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"Friending" the feral cat

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  • "Friending" the feral cat

    I have had a cat making itself at home in my barn since last Fall.
    Not sure it is feral as it was in pretty good shape when it first appeared - good coat but a slight limp. The limp still appears on occasion but nothing else seems wrong.
    No spraying, so I am thinking female & "she" has been accepted by my barncat who usually chases strangers off.
    They are not exactly BFFs, but they do share the space.

    I've been feeding the visitor all Winter.
    She no longer runs when she sees me and if she's napping on top of my stacked hay (her alternate place to hiding down inside the bales) when I come to feed, she will now come out for meals, waiting until I put down "her" bowl, but if I get too close she hisses.

    How much longer - if ever - will this cat take to warm up to me?
    My main objective is to get her trapped & seen by my vet for rabies shot & neutering if needed.

    Of course this will probably set back any progress I've made, but if "she" wants to live in my barn those are the terms.

    Any hints to getting her friendlier pre & post trapping?
    Last edited by 2DogsFarm; May. 6, 2011, 05:07 PM.
    *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
    Steppin' Out 1988-2004
    Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
    Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015

  • #2
    I have a big white tom in a cage in my house right now, getting used to people before his neutering on Wed. I trapped him in a live trap. He was WILD and totally freaked out. My house cage is good sized with plenty of room for litter box and such. He's been in for a week and I can pet him (carefully) and was able to get ear mite stuff into his ears. Once he's recovered from his neutering, I'll set him free again, but I'm betting he will get tame over time. My last feral was tame within a month of his neutering and is here to stay.
    Follow us on facebook - https://www.facebook.com/pages/River...ref=ts&fref=ts


    • #3
      Sometimes they don't, when they're "in the wild." But you could try bringing out a book to read, and sit in the barn for a while. Cats are curious and will usually come over to investigate. Also, make sure to love on your friendly kitty in plain sight of the feral kitty, who will want to know what all the fuss is about!

      But I have had several ferals who were just absolutely wild crazy things out in the barn, and only became tame house kitties once they were, well, in the house. Then they were isolated in small rooms where I could force them to interact with me. I'm not a barn cat person so all my once-ferals are house kitties and perfectly friendly. That being said....I think if one got out, she'd go right back to being a wild monster and I'd have to trap her all over again. The other would probably be terribly distressed and be scrambling at the door to get back in...he likes having a warm bed.


      • #4
        given the time of year, it could perhaps be a good idea to try to trap her (or him?) to be sure she/he is altered. If its an intact female, utilizing a humane trap and getting her in to the vet may slow down your befriending, but may prevent you from having a litter of kittens added to the scenario.

        you may never get further then the cat allowing you to be in its line of sight, if its truly feral. Some just are. We dealt with some in the shelter enviroment that would attack outright. Others really were just shy, undersocialized, a long time from living in a home, etc., and over time they'd be quietly social.

        above all - kudos to you for providing a safe home.


        • Original Poster

          I have a housecat also - she is strictly an "innie" and older so I can't risk having a strange/unvaccinated cat in the house.
          I might be able to borrow a large enough cage for the barn if I can trap her...

          I was thinking of doing this, but just cannot find the time. Now that it is staying light later maybe I can manage.
          I do spend probably a good 15min to 1/2h cuddling barncat when I'm done feeding - she demands this & I'm glad to oblige. She is a little bonbon of a barn cat
          LOL! I am trying to be a non-housecat person. I prefer having them outside - no litterbox, no cathair on the clothes.
          Once housecat is gone, no replacement!

          I considered this - hence my posting.
          If nothing else, I'll borrow a livetrap & get this one to my vet that way.
          If caught early enough, any kittens can be prevented when the neutering is done.
          I'd be happy with quietly social & don't mind spending extra for kibbles, but I need to know she's been vaccinated at least for rabies & is FeLu negative.
          Last edited by 2DogsFarm; May. 6, 2011, 05:09 PM.
          *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
          Steppin' Out 1988-2004
          Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
          Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015


          • #6
            Once housecat is gone, no replacement!

            sorry, couldn't help it.....

            Tuna might be your friend.


            • #7
              I had gotten a litter of feral cats a few years back from a local rescue. When I got them they were freshly spayed and neutered and wild as all get out. One of them got sick (upper respitory) and I had to trap her. She is now an indoor only kitty One of her brothers went missing and her other brother who was the wildest of the bunch is a barn cat.

              It took me about three months of working with him everyday before I could touch him. At first he would swat and bite at me but now I can do ANYTHING to him. He is the biggest love bug.......who knew a super wild cat would turn out so friendly!!! Each day I just got closer and closer to him and used food to bring him to me.

              Just keep at it!!

              Here is Spooky:

              RIP Sucha Smooth Whiskey
              May 17,2004 - March 29, 2010
              RIP San Lena Peppy
              May 3, 1991 - March 11, 2010


              • #8
                We're feed a small feral/outside colony of cats (approx 12). They vary on how friendly they are, quite a bit.

                Here's a good resource on feral cats.

                The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings.


                • #9
                  Originally posted by 2DogsFarm View Post

                  I've been feeding the visitor all Winter.
                  She no longer runs when she sees me and if she's napping on top of my stacked hay (her alternate place to hiding down inside the bales) when I come to feed, she will now come out for meals, waiting until I put down "her" bowl, but if I get too close she hisses.

                  How much longer - if ever - will this cat take to warm up to me?
                  My parents have a cat like that — after six months of nightly Meow Mix, she walked into the house (oops, left the patio door open), plopped herself down on the couch, and took a nap. End of story.

                  Alagirl is so right — tuna may speed up the process, IF the cat is interested.
                  "Go on, Bill — this is no place for a pony."


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by 2DogsFarm View Post
                    LOL! I am trying to be a non-housecat person. I prefer having them outside - no litterbox, no cathair on the clothes.
                    Once housecat is gone, no replacement
                    *snort* giggle - You do realize that you are owned by the cat. Right?


                    • #11
                      There were a bunch of feral cats who lived around my house. One beautiful tortoise shell caught my eye and I wanted to make friends with her. I started putting food out for her but it seemed every other cat BUT her came.

                      There was one white and gray spotted cat who was ALWAYS there... she was very timid and would not let me near her or touch her but desperately wanted food. She was pretty thin. One day I noticed she kept coming from the same place... so I investigated and discovered she had a single kitten with her who appeared to have just opened his eyes.

                      I decided I would try to tame them both so I started just sitting next to the food I put down and letting her eat. Eventually I tried to get closer to her and then touch her head while she ate. She didn't really like this much but she wanted to eat. I kept touching her head and eventually she decided it wasn't THAT bad. After a few weeks she actually seemed like she liked me touching her. but I couldn't approach her... she had to come to me or she would run off.

                      It got cold out and the kitten was still pretty small. I didn't want him to freeze so we set up the large dog crate and I lured her in with food.... opened the house door up and put food in the crate. She timidly walked in and I shut the door on the both of them. She clawed around for about a few hours trying to get out but eventually quieted down and settled in for the night. The kitten by this point was completely tame so he was easy.

                      It took a few nights of tricking her into coming in at night but eventually she got use to the routine and decided it was nice being warm at night. We decided to keep her in 24/7 so we could get her fixed without her being pregnant... so I stopped letting her out during the day. After living in the house and being FORCED to deal with our 2 big dogs and PEOPLE... she became VERY tame.

                      Two or so years later she is a total snuggle bug.... and will curl right up next to the dogs on the bed and sleep with them. She went from being completely feral to totally tame. I do believe that being forced to live in the house and interact with us and the dogs made all the difference. I did start letting her go back outside during the day after she was fixed but stopped after she started reverting back to acting a bit feral (more skittish and reluctant to let me walk up to her etc.)... and came in one night with a cut up ear.


                      • #12
                        I have three cats that I describe as 'was feral'.
                        We trapped them at my hay guy's place and had them neutered/spayed thru a TNR program and brought them home after their surgery.

                        We did not put a ton of effort into making friends with them other than talking to them, etc when in the barn doing chores, etc. They were the same as yours, wait close by for their food but would not touch it until it was set down and we were a safe distance away (safe distance was just slightly more than arms length).

                        It took almost a year before the first one let us touch her.

                        Now all three are begging for petting.

                        They still hide if there are strangers in the barn. If we try to pick them up (to hold them, etc) they freak out and run away.

                        I agree that you should get a humane trap and trap her/him now and make sure your new friend is neutered.


                        • Original Poster

                          Originally posted by Shine View Post
                          *snort* giggle - You do realize that you are owned by the cat. Right?
                          Yup, but when she's gone...
                          All Prisoners Shall Be Freed & The Inmates Will Run The Asylum!!!

                          A neighbor has volunteered to loan me a humane trap.
                          Better yet she told me she has seen "my" cat on her property.
                          She has cats she keeps outside in a dog run < yes, she's kinda weird
                          I am hoping she can be the one to trap her, then bring her to my place - one less grudge for feral cat to hold against me

                          Black Betty (yes, I named her, she's all black) is still showing up for meals & napping on my hay.
                          Sometimes she comes right out to "her" spot to wait for food, sometimes she stays hidden until I'm not watching.
                          But she stays to make All Gone.
                          I've started adding a small bit of canned food to her share.

                          And call me crazy, but my steady barncat seems to be eating less & looking for Betty - like she wants to share?
                          *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
                          Steppin' Out 1988-2004
                          Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
                          Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015


                          • #14
                            Great advice. In reading this I seem to get all of the friendly cats dumped at my barn. In the late winter we had 4 of them dropped at my place, over the course of about a month and one half. All were about a year to a year and one half old-none spayed/neutered-they are on the docket to get it done next week!

                            One was clearly frightened out of her gord and we found out pregnant. We worked with her-just talking and by the food dish (we have a few other mature barn cats already) and she finally started to come around albeit slowly.

                            For the past 2 weeks she's been in our spare bedroom and we are WAITING for her to have her kittens. We'll make sure we spay/neuter them and their mom before we find the kittens a new home.

                            Many of our cats we have now were barn/feral cats. Each of them have their own time plan as to when they want to be with humans.


                            • #15
                              Some cats will finally decide to be friends, others will decide that you're not going to kill them but they don't want you touching them. Depends on the cat. I had two feral stray kittens - bro and sister - in '09. One got preggers before I could trap her. Miss preggers decided after I enticed her with ham that I was a very OK person. She moved her babies into a box on my porch before their eyes were open which allowed me to tame them, too. Her brother will let me get about a foot from him when I feed them and will sometimes nose-butt my hand but that's it.

                              Miss not-preggers-anymore and her kittens usually sleep inside at night - especially if it's cold. I did trap the bro. and a bunch more cats and have them fixed and vacced. I love kittens but I'm DONE with more cats. LOL!
                              "Dogs are man's best friend. Cats are man's adorable little serial killer." -- theoatmeal.com