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socializing older feral kitten

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
My latest socialization project (before the next round of kittens) in one of
our foster homes is a six to seventh month old male named Jimmy. He was rescued from a feral colony in mid-Feb. and has since been neutered. He did have some human contact from the feeder at the site before we trapped him. I don't have a lot of time to spend with him, but want to maximize the time I do. Right now he's in a kennel, but seems content. He loves playing with a feather toy and will stick his paws out of the kennel to interact. He seems to crave human contact, but isn't quite sure how to react to it. I've been taking it slow and have been able to reach into the kennel a few times and actually stroke him and get him to purr. Most of the time though, he hisses and swats. We're not ready to let him free roam yet, but may try wrapping him in a towel and holding him. I know he's past the age for success, but he's a sweet little guy with a lot of potential. We trapped two of his littermates in Nov., who we were able to tame down and get adopted together for Xmas. At last report they were doing well in their new home. Any suggestions on what else to do with Jimmy? We've got all the time in the world. He's not going back to
the site. I just hope I don't get too attached. That will make four!
post #2 of 16
Thank you for caring for this little guy!! Jimmy is a lucky kitty to have someone with enough patience and understanding to socialize him.

First, he is certainly not past the age for success for socialization. It will just take more time and patience, which you have said that you have.

Let Jimmy go at his own pace. That he's hissing and swatting says he's not entirely comfortable with humans yet. You have to build the trust before you push interaction. When you have time to be with him, just sit by him and quietly read aloud. Bring food and/or treats so he always associates you with good things. If you have an old shirt you can do without, do a good hard workout in it (or sleep in it a few nights) to get your scent really imbedded in it, and put that either in his bed or under his food dish. If he's comfortable with playing, go ahead and do that, but don't push the touching and holding yet. The biggest thing is to make sure every experiece he has with you and anyone else who sees him is a positive one, and not one that puts him on the defensive.

Good luck, and I look forward to hearing his progress!
post #3 of 16
I've socialized a group of ferals that were 2 years old when I brought them into my house, so Jimmy isn't beyond hope. Heidi is right - go at his pace on this. I'll add onto Heidi's advice (which is right on).

One of the things that REALLY helps my ferals is to have them observe interactions between me and my tame cats, particularly if they become friends with one of those cats (again, at his time). Cats are very smart and learn from each other. If they see one of their buddies interacting with the big, scary human, then they often realize that it isn't all that bad. My Bogart (now OTB) would come up to any newcomer and immediately start grooming them to form a bond. Since he was also my chest/lap cat, his new friends would follow him to me.

I too am looking forward to hearing your stories!
post #4 of 16
I also agree that you should take your cues from him and not what you want. I would not recommend you force him to be sociable with you by wrapping him in a towel and holding him. That feels like trapping to him and he will stop viewing you as a benefactor and will instead look at you as a predator-

He is in no way near the age where socialization is not possible. They can be socialized at any age-
post #5 of 16
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the advice and encouragement. I'm going to spend some time with Jimmy tonight and also this weekend. I agree, he's probably not ready to be held. Will keep you posted!
post #6 of 16
Thread Starter 
Spent some time w/Jimmy this weekend. His foster mom decided we needed to get a little more "aggressive" regarding socialization, so (against my better judgement), she wrapped the little guy in a towel and got him (not without some struggle) out of his cage. He didn't struggle once I got him on my lap. Held him for about 15 minutes each time and even got him purring!
His foster mom said he seemed much more calm afterward, talking to her and reaching his paws out of the kennel to play!
post #7 of 16
Thread Starter 
Still holding Jimmy in a towel for 10-15 minutes at a time. He no longer resists when he go to pick him up and stays calms while I'm holding him. As soon as we clear some of the kittens out, we're going to start letting him free roam and interact with the tame cats in foster care. He already plays with another young male through his kennel.

Any other suggestions would be appreciated. Will keep you posted on his progress. I love this little guy!
post #8 of 16
Great job so far! We had a semi-feral girl here from age 5 months to 9 months. The biggest step forward she took was after we added Feliway.

We had intended to keep her in a crate for a few weeks, but she escaped (oops!). She would hide in a closet continually. She would not even play with toys, when we were playing with our cats and her sister. I started "pushing" her. For example, I stopped free feeding, and she had to sit within 6 feet of me to eat. Initially, she only ate twice a day. Eventually, she would eat sitting on my lap!

She never did progress to coming to us for pats, but you could walk up to her and pet her. I even got a few kisses in. She is at a new foster home now, with a stay at home Mommy, and will hopefully continue to progress.

Good luck with Jimmy.
post #9 of 16
Thread Starter 
Just wanted to give everybody another update on Jimmy. He's been in the kennel longer than we planned because of all the kittens, but still seems calm and content. I've continued to play with him and hold him in a towel.
He's at the point where we can actually put our hands out for him sniff and he won't hiss or swat. The plan is to release him this week to free roam our foster room with several of the kittens. He gets along well with all of them. Over the weekend, someone who came to adopt a kitten actually expressed an interest in Jimmy once he's tamed down. He knows it could be a while and that Jimmy may never be a lap cat. He's such a sweet boy - seems to long for affection, but isn't quite sure how to take it. Whatever happens, Jimmy will have a home, either with our coordinator, me or someone else who has the patience and love to offer this handsome tuxedo boy. Will keep everyone posted. Any suggestions would also be appreciated!
post #10 of 16
Just keep working with him, preferably in a room where you are one-on-one with him and not while he is kenneled and or caged. Sorry, I am just not a fan of using cages with cats who have been free-roaming. But that is just my opinion based on how long I have been working with these wonderful cats. I use cages only during sickness, quarantine or if the momcat decides to have her babies in one.

Jimmy is fortunate someone cares about him to work with him.
post #11 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by hissy
Just keep working with him, preferably in a room where you are one-on-one with him and not while he is kenneled and or caged. Sorry, I am just not a fan of using cages with cats who have been free-roaming. But that is just my opinion based on how long I have been working with these wonderful cats. I use cages only during sickness, quarantine or if the momcat decides to have her babies in one.

Jimmy is fortunate someone cares about him to work with him.
Thanks for encouragement. I haven't been happy about him being in the kennel for so long, but not my decision. I read somewhere that if a feral cat sees a human interacting with other cats in a non-threatening way, it helps them learn to trust. Not sure how credible this is, but worth a try. Last night I was able to touch his nose and stroke one of his paws gently. Progress!
post #12 of 16
Thread Starter 
Jimmy now has the run of the foster area but isn't quite sure of himself.
It took him a little time to come out of his kennel once the door was open, so he was joined inside by several kittens at a time paying their big buddy a visit. He didn't seem to mind a bit and curled up with two of the little ones for a nap. He hasn't shown any signs of agression towards them. I was able to draw him out last night while playing with the kittens with a feather toy. He won't let us pet him or pick him up, but seems pretty relaxed under the circumstances.
post #13 of 16
Seems like Jimmy is making progress. Great job!!! I also have two males that hiss, swat, and spit at me! They are not ready to be handeled yet so I just leave them alone. Sounds like your doing great with Jimmy

By the way, Jimmy is an interesting name for a cat. Did you name him Jimmy for a particular reason???
post #14 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Negs
Seems like Jimmy is making progress. Great job!!! I also have two males that hiss, swat, and spit at me! They are not ready to be handeled yet so I just leave them alone. Sounds like your doing great with Jimmy

By the way, Jimmy is an interesting name for a cat. Did you name him Jimmy for a particular reason???

Thanks! Regarding his name, I just like cute, human names for cats and Jimmy seems to suit him.

Good luck with your two!
post #15 of 16
I love naming my cats human names as well. I have an orange cat who I named "Wayne" my black cat I named "Tyson" and the new little one that I am keeping is named "Bonnie".....

Thanks, and good luck to you! Keep us updated!
post #16 of 16
Thread Starter 
Just another update on Jimmy: He's been free roaming for about a week now and seems very relaxed with his surroundings. He's claimed a box full of towels as his spot to rest and can often be found there along with a couple of kittens curled up together. I've been able to sit on the floor, get close to the box and gently touch him on the back without him hissing or swatting. He tenses up a little bit, but that's all. Had him playing with a feather toy last night and was able to draw him out into the center of the room. More progress!
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