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Advice needed: Is this a good home for a semi-feral?

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

I was hoping you guys could give me your advice because I just don't know what to do.

I've been fostering a semi-feral cat named Scout for over 5 months now. She was living outside in the bushes of a local business and it took the man who was feeding her two years to catch her as she is wise to traps. Prior to being captured, she had three litters of kittens. We finally caught her and with her kittens when they were just days old. I've fostered all three batches of kittens and they have all been adopted into good homes. She has been spayed and tested negative for leukimia but has not been vaccinated. She's about three years old, and a very pretty cat!

Anyway, when Scout first came to my house, she had a complete look of terror in her eyes at all times, and would not allow anyone to pet her. When she was living outside, the man who fed her was able to pet her, but not pick her up. Finally, over time, she came around, and she enjoys being petted now. What's funny is that she is still a little wary of my hand and will swat or sratch without warning, so I started petting her with the cardboard thingy from an empty paper towell roll and she LOVES that! Somehow it makes her feel safer to be petted with that than with my hand.

Still, she is scared of most things. She spends most of her time on the very top shelf of my pantry. I can hear her jump down at night and play with some toys she likes, and if I pet her for a while, she will jump down and rub against my legs. But the slightest sudden movement or noise will cause her to swat or run terrified back up to the top shelf of the pantry.

If I could, I would just keep her, but I already have two cats and can't have any more. No shelter will take her because she's not fully socialized. And I can't keep her in my kitchen much longer because a) She was always a totally outdoor cat and seems to prefer it and b) I can't have three cats.

My goal was to find a really good barn home for her. And I thought I had -- a woman who is a vet tech wanted a cat for her barn was interested in her, according to the shelter that has been helping me, but she never contacted me. After a couple months I finally just decided to not wait for the shelter and call her myself, and the woman said she was interested in Scout and that she wanted a barn cat but still a cat she could pet sometimes who wasn't completely feral and wanted to know what Scout looked like, etc. She made an appointment to come see Scout at my house, and then at the exact time she was supposed to be at my house (and I had left work to be at home for this) she calls and said she forgot, and asked if I could just bring Scout to her. I said Scout hates carriers and travel and would be terrified so she probably wouldn't be on her best behavior for the meeting and the woman said "That's ok, I just want a barn cat anyway. You can just drop her off.".

So I know I'm obsessing over this, but I really want what is best for Scout. She's a lovely cat and I'm just sad that she's not fully socialized. But I can't keep her, and it's so hard to find a good barn home, I'm wondering if I should just take her to this woman. But the woman's sortof flakiness kindof worries me. I don't want Scout in a bad situation. Tell me I'm just being too picky!!

post #2 of 6
Where are you at?

You are describing a typical feral cat, and even fully socialized she will still be exhibiting these types of behavior, that we label "fear." When she was born, had she been handled in that crucial period of the first two weeks, she would be acquainted with people and not so fearful. I have several, that even though they have been here now for several months, will run from me if I enter the room without first announcing I am coming, or if I drop something on the floor and it scares them. The run when the phone rings, the television is to loud or there is an unexpected occurrence in the house.
post #3 of 6
Just drop her off? Absolutely not! She has to be acclimated to a new outdoor home. Alley Cat Allies has a good factsheet on their website about this. Plus the woman sounds like she may be a bit of a flake. Have you checked references on her?

Is there any reason why she cannot go back to where she was living before? That is truly her home and if someone was taking care of her there, that will be where she will be happiest. It is an option I would very strongly consider. That way the few barn homes that do exist can be saved for cats who absolutely cannot go back to where they were living before.
post #4 of 6
I don't think you are being picky. I think this woman wants a cat that she doesn't have to care about. If this cat is as wary as you describe, it will never get petted by this woman, who would not take the ime & trouble that you and the man who caught her did for so long.

I have 9 feral-born cats, 7 of which were older than the 5-week, optimal for taming age; (5 months to 1 year.) They still show much feral behavior and all vanish if anyone knocks, let alonf comes into the house. (They start comiong out 1/2 hour after the last "intruder" has left. Some cannot be picked up, so it is a 2-man job to get thim into the carriers for their annual trip to the vet.
HOwever, all, even the spookiest, come by for petting when they see an available lap. (One was literally shaking with fear the first time he ventured onto my lap, but he so wanted what the other cats were clearly enjoying.)

Ideally, an indoor home with a quiet & patient cat-lover would be a good place for her. I agree that putting her back where she was found would be better than dumping her in a strange environment.

(incidentally, who says a barn is such a great environment? Not all cats like to be around horses, etc. Any other resident cats might drive the new cat away. There is no heat in the barn in winter. I have a friend in Alabama who sets up styrofoam picnic coolers, tops glued on with a cat-sized entry hole, for her barn cats during the winter months. But I doubt this neglectful woman would think to do such a thing.)
post #5 of 6
Thread Starter 
Scout can't go back where she came from because the person who owned the office building she was living around was threatening to poison her. I wish she could go back there, because the man who was feeding her was very attached to her and misses her very much, but it's too dangerous there.

I'm in Washington State.

I guess I thought a barn home would be the best for her because I can't imagine anyone adopting her The shelter who helped me with her and her kittens is full of very socialized, beautiful cats who don't get adopted.

I was initially very excited about this home because the woman works at a veterinary office, but after the flakiness, I have concerns. The shelter recommended her as a home, but perhaps what I'll do is call them and ask them a few more questions about her, and then call the woman and ask her what her plan is to introduce Scout to the new area.

If this doesn't turn out to be a good home, I don't know what to do...I would totally welcome any other suggestions. I do really need to place her somewhere within the next two months or so.

FYI, she's a really pretty cat. She's short hair orange and white with big green eyes and a cute white pattern on her nose. I have pictures of her if anyone would like to see them. I know from adopting out her kittens that people really like orange/white cats, so maybe that's something in her favor.
post #6 of 6
I do believe that we have to make allowances for difficult to adopt cats. We cannot expect someone wanting to add a cuddlebug to adopt a standoffish or shy cat. I have adopted barn ferals, and they were kept caged for several weeks so they would know that I am the one who feeds, and my yard is their home. Of the 3 wild kitties I adopted over a year ago, I only see one regularly. They are all totally wild and feral.

Your kitty seems to be making progress in the taming arena. She may make a fine barn cat. I would ask the potential adopter if she has any other kitties. (If so, they may not accept your girl.) Also, will she feed the kitty daily? Is there a good shelter for her?

The flakiness in the vet tech worries me. She isn't too interested in the kitty, is she? Maybe you can post the kitty at the humane society. Also see if there are any cat rescues near you. Maybe they could feature your girl on their website. Or maybe they know someone who will provide a good home and shelter for your kitty.

I don't know your circumstance...but maybe you can just keep one more? (I understand if you can't...everyone has their limit!)
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