Trying to figure out if this cat is feral or not

QueenofWinter

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So this cat came wandering through our yard about 3 nights ago. I try to feed any stray cats I find. They usually come and go as they please. This particular cat eats but hasn’t left. He/she just sits on the step and waits. They run when I come out to put down the food but quickly returns to eat the food. They meow and hiss constantly. I never come close or try to touch them. They hiss anyway. They seem to have a clipped left ear which would indicate a feral cat, but their characteristics don’t seem to fit that title. They look at me and meow like they want something besides food. They seem afraid but not aggressive. They have been trying to come closer to me and they have tried to smell me. Will this cat be ok? Should I continue to feed it? Could they possibly be domesticated someday? Any replies would be appreciated.
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Norachan

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No, I don't think she's feral. A feral cat wouldn't make eye contact with you like that, she's either an outdoor cat that is used to being fed by someone, or a pet that has got lost or been dumped.

She's a girl. That colouring is almost only ever seen on female cats.

She's hissing to let you know that she is scared, but the fact that she stays close by means she needs your help.

Could you bring her indoors? Just open your door and put some warmed up canned food inside, she'll probably walk right in.

If she is someone's pet you shouldn't leave her outside as she won't have a clue how to take care of herself. Someone might be looking for her, but if she's been dumped you could be her only chance of finding a new home. Even if you can't keep her yourself you could re-home her, it would be better than leaving her to take her chances outside.
 
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QueenofWinter

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Oh wow, that is very upsetting to hear. My mother and I are the biggest animal lovers and the thought of this cat needing help just breaks our hearts. We posted her image to the online neighborhood animal community so if she’s a missing cat, we will be notified. Right now, at this time of night, their isn’t much we can do for her. We can’t let her in because we have 2 older cats and a young dog of our own. I don’t know how they will react to her. Plus this cat doesn’t seem to trust us enough to walk into the house. We’ve had the door open and she comes close but runs at the first sign of movement. She does seem to leave in the mornings. I don’t know where she goes but she returns around sunset and waits on the step. She’s clearly cold. We have a cat house in the backyard which we will move close to her and hope she gets in. But she has been fed well. Hopefully she’ll be ok until we figure out what to do with her. Do you have any advice for how we can entice her to get into the cat house?
 

Norachan

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If the cat house is in a good location, out of the wind and rain, I'd leave that where it is and start feeding her right in front of it. What do you have inside the cat house as bedding? Straw is the best thing, as it stays warm longer than blankets and drys out quickly. You could put a rice sock in there for some extra warmth.

Fill a sock with uncooked rice, tie the end of the sock then put it in the microwave to warm up. Uncooked rice holds heat for quite a while. Make sure the sock you use is made of natural fibers that won't melt in the microwave.

Thank you for helping her, I feel sorry for the poor girl.

:heartshape:
 

Maria Bayote

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What a beautiful cat. Thank you for what you do to. You have a good heart.

The advice you received above is great. Please keep feeding her, next to the cat house you mentioned. I also do not think she is feral. She is just very afraid and confused right now and would not want to have any other human contact, but at least she knows you are taking care of her thats why she never leaves. If she used to have a home then its a whole new world out there, and may have not acquired the skills of being an outdoor cat.

She may also be picking the scent of your other pets inside your home, that's why she runs when she senses any movements coming from your home.
 

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If no one claims her, she can be slowly introduced to your babies. You can let her lay on something to catch her scent and then let your cats and pup check it out. I have caught many and let them get adjustedin a small bathroom until all here had accepted each other. Ferals even accepted other strays and ferals. I hope she has a home somewhere. Either way, thank you so much for being the one to save her. She has obviously chosen you as someone to trust. She’s beautiful! Her eyes really got to me on that photo. Looking for a safe haven. Please do keep us posted. :redheartpump:
 
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QueenofWinter

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Update: So we’ve continued to feed her and she has become much more comfortable with us. She comes close and has started rubbing her body against my legs. She still does not want to come into the house. We’ve tried leaving the bowl of food inside our house next to the open door so she can leave if she wants, but she won’t stay. We put the cat house near her, filled with straw. We’ve also put a box with straw and a heat retaining pad inside to see if she’d rather lay in that. She isn’t interested in either spot. She just stays on the step outside. Unfortunately our feeding her seems to have attracted another cat. We’ve never seen him before, but he is definitely a boy because he sprayed our trashcan. He was laying in the box with the pad in it. He looks very young and not at all aggressive. He wants food. They look at each other but have not fought. Their behavior confuses me. When I looked outside a few minutes ago, they were both under one of our parked cars together. They’re not fighting. Does he possibly want to mate with her? I hope they get along. I don’t want anything bad happening to either of them. It breaks my heart knowing their are so many cats out in the cold. I’d help them all if I could.
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I can't give any advise that hasn't been given and the members giving advice are veterans at dealing with ferals. I didn't think that any body had addressed the clipped ears. From my understanding the clipped ear means they have been fixed. My Manny is a rescue and he has a clipped ear. He was abandoned and not found in a feral colony so maybe it's just a rescue thing.
 

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Does he possibly want to mate with her? I hope they get along
Does she definitely have a clipped ear? I can't tell from the picture, but if not they might get along a little too well. Then there will be another litter of kittens outside, struggling to survive.

Does your town have any TNR groups? Check on Google to see if there are any that will help you trap and neuter the strays you feed. I know it feels like the kindest thing to do, but leaving food out for stray cats can actually make the problems a lot worse if you're not spaying and neutering as well.

Everything You Need To Know About Tnr (trap-neuter-release) – Cat Articles
 
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QueenofWinter

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Thank you all for the replies. I’m a bit frustrated over here. It’s so cold and she won’t move from her spot on the step outside. She waits there for hours in the freezing cold. As I’ve mentioned before, she does seem to leave in the mornings, but comes back at sunset. We’ve had an offer from someone in the neighborhood who has a cat house in their backyard. They have offered to relocate the cat to their backyard and feed her. Basically what we’ve been doing for her. I’m unsure what to do. I care about this little kitty. I want what’s best for her. But I don’t know these people that want to take her. I don’t know if she’ll trust them. But I don’t want her to freeze outside our door either.
 
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QueenofWinter

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Does she definitely have a clipped ear? I can't tell from the picture, but if not they might get along a little too well. Then there will be another litter of kittens outside, struggling to survive.

Does your town have any TNR groups? Check on Google to see if there are any that will help you trap and neuter the strays you feed. I know it feels like the kindest thing to do, but leaving food out for stray cats can actually make the problems a lot worse if you're not spaying and neutering as well.

Everything You Need To Know About Tnr (trap-neuter-release) – Cat Articles
Yes she definitely has a clipped ear. The boy cat seems to have disappeared. I’ll mention him to the community and see if he may just be lost.
 

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Update: So we’ve continued to feed her and she has become much more comfortable with us. She comes close and has started rubbing her body against my legs. She still does not want to come into the house. We’ve tried leaving the bowl of food inside our house next to the open door so she can leave if she wants, but she won’t stay. We put the cat house near her, filled with straw. We’ve also put a box with straw and a heat retaining pad inside to see if she’d rather lay in that. She isn’t interested in either spot. She just stays on the step outside. Unfortunately our feeding her seems to have attracted another cat. We’ve never seen him before, but he is definitely a boy because he sprayed our trashcan. He was laying in the box with the pad in it. He looks very young and not at all aggressive. He wants food. They look at each other but have not fought. Their behavior confuses me. When I looked outside a few minutes ago, they were both under one of our parked cars together. They’re not fighting. Does he possibly want to mate with her? I hope they get along. I don’t want anything bad happening to either of them. It breaks my heart knowing their are so many cats out in the cold. I’d help them all if I could. View attachment 319668
He might want to mate, or he might just be sweet. Or cold. Or both. I'm feeding a colony of 14, most of which share a huge food bowl. As far as mating, I've read that during winter ( I'm in Florida) that females don't go in to heat if that helps ease your mind a bit .
 

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An ear can get injured so it appears clipped. You don’t want kittens. I don’t know about trying to relocate her unless you get a vet reference on the people and they agree to keep her indoors. Otherwise, she is most likely to try and leave there which could result in injury. The safest thing for her is to catch her and bring her in. If you have a carrier you can start feeding her inside there and simply close the door and bring her in. You’ll need to put the food all the way at the back of the carrier and close the door quickly and latch immediately. I cover the carriers and bring them straight into a small bathroom so the kitties are isolated from others until a vet assured me they are healthy and spayed. I get immunizations too. From what you say, she is hoping for an indoor home and may have lost her family. For her to remain on the step is a clear appeal for help. Rubbing against you is marking you. She trusts you. She might be frightened at first but my bet is that you’ll have a loving and devoted fur baby. My guess is that she will settle fairly quickly. Every cat is different but she needs you. A non feral does not have the skills to survive outside during hard times. Strays can learn over time but she is staying on an exposed spot. I don’t think she has given up on being rescued. This is just my take on what I have read. You may eventually find that someone has been missing her but for now, if she won’t go into shelter, she needs help. You could try rigging shelter by the step too. A Rubbermaid container lined with straw with a styrofoam ice chest inside and also lined with straw. You cut an opening in each for entrance. If there is a warm, dry spot, almost anything she will accept as shelter would help. I haveput blocks under a patio table, covered that with a stryrafom lid, that with straw and covered the table with a tarp. I secured the tarp at the grommets by tying it down so the wind won’t blow it off. The ferals liked the tarps. If you don’t have a table then you can form a pup tent out of a tarp as well. Anything put under it to let kitty get off the cold ground will help. I’ve even used tarps as hammocks with a second as a roof. Literally, any form of shelter that stays dry, cuts the wind and is not directly on cold ground is good. If she is lingering under your car to stay covered, that’s a very risky spot. They like to get into the warm engine and can get caught if you start the car. I always bang on the hood of my van and slam my door a couple of times out of habit now before starting the engine.
 

Norachan

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We’ve had an offer from someone in the neighborhood who has a cat house in their backyard. They have offered to relocate the cat to their backyard and feed her. Basically what we’ve been doing for her. I’m unsure what to do
It's actually quite difficult to relocate an outdoor cat. You can't just move her a new location, leave food out and expect her to stay put. They will immediately try to get back to familiar territory. So if the people live close you she will show up at your door again. If they live far away she'll get lost and quite possibly killed trying to find her way back. In order to successfully relocate you have to keep cats contained for at least 30 days. That means these people would have to keep her crated in a garage or shed, or keep her indoors for 30 days.

I moved a colony of 23 when I moved house about 6 years ago. Even though I kept them indoors for the first month and the yard has a cat proof fence around it, one cat got out and I never saw her again.

I don't recommend giving her to these people if they can't give her a home indoors. She's better off staying with you for now. Are there any No Kill shelters in your area that will help you re-home her?
 
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QueenofWinter

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Update: I type this with a broken heart. I sat on the floor near the door today. I invited her inside. She came and sat beside me for a few minutes. She let me touch her. She purred and kneaded the floor. The door was open just a little the entire time. Then she went back outside. My mother and I thought it would be a good time to bring her inside for the whole night. So we got our bathroom ready for her. She had a bed and everything she needed. We invited her back inside, but this time we closed the door behind her and wouldn’t let her back out. She became extremely agitated. She screamed the loudest scream I have ever heard from a cat. She was clawing at the door. She wouldn’t follow us. We had to let her back out. She hasn’t returned. It was at this moment that we realized we couldn’t help her. She needs more than we can give. I haven’t stopped crying since. I care for her very much. I know it seems like we’re giving up too easily. But I can’t handle the stress. I recently lost my cat named Mama. I still haven’t recovered from her passing. This new cat reminds me of her. Something about her eyes. I will miss her terribly. But I believe someone else can take better care of her. I just want her to be safe and warm. I hope she will return. But when she does I will probably contact the family that’s interested in her. They have agreed to take her in as a new pet. Apparently they had a tortie before so they really want her. I pray I’m doing the right thing. I have pretty extreme depression and anxiety. One of the few things that matter to me are animals. Cats in particular. I feel so deeply for them. When they hurt, I hurt. I love this cat. I wish I could do more for her.
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sabian

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I have something I think you should read. It's an amazing story and it has a wealth of information to. I think it will help and I'm sure the OP might be helpful. It's a long read but, it really is amazing! meet Buggy
 

sabian

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I'm going to call tabbytom tabbytom and bigbadbass bigbadbass to your thread and maybe they can be of some help also. Don't give up. I'm sure she'll be back. You can do this, it just has to be on her terms. You can't rush it.
 
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QueenofWinter

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I have something I think you should read. It's an amazing story and it has a wealth of information to. I think it will help and I'm sure the OP might be helpful. It's a long read but, it really is amazing! meet Buggy
I read through that thread. I’m aware it will take time for this kitty to adjust and fully trust me. But it’s too cold for her and I don’t think she is equipped for the elements. She needs help now. And I don’t have the right mindset to go step by step with her. Believe me, the thought of parting with her is killing me inside. I don’t even know where she is right now. I hope she is ok.
 

sabian

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How cold does it get where your at? Cats are pretty tuff and she looks healthy. I had a little black cat once, not long ago. She was a stray and she just never would stay inside. She would come in and eat, maybe hang out inside for a while and cool of or warm up depending on the season but eventually she would wind up at the door pacing back and forth snorting wanting to go out. It could be in the teens at night and she would go out. I'm sure she had a place she went to stay warm but, she managed fine. I just let her do what she wanted to do and she lived to be 14 or 15 yrs old. She was 3 months when I got her by the vets estimate.
 
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