Feral Cat “Marvin” Becomes a Domestic Cat

By Dorothy Wandruff (DW)

Domesticated Feral Cat

Marvin snoozing on the sofa like a typical domestic cat. Photo by DW.

Marvin, has been officially living with me for over a year now. It is his choice, of course. He spent the first ten years of his life as a colony cat turned TNR cat. He made the transition from feral cat to human-friendly cat quite easily, I am told. In my opinion, he was already top cat and had no reason to fear. He is confident, which helps in making the transition from feral to domestic.

A very wonderful woman, much like our Dee, was feeding Marvin with many other cats on and around the local school property every day. Year after year.

I moved to this town seven years ago, which was a year before I met Marvin. I was walking Daisy early one morning and I heard what I thought was a blood curdling cry of a cat being murdered. I secured Daisy quickly, and ran around the corner, not knowing what I’d find. It is quite rural here, so it could have been anything from a coyote to a cougar!

As it turned out, there was a lady there, with a huge bag of cat food. I asked her what were we hearing? She said, “oh…that’s mine. He’s just loud and happy about breakfast.” I introduced myself. Oddly, her name Is Ginger, and the cat she was referring to, and who she called Orangie, is now my Marvin.

We walked and talked and she told me about the story of getting control of the feral population at the school. I was intrigued. I offered my help any time she needed it. I told her about the yellow cat I was feeding in my back yard. She told me what she knew about Yellow.  She said that Yellow rarely came to feed with the others and that she was a great hunter. She was known for catching rabbits in the school grounds. She was happy to know that Yellow was being taken care of by me.

Yellow cat a beautiful feral cat

Yellow cat. Photo by DW.

After a few years, I was doing the feral cat feeding during the weekends. Marvin and I became fast friends. In just about six months, he started following me home. Ginger had said that the school administrators wanted her to spend less time with the cats. As a result she was worried Orangie was getting lonely. So, I told her I was willing to take him full-time and that he was ready to stay at my house. She was thrilled, but teared up just the same.

Marvin a feral cat now domesticated

Marvin and DW.

Marvin at scratching post

Photo by DW – that is one awesome scratching post and it is really nice to see him use it.

The rest is history, except for yesterday when Marvin came in early, as usual….then never left the house until nightfall. He fully accepted the noise of the house. The banging around in the kitchen, the phone ringing, the moving here and there and all things normal in a busy house. It made me so happy. Today it rained a little, and he has been inside all day as well.

If this keeps up I’ll have to get a second litter bin!


P.S. Another photo of me and Marvin

Associated post: Taming feral cats

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Feral Cat “Marvin” Becomes a Domestic Cat — 33 Comments

  1. I loved reading about Marvin and Yellow and seeing all your photos too, what beautiful cats they are and Marvin looks so content in your arms!
    Are you and Ginger still friends? What a lovely lady she sounds and so do you too. How wonderful that Marvin stayed in all day, he must feel really ‘at home’ now

  2. Yes, I shared pictures with Ginger all the time. She is so happy for Marvin. A couple of the teachers at the school are not happy. They got used to Marvin hanging around. They miss him. It is just across the street. I’m told he visits sometimes.

    • He must be a great favourite at the school, at least he goes to say hello to the teachers sometimes, they should be happy for him that he has a wonderful forever home.

        • This is great Dorothy, wow I didn’t realize he has admirers who miss him all around. That Marvin is a hell of a guy! He has chosen the perfect place to retire. I’m sorry that Daisy passed though – I am guessing since they liked eachother and even had evening walks together that it may have been hard on Marvin to lose such a special buddy.

          I couldn’t be happier for him and you – I really think Marvin is a special cat and I think he pretty much has a perfect setup. He is in the area on his terms actually. He moved in with Dorothy cuz he wanted to. He still has fans around and goes and says hi to them. All this in California where the weather almost never bites you on the behind – good for Marvin and good for you Dorothy. I must say I am jealous. 🙂

  3. What a lovely story about Marvin moving in with you Dorothy, he obviously trusts you very much you’d never believe he was an ex feral by the way he’s sitting there in your arms, he looks so confidant. Nice that as well as having his freedom he also knows he can stay in if that’s what he chooses, he’s a gorgeous cat, do you still feed other feral cats at the school at weekends? Yellow is lovely as well what a bonny cat.

    • Yellow is beautiful. She is proof that cats have their own mindset about humans. To this day, I have never stroked her lovely fur, except by sneaking one in when she is distracted snuggling Shadow when they are about to eat. She will give my hand a sniff that includes touching with her nose..but that is as far as it goes with her.

      Ginger’s group of cats has dwindled down to just a few. Proves that TNR works over time. It has now been 15 years since she started that program. The colony never started up again. In this neighborhood anyway.

      The thing that is so thrilling about this turn around with Marvin, is that until two days ago, he would grace the inside with a visit, but you had to stay engaged with him, or he would ask to leave. Or be nervous if the door wasn’t opened at all times. What it was that in one day made him change his mind is a mystery. He slept, like any cat would. I could pet him when I wanted, and he behaved like any domestic cat, then went back for another snooze! Very interesting I think. It is early morning here, and he is on the sofa next to me. Day three!

      • Please keep us updated Dorothy. What wonderful progress you’ve made with Marvin staying in so long!
        Yes it’s proof that TNR works, given time, those feral haters who say it doesn’t just use it as another excuse to kill them.

  4. How strange, he must have just decided suddenly to be a pussy cat, I’m so glad for him and for you, if he’s sitting beside you he’s obviously at home. Is it warm where you live Dorothy?

    • It is the middle of winter now, but it is warmer than usual. We get quite a bit of frost in winter. But it is considered a warm climate. Not warm like Florida. Marvin lived outside for years during the cold, cold winters. I don’t think the weather tipped him.

      • He looks like he has a lovely thick coat anyway which would have kept the worst of the cold out. In the photo of him at the top he looks like he’s smiling, I think he’s just happy that he’s made the decision.

      • He looks very robust. Made for the outdoor life. I don’t know his age but the smart cat comes in from the cold at a certain age and wants some comfort just like people. Perhaps he has decided domestic life is for him because he is a little too old to cope well outside.

  5. Both Yellow Cat, who is a beautiful long haired dilute red tabby feral cat (wow) and Mavin are fantastic examples of feral cats/stray cats and how beautiful they can be and how much pleasure they can bring to a person.

    Marvin is so impressive. He is Mr. Solid, large and a real boss cat.

    The photo of him with DW shows how much of a boss cat he is for me.

    • Yes, it is the same one you gifted someone here years ago. I got it from amazon as well. He went right to it. I corrected him many times in the beginning, by moving him from the sofa to the scratcher. It was a game at first…but he got it eventually.

  6. Sometimes it seems that ferals or semi make the transition suddenly. In actuality, it’s been in the works a long time. Don’t think for a minute that Marvin hasn’t had his eyes on and tested you time and time again to see if he could trust. You have done a marvelous job with him. Congratulations.
    Yellow is much more difficult and hard to get to since she’s glued to her “trust buddy”, Shadow. But, she seems happy to me, and that’s what counts.
    Is Marvin still messing some with Shadow?

    • Yes, but not quite as actively seeking Shadow out. I think peace is in the making. He certainly has not driven Shadow from the feeding trough, or the heated cat house. Lol. Peace at the moment! And that is good.

  7. DW, that is wonderful. What an enchanting kitty. He is gorgeous.

    Not only are you blessed with an amazing cat, Marvin was smart enough to find you.. I love happy endings.

  8. Marvin looks exactly like my Morris who was as wild as they come about 18 years ago. After A LOT of patience and love I finally convinced him life is good on the inside. He is now 20 years old and the most devoted lap cat I’ve ever had. I see him age and it makes me sad but I’m just so happy that he picked me to live with and the joy he has given me over the years cannot me measured.

    • Wonderful comment Linda. It is such a positive cat story and I love that. You confirm what we always hear that it takes a lot of patience to domesticate a true feral cat. I love orange tabbies by the way.

  9. I also have a stray yellow tabby named Marvin. He’s the best companion animal I’ve ever had or hope to have. Now I’ve finally transitioned him to complete indoor cat. Enjoyed your story.

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