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It's impossible to adopt a feral cat

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 
According to Alley Cat Allies, it is impossible to tame a cat that is more than 10 weeks old. I believe the feral cat in my neighborhood is about 1 year or 2 years old. I think I should just systematically stop feeding this cat or else it would depend on me and it's gonna be tramatic for him if I move out of my apartment in the summer. Plus nobody else in my neighborhood agreed to feed this cat if I move out. What do you guys think?
post #2 of 27
I think you are relying too much on what you read...certainly it is harder to tame a feral cat...but it is certainly not impossible. You must however be willing to work with the cat and not expect it to be a lap cat tomorrow. Did you trap the cat yet and get it fixed?? I think you certainly need to do that before you make any decisions.

post #3 of 27
That is not true - it really depends on the individual cat. My Mom's girl cookie is/was a feral and she happily now lives inside - she might be a bit skittish at times but otheriwse is just fine and has no desire to ever go outside again. She is abt. 3-4 yrs. old and we took her in abt. 1yr. ago after her last set of kittens were weaned and adopted out. We also had her spayed!

Yes, the sad fact is that some you just won't be able to bring inside.

If your cat has been around for a number of years I am sure he/she has been tought by mom how to hunt and survive. You feeding it is wonderful and I am sure kitty is thrilled to have found a someone like you.
post #4 of 27
I get so mad every time I read that from one of the better feral "expert" organizations, because they are just plain flat out wrong! Maybe their position is more for rescues that deal with a lot of cats and don't have the time and energy to spend socializing adult ferals, I don't know. What I do know is that they deny a whole lot of cats good homes from well-meaning people (such as yourself) by publishing such rubbish.

Yes, it will take more time than a kitten, but it CAN BE DONE!!!!!! There are MANY people on this board who have successfully integrated adult ferals into their homes and found them to be the most wonderful companions they could ever hope for. These cats appreciate having a home and a person who has proven over time that they can trust them and give back everything they have to their special person. They may not be lap cats, and they will probably always be skittish around strangers and loud noises.

Please don't give up on this special cat because of what one website says. As I said in your other thread, he most likely CAN be socialized with time, patience, acceptance and lots of love.
post #5 of 27
Thread Starter 
Originally posted by TNR1
I think you are relying too much on what you read...certainly it is harder to tame a feral cat...but it is certainly not impossible. You must however be willing to work with the cat and not expect it to be a lap cat tomorrow. Did you trap the cat yet and get it fixed?? I think you certainly need to do that before you make any decisions.

Yeah I'll get the trap tomorrow. I got it from

I guess if for a year and this feral cat still looks unhappy (me tryin to tame it), I'll just let him out.
post #6 of 27
That is not true. I have three outside cats that came to me as feral, I trapped them and had them fixed and the now live in my yard and garage. Two of them, the males are now so loving and sleep with our dog (and months ago they hated the dog) and would make great house cats. The female would be a good house cat if she were an only cat. But they all came to me afraid and now 6 months to a year later you would never know they were feral and 1 to 2 years of age or older at the time. SO those people are WRONG. Even the feral kittens I kept and now have inside took about 2 months before the calmed down and got used to the other inside cat and us.
I just may contact Alley cat allies and let them know
post #7 of 27
Yeah - great decision.- and please give it a year. A year has made such a big difference for Cookie and how she interrelates. She is attached to my mom and just recently has started to give her head butts/kisses. She never growls or hisses and is very gentle. She has the sweetest litte squeak when she greets my mom.

PS: She loves to play with her toys and enjoys her bird eyes view from the cat tree.
post #8 of 27
Ok I am speaking my mind here. I've been known to do that from time to time. If you are going to put a timeline on the cat, you are setting yourself up to fail right out of the gate. Chances are, this cat will be just fine, after he/she simmers down and the two of you adjust, but if you show any insecurity or fear around this cat when it is in your home, it will sense it and react in a negative way, by hiding from you for a long long time.

You have to say to yourself that YOU can do this, you can bring a cat inside out of the scary world, provide him love, and comfort and quality care and you can make a difference. If you approach this as you being afraid you are going to catch a disease, or this cat is going to scratch you in the middle of the night, then perhaps it would be a better idea to find someone who can socialize this animal who has a lower expectation.

A few years ago a scroungy orange cat showed up in our garage. He lived in the rafters for over a year! Neither one of us could touch him at all until I stopped trying to be his friend. The minute I began to ignore him, though provided for all his needs still, he hopped down off the rafters and came over, headbumped my leg and vanished under the house. Two weeks later he was inside the house curled up on the sofa. By lowering my stress level- I was so concerned about a cat living in the rafters that I believe I scared him completly off- by acting unconcerned that a big orange tomcat was over my head every time I went in the garage, it changed the playing field.

I am one of those who knows that trapping and socializing older ferals can and does work. Like Heidi, I become enraged that feral organizations (some of them) encourage people to only take the kittens, and leave the adults.

Tell you what, you take this cat, and let the members here help you with him. If after a year you have made no headway, I will take the cat from you instead of you just letting him outside. You hail from my old stomping grounds, and I have several friends in your area that can come and pick this cat up until I can come and get him. I don't think it will be necessary, and if I could take him today, I would. But I am full up and my time is spent with my horse these days I don't have the time to socialize a feral.

I think you will be fine, if you just relax about the whole issue at hand and lean to this board and all the fine people, like Helen, Heidi, Laurie, Renae and Sicy and so many others who now work with older ferals. This cat is not going to respond like a *normal* cat. I remember well helping members privately whose new cat was hiding under the bed for months at a time. Let the cat hide, he has to understand that he is safe. He is used to being in a huge area, with escape hatches all around him.Taking that away from any cat is going to affect them, no matter what.
post #9 of 27
I will certainly bring up this forum at this Sunday's spay/neuter clinic. I think ACA IS talking about people who work with many ferals to level set their expectations...but a one to one situation should be an exception.

post #10 of 27
I've been fostering a cat for exactly one year now. He was brought to a shelter at the age of 6 months old. I don't know whether he was a stray or if he was born to a feral mom. He had a littermate who was adopted quickly, but this guy was TERRIFIED of people. He had been at the shelter until the age of 3 years old. These cats are not kept in cages, but rooms with access to outside enclosures. It was believed he would be a shelter cat for the rest of his life. It took two people to corner him so I could bring him home.

I began fostering him at 3 years old. Let me tell you, "Scaredy Cat" didn't even begin to describe this fella and taking "baby steps" took on a whole new meaning. But what a difference a year makes. He still is very skittish and he panics if you try and pick him up. But he now purrs whenever I pat him, he sleeps in bed with me (not all the time though), he walks all over me (literally) when I don't get up fast enough after my alarm goes off if he knows the food bowl is nearly empty, he has slept next to me in the chair a couple of times and on the back of it while I'm there and he is truly happy to see me when I come home. He is JUST starting to let me walk towards him and by him without running away. He'll look up at me and wait, knowing that I will always pat him and talk sweetly to him. He is STILL learning to trust me and we STILL have a ways to go.

I was talking to this woman from another shelter (a well-known and respected shelter) and told her that I was fostering this cat. She asked why and I told her he was scared of people and needed socialization. She couldn't understand why we (the shelter I foster for) and myself were bothering with a cat this old. She said he was probably better off being put to sleep. HUH?!?!!!!! I couldn't believe what I just heard, especially coming from this shelter. I get sooooo mad every time I think about it. Better off dead????? Everytime I look at him and hear him purr and know it's because he's happy and content, I think about the chance he never would have had if he had been handed over to them.

So don't believe it when they say that after a certain age it's not possible. IT IS and it's WORTH IT!!!

Just ask Ike (aka Mouse) below...
post #11 of 27
Life is good
post #12 of 27
Thread Starter 
fuzzmom, that cat looked like my Orange. and he was six years old too.
post #13 of 27
That's Punky, below, in my sig, and believe me, she was a feral 8-9 month old cat, roaming the backwoods area beyond our house, sickly, hungry, and in need, when we took her into our home. She is friendlier and more affectionate than Cindy and Lucy, our two kittens raised by human contact from a very early age at the local animal shelter.

Don't believe anything you read. It's all rubbish and nobody really is an expert! Besides, experts can't even tell you exactly why and how a cat purrs.

Also, let me put in my two cents. I believe that kittens should be left nursing with the Momcat as long as possible and I am against early neutering/spaying.
post #14 of 27
Hi OrangezMama! I think it's wonderful of you to care for this kitty!!!!

Have you already seen this thread? Socializing Lucky.... Lucky was six months old, and the socialization only took a few months, really, but the steps of the process are basically the same. We've been working with a woman who adopted one of our ferals - he was about two when adopted. He's been living with her for - two months? - and he's still shy and skittish - but he loves being held (and not much else, LOL!). He has bonded with one of their other cats, and loves to hang with the dog.

I do completely agree with Mary Anne. I believe she is the most experienced of all of us (there may be members here I do not know as well that have been rescuing longer), and her advice (at least for me) always works. The problem with cats is you just never know. Each one is an individual, and so much of it depends upon you. But for us, generally ignorning them - or being a benign presence (sitting in the same room, reading out loud, etc.) is the best way to manage the transition from outside feral to inside pet.

If you are going to move, this will make things very difficult and will probably set any progress you make back. Even "pet" cats do not like to be moved. Cats are VERY territorial, and unlike dogs, in many cases they're probably more attached to their territory than to their people. This is especially true of ferals that are still feral. Being moved into a new territory is stressful for any cat, and confining them to a small space (like one room) is the best way to manage it.

We'll be more than happy to help walk you through any and all steps of the process. Because the one thing we all agree on is that that first headbump from your feral friend is one of the most rewarding things there is.

If you need any trapping hints, there's loads of them here: Helping Ferals.....

But armed with the patience of a goddess, no sense of time pressure, and guidance from those with experience, an older feral can be brought inside - and likely to that kitty's purrs, whether it is in two weeks, two months, or two years.

post #15 of 27
I can be done!!! Snowwhite was around three and she is pretty tame now, Ashton was around 12 weeks and he is tame now. The rest of the ferals we found as kittens, but it can be done. It just takes alittle time.
post #16 of 27
I brought in 3 two year old ferals that were littermates and socialized all 3 of them. 1 female was the sweetest cat you'd ever want to meet, one female was slightly skittish, and the male was nicknamed the "chainsaw with a heart". Various ranges of success, but all 3 slept in bed with me at night. You can socialize an older cat, but admit that young kittens are easiest. But heck, if everything was easy, what challenge would it be?
post #17 of 27
Originally posted by Momofmany
You can socialize an older cat, but admit that young kittens are easiest. But heck, if everything was easy, what challenge would it be?

It'll be hard work but in the end this cat could become the most loveing kitty you'll ever own, or it could never tame down. But don't not try just because someone sas it can't be done.
post #18 of 27
Thread Starter 
I have bad news..i took the cat to the vet after I trapped it and he was tested positive for leukemia. I decided to just let him out there again in the streets and have him live life to the fullest instead of euthanizing him (cuz i kno some cats w/ leukemia can live up to 2 years). Man..i really wanted this cat, he seemed like he could be tamed and it's a male cat too just like how i wanted it.
post #19 of 27
OrangezMama...was the cat at least fixed?? We definately do not need another cat "sowing his seeds".

post #20 of 27
Thread Starter 
He was neutured and given rabies shot.
post #21 of 27
I agree with the members here. Feral cats Can Be Trained!!! All you need is love, time & patience! The 6 kitties, my family presently has, were ferals. Even though they were trapped as kittens, their ages, we guessed to be about 5 to 7 months old at the time. They are all happy indoor cats. Little Heart, Smokey Bear & Cheyenne are 7-1/2 yrs, Cheyenne was skittish of loud noises till about 1-1/2 yrs ago. She now lets us pick her up, brush her, etc. So even though she took longer to train, we never gave up on her. Charlie & Tiger are 3-1/2 yrs & the oldest Romeo, will be 10 yrs next month.

Plus, I have trapped many other adult feral cats over the years, I had them spayed & neutered, socialized them & found them super indoor homes! One of the ferals I trapped & had neutered, an orange male, that I had named Mr Sunshine, because he had the sweetest disposition. He just did not like being in the house. So I bought a dog igloo, with a door, put cushy pet pillows inside, placed it on our back porch, with food, water & a litter box. I cleaned everything every day, just like the indoor kitties. Mr. Sunshine even had an AVID chip & a collar with tags. He was very happy living outside & rewarding us with little "presents" on the back porch. So, I always thanked him for the presents, & disposed of them by going thru the house to the trash can, on the other side. I went around the house once, & he followed me. So had to cut thru the house, from then on. Sadly, Mr. Sunshine got hit by a car in December. We all miss him, but he lived a happy three years!!

So, Please do not give up on this cat. He or she adopted you as their human angel! Once you trap him or her, get the kitty neutered/spayed. Meanwhile, you can start preparing your house until he is trapped. What I had done, is bought the little safety caps for the outlets, you can buy them in the infant section of stores. If you have house plants, find out which plants are toxic to cats, those I gave to friends without pets. You can buy various cat toys, a cat bed, kitty condo, etc from a Petco or PetsMart or other Pet Store. As for food, I have fed all my cats, even the ferals I placed in homes, a combination of: Dental Diet, Hairball Formula, Urinary Tract Formula & Indoor Cat Formula. And anything I could not think of to help with your new cat, the other members will. Please keep us informed on your new cat!! What are you going to name him or her?
post #22 of 27
Originally posted by OrangezMama
Man..i really wanted this cat, he seemed like he could be tamed and it's a male cat too just like how i wanted it.
I don't understand why you didn't keep him. Cats who are leukemia positive make just as wonderful a pet as those without leukemia. You just have to make sure he stays an only cat because feline leukemia is contageous (humans can't catch it). Chances are very good that if you were to adopt him, he would live a very long and healthy life!

Don't give up on this poor kitty. Please do try to adopt him.
post #23 of 27
I had several feral cats, some that I trapped as kittens
and others were adults. While it is true that once a
feral reaches what I have found to be over 8 weeks that
they are hard to tame, mine adjusted just fine, however
they would never be lap cats. They slept on my bed with
me however, and seemed to love me, they just wouldn't
allow me to touch them. One would let me pet it only if
I approached it from behind and acted like it didn't know
I was doing it. They did very well with the dogs and
loved cuddling with them. One of my dogs liked to
"flea" them, nibbliing on them and they loved it. You
just have to accept the fact that they were born in the
wild and love them for what they are.

They would love for me to talk baby talk and would stare
into my eyes and that was enough for me. I was just
happy to have them and know they were not cold or

post #24 of 27
Letting an infected cat outside when you know he is infected is putting other ferals and stray cats at great risk. Even though he has been neutered, if he encounters an intact male they will fight and the possibility of the disease passing will spread.But not only cat bites spread this, but mutual grooming can, and encounters with his feces. Extremely contagious and with no known cure- I would hope you would try and retrap this boy and find him a home where he can be by himself with someone who understands his ways....
post #25 of 27

I'm going to chime in and state what I believe. Please retract your claws before you spit hairballs in my direction. I believe that TRULY feral cats can be tamed but only if the cat is caught early enough. I think many people mis-classify some cats as being feral just because they live outside.

A TRULY feral cat is the offspring of a domestic cat that is raised totally in the wild without any Human contact. Lost and stray cats that once had human contact are not truly feral in my opinion. They may act wild and may not trust humans, but they are not truly feral. These are the cats that CAN be tamed if someone spends time working with them.

On the other hand, TRULY feral cats that are several years old I don't think can be tamed. The problem is being able to figure out which cats are truly feral versus ones that only act wild. I would venture to say most of the success stories are cases where the cat was not truly feral OR was still quite young and could be re-trained to trust humans. The problem is homeless cats don't carry ID, so how can anyone be sure?

I think all we can do is try help all of them. If we succeed we should consider ourselves lucky. If we fail, we can at least say we tried to do the right thing.

Just me 2 cents
post #26 of 27
Originally posted by OrangezMama
I have bad news..i took the cat to the vet after I trapped it and he was tested positive for leukemia. I decided to just let him out there again in the streets and have him live life to the fullest instead of euthanizing him (cuz i kno some cats w/ leukemia can live up to 2 years). Man..i really wanted this cat, he seemed like he could be tamed and it's a male cat too just like how i wanted it.
This issue is a real struggle for anyone doing feral TNR. Releasing a FeLV+ cat back into the wild can perpetuate illness in the cat colony, regardless of whether they are neutered or not. It is a highly contagious disease, and if other cats are not vaccinated, the rate for contracting the disease is about 25-33% (depending on the source that you read). Even vaccinated cats will contract it about 10% of the time.

Add to this the risk of a positive diagnosis from a single Elisa stick test. Without a confirming ISA test, or a second Elisa run 30-90 days later, you can't really confirm FeLV exposure or actual disease. Putting a cat down after one Elisa test is not the best course of action.

Yes, cats with FeLV can live 2 years or more. But, an outdoor feral with limited food and shelter, no vet care and a lot of stress is not going to live that long. Even with a feral caretaker there is a lot of stress in their environment. If they become ill, they can suffer a long and painful death. Your typical feral with FeLV will more likely live a few months to a year. A feral kitten with the disease rarely lives past its first year.

An optimal approach would be to neuter and find a home where they can live out their days in a stress free, healthy environment. If an adult cat is truly feral, just introducing them to an indoor environment where their health can be monitored can cause sufficient stress for the disease to take its toll.

So the emotional struggle becomes one of "individual cat" versus "cat nation". Do you humanely euthenize the single infected cat to prevent the spread of disease potentially to a lot of other cats? This is not an easy issue to address and each case needs to be examined individually.
post #27 of 27

You are the answer to many a feral cat rescuer's prayers. Alley Cat Allies' guidelines are ONLY guidelines, and as Katie says, they are meant to help overworked rescuers to not feel they must take in EVERY feral cat that they see. (Some rescuers have huge hearts, y'know.) It is very easy for people who see cats outside to play on a rescuer's feelings of responsibility and caring, and rescuers can get overwhelmed trying to find homes for cats while other cats remain behind, breeding! But when there are one or two folks like you in a community, we all are happy to help you in any way we can to tame and care for a former feral cat. I personally have seen some pretty "unfriendly" adult cats become very loving, so the age guideline is very flexible. What matters most is probably that you are willing to devote time and effort to one cat in particular, and you can take time to be consistent with him and to make it a kind of project. Folks who are doing TNR, have to sort of focus on the "many cats" perspective, and we need folks like you to keep your attention on one or two of them. The more we BOTH do our things, the more it helps the cats.

Bless you for taking an interest in this cat!!
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