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Is he progressing or regressing?

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 
A month ago I took in a 1-2 year old feral male, Beau (I've spoken about him in another thread). He's been coming along bit by bit, and, fortunately, is not an aggressive boy (yes, he got neutered). I've been doing the "ignoring" thing, keeping to a schedule, reading aloud, and leaving treats (catnip, his favorite...he refuses to touch food treats). He's been making progress, he now feels comfortable coming out of his hiding place while I'm in the room, and will eat, groom, and (infrequently) use the litter box in my presence. He gets along famously with my two other foster kittens (5 & 9 months old).

Over the last 3 days, his behavior has changed slightly. I don't know if it's progress, or not. In the initial stages he never hissed at me (I've always put a plate of food near the entrance to his hiding place) but the last few days he has. A couple of times when I'm in the room, he gives a little plaintive sound...not a growl, not quite a meow. That's the first sound I've ever heard out of him. Just now I was doing the nightly routine...new food, clean water, clean the pans, and reading aloud. He was initially calm, then came down on the floor, and paced back and forth, which he's never done before. I kept reading, but I could see him pace a bit closer, then farther from me, occasionally making that noise.

Is he maybe thinking about approaching me, or does it sound like his anxiety is actually increasing? I know without actually seeing him yourselves, it is probably hard to know. This is my first adult feral, so I'm not so sure of his "language". I have to say, it was a bit unnerving because he started walking back and forth pretty briskly. When he stopped for a bit, I ended my reading and left because I was starting to feel a bit anxious, and I didn't want him to pick up on that. Is the fact that he now will sometimes hiss at me a sign that he's feeling less petrified & more confident, or that he's more agitated? Sorry this is so long, but after a month of same ol' same ol' with him, any change seems drastic.
post #2 of 3
He is testing you to see how you will react. His pacing is his way of silent intimidation. He is unsure of how you are going to treat him, because so many other people have done him wrong. Next time he paces, try laying down flat on the floor. Just lay there, slow your breathing and try to relax. He will more than likely start climbing on you. You just need to keep your breath even and not let this freak you out. He will make an initial contact quite brief, they usually run over the top of me (I generally lie on my stomach during this confrontation) as long as you don't move or speak, that builds his trust.

You are doing well, and I know you don't think you are, because it seems like nothing is happening. But unless he is posturing, stalking you, slinking close to the floor considering you prey- you have allowed him to relax somewhat around you.
post #3 of 3
Thread Starter 
Whew, it's good to know that this is a normal response on his part! I have been expecting him to start to approach me as he has been trying to get my attention for the last week (changing positions, jumping on and off the cat tree, rolling on his side, generally being cute), but I wasn't expecting it to take that form. Now that I know what he's doing, I can work with that.

Thanks for the quick response MA!
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