Really scared feral cat.. help!

moxiewild

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I know it doesn’t seem like it, but you’ll have this beautiful boy tamed up in no time! People spend months and months and even years to get to the point you’re already at! So don’t be discouraged!

Semi feral and feral kitties often don’t quite understand what a toy is at first, and may even be scared of it. A kitty who is too scared to play won’t take their eyes off of you long enough to even look at or pay attention to the toy.

So the fact that he’s following it with his eyes is a really good sign, and usually a precursor to actually playing. He just needs a little more time to observe it, realize it’s not a threat, and figure out what you want him to do with it. So even though he’s not playing, keep up with it! Just a little at a time!

For taming ferals, I personally have the best luck with Go Cat wand toys (Da Bird, Da Mouse, Da Bee, etc), as well as the Cat Dancer, and the Cat Charmer if he’s more into strings/ribbons. All are available on Amazon and Chewy.

Not many people would take in a kitty like this, so thank you for stepping up to the task! It will be a harder road than you’re used to, but it will also be extremely rewarding. Every tiny little improvement will feel absolutely huge! Focus on those and not the setbacks, because there will be bumps along the way, and that’s okay.

Ferals and semi ferals often end up being fiercely loyal and bonded to their primary caretakers once fully tamed. It’s a great reward, but don’t forget to appreciate the journey as you go along as well. One day you will look back at these tiny little baby steps with immense fondness and a full heart :)
 
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izzyiess

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A little update: Otis is doing very well. He loves neck and chin scratches. Always when I pet him he lays down on his side with all his feet streched out. He is absolutely adorable. He eats without a problem in front of me and I even played a little bit with him and a feather. He does not come out of his safe spot yet when I am inside the room tho.

I do have some more questions; Since last night he hisses at me when I try to pet him while he eats his wetfood. It looks like he is protecting his food. With dry food he does not do this.

Also, after his first feed this morning, I closed the door behind me and some minutes later I heard him meowing. Really loud for a bout 5 minutes. When I went in the room to check he was in the middle of the room, saw me, hissed and ran away to his safe spot. I have never heard im meow ever so I thought maybe he is in pain? But he seems to be doing fine now so I have no clue what that was about.
 

walli

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the hissing isn't a bad thing, he is letting you know you are too close and he is scared, the meowing is a good sign
Ferals don't meow so he must have had human contact. He was probably meowing cuz he wanted you to come back!
He is just figuring everything out!
Otis! welcome home!
 

Tik cat's mum

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About the hissing with the wet food it seems to me he really likes his wet food and he would of had to fight to keep his food outside. He's probably nervous you'll take it away. The meowing I agree with walli he wanted you back he's confused at the moment and needs time to adjust that's probably why he hissed at you.Your doing brilliantly with him just keep thing's at his pace slow and steady.
 
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izzyiess

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Thanks everyone for the great help! Tomorrow I am taking him to the vet. I hope he will not hate me too much after the appointment and that I have to start all over again to win his trust back..
 
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izzyiess

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Update; So I just came back from the vet and everything is fine with Otis! And it turns out that he is not a he.. but a she! :lol: She has a really swollen belly and the vet told me she probably has worms so I gave her special medicine for that. She is around 6 to 9 months old but really small for her age. She got her shots and needs to go back for another shot within 4 weeks. Then we will also know if she might be pregnant or not.. :disappointed:
 

moxiewild

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Update; So I just came back from the vet and everything is fine with Otis! And it turns out that he is not a he.. but a she! :lol: She has a really swollen belly and the vet told me she probably has worms so I gave her special medicine for that. She is around 6 to 9 months old but really small for her age. She got her shots and needs to go back for another shot within 4 weeks. Then we will also know if she might be pregnant or not.. :disappointed:
Virtually all ferals/street cats have worms unless they have a caretaker regularly treating them for parasites, so this is totally expected.

But hopefully there are no babies! Unless you live in a warmer climate, it is unlikely (though not impossible) that she is pregnant right now. Most cats will have delivered their last litters of the year in early fall (but this is working under the assumption that you are US based, so if you are not, or if you are in a warmer state, then this may not apply). Keep a feel on the belly until her next appointment. If you start to feel movement, I would take her in as soon as you possibly can.

You’re already taking on a lot with her right now, so kittens may understandably be beyond your means at this point. I just wanted to let you know that if she is pregnant, you can seek a spay-abort, which can be safely done up to about a few days until she is due. It’s not an easy decision to make, but it’s one rescuers often feel forced to make because they know that for every kitten born, one will die in a shelter.

Also, re: hissing - unless being fed in a more elevated position, the stance that cats take when eating, along with the distraction of eating itself, is actually a very vulnerable position for a cat. A kitty who has lived outdoors will be more aware of this than most domesticated indoor kitties. So that could be at least one or part of the reason why she is hissing, although why she’d only do it with wet food is anyone’s guess.

It is also possible she likes the wet food a good bit more than the dry, so perhaps this is an issue of overstimulation, as well.

I usually back off from petting during meals when this happens, and just continue to test the waters on and off, because I prefer to gain trust by respecting the “warning” the hiss is intended to have (unless what I’m doing is very necessary or it is a very young kitten). But everyone tames ferals differently when it comes to the smaller things like this, so go with your gut and ongoing assessment of her stress and behavior.
 

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Update: It is morning here so I just went in his room to see how he was doing. When I layed down and gave him the comfort wink he stood up and stretched his whole body and licked his chest. I felt comfortable enough to pet him right away and he enjoyed it so much! He rubs his whole head against my hand while I pet him and he closes his eyes. Everytime I start petting he makes a small noise. I am not sure if it is a purr. Also, when I lay my hand in front of him he sniffes and he bites it. Most of the time he bites gentle but sometimes it is also a little too hard and I pull away. Do any of you know why he does this? Is it playfull or does he think my hand is food?
You're sure this is a tomcat, right? ALL female cats have a tendency to clamp down on your hand. Don't pull your hand away when they do that. Females are sort of dominant that way and no, they don't think your hand is food. Female cats are HIGHLY territorial. They can play rough. They have precision accuracy with those teeth of theirs. A female semi-feral cat can lay a bird at your feet, and when you pick the bird up, there will be not one feather out of place. They have an uncanny surgical ability with those teeth better than any "doctor" you know.

Sometimes my semi-feral black cat will launch herself off the bottom railing of the porch rail and stop for awhile to look back at me. It's like she's saying , what's the matter? You got those long legs and you can't follow me? Are you too slow? Too weak? Answer: yes. I simply can't possibly keep up with you. Cats will hang with every other critter there is, and it's amazing that they even give you the benefit of the doubt as far as being some sort of threat. They must see how long your legs are, and can't understand why you are so clumsy and slow in comparison.

But everyone tames ferals differently when it comes to the smaller things like this, so go with your gut and ongoing assessment of her stress and behavior.
There is no such thing as "taming" a feral cat. They are the ones who analzse you. They are the ones that observe you and your behavior. Then, if they so choose, they work you into their world. Not the other way around. My female cat will NEVER be tamed by me or anyone else. She demands attention from me. Otherwise she controls EVERYTHING on the outside, likes to play sometimes, and then she's off. She knows I'm too weak to keep up with here, so she has to leave and continue to prowl and control her territory, until she decides to come back inside. Tomcats, pretty much the same thing except they just keep going out farther. And farther.

His name is Otis! The picture was taken when we picked him up so he was really stressed. I did not get the chance to make new pictures of him but I will try today or tomorrow :)

He does have toys. He follows the toys with his eyes but when I get too close he gets scared. Poor thing.

View attachment 308192
has some of the markings of a tuxedo cat without actually being an "official" tuxedo cat. What a fluff ball. Extremely cool lookin' cat you got there. I'm surprised nobody nabbed this cat before you managed to get there.
 

moxiewild

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There is no such thing as "taming" a feral cat. They are the ones who analzse you. They are the ones that observe you and your behavior. Then, if they so choose, they work you into their world. Not the other way around. My female cat will NEVER be tamed by me or anyone else. She demands attention from me. Otherwise she controls EVERYTHING on the outside, likes to play sometimes, and then she's off. She knows I'm too weak to keep up with here, so she has to leave and continue to prowl and control her territory, until she decides to come back inside. Tomcats, pretty much the same thing except they just keep going out farther. And farther.
I don’t agree with this at all, and frankly, I believe that sort of mentality to often have dangerous implications.

Ferals do not choose to fear you in the first place, so they cannot choose to let that fear go. In neither case are they accountable for their actions or the consequences of those actions. Claiming that ferals choose places the onus entirely on them and absolves us of any responsibility or expectation to adequately and reasonably help or protect them.

They are animals, they run on instinct. They have even less control over their own psychology than we do of our own, and we have relatively very little control over ours to begin with.

As humans with far higher cognitive capabilities, it means we have the capacity to analyze and interpret their behavior, within reason, through science and medicine. Then, we take what we’ve learned from that, in conjunction with our own tacit knowledge, and - as laypeople - apply certain principles and actions intended specifically to manipulate their perception of us, their “place”, and their environment - and thus, their behavior.

Trying to “make friends” with them, “gain their trust”, or “tame/train” them are just simplistic ways of saying that we are deliberately attempting to alter their neural connections specifically to substantially influence their inclination to behave in ways that we deem more desirable. Their “choices” are determined entirely by our direct influence, their genetic predispositions, how their environment and past experiences have shaped them, their individual and species-specific instincts, and the current status of their health - there is very little, if any, conscious, informed choice in the matter.

If a feral never comes around, it is not because s/he “chose” not to - it is because their neurological and/or biochemical structure prevents them from doing so, or because the handler/trainer is using insufficient, improper, or inappropriate methodology for that species and/or individual cat.

Ferals do not analyze us, they observe us - that is a very significant distinction. We are the ones who analyze, which is a far more complex and comprehensive process they are incapable of.

It is imperative that we do not conflate an animal’s behavior with the capacity for rational, intentional choice or with moral agency.

The consequence of these beliefs is often the misconception that we lack responsibility to reasonably protect them (“my cat chooses to go outside”, “It’s not for me to decide whether my cat should keep his ‘manhood’ or not”, “I tried to help the feral but he decided he didn’t need my help”), as well as the misconception of animals as being “good” or “bad”, when they are in fact completely morally neutral and incapable of being anything but.

It’s this mentality at the root of what drives people to surrender their cat to a shelter because they believe their cat is inappropriately eliminating or vomitting out of spite, rather than recognizing that these are actually symptoms of physical illness or severe emotional distress. This is why it is critical that we understand and respect the limited cognitive capabilities of animals.

From what you’ve just said, it doesn’t sound like you’ve done what is usually necessary to properly tame a feral (and that is not to say that you have to tame a feral to be an adequate, compassionate, and responsible steward). You simply cannot know whether your feral can become tame unless you contain them and make a targeted, purposeful, and persistent effort over a sufficient amount of time to tame them.

She is not aware that you are too weak to keep up with her, she is just a cat doing normal cat things. You are anthropomorphizing again. There’s no need to ascribe advanced cognition to animals where it clearly does not exist. Acknowledging that fact does not devalue animals whatsoever - we know they have the capacity to suffer, and that is more than sufficient to consider their welfare.

And if your females are so territorial (none of my females have ever bit my hand past kittenhood) and your males are covering such expansive territories, then I must ask - are your cats neutered?
 

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And it turns out that he is not a he.. but a she!
Oh, it's a girl! That's funny. :lol: Now I'm really glad you were able to get her off the streets and give her a good home. Female cats have a very tough time outside.

As others have said, it is still possible to get her spayed even if the vet thinks she is pregnant. I've had to do this with several of my former feral girls. I once took a litter of four 5 month old sisters to be spayed and three of them were pregnant already. It is possible that she's pregnant, but spaying her now won't cause any health problems for her. Not the nicest thing to have to do, I admit, but it will mean less kittens needing a new home, which means less cats and kittens being PTS due to over crowding in shelters and more room for shelters to accept other outdoor cats.

Are you going to change her name now you know she's a girl?
 
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izzyiess

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Oh, it's a girl! That's funny. :lol: Now I'm really glad you were able to get her off the streets and give her a good home. Female cats have a very tough time outside.

As others have said, it is still possible to get her spayed even if the vet thinks she is pregnant. I've had to do this with several of my former feral girls. I once took a litter of four 5 month old sisters to be spayed and three of them were pregnant already. It is possible that she's pregnant, but spaying her now won't cause any health problems for her. Not the nicest thing to have to do, I admit, but it will mean less kittens needing a new home, which means less cats and kittens being PTS due to over crowding in shelters and more room for shelters to accept other outdoor cats.

Are you going to change her name now you know she's a girl?
Yes, I will get her spayed no matter what. I agree that it will be the best option. I really don´t want more kittens end up in a shelter or the streets.. Even tough it is a really hard thing to do.

We decided not to change her name because she actually starts to listen and react to it. So it will be Otis TG (otis the girl). My boyfriends idea haha. :purr:
 
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izzyiess

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And a little update; Otis is doing absolutely amazing. She purrs like crazy when I pet her. After a while of petting she lets me know it is enough by putting her paw on my hand and moving her head backwards instead of hissing and growling. She loves playing with her toys and is not scared of them anymore. She still finds it scary to get out of her comfort spot when I am in the room but some times she feels confident enough and leaves her safe spot to eat or to sniff around. She lets me pet her while she does that but not for long and after some minutes she will run back to her spot.

She starts to get really interested in the living room and always tries to peek inside when the door is open. I feel like it is a little too early to let her roam around the house. I am just too scared someone forgets to close a door to the yard and she will be gone forever.

Also, in a month we will be moving since that will probably be really stressfull for her I think it is better to let her stay in her own room for the time remaining. What are your thoughts about that? Is a month in a small room too long?
 

moxiewild

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Do you have the option of putting her in a bedroom by herself?

If not, the bathroom can work so long as you interact with her frequently enough. Try playing music in there, specifically classical, harp, or something like David Teie’s Music for Cats. It will help calm her and add to environmental enrichment.

How small is the bathroom? Could you fit any sort of cat tree in there?

So glad she’s coming along! It’s exciting when they hit big milestones so quickly!
 
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izzyiess

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How's everything going I izzyiess ? Any chance of an update?
Everything is going great. A week ago I have put her in another (bigger) room and she loves it. She is always in her cat tree and even walks up to me sometimes for a cuddle. But if I make one sudden movement or she hears a strange noise she hides under the bed. Also I have noticed she smells really bad like poo and I have found some hard flat poo with hair in it on the ground
 
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