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Moving with Feral.

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
My hubby has enlisted in the Navy and we will be moving from SC to CT probably in August-September. One of my many animals is a feral cat. She has been with me about 1 1/2. She came in originally through my rescue, it was a litter of 6 3/4 month old feral kittens. I had success in socializing and finding homes for all of them but her. (I split with my rescue and didn't want her to spend the rest of her life in the director of the rescues home because it just isn't a good place so I adopted her myself) She has made progress very very very slowly with me over the last year but you still can't touch her and she is still very much feral. She is indoor only. I am just looking for suggestions and advice on the easiest possible way for me to travel from SC to CT with her. I've been given some good ideas and suggestions on another site but wanted input from you guys as well as I know many of you deal alot with ferals.

I am going to have to go the live trap routine w/ a divider because she cannot be touched and I can't get food, water and a litter box to her without loosing my hand. Would this be the best way to do it?? I'm driving the entire 14 hours in one day so she won't have to be in there overnight. I am trying to get my vet to prescribe some sort of sedative for her. Is this recommended?

Also, how far back is this move going to push her progress back? She has gone from a terrified feral to she just isn't quite sure about me. In the last couple of months she has finally stopped running and hiding when I walk into a room. Like if she is sleeping on the bed or on a cat perch she use to immediately get up and run and hide so I wouldn't get her (which i wasn't trying). Now she will lift her head up and just watch me, if I look like I am going to get her she will run but if I just am walking in to get something, she actually will stay laying down. As long as I am completely laying on the ground with my head turned not looking at her in the past couple weeks I have been able to get her to start licking wet food from my fingers. I can't stand or sit and do this yet but its still progress. She is very interested in what I am doing and has started following me around more and keeping an eye on me. I know this probably doesn't sound like alot in a year but to me that is tremendous progress. I know this is really going to push that progress back but do you think it will push her all the way back??

Any suggestions, thoughts, input or ideas are greatly appreciated. Thanks!!
post #2 of 11
It sounds like you've got a good plan going in.

I can't say for certain, as no one but the feral cat herself understands her way of thinking , but I would be prepared for her to revert to where she started - at least in the beginning. She'll have her whole world turned upside down; all her good hiding spots are gone, her territory is gone. But, the good news is that she'll most likely come back around very quickly. And she may even progress further than she has so far with the change in environment. You just can never tell what's going to give these wonderful ferals the courage to make that next leap of faith.
post #3 of 11
wow,sounds like you have come a long way with this little kitty.........well done.she is getting interested in you

you are at the same point with your kitty as i was a couple of months ago.now she lets me stroke her......as long as she cannot see me..........and by gosh i'll know it then

have you tried approaching her by walking backwards and bit by bit inch towards her?gradually moving closer,have some of her faveourite munchies in your hand and pretend to eat them.she should start to come to you. in time.............

i dont know anything about sedation,but i know its something that i would not do unless absolutely necessary and only with advice and a checkup with the vet first.

if you can get a big enough cage to transport her in so she can have a water bowl and to stretch her legs.

i would cover the cage with a black linen sheet so she cannot see too much light.

and important...think!...be prepared,
make sure you can get access to the cage door from inside the car before you put the cage in the car.
keep a pair of thick gloves and a sheet inside the car, if you have to go in the cage for anything while on the journey and she gets out the cage you will need these.
dont open the cage door unless you are inside the car with the doors closed.

if she gets out on the journey you can say goodbye forever.

i hope everything goes ok. with little kittie
post #4 of 11
Originally Posted by ryobious
I am going to have to go the live trap routine w/ a divider because she cannot be touched and I can't get food, water and a litter box to her without loosing my hand. Would this be the best way to do it?? I'm driving the entire 14 hours in one day so she won't have to be in there overnight. I am trying to get my vet to prescribe some sort of sedative for her. Is this recommended?
I like the idea of a live trap with a divider. Can you get the trap early, so you can block it open, and start putting her food bowl inside. Then she will kind of get used to the trap, and it won't be so scary. I like the idea of a sedative, even if you need to stop at the vets for a shot on the way out of town.

You might also try spraying the area with Feliway...I have found it to be very helpful with feral kitties.

Also, when you get to the new house, she should be limited to one room with few hiding places. Then she can adjust more easily to the change, and she is protected from some of the chaos of the unpacking, and won't be as likely to sneak outside. You can also keep working on her taming process, and it will likely go faster if she has one room.

The progress you have made sounds wonderful. Keep hand feeding her when possible. Try not to make direct eye contact, as she will see it as a threat. If she is at all playful, try walking away from her while dragging a shoelace or long toy. If she joins in the play, she will be following you! Long dangly toys are also good to play over or behind a chair, so they are playing with you, without seeing you. Over several play sessions, you can bring her closer to you, or "pet" her with the toy. Again, if you can have her approaching you, instead of running from you, it is a good thing!

Best of luck with your frightened girl. I hope the trip helps settle her, rather than setting her back. And thanks to your dh for volunteering to protect our country. He is a very brave and courageous man!
post #5 of 11
I"ve tamed quite a few ferals, mostly successfully except for one.

You still have a lot of time to work with her, but it's nearly impossible to tame a feral who is loose in the house.

If you can, you need to get her and all her stuff into one room without too many hiding places. You can go in many a times a day to feed her, try and engage her with toys, and just sit and talk quietly to her. You needn't sit for hours, just get her used to your coming and going.

As has been mentioned, try keeping your body turned sideways so you look smaller and less threatening and don't look her directly in the eyes. Sit on the floor holding something really yummy in the palm of your hand and let your hand rest on the floor.

I hope you have good luck with her, and it's great that you took her into your home!
I have a feral cat that I've given up on taming, and I do worry if I ever have to move or even if she needs to see the vet!
post #6 of 11
I would stay away from a sedative if at all possible. Some cats can have a very bad reaction - there was a poster here yesterday that said when the sedative wore off her cat went berserk and attacked her face and neck.

I've heard this before and because your little lady is a feral and more frightened that the average cat, I personally would NOT give any form of sedation to her. The Feliway sounds like a good idea and covering her cage is also a good idea.

I'm sure she will be stressed, but in the end I think she'll settle nicely in your new home. As someone else said, it might actually be better.
post #7 of 11
I would stay away from a sedative if at all possible
Agree totally. Sedatives usually just SLOW them down, but dont' calm them down. Besides, cats and chemicals just don't seem to mix that well.

I would also start her on Rescue Remedy, a natural substance that should take the edge off of her anxiety.
post #8 of 11
I would go ahead and get her travel cage and start putting her food/water in it and her bed so she will get used to eating in it and become accustomed to it before the move. If she is used to it being her safe place it will be easier. Put a blanket over the sides so she feels like she is hiding. She will stay in there alot I bet.

And a year is nothing. I have a feral I have been working with for about 16 months. She lets me pick her up now but only under certain conditions. It took me close to a year before I could pet her and then that was only when she was eating. I would sit close to her food bowl and not look at her. So she got used to me. Sounds like you are doing a great job with her.

And I moved mine as well. It went pretty easy. It also seemed like AFTER the move, she progressed more rapidly. It was a trust thing I think. But she still hides and still watches me.

Ferals are great! You will have no regrets.
post #9 of 11
Thread Starter 
Just a quick update, it looks like I won't be moving this August/September after all. I've decided it is probably best for all of us if me and the animals stay here while hubby goes to CT himself for training and we will move when he finishes that, I just don't want to have to move twice in one year!

My sweet feral girl, Symone is doing so well these days. Last night I was cleaning my upstairs walking from room to room picking up. 2 months ago she would have ran and hid while I was doing this. She actually sat in the middle of the hallway and as long as I walking by her (must have been 2 feet from her) and had nothing in my hands she just sat there and watched me and didn't even try to run from me. She even followed me from room to room watching what I was doing. I was so impressed I gave her a nice big can of wet food all to herself as a treat last night!!

Not sure if I have posted this one before or not, but here is a recent picture of her.

post #10 of 11
Oh, she's beautiful! Is she a dilute tortie? Sounds like you are making tons of progress with her following you around and being curious about what you are doing.
post #11 of 11
I like the idea of your not moving her twice! I know it's hard on you and
your husband (I've had two separations from my husband in the
last 13 years, and I hate the long-distance marriage thing!) but it
will be much easier on your cat.

I'm just learning about ferals, having just adopted two semi-ferals
myself. I can tell I've really had it lucky -- we're petting them
(briefly, but still ...) after just 4 week. Not picking up, holding
or anything like that, but still ...

One thing that's helping me is an animal communicator. Some scoff,
but I've had great luck. You can message me privately if you want more
info. You might want to at least try it for a while before the move,
to help prepare.

Good luck -- both with the cat and the changes in your lives!

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