Possible feral cat rescued from outside

DET_CAT_DAD

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I trapped a cat that was outside a week ago. I live in Metro Detroit in we were going to get hit with a pretty bad rain/ice storm the night I trapped him. He's in my guest bedroom right now. He had been coming by my front porch since late summer and he can't be over a year old. I leave food and water out for the stray and feral cats in the area. When outside, he would let me put my hand within a foot of his face without hissing or running. He would oftentimes wait patiently on my doorstep looking inside until I brought him out food and water.

It didn't even take five minutes to trap him. I set the trap, put it on my porch and heard it go off within a minute. Since being released in my guest bedroom, he has hid under the couch in there and demolished the blinds one night. He sprayed the first night but has been eating, drinking and using the litter box ever since.

My questions are, would a feral cat get that close to you while outside? And would a feral cat know how to use a litter box? I've found a rescue to vet Gizmo and try to find him a home but he's been in hiding for a week now. We had a very nasty storm this weekend too so I'm glad he's safe in my guest bedrooM but I'd prefer him to come around and become adoptable.

Any advice please?
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rubysmama

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Awww... what a cutie pie. Thanks for bringing him inside. :redheartpump:

To answer your questions, yes a feral cat may start to get close to their caregiver once they get to know and trust them. That can often change, too, once the cat is brought inside and into an unfamiliar environment.

As for the litter box, possibly, as cats do have an instinct to dig and bury their waste.

However, he also could be a stray. Or a housepet that was dumped. Here's a TCS article that might help answer the question.
A Feral Cat Or A Stray Cat? How To Tell The Difference – Cat Articles

It's also totally normal for particularly a feral, but also a new cat, to hide once brought into a new home.

Here's a few more TCS articles that might be helpful:
Handling Feral Cats | TheCatSite
The Five Golden Rules To Bringing An Outdoor Cat Inside | TheCatSite

These are more for if you think he's a stray, not feral.
How To Help A New Cat Adjust To Your Home | TheCatSite
How To Get A Cat To Come Out Of Hiding? | TheCatSite
10 Must-know Tips For Happy Living With A Shy Cat | TheCatSite
16 Top Cat Experts Share Tips For Dealing With Timid Cats | TheCatSite

To help get him used to being inside, try spending time in his room with him. Just sitting on the floor, reading or surfing the net. Talk to him.

Good luck. Keep us posted on his progress.
 
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DET_CAT_DAD

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Did you ask the neighbors if he might belong to anyone? How long has he been around? He may have been dropped off. Either way, he's beautiful! And it's good that you're keeping him out of the storm.
I've posted for months in many different groups on Facebook to try to find his home with no luck. Neighborhood groups, lost pet groups, etc.
 
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DET_CAT_DAD

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Awww... what a cutie pie. Thanks for bringing him inside. :redheartpump:

To answer your questions, yes a feral cat may start to get close to their caregiver once they get to know and trust them. That can often change, too, once the cat is brought inside and into an unfamiliar environment.

As for the litter box, possibly, as cats do have an instinct to dig and bury their waste.

However, he also could be a stray. Or a housepet that was dumped. Here's a TCS article that might help answer the question.
A Feral Cat Or A Stray Cat? How To Tell The Difference – Cat Articles

It's also totally normal for particularly a feral, but also a new cat, to hide once brought into a new home.

Here's a few more TCS articles that might be helpful:
Handling Feral Cats | TheCatSite
The Five Golden Rules To Bringing An Outdoor Cat Inside | TheCatSite

These are more for if you think he's a stray, not feral.
How To Help A New Cat Adjust To Your Home | TheCatSite
How To Get A Cat To Come Out Of Hiding? | TheCatSite
10 Must-know Tips For Happy Living With A Shy Cat | TheCatSite
16 Top Cat Experts Share Tips For Dealing With Timid Cats | TheCatSite

To help get him used to being inside, try spending time in his room with him. Just sitting on the floor, reading or surfing the net. Talk to him.

Good luck. Keep us posted on his progress.
Thank you so much. I'm off work this week so I'm going to try to work with him. At the very least, he'll get TNR'd but I'd prefer to have him come around on being indoors and find him a forever home.
 

ArchyCat

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He is a handsome tuxedo! You might want to give him a couple of weeks indoors after he is neutered. It will take awhile for the testosterone to wash out of his system. And get his shots, dewormed, and de-fleaed That will probably eliminate his urge to spray, and give him a chance to fully acclimate to breing a full time indoor cat!

Please keep us updated!
 
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DET_CAT_DAD

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He is a handsome tuxedo! You might want to give him a couple of weeks indoors after he is neutered. It will take awhile for the testosterone to wash out of his system. And get his shots, dewormed, and de-fleaed That will probably eliminate his urge to spray, and give him a chance to fully acclimate to breing a full time indoor cat!

Please keep us updated!
Thanks. That sounds like a good plan. He has been using the litter box but I'd like to clean out the room and clean the carpet. I don't know how I will be able to get him in a carrier so I might just have to trap him again. I don't have a problem giving him some time to adjust and spending time with him.
 

rubysmama

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I totally understand. I hope you find the right purr-son to give him a fur-ever home. :redheartpump:
Your current 6 furbabies, are all gorgeous, btw. :catlove:
 

fionasmom

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You are so kind to help this kitty. I currently have three ferals sisters who were TNRed by me two summers ago and all have transitioned over time to various degrees of friendliness to me. Alice, my avatar, will let me pick her up and hold her, comes inside for "treats", will even stay inside for a few hours, but ultimately wants back out in a big way. Sister is now letting me rub her back and she is very affectionate on her own terms; third sister is still warming up. Mother and father was completely feral, wanted no human contact, and have no relationship with me. My point is that the ferals I have known have ranged from wanting absolutely no human contact aside from the food dish, to seeming to understand that they are being helped and cared for. The latter will often respond in kind and become pets. I think that you have one of those and given the search that you have done for an owner, I do think that this is probably a feral....however, careless owner may have abandoned the cat regardless, possibly returning the cat to what seems like a more feral state.

Even the most feral cats I have had to keep in a bathroom overnight have figured out what the litterbox was for, so hopefully his spraying was just a one off as he frantically tried to figure out what was going on.

In my experience, all cats brought into the house from the outside are thrown off balance and need time to figure out what their new surroundings represent and what the parameters are. I think that this cat has the potential to become a pet down the line and I bet he will respond to you as time goes on.
 

moxiewild

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He’s definitely not feral, so that’s the really good news. If he really is under a year, he’s likely semi-feral just from early exposure to you! Interaction with you kept him from going “full feral”, so to speak :)

Yes, most ferals will instinctively know how to use a litterbox. Not all, but most. Spraying is different from urinating though, and that’s a (primarily) intact Tom thing.

The first thing I would do is block off the couch or any other furniture he can hide under that makes accessing him difficult. Block off closets too.

Give him something more appropriate to hide in, like a house, cardboard box, storage tote, etc. You can have multiple options for him. This allows him to have his safe space but not be completely cut off from you. It makes interaction more intimate and not as easy for him to avoid.

With ferals and semi ferals, it’s always a balancing act between building trust and ensuring they can feel safe, and pushing their boundaries a bit in order to make progress.

You may have to deal with a dirty carpet for a bit, honestly. The first feral I ever tamed actually miraculously escaped his crate. So we began taming him.

He was also a HUGE digger!!! Still is! So he made a giant freaking mess.

A vacuum would be too traumatizing at that juncture, as would retrapping in any way (not to mention the immense difficulty of retrapping a cat!). You really want to save retrapping for if/when you absolutely need to, as it’s a pain in the butt to do and every trapping will make the next time more difficult, so saving it for potential future emergencies is best. Cleaning the carpet is NOT an emergency.

You can try to take a broom to it. What worked best for us was a dust pan, and using the pan as much as the brush to scoop up litter by gliding it across the carpet. Then keep up with that around the litterbox daily.

Yes, this takes some time... but any other option is going to be very difficult and set you back this early on in the process. This is part of the reason I always crate ferals the first 3-6 weeks. It’s a relatively small space to clean and speeds up socialization quite a bit!

At first, you’re just going to want to spend time with him. Don’t try to interact. Read aloud to yourself, sing. Keep your back turned to him and ignore him. All of these are signs of trust in cat language.

By showing him you trust him, it sends the message that this is not a threatening situation, which allows him to slowly let his guard down. This is why you really need to block off the couch! You want to sort of force him to see you doing this.

You can also mimic cat behaviors, like grooming yourself (you don’t actually have to lick your hand 😆 just pretend to and then clean your face like a kitty). Yawn and stretch in front of him. Nap in front of him, if possible. Do that cat thing where they’re sitting or laying upright with their eyes closed, but not asleep, and slowly move their head to the side while keeping eyes closed. If and when you do look at him, do the slow blink and/or immediately tilt your head down and away and divert your gaze.

All of these are very important ways cats communicate with one another.

Feed him on a schedule and be present for every meal, if possible. You may have to start at the complete opposite side of the room depending on his comfort level, then slowly work your way closer and closer at each meal.

Offer him treats. Gently toss them to him even if he won’t eat them in front of you at first. He’ll still know what it is, and come to realize the gesture. But he will likely be apprehensive at first.

You can also try a long spoon with some chicken baby food on it.

Once he starts to relax a little after a week or two, you can incorporate play therapy. He won’t understand what a toy is at first and will be fearful for a bit. Keep trying.

My toy recommendations for this are:

- any Go Cat wand toys (go with he ground prey ones first like Da Mouse. Da Bee can be used as a ground toy too. But Da Bird is too intimidating to start with)

- the Cat Dancer

- the Cat Charmer

- Teaser wands (like wand toys without the string/wire)

Once he starts playing, you’ll make progress very quickly.

Plenty of us here have tamed ferals and semi ferals. The entire time I wrote this, that messy (now ex-) feral I talked about earlier was head booping me, crawling all over me, and making me write typos all over the place while purring as loud as a freight train.

Some come around more than others or faster than others. Your guy sounds like he’s got a great head start and is pretty far along, comparatively. Some patience and dedication will get him far in quick time!

Also, I agree with having him neutered ASAP. Surgery will be a bit traumizing, so getting it out of the way now is best. As stated, it takes a couple of weeks for the hormones to balance out too. But once they do, he will be far less stressed overall, so it indirectly helps with socialization.

Do you plan to TNR the other strays and ferals you feed?
 
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DET_CAT_DAD

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He’s definitely not feral, so that’s the really good news. If he really is under a year, he’s likely semi-feral just from early exposure to you! Interaction with you kept him from going “full feral”, so to speak :)

Yes, most ferals will instinctively know how to use a litterbox. Not all, but most. Spraying is different from urinating though, and that’s a (primarily) intact Tom thing.

The first thing I would do is block off the couch or any other furniture he can hide under that makes accessing him difficult. Block off closets too.

Give him something more appropriate to hide in, like a house, cardboard box, storage tote, etc. You can have multiple options for him. This allows him to have his safe space but not be completely cut off from you. It makes interaction more intimate and not as easy for him to avoid.

With ferals and semi ferals, it’s always a balancing act between building trust and ensuring they can feel safe, and pushing their boundaries a bit in order to make progress.

You may have to deal with a dirty carpet for a bit, honestly. The first feral I ever tamed actually miraculously escaped his crate. So we began taming him.

He was also a HUGE digger!!! Still is! So he made a giant freaking mess.

A vacuum would be too traumatizing at that juncture, as would retrapping in any way (not to mention the immense difficulty of retrapping a cat!). You really want to save retrapping for if/when you absolutely need to, as it’s a pain in the butt to do and every trapping will make the next time more difficult, so saving it for potential future emergencies is best. Cleaning the carpet is NOT an emergency.

You can try to take a broom to it. What worked best for us was a dust pan, and using the pan as much as the brush to scoop up litter by gliding it across the carpet. Then keep up with that around the litterbox daily.

Yes, this takes some time... but any other option is going to be very difficult and set you back this early on in the process. This is part of the reason I always crate ferals the first 3-6 weeks. It’s a relatively small space to clean and speeds up socialization quite a bit!

At first, you’re just going to want to spend time with him. Don’t try to interact. Read aloud to yourself, sing. Keep your back turned to him and ignore him. All of these are signs of trust in cat language.

By showing him you trust him, it sends the message that this is not a threatening situation, which allows him to slowly let his guard down. This is why you really need to block off the couch! You want to sort of force him to see you doing this.

You can also mimic cat behaviors, like grooming yourself (you don’t actually have to lick your hand 😆 just pretend to and then clean your face like a kitty). Yawn and stretch in front of him. Nap in front of him, if possible. Do that cat thing where they’re sitting or laying upright with their eyes closed, but not asleep, and slowly move their head to the side while keeping eyes closed. If and when you do look at him, do the slow blink and/or immediately tilt your head down and away and divert your gaze.

All of these are very important ways cats communicate with one another.

Feed him on a schedule and be present for every meal, if possible. You may have to start at the complete opposite side of the room depending on his comfort level, then slowly work your way closer and closer at each meal.

Offer him treats. Gently toss them to him even if he won’t eat them in front of you at first. He’ll still know what it is, and come to realize the gesture. But he will likely be apprehensive at first.

You can also try a long spoon with some chicken baby food on it.

Once he starts to relax a little after a week or two, you can incorporate play therapy. He won’t understand what a toy is at first and will be fearful for a bit. Keep trying.

My toy recommendations for this are:

- any Go Cat wand toys (go with he ground prey ones first like Da Mouse. Da Bee can be used as a ground toy too. But Da Bird is too intimidating to start with)

- the Cat Dancer

- the Cat Charmer

- Teaser wands (like wand toys without the string/wire)

Once he starts playing, you’ll make progress very quickly.

Plenty of us here have tamed ferals and semi ferals. The entire time I wrote this, that messy (now ex-) feral I talked about earlier was head booping me, crawling all over me, and making me write typos all over the place while purring as loud as a freight train.

Some come around more than others or faster than others. Your guy sounds like he’s got a great head start and is pretty far along, comparatively. Some patience and dedication will get him far in quick time!

Also, I agree with having him neutered ASAP. Surgery will be a bit traumizing, so getting it out of the way now is best. As stated, it takes a couple of weeks for the hormones to balance out too. But once they do, he will be far less stressed overall, so it indirectly helps with socialization.

Do you plan to TNR the other strays and ferals you feed?
Thank you so much for taking the time to write all that and reply. I truly appreciate it and that's why I love this community. I will be trying all these tips. He has been coming out in the room and not hiding all the time. The other night I peeked in his room and he was sitting on the windowsill.
 
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