What school of taming do you subscribe to? Force hold/let them decide??

Mella

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HI, I'm helping a friend with 3 feral kittens she trapped. Everyone has given advice. I want to do what I can for these kittens. They're older 4-5 months old. A woman had them in house for a month, but did nothing with them, so they are feral-lite :D They will all bolt from teh "deadly hand" still, but will eat next to me now and take food from my hands. One, will come up into my lap, with bribes of Chicken or Churu. The others are still super skittish. One person said I should be holding them, to socialize them. They seem so terrified of me still, that I don't want to "force tame" since they are older and retain the "mistakes" more than a young one would. So, I'm not sure how to facilitate holding without making it worse. I also, don't want to waste valuable time!

I've had them 15 days and can now pet them all while feeding, they respond to play and will all engage in it with me, Will take treats from my hand, but then scatter when yum yum's are gone.

I've been told to split them up to facilitate taming/bonding, but how do I do that when they can't be caught/held? I don't want to make them worse. Up until now, I've only worked with younger feral kittens who were way easy to swing around from the "Dark Side".

Thoughts on next steps? or what I should be doing daily to maximize efforts? The girl is the worst one, but even when she is scared, she will retreat, but still want to engage, so I'm hopeful something can be done with all.

Appreciate this forum so much!
 

fionasmom

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How to Socialize Feral Kittens<br/> — Kitten Lady
How to Socialize a Kitten
A Guide to Socializing Older (Fractious) Kittens

These websites have a conglomeration of advice about socializing ferals/unsocialized cats. You are definitely beyond the first few steps if you are able to pet them while they eat, play and engage with them. It sounds as if they are all making progress in the two weeks that you have had them. It will take more time than this, but they sound like they have potential to become socialized. The fact that one will come into your lap is very hopeful.

I would not do anything forceful for a few reasons. It will probably frighten them and damage the trust that they have in you. One important point about ferals in particular is that they have been taught by their moms that the only times they are picked up is by the mom for safety or transportation and/or by the predator that is going to kill you. Despite any good feelings you are creating with them, it is not out of the question that you could be bitten if they become fearful. In fact, using something like rose pruning gloves when you do handle them, if necessary, is not a bad idea.

Thank you for trying to help these kittens.
 

Jcatbird

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I never forced either. I found that certain things really helped. Cats are so curious. Even older outside cats. I found this especially helpful if you have the time. Lay on the floor on your back. Place yummies on you at different places and then retail still. The kitties will come to investigate. Remain still. Let them climb over you without any result at first. Imagine you are just a kitty climbing spot. Lol Do this until they feel safe walking over and around you. They may even sit on you if you do it enough. Especially the bravest one. When the others see it is safe (and fun) they will be likely to learn from the bravest one. They do learn from each other. When you know brave kitty is okay with it, put a yummy in your hand. Let that one eat it a couple of times. Then try getting some good petting in. You can even put a plate in your lap or on your stomach to get them to understand that nothing happens to them in association with you. This can lead to them trusting and hanging around to play. Putting catnip on my shoes has worked wonders too. Kitten shoe attack! They rub on your shoes and you then carry their scent. You will smell safe. Sleeping in the room with them helps too. They can investigate you when they see you are the vulnerable one and safe to approach. You may wake up to find kittens surrounding you. You are already making huge progress. Keep a routine going, announce yourself when coming in the room with them and just have patience. I often find that the most savvy cat is the last hold out. Well worth waiting for. My Banjo was like that and I would not trade her for anything. One of her siblings was the first to climb onto the human kitty mountain. Lol Banjo held back. She was the last to get near. You would never know now that she had been about five months or more as a feral before being rescued. Bravo to you for all you are doing! :clap2::goldstar:
 
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Mella

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Thanks for the advice! Ye, I haven't been forcing. The one that was "the worst" at first, is now the most bold. I only worried because they still are so spooky. One little noise and they all bolt like lightening. Everyone told me to split them up, but I wasn't sure how best to do that now, I guess I should have when I first got them, but they were so scared I just let them come out of crate on their own vs grabbing. I don't want to waste time. They are smart, but don't seem to retain much day to day LOL. I make headway, then, 3 hrs later it's like they've never seen me before :lol: Chicken is their favorite, and all will put 2 paws on my leg to reach up and get it, but 2 don't want to be touched. I just worry Im not taking the path fast enough for them. They all will play with me. I'll try the treat trick you mentioned. THANKS!
 
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