Would a feral know how to play?

Sean35

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There is a cat that I've been seeing on my security cameras on occasion since probably January, but almost exclusively in the middle of the night. The only times it has shown up before I've gone to bed was one night in Jan or Feb when food was still out (the cat ran off when it saw me watching), and last week, when it peeked for food, but saw my resident feral Stalker waiting for me to bring food out. This cat saw Stalker waiting, and turned around. Stalker took it upon him/herself to escort this cat off the property, but there was no incident. :D

Most nights the cat seems to go into my front steps to check for food, then quickly leaves. If i sprinkle catnip, it'll roll around in it for a couple of minutes, then move on. However, a couple nights ago I put out a toy stuffed with tartarian honeysuckle (neither Stalker nor Sidekick have shown any interest in it), and around 1:30 AM this cat found the toy and experienced nearly ten minutes of cat euphoria like I've never seen. It seriously never calmed down until it ran off, and there were a number of occasions where the cat was jumping several feet into the air with the toy in its mouth. It was really nice to see.

My question is, would the fact that this cat was so enthusiastic about playing indicate that it may be someone's indoor/outdoor cat, or could it just be that the cat never experienced honeysuckle and just really, really liked it? I've put cat toys out before, and the cats I've fed have either shown brief interest if it is a catnip toy (except for Stalker, who doesn't respond to catnip, silver vine, or honeysuckle), ignored the toy, or were scared of it.

What I'm hoping to do is see if I can use the honeysuckle as a way to trap the cat during the wee hours when it shows up, without using food and running the risk of accidentally catching a fixed cat or a raccoon. If I set up a camera overnight, the notification would wake me up so that the cat wouldn't be stranded all night. I just don't want to do this if there's a good chance that the cat isn't even feral to begin with.
 

BellaGooch

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I am not an expert. However, I do have a semi-feral. From my experience, he is very playful. He doesn’t love playing with me, but he will chase a ball or play by himself. I also have a stray who had, as far as I know, no previous owner. She also enjoys playing.
I think that as they’re kittens, they learn how to play on their own instinctively. :)
 

fionasmom

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It could go either way. I have had feral kittens immediately take to toys and catnip. One of the ferals outside right now loved to play with the toys I put out when she was little, still loves catnip, but is completely feral. There is no bond to me at all, after three years, except that I bring her food regularly and provide shelter. However, both of her sisters who are now indoor only housepets were also very playful and I actually cemented my friendship with my avatar by bouncing a ping pong ball at her from the inside of my kitchen against the sliding glass door. Cats do play instinctively....but you also may have encountered a lost or abandoned pet.
 
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