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How to tell a stray from a feral?

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
Yesterday, a black and white large male came over to our house and began to meow for a long time. I gave him lots of food and water and he was very happy with that, but he kept meowing for company. Not our company but that of our cats'. he absolutely adores our Gezer (totally platonic of course ) and keeps calling him to come out and play. Now he also comes in and calls him out to play.

He seemed very scared of people yesterday, but today when I bent down with his food he actually came close enought to sniff me. He also enters our house quite freely (though he does run out if we aproach him.

He's very very talkative and not aggressive at all. He does have this rugged look of an outside cat, but I'm not sure if he's a feral or a stray (has had owners before). If he's a stray, I'd like to soften him up a bit and we are willing to give him a home. If he's feral, I'll be glad to feed him and neuter him, but I don't want to stress him too much by trying to tame him (there's no need really, it's an exteremly good environment for a feral cat that is taken care of).

I'dm appreciate any tips from your experience.
post #2 of 13
If for instance, one time he comes in the house, and you shut the door behind him, and he is feral, prepare yourself for a shredded room. =) We had one female venture here a few years ago, and although she sniffed fingers, she also ran when approached. I just left the doors open when I fed, and she would come in gorge herself and run out. About a month of this appearance everyday, I decided to shut the door during feeding- BAD mistake! LOL This kitten went ballistic and she ripped my tablecloth as she scrambled to find safety. She literally ran up the wallpaper leaving scratch and rips, and she flung the drapes off their rod before I could get to the door, then before I could open the screen door, she ripped a huge hole in it before escaping! It was weeks before I would see her again, and she never came back in the house. Today, she is a barn kitty and I mourn my impatience for wanting her to *confirm* in an expected way. Had I waited, and let her call the trust shots, it would of been so different.

Let her tell you when she is ready. With her behaviour, coming into the house she was more than likely abused by someone and her trust meter is way down. Try leaving her special treats in her food dish, canned chicken baby food is a good thing to lace her food with, and if you can just sit quietly by her and talk to her, but don't look in her eyes- Good luck!
post #3 of 13
I had forgotten the cat is male...=)
post #4 of 13
Thread Starter 
Thanks hissy!

Guess what, 24 hours after we met, he let me pet him on the head! I'm now pretty sure he's an abused stray. I will learn from your story and not try to force him in too fast. He's too scared yet and he only trusts me to get close enough. The nights are quite warm this week, so he should be fine sleeping in our porch (with food and water available).

There is one funny thing about him. He has fallen in love with our (neutered) male Gezer. He calls him at all hours and is only satisfied when we let Gezer come out to him He then follows Gezer everywhere, purring and calling him. It's really quite funny to see. Sometimes Gezer will be laying somewhere with this new cat sitting close by and looking at him with this admiring lool! Well, I've always said Gezer was a handsome guy
post #5 of 13

Feral cats are generally terrified of human contact. If you feed them for long periods of time, and are consistent with the schedule, they will get used to you, even get closer but never have contact. Sometimes ferals were prior pets that have been left by their owners. When cats are abandoned, they will turn back to the wild.

I had a similar situation to Anne's whereas a woman I knew took in two feral kittens feeding them everyday. She let them stay on her enclosed back porch. Eventually, they let her pick them up and pet them. The day I went to take them to be fixed, they we CRAZY. They literally "climbed the walls". I was a new face they had never seen before and therefore, a threat to them. I got cut up a little but understood. I encouraged this woman to have more people in her home so they would get used to being around people. She couldn't understand why I could not take them (I had nowhere to put them and they were feral, so the chances of them getting placed without being socialized was slim to none). I never did follow up with her. I hope it worked out.

Ferals need to trust humans again. Approach them very slowly, don't make any sudden moves. When you talk to them, make eye contact and SLOWLY blink your eyes as you whisper to them. This tells them that you mean them no harm. Also, after a while, put some catnip in a trail leading to you. Sit on the floor and be still. See if he will approach you. You might be surprized. It does take patience. And I have heard stories of adult ferals being socialized, although this can be quite rare. Go to yahoo.com and type in "feral cats" in the search. Scroll down to "Pyewacket". It's an amazing story and might give you some encouragement.

Good luck. Keep us posted.
post #6 of 13
Thread Starter 
Well, he's becoming friendlier by the day. I've actually picked him up today! and he didn't scratch me or anything (I didn't hold him for long though as I sensed he was uncomfortable). I want to get him used to being picked up so that I can get him into a cat carrier and get him to the vet to be fixed.
post #7 of 13
Hi, I find this topic very interesting, I never heard the term Feral. I work at a place where its common to have stray cats and the litters from them, on going familys of cats, Well I work in a county job and they do try to trap the cats, but they are very smart and avoid getting caught. Anyway I and some other employees feed them nightly, there is this one cat who always waits for me on my break and meaows to me, I always talk to him , he's wild ,He never would let me pet him or get to close. I would bring him catnip and put it in the same spot where I knew he would always look, Well this one day im sitting at the picinic table eating my dinner outside and he comes and jumps up on the bench on the other side and drops a wounded mouse on the table and just looks at me, I couldn't believe it, I lunged from the table and was up against the wall when I realized he brought me a gift, A half dead mouse, I Couldn't believe it there I was thanking him and saying to a cat thanks but no thanks, he took the mouse then a few minuites later and went and layed along the wall of the building Whith his paw laying across the mouse and looking at me, almost with a smile on his face, it was the strangest thing. Cat are very smart and I think they know how to test humans. well soon after that winter came and I just would put the food out and go back inside, so I didn't see the cat much, he's still around , still wild, but seems to be ok. I would lke to think it was a gift and not a cat trick on his part, the cats, lols, Meow meow, Kitkat
post #8 of 13
Thread Starter 
That's a lovely story! I think that a mouse is the ultimate cat gift! When I was a kid we had a cat that used to give me such presents very often. Usually the mice were not even wounded just very shocked and I used to take them and release them outside. I remember this one night when it happened 4 times in a row. I never figured out if they were 4 different mice, or if she caught the same poor mouse 4 times
post #9 of 13
I noticed some traffic coming from this forum and decided to check it out. I'm thrilled that you visited Pyewacket's and are saying such nice things about it. Thank you.

I do have to say that Mishmish and Gezer are quite beautiful and that I loved the story of the mouse gift.

Years ago I had a cat, Chee-Chee, who made a gift of huge waterbugs by always putting them at the side of my bed. I had to be careful not to step on them when I got up in the morning.
post #10 of 13

I was the one who put Pyewacket's story on the site. I work with ferals and was amazed at his story. That's why I encouraged everyone to read it. He is one of the very few miracles. Especially since he was grown when you adopted him. He has been through alot in his life. You should be very proud of the work you did to make him come around and save his life. My hat goes off to you!

Donna Ploss (donna_ploss@yahoo.com)
post #11 of 13
Thread Starter 
Welcome Suzanne!

Hope you stick around!
post #12 of 13
Hi to all the cat lovers, I think I have a cat living under my house, I have a Modular home with skirting around it, im sure its a cat, I can hear meows coming up though my heat vents, Im just hoping a litter won't be born under my house, sprng is coming and its that time of year. my Cat Bo is upset over this, he runs from one heat vent to another smelling and yesterday my one purse that is knitted fell off the arm of the chair and he urinated on it. so The minuite I picked up my purse, he was watching me, he took off and hid, funny how he knew he did wrong, I didn't have to say anything, but my money got wet and picture me washing bills in the sink and spreading them out to dry, some of my stuff got ruined, well this is some of what I put up with cuz I love my cat and he knows it, Hes 20 so I have to let it pass, I just have to believe its the cat under my house that caused him to do that, I just worried about him continuing to do this.
post #13 of 13

You're probably right. Geez, talking about laundering money :!

You might want to try getting a "save a heart" trap and see if you can catch her. Get a can of sardines (they work best because they're real smelly). Cut a paperplate in the shape of a piece of pie. Put the sardines in the trap way in the back and place the trap near the place she goes under the house. Or if you have a rescue organization, call them and see if they'll come out and trap her. It's best to do it now, especially if you think a litter might be forthcoming.

Have you tried looking under your house with a flashlight? Have you put food out for her? Good luck. Let me know what happens.
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