Advice needed on making my semi feral girl more comfortable

DB89014

TCS Member
Thread starter
Young Cat
Joined
Mar 15, 2021
Messages
33
Purraise
16
Hi all, I have been working with my semi feral girl attempting to make her more comfortable with me and petting. I have had some success sitting on the floor with her during feeding time putting my fist next to her food. At first if she touched me accidentally at all she would hiss and run. Now, she has let her whiskers touch me and her face has rubbed up against my hand - still totally accidentally, not because she wants pets, but she no longer hisses when she touches me on her terms. I interpreted this as a good sign, but any attempt I've made to slowly advance my hand towards her she jumps back and will hiss. She seems to know when I am even thinking about trying to touch her lol should I continue to attempt to slowly pet her? Any type of brush, wand with cloth at the end or any other type of inanimate object I have tried seems to scare her more. I am afraid of going backwards. She now is allowed to roam a good portion of the house and we are at the point that I can stand next to her, reach over her at times, walk around in the kitchen banging dishes around and whatnot and she will still stay close by watching me. I totally understand that her being semi feral means she will likely never be affectionate like my other cats which I am fine with but I would like to be able to pet her if possible, she is such a sweet girl. Any advice is much appreciated.
 

tabbytom

Happiness is being owned by a cat
Staff Member
Mentor
Joined
May 12, 2016
Messages
14,793
Purraise
21,743
Location
Lion City, Singa-purr
She now is allowed to roam a good portion of the house and we are at the point that I can stand next to her, reach over her at times, walk around in the kitchen banging dishes around and whatnot and she will still stay close by watching me. I totally understand that her being semi feral means she will likely never be affectionate like my other cats which I am fine with but I would like to be able to pet her if possible, she is such a sweet girl. Any advice is much appreciated.
:hellosmiley: DB89014, thank you for taking this girl in and for giving her a warm and fur-ever loving home and a safe sanctuary to live out her life :clapcat:

What you've been you great and you are not rushing things is the way to go.

Since she's is allowed to free roam the house and watch you do stuffs without hiding with dishes banging around, it shows that she's gain confidence in you except the petting part. This will take some time but don't worry, the battle is already 3/4 won.

Each time she's near you watching you, take time to speak to her in a soft and loving voice and keep calling her name and once you have eye contact with her, slow blink at her and look away slowly. This way is to show her that you are submissive to her and not picking a fight with her. Also while doing the slow blink and turning away, try to peek from the corner of your eye and see if she slow blink back at you. It may take awhile for her to do that and if she does the slow blink back to you, much confidence is established. Always talk to her and praise her for being good like sitting there and watching you do your stuffs.

Next to the petting part. It's good that she allows you to come very near her. At this moment, she could still very weary of foreign objects being very near her, like your hand and we don't know her history when she was outside before you took her in. But don't worry, if done properly, you'll be able to pet her soon.

What you can do is, each time you sit near her, speak to her gently and lovingly, form your hand into a fist and slowly present your fist to her and let her smell your fist. Every movement of your fist must be slow. Once she have your scent, with the back of your fist, gently brush her cheek following the flow of her whiskers and slowly up between her ear and neck. repeat this several times as much as she allows it.

Form a fist shows less threat than an open palm. Cats like to head butt and a fist looks like another cat eat to them. Once she allows your fist to brush her cheek after a few tries over a few days, the next time you pet her with your fist, gradually open up your fist and stroke her gently with the back of your hand. Of course, always fist first then open up the hand. Once she's use to the stroking, advance to her nape and after several successful attempts, move to the heard. Skip the body for the time being. Just repeat the stroking of her cheeks till she sort of like enjoy it then maybe be a little more adventurous and move on to the body.

Always look out for tell tale signs of her displeasure. Once you sense it, stop and repeat later in the day.

If you are the main care giver to her, she'll stick to you. So don't give up.

Feel free to ask questions and do keep us updated of the progress.
 
Last edited:

terricacatwood

TCS Member
Kitten
Joined
Jul 15, 2021
Messages
10
Purraise
17
It sounds like you’ve made excellent progress already! Have you tried feeding her Churu sticks as treats? Inaba Churu - Cat Treats (4-Pack)

I made good progress with an unsocialized cat who wouldn’t let me touch him - I was able to get him to eat the Churu treats from my hand - it’s sort of like a push-up popsicle but for cats. Since the treat is in a package that is several inches long your hand doesn’t have to get super close to them. My unsocialized cat liked the treat so much that he’d lose himself in eating it so that I was able to eventually gently touch him while he was eating it and work up to fully petting him. You could start with your cat by squeezing the Churu onto a plate and once she’s familiar with the treat you could squeeze a little out of the package so that the end of the package is covered with the treat and put that on a plate for her to lick. Then when she is familiar with the treat in its package you could start trying to nonchalantly hold it out to her and see if you can get her to eat it that way, eventually moving toward more contact while she’s enjoying the snack.

It sounds like she’s come a long way already and I bet in a few months to a year from now you’ll be amazed at the cat she has become. She may never be as socialized as a house cat but the fact that she is around you while you’re working around the house seems like a good sign she’s well on her way to settling into the life of house cat luxury.
 
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #4

DB89014

TCS Member
Thread starter
Young Cat
Joined
Mar 15, 2021
Messages
33
Purraise
16
Thank you for your responses I will definitely start trying that. Should I spray my fist with cat nip spray or does that defeat the purpose of her getting used to my scent?

I have not tried the churu treats but I definitely will try them hopefully she likes them. I've attached some pictures, one of them is hard to see because of all her fur but shes lounging on her back in her bed. Im so happy to see her start to feel more comfortable, she has come a long way
 

Attachments

tabbytom

Happiness is being owned by a cat
Staff Member
Mentor
Joined
May 12, 2016
Messages
14,793
Purraise
21,743
Location
Lion City, Singa-purr
Should I spray my fist with cat nip spray or does that defeat the purpose of her getting used to my scent?
It's better not to spray your fist with catnip spray. Go with the natural scent of your fist. Just standby some treats and catnip toys just for enticing her so that she knows the hand serves food and is not a threat to her.

You can also leave a piece or two of your clean unwashed, non-perfumed garments at he p[lace where she lays or sleep and around the house. This is to help her get use to your scents and also it'll boost her confidence when she moves around as it'll be a familiar scent. You can also the same with her scents by placing towels where she lays or sleep and once the towel has her scent, move the towel around the house.
 

koolimy

TCS Member
Young Cat
Joined
Dec 18, 2019
Messages
27
Purraise
21
First things first, it seems like she feels quite comfortable and safe in your place! She is lying on her back exposing her belly even with a big human around. You must have been doing something very good!

With regards to the petting, could you set up a training session where you bribe her for contact? What I like to do is similar to tabbytom, in that I hold out my hand in a fist to my feral cat, asking her to touch it with her nose or headbutt it. If she headbutts, she gets a treat. I actually do this for every meal to get her used to having to accept touches before every meal but if that's too fast for you maybe you could set up a time every day where she gets treats for headbutting/sniffing your hand. If you can get her headbutting you regularly you'll be able to pet other parts of her body.

One thing I noticed is that if I hold out my outstretched hand my feral cat gets jumpy. I heard that it looks like a talon or claw so it may look threatening. A closed or loosely closed fist generally seems a lot more favorable, although some cats may prefer a loosely closed fist with a slightly curved index finger reaching out. You may have to see what your cat prefers (and be ready to get smacked a bit too😣)

Also, the most important thing with ferals I think is time. You may get smacked a few times and things might seem like they regress, but with time they will learn to come around a bit more. Don't lose too much hope and just be patient. You seem to be doing great already so you'll probably find a way to pet her (on her terms though, LOL).
 
Last edited:

game misconduct

TCS Member
Top Cat
Joined
May 1, 2020
Messages
2,565
Purraise
8,195
Location
westcovina california
Hi all, I have been working with my semi feral girl attempting to make her more comfortable with me and petting. I have had some success sitting on the floor with her during feeding time putting my fist next to her food. At first if she touched me accidentally at all she would hiss and run. Now, she has let her whiskers touch me and her face has rubbed up against my hand - still totally accidentally, not because she wants pets, but she no longer hisses when she touches me on her terms. I interpreted this as a good sign, but any attempt I've made to slowly advance my hand towards her she jumps back and will hiss. She seems to know when I am even thinking about trying to touch her lol should I continue to attempt to slowly pet her? Any type of brush, wand with cloth at the end or any other type of inanimate object I have tried seems to scare her more. I am afraid of going backwards. She now is allowed to roam a good portion of the house and we are at the point that I can stand next to her, reach over her at times, walk around in the kitchen banging dishes around and whatnot and she will still stay close by watching me. I totally understand that her being semi feral means she will likely never be affectionate like my other cats which I am fine with but I would like to be able to pet her if possible, she is such a sweet girl. Any advice is much appreciated.
just let things be at her pace dont try to force or rush things she has already shown you interactions must be on her terms your making great progress already she is watching you choosing to be around you and one day soon with your patience i bet you will get an unexpected head bump by her to greet you :lol:resist the itch to try and pet her
 
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #8

DB89014

TCS Member
Thread starter
Young Cat
Joined
Mar 15, 2021
Messages
33
Purraise
16
Thank you I will definitely try those things and let her go at her own pace. I guess patience is the key I see how we take a step backwards if I try too much too soon but I am doing my best. I assume it will take a while for her to head butt me on purpose. I think sometimes she senses my apprehension when I don't know what I'm doing lol she has never shown any indication at all she wants to go back outside so I assume she is at least somewhat enjoying her indoor life. She also is definitely returning my slow blinks so if that is a sign of affection she must like me to some degree I guess?
 

tabbytom

Happiness is being owned by a cat
Staff Member
Mentor
Joined
May 12, 2016
Messages
14,793
Purraise
21,743
Location
Lion City, Singa-purr
Thank you I will definitely try those things and let her go at her own pace. I guess patience is the key I see how we take a step backwards if I try too much too soon but I am doing my best. I assume it will take a while for her to head butt me on purpose. I think sometimes she senses my apprehension when I don't know what I'm doing lol she has never shown any indication at all she wants to go back outside so I assume she is at least somewhat enjoying her indoor life. She also is definitely returning my slow blinks so if that is a sign of affection she must like me to some degree I guess?
Yes, it's always one step forward and two steps back. Don't rush her and let her own you and the house at her own pace.

Whatever indication she shows to go back out, never let it happen.
Yes, returning slow blinks from her is not a sign of affection to you to some degree, it is a whole lots of degree and they are very good indications of comfort, contention, confidence, trust and affection. Keep slow blinking with her and each time she returns her slow blink, praise her.

You are doing a 4ADBB236-6DD3-4F12-8494-797FAC3E3C2B$L0$001~photo.JPG Keep it up!
 
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #12

DB89014

TCS Member
Thread starter
Young Cat
Joined
Mar 15, 2021
Messages
33
Purraise
16
I still have not been able to successfully pet her but we are still working on it. She will approach my extended fist but still won't actively sniff it and she is still not quite happy about even the slowest attempts to stroke her cheek. She will take treats that are literally sitting right next to my hand but not directly from me. We are currently sitting at my desk though and she is lounging right next to me. She's less than a foot away from me in her bed and she is starting to doze off as you can see in the picture so I think she is becoming more comfortable. In any case I think she is happy and I think I made the right decision in keeping her inside and making her part of our family.
 

Attachments

tabbytom

Happiness is being owned by a cat
Staff Member
Mentor
Joined
May 12, 2016
Messages
14,793
Purraise
21,743
Location
Lion City, Singa-purr
I still have not been able to successfully pet her but we are still working on it. She will approach my extended fist but still won't actively sniff it and she is still not quite happy about even the slowest attempts to stroke her cheek. She will take treats that are literally sitting right next to my hand but not directly from me. We are currently sitting at my desk though and she is lounging right next to me. She's less than a foot away from me in her bed and she is starting to doze off as you can see in the picture so I think she is becoming more comfortable. In any case I think she is happy and I think I made the right decision in keeping her inside and making her part of our family.
Don't give up. Approaching your fist is the first step. Even if she don't sniff your fist, don't worry. Let her get more use to approaching your fist.
It's good that you can make the slowest attempt to stroke her cheek. Even though she's not quite happy about it, but she allowed it, it means the battle is half won.

Next you can try putting some treats in your fist and let her approach it and see if she sniffs at it. If she does, let her sniff for a few seconds, then stroke her cheek and open your fist and give her there treat with an open palm.
Let her associate you and your hand with food. If she sniff your hand and let you stroke her, there's a reward at the end.

Being a foot away from you sleeping is a sign of confidence and being comfortable. It's another form of being a lap cat. Lap cats does not necessary means they have to be on your lap to be lap cats. They can be anywhere near you, watching you do stuffs while dozing off and that's the way they are being lap cats.

She sure looks happy and yes, you made the right decision for her by keeping her inside. Just remember, all cats are different. It is just them and we have to accept the fact.

You are doing great. Just take a step a day. Most importantly is that she's safe and happy.
 
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #14

DB89014

TCS Member
Thread starter
Young Cat
Joined
Mar 15, 2021
Messages
33
Purraise
16
Thank you that is a good idea do you know of any treats that are extra smelly that I could use to keep in my hand that would motivate her more? I definitely won't give up on her at first I was having a real struggle with if I was doing the right thing because I was told she would be miserable living inside after being an outdoor cat for however long. But now I am definitely more confident she is ok. I recently put a new carpet down in her room and I catch her on my cameras now sprawled out on her back in the middle of it. I'm sure she wouldn't sleep like that if she were still living outside.
 

Attachments

tabbytom

Happiness is being owned by a cat
Staff Member
Mentor
Joined
May 12, 2016
Messages
14,793
Purraise
21,743
Location
Lion City, Singa-purr
Thank you that is a good idea do you know of any treats that are extra smelly that I could use to keep in my hand that would motivate her more? I definitely won't give up on her at first I was having a real struggle with if I was doing the right thing because I was told she would be miserable living inside after being an outdoor cat for however long. But now I am definitely more confident she is ok. I recently put a new carpet down in her room and I catch her on my cameras now sprawled out on her back in the middle of it. I'm sure she wouldn't sleep like that if she were still living outside.
I'm sorry that I can't recommend any treats as I don't give treats to my boy. Maybe you want to ask that here in cat-nutrition.64. I'm sure you can get some good answers there.

Cat living indoor will not be miserable because there's love, food and security. A cat living outdoors have to face the elements, dogs, cruel hoomans, traffic and scavenge for food if there are no feeders around and always live in fear.

She sure looks comfortable and contented. Sleeping belly up is a sign of trust. Cats only expose their bellies if they have enough trust in hoomans and surroundings.
 
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #16

DB89014

TCS Member
Thread starter
Young Cat
Joined
Mar 15, 2021
Messages
33
Purraise
16
Hi all. My semi-feral girl and I were making what I believed to be great progress. She still wasn't wanting to be pet but we had gotten to the point where she was frequently interested in what I was doing, she would sit comfortably in the room with me, she seemed to be growing a lot more confident and secure. Unfortunately my dog had been injured and had surgery. He required a lot more care than usual and I know I have not been spending the same amount of time with my semi feral girl. I am really seeing the consequences of that now. We seem to have gone 20 steps backwards and I know this is my own fault due to the lack of consistency. Thankfully my dog is on the mend and now that he is doing better I am trying to pick up where we left off with my cat but she definitely is more skiddish now. She even hides sometimes from me which she really hasn't done for quite a while. I feel terrible and am not sure what to do. Do I start from square one again? Just sitting with her while she's eating and talking to her? Any advice would be much appreciated
 

tabbytom

Happiness is being owned by a cat
Staff Member
Mentor
Joined
May 12, 2016
Messages
14,793
Purraise
21,743
Location
Lion City, Singa-purr
Hi all. My semi-feral girl and I were making what I believed to be great progress. She still wasn't wanting to be pet but we had gotten to the point where she was frequently interested in what I was doing, she would sit comfortably in the room with me, she seemed to be growing a lot more confident and secure.
This is good progress. There you go, getting interested in what you are doing and sitting comfortably in the room with you means you've got lap cat! A lap cat does not mean having a cat sitting on your lap to be considered a lap cat. They can be just like what your cat is doing, watching you and sitting nearby.

You can start from square one or 2 steps back or even twenty steps back. It's ok to overlap so she can relearn. In situations like this, lots and lots of love, patience and routine is needed.

Talk to her all the time during when she's eating or just laying down watching you. Keep praising her and do slow eye blinks with her. Whenever you do slow eye blinks with her, call her name and speak it out and say to her 'Blink Eyes' and you slowly blink eyes with her whether she returns it or not. Keep doing this and I'm sure she'll return her blink eyes with you.
 

Anchoress

TCS Member
Young Cat
Joined
Oct 24, 2021
Messages
193
Purraise
287
Please stop trying. Let the cat make the running. At her pace. It will be a stronger bond. Trust takes time and has to come from the cat.
 

Anchoress

TCS Member
Young Cat
Joined
Oct 24, 2021
Messages
193
Purraise
287
Sorry..got cut off. Has to come from within the cat. She will come round. But forcing it will breed mistrust/ Cats are very prvate critters. I used to tell folk who had kittens from me.. Provide a safe warm bolt hole and let the kitten come to YOU. And I do this with the ferals I take in; respecting their hesitation. Takes longer but oh so wonderful . This week I have finally seen the eyes of one badly abused cat. Just talk at a distance and be very patient. You are tending to crowd her.
 

MindyStClairesMom

TCS Member
Young Cat
Joined
Oct 9, 2021
Messages
67
Purraise
75
Location
San Francisco
What Anchoress was saying is something similar to what I am trying with mine: I do not demand that she move at my pace by asking for pets with every connection -- in fact I almost NEVER ask for pets (one offer every third day or so -- sometimes I land a pet, but most times I don't). I don't want her to associate me with demands for intimacy that she just isn't ready for. I have had Mindy St. Claire in my room -- we share a bedroom in my tiny apartment & I work from home 3 out of 5 days a week -- for about 8 weeks now are we still aren't to pets yet -- and there really aren't any resources out there that share these WAY longer (but still normal) timelines (except here!). Mindy St. Claire also isn't super food-motivated, but I have learned she is QUITE play-motivated. It was hard to discover this because of how truly terrified she was at first. I have had to teach her how to play and it is only today that she is clearly engaging fully enough that she is jumping for the wand toy. I blog about MSC's progress -- but I haven't made 100 posts yet, so I can't yet post my blog link -- PM me if you would like to follow along (I think that's ok?)! I have been through periods of genuine doubt about her ultimate success, but she surprises (and delights) me every day!
 
Top