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Opinions appreciated re: stray or feral?

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
Hi all, I'm new to this board and would certainly appreciate opinions. A couple months ago I trapped a cat that I had been feeding at my workplace for 6 months or so. While she was there, the closest she would come would be within 5 ft. of me. On 2 occasions, I still had my hand on her food bowl while she ate from it. She's now home with me and lives in my office. I was wondering on how to tell if she is a "true" feral or a stray gone wild. The vet unfortunately opened her (to spay) and found that she had already been spayed, but her ear isn't clipped. She's between 6 and 7 years. As of yet, I still haven't attempted to pet her (except the "glove on a stick" a couple times when I first brought her home and she attacked it badly!). Also, when I am in the room, she prefers to "hang out" in the dog crate I have set up for her on top of a table; it's her safety zone. Only recently is she eating and using her litterbox while I am in the room. I'd love to hear opinions! Will I ever be able to know? Thanks!
post #2 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by hoosier
Hi all, I'm new to this board and would certainly appreciate opinions. A couple months ago I trapped a cat that I had been feeding at my workplace for 6 months or so. While she was there, the closest she would come would be within 5 ft. of me. On 2 occasions, I still had my hand on her food bowl while she ate from it. She's now home with me and lives in my office. I was wondering on how to tell if she is a "true" feral or a stray gone wild. The vet unfortunately opened her (to spay) and found that she had already been spayed, but her ear isn't clipped. She's between 6 and 7 years. As of yet, I still haven't attempted to pet her (except the "glove on a stick" a couple times when I first brought her home and she attacked it badly!). Also, when I am in the room, she prefers to "hang out" in the dog crate I have set up for her on top of a table; it's her safety zone. Only recently is she eating and using her litterbox while I am in the room. I'd love to hear opinions! Will I ever be able to know? Thanks!
Welcome to TCS.....she sounds like a stray that was possibly abused...but it is always difficult at first to tell since scared strays often show similiar signs to feral cats. I found this article that seems pretty good:

http://cats.about.com/library/guest/ucfeature4a.htm

Thanks for caring for her.

Katie
post #3 of 17
Thread Starter 
Thanks Katie, interesting article and I joined the web group, too! You know I have to say that I 've been thinking that she was abused, too. I don't know if this is common among ferals/strays, but she is super-attentive to my hands. As a matter of fact, before I trapped her I was standing outside with a coworker, while "Lexi" was hiding underneath some bushes about 25ft. away watching us. I told him "I'd love to take that cat home" and he said "what cat?", so I raised my hand and pointed at her and she took off like a bullet, I couldn't believe it. I wonder if people have thrown things at her - it breaks my heart. Do you think that I'll ever be able to figure out where she falls? It's been 2 months now.
post #4 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by hoosier
Thanks Katie, interesting article and I joined the web group, too! You know I have to say that I 've been thinking that she was abused, too. I don't know if this is common among ferals/strays, but she is super-attentive to my hands. As a matter of fact, before I trapped her I was standing outside with a coworker, while "Lexi" was hiding underneath some bushes about 25ft. away watching us. I told him "I'd love to take that cat home" and he said "what cat?", so I raised my hand and pointed at her and she took off like a bullet, I couldn't believe it. I wonder if people have thrown things at her - it breaks my heart. Do you think that I'll ever be able to figure out where she falls? It's been 2 months now.
Honestly....I think you can gain her trust either way...but the best thing to do is let it be on her terms. There are LOTS of tips in this thread:

http://www.thecatsite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=11395

When it comes right down to it....if she had been abused, she will act like a feral.

Good Luck...keep us posted!!!!

Katie
post #5 of 17
Thank you so much for bringing this little girl into your heart and home! I believe Katie is correct - if she's been abused you may never really know if she is a true feral or not. The socialization process would be the same, though, since the issue she has is trust.

Here's another article for your reference: http://straypetadvocacy.org/html/soc...feral_cat.html It's a comprehensive article on socializing a feral, which I don't think was really covered before.
post #6 of 17
Thread Starter 
Heidi, thank you! I remember reading that article right before trapping Lexi, but somehow forgot to put it into my Favorites - it is now! It's definitely a great article to read as a "refresher"; sometimes it's easy (for me) to forget that I must always look at things from her perspective. Thank you.
post #7 of 17
thankyou for caring for this girl. Its just awful to think that some people can abuse this sweet animals - she is lucky that you came along and took her into your heart.
Looking forward to hearing progress about Lexi
post #8 of 17
Thread Starter 
Hi! There was no way that I could watch her suffer through the cold. As a matter of fact, I trapped her (my first ever), the evening before we expected a major snowstorm - what an ordeal! But she's safe and warm and very well fed now. I only wish that she'd respond to me as she did before I trapped her - answer to her name, meow to be fed, and come within a few feet of me. So I wish that I could post some progress, but unfortunately she has decided to take a few steps back.
post #9 of 17
That's just the way of these amazing ferals. Two steps forward, one step back. And sometimes three steps back for no apparent reason. LOL Other times, one giant leap forward that we never expected.

I'm so glad you've found that article helpful. There were a lot of quick, fast articles on socializing ferals, but there didn't seem to be a real in-depth look at it advocating that even older ferals can be socialized.
post #10 of 17
Thread Starter 
I noticed that in virtually all of the articles that I came across the emphasis was on socializing kittens; it was very discouraging. And if I did come across anything, a good portion suggested TNR as adults were difficult, if not impossible to socialize. But regardless, as long as I had her and knew she was safe, I'd take from her what I could get - all the while hoping she wouldn't attack me! Before I brought her home I had her boarded at a "feral vet", the techs told me she'd lunge and hiss whenever anyone went near her cage. So needless to say, I was VERY nervous the first couple of weeks after bringing her home. But now we've adjusted to each other for the most part - I just wish she didn't seem so bored. When I'm in the room, she'll stay in the dog crate. I've gone through at least 6 different wand toys trying to entertain her in there, but she doesn't like any of them. When I move a feather around inside her crate, she looks mad and hides herself in her bed. The only thing she'll play with for a short while is the opposite end of a wand - I'll hold the feather and move the thin plastic part around. She'll swat at that for a bit, but then ultimately jump in her bed once again. No interest in strings, either. She has plenty of toys on the floor for when I'm not around at night; once in awhile I'll find a couple moved, but I think she carries them as prey rather than playing with them as toys. This morning for instance, 4 are right by her food bowl. Also, not a sound comes out of the room at night as if she were were playing. Maybe in time.
post #11 of 17
My Lexi (also a found, but tame cat) likes to play with the tip of the wand too, LOL!! She is great at it. Strings are the other fave.

I think your baby just needs you to lie down and close your eyes and talk softly to her for a 10/15 minute period a day. Then just ignore her when you are in the room otherwise doing things like cleaning poop etc.

After a bit try putting cat nip on yr. clothing and putting a smelly piece of yr clothing into the carrier (for her to have your scent close). It may work!
post #12 of 17
If your girl was a feral all her life, she's never learned to play. Mum-cat will scold the kittens for playing because playing attracts predators. Hunting, which we see as playing in our housecats, is serious business for ferals. She honestly may not understand what in the heck you're trying to do.

And if she's not sure about her environment yet, she won't play yet either. Playing puts them at risk for predators. It makes them lower their guard. It takes a lot of trust in her surroudings and in the person in the room.
post #13 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by hoosier
The vet unfortunately opened her (to spay) and found that she had already been spayed, but her ear isn't clipped. She's between 6 and 7 years. As of yet, I still haven't attempted to pet her (except the "glove on a stick" a couple times when I first brought her home and she attacked it badly!). Also, when I am in the room, she prefers to "hang out" in the dog crate I have set up for her on top of a table; it's her safety zone. Only recently is she eating and using her litterbox while I am in the room. I'd love to hear opinions! Will I ever be able to know? Thanks!
If she has been spayed, she of course was loved at one time by someone. Sadly someone abused her or dropped her off. Happens all the time where we live. We have rescued over 10 cats in the last year and none were true ferals. Miss Mama is a good example of your girl and it has taken us over 9 months to socialize her. She was dumped in the storm drain with her kitten, which she brought us the kitten after 5 days of us feeding her. We found the kitten a good home but Mama wanted nothing to do with being petted or loved. She was content being outside, so we just had to wait until she fully trusted us and decided to come into the lanai one day. She is now in the bathroom closet with 4 babies and as soon as the babies are old enough, Miss Mama will be getting fixed. We can now pick her up, comb her and she loves to rub up against our legs and even purrrrrs! It took a long time and sometimes that's just the way it goes. Give your girl some time and don't forget the catnip! Get her a little soft toy and put some catnip on it and give it to her, she will love it and sooner than you know, she will be wanting to have your attention . :
post #14 of 17
There is a colony of feral and stray cats of about 11 in the garden of the apartment building I live in and it's been my experience that they will not play with interactive toys very much. In fact, many of them seem to be afraid that I'm going to hurt them somehow. They will play with balls and tiny furry mice. Just like my inside cats, they like the rings from water and milk jugs, too. One little of feral kittens was very responsive when I threw balls against a wall for them to chase.

It's not surprising your little cats sees the toys as prey -- even our inside cats do that sometimes.

It's so wonderful that you want to make friends with this girl. Don't give up --usually they reward you so much more than you'd ever expect.
post #15 of 17
Thread Starter 
Hi! That's exactly what I am witnessing. As a matter of fact, she won't even play with the end of a wand anymore; she'll jump right into her bed to escape it/me. However, good news! For the past 3 nights I can hear her going wild in her room and toys are scattered in the morning. Also, to my surprise, she actually played with the fur mouse that I keep in her crate while I was in her room! I couldn't believe it! I wanted so badly to watch her, but I thought it best to just look from the corner of my eye. Maybe she's finally beginning to realize that these "dead rodents" scattered about her room are actually toys!
post #16 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by hoosier
Hi! That's exactly what I am witnessing. As a matter of fact, she won't even play with the end of a wand anymore; she'll jump right into her bed to escape it/me. However, good news! For the past 3 nights I can hear her going wild in her room and toys are scattered in the morning. Also, to my surprise, she actually played with the fur mouse that I keep in her crate while I was in her room! I couldn't believe it! I wanted so badly to watch her, but I thought it best to just look from the corner of my eye. Maybe she's finally beginning to realize that these "dead rodents" scattered about her room are actually toys!
That is great progress!!

Katie
post #17 of 17
From Allie Cat Allies website:

Q: What is the difference between a stray cat and a feral cat?
A: A stray cat is a domestic cat that has been abandoned or has strayed from home and become lost. A stray cat may be skittish in your presence, but because stray cats once knew human companionship, they can usually be re-socialized and re-homed.
A feral cat is born and raised outside with little or no human contact or is a stray that has lived outside long enough to revert to a wild state. Adult feral cats usually cannot be tamed and are most content living outside. Feral kittens up to eight or ten weeks of age, on the other hand, can often be tamed and placed in homes.
________________________________________
Q: How can I tell if the cats are stray or feral?
A: Observe the cat's appearance and behavior. A stray cat is likely to approach you, although usually not close enough for you to touch him. If you put food down, a stray cat will likely start to eat it right away. A stray cat is often vocal, sometimes talking insistently, and may look disheveled, as if unused to dealing with conditions on the street. A stray cat may be seen at all hours of the day.
A feral cat is silent, will not approach humans, and generally will be seen only from dusk to dawn, unless extraordinarily hungry and foraging for food. A feral cat has adapted to conditions and is likely to appear well groomed. If you put food down for a feral cat, he will wait until you move away from the area before approaching the food.
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