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Very hidey wild cat. Big mistake? Will he ever chill? Help please feral cat whisperers!

(12 Posts)
Invizicat Sun 15-Feb-15 15:05:19

After losing our grumpy old lady cat last year, we have finally taken the plunge and got a new little boy from CPL. I was very specific that we wanted a fairly outgoing, non feral, not too tiny cat as it would need to stand up to our elderly dog. (Dog is used to living with cats but would possibly enjoy chasing a panicking newby.) We've waited quite a while for the right one to come along and finally they recommended 'Taffy' to us. (6 months old, very friendly). He came home 2 days ago and he hasn't come out from hiding behind the sofa yet.

Thing is, the fosterer actually told us that he is feral and had only been inside her house for 2 weeks (previously in a run outside) so very untamed. She also told us his brother was 'untamable' so has been released back onto a farm. When held he is very cuddly and has a purr like a lawnmower so seems very sweet and seems to like people, but he is so timid that he hasn't budged from his hiding place except when we extract him. He's terrified if a door opens, if we speak loudly or if we move around. I was planning very careful introductions with Dog but he is far too shy for that yet, so we're having to live with a complicated system of doors between them. (He has a safe hidden bed in a puppy crate. We're leaving the cage door open in the hopes he'll be brave enough to explore.) I know it's very early days but I'm wondering if he is just too wild and too old to ever acclimatise to life in a busy family household.

Has anyone had any success taming a feral 6 month old? Is he too old? Has anyone got any tips apart from letting him take his time? Any hopeful success stories please? We're a bit in love with him already!

ThisIsYourLife Sun 15-Feb-15 15:14:13

Sounds like quite normal behaviour for a rescue coming into a strange environment to me. Mine was like this initially when I got her last year, I now cannot sit down without her jumping up on me, she's even recently taken to sitting on ds's lap-several months after we got her. There is hope, it's just a long process. You need to take it at the cats pace, no picking up etc, just let him come to you. One thing I did was leave her alone in the house quite a bit in the early days to let her explore her new environment alone.

cozietoesie Sun 15-Feb-15 15:18:37

You need someone like issey who has dealt with umpty ferals and semi-ferals but two days is nothing, really. Nothing - and what you've said sounds more like extreme shyness than a fear/dislike of people.

Is he eating/drinking and using his tray?

thecatneuterer Sun 15-Feb-15 15:19:07

Two days is nothing! If he likes being held and he purrs then he certainly isn't feral. It's just that everything is a bit overwhelming at the moment. Just give him time, let him take things at his own pace, and he will be a proper lap cat before you know it.

cozietoesie Sun 15-Feb-15 15:30:15

If it's any consolation, Seniorboy hid somewhere for weeks (we never found out where) when my Mum died and he came to this house. We just left him to it, putting out tasty morsels every night, leaving water and a tray for him and mildly checking in the morning that they'd been eaten/used. He seemed to come out only when everyone had gone to bed and he could explore the downstairs of the house - and he came round.

Now (6 years later) he's a total love and attention sponge. Don't despair.

DiaryOfAWimpyMum Sun 15-Feb-15 15:33:17

It could take some time but my male cat had been in an outside run before I got him and it took him a few weeks to feel totally at ease, he would come out then run back and hide again but now he's part of the family.

Take it day by day and I'm sure he'll be fine. smile

ShebaRabbit Sun 15-Feb-15 15:35:29

He's just scared of all the new smells and sounds, he can probably smell the dog too. Fosterer's house may have been quieter than yours. Use food in your hand to tempt him out, don't leave any in the room with him so you know he'll be hungry. Talk to him in a soothing voice and no sudden or fast movements and after a few more days he'll be running the show.

Invizicat Sun 15-Feb-15 15:35:45

Thanks for the reassurance smile

I know 2 days is far too early to worry. I suppose I was just a bit put out that I felt we'd been a bit mislead by the rehomers (and of course once we were in the fosterers home with cat basket in hand it's difficult to say no to such a cutey).

I was worried about the fact (myth?) that there is a 'window' of opportunity to tame a young cat and that if you miss it they'll always be wild. He has eaten and pooed in his litter tray at night so he's getting the right idea!

cozietoesie Sun 15-Feb-15 15:41:51

If he's using his tray, that'll make him more content. I'd have been a little put out by the cirumstances as well but that first time he quietly jumps up onto someone's lap will make it worthwhile. smile

At the moment, I'd just let him make the running and go about your normal family business. (Although ensuring that outside doors etc are closed.) Once he's accustomed to the noises and voices - and to your family's routine - he should become more confident.

ShebaRabbit Sun 15-Feb-15 15:43:18

There is a window but this cat has obviously been socialised with humans in time, otherwise you'd have no skin on your hands if you tried to hold him grin

A feral moved in with my house cats and happily lived in the house avoiding us for 6 years, we'd enter a room and so long as we stayed about 5 feet away from her and left her with an escape route she was ok. We had to don massive stove gloves to deflea her from time to time and much trauma was experienced by all parties.

Invizicat Sun 15-Feb-15 16:09:21

Thanks Sheba. No he's definitely not a biter/ scratcher which is excellent news for us all. (I still bear many scars from his charming predecessor, Grumpy Cat.)

fenneltea Sun 15-Feb-15 16:28:36

If you can pick the cat up without losing your arms then it will be fine!

I would just leave the cat to its own devices, chances are it will explore when it is quiet and no one around. I wouldn't physically drag it out from anywhere, but place food and litter tray etc further out into the room over time. I used to get a book and spend time in the cats room, just reading aloud to it, I felt stupid but it got the cat used to my voice and daily activities. He had been feral for a couple of years, but he is the biggest softest, cuddliest cat now! It took a couple of months for him to become properly confident and he's still frightened of visitors. I also used to take the dogs into the room on a lead, the cat could hide away if it wanted to and the dogs were restrained and would be told off if they did try to chase, (they didn't.) That gave the cat confidence and he loves the dogs now. The dogs know their place lol!

One of my other cats was a true feral, but even she will come for a stroke and sit beside me now.

Two days really is nothing, and even a confident cat can hide in a new home for a while.

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