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How & when do you decide- house feral or keep trying to tame/socialize?

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
Hi all, It's me again writing about my Lexi. Having had her in my office since December 16th of 2005, I debate whether to accept her as she is and incorporate her with my other 2, or keep trying to socialize her. As she is now, she rubs constantly against the screen door and nearby furniture whenever my Clawd or Lil Peas is within view, purring and making biscuits all the while. She'll play while I am sitting on the floor, or with me when I use a wand toy; she'll play all day and night. I can feed her bits of chicken from my fingertips and she takes it ever so gently. If I am walking slowly past her, I can come within a couple feet before she'll move away. I've attempted to pet her numerous times; initially I'll use the wand part of her toy while she is distracted by the toy part - she rises to the contact, but when she ultimately turns around, she's upset (by the glare in her eye) that it may have been my hand petting her (I'm sure she's also smelled my scent on her). She head-bomped my hand once, other times swatted it when it was near her path. My question is this - how do you know when she's gone as far as she comfortably can with you? How could I know if maybe she's the type that would never enjoy petting? I struggle with keeping her in the office or letting her out with my other 2 as she seems to desperately want their company (and they appear as if they would enjoy hers). From everything that I've read, once she's out, she can always escape my presence and so will not go any farther with socialization. Any and all opinions are, as usual, greatly appreciated!

post #2 of 8
IMO, for an older feral like Lexi...you won't socialize her and get her to trust you until you accept her for exactly the way she is and don't expect anything more from her.

I'll also tell you that my Ophelia was a tough little feral kitten - it took her 4 years to really be socialized with us. Now she's a total snuggle-kitten who DEMANDS loves from both of us at times! LOL But for a little kitten she was a tough nut to crack on socializing her and gaining her trust. And at 6 1/2 years old, she's still making leaps of progress with trusting us. She will always be a shy girl, and most people will never see her, but she's really come a long way with us.

Also, please read Penguin's thread, if you haven't already. Michele took in Penguin who was not only feral but had also been abused. It took MONTHS for Penguin to even venture out from under the bed. She wasn't confined and interacted with the other cats, and Pengy is making AMAZING progress with Michele!

Basically, my advice with Lexi is to just let her be Lexi right now. You've got a great start with the socialization and you WILL build on that with her with time and patience. And actually, if she is able to see you interacting with your other cats on a daily basis, the socialization may actually go better!
post #3 of 8
Originally Posted by valanhb
And actually, if she is able to see you interacting with your other cats on a daily basis, the socialization may actually go better!
Yes, exactly. Especially as she is friendly with them.

So one way is perhaps you dont need to try so hard to play with her. Take your friendly cats and play with them where she sees you... The chance good she wants to join with time.

This way or another. Your socialisation work with her is going on very well.

Your question and problem is as I understand, your own cats are allowed to go out, and you wonder if you dare to let her go out too...

Let me try to answer the other way around. There is always a danger to let the ex-feral go out. Some ex-ferals DONT want to go out, they know very well it may be horrible out there. But some who did managed OK outside, may disappear, especially if they arent socialized well enought. - This being your worry.
But if she is friendly with your home-cats, the probability she will stay is better - because of them! I think and hope.

In any case: work on with her AND your friendly cats - both better socialisation with humans - and with them.
If HOME and HOMEGROUP is your cats and you - she wont disappear easily.

So do I think.

Lets see what others say.
post #4 of 8
You are talking about letting Lexi out, out as in the house and not separated from the other cats, correct?
Let her out with the others, she will still socialize with you. You will be last on the list though and that's okay.
When I let Pru loose she bonded with the other cats and then started working on me.
Pru still hides in the day, usually under the sofa. At night when we get ready for bed she comes out and comes into bed to be petted, give head bumps, purring madly and being a sweetie. A different noise or movement will send her off like a shot though. Each day is different for her. I see her in the day more often and expect that to increase.
It just takes a long time, with small, incremental changes with a feral/stray feral. Pru likes her routines and sticks to them. Pru is such a lover, when she wants to be and on her terms. I've accepted those terms and am happy with each baby step that happens. Pru has been with us since Thanksgiving last year and it is amazing to think back to the wild animal she was. She was literally running up the walls and bouncing off of them. Now she is this sweet little girl that visits us in bed at night to get her loving.
Look back on where Lexi started, to where she is now. Always compare her to the beginning and not to the last improvement and you'll always be aware of how far both of you have come. Share her with the other cats, she'll come to you in her time. The socialization will continue, but Lexi will be the one in charge now. Enjoy it.
Hang in there, you are doing great with Lexi.
post #5 of 8
Thanks Jean-Li. so the question was not to let her go outside but be together with other cats in your apartament??

Oh, the answer is easy then. Let her out! Friendly home cats are a wonderful help to socialize shy ferals.
I know this for sure. Here in Sweden we dont have almost no TNR. therefore almost all good shelter and cat-groups are working with foster homes with the homeless and the ferals. They all witness the same: shy ferals are usually nice to work with, it takes time but is rewarding. And it is MUCH easier to work if you have own friendly home-cats, they being like ambassadeurs to the interactions with us humans....

Mixing not so good if the other cats are too shy ones. Or hostile ones.
EDIT: and of course homecats must be vaccinated, and the ex homeless preferably healthy and parasitefree...
But friendly homecats are a very POWERFUL "tool" in this work. The socialisation going on almost by itself.

One tip if you want to learn her to pet: Rub your freindly cats at chins and around the ears, so you will get theirs friendly scent on your hands. then let her sniff your hands - and pet her...
post #6 of 8
I would let her out in the home nowl If your other kitties go outside sometimes, I would restrict them to inside only for a while. I would be very nervous letting a former feral outside. Even my Jasmine, who hasn't been outside since she was a baby. Because I can't call her and get her to come to me, or scoop her up if needed. If she ran into trouble outside, I could not help.

But I agree with the other posters that tame kitties are a good influence on feral kitties! Sure she will love them more than she loves you, but don't the tame ones sometimes, too? She will learn to be more comfortable with you, because she will see that they are not afraid.
post #7 of 8
Thread Starter 
Hi, thanks everyone! I guess I should clarify my earlier post - what I meant was to let Lexi "out" loose in the house with my other 2 kitties (both of them being strictly indoor cats). So far, majority feel that being let out of the room is the way to go. Do I introduce them in Lexi's office (her territory) or out in the livingroom (at which point I may never be able to get her back into the office, AND should she run, Lil Peas is always up for a good chase which may frighten Lexi into aggression). I was also wondering if I should introduce Lexi to each separately as I'm afraid that they could tag team her. I know I'm a neurotic mess of a worry-wart!

post #8 of 8
if the other cats seems friendly / non hostile - they dont seems to hiss or something, you probably dont need to make big fuss. Shy ex semiferals usually get quite well with the homecats. MUCH easier then most buyed homecats... A little of a paradox yes. But They know they are lowest in the ladder...
Take them one at a time if you feel better, but really it shouldnt be necessary.

One way is you dont need to do anything. You just open the door... If she wants to get out she goes, otherwise she stays where she feels secure and safe as long as she pleases...

The office will probably be some of her private security area, where she returns when she wants to be alone.

One thing: when you let her out, make sure she has several places to take refuge in or even hide. her carrier, A shelf, a basket turned down, cartoon-box. Outside in the apartment but of course also in the office (if she hasnt any yet.)
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