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Can a feral cat be tamed?

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
My sons told me yesterday that a house that is vacant and up for sale has 4 to 6 cats living in the back yard. I talked to a neighbor who was friends with the people who moved and learned that the women fed them but they weren't "hers".

Obviously for many reasons we decided that these cats had to be picked up. Evidently they are in a range of ages. I called the animal shelter who told me that they couldn't get them because it was private property and that I could get them but to only bring in one at a time. Also, if any of the cats so much as hissed they would be put down.

Now if a cat is truly aggressive and can't be tamed then I understand that but I don't want one put down because it's scared. My cat will hiss if it is truly startled by a stranger and she is a very loving cat. I also just finished raising and adopting out a litter of kittens who could have been fathered by a stray and worried the whole time that one of them could have been diseased.

My kids have kept themselves very occupied today trying to catch one of these but I don't know now where to take it if they actually bring it home in the carried! Help!!
post #2 of 8
Don't take them to the animal shelter. They will probably be put down because they will probably hiss. They don't want to deal with strays / possible ferals because it takes effort so they just euthanize them. Plus they will not be adoptable for a loooong time. If you can find a no-kill shelter willing to help you, then do that, but don't take them to a place that will kill them for being cats.

The best thing to do if you want to start caring for them would be to start feeding them yourself in your own yard. Then, as they get more used to you, you could trap them, have them spayed/neutered, and then try to start socializing them. They might just be outdoor cats though.

It's really odd that someone who fed these cats so long up and left without making any arrangements for them to keep being fed...
post #3 of 8
Oh my yes!
All but two of the cats in my signature came to me as ferals. Most live in the house with me now. They are the sweetest, most loving cats and about the only indication that they were ferals is that they don't allow other humans to see them.

If you read the Ferals and Resuce threads, you will learn much about those very independant spirits.

Zissou'sMom makes some good suggestions. If you don't want to be involved in the feeding and care of these cats though, maybe you can find a TNR group that can help trap them.

They would get them fixed and possibly relocate them if feasible.

The government shelter would definitely kill them or even sell them for medical research if they are taken there. Not a good thing to come out of wanting to help.

I mention the medical research because of the beginning of this week our shelter will finally stop selling animals here for that, (by law), after a 20 or so year struggle from animal advocates.

Good luck in getting hold of a good TNR group to help you.
post #4 of 8
Thread Starter 
I live in a really nice neighborhood (much more than we can really afford) and evidently she fed these cats in the backyard because whatever her neighbor was doing was drawing rats! Of course we are near a creek and I think with our drought it draws out the vermin but it sounds so dirty!
So I don't think that she was emotionally invested in them.

Fortunately the boys struck out trying to catch them today so I think I will see what I can do with a different organization. I currently have 2 cats, 1 kitten and 2 dogs and my next door neighbor is psycho so I can't try and bring them here. (Sounds like a nice neighborhood, huh?) But I will try and find out what is around here that can help. Thanks!
post #5 of 8
It sounds more like your neighbor went and found them somewhere...which means they probably aren't feral. And the one who is attracting a bunch of rats should probably be reported to the board of health.

In an absolute pinch, if your choices are between leaving them out there and taking them to be killed, you can keep them in big cages inside. I'm envisioning something like this: http://www.petsmart.com/global/produ...t=cat+cage&N=2
not just a carrier or something.

Your kids should not be out trying to catch the cats barehanded. They probably won't be able to, and it's stressing out the cats. Also, they could have all sorts of diseases, or bite, or scratch, and it is much safer for all involved to leave out humane traps with food in them to try to catch them.

It doesn't matter if she was emotionally invested in them or not, really. Obviously the cats depended on her for food and she just suddenly left with no thought of what would happen to them. That's the same as abandoning a pet to me, regardless of how she felt about them.

It's so great of you to try and help these poor abandoned kitties. I hope you can find somewhere!
post #6 of 8
Also I found this organization:
http://www.operationkindness.org/ in Carrollton TX (pretty close to you, right?)
Richardson has a Humane Society shelter and a regular Animal Shelter, which one did you call before?
Here is the Humane Society's website:
And this one also in Carrollton:
http://www.lexeeslegacy.com/ that calls itself a sanctuary as well, which is very promising.

I would try to contact the first and last of these to begin with. (btw, I found all of these with Google Maps, a great tool for stuff like this. I just looked up a general map of the city posted as your location and then searched for nearby animal shelters in the box at the top).
post #7 of 8
Please don't let your kids handle these cats as they could get scratched or worse bitten. My best friend was feeding a semi-feral cat in her yard and he eventually started rubbing against her leg. She reached down to pet him one day and he bit her pretty bad. Because she has diabetes she decided to get it checked and went to the emergency room. Of course it was reported to animal control and she had to take rabies shots. We were shocked when the statement came from the insurance company and saw that these shots cost over $5000.00. Like suggested above use one of the humane traps to catch them. One of my sweetest cats was once feral and I mean feral to the max. He was a cat I fed outside and when I moved couldn't bear to leave him. I caught him in a trap and took him straight to the vet and had him neutered, checked for diseases and got his shots. Brought him home and put him in a large cage out in my garage. He lived in that for about a month and during that month I would sit out there with him and talk to him and eventually he let me start touching him. He's now about 10 years old and the biggest baby you have ever seen. He sleeps curled up in my arms every night. I think most feral cats can be tamed but it takes a lot of work, time and patience.
post #8 of 8
Thread Starter 
After reading the posts I told them to leave them alone because if they caught one I had no clue as to what we were going to do with it! I did discover the humane society as opposed to the animal shelter and am going to contact them on Monday. The shelter has a huge waiting list for humane traps so I am going to see if I can get a little more cooperation from the humane society.

As far as the cats go, I think that they kept mulitplying and she just fed them. I know over a year ago she took some to the shelter. Actually it was 2 years ago because we got our first one right after that.

With the drought the rats are even coming out of the creeks up to the million dollar homes in Highland Park to get to the pool water. It is really freaky! Thanks for your input. I am trying to do what's right and most cost effectively since I have 2 cats getting spayed within the next 2 months!
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