Looking for Feral Socialization Blogs, Resources

MindyStClairesMom

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Hello, friendly cat people! My friend who stewards several TNR colonies entrusted two kittehs to me about 8 weeks ago. Disco Janet has a tipped ear, but was emaciated from giardia and she's so sweet and gregarious that her ear is the only clue that she ever lived outdoors. The other cat, Mindy St. Claire, is "mine" (in the sense that I am socializing her in my room and my daughter is socializing DJ in her room), and taking DJ was actually meant to give MSC a social bridge. I haven't yet formally introduced them because MSC is a great deal more feral that the folks who trapped her assumed. In fact, she was spayed by a private vet (rather than the vets the ASPCA uses for TNR community cats), so her ear wasn't tipped. All assumed that because she was "so beautiful," that she would warm up nicely. She HAS warmed up, it's true -- but not quickly at all. I am, however, obsessed with the project (I have few friends, hahaha) and I scour the internet for ideas that I could try to help her be most comfortable, happy, and -- here's the selfish part -- as affectionate as possible. Do you know of any fantastic resources I may not have yet found? I'm specifically interested in progress-over-time blogs. EVERYTHING I read says "taming ferals after 8 weeks old is a terrible idea." Welp, too late now. There is ZERO chance she could be returned (she was living alone, under an overturned tree stump in Golden Gate Park with a couple of kittens who were trapped separately). GG Park is over run with coyotes, y'all, so "return" isn't going to happen. There is a colony that is cared for where she has been offered a spot, and I have rejected that offer, but I cannot yet handle her or get her into a carrier. Mindy St. Claire doesn't volunteer to let me touch her at all, but we have made lots of progress I am also curious to know about how old we think she looks -- I got virtually no information upon her arrival. My guess is that she is ~11/12 months, so she and I will share a birthday mid-November. Does this sound legit to you? She plays like a kitten (videos on the blog).
Picture of herself for attention:
received_927708544517115.jpeg

This is Disco Janet:
20210922_183310.jpg
 
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Jcatbird

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It is totally false that cats cannot be socialized later in life. I have socialized completely feral cats of all ages, including a very fierce female named Flowers ( at first called vicious) and an older Tom that was top cat of a large colony. BJ. Their stories and lives are just amazing! They continue to amaze me. Not every cat will become a lap cat but the whole colony did socialize to some level. The largest percentage socialized to be adopted! Many became the most social lap cats you could hope for. From newborn to several years old. Over 80 got loving homes. Lost count at this point. Lol I was actually just writing about one of my favorite tools for helping cats to interact. I have used everything from screen doors, large crates to child gates. The thing the cats love the most is the vinyl lattice panels I cut to fit as doors over my bedroom doors. Do you need more help with socializing them to each other or to people? There are lots of tools and tricks. A lot of people here on TCS have done this. I think you found the resource you have been looking for! TCS is a great place for all things cat and all things feral.
Touching can be started by letting kitties approach you. I find it best to lay down, belly up snd just let them observe first. If you sleep in the room with them, they are checking you out. Belly up is a good sign in cst speak. It says you are showing them trust as this is the most vulnerable of positions. Never stare. Predators stare. Use food as a tool. Sharing eating time is something a colony often does. Putting a very yummy and smelly food on a dish near you as you show you are vulnerable may bring them closer. I often put food on a fish on my tummy and stayed perfectly still while the cat ate. Eventually the car relaxes and touches you. This can lead to more contact. Slightly warm Gerber second foods all meat baby food is a good lure. It is yummy to most and takes time to lick up. Lol If they are shy, put the dish where they feel safe eating but gradually move it closer to you at subsequent feedings.
Always annoy e yourself before entering their room. No surprises. Feeding them treats inside a carrier and establishing the carrier as their safe hiding place and a spot where trays and great toys appear can make this their favorite spot. Each cst here has their own carrier. This makes the cartier their home away from home during any kind of move or vet visit. My cats seem to know a vet visit is coming and if they hide, they hide in their carrier! Easy for me snd calming got them. A wand toy is a good tool because it can be used at a little distance and the cats often become engrossed in play snd fail to notice they have come closer to you or even touched you. If a cat is especially nervous there are calming products that might help like Feliway diffusers. There is also music online that is specifically for calming cats. For cat that are just a little reluctant, I often put catnip on my shoes. Sometimes I get rubs from the kitties! All of this will take time snd others will come in with tips that may differ a bit but worked for them. Every cat is different so take each suggestion snd use what works for these kitties. Each cat will adjust to the level they feel comfortable with snd in their time tame. Patience. Just don’t give up. Trust comes. You are now a cat guardian. Every cat guardian is a kitty hero. Please do keep us updated on these precious ones! I love the pictures! Welcome to TCS to you, Disco Janet snd Mindy St. Claire!:welcomesign::hellosmiley::rock:
 

tabbytom

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EVERYTHING I read says "taming ferals after 8 weeks old is a terrible idea." Welp, too late now.
It's not too late. 8 weeks is still ok and even if much older, it's still ok. The trend is the younger the cat, better and easier and the older the cat is, you need more patience.

I believe we have members here taming ferals when they are much older and with much success. If it's done right, the time spent is worth it. So don't give up.
 

shadowsrescue

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Here are a few sites that might help. I used the first one to help socialize a 7 month old feral kitten. The first site is a video series of 3. It starts with the rescue of feral kittens and then goes through their process of socializing. It has some very good ideas. Tough Love Video - UrbanCatLeague


 

di and bob

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It is EASIER to socialize kittens under 8 weeks old, but much older cats can and have been tamed. I've tamed crusty old tom cats to the point of petting them and that is a big accomplishment. It works well to stand/sit closer and closer as they are eating. This is of course after you actually see them and can be near without them running off and hiding. Then move closer and closer and try to stroke them. This takes many months and usually with them running off as soon as your hand comes out, but they DO get used to you and eventually accept it. It just takes a LOT of patience and a lot of determination, but it can be done!
 
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MindyStClairesMom

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You are all amazing. I am so grateful. I live in a TINY San Francisco apartment (600 square feet) and so she can only escape me by finding a hiding spot in the closet. When I closed the closet doors, she stress-marked in the room, and so she dwells happily in the closet in the day & hangs out in a relaxed way to watch cat tv & to play in the evenings. I was absolutely looking for the lattice idea -- that's exactly what I needed. Actionable & helpful. Thanks!
 
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MindyStClairesMom

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pearl99

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I have a semi-feral, Waffles, and time and patience, going at his pace were the key. One thing I did was have a long wand/stick with a small brush/tooth brush taped to the end, and first get him used to seeing it and then brush him a bit with it. That was after he was ok with me just sitting close enough to him, or laying on the floor close enough to him. He just loved it and it helped build trust.
He was 2 years old when I adopted him and while he seemed to have had some human contact- not totally feral- he is a great success story. Total loving lap cat now, who I still can't just walk up to and pick up or pet, but that's fine. He readily comes to me.
 
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MindyStClairesMom

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One thing I did was have a long wand/stick with a small brush/tooth brush taped to the end.
Ooh! The toothbrush is news I can use. I have a long-handled brush, but it is one of those back-brushing things and it just too large not to terrify her. She does really loosen up and get comfortable in the evenings, and will boop my finger with her nose and ALMOST let me touch her head . . . She hangs with me when I lay down within 12 inches of her face & she slow-blinks me a lot. So I keep my attention on the VAST improvements she's made. Thank you.
 

pearl99

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Ooh! The toothbrush is news I can use. I have a long-handled brush, but it is one of those back-brushing things and it just too large not to terrify her. She does really loosen up and get comfortable in the evenings, and will boop my finger with her nose and ALMOST let me touch her head . . . She hangs with me when I lay down within 12 inches of her face & she slow-blinks me a lot. So I keep my attention on the VAST improvements she's made. Thank you.
Oh my that is SUCH progress!
 

fionasmom

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My avatar and her almost identical sister were not brought into the house until they were about a year and a half. Lily (avatar) was slightly socialized by coming to the back kitchen slider, but the sister was not. During a bad rainstorm Lily wandered in the back door for shelter, I ran out and grabbed the sister with my hand and tossed her in the kitchen and slammed the door. Both are now almost annoying lap cats. Mom and dad was true ferals who were TNRed but fell victims to coyotes....same as you have up in SF.
 

Whenallhellbreakslose

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Hello and thank you for taking those two kitties off the street and giving them a chance at a good life. I feed ferals, tnr, and have rescued some kitties. I have taking kittens off the streets passed the 8 week socialization cut off, I also have taken adult cats off the streets. The reason the 8 week socialization period is mentioned for a kitten is because it does get more difficult to socialize (however not impossible). When tnr groups tnr a colony they try (if they can) to get the kittens under 8 weeks old and then any friendly older kitten or cat-- if they are able to take them off the streets as well. It takes time and patience to socialize ferals. This is true when it comes to cats that are very feral. It is because they have very limited interaction with humans that they have little to no trust of humans. I have seen some cases of feral cats taking years to come to a place where they are more comfortable in their new enviroment and being around humans. Most cats outside, I classify as semi-feral. They may have been born on the street or were strays that reverted back to feral behavior. They have some positive interactions with humans and are not completely fearful or distrusting of humans like true ferals. I have petted these ones outside, but it took time for them to trust me. I have one backyard cat who I knew since he was a kitten (sadly, I couldn't find a home for him). Anyway, I work on it everyday to keep the bond between me and him strong. He will sit on my lap, let's me play with him and pet him (even stroke his belly). He is around other kitties that are not as socialized as him, but I even worked on making them more comfortable with me.

I see cats everyday that I think would make loving pets, if only given the chance.🙁 So it does make me sad to see these cats overlooked, just because they are older and still living on the streets. Please give these two kitties a chance to feel safe and loved. You need to be patient and meet them on their terms. That means that they have a safe room with a covered crate and a hiding place, so if they are scared they have a place to hide. Make yourself as small as you can around them (sit or kneel) and speak to them in a soft voice. When they are comfortable, interact with them through play. Use long Feather wands or other end items. Play is one of the most powerful ways to interact with your cats. It does break through barriers. I used long feather wands to play with my outdoor ferals and I could see the change in them when I did it. They were a bit more trusting in me than before. I am sure you can get more advice from those articles shared on this thread. Just don't push anything and always think of your safety as well as the cats.

I wish you the best of luck. This is the start of beautiful relationship. Thanks for opening your home to these lovely cats. :rock: :catrub:
 

moxiewild

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Hello, friendly cat people! My friend who stewards several TNR colonies entrusted two kittehs to me about 8 weeks ago. Disco Janet has a tipped ear, but was emaciated from giardia and she's so sweet and gregarious that her ear is the only clue that she ever lived outdoors. The other cat, Mindy St. Claire, is "mine" (in the sense that I am socializing her in my room and my daughter is socializing DJ in her room), and taking DJ was actually meant to give MSC a social bridge. I haven't yet formally introduced them because MSC is a great deal more feral that the folks who trapped her assumed. In fact, she was spayed by a private vet (rather than the vets the ASPCA uses for TNR community cats), so her ear wasn't tipped. All assumed that because she was "so beautiful," that she would warm up nicely. She HAS warmed up, it's true -- but not quickly at all. I am, however, obsessed with the project (I have few friends, hahaha) and I scour the internet for ideas that I could try to help her be most comfortable, happy, and -- here's the selfish part -- as affectionate as possible. Do you know of any fantastic resources I may not have yet found? I'm specifically interested in progress-over-time blogs. EVERYTHING I read says "taming ferals after 8 weeks old is a terrible idea." Welp, too late now. There is ZERO chance she could be returned (she was living alone, under an overturned tree stump in Golden Gate Park with a couple of kittens who were trapped separately). GG Park is over run with coyotes, y'all, so "return" isn't going to happen. There is a colony that is cared for where she has been offered a spot, and I have rejected that offer, but I cannot yet handle her or get her into a carrier. Mindy St. Claire doesn't volunteer to let me touch her at all, but we have made lots of progress I am also curious to know about how old we think she looks -- I got virtually no information upon her arrival. My guess is that she is ~11/12 months, so she and I will share a birthday mid-November. Does this sound legit to you? She plays like a kitten (videos on the blog).
Picture of herself for attention:
View attachment 399253
This is Disco Janet:
View attachment 399254
If there were such a blog on the progress-over-time for socializing older cats or kittens, I wouldn’t rely on it - they’re all so different.

It can be difficult enough dealing with the discouragement when you inevitably take “one step forward, 5 steps back” in the process - and a blog talking about time and progress for an individual cat would have too high a chance of creating standards I might be disappointed by.

Every feral’s journey is really different. Doing searches on this site to old threads and articles would be very helpful. Past threads on this topic will give you a nice variety of different experiences and advice!

That said, a few things -

First, we say in rescue that kittens can’t be socialized between 6-10 weeks old because it’s an issue if resources. These kittens take longer, more intensive work (to do it quickly), and they still may be timid and more difficult to adopt out in the end. Rescues just don’t have the resources or fosters for that usually.

Generally, we also want to discourage the public from trying it themselves, as this can be dangerous and traumatic to both cat and person if not done right.

Many people don’t take seriously the amount of time, interaction, and patience this can require, and when it doesn’t happen fast enough or they haven’t worked with them enough early on, then sometimes the cat does not turn out how they hoped.

So they surrender to a shelter, abandon the cat, or dump it back where they found it (a territory they will have forgotten about after only ~3 weeks).

it’s just in the best interest of the cats as a whole to to not encourage socialization after a certain age by people who don’t know what they’re doing and can’t be vetted for their commitment and expectations of the process and goals.

People like you, who are motivated enough to actually do it, tend to do things exactly like you’re doing right now - hunting for resources and advice online!

second thing -

I think you should try allowing the kittens to be together.

Easily the number one things that helps our kittens with socialization is our friendly resident cats. Kittens seem to LOVE cats and other kittens, and it can reeally help bring them out of their shell and give them a sense of confidence.

We’ve had many kittens who were as feral and shut down or feisty as can be, immediately turn into love bugs the moment they see one of our friendly cats walk by. Our friendly cats help us get through socialization way quicker than when we didn’t use them.

we’ve also specifically had a number of incidences where we’ve introduced older feral kitten(s) to other older, now ex-feral kitten(s) and seen similar success.

And the sooner kittens are introduced, the better. The younger they are, the more accepting they tend to be. Having a friend around also helps them better develop “Kitty manners.”
 
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MindyStClairesMom

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Easily the number one things that helps our kittens with socialization is our friendly resident cats. Kittens seem to LOVE cats and other kittens, and it can reeally help bring them out of their shell and give them a sense of confidence.

we’ve also specifically had a number of incidences where we’ve introduced older feral kitten(s) to other older, now ex-feral kitten(s) and seen similar success.
Yes, yes. I'm nodding to all. Timelines don't help because one cannot predict another -- but that doesn't stop me from scouring in case something someone tries might also help us!

MSC is obsessed with Zach Pizazz. They are SUCH a sweet couple. She does NOT "click" so readily with the female tortie, Disco Janet, but DJ is socially awkward in some significant ways, so they primarily ignore one another. But ZP is a social bridge to both.

We keep making significant progress, and so the overall time line doesn't matter.
256619382_3037881936464530_2998688470413659372_n.jpg

This is on my bed next to me -- which is, in itself, HUGE for us.
 
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