Need advice on taming semi-feral cat

Violet Pfeifer

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I fed 3 semi-feral cats for my elderly neighbor for 6 months. The cats are about 1 year old. My neighbor no longer wants the cats. I was unable to touch them, even after feeding them for those months. I had to live trap them to get them spayed/neutered, wormed, vaccinations, etc. The cats are with me now, but separated, due to worms. One of the cats is an orange female and she still will not allow me to touch her. She has roundworms, per stool sample, taken to vet lately. I know that I was suppose to give her a 2nd dose of Revolution Plus after 30 days, but I am unable to apply it topically, as I can not touch her. She sometimes will sniff my finger, but that's the closest that I can get to her. I adopted her at the end of March. I allow her to play with her siblings, but only when I can monitor that the rest are not using her litter box, or grooming her back-end. I could use advice on getting her tame enough to apply the Revolution Plus. Thanks.
 

FeebysOwner

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If you were able to trap her once, maybe you will have to do again to get the next round of Revolution Plus on her? Aside from that, as mentioned above, ask the vet for alternatives and what they could do to help you apply the next dose. You might also consider finding an oral treatment that you could slip into her food for now.
There are members on this site who deal with semi-feral cats who might have some other ideas that will hopefully come along and give you some firsthand advice.
 
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Violet Pfeifer

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My vet is aware, but hasn't given me much help with this situation, that is why I am reaching out to your group for support and guidance. I have been looking on-line for information on how to socialize feral cats, and an article that I read suggested that I contact your group. I am new to working with feral cats. I used to live on a farm, but all my cats were spayed/neutered and tame.
The orange tabby has 2 siblings, a black male which is tame and allows me to hold him, and a long-haired coon-type female. The coon-type female will allow petting, but no holding. I have been able to put topical worming medication on her.
The 2 siblings each had their own large dog crate until they were tamed. The orange tabby was allowed to run loose in a room as soon as she came back from her surgery. I am thinking that was my mistake, that she also should have been placed into a large crate, where I could work 1:1 with her.
I will contact my vet again for advice. I am wondering if I should try to confine the orange tabby to a crate at this point, to start over, or will that make things worse?
 

FeebysOwner

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I really didn't mean to ask the vet about how to tame this cat, I merely meant to ask if they had alternatives for the flea treatment process beyond what I suggested which would be to treat her with oral meds in her food until such time you can do otherwise.

I am not sure about going back to placing her in a crate at this point, but it might be what needs to be done. Again, as I have done in the past, I will tag some of the members who have dealt with ferals and taming techniques - Jcatbird Jcatbird , Meowmee Meowmee , shadowsrescue shadowsrescue , catsknowme catsknowme (sorry guys).
 

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You might look into Nemex 2. It is specific for dog, but many with feral caregivers have used it on cats. It is a liquid that can go into their wet food.

Also if you could get her into a trap in your house, you could then get the drops of Revolution on her. You could also ask the vet for some gabapentin. It lightly sedates a cat. You could then try to give her the drops or have a vet tech come by and do it. The gabapentin has to be prescribed from the vet. You normally need 100 mg. It starts to work in about 90 minutes. It makes the cat a bit loopy and often drunk like. This can only be given if the cat is 100% inside.

As for taming tricks. I will link a few great videos. Some of the videos work with kittens, but many of the same principles will apply for older feral cats. I have used many of the tips and tricks with feral cats that are 3 or older. It just takes lots and lots of time and patience. You must move at cat time not human time. This is often hard for us humans as we want results fast.

Food is the absolute best motivator. I love to use plain cooked chicken, canned tuna or salmon, Churu lickables and Gerber stage 2 baby food ( small glass jar with blue lid turkey or chicken). Food will help you to win trust. But you must find what is the ultimate food.

We are here to help so ask lots of questions. Take the time to watch the videos. One is a 3 part series(last linke called Urban Cat League) that shows the rescue of feral kittens and then the socializing process. So be sure to watch all 3 parts.



 
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Meowmee

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My vet is aware, but hasn't given me much help with this situation, that is why I am reaching out to your group for support and guidance. I have been looking on-line for information on how to socialize feral cats, and an article that I read suggested that I contact your group. I am new to working with feral cats. I used to live on a farm, but all my cats were spayed/neutered and tame.
The orange tabby has 2 siblings, a black male which is tame and allows me to hold him, and a long-haired coon-type female. The coon-type female will allow petting, but no holding. I have been able to put topical worming medication on her.
The 2 siblings each had their own large dog crate until they were tamed. The orange tabby was allowed to run loose in a room as soon as she came back from her surgery. I am thinking that was my mistake, that she also should have been placed into a large crate, where I could work 1:1 with her.
I will contact my vet again for advice. I am wondering if I should try to confine the orange tabby to a crate at this point, to start over, or will that make things worse?
Each cat is different so it is hard to say what will work. You could try putting her back in a crate if you can and see how it goes, or set up a box/crate as her safe space that is open but covered with towels etc. I am not sure what to do about the worming treatment, there are versions which can be put in food too which is what I use. As for fleas, did they put something on her when at dvm? If so she should not need another treatment if she has been inside unless you see fleas. Once she can be with her siblings they will help her to tame as well if they are touchable. There are a lot of techniques you can use such as treat, baby food etc. on a long spoon- see if you can get her to eat it. Each time she interacts with you make sure to give her a treat, cat nip, read to her, play music, cat tv, purrli etc. Try playing with her as well, with wand toys etc. That can often help tame them.

I am currently working with one of my colony cats and he was caged for two weeks and then let out in a big room. He still does not want to interact much at all, he will interact with my cats though. When I am there he is behind the bed and has started running into the closet recently to hide if he gets scared. He is not being aggressive any more but it is going to take a while obviously. I was wondering if I had caged him longer if it would have helped but there is no way to safely do it again and I don't plan to unless there is an emergency and he needs to go to dvm etc. Then it would have to be a re-trap prolly unfortunately.
 
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Kristin_Happy Texan

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I fed 3 semi-feral cats for my elderly neighbor for 6 months. The cats are about 1 year old. My neighbor no longer wants the cats. I was unable to touch them, even after feeding them for those months. I had to live trap them to get them spayed/neutered, wormed, vaccinations, etc. The cats are with me now, but separated, due to worms. One of the cats is an orange female and she still will not allow me to touch her. She has roundworms, per stool sample, taken to vet lately. I know that I was suppose to give her a 2nd dose of Revolution Plus after 30 days, but I am unable to apply it topically, as I can not touch her. She sometimes will sniff my finger, but that's the closest that I can get to her. I adopted her at the end of March. I allow her to play with her siblings, but only when I can monitor that the rest are not using her litter box, or grooming her back-end. I could use advice on getting her tame enough to apply the Revolution Plus. Thanks.
I've been thinking about this, too. We have a Mom Cat that will not come within yards of us. After she's spayed, I want her to have flea/ticks treatment. The only idea I've come up with is using a carrier that we have which also opens from the TOP.

Find a way to lure her inside the crate, and shut the door. Wear gloves. (We just bought those super-thick gloves that fit over your hands and arms). Open the TOP of the crate, carefully, and quickly apply the meds. (Praying might help, too. Lol! These cats can be vicious!)

Mind you, I haven't tried this yet. I'm still having to wait to even trap her to get her - and her kittens - spayed at the local shelter. Good Luck!
 

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I just love when someone suddenly "doesn't want to deal with those cats" (not a direct quote - but you get what I mean) - - thank goodness you stepped in! And with such a commitment - - those guys are lucky you're there AND compassionate.

Many of us here who work with feral & semi-feral cats have different ways of doing things. So if one answer here doesn't work out for you - you'll likely get suggestions of other ways to handle things. Which is one fo the great about this site. If one answer doesn't help, since every cat is different (as Meowmee Meowmee noted!) - there are tons of people who can offer alternatives!!!!!

I know she's already free roaming in the room, so socializing the way we do would obviously be a little tougher, since when we need to socialize, we use a large spare bedroom so they're in a quiet place - less stress. But some a few of the socialization tricks we use should help even if you can't crate her (or don't want to). I also leave a tv or radio on at a fairly low volume in their room, tuned to something w/no loud scary noises (like PBS or HGTV). It helps disguise other noises in the house, and it gets them more used to human voices.

We start them in a very large (Great Dane size!) crate, into which we put a cat carrier (with the carrier door open and wired to the side of the crate so that, if need be, we can lure them into the carrier and push the door shut with a broom handle), plus food, water, and litter box. I cover most of the crate (except the front) with a thin sheet - - covering the crate helps calm them bc they aren't on constant alert re: what's going on around them. Also, the more exposure she has to you, the more quickly the socialization will likely go. When we socialize, I sit in the room with them. Alot. I sit in the room and read aloud alot - - things like my email, etc. Hearing your voice alot - and realizing it doesn't result in anything scary for her - usually helps alot.

And as shadowsrescue shadowsrescue noted - the best motivator is food (works that way for me too :lol: ). While they always have hard food and water, the REALLY yummy stuff comes only from me (or hubby). Alot of us who socialize use "kitty crack" - Gerber's 2nd Stage Chicken and Gravy baby food (I attached a pic of it below). You can use another meat baby food -- but check the label - don't give anything with onions or garlic. I announce (in a soft, sing-song voice) that I'm coming in with something yummy, and I give them a spoonful of the kitty crack. I use a telescoping (extendable) spoon (they have them on Amazon), initially extended fully so that I can be further away (therefore less threatening) while getting the yummy stinky kitty crack near their nose. It may take a few times (sometimes I have to start by putting a bit of the crack on their hard food), but once they know how yummy it is, the tummy and nose often override their fear! And I make sure they ONLY have access to it when I'm in the room. They then start to associate your little sing-song voice with the yummy kitty crack - which is a big step in them starting to trust you. I then shorten bit by bit the length of the spoon - eventually they're eating it off the spoon while you're right there! Depending on how quickly she goes for the kitty crack - you might be able to put the Revolution on while she's distracted and eating the yummies.

Another thing I too strongly suggest, since she's already seen your vet - - as shadowsrescue shadowsrescue noted, see if they'll prescribe some gabapentin. That might make her just loopy enough to let you medicate her.

Definitely look at the articles on this site in the "articles" section - - there's a subset for issues with ferals/strays. There's great info there. And below is a link about dealing with worms/etc and ferals (of course they're no "CatSite" :) - but the site is run by a respected organization that focuses on feral cats, so they've got some good info).

Dealing with parasites etc in feral cats

And never be afraid to come back here and ask anything - - - we're all here to help the kitties AND the people who HELP the kitties - like you! So ask anything you need to - and keep us posted!
 
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