Need help! Trying to determine if the feral/semi-feral cat under my patio could/should be a house cat?

Psyche

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Hello all! This is my first time posting and also my first time really interacting with a cat (my da is allergic to them so I could never have one growing up). This is probably going to end up being a long post, but I wanted to give you guys and idea of the cat so you can help me determine if what I want is also what's best for Kitty.
My fiance and I first saw the cat around Halloween, right up against the glass door. It caught me dancing by myself 😂 and it seemed intrigued.
Since then we have been feeding it daily. I see it out during the day, it seems comfortable with human voices, it used to spook when I opened the door and only come for the food later but now it just goes around the corner of the covered outdoor chair, I feel like we both know I know it's there. We have made brief eye contact without Kitty running away, though I learned to avoid eye contact later online. It's posture started pretty low to the ground and although it doesn't walk with it's tail up, Kitty seems a lot less tense now. It even was up on the railing while it watched me prepare it's food. It still waits for me to close the door most of the way, but didn't seem to mind when I propped it open a little while it was eating so it could hear us. We even ate with the door open once or twice before it decided that was too much. I sit with it while it eats and mostly it doesn't seem to mind. I would love to get to the point we can eat lunch together with the door open and no barrier between us.
All of this is to say, we have fallen for the cat and worry about it outdoors in the cold and we live right next to the train tracks. I also worry what will happen when we inevitably move and the house we live in (typically the family summer home until COVID) stands empty for half the year. We've done a lot of research and know it will take a lot of time and patience if we were to domesticate the cat, but we are very willing. If the general consensus is that the cat is better off outdoors, we will continue to feed it until we have to go, but I would love to provide it with it's forever home. Oh, also I think it's been fixed because it's left ear is clipped. I have so many more questions but for now I'll stop here.

TL:DR: Is this cat totally feral or does it have the potential to be domesticated?
 

movinintime

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PLEASE by all means if you've ANY chance to get the cat inside 4ever do so! The reward of homing ANY kitty (we've got a 5-6yr old or so, ex-Tomcat feral, now fixed -- he's unknown age really) & his life is so much better. You can provide safety, shelter, rest, food, med care if needed, etc.

I'd never advise leaving/abandoning an outside, feral or not, if any way to home inside. hope others can add more.
 

allmykitties

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Especially if you are planning to move in the near-future, I would try to bring the cat inside.

You can start with the cat in the bathroom with all the necessities (litterbox, place to eat, place to sleep), especially if that bathroom opens into a bedroom (so you can slowly expand the space for Kitty). If the sink is one with a cabinet base, that makes a great sleeping spot (I started Jemmy and Leo out with that, with one door shut and one door open so they could hide and go in/out). Then once Kitty is inside, arrange a trip to the vet to get a health check (and treatment for whatever parasites may have been picked up).
 
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Psyche

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This brings up my next question: How comfortable do I need to make the cat with me before doing this? Everything online kinda skips this. It’s either, get Kitty Cat to be very friendly with you outside or then it just skips to inside and what to do when you’ve got it in it’s room, and it seems like there was no progress to a relationship. Maybe since I’m on a kind of unknown deadline, I should just get it inside and figure out vet later??
 
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Psyche

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Have you thought if you leave it outside but continue to feed it until you move what will happen to him when you’re not there. He would become dependent on your food source and then suddenly it’s gone. It may take time but please consider bringing him in as an indoor cat.
Leaving the cat alone was never an option. Sorry I phrased it poorly, I more meant we would not be leaving with it. I would have called the local feral group about what to do, but since Kitty Cat was alone, I was worried it would leave the group to come back to a familiar place. I guess I was predicting worst case.
 

fionasmom

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If I waited for all my ex feral pets to have become friendly with me outside, I would never have rescued anyone. This cat is dependent on you for it livelihood and should be take with you if you move and, if you can, should be brought inside now. Ferals often take longer to come around to pet status, but it can also be shocking how quickly they understand that they have a home and are much better off and become responsive.

In her own way, this cat is already becoming friendly to you and is relaxing enough to let you sit near her while she eats. With the train tracks nearby it would be nice to be able to get her inside. She has been trapped once if she is TNRed. That does not mean that she won't go into a trap a second time though. One solution is to use a humane trap, get her used to eating in it by moving the food slowly to the back, then close or set the door to close and bring her inside. Sometimes this can be done with a carrier if she would eat in one consistently enough to allow you to eventually sneak up on her and close the door.

To answer your second question, yes, try to get her inside and proceed from there. There is a lot of help that you can get here on TCS once you have her.
 
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Psyche

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Thank you so much for your response. Do you have a preference for carrier over trap? I’ll get a carrier anyway for vet visits but I can get a trap as well if they tend to work better for the initial setup
 

bigbadbass

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Maybe since I’m on a kind of unknown deadline, I should just get it inside and figure out vet later??
Yup. Getting them in can take time though. Took me weeks "negotiating" with Bug to finally get him in. Slowly moving his food closer and closer every day or 2, little by little. Eventually to the vet for neuter and shots. Allow plenty of time, don't get frustrated.
 

fionasmom

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I don't have a preference and have used humane traps and carriers. If you use a carrier, the cat should become accustomed to eating in it which would allow you to shut the door safely. Make sure that the carrier does not have a fiddly lock or catch though or the cat might be able to get out before you shut it.

There are also drop traps. I am not good with those at all, but if you think it would work there are others here who could help you.

The humane trap is like the carrier. Get the cat used to eating in it by moving the food slowly to the back behind the trip bar. While you are doing this, rig the door with a piece of wire so that it does not shut. Some people prop the door open with a Coke bottle or such on the day that they plan to trap....not during the period where you are tyring to get her to use the trap as if it snaps she will never go in again. You can watch the cat on the day of trapping and control remotely the shutting of the trap. There are devices which do this as well but I have never used one.
 

movinintime

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I finally caught our feral last summer after 3yrs. Used a safe humane metal trap-door spring trap, tried to lure him in -- w/ 1st trying KFC chicken, but failed! But then using store bought roast organic grilled chicken, w/ a trail begun outside the trap then gradually left bites at every few inches til his tail went in & he was caught! :)
 
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Psyche

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I am going to get the humane trap tomorrow. The carrier I got has a somewhat fiddly closure. Do I cover the trap with a blanket during the whole process or just when the cat is finally in the trap to calm it?
 
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Psyche

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Yesterday was the first time in a while Kitty Cat let us be outside with it! In the morning by fiance sat far away while it ate. I was cleaning the carrier I got later in the day and decided to play some harp music because I heard cats like it. And I left some food out. I wasn't sure the cat was around but there it was! I talked to it for a while and then it decided it was safe enough to eat. It seemed very calm. It's eyes were even closing from time to time. I hope this is a good sign?
 

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fionasmom

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Closed eyes are a sign that the kitty is relaxing and is comfortable. Definitely throw a blanket over the trap once the cat is inside. You will see how quickly it will calm her. Don't be upset if she starts to thrash around when the trap shuts as it is all part of the process. Covering the trap is okay before you trap as well and I have done both covered and uncovered successfully.
 
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