Need advice about my semi feral girl!

DB89014

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Hi all, I need some advice! Last fall a cat that I had seen in my yard a couple of times ended up bringing her babies to hang out in my backyard. Prior to the babies being there, she would come maybe within a foot of me and take treats and eat. She never let me pet her nor would she take treats directly from my hand, but I assume she is only semi feral since she would approach me? Anyway I contacted a TNR group and she and all her babies were fixed but after her recovery it seemed too cold out to release her. She seemed pretty content in her cat room she was always lounging in her bed in the window so I kept her inside for the winter with the intention of releasing her in the spring.

As time went on, she seemed increasingly interested in my other cats going to sit at the door any time she heard them playing. She also seemed to be getting more comfortable with me. I still can't pet her but I was able to stay in her room and go about my business without her getting spooked and hiding. I recently took her to the vet to complete her vaccinations and make sure she was healthy so I could try to introduce her to my other cats. I would love to give her a home but I am not sure if I am doing the right thing? Sometimes it seems like we're making progress and sometimes I feel like we go 10 steps backwards. She definitely seems more afraid of me now after the vet visit. I know it was hard for her they had to sedate her since they couldn't handle her at all. I am doing my best to get her acclimated to me, I sit with her while she eats, I play with her when she is in the mood to play, I give her Rescue Remedy in her food and use the Feliway spray. Sometimes she is interested in me, she'll come right over to me if I shake the treat bag, she'll come and eat directly next to me, but other times she just hides. As far as the other cats, I swap their scents with different things and I let them see each other for brief periods through a baby gate that I reinforced with chicken wire so no one gets hurt. Any advice on what to do moving forward would be greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance.
 

Crazyfostercats

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Would you be able to keep her as an indoor-Outdoor cat? Let her come in when she wants and leave food for her outside is she doesn't want to come in. If she is semi-feral she may feel more comfortable living outside with you still caring for her.
 
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DB89014

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I suppose I could my concern with that would be if she somehow caught something while she was outside and potentially brought it in to the others? I have 3 indoor cats and a dog. I guess my line of thinking was trying to introduce them all while I knew she had a clean bill of health
 

Crazyfostercats

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Yeah that makes sense, however if she is all up to date on vaccinations then I don't think there is much she could transfer to your indoor pets. I have 4 outdoor cats and they are all safe to interact with out indoor cats. As long as you do not have many feral cats in you neighborhood that can transfer worms or fleas to her then you should have an issue keeping her Indoor-Outdoor. From the way you have described her she seems like she would be best suited as an outdoor cat who still gets human interaction :)
 

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Hi. Since she seemed to do relatively well during the winter, I would propose to you that you continue to work with her to get her used to being indoors and with her new home and you - and, then your cats. If you want to make her part of your family, it is likely best to treat her as you do your other cats - as indoor only. She will adapt more - beyond how it seems she has adapted already.

The recent new fear from the vet visit will dissipate over time. Moving steps forward and then a few back is pretty common, especially with a cat whose been through quite a bit in her life already.

Here are some TCS articles that might help for informational purposes - although the last one can be used by you to set up an introduction plan - which it seems you've really already started doing.

A Feral Cat Or A Stray Cat? How To Tell The Difference – TheCatSite Articles
The Five Golden Rules To Bringing An Outdoor Cat Inside – TheCatSite Articles
How To Successfully Introduce Cats: The Ultimate Guide – TheCatSite Articles
 

fionasmom

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I agree with FeebysOwner FeebysOwner and have been in your situation more times than I can remember since I only deal with ferals and strays. More than likely, every indoor cat I have now started out as a feral; either I know that for absolute sure or it is a pretty good guess given the circumstances of their rescue.

The vet visit really threw things off, so give it time. I have cats who need to be sedated at the vet for procedures and it can take a while for them to figure out that it won't happen every day and that they can trust you again.

I would really continue what you are doing. You are making progress even though it seems slow. Any actual pet cat of mine is indoor only. The TNRed ferals who have no chance of being domesticated are the only ones outside.
 
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DB89014

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Thank you for your input and for the articles. Based on the first article it does seem she falls somewhere in between stray and feral. It's encouraging to know there is hope maybe this will all work out. I just didn't want to be selfish by trying to keep her I have nothing but good intentions. Last night when I fed her, I was kind of squatting on the floor and I had her food dish almost underneath me between my feet and she came right over to me and started eating. Every once in a while she would look up and hiss at me but then she would go right back to eating. I interpret these little things as progress. I also gave her a new toy which she took and had in her hands and was rolling around on her back playing with it right in front of me so I'm hoping she's feeling more comfortable with me after the vet trauma.

Another question - I started letting her out of her cat room while I am at work so she can explore. I'm not sure if this is the right thing to do. My other cats stay separated upstairs so there is no chance of them running into each other but I started letting her roam in the full basement. I have cameras so I can see that she goes exploring and sniffs around. When I get home she goes back to her cat room and my other cats hang out in the basement fairly often so I thought this would help with the scent swapping? I just wasn't sure if this was helping or hurting my cause
 

fionasmom

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The cat hiss, in her case, is really only telling you to keep your distance for the time being. If she were more upset, the reaction would be much more pronounced, she would run and hide, or exhibit some other behavior. The fact that she stays and keeps eating is also a good sign. I don't see anything wrong with letting her explore and get used to the scent of your other cats.
 
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DB89014

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Thank you. So as you said before all of your indoor cats started off as feral most likely but they were able to adjust into happy indoor cats?
 

fionasmom

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Everyone was happy to make the transition to indoor life. The fact that she will approach and sit with you when she eats is a good indication that she has some intention of trusting you. She would not play with the toy in front of you if she were truly afraid. Cats have individual personalities just like everyone else, and this girl might be on the shy side but still very happy to be an indoor pet. My indoor cats range from the one who has always been shy and retiring but extremely happy to go from bed to bed and wait for a bit of the dog's dinner (he gets homecooked for a lot of reasons) to the one who insists on being picked up every time I enter the room and wants to play and be affectionate.

Your cat trusted you from the beginning to have her babies near you and has enjoyed having a nice bed with a window view. She is probably extremely happy to be indoors and it probably goes through her mind what her life was like before and what it is like now. I don't think that she sounds as if she wants back out to be honest.

I do have TNRed feral cats outside. They have far different personalities and a true feral will not allow human contact no matter what you do. My avatar was a feral born under a house on the street, as was her identical sister. But are indoor only now and very affectionate. However, their sister who is black and white has never come even close to warming up to me. Even when I put her food on the back porch every day and make sure her bed is secure and the water dish is full she hisses and jumps and spits....so by my criteria, she probably would not be a good house cat and I have never tried.
 
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DB89014

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My girl definitely sounds similar to your shy cat she seems pretty content hanging out in her beds lounging in the sun. She is not crazy about me but I don't think she hates me either. I don't know much about cats body language but she will eat with her back towards me now on occasion she used to always want to face me to keep an eye on me. I try to feed her from a spoon sometimes and my cat who I've had for years would probably try to smack it right out of my hand, she gently taps it as if to say put that down so I can eat it lol. She seems like a sweet girl. She does hiss at me but it is not that aggressive of a hiss if that makes any sense. The rescue warned me she might try to escape, claw at the walls etc if she was really scared but shes never done anything like that I could leave the door wide open and if anything she just goes to sniff around. I've had people say its cruel or she'd never be happy inside but I agree with you she doesn't really show any signs shes looking to go back out. I guess they are referring to cats more like your girl you have outside. Thank you for your input
 

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She trusts you enough to turn her back while she eats and it is too cute that she lightly taps the spoon so that you put it down for her to eat. Judging the happiness level of a cat is entirely different than a dog's. You know a lab puppy is happy because they are all over you but a cat might be extremely happy, feel safe and secure but never express it in a way that humans "understand." Only one of my cats, the sister of my avatar who was also born feral, wants to be picked up and hugged. Even that is unusual for a cat as most instinctively know that there are only two times that they are picked up....by their mom when they are kittens and by the predator that kills them. Even affectionate cats will balk at being held. You are making great progress with this girl.
 
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DB89014

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Thank you I am trying. That makes sense about them not wanting to be held I never thought about that. It is hard to tell how she feels I do wish she could talk to me lol I know she may never become affectionate but if I could keep her warm, safe and fed I would be happy. Would you recommend I try to pet her at all or should I just leave her be?
 

fionasmom

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Can you pet her with a wand type cat toy or a small stick onto which you put a soft covering like a washcloth or other nice material? That may lead to her letting you pat her. She is probably completely on board with being kept warm, safe, and fed. I don't see that she does not like you in all of this. She is being cautious. If you try to touch her later on, use some sort of glove to protect your hand until you see her reaction.
 
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DB89014

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I can certainly try that. I just ordered a pair of those gloves thats a good idea. I have one more question- i don't know how to describe this but when I have her and my cats looking at each other through the baby gate, she has kind of pounced towards them. Its definitely not aggressively lunging at them but she does like a pounce and ends up looking like a dog in a play bow with her arms down and her butt up in the air. For a dog I know this is a playful stance but I wasn't sure if this was good or bad for cats? She is not hissing or anything while she's doing it. Last night she did it and right after she went over to eat her treat that was on the floor right after
 

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Cats do play bow, sometimes exactly like a dog and sometimes with the rear a little lower but the tail up. Usually a tail up position in a cat is a sign that they are happy and friendly. Two exceptions are the huge brushy tail, often with aggressive body language, signifying fear or a twitching tail which indicates trying to make a decision, or sometimes caution. Given that she does not follow the bow with other negative behavior it probably shows interest in the cats. She has had babies, is probably used to cat company, and is curious. It does not mean that you should instantly take down the gate though but continue to observe the behavior to see if it stays consistent with friendliness.
 
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DB89014

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Okay thank you so much for all of your advice and encouragement I really appreciate it you've been a big help I will keep working on her
 
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DB89014

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So tonight I had 2 of my 3 cats on one side of the gate and she was on the other, and everyone was calm. One of my cats is definitely more cautious when it comes to her but all of a sudden my semi feral girl kind of flopped over and started rolling around on her back. She didn't have a toy or anything it kind of happened out of the blue. Is that a sign of submission? I didn't think cats liked to show their bellys
 
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