Fostering 8 Month Old Feral Cat - Just Got Him 3 Days Ago - Very Scared and Angry!

Cuddly

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Hi I made an account here to ask for advice. Three days ago we received an 8 month old male cat who is 3 generations feral. He was with another lady for the past 3 months who managed to make some progress with him.

We currently have him in a small-ish bedroom, set-up with a litter box, food, water and toys. (the lady was kind enough to give us his bed, toys and some food/ litter!). When we go into the room he is always hiding in the corner of the bed, out of reach. We are mostly leaving him alone in there, hoping he becomes less scared! We also have 2 other cats (1 indoor 1 outdoor) and we are keeping them seperated for the time being. Anyway we need some advice as we have not made any progress yet - see below.

-He is eating and using the litter box - presumeably at night when he feels safe.
-We tried to feed him with a spoon and some wet food - but he attacked the spoon/ our hand.
-From a distance he stares at us wide-eyed and not moving. If we get too close he hisses.

We might be moving him to our very small bathroom at some point, as the room might be too big (not looking forward to the task!!). We really need some advice to make him more comfortable and not scared of us! We are only experienced with friendly house cats!

Thank you so much!
 

rubysmama

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Hello and welcome to TCS. And thanks for taking on the fostering / socialization of this kitten.

I haven't personally socialized ferals, but have read many threads from members that have, and love following the progress they make. So I'll be following this thread as well.

Three days is a very short time, even for a non-former-feral, so him still hiding isn't something totally unusual. He's probably still stressed from the move, and not sure what's going on. He may even miss his former foster mom. So for now, be patient with him. The fact that he's eating and using the litter box, is really good, and means there's nothing to worry about right now.

Do talk to him when you're in his room. And before opening the door to his room, say his name, or something so that he'll learn to recognize the voice and know who's going to enter.

If you can, spend time in his room, not necessarily interacting with him, just being there, maybe reading, listening to music, etc.

Try not to loom over him, but stay crouched down, if you can. I definitely would not try moving him to the small bathroom for a while. However, you could try putting his carrier in his room, and put treats in it from time to time, so that when you do need to move him, that might be a way to get him to willingly go in the carrier.

Another thing, don't stare directly him, as ferals can find that threatening. When you do look at him, try blinking really slowly. He'll see that as a sign of non-aggression.

Hissing is ok. It's normal. He's just telling you to stay back.

Do be careful reaching out to him, as you don't want to get scratched, or worse bitten.

That's all I can think of right now. I'm sure other members will be along to offer suggestions and give you support.

Good luck. Keep us posted on his progress.

And post a pic of him, if you can.
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gilmargl

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Hi Cuddly Cuddly , thank you for taking this cat into your home. I hope he has at least already been neutered and that you realize that you may have an impossible task ahead of you. He was brought up by a feral cat who has taught him to be extremely wary of people.

He is eating and using his litter box - is there any real reason to move him to the small bathroom? We usually only do this in the case of young kittens who don't use the litter box. My cat, Katy, who turned out not to be a true feral, hid from me for at least a week. When I had to move her into a warmer room a few months later, after she'd been spayed, she started hiding from me again.

I would advise you to leave him where he is. Sit with him in the evenings - or whenever you have time. Drop a few treats on the floor between you and his hiding place and just keep quiet. Don't try to feed him with a spoon, just read a book, play some quiet cat music (or what I call dentist-waiting-room-music), use Feliway (if you believe in it) and keep still. Katy eventually started coming out to rub my feet but I had to be looking in another direction and it took a long time before she accepted my hand (and she was not a true feral!). Do you know why this cat was not simply neutered and returned to the wild?

Hopefully others will come up with some good ideas I wish you lots and lots of luck!
 
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Cuddly

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Thank you both for the advice! My boyfriend and I will spend about 10-15 min a day in there playing uno or whatever, and stop approaching him for the time being. Hopefully he will come out eventually!

Unfortunately he is not yet castrated and vaccinated (previous owner wasn't able to get him to the vet yet as he was too afraid). The organization that set us up with the cat will pay for it though:) Might be a long time before then sadly.

It was not my direct decision to foster him. My boyfriend wanted another cat and the organization suggested forstering. Although we got a very challenging kitty lol! I think they were getting a bit desperate as the original lady was no longer able to care for him :(

I think since he was around 4? ish months old when he was found, they thought he could become socialized. To be honest I'm not sure why they didn't TNR him. I guess we will have to stay hopeful :p I believe they don't have space at the shelter, especially for a cat who is not yet a friendly house cat. Time will tell.

I will post a pic if I get the chance but he is hiding in the dark haha. He's a grey and white short-hair. Very cute!

Thank you again!
 

rubysmama

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My boyfriend and I will spend about 10-15 min a day in there playing uno or whatever, and stop approaching him for the time being.
Longer would probably be better. Or more often., If you can. He needs to get used to you and your boyfriend being around, and learn that you aren't a threat to him.

Unfortunately he is not yet castrated and vaccinated (previous owner wasn't able to get him to the vet yet as he was too afraid). The organization that set us up with the cat will pay for it though:) Might be a long time before then sadly.
Sorry to read he hasn't been neutered. At 8 months old, he could start spraying at any time now. It's unfortunate that they didn't take him to be neutered between the time he left the former foster and came to you. Besides (hopefully) preventing spraying starting, neutering will take away the stinky tomcat urine smell. And it might also lessen any aggression / territorial impulses he might have. I'd keep in touch with the foster organization to see how/when they plan to proceed with getting him neutered.

I think since he was around 4? ish months old when he was found, they thought he could become socialized. To be honest I'm not sure why they didn't TNR him. I guess we will have to stay hopeful :p I believe they don't have space at the shelter, especially for a cat who is not yet a friendly house cat. Time will tell.
Even older ferals can be socialized. . Not every single one, but many. So there is still very good chance your guy can become a friendly house cat.
 

di and bob

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Yes, there have been MANY formally feral cats who have been tamed. It is a problem that he hasn't been neutered, his tomcat hormones will make him that much more afraid and wanting to leave. You'll have to decide whether to take him in ASAP and get it over with, or wait until he is somewhat tame and do it then, but it will break his trust in you once more and you will likely have to start over. 3 days is not long at all, all cats would be hiding and acting like him to a certain extent. Cats absolutely hate change, and just when he was starting to trust someone his world was torn apart. He is SO afraid and stressed out. Since cat introductions usually take months anyway, your other cat should be ready by the time he settles down. Then you can come back for introduction tips. For now, sit quietly and be on your phone, or reading a book, and read out loud in a quiet soothing voice. Leave treats when you leave, do not stare at him, and get him used to your presence. Try not to have any loud noises or strangers staring at him. This is a long, drawn-out process, but CAN be achieved, I admire you for taking him on. You EARN a cat's love, and especially in situations like these, it is one of life's treasures. All the luck and please come here any time you need.....
 

Carolina SA

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Longer would probably be better. Or more often., If you can. He needs to get used to you and your boyfriend being around, and learn that you aren't a threat to him.
Take a laptop, watch a movie or listen to a podcast or send emails. Make sometime before work eg eat brekky and check emails. Then after work watch a movie lying on the floor. It's a great way to be a non-threatening presence as he gets used to your normal house sounds.
 
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