Any advice helping a stray/ near feral transition into home life

sushicat123

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Hello! I was wondering if anyone may be able to offer some advice.
I took in a stray cat 3 days ago now, he'd been hanging about on the estate for almost a year after his owners got a new puppy - I wasn't aware that he was a stray until recently, where I've seen him sitting out in rain storms crying and getting gradually skinnier.

I know who the owners are and they told me they're happy for me to adopt him. I caught him after a few days of him coming for food, have gotten his blood tested and will be getting vax, neutered etc etc. He's not in bad shape but on the skinny side and lots of cuts on his face. He's only 2.

Problem is, he's terrified and hates me. I haven't tried to get close to him other than when I had to take him to the vets (which was an ordeal and a half, I've never seen a cat act so wild). He generally hisses as me and hides if I come in the room. I know he did have a comfortable indoor life and was friendly with his previous owner. I know it's still early days, but seeing him distressed is really upsetting. I was wondering if anyone has advice on ways to tame down strays who are more airing on the side of feral? I know it's going to take a while, but don't want to just keep him in a room for months on end without him getting any better and just wanting to get outside. I have a feliway and pet remedy and always try to associate me with food. He will eat but not when I'm in the room.
 

silent meowlook

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Hi. First off, you are awesome for taking in this cat.
You are right, he is terrified. You are wrong too, He doesn’t hate you.
It is easy to get these types of cats to be friendly, but most people for some reason, just can’t force themselves to do it. Ignore him. Bring him food and water and tend to his litter, but don’t try to interact with him or talk to him, or even look at him. Just, food, water, litter. That’s it.
If you can really stick to this, he will be fine. Once you take the pressure off of him by being around him, he will start to feel safe. When he feels safe he will get comfortable and once comfortable, he will get bored and lonely. That’s what you want. Then, provided you haven’t tried to force yourself on him ( in a cats mind) he will seek you out. Then don’t look at him and keep your interactions brief to start with.
These types of cats do come around, but it does take some time. You don’t know all the bad that’s happened to him. Think of him as having been in survival mode for a year and having PTSD. He needs to feel safe and he must figure out he is safe all on his own. Remember he is a cat and thinks like a cat, not a person.
Get a wand feather toy and start to play with him when he first seeks you out. You will know he wants interaction because you will see him when you feed, more that you see him now. And he will meow for you.
As for the vet, ask them for Gabapentin to give him prior to his visit. They should comply or get another vet.
He may test positive for FIV and know that that is not a death sentence and can be managed.
Thank you for saving this cat!!
 
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sushicat123

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Hi. First off, you are awesome for taking in this cat.
You are right, he is terrified. You are wrong too, He doesn’t hate you.
It is easy to get these types of cats to be friendly, but most people for some reason, just can’t force themselves to do it. Ignore him. Bring him food and water and tend to his litter, but don’t try to interact with him or talk to him, or even look at him. Just, food, water, litter. That’s it.
If you can really stick to this, he will be fine. Once you take the pressure off of him by being around him, he will start to feel safe. When he feels safe he will get comfortable and once comfortable, he will get bored and lonely. That’s what you want. Then, provided you haven’t tried to force yourself on him ( in a cats mind) he will seek you out. Then don’t look at him and keep your interactions brief to start with.
These types of cats do come around, but it does take some time. You don’t know all the bad that’s happened to him. Think of him as having been in survival mode for a year and having PTSD. He needs to feel safe and he must figure out he is safe all on his own. Remember he is a cat and thinks like a cat, not a person.
Get a wand feather toy and start to play with him when he first seeks you out. You will know he wants interaction because you will see him when you feed, more that you see him now. And he will meow for you.
As for the vet, ask them for Gabapentin to give him prior to his visit. They should comply or get another vet.
He may test positive for FIV and know that that is not a death sentence and can be managed.
Thank you for saving this cat!!

Thank you very much for your reply! I will continue ignoring him and be even more hands off for now until he's ready to seek me out. That's a good way of thinking about it as I have PTSD too, helps me to understand better! Luckily he has tested negative for FIV and FELV. He is going in for vaccinations next week and neutering the week after, so I imagine it's going to be some time before he begins to trust me. I'll ask the vets for Gabapentin, thank you for that suggestion.
 

silent meowlook

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Awesome about the negative FELV FIV!! It will make the trip much nicer for him. Anyway they can do the vaccines when they neuter him so he only has one trip?
 
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sushicat123

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Awesome about the negative FELV FIV!! It will make the trip much nicer for him. Anyway they can do the vaccines when they neuter him so he only has one trip?
They told me they couldn't as they'd have to put him in isolation to recover as he doesn't have vaccinations.. however I just found out from his previous owner that he did have them when he was a kitten but no boosters. I'm going to ring them again and see if we can do it all at the same time, I would really prefer not to stress him out more than necessary - it was awful last time, he was so stressed.
 

silent meowlook

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Ok. That is a bit hard core there. I work at a cat veterinary hospital and we will isolate if stray or feral but once examined and determined ok, the next time as long as ok they would not need to be isolated.
My concerns are him recovering from anesthesia in isolation, but maybe that’s different.
is this a shelter vet or regular hospital?
Either way if you trust them, that’s great. He must be neutered.
 

shadowsrescue

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Is it possible to give him a room of his own? Most cats do best when they are confined to a small space until they adjust. I prefer using a spare bedroom or other small room if possible. The one caveat though is to be sure that if there is a bed in the room, you either pick it up off the floor (lean against a wall) or put it flat on the floor. Under the bed is the first place a cat will go to hide and it's nearly impossible to get them out. Also block under and behind other large furniture. Cats are notorious for hiding in small spaces.

Here is a a great article that might help you out too.

You could also get a Feliway plug in for the room. Calming treats may also help. I like to play a radio or other music with soft calming music. I also leave a light or night light for the night time.

Be sure if he is in a room with a window, that you keep the window closed. Also watch out for blinds with cords.

I like to sit on the floor and not loom over shy cats. Sometimes direct eye contact is fearful to them as well. Food is often a way to their heart. Get some really yummy canned food. You could also offer some bits of plain cooked chicken or even small bits of canned tuna. Sit on the floor and toss him something and see if he will approach. If not, just leave him something special and he will soon associate you with yummy food.
 
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sushicat123

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Is it possible to give him a room of his own? Most cats do best when they are confined to a small space until they adjust. I prefer using a spare bedroom or other small room if possible. The one caveat though is to be sure that if there is a bed in the room, you either pick it up off the floor (lean against a wall) or put it flat on the floor. Under the bed is the first place a cat will go to hide and it's nearly impossible to get them out. Also block under and behind other large furniture. Cats are notorious for hiding in small spaces.

Here is a a great article that might help you out too.
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You could also get a Feliway plug in for the room. Calming treats may also help. I like to play a radio or other music with soft calming music. I also leave a light or night light for the night time.

Be sure if he is in a room with a window, that you keep the window closed. Also watch out for blinds with cords.

I like to sit on the floor and not loom over shy cats. Sometimes direct eye contact is fearful to them as well. Food is often a way to their heart. Get some really yummy canned food. You could also offer some bits of plain cooked chicken or even small bits of canned tuna. Sit on the floor and toss him something and see if he will approach. If not, just leave him something special and he will soon associate you with yummy food.

Thank you! I'll have a read of the article. He's in a room of his own yes, and will stay there for quite a while I'm sure! I've got a feliway and have been leaving him a little light on at night time too. I tend to just go in there and sit and read out loud each day at the moment and don't look at him. He has some chicken too, so it sounds like I'm doing something right :)
 
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sushicat123

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Ok. That is a bit hard core there. I work at a cat veterinary hospital and we will isolate if stray or feral but once examined and determined ok, the next time as long as ok they would not need to be isolated.
My concerns are him recovering from anesthesia in isolation, but maybe that’s different.
is this a shelter vet or regular hospital?
Either way if you trust them, that’s great. He must be neutered.

Yeah my friend said the same as she works for the RSPCA. It's a regular hospital, I would try other vets but I have a discounted plan there - they are good but not at all as flexible as other vets in my area. Once he's been neutered and vaccinated I will probably sign him up to a different practice.
 
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