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Friendly feral dilemna

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
Here's a little update on Junior, a black kitten I've been feeding. He's actually becoming somewhat socialized! He meows at me and purrs loudly whenever he sees me, and runs right at me as I put his food down. Of course, he still won't let me touch him, but he is very comfortable hanging out in my neighbors bushes.

A couple days ago, I came home and put down his food as usual. I then went into the garage and was doing some work, and I heard a loud cry. Junior had walked into the garage. I thought maybe he needed something, but he was just exploring. I couldn't believe he actually felt comfortable enough to do this.

Earlier today, I was working on the front lawn (redoing the sprinkler system with my dad) and he was out and about. I saw him chasing flies, and he looked like he was in a playful mood, so I grabbed my cat Snowball's cat dancer toy (she doesn't care for it) and tested it out with Junior. At first, he just stared at the toy, but after a little bit he was chasing it like crazy. It was so funny; I tried to keep the toy moving away from me, but every once in a while it would spring back towards me and he would chase it down, only to realize that he was right next to me and run away. But, it was something else to see this feral kitten interacting with me. I put it away for a bit to continue working on the yard, and he actually cried out to me to play more. Later on he even trusted me enough to sleep right in front of me as I worked.

I'm so glad that I've been able to socialize him to some degree. The problem I'm running into is my neighbors. They are very nice people, but they don't want Junior staying in their bushes. He poops all over their front lawn and mine (we dug up a bunch of dirt to lay down new pipes, so our lawn basically became a huge litterbox). I have to say, digging through that stuff all day today, it really did stink. It's not fair to my neighbors that I feed this kitten but they have to deal with his poop. I can't let him stay in my yard, for a couple of reasons. First, Snowball stays there and she HATES Junior. Everytime she sees him she chases him, hissing the whole time. Second, I'm still living with my folks, and they are okay with Snowball but don't want any more cats living in the back yard.

I'm at a crossroads with Junior, and ferals in general. He's getting older, and about ready to get neutered. I have already built a temporary trap (he refused to eat out of the standard trap when I had it set up for another cat) and he's comfortable eating out of it. It breaks my heart, but I think at this point I have to remove him from the area. I didn't think he would become attached to me (none of the other ferals ever did, they remain as afraid as ever, even though I've fed them for a while now). I know that sounds stupid, I mean he was a scared little kitten and suddenly this person is feeding and watering him so of course he got attached.

You know, I'm not even sure what my question is I just feel conflicted and I want the best for Junior. What can I do? I want to find an adoptive home, but with a person who specifically works with ferals. I know he can be socialized easily, but it would still take a feral-friendly person to do it. Should I just start putting up adoption signs asking for feral-friendly people? I hear from lots of people here how they catch feral kittens, socialize them, and find homes for them. How do you find these adopters? Through your cat rescue groups, or just putting up signs, or what? I'm so tired right now (for other reasons) so I'm not exactly thinking straight so forgive me if I'm babbling. I guess i'm just looking for any thoughts and suggestions.
post #2 of 12
Where are you located?
post #3 of 12
Thread Starter 
Hissy, I'm in Milpitas, CA (next to San Jose).
post #4 of 12
Glen, I don't have time right now to respond the way I would like to. But in the meantime, I think the best thing to do is to advertise for feral-friendly people to adopt this kitty.

I do think you should use an adoption agreement, and screen these people carefully. Tell your neighbors you are seeking a home for him, if they could please be patient while you find one, you are sympathetic to the problem.

There is an adoption agreement (it's a Word doc, and I'm sure you'll want to make changes to it) in the Rescue section of www.SaveSamoa.org .... and you should feel comfortable asking for both personal references and vet references from potential adopters. I think Jr should only go to people who have socialized ferals before, and you may want to try calling local rescue groups as well.

We've adopted out our ferals to non-rescuers, but they go armed with a lot of material on socializing ferals (You can print out Lucky's story, stickied at the top of this forum), MA's articles available in the behavior section of TCS (not the forums), etc.

We've compiled some of this material on the rescue section of www.savesamoa.org - you can check it out via clicking on the links in my signature line.
post #5 of 12
Thread Starter 
Thanks so much for the advice, Laurie. I'm going to get the word doc as soon as I get off work.
post #6 of 12
Thread Starter 
Well, I've been lagging on putting up fliers for Junior, but I'm going to draft it up tonight and put it in several clinics around Milpitas and also the local pet food stores. I'm going to say something about him being semi-socialized, about three months old, hasn't been neutered, needs a patient and understanding person that has worked with ferals before. I'm not sure if I should ask for a donation as a show of good will; I certainly wouldn't mind paying for the neutering and initial shots myself, and I don't want to seem like I'm just looking for someone else to pay all the money, but at the same time I want to make sure the home is a good one. I have to be especially careful because he's a black cat and it's that time of year.

In other news, I actually petted him last night! For the past couple of days he'll wind around my legs when I go to feed him, which was so encouraging. So, last night, I went out to spend some time with him, and I couldn't walk a couple of steps without him winding in and out. He's very playful, too. He would wrap his arm around my leg and bite my sweats. Then he started rubbing his cheeks against my foot and even kneaded my leg for about 3 seconds. I was standing still the whole time; I didn't want him to think that human parts are toys. Still, he got to my toes (I was wearing sandals) and started to bite my toe, so I just looked him in the eye and said firmly "NO." He seemed to get the message.

Anyhoo, I squatted down and put my fist out to see if he would head butt it, but he is still scared of my hands. However, he rubbed all over my legs, and when he was facing away from me, I snuck in some petting. He was purring loudly, but also seemed a bit uncomfortable. Basically, I would pet him, he would kind of back off, but then run back and start rubbing against me again. When I tried to go back inside, he kept following me, even though I put some food down he ignored it. He actually wanted attention more than food!

My only worry is that I hear ferals tend to bond with one person, but I hope that he now knows that people can be loving and will adapt to a new home. Wish me luck!
post #7 of 12
You may want to also contact Jeri who works with neo natal kittens in Redwood City, CA. She is an amazing woman and may have some suggestions on how to get him adopted. Here is her site (warning..the kittens are just TOO CUTE for words).

Safe Haven for Cats
post #8 of 12
He sounds like such a love, I hope you find someone with the patience and time to invest in him.
post #9 of 12
Can you lure Junior into the garage or house with food? Why not see if it works, then close the door and keep him inside a bit. When we trained Mysty, we pet him while he was eating his food. It was really a chore trying to close the sliding door before Mysty bolted outside, as he was terrified of the house and having the door close on him. I devised this method of tying the drapery to the patio door handle with a rubber band, so Mysty couldn't see the sliding door. If you can get Junior inside and close the door, you'll be able to train him to a litter box. This way, the neighbors won't complain. I live by a large wooded area, so if there are any outdoor cats, all they have to do is find their own litter box under some leafy matter in the woods. You can get some dirt, leaves, or non-toxic foliage from the yard, shred it with your hands, and place it on top of the kitty litter.

I was just resting on the basement recliner with Pumpkin in my lap. She's a cat that was meowing for help and we took her first into the garage, then to the vet, and into the house. Pumpkin is so different from Mysty, who was a true feral kitten.

I have another dilemma similar to yours. The night we spotted Pumpkin meowing for help, another black and white cat was eating out of Pumpkin's food dish on the porch. The cat has been appearing on our porch and my daughter has been feeding the cat and, naturally, it won't leave our porch or yard. As I type, the cat is lying on a wicker settee on the back porch. This cat looks like a grown-up version of Hissy's avatar, a very nice-looking cat, mostly all white, but with black ears, a little black on its face, and a large black/grey brindle saddle patch on its back. It's also a very large cat with long legs and I'm not even sure if it would fit in a cat carrier. I'm almost positive it's a female. Lately, the cat has been rolling on its back in front of our patio door, and meowing, kind of like Pumpkin did, but not so emphatically.

My husband says if I adopt this cat, he's leaving. So, two cats aren't so bad, but three or four??

If you train Junior and decide to keep him, please get him neutered. Don't do as we did with Mysty and wait too long. And don't believe anything you read about toms roaming for a day or two, then returning home. Toms can roam for weeks and the longer they're gone, the greater the odds of something terrible happening, like getting hit by a car. This is most likely what happened to our Mysty cat.
post #10 of 12
Thread Starter 
Caterpillar, thanks for the suggestions. Unfortunately, I can't take him in. I will definately get him neutered soon. I built a temporary trap (more so for another feral I've been trying to trap) but at this point I can rent the live trap and just lead him into it, he's that comfortable with me.

I drew up a draft of the flier I'm going to post. It basically has the headline "Friendly feral kitten needs a home!" Then I have a little picture of him, and then the body of the flier goes like this:

"A friendly feral kitten, approx. 3-4 months old, needs a home. He (or she) was found about a month ago. I believe he is the kitten of one of the ferals in the colony I take care of. He started out very scared of human contact, but within a month of being fed, he has become somewhat comfortable with me. He will wind around my legs, loves to play, but is scared of hands (though I can pet him briefly). I believe that given a loving and understanding home, he will blossom into a great housecat.

If you are interested, I really do prefer someone who has worked with ferals before. Feral cats tend to be more skittish and may not ever become lap cats, no matter how much time you give them. They show their love on their own terms."

Obviously, it's not done. I have such a hard time with this kind of thing; I want to convey that this is not a lovey dovey kitten who will immediately jump on your lap; you have to be prepared for the possibility that he'll always be skittish. I guess I'm trying to avoid people who want to do an "impulse" rescue of a cute kitten. At the same time, I want to convey that Junior has become friendly in a very short time and has a good chance of being a loving house cat. Do you guys have any suggestions to improve this? Am I giving too much or too little info? Thanks in advance for any suggestions.
post #11 of 12
Two cats aren't that many and I've always believed that cats, whenever possible, should stay in their own environments.
post #12 of 12
Glen, I don't think it needs anymore work. It conveys the message well.

Although - new thought just occurred.

Perhaps you should add that you'd be willing to work with someone not experienced with feral cats, and that you have lots of resources for the right, patient and caring person interested.


You're putting time into Junior - it could just as easily go into a phonecall with the "right" person with little or no experience. Look at all the people with no experience that found a feral and turned him or her into a wonderful pet.

If they're willing to fill out the rigorous adoption papers we've got up in the rescue section of Save Samoa - then they're pretty dedicated. You could do a home visit before the adoption, see the room where they plan to keep Junior separate. You could even add to the adoption agreement the requirement that they register on TCS and post here to get the support they'll need socializing him.

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