Almost three weeks ago I was able to trap a young feral cat that has been the shadow of a ghost in the barn--one of those types that moves quickly to disappear. I would guess him to be about 3 or 4 months. I transferred him to a large dog crate. He is in an outcove to my kitchen so I keep the door open so he has a clear view in and I talk out loud alot at him, especially at feeding time. I have finally let my other cats also talk to him. (He loves the other cats and they are kind to him and dont hiss.) As I was afraid of stressing him, I gave him a cat house he goes in when afraid, but he will stop hiding when he sees the other cats. Sometimes when I talk to him he will scrinch his eyes up like cats do when they are happy. At this point I am feeling bad he is still in the big dog crate (with all amenities and will even play with toys if he thinks I am not looking) but I figure if I let him loose now I will never catch him again. He does like treats so I make sure I rattle the bag and talk away when getting them out but he still wont take from my hand.
Any other taming suggestions?
P.S. even if I fail at taming I will eventually figure out how to get the little thing neutered --I am not sure what it is yet!!
A can of his/her/it's favorite food and a book for you.
Just hang out with the little guy/gal, using the gushy food as an ice breaker. Sit down next to the crate, put a bit of the food on the spoon, and slide it through, then crack open your book and wait. If the other kitties come in for attention, give it to them -- they'll show the little one that you're pretty cool and nothing to be afraid of (sort of like you're another cat, just bigger, with thumbs ).
If s/he comes over for the spoonful, ignore him while s/he eats. Let this go on for a bit (or a day or two), then dab a finger in the food and stick that through (continue to ignore if s/he eats/licks from your finger). The idea is to give a reward and be totally non-threatening.
Eventually you might be able to open the door to the crate, present your finger with food, and place your other hand in there at the same time. Pet the critter gently while it eats and for as long as it will tolerate the touch.
Let this go on for a bit (or a day or two), then dab a finger in the food and stick that through (continue to ignore if s/he eats/licks from your finger).
Be careful trying this. I did this without thinking about it because my cat is so gentle taking food from my fingers. The feral kitten I was taming at the time took one look at my finger with the delicious smear of tuna and chomped right down. He thought he was being offered the entire finger. He put a nice slice in my finger with his fang.
Time is your friend. Spend as much time in the room with kitty as possible, so s/he gets used to you moving around. Sitting and reading next to the crate works great. Don't rush into making contact either- just sit and read and ignore even if the cat ends up sitting right next to you. You can also use the handle of a wooden spoon or whatever will fit through the bars of the crate to rub and touch the kitty that way. Once they figure out it feels good and that the wonderful scratches are coming from you, then you'll be well on your way.
We locked two kittens up in our bathroom for about 2 weeks. They were replacement kittens for my daughter's cat that had gotten hit on the road. She was out of town and I had to get them friendly before she got back. It took a good week before they would even *think* about approaching us, but the small space still had room for them to hide a little but not escape and I sat on the floor with them a few times a day. Fed them just a little bit at a time quite often thru the day so they would get the idea when we show up, look- there's food! It worked, they turned into really friendly cats with us but never got stranger friendly.
Time and patience. I once trapped a totally feral adult cat- never been touched, as near as we could assertain.It took me many ,many months of sitting with her while she was in her crate and we watched TV, I read books, played music. I had to handle her with leather gloves because of the biting.I found what she really liked was touching her with one of long feathered cats toys. she LOVED it. Then little by little I could touch and brush her.Now she sleeps on my bed with the other 2 cats. !
PLAY. Particularly with a kitten, you will get a better response than with food. The kitty will look forward to play time and bond with you as play provider. The best toys at first are those that are like fishing rods with cat toy lures that you can cast past the cat and then pull slowly by him until he pounces, and then reel it in and do it again. They also love, love, love peacock feathers. I got my ferals from a rescue. They were trapped from a colony at 9 months and then were at a rescue in a cage for a year. I did not keep them in a crate, but in a very small room for about 5 or 6 weeks. When I brought their food, I would go into the room and sit on the floor and little by little rewarded them when they got closer and closer to me, until the bravest one was standing on me to get food. It takes time but is very rewarding. Yours is young enough that he should socialize pretty well. One of mine is great but the other is hopeless. From what I understand, 9 months is usually past the time that one should attempt to be domesticate them, so I guess I am lucky that one is social. That one follows me around the house from room to room like a dog and sleeps with me at night. Grateful, apparently.
"Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain" ~Friedrich Schiller
The best toys at first are those that are like fishing rods with cat toy lures that you can cast past the cat and then pull slowly by him until he pounces, and then reel it in and do it again. They also love, love, love peacock feathers.
Yes, Eclectic! I completely forgot about making myself into a jungle gym for the kittens I had. Incorporate yourself into the game by sitting on the floor and dragging the lure or feather over your legs and then over your lap once the kitten is brave enough to scamper over you. At first you'll need to have the feather pretty far from you, but keep dragging it closer each time you play until the kitten is trampling over you in pursuit. Once they realize nothing scary happens, then they're content to sit or stand on you while attacking the toy.