Formerly Feral 7 Month Old. Petting Is Ok - Now What?

sarah8million

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I adopted a 4-5 month old kitten (“Sip”) about 8 weeks ago, knowing that she was shy. She and her two siblings arrived at a foster likely a little “late” and she was the spiciest of the three. The foster got her to a decent place but she could not sit in a lap or be picked up. She regressed when she came to me and did all of the expected hissing, etc. and I won her over with spoon and hand feeding, treats, play. She LOVES my older cat, but only tolerates me. I can see the suspicion in her eyes.

I can now pet her reliably when she is on my bed and when I set food down. She purrs and seems to enjoy the pets, but avoids them other than in those two scenarios. She grooms in front of me. I know that this is good, maybe the dream scenario.

My question for you all is, where do we go from here? I admit to feeling somewhat sad that she never approaches me for affection and I had a housecall vet come last week to try to check her out for persistent diarrhea and the vet couldn’t examine her because she was so panicked.

Now that I am beyond the obvious stuff, what can I do to keep socializing her? I want her to be able to receive care and I feel ashamed to admit that I also want her to like me.

Are there other things I can do other than just spending time with her and continuing to earn her trust?
 

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Kieka

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Just keep doing what you are doing. Push the boundaries a little at a time and eventually she will get there with more and more trust. My girl was also a spicy little feral girl and it's taken 6 years to get to the point where I can pick her up if I need to without chasing her around the house. Shes also starting to love belly rubs. Once she gets to a new comfort level, push it just a smidgen.
 

kittychick

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What a WONDERFUL - not to mention patient - kitty mom you are! It's an obviously happy home for her and her siblings - - -and that's all because of your love, your patience, and your willingness to take her at her own time. I haven't been able to answer much recently, and I can't take much more time at this very moment, but I'll do my DAMNDEST to pop in with more later today or tomorrow! (I really love giving someone in your situation some options/suggestions/personal observations - - I've been there with other adopters AND myself SOOOOOOO many times!)

But for the moment - to echo the wonderfully knowledgeable Kieka Kieka - you're truly headed down the right path. Now it's a matter of pushing boundaries a tad, bit by bit, and the right way (and Sip will certainly give you clues - as I'm sure you already know!). A quick example - we had a foster semi-feral that we were told would never be more "people-friendly" then she currently was. Cut to end - - the adopters have what's basically now a new cat, complete with headbutts, sleeping together at night, and bingewatching Netflix on a couch through (something our adopter truly appreciated during the worst of the pandemic in the US!).

Obviously - every cat is different. To expect perfect is to expect disappointment. But - - -think I can give you a few more tips. I'll weigh in later this weekend - - - -and for now, keep doing what you're doing. Seems like you and the feline family is certainly enjoying a wonderful life together already! Way to go! :rock:
 

fionasmom

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I agree that you just need to stay the course. Every cat I have ever owned, with the exception of a couple abandoned pets, was a street feral. No one even made it through a rescue. This kitty is making progress and with ferals it takes longer, sometimes a circuitous route to get them to where you want them. As for liking you, believe me, in her little feral mind she does or she would not be doing anything that she is doing. The panic at the vet is normal....new person, no understanding of what that person is doing.

My avatar was a feral born under a house in the neighborhood and she and her sister are now house pets. Former ferals often set "steps" in their mind for what they allow or not and these eventually progress to the next level once they feel comfortable.
 
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sarah8million

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Thanks to everyone who has responded. I really needed some reassurance. Any specific tips are also welcome! (A friend suggested feeding her dinner on my lap?) I just want her to feel safe and loved and be able to trust humans enough to receive veterinary care when she needs it.
 
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