Domesticating a shy feral, help needed!
I was given a 6 month old feral cat (picked up during a TNR operation) to foster for the animal rescue organization I volunteer with. She hides all day, coming out only when I'm in bed and the lights are off. She then meows very loudly , sometimes coming very close to me to meow, though if I move, she runs away. How can I help socialize her? I leave food out for her and she only comes out to eat when I'm asleep so she's getting no socialization. I'm afraid this behavior will continue as there is no incentive for her to interact with humans. What should I do?
on Mar 30th 2011
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It's very difficult to socialize a feral kitten but it can be done. It takes much patience and dedication. It's not something that can be accomplished in a few days or even weeks. Her mama taught her that she must fend for herself and not trust anything. Those are lessons that are difficult to unlearn. Speak with the executive director of your organization and ask for help from other members who have successfully rehabbed feral kittens/cats. My organization had 2 on board who were gifted at feral rehab and they spent much time teaching how it was done. You can also speak with one of their vets. It's not possible to explain how it's done in 1000 characters.Your foster is exhibiting perfectly normal behavior for a feral, so don't worry that this is how she will be all her life. Keep at it. Entice her gently to play with you, speak (or sing!) to her softly, don't force her to be social. Don't get discouraged! Pawmail me if you need to. I'd be happy to help as much as I can.
Izadore (Izzie) answered on 3/30/11. Helpful? / 0
I do feral cat/kitten rescue and can only tell you from experience that you would get better results if your kitty was in a small bathroom, extra bedroom, or a dog crate. She needs to get used to the normal household sounds and get on a routine. Not many people have an extra bathroom or bedroom to dedicate to a feral cat. The dog crate will work, but it needs to be large enough for a litterbox, food, water and a place to sleep. Remember, cats don't like their food near their litterbox. You also need to spend time with her, playing with her and holding her. Wrap her in a blanket like a baby to make her feel secure. Talk gently to her and make her feel safe. Give her plenty of toys, and catnip works too! Try feeding her a few treats from your hands (be careful not to get scratched or bitten). She will come around eventually. You just need to be patient and let her do things on her own terms. Best of luck to you and your new kitty!
We have a cat rescue. About 8 years ago we took in about 20 trapped, feral cats. One adult female escaped from the trap inside our building. She somehow found her way into the space above the ceiling. This cat lived up there for TWO years before we saw her again... we knew she was still there because she was eating food we left in our break room. Within the next year we kept trying unsuccessfully to trap her. One morning she was in a smaller room so I immediately shut her in and managed to capture her with a catch pole. We spayed her & released her back into the room. In about six months she started staying in the break room when we came in instead of bolting, and within the next 6 months she would allow us to touch her. Today she is a super friendly cat, loves my dogs and always is rubbing us for attention.
She does still stay in "her" break room, although she hasn't gone back into the ceiling. It took a while but the wait was well worth it. Needless to say, we kept her!