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Can Adult Feral be tamed?

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
Hi, new to the board & have question for experienced
feral tamers/rescue workers.

Have large intact grey male tom cat who I've
been feeding for last 4 months. Started by
feeding in the gully behind house (sewar/drain
area). Finally got him after 4 months to
enter my yard and eat from the yard.

Comes when I call him with tapping of food
can and/or clapping & calling. Believe he
has decided I'm "okay"! LOL. Has met
my resident young female manx (indoor/outdoor
kitty) and no aggression - actually played a bit!!

Will not let me close to him - about 5 feet if
I move slowly. Has started long meowy conversations
when I come out in the am and pm with food.

This cat per rescue worker nearby has been in the
hood for going on 4/5 years. Was young male
v. rought looking when he first showed up.

Has spent last few winters which are hard in VA
area here. I bought and put out a FERAL shelter
bought from Indy Ferals. He and my cat explored
together (one followed the other's lead!). So,
he has a good winter shelter if he will just use it!!

Am hopeful he knows is there and is welcome to
stay in yard and so will spend more time in yard.
(which is fenced w/ small hole for kitty to come in.)
Have large tree and stairs to deck near tree - so
cat feels "safe" hiding under deck near tree...)

Am unsure if he is true feral or feral revert from
abandoned cat. Belive the latter - since true
ferals wouldn't know how to "play". Or know about
canned food sounds!!

My question - need to trap neuter and rabies
him. But BUT BUT - should I do so and immediately
release? Or should I keep him indoors and try to tame
and turn into indoor/outdoor?

My rescue worker neighbor (with some feral experience)
says WAIT TILL he TRUSTS you, then she will trap
for me, so he doesn't associate ME with trapping.
Says I have a better chance that way.

I still have long way to go to PET him or get closer.
Am working VERY Slowly on this...

Any input? Advice?? Can this be done??

Please RSVP and tell me what the best approach
might be??

post #2 of 9
Welcome to TCS!!! You can neuter and release right away. But are you looking to keep him? You can tame a feral cat!!! It sounds like you are doing a great job!!!
post #3 of 9
Ok this is where I bump heads. Feral cats can be socialized, not tamed. There is a huge difference between a pet owned stray with feral tendencies, and a straight feral cat. This one sounds like a pet owner dump or a kitten who got outside. A tame cat will stay on your lap for endless hours purring and sleeping, a feral cat socialized will not. A tame cat won't scatter to the winds if you drop a pot lid on the floor or someone comes to your door, a feral will take off to go and hide.

I would wait to trap this guy until he trusts you. It sounds like you are well on your way to gain his trust now, and scaring him by trapping him will just set you back. It also sounds like you have prepared adequate shelter for him for the cold weather.

here are some tips, when you feed him, take an insulated and waterproof sleeping bag and spread it on the ground near where he eats, let him get used to seeing that there. Then lay down on your stomach while he eats. Don't touch him, close your eyes and just talk to him softly. Any time you are in his vicinity, you want to be low to the ground, you want to be on your knees, or in a crouched position, and you always want to be talking softly.

Take an old tee shirt, and go for a run or a bike ride, or jump on a stair stepper. Get that sucker so wet with your odor, then take it off and put it outside under his dishes. Put some tasty treats on top of it and then just back away.
post #4 of 9
I guess some of it has to do with your plan for him. Did you fall in love, and want to bring him home? Then maybe you will have the patience to have this "not so friendly" guy live at your house, and be happy for his companionship. Cats sometimes love one human only, so he may only bond to you, and be broken hearted if you can't keep him.

If you want to tame him so he can be adopted-probably not. No one wants to adopt an aloof cat, let alone one who is very shy. If this is the plan he should probably be let back outside to live his life.
post #5 of 9

That's a tough question, and I'm sure hissy and a few others can give you a better reply, because I'm a real amateur as far as ferals go. Some ferals can be tamed, while others can't be. It really depends on the cat, how old it is, how long it was "in the wild". Several feral cat colonies in my area had to be dissolved, due to construction or people shooting the cats, and many of the cats were trapped, neutered, tamed, and later adopted out by the local shelter(s).
My husband and I gradually took in an older (c. 8-year-old) male cat who nobody had managed to trap. He moved into our yard because of construction at his old feeding site, and after several months of feeding him outside, and then in the garage (with the door open), we finally managed to get him to enter our cellar, and to eat and sleep in the heated laundry room. He learned to use a litter box inside after my husband got the brilliant idea of filling it with potting soil. At first we left the window open 24/7, and then put in a cat flap for him. I first used a trap to get him examined and neutered, and kept him inside for 24 hours to make sure he was okay before allowing him back outside. He once gave me a very nasty bite when I forced him into a carrier to take him to a vet for much-needed dental work (he had abscesses, and all the teeth on one side had to be extracted). Afterwards, I always fed him in his carrier, in order to be able to take him to the vets' when necessary. He was never "tame", and came and went as he pleased, but we did manage, in a little over six years, to be able to approach him, and I could pet his head (only). The last few years of his life, he would join us upstairs when it was very cold out, and curl up on a bed or chair, but he never cuddled or played with us, or would allow us to groom him.
In short, he was never "tamed", but he accepted our presence, and seemed grateful for steady meals and a warm place to sleep, and rewarded us with meat and lunch meat that he would steal from the parking lot of a nearby supermarket, and bring home to "feed" us.
Getting "your" tom cat neutered should be top priority. My cat's mother was apparently abandoned, and was trapped at a feeding station for a feral colony, put in a foster home where she had her kittens, and then neutered. That was 6 1/2 years ago. His purported father, a member of the colony, has evaded all traps, and is still impregnating cats all over the district he "reigns" in. I don't even want to think about how many offspring he's had.
As hissy said, that might take time - you don't want to chase him off while he's intact by moving too quickly, but I believe neutering should never be left till the cat is "tame", because that doesn't always happen.
post #6 of 9
Thread Starter 
Thanks to all! I am working slowly on Major Grey Djin.

I actually have 3 cats currenly - all indoor outdoor -
2 v. old seniors and the little manx. The manx was an abandoned got out kitten
of 1 yr. when she arrived and was "adopted". (Was feeding feral, she was eating
after him, and then coming out to me..finally caved and brought her "home. She
fit in okay tho senior male top cat NOT happy!! And Lexi did jump on them
a couple of times - But things look okay now).

Anyway I was thinking of keeping him as outdoor cat - or indoor/outdoor.
I don't know if he will ever be able to be petted. My cats, w/ exception
of my manx kitty are friendly and bonded to me. They got lots of socialization
as kittens. The male top cat was ALWAYS an outdoor cat - strong hunting
roaming instincts, which had he not been altered would have made him
very good at surviving. He has bit of Siamese in him, and bonded only
to me, not being highly affectionate till in later years when he liked coming
to be petted. Now his arthritis bothers him, and keeps him indoors much more.
(We go walking together sometimes at night...) But he still loves his
bedtime cuddles time.

The old female I have was a rescued kitty who
NEVER wanted to go out - ever! She is also a purr ball
of love.

The manx kitty had lots of bad behavior - her family or caretaker had taught her to bite hands when playing and/or to fear hands - and for the first year, (in Dec 2005 she'll have been with me a year!!) she slowly learned to take being petted, picked up and loved at odd times WITHOUT bites! But she is not "reliable" in the biting dept. She sometimes has drawn blood unintentionally when upset or excited. I think she may be a pet quality Manx actually ... she is afraid of black men and men with mesh carry bags or boxes. Hence I think she got out during a move...

Anyway the reason I kept her - she would need an very understanding "cat person".
In all other ways she is a very well behaved kitty. But not a love ball!!

So I know Major Grey Djin might not be the lap cat type, but he may
come around to be v. friendly and accept and like petting...esp.
if he saw Lexi getting attention in my lap and purring (which she does on h er
terms in the am, always in the bathroom, on the floor,
while sucking the bathmat -
go figure!! LOL!!)

However, if he wanted to live outside, that would be okay too -
I can feed him and provide shelter (which I have done now) if
he will just stick around and USE the shelter, LOL!! I don't
have to pet him... he seems to value time in the yard tho.
since after eating he usually washes and then "naps" and lets
me talk to him, and inch closer to him. (While squating down
of course!).

I am going to try the T shirt in the shelter box, and next to
food bowls tonight. See what kind of results it brings...

I'll keep the board posted. This is a LONG term effort I believe.

If weather gets really bad, I may attempt the trap neuter
and keep inside at that time, just to keep him safe. He's
getting older and winter can be pretty hard on him...

Thanks to all!

Major Grey Djin's caretaker...(also proud owner of
Qeen Sheba, Admiral Diablo, and Princess Lexi!!)
post #7 of 9
If he doesn't let you touch him, you could try the TTouch method. Look it up on Google. I think that is the one where you use a pole that you make shorter and shorter. If you don't find it, Google "taming feral cats". I found something there once i think.
Hopefully helpfully,
post #8 of 9
Hissy got it all right the first time!
post #9 of 9
A year ago when we moved in with my mother-in-law there was this female feral that was always on her front porch that would run if you looked at her, now she spends every night rubbing up against us and is not shy in the least. She is at least 6 years old and had been trapped, spayed and released at some point prior to showing up on the porch. Now she comes when I call her. She can't meow the way normal cats do, it comes out more like "yek", but she is a real sweetheart now.
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