Combining Ferals....

Amanda923

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Hello - I have 2 ferals that I trapped separately in my backyard. One wandered off from a colony, he was part of a TNR (I was able to connect with the rescue group, most of the colony is FIV/FELV positive, this little guy is not). I named him Bylka.

The second feral I have no details on, no tipped ear (I had him neutered, he's FIV/FELV negative) and I named him Watson.

I have Bylka in a spare bedroom, he has a cat tree, toys, litter box etc. Watson is in a room in my basement (which is sadly unfinished), I bought him rugs, he has toys, hiding places, small basement windows etc.

Both cats have been to the vet so I feel good about their health. Bylka and Watson are my first true feral rescues. I do have a one-eyed feral barn cat that I adopted (Juliette), she's only partially feral at this point, we can't touch her but she loves to be with us all the time. So I'm definitely 'green' when it comes to ferals...

I have cameras in both Byelka and Watson's rooms so I can see how they're behaving. They seem ok. Byelka plays with all his toys, grooms, looks out the window, scratches on the scratch box etc. I have only had Watson for a few weeks, he seems like he's adjusting, he's starting to play with the toys, eat the treats etc (he was always eating the food, using the litter box) but he seems to be relaxing more.

Ideally I would like to get to a point where both ferals are in the same room - which will be a bedroom so Watson has normal windows and better climate control. I am going to do it in a neutral / different bedroom. Does anyone have experience with this? Any pointers you can offer? I won't be tackling it for a little while yet bc I have to figure out my plan (divide the room, taking turns with each of them having access to roam the room but not access to each other).

I just want to do right by them. I have a lot of animals in the house so I think it's best if they continue to have their own room(s) and safe place for now.

Thank you :)
 

Jcatbird

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Hi! Welcome! Yes! Many here have introduced ferals to each other. I have done many dozens.
It’s a step by step process. First would be scent swapping by exchanging blankets or towels the kitties lay on. A hairbrush is another way to share the scent of both cats and spreads it onto the other cat.
Thank you Furballsmom Furballsmom I am a bit swamped today.
I will be checking back to try and help you along but try the scent swapping first. Letting them sniff each other under a closed door is good too if you can do it.
 

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I just wanted to come back with something that happened today. I have four older females that were ferals. Two are still semiferal and all four are shy with strangers. I had added another female to the mix. A kitten about 8 weeks when I brought her in. At first she was in a bathroom adjoining the room the older kiities are in. They were all able to smell each other under the door at first. The older females often hissed at the door. The kitten was afraid of them being at the door. This diminished over time. After awhile I allowed the kitties to view each other briefly through an opening in the door. I did the scent swapping with their bedding too. Because the new one is a kitten, I was able to gain her trust and able to hold her so I then carried her just past the door to see the big cats. She was frightened at first. The big cats still hissed. You can use baby gates or wire rack shelving to put in a doorway with bigger cats to allow viewing without contact. I have also used cages to introduce a new cat safely. Visitation is done only as long as the cats don’t get really scared. If they do, it’s time to put them back in their safe place. Over time this kitten was advanced to face to face sniffing, being allowed to meet and greet, to being allowed to play with a wand toy with the other cats, to being allowed to explore the room, eat meals with the other cats and finally to join them for longer and longer periods of time. The older cats remained aloof so I brought in a toy that all had heavily scented. When I put it before all the cats they all came over to sniff it and it gave them a common interest. I used toys daily to try and get the older cats to lose themselves in play with the kitten. Today was a landmark day. The kitten was able to engage all the cats in play without my assistance and was accepted into the group without any hissing or swatting. It takes time and patience. The group of four was already long established as a group so accepting a new member was something they rejected at first. You would never know that if you could see them together tonight. We may still have setbacks or arguements but they are now a group of five. :yess: The kitten is a very happy little girl. Me too! The older cats are now playing like they did as kittens.

This is not a detailed version but it does give you sort of an outline of how to approach combining kitties. Please keep us posted as you begin the introductions. There are lots of other tips that can be given and I’m sure others will be in to help as you go along.:wave3:
 
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Amanda923

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Thank you! From what I've been reading on here, I think my first step is to continue working on getting the ferals comfortable with me - because they are not. We're already doing scent swapping with the toys and towels. I've been rotating the toys for scents but also to keep them from getting bored. I have 6 other cats in the house, plus 2 dogs, plus the 2 ferals. Unfortunately bc one is located in a bedroom on the second floor and one is in the basement, letting them (meaning the two ferals specifically) smell each other under a doorway etc isn't logistically an option right now. I trapped Byelka in June of this year and Watson I trapped a few weeks ago. I'm probably prematurely thinking about introductions but just trying to think long term. :)
 
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Amanda923

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We are moving along! Watson in the basement comes out and greets us (really just because he wants his food). He is super skittish but he will come near and he will eat right next to me. He was chirping at me tonight. I think in time he will come around more and then maybe in a few months I can start introductions with the rest of the cats vs combining him with the other feral/Byelka. Byelka is sort of coming around, he will eat in front of me, but only a little and then he goes back to hide. He still hisses and swats from inside is safe spot (which is his cat carrier) but we've made some good progress over the past several weeks :).
 
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Amanda923

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We are moving along! Watson in the basement comes out and greets us (really just because he wants his food). He is super skittish but he will come near and he will eat right next to me. He was chirping at me tonight. I think in time he will come around more and then maybe in a few months I can start introductions with the rest of the cats vs combining him with the other feral/Byelka. Byelka is sort of coming around, he will eat in front of me, but only a little and then he goes back to hide. He still hisses and swats from inside is safe spot (which is his cat carrier) but we've made some good progress over the past several weeks :).
I actually managed to get Watson to play with a feather wand and a laser pointer tonight. He looked like he was having fun :)
 

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My! You certainly have made a lot of progress. Now Watson decided to play! That’s wonderful! I’m sure he did have fun. He is in a safe environment, getting good care, love and now feeling secure enough to play. :clap2: That’s great news and it made my day. Thank you for sharing the happiness with us all!
 
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Amanda923

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Watson has joined the rest of the family!!! We put a screen door up in the basement so the other cats and he could sniff each other. We then had some supervised time together with some of the younger cats (who are more mild tempered). And within a few days he was able to join the family! He is comfortable in the full basement and he has come up a few times to the kitchen (which is right at the top of the basement stairs). We have a feral barn cat who is also skittish with any kind of change - so getting a new routine in the house is slow bc she and Watson spook each other, but it's moving along. Watson recovers quickly and comes right back so I still think it's great progress. We have 2 dogs that are kind of bouncy for 11+ yrs old so while Watson looks curious about them, he also runs off when they bounce around. I think he will explore more in time and hopefully get less and less skittish. This sight and everyones kind words gave me hope and confidence. Byelka isn't ready to come out, but he is coming around, in his own way - he will sit outside of his safe spot (his cat carrier) and watch us when we are in the room with him. He stopped hissing at us when we approach him to bring his food or change his water. He plays with his toys constantly when we aren't in the room (his room is above the kitchen and it sounds like an elephant up there). He was curious about the laser pointer when I tried playing with him - he followed it with his eyes/head and he did paw at it a little. No chasing it but it was something :). I am happy and confident that I am doing right by them and neither seem miserable or sad being inside my home.
 
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Amanda923

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I wanted to thank everyone for the support and kind words on here. I have made amazing headway with the two ferals. Watson (originally in the basement) is fully integrated in the house, he loves pats and I can even pick him up! He also snuggles the other cats and is always rubbing up against the dogs!

Byelka who was a "true" feral, born outside and about 2 yrs of age. He is in the upstairs bedroom - well.... I was able to give him his FIRST pat this past Sunday! Now, every day since, he's been coming over for pats and I think he looks forward to our lengthy evening visits. So everything is moving along great - except 1 cat doesn't like Watson. So we separate them and have "scheduled" time where they are out together. Hopefully it will get better sooner rather than later. Any maybe someday Byelka can come out of his room too (he doesn't seem interested in what's beyond his room or the other cats etc, Watson very obviously wanted out of his room).

I have also been feeding several other strays or ferals outside... Once Covid calms down and I can bring them to the vet, I'll have to start trapping.

Here is a picture of Byelka leaning into the pat (it won't let me upload the video). Thank you again. This site gave me so much information, support and made me hopeful that these 2 ferals that I snatched from outside could be happy, healthy and safe in my house :). I hope everyone is staying healthy and safe and all is ok during this crazy and uncertain time.
 

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Jcatbird

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I am so glad that people here were able to give you support. You’ve certainly made huge progress! Yay!!!:banana1::bunnydance::woo:Happy kitties. Full integration can come in time. Remember I told you about adding the kitten to the four females and having five in the room? Since then I have been working to integrate an elder female to the “girls room”. Lol I still get some hissy fits but for the most part they have accepted each other. The elder girl and the oldest of the females already established in the room have a few debates but we are much further along than at first. An occasional time out for elder Mama but she really needed to be with others. It just takes time and allowing them to advance at their own pace. Byelka is beautiful. Such a nice , loving snuggle! You’ve done a wonderful thing. I hope things open up soon so you can continue the fine work you are doing. Thank you for helping them!:hugs:
 
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