Trying to figure out if this cat is feral or not

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QueenofWinter

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Update: I’m so afraid. We just locked her in our downstairs bathroom. She has everything she needs down there. But it’s breaking my heart hearing her cries. She must be so afraid. Am I doing the right thing? She peed herself when we grabbed her. She’s very quiet now. I hope she’ll be ok.
 

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I know it's really tough on you, but just give it time. You're doing the right thing. She'll thank you for this in the long run.
 
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QueenofWinter

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Update: She’s laying behind the toilet in a little ball. She hasn’t eaten. She peed once on the floor. I don’t know if she knows how to use a litter box. She cries when she hears our voices. I sat near her earlier. I talked to her. She calmed down a little. But she didn’t come to me. Is there anything I can do to make her more comfortable? I’m afraid she won’t eat. It breaks my heart to see her like this. She’s usually so playful and happy when she’s outside. Now she looks so scared and sad.
 

jefferd18

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You should not have trapped her- you were doing great before.

When I befriended my feral friend, Jeff, I always let her call the shots, meaning she could come and go as she pleased. I never made her feel like a prisoner in my home. At first I would bring her into my home with the reassurance that she could leave when she wanted to and I never lied to her. That is what trust is all about. She got so she wanted to stay longer and longer but it was always her choice.
 

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Hang in there, you can do this!

What's the set up like in the bathroom? She should have a place to hide where you can still reach her, like a box or a carrier.

Put everything really close to her so she doesn't feel like she has to venture "out in the open" to much to get to her food, water, and litter. If there's a bathtub, that's an ideal size with nice walls.

You can put some dirt from outdoors in with her litter to help teach her where to go. Putting down puppy pads everywhere will also make your life easier.

Go in there for multiple sessions every day of sitting in there, not looking at her, and reading or talking out loud. Bring tasty treats like tuna and baby food and leave them for her. Then transition to feeding her treats off the end of a spoon or rod or whatever you have that's long, and from there get her to eat from your finger. But that will come later.

It's not unusually or unexpected for her to not eat at all the first couple of days. She will slowly get a little braver bit by bit. And she will get back to where you were, but the this regression at first is expected.

You should not have trapped her- you were doing great before.
I disagree! That's great that that worked for your cat, but it's risky. Every day could be the day that the cat doesn't come back because something bad happened to them outside.

Cat's don't "forgive" or "hold grudges" like people. All they want is to be sure that they're safe. This is a new experience for her, so of course she's afraid that she's not safe. But she will learn that she is safe. It takes time. After a few days of nothing bad happening, she'll decide she can sneak out and take a few bites of food. And then when she does that for a few days, she'll realize she can eat for longer and nothing bad happens. And she'll watch you every day and realize that nothing bad happens, and then she'll watch you for a few more days just to make sure her suspicions are correct, that you are indeed safe, and then she'll come to you for pets. Every time something new happens, she'll be cautious, but she'll get less and less cautious over time as you're right there and nothing bad happens. And then the draw of the food and toys and cuddles and love will win her over.

This guide is really wonderful for walking you through the process if you need detailed guidance: How to Socialize Very Shy or Fearful Cats

I predict that guide could be helpful for you in the beginning, but once she starts to come around, she'll start progressing more rapidly because of how well your previous interactions have gone.

Stay strong! You're doing an amazing thing.
 

Norachan

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You're doing the right thing!

It's hard for her now, but in a few days she will realise that nothing bad will happen to her indoors. Cats are always upset by change, but if you keep her in her safe room it will gradually become saturated with her scent and she will start to see it as her territory. I know it's heartbreaking now, but in the long run she will be much better off and you won't have to worry about her next winter.

Do you have a Feliway plug in for the room? They can help to keep a cat calm.
Try putting some dirt from your yard, where she used to pee, in her litter box. If she pees on the floor put the tissue you used to clean it in her litter box. She'll soon get the idea.
Did she sit on the furniture you had outside? If she had a favourite cushion bring that inside for her to sit on. Anything that has her scent on will make her feel comfortable.

She's not a feral cat. She's obviously had a caregiver before so I think she will adjust much sooner than a fully feral cat would.

Hang in there. I've been through this lots of times with my feral and semi feral rescues. I think it's much harder on the humans than it is on the cats, but just keep telling yourself that she's going to have a safe, cozy home this winter and you'll be fine.

:hugs::catlove:
:hangin:
 
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QueenofWinter

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Update: I opened the bathroom door and she came out of her hiding spot. She let me touch her and started purring. She‘s meowing a lot. I sat with the bathroom door open and she walked around and rubbed herself on me. She is very dirty because she peed on herself. My mother cleaned out the bathroom and I stayed with her while she ate. I don’t know why she decided to eat all of a sudden. The food was with her the entire time, but she didn’t start eating until we stayed with her. But she ate a lot. That’s a good idea about the dirt in the litter box and the porch cushion. We’ll try it. We put her back into the bathroom. We have a camera in there so we can keep an eye on her. She’s wandering around more. She’s jumping on and off the toilet. And meowing like crazy. I think she misses us.

You should not have trapped her- you were doing great before.
I trapped her for a few reasons. She crosses a dangerous street to get to my house. She comes to my house everyday and spends most of the time on our front porch, so I took that as a sign that she wants a home. Also she started hunting birds in our yard and we don’t want a whole bunch of dead bird bodies everywhere. I’m still not totally certain I’m doing the right thing. Maybe some cats aren’t meant to be domesticated. But I love her very much and I only want what’s best for her.
 

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Update: I opened the bathroom door and she came out of her hiding spot. She let me touch her and started purring. She‘s meowing a lot. I sat with the bathroom door open and she walked around and rubbed herself on me. She is very dirty because she peed on herself. My mother cleaned out the bathroom and I stayed with her while she ate. I don’t know why she decided to eat all of a sudden. The food was with her the entire time, but she didn’t start eating until we stayed with her. But she ate a lot. That’s a good idea about the dirt in the litter box and the porch cushion. We’ll try it. We put her back into the bathroom. We have a camera in there so we can keep an eye on her. She’s wandering around more. She’s jumping on and off the toilet. And meowing like crazy. I think she misses us.



I trapped her for a few reasons. She crosses a dangerous street to get to my house. She comes to my house everyday and spends most of the time on our front porch, so I took that as a sign that she wants a home. Also she started hunting birds in our yard and we don’t want a whole bunch of dead bird bodies everywhere. I’m still not totally certain I’m doing the right thing. Maybe some cats aren’t meant to be domesticated. But I love her very much and I only want what’s best for her.


That is an awesome reason for trapping her and I commend you for wanting to shield her from danger. I am glad she is feeling more relaxed. :)
 

jefferd18

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Hang in there, you can do this!

What's the set up like in the bathroom? She should have a place to hide where you can still reach her, like a box or a carrier.

Put everything really close to her so she doesn't feel like she has to venture "out in the open" to much to get to her food, water, and litter. If there's a bathtub, that's an ideal size with nice walls.

You can put some dirt from outdoors in with her litter to help teach her where to go. Putting down puppy pads everywhere will also make your life easier.

Go in there for multiple sessions every day of sitting in there, not looking at her, and reading or talking out loud. Bring tasty treats like tuna and baby food and leave them for her. Then transition to feeding her treats off the end of a spoon or rod or whatever you have that's long, and from there get her to eat from your finger. But that will come later.

It's not unusually or unexpected for her to not eat at all the first couple of days. She will slowly get a little braver bit by bit. And she will get back to where you were, but the this regression at first is expected.


I disagree! That's great that that worked for your cat, but it's risky. Every day could be the day that the cat doesn't come back because something bad happened to them outside.

Cat's don't "forgive" or "hold grudges" like people. All they want is to be sure that they're safe. This is a new experience for her, so of course she's afraid that she's not safe. But she will learn that she is safe. It takes time. After a few days of nothing bad happening, she'll decide she can sneak out and take a few bites of food. And then when she does that for a few days, she'll realize she can eat for longer and nothing bad happens. And she'll watch you every day and realize that nothing bad happens, and then she'll watch you for a few more days just to make sure her suspicions are correct, that you are indeed safe, and then she'll come to you for pets. Every time something new happens, she'll be cautious, but she'll get less and less cautious over time as you're right there and nothing bad happens. And then the draw of the food and toys and cuddles and love will win her over.

This guide is really wonderful for walking you through the process if you need detailed guidance: How to Socialize Very Shy or Fearful Cats

I predict that guide could be helpful for you in the beginning, but once she starts to come around, she'll start progressing more rapidly because of how well your previous interactions have gone.

Stay strong! You're doing an amazing thing.

No, but they know trust and when it is broken. And once it is broken, it won't be that easy to fix. Establishing trust is the difference between having a cat and having a friend who is a cat.

Anyway, the OP has replied to me and explained more. She did the right thing.
 
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QueenofWinter

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I brought in her porch chair cushion and put it in the bathroom. This is a picture from the camera in the bathroom. She is lying on it now and seems to be relaxed enough to fall asleep. Thank you all for suggesting that. I would never have thought of that.
3241782B-E4BB-46F6-B3A3-DA8A86E8C6A8.jpeg
 
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QueenofWinter

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Does anyone have any other advice on how to get her to use the litter box? I’ve put dirt and leaves in it, but she still hasn’t used it. She really doesn’t like to be picked up so I can’t put her in it. She hasn’t peed since we first brought her inside and she hasn’t pooped at all. I hope she doesn’t make herself sick by not going.
 

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How long has she been indoors now? A couple of mine didn't use the litter box for the first 48 hours either. I think she will eventually go, she just needs to relax enough to let it happen.

You don't need to pick her up and put her in it. As long as the litter box is easy enough for her to access she'll do it by herself.

I hear that Dr Elsey's litter attractant works well, but I've never used it.

.Dr. Elsey’s Ultra Cat Litter Attractant™ – the litter cats love™
 
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Update: Well she had quite a day today! First of all, she used her litter box! Both pee and poop. Yay! Next, we found a vet who would come to our house to give her an examination and her shots. That was a lot more expensive than I thought it would be. But they said she’s in good health. They think she is around 4 or 5 years old. She had a small infection in one of her ears. They gave us meds for that, plus some flea and worms meds. They cut her nails and cleaned her ears. She was very scared, but not vicious at all. We didn’t know how she would react to people handling her. But the vet‘s assistant absolutely loved her. She says she’s very sweet and will probably get along with the rest of the cats. They said to leave her separate from the other cats for now while the meds do their job. When the vet left she was very scared again and wouldn’t come out of her hiding place. We gave her some time to calm down then I sat down and she came to me and started purring while I touched her. I’m glad she remembers she can trust me. She’s still pretty nervous and she doesn’t eat until I’m there beside her, but I think we’re making progress. Hopefully she’ll continue to get more comfortable.
 

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Great update! She's making amazing progress. That was a really good idea, getting a vet to come and examine her at your home. Much less stressful than trying to get her out of the room, take her to another strange place and then bring her back again. I'm sure it was worth the extra money you had to pay.

It's a good sign that she eats while you are there with her. She sees you as her protector, that's going to be something you can use to help her get used to indoor life moving forward.

There is absolutely no rush to introduce her to your resident cats or even to try and take her out of her safe room, but here's an article that might help when it's time for her to meet her new family.

How To Successfully Introduce Cats: The Ultimate Guide
 

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Amazing update! She'll definitely do just fine. You're clearly on the right track! Remember she'll have her moments and it can seem like 2 steps forward, 1 step back occasionally, but you will keep making progress. And you've made so much already!
 

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I just read through this. I think you're doing a great job. I took in a feral last December and came here for help. She is also a tortie and had one or two litters outside in the neighborhood before another woman trapped her and a TNR group got her spayed and then returned her. She, like your cat, seemed to decide she wanted to be mine and started coming near my deck (I live in a townhouse community), appearing when I called her for her meals, and rubbing against me after she ate. It took months, but I finally got her into a carrier, took her to the vet, and brought her home the next day. Her 'space' to acclimate was the basement. The first couple of days she was still friendly, but then she spooked and ran. Then she hid from me for a month and a half, first in the ceiling and then in the closet, coming out only late at night to eat and use the litter box. I think she was crashing - from spending all her time on high alert outside to being safe and warm inside. She just slept and ate. But I thought I had ruined everything and I would have to let her go back outside. The people here helped me keep my sanity and encouraged me to keep working with her. I let her do what she wanted. I would go down and talk to the walls every day, thinking how crazy it was. But she got used to my voice and my presence again.

Then one day she pranced out of her closet like nothing had happened and wanted me to pat her again. By the beginning of March she was venturing upstairs and within a month had come out of the basement, upstairs, and spent her time cuddling with the dog and me. Now her favorite place is my lap and in the morning when I'm trying to get dressed, she puts her paws on me, stretches up, and isn't satisfied until I pick her up and carry her around for a while. This is a cat who was totally wild a year ago. There is hope for you and your cat; I think you're doing exactly what you need to do, you just have to be patient and let her do what is comfortable for her. She chose you, she wants to be with you, but this is so different from what she is used to. Just give her time and it will work out. She's already come a long way. She is where she wants to be, with you, it will just take some adjustment for her.

Mia on my lap april 21 2020.jpg
 

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Update: Well she had quite a day today! First of all, she used her litter box! Both pee and poop. Yay! Next, we found a vet who would come to our house to give her an examination and her shots. That was a lot more expensive than I thought it would be. But they said she’s in good health.
That's good progressive news! :clapcat:

Great that then vet came over and that would be less stress for her as she does not need to be kept in a carrier and travel to the vet's office.

I guess that the more time you spend with her will be faster for her to put her complete trust in you. Looking at her sleep on the cushion shows that she's pretty calm and relax just that she needs more assurance from you.

Just remember not to betray her trust which she needs the most from you.

Keep up the good work!
 
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I just want to thank you all for your words of advice and support. I don’t know if I could’ve done this without you all. I appreciate you guys and I look forward to our future conversations. ❤

Update: Minnie is doing well. She is much more comfortable in her room. She eats well, uses her litter box daily, and doesn’t cry all the time anymore. Here’s the issue. I think she is too comfortable in her room. We’ve left the door wide open to allow her access to the rest of the basement. She wandered around once and slept under the bed in the guest bedroom for a few hours, than went back to her room. She hasn’t left since. How do we entice her to explore more? I would eventually like her to come upstairs with me, but I don’t know how to get her to that point.
8863531B-AA50-489C-94DB-762A636C5520.jpeg
 

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She wandered around once and slept under the bed in the guest bedroom for a few hours, than went back to her room. She hasn’t left since. How do we entice her to explore more? I would eventually like her to come upstairs with me, but I don’t know how to get her to that point
Great to hear that she's almost settled in. It's best to let her explore on her on time as pushing her will probably lead to square one and I don't think you want to do that after for all you did for her to trust you.

You can leave her toys, towels, blankets or anything with her scents and your scents that leads up stairs and also in area upstairs where you want her to go. Once she finds familiar scents, her confidence will remain and the scents will bring her out to explore more. Play with her along the stairs with a ball or cat wand and slowly or gradually proceed higher and further up and if she doesn't want to move up anymore, let it be and repeat the next day. Have some treats to standby and reward her not only with treats but verbally too.

Once she feels it's safe, she'll make her move. Just give her time but don't rush her. Let her be where she feels most safe and comfortable. As she grow older, her behavioral pattern will change and she can be anywhere in the house where she feels most safe and secure.
 

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What great news. It sounds like Minnie is settling in well. I agree with tabbytom, let her explore on her own and give her plenty of time. When Mia was downstairs, I kept the basement door shut during the day (it has a kitty door in it but she still hasn't figured that out) and opened it at night. I covered the windows so she wouldn't see anything, including animals, outside. That was her old territory, and I didn't want her longing to go back out.

Eventually she came up for very short times at night, but her safe space was the closet under the basement steps, and that's where she spent most of her time. Then I left the door cracked during the day, and after a while she came up but only for a few minutes at first. I left her alone, saying hello when I saw her, blinking slowly at her, and then going back to whatever I was doing. She would whisk back down at any odd noise or movement, but I left her alone then, too and sometimes she would carefully come back up.

That seemed to be what she needed. I let her do everything in her own time and let her be the cat she wanted to be. I decided if she was going to be aloof, that was okay, she would be safely aloof inside rather than feral, with all its dangers, outside. But after a bit she came up for longer times, got used to the dog, and then got used to me. I tried not to look at her directly very long, and I was very careful with my hands (she would go for them if she saw them move) and also with looming over her in any way.

I also started feeding part of her meals on the steps. I'd put some in the bowl in the basement where she was used to eating, and then some in a bowl on the basement steps. Every day or so I'd move the bowl up a step or two. After a week or two she started waiting right on the other side of the basement door, watching me feed the dog and waiting for her bowls to be filled. I think the way to a feral's heart is through food, and now she eats in the kitchen, with the dog, twice a day. She will still run back to the basement and even into the closet down there if she is startled, and I think that will always happen. That's just how she is.

You are doing a great job. Although my opinion is only because of what I've experienced, I think Minnie is obviously trusting you and will slowly work her way upstairs and discover how nice it is to live with you. Just give her time and space, and enjoy knowing how safe she is now. She is a beautiful cat.
 
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