 3 months old/now 7 months)


post #7 of 22
Welcome to the site and thanks.gif for what you are doing for Emmy and Oscar (cute names smile.gif). Here is an article that will give you many suggestions and steps to take Hope that helps you out. Slower, and even slower, is better when socializing. It is best to keep them confined for as long as it takes until you are able to pet them and they are making advances to you for pets and attention. Otherwise, they will hide somewhere and progress will be greatly slowed. You are doing just great so far and I think they are coming along quite well. So rewarding, right?!!!!! biggrin.gifclap.gifclap.gif
post #8 of 22
Thread Starter 
Hi everyone,
Just wanted to update you all! Emmy is coming along so well! She is coming out of hiding willingly and while we still can't touch her, she hangs out near us no problem!
post #9 of 22
that is excellent progress in so short a period of time! clap.gif

keep up the great work and please post updates on the continued progress
post #10 of 22
Thread Starter 

We had a major breakthrough over the weekend! We have been letting Emmy walk through the house as she chooses, and have not been approaching her or trying to handle her. My boyfriend and I put her food down and sit near her and talk to each other, but never pressure her to let us touch her. Over the weekend we were snowed in with the two kittens and as a result were around Emmy 24/7. Yesterday evening, she decided to sit on the couch near us and play with Oscar! She even came and sat next to me while I ate my dinner (thinking it was food for her)! We are still not touching her much, but she is getting comfortable in our presence and has even started chasing her toys with us in the same room. I know that we didn't necessarily keep  her isolated for as long as many advise (we have had her for 3 weeks and she was isolated for 2 of them), but she seems comfortable now and her and Oscar are doing very well. In 3 weeks she has come a long way. 


Here she is yesterday!


post #11 of 22

that is great news! she certainly is making tremendous progress. keep on with what you are doing and soon enough she will be craving pets and rubs from you.

btw - they are both adorable!
post #12 of 22
Originally Posted by kmaher View Post

Here she is yesterday!

SO CUTE!!! This is great, great news. Congratulations on your progress. clap.gifclap.gifclap.gifclap.gifclap.gif
post #13 of 22
Thread Starter 

Ok! One more update! We are coming along with Emmy every day! She is now out wandering around the house as she chooses (a little skittish at times, but overall really great). She wrestles out in the open with Oscar and will let us pick her up to snuggle on the couch. She loves to snuggle and purrs anytime we rub her belly. She isn't approaching us on her own yet but she is never shy if we pet her and put her on the couch. She is coming for food and isn't acting stressed out. She does still like to hide sometimes, but it has only been a month so I am sure this is expected.


This is Emmy lounging on the couch with me on Monday afternoon :) 

post #14 of 22

Oh my gosh,


6 months is not to old to socialize.  I take care of a feral cat colony that I discovered at a wrecking yard.  I met a 3 yr old cat that was born at the yard and it took me a couple of months sitting every day at the steps of a school bus sticking my hand thru the stairs, and he finally loved my hand.  I now pick him up, brush his beautiful Chocolate Himalayan coat and kiss him.  I have domesticated 20 cats, some adults, some kittens, and have placed 13 in good homes.


My colony has a constant food supply, both dry and wet, but what gets them every time is Black Forest ham.  I get them to come to me with the lunch meat.  It get them used to coming to me, not the other way around and if I can get them to take the ham from my fingers, it is only a little time till I put the food at my feet and when they go for it, I get that first pet in.  Then they are mine.



post #15 of 22
Hi.I have a 2 yr old dsh female named Gizzy that I tamed.She was part if a litter where only only 2 kittens survived. I fed and played with them with a shoestring for about four months but they never allowed me to pet or hold them. When the time came when they allowed me to get close enough I trapped her sister first , which I named Stray-K, took her to a shelter then I trapped Gizzy and took her. When I took Gizzy in I asked for her to be kept with her sister and they said ok. The next day I called to see how they were & I was informed Stray-K had been put down bcuz she was "unable to be rehabilitated" and Gizzy was scheduled next for the same reason. I was furious bcuz I was promised that wouldn't happen.I felt and still feel so horrible. It was my first time trying to help a kitten so I was naive to the process . I mean how did they know that she couldn't be tamed after only 3 days. So I said I wanted Gizzy & they refused. So I got on their Facebook site and asked for help. After receiving about 300 phone calls from furious people who heard my plea the shelter called and told I could have her back but I had to pay an adoption fee of $60 bcuz she had been spayed ,immunized, and dipped. That was fine with me.
So I did all the research I could on taming a feral. After many pain staking months of trying and failing a night came where Gizzy jumped on my bed, licked my face , gave me a slow blink and laid down beside me to sleep. A few weeks later she was grooming my other cats and sleeping on her back. She's still not much on being held but I'm fine with that. It's a slow hard process filled with more failure then progress. Then BOOM, one day you're rewarded for all your hard work and they decided you can be trusted. I'm new to this site and Im not sure if this was the correct forum for this but I wanted to tell my story.
post #16 of 22
Thread Starter 

Hi Nikers,

I am so glad to hear how well Gizzy is doing! We have had Emmy for 6 1/2 months now and she has done a complete turn around! As I type this she sits on the desk next to me, patiently waiting for me to pet her. She is a complete snuggler and purs non stop when we pet her. If she is hungry she tends to get a little grumpy and not want as much attention, but once she has a full belly all she wants is to cuddle! Here she is with other kitten, Oscar. They are completely in love with each other and I really couldn't be more thankful for us coming across this scared little feral girl!


post #17 of 22
My Buster was the same age. Though we thought she was a he at first, hence the name Buster for a girl cat. :-)

Buster is now almost 5 and a half years old. She does still have a lot of her feral roots. She isnt the type to follow me around or any of that. She is terrifies of strangers to the point even if they are in a different room she will still hide. She is still skittish with most of my family but they do not spend a lot of time with her. As for with me we are best buddies.

What is interesting. For the first three years she was never a lap cat. I could pick her up and pet her or sit next to her and pet her. But if i sat down she was gone. Never on the lap. And she only came to sleep with me after i had gone to sleep and was gone by morning. I know because a few times i woke up at night and felt her sitting pressed against me.

But then i got my job at Best Buy. I started during the holidays. I was part time but was there a lot. And then my job became full time. From the moment i started she suddenly became a lap cat. I could not pry her off my lap. She would sit on my lap for hours. It woukd get to the point i would need tonuse the bathroom but i could not get up.

I once needed to be at the store at 4am. I found Buster sleeping next to me, leaning against me. I tried to gently nudge her aside so i could get up. The little loony stood up, stretched, and then sat down right on top of me and immediately went back to sleep.

And unlike most other cats she actually likes tummy rubs. She will turn over and show me her tummy to be petted. When she wants to be petted on the tummy she will not grab at me but just purrs.

I love my cat. Buster is a beautiful brown mackerel tabby with these gorgeous gold eyes but with green in the middle. She is a big cat - her proper weight being between 11.5 and 12 pounds. I often mistake other adult cats for kittens when i pick them up i have gotten so used to Buster's larger size. She is the queen of my heart. There is not a thing i would not do to make my Buster happy.
post #18 of 22

Hi @AwesomeCat :wavey:

This thread is pretty old but I can see you've found your way around the site and introduced yourself.

Buster is definitely a gorgeous boy.. :)

post #19 of 22
I actually discovered this site via this string. Via a google search. I was looking up articles to share with my brothers and parents about feral cata so they might better understand Buster. They had asked me again about why she is so skittish. And finding this - I cannot resist the chance to show off my Buster.

Please forgive me. Buster is a girl. Boys name I know. Initially I was told she was a boy. By the time I found out Buster is a girl she had gotten used to Buster. Plus the vet who told me gave me five minutes to come up with a new name. So she stayed Buster. And it does fit the little buster.

Though it was a little worrisome when the vet took her from mw for her surgery and made a comment about forgetting Buster is a she. Not something you want to hear when your baby kitty is going in for a very gender specific procedure!!!
post #20 of 22

I just read your story and am so sorry for what happened to you with the shelter ignoring your request. I know it was a few years ago, but I would have been just as devastated. Good for you for getting help on FB and getting them to give you Gizzy!


We just trapped 2 feral kittens - both 6 mos.  We were feeding them for a month and provided a carrier with wool sweaters for them to sleep in at the site. Then we started putting the food in the carrier and we just shut the door one day.

(I felt so badly for doing this I was almost sick. I know it's for their own good, but it's so hard to break weeks of built up trust!)


Anyway, their sister is still out there and I'm so anxious about getting her. She is much smaller and was always very timid at feeding. She'd wait a long time and only come after her brothers had eaten most of the food.

I hated that we left her 'alone'.

She didn't show up for food yesterday and tonight she didn't come out to eat while i was there, but I saw her. So at least i know she's ok.

She's clever and hasn't even gone near the traps I've set out.


It's really really comforting to read everyone's story and know that others understand what it's like to have so much concern and love for these little creatures.

And of course, to know that other people do care about feral cats and their well-being!

post #21 of 22
I know people are not going to like my saying this. Buy why? Why catch ferals? I took my cat Buster in but I wanted her. Why catch feral cats for the sake of catching them?

Dont get me wrong. I LOVE cats. I love cats more than people. But why must we catch them. Why not leave them alone. All these cats in shelters. Cats arent dogs. They are one of the few domesticated species that can survive if returned to the wild. Cats do not need us. Yes I know feral cats have a shorter life. But what we do with cats is the same as trying to catch all rabbits and putting them in shelters and homes. A pet rabbit does live longer than an outdoor rabbit. So do many other species if taken into homes or zoos.

In fact I am not even fully in support of the trap and fix idea either. Why? Why do that? How many other species do we do that to? Is it because some arrrogant human just doesnt like the idea of stray cats in their neighborhood. Cats do not need us. Even strays can make it on their own. I think we should just leave them be. Many of them are probably better off without us.
post #22 of 22
I think I can understand why one wouldn't deliberately catch and try to re-domesticate a feral cat. Most of us who have done this, though, have done so because the cat came to us.

But I am in full support of TNR programs. Returning a cat to his or her area after fixing it and then supporting it with food and shelter is the only humane solution to a problem people created. The cats reproduce to the point where there is not enough for and territory for them all. Then terrible things happens - fights with horrible injuries, starvation, etc.

It is akin to people tearing down the Amazon and then being surprised when the animals seek shelter in the populated areas. Or the elephants come into villages, seeking food, when their forests are cut down.

PEOPLE created this problem. They domesticated the cat eons ago for their own purposes and now have decided the cat doesn't need them. But cats are domesticated, whether we think so or not. And with that comes a responsibility.
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