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Socializing Feral Cats

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 

Hey guys! It is me from Wild and Wonderful Animal Rescue (I usually post a lot in the pregnant cats and kitten care section) This time I have two young adult cats that came from a feral colony. The caretaker had got them spayed/neutered and had them living inside, she said they were pretty social. I have had them in a room of their own for a little over a week and they are constantly hiding. Usually with ferals I can lure them out with a can of food at least but they hide the entire time... is there anything I can do? Usually at this point they are comfortable enough to be out when I walk into the room...

Thanks!

post #2 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by ashade1 View Post
 

Hey guys! It is me from Wild and Wonderful Animal Rescue (I usually post a lot in the pregnant cats and kitten care section) This time I have two young adult cats that came from a feral colony. The caretaker had got them spayed/neutered and had them living inside, she said they were pretty social. I have had them in a room of their own for a little over a week and they are constantly hiding. Usually with ferals I can lure them out with a can of food at least but they hide the entire time... is there anything I can do? Usually at this point they are comfortable enough to be out when I walk into the room...

Thanks!

I presume they were sociale with the caretaker, whom they knew since earleir too, as their provider.  YOU must begin in part anew.  Later on it will go a little quicker than first time, but still you must invest some time and effort.

 

Please, what are you dont save coming into the room with some smelly food?

 

Are you for example, just sitting down calmly, perhaps talking some in a friendly voice?    Laying down works often too...   :)

post #3 of 23
If they are young adults recently removed from their colony, it may take them quite awhile to learn to trust humans and to socialize. They are very frightened right now.

Also, how long did the previous caretaker have them?

I would plug in a Feliway diffuser immediately in their room for calming effects.

Cats that are this unsocialized to humans are not wholly unadoptable, but need to go to someone who is not looking for lap cats, and who totally understands that they may never become lap cats. Such cats can take a long time to trust.

Your best bet is to spend as much time with them as possible, even just sitting on the floor and reading. Another option is to put them in a large crate in the main activity room of the house for a few hours each day so they are exposed to people and household activity. This may be difficult since you work long hours.

Do you know if they came from a colony that is fed daily and cared for? Many colony cats are trapped, neutered, and returned if so.

Keep us posted on these kitties!
post #4 of 23

Here is a great article with some tips that might help

http://bestfriends.org/resources/socializing-cats-how-socialize-very-shy-or-fearful-cat

 

Also a 3 part video on working with feral kittens

http://www.urbancatleague.org/TamingVideo

 

And finally some general tips and techniques to help:

 

1.  The first tip is to have a room that is dedicated to the cat.  If possible this should be a room where the cat will be confined for a period of time.  You can use a spare bedroom or even a small bathroom.  If using a bedroom or other room of your home, be sure that the room is cat proofed.  Remove mattress and box springs or place them directly on the floor.  Hiding under a bed is the first place the cat will run and it is almost impossible to get them out.  Also block behind dressers or book cases.  Cats can fit into very small spaces.  You do want to have an appropriate hiding spot for the cat.  This can be an old box turned on its side or a hiding box found on a cat tree.  Also make sure all windows are tightly closed and blinds are up with the cords hidden.  Do not be surprised if the cat throws himself against the window in an attempt to escape.

 

2.  If you do not have an empty room available or the cat is very wild,  you can use a large dog crate or fasten two smaller crates together.  Just be sure there is enough room for a small litter pan and food.  If you need to use a crate, I would suggest keeping the crate covered with a sheet or towel  when the cat is alone.  This will help to calm the cat.  Eventually you will need a cat proofed space where you can move the cat.

 

3.  You will want to start with 2 litter boxes.  Many feral cats are not used to urinating and defecating in the same location. When choosing a  litter, you can use fresh clean potting soil mixed with non clumping litter or you can try Dr. Elsey’s Litter Attract.  I have found the Litter Attract to work very well.  If the cat has an accident on the floor, sop up the urine with a paper towel and bury it into the litter box.  Do the same with any stool.  Make sure you clean the area very well with a good enzymatic cleaner to remove all traces of odor.  Place the litter boxes away from the food and water.

 

4.  Feliway plugins are a great way to help a nervous cat adjust.  Most cats find the product soothing.  You can find Feliway at most pet stores as well as on Amazon.

 

5.  Another product I found helpful was Composure treats or Composure Liquid Max.  The first few nights inside are very stressful.  The cat will often yowl and cry all night.  The Composure is very useful in calming the cat at night.  I first tried the treats, but after a week or so, the cat no longer liked the treat.  I then switched to the liquid as it was very easy to mix into wet food.  Composure is available at the best price on Amazon.

 

6.  No direct eye contact.  Feral cats find this very threatening.  Keep your gaze over the top of their head or look down.

 

7.  Talk softly.  You want them to get used to your voice.  Carry on a conversation or even read aloud from a book or magazine.

 

8.  Sit on the ground so you are not looming over the cat.  You also want to keep your movements slow.

 

9.  Food rewards are the way to a ferals heart.  Find a special yummy treat such as plain cooked chicken or turkey, salmon, tuna or sardines.  I would start by giving them a very small plate with some of the special treat.  I would then have small pieces beside me and begin to toss the treat towards the cat.  Each toss I would get the treat a little closer to me.  I would do this activity each day.  After a few weeks, the cats are often getting quite close as long as you keep your movements slow and gaze down.

A very special food reward I stumbled across is Gerber Stage 2 baby food.  Cats love the chicken or turkey.  The jar is very small with a blue label.  The ingredients are chicken or turkey and water, no added spices.  I started with a bit on a plate and as time went by, I  offered it on a spoon.  When working with young ferals or kittens, they can often be coaxed to lick this off your fingers.  Just remember this is a treat reward and not a meal replacement.

 

10.  Remember that when working with ferals it is often 1 step forward and 2 steps back.  Just take it slow and steady.  Also celebrate the small advancements.

 

11.  Jackson Galaxy of Animal Planets, “My Cat From Hell” series is the cat guru.  He has a line of flower essences that are specially designed for cat behaviors.  He even has one for feral cats.  I have used this essence with great success on all of my feral cats.  

post #5 of 23
Thread Starter 
Thank you guys! I am in contact with another rescue that I work with to see if they can lend me a large dog crate to put them both in because I think that will be better, so they can see me when I come in and talk to them and feed them. They came from a colony that was regularly cared for. This lady had been feeding them for several months and they all were very friendly to her. She had them inside after their spay/neuter so they are good on litter training and everything. She said they were great housecats with her. I think that the sudden change in environment made them go backwards with their progress. They are hiding in my dresser in my spare bedroom for now, away from everyone else. I cant get them to come out to me at all, even with a cans of fancy feast. I think I am going to try a large crate. I definitely think if I can get them out of their current hiding spot they will get more comfortable with me quicker. I'll try some of the other tips! Thank you! I have worked with ferals before but they were always very food motivated, which definitely helped with socializing them!
post #6 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by ShadowsRescue View Post

 

10.  Remember that when working with ferals it is often 1 step forward and 2 steps back.  Just take it slow and steady.  Also celebrate the small advancements.

 

 

So true. 

post #7 of 23
@ashade1

How's it going with the kittens in the crate?
post #8 of 23
Thread Starter 


I ordered this cage a couple of days ago and a hammock and bowls that attach to the side of the cage. They are all supposed to come today so for now they have still been hiding under my dresser. I go in and open a can of fancy feast in hopes that they will come out while I sit quietly with them, but no luck yet! Should have more updates soon when I get the cage set up! Can you think of anything else I should add with the cage besides a litter box, a hammock, one platform is a bed, and the food and water bowls?

post #9 of 23
Maybe attach something on a string that they can play with. And cover three sides of the cage with a sheet so they feel they can hide a bit. It's a very nice cage!

Poor babies! Are they eating and using the litter when you're not in the room? Are they getting any sun?
post #10 of 23
Thread Starter 

Food is missing and they are using the litter box when I leave the room! They are in a room with two windows so they get a lot of sun assuming they come out when I am gone.. I am going to have fun getting both of them out and into the cage lol.

post #11 of 23
Thread Starter 

After much stress we finally have the cage set up and the cats inside! I also added a cave like bed at the bottom by the litter box for them to hide in. I will add a picture of how I have it all set up in a couple of days when they are more comfortable. I am going to leave them alone for now! It was very stressful getting them in there!

 

 

 

post #12 of 23

Such good news!  I am sure they will calm down.  Do you ever play a radio or soft music for them?   I recently brought a feral/stray inside.  He is in a spare bedroom.  I play music for him almost all day and night.  Also feliway plug ins.  

 

I hope the cage will be a success.

post #13 of 23
Excellent! They are beautiful cats! 😻

Good you put a hiding place. I think they will socialize more easily now too. I'm sure it was stressful moving them. Thank you for doing this for them.
post #14 of 23
Thread Starter 

I have them in their cage in a spare room seperated from the other cats/dogs half of the cage is covered in a sheet. I went in and sat with them a couple of times today while talking to them and also making phone calls. They didnt move the whole time I was in there, however the orange and white one- Sherbet slow blinked back to me repeatedly. The last time I went in they were on the top shelf- where I have the food and water bowls. 

post #15 of 23
Thread Starter 

Both now are not so much feral as they are just fearful. They don't strike out or hiss when I come in or fill food bowls, etc. They just sort of sit frozen with fear, staring at me. We had a little breakthrough with Sherbet- he always slow blinks more at me. Yesterday he ate canned food off of my finger for a bit. I bought some rescue remedy to put in their water so hopefully that helps some too!

post #16 of 23
This is good news! It will take time and patience, but they will come around. Are you using a Feliway plug-in diffuser? I find they really do make a difference.
post #17 of 23
Thread Starter 
 

Willow and Sherbet are doing GREAT! They no longer look at me terrified when I walk into the room, they are hanging out on the top shelves of the cage when I am sitting with them instead of hiding in the bottom, they are now comfortable enough to eat in front of me- which they would NEVER do before- Sherbet even will eat from my hand. Sherbet is even starting to like me petting him! They will be adoptable to an understanding home as soon as they are ready!

 

 

 

 

post #18 of 23
Thread Starter 

I don't think it posted all of the pictures I added? Lets try again!

 

post #19 of 23
That is awesome! They both look so sweet! I knew they would start to come around. You'll be rehoming them to one home together as a pair, right?
post #20 of 23

Such great news!   So glad they are coming along so well.  Great pictures too!

post #21 of 23
Thread Starter 
post #22 of 23
Thread Starter 

Just a little update! Both are doing well! Sherbet does better than Willow, but they love each other dearly. Exciting news! We have an understanding home interested in adopting both of them! I explained to him it could be a long process resocializing them to him and they are so excited!

Here are some updated pictures!

 

 

 

 

 

post #23 of 23
That's good news! They both look so sweet, and will be happier together.
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