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New to fostering ferals...help!

post #1 of 3
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So my friends have been feeding this lovely little tortie girl for about 6 months now. The landlord found out that they let her inside sometimes, and he is threatening to evict them. My friends find me and say, "Kara, you have much better cat contacts than we do, can you take her somewhere?" I agree to find an adoption agency to take care of the cat, since I work at Petsmart.

I bring her in and show her to the most trusted agency we have there, Stray Katz. The founder says she is about 3 years old and seems friendly, but very scared and she would probably be terrified in a cage in a store with a million people screaming and that she needs a foster home for some time...just to socialize her. She is almost indefinitely feral.

So, the softy that I am, agree to take her home for a few weeks to at least keep her out of the cold until we can put her up for adoption. I have two other cats and I have kept her in my guest bedroom for the past month or so with ample toys, food and water. She spends every moment afraid under the bed. She only comes out when no one is in the room...if I walk in the room and she is on the windowsill, she will dart under the bedso I can't see her.

She was tested (negative) for FIV and FeLV...and she's just been living under my bed for weeks. I decided that maybe I should introduce her to my other two very well behaved and loving boy kitties. Before doing so, I brought a fecal sample to the vet to make sure she wouldn't give them any parasites. Turns out she has roundworms. Vet gives me drontal and I break it up in her food and I set her up in my walk-in closet so I can really moniter her and make sure she taked the pills.

My question is, I sat on the floor in the closet with her...she had nothing to run under, and she was just non stop purring and rubbing against me and looking into my eyes and loving me. Why can't she do this out in the open? She was butting her head into my hands so I would pet her and stuff like that. I hate to keep her in a closet, but I think I am going to do it until her fecal test comes up clear.
post #2 of 3
Why can't she do this out in the open?
She will, in time. And sometimes that is a LOT of time.
A few tips:
Stay low. Sit or better yet lay on the floor.
No sudden movements.
Be in the room without actually trying to get her attention, just let her watch you.
Hand feed her, don't just leave food down. Let her make the connection between you and food.

I am sure the others will have more advice. Just be patient.

She may or may not benefit from meeting the other cats. Some cats LOVE the company of their own kind, others will be threatened.

Thank you for caring for her. Once she trusts, the rewards are boundless.
post #3 of 3
Hi Kara, and welcome to the world of ferals.

Our mantra here is - we must operate on their schedule, not ours. She feels safe on the floor of the closet with you, but not out in the open. It's likely as simple as that. Being an older feral, the sights, sounds and smells of a home are still new to her. A month might seem like a long time to us.

We were feeding a group of feral kittens outside. We brought two of them in and worked to socialize the others outside. It took just a few weeks for the babies to feel completely comfortable in here with us (about 10 - 12 weeks old when we brought them in). One of the outside kitties hissed at and attacked my hubby regularly while he was pouring food into their bowl. This went on the entire summer and fall - even into the severe Winter of last year. It wasn't until sometime in January, when hubby walked over to the picnic table to sit down and cry with frustration that our little feral friend ran over to bump him. It took about seven months - and that was with a kitten that had never known fear of people and had never even been inside - but outside in his own environment.

BTW - he now lives inside with us (inside only), and he is the most loving kitty we have, LOL! He loves being held like a baby by Gary, and though it's been close to a year he's been here, he just let me pick him up to love him like that for the first time a few weeks ago. He would let me pet him - and enjoy it even - but not pick him up. Go figure.

I don't know if you've had the chance to read Lucky's story, but it is a fabulous introduction as to how to work with ferals and how to introduce them to other cats in your home. I know you don't want to keep this kitty, just to socialize him. Unfortunately, this is a process that can take months - or even years in some cases!


I don't say any of this to discourage you. It seems like you've made great progress already. Just to let you know there's no way to know what to expect.

Thank you for being this kitty's angel!!!!

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