Feral Cats Can Become Domestic Cats

Feral Cats Can Become Domestic Cats

by Corie
(Nashville, TN)

Falcor at about a year old with his brothers.

Falcor at about a year old with his brothers.

I don't have feral cats in my neighborhood, but my cat Falcor was a feral cat. Falcor is a 12lb orange and white male. His mother was virtually a feral barn cat and his father was a stray that had turned feral.

I got him from a woman who was giving away kittens out of a box in a Walmart parking lot. The woman's husband had managed to catch the kittens and she was trying to find homes for them.

While I realize she was trying to do a good thing. Falcor was in terrible shape. He had fleas to the point of being anemic and had been in some kind of accident that caused him to lose full movement in his hips.

I already had two cats when I adopted him, but I had no idea what I was getting into. The first couple of days Falcor seemed normal, just sick.

Then he got better and his personality emerged in full force. He was terrified of me and my roommate and attacked my other kittens, even though they were four weeks older and much bigger than he was.

He wouldn't let anyone touch him, ran from us, and though he never bit either of us, he did scratch us to get away from us. I was heartbroken. I had never had a cat that hated me before, but with time he adjusted.

One day I was sitting on the couch and he walked up to me and rubbed against my legs. He wouldn't let me pet him, but I knew there was hope. He is now 3 1/2 years old and though he still shies away from me sometimes if I reach to pet him and startle him, he sleeps in the bed and with me, is completely attached to my other cats, and has regained almost full motion in his hips.

He will never be the kind of cat who sits on your laps for hours or follows you around the house, but people who meet him are always shocked to find out he was a feral cat.

Whenever I hear people bad mouth feral cats or talk about killing them I tell them his story. Most people believe that there is no hope for feral cats and their kittens, but he is living proof that there IS hope and all it requires is a little hard work and a lot of patience.

Thank you for your hard work to save these cats and your humane advice on how to handle them.

Corie

See also: Taming wild feral cats and kittens

From Feral Cats Can Become Domestic Cats to Feral Cats

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Feral Cats Can Become Domestic Cats

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Dec 26, 2010 Chester the Molester
by: Suzy

In 2005 after moving back into our house, "Chester a feral cat would show up, battered and bloody. He had an otherwordly meow, so when I heard it I new he was about to get into a fight or trying to mate. Id go running down the street like a crazy cat lady to break up the fight. It took about a 2 years to finally be able to pet him. (Boarshead deli chicken 9.99lb.) When I finally caught him, he hissed and scratched but didnt bite.
I had him fixed, shots, dental work etc. He stayed in my bathroom and became known as "Chester the downstairs bathroom cat". He would still come and go, but started showing up regularly for meals. Sometimes he would come in the house and spend the night. He'd had a rough life and looked like an old beater cat, but I adored him. The past year he settled into old cat status and was a fixture on my covered porch sleeping in his Chester bowl. He would let me pick him up and he finally started to purr. We had a couple more ferals move onto the deck(fixed them). They all seemed to get along well, with some minor spats. A couple months ago I noticed Chester was no longer spending the night on the deck, just dropping by for meals. I think he lost his place in the hierarchy. Just before Thanksgiving, I tried to catch him and bring him in because it was going to snow. He wouldnt let me
catch him. It snowed that night and I have not seen him since. Its been 5 weeks. Ive done everything one is to do. There are so many flyers up. one would think its Chesterville. I am devastated. I hope someone else has him as a pet.
We had a special bond. I felt his gratitude and I know he liked me. I knew one day he wouldnt come home and I tried to have kept him as an indoor only,but he would escape, loving the outdoors . Not knowing what happened to him is misery. Knowing that I gave him a few more years of life, lots of chicken and affection helps a little, I wish I would have done more. I would give anything to see him again.


Nov 24, 2010 It took 1 1/2 years, but it worked.
by: Melissa

I moved back home with my parents a year and half ago & noticed the same feral cat from the prior year hanging around. I started feeding him & talking to him. The neighborhood was divided on what should be done with him. He was a true fighter & hunter. Half wanted to kill him, half were feeding him. He had never let any of them near him & had "beat-up" several of their cats. In the first year I had to bring my own cat to the vet twice with bites from fights with either the feral or one of the wild animals that roamed our backyard. I was still determined to form a bond. He started allowing me to touch him, I realized this was the 1st human touch this cat had probably ever felt. He only stayed long enough to eat, but I made a habit of petting his head and talking quietly to him. It literally took a year of doing this for him to sit on my lap. He didn't make it the first time, but I coaxed him and finally he did it...on his own of course. It was then that I decided I was going to take him to the vet and get him neutered and have him get his shots. It took another month and half to catch him. I bought a new trap and he quickly learned how to walk over the trip ledge and eat the food and back his self out of the trap without getting caught. I eventually had him in my lap one day and I had a huge towel underneath him. I quickly wrapped him in a kitty burrito and managed to get him in a tall laundry basket and was holding tight onto the lid while he was like the Tasmanian devil, spinning wildly, hissing, scratching, etc. I had my mom drive and we went to 4 different vet's before one could take him. It was an eventful morning. The next day we went to pick him up and his ear was notched as part of the trap, neuter and release program for feral cats. Little did I know, I would never have to identify him as a feral again. That night I kept him in my room inside a kennel while he recovered. I decided to open the kennel and just see what happened. He, his name was now 'Darth Vader' and rightly so, slowly walked out...I talked soothingly to him and he meowed like crazy. That night he jumped onto my bed and I feel like he hasn't left since...and that was 3 months ago. Darth Vader has become a part of our family and will never be feral again. He has never used the litter box and still goes outside, but he patiently waits for me to let him back inside and he follows me wherever I go. He ended up being the biggest baby underneath all of that hard exterior. People ask how I did it, I say "with a lot of unconditional love, time and patience." He has caught a couple of squirrels since he has had the surgery, but for the most part, he is a big 'ol baby. He & my other cat still do not get along, but that is the next thing on my list...& the new stray that was apparently dumped in my neighborhood. My parents are warning me "don't even think about it..." but they already know I can't help myself.


Nov 14, 2010 Going to get Nurtured by vets
by: Ali

Hey Thanks for bringing up this story. I am completely against non-kill and I will always check an animal shelter out. (I have some cats of my own of course). There are a few local ferals round my area, they sleep in garages in the winter, but the problem is....trust. They run away when they see me, and there is only one that sniffs at me then runs away. They move around the whole time, but always come back to the same place....so it is impossible to feed them sometimes. They look a bit sick, and I am sorting out something for them. 🙂

Ali


Sep 01, 2010 Even older ferals can be tamed
by: Ruth (Monty's Mom)

There is a no kill cat shelter near my house. Many of their cats are feral (or ex-feral) cats and kittens. They participate in TNR programs which are now, finally, legal here. They have two cats, both over three years old, which they claim were completely wild when brought in. I said they must have once been pets and reverted to being wild, but the volunteers didn't think so. A truly, completely wild cat is a formidable creature and they initially put warnings on those cages. One cat brought in with those two was nuetered and returned, but the other two are completely docile. I watched the shelter worker stroking this huge, contented orange Tom cat sleeping on a square of carpeting on top of a cage and I thought about all the cats who have been killed because they were unadoptable. Not every feral can be tamed-- but some can figure it out-- being with humans means being warm and dry and well fed.
To Furby's Mom: My Monty is the same way-- always ravenous! He's getting a little pot belly.


Aug 17, 2010 The most loving of all my cats was feral
by: Georgina

I have posted a story of my own (My Straybies - stray babies and in it I mention how Albert, one of the feral cats I feed now lives indoors. You would never in a million years guess that he used to be feral, of course he is nervous around strangers (but aren't all cats) but with myself and my partner he is the most wonderful loving cat one could ask for. He loves nothing better than to snuggle up on the sofa or in the bed with us, he never stops purring and he is so good natured and friendly with my other cats. He always walks up to my other cats and as a show of affection,pushes his head against them that hard that he nearly knocks them over, they now realise that he's being friendly but sometimes they tell him off with a hiss or a swipe but he never once retaliates he just sits there purring with his happy little face.He's all white with a stripey tail and thats why I call him Albert coz he looks like an Albino. Bless him Its as if he knows I saved him from a life on the streets and he'll never let me forget how much he appreciates it.


Jul 14, 2010 The feral kitten dilemma
by: Finn Frode, Denmark

Hi Corie. First of all thank you for saving this poor feral kitten and bringing him back to good health. I'd love to see a more recent picture too.
One thing your story demonstrates is that recovering a feral takes lots of patience and understanding, but also that it can be done. And once you succeed, looking back at all the trouble just makes the cat even more special to you.
We must always remember that feral cats all descend from once tame domesticated cats and that they are therefore a human responsibility. They are not to blame for having been let down by humans.
Recovering feral kittens however presents a dilemma. On one hand the kitten should be left with it's mother until it is at least 3 months old in order to learn everything a cat has to know. On the other the kitten needs to be in human hands from a very early age in order to socialize well. With ferals both objectives cannot be achieved and inevitably the compromise will have it's backdrops.
I don't know what age is best for adopting feral kittens, but actually it doesn't matter that much either. Judging the precice age of a feral litter can be difficult and besides that action has to be taken when opportunity arises. It's no wonder if that dilemma sometimes results in problems later on, but I think love and patience heals a lot.
Your Falcor has adapted beautifully to his new life and companions. The fact that he has never become a lap cat does not necessarily have anything to do with his background, because not all cats are. My own Snow White doesn't like it either, despite being perfect in every other way. I miss it though... 😉

Finn Frode avatar


Jul 10, 2010 Hi Cori!
by: Joyce Sammons

My Furby is a former feral. He was almost starved the day I rescued him. Since then he's grown into a wonderful, loving, spoiled little man. The only feral parts left that I can see is his relish for food. He can literally drag a Cornish game hen off of a plate. He eats every meal like it will be his last.

He's very upset with me because I've had to start putting him in his carrier if we're eating anything easily snatched. He gets meat scraps I save for him at the end of my meal. He's not too happy about this new change in feeding.

When he first arrived home with me, he didn't know how to play bite. If there was something he didn't like he didn't know how to give a warning nip. He would bite and not let go. He has since learned how to behave on this.

Me and you are both lucky to have reformed ferals. And welcome to the site. I haven't seen your name before and I try to keep up.


Jul 10, 2010 Feral Friends
by: Merrily

The Red Boys were neighboorhood cats when I moved here two years ago. They were in pretty bad shape and had been taking care of themselves all of their life.
I learned that they were born in 1999, and were neuterd as kittens by a neighbor a block away, and for some reason the two boys took it upon theirselves to move away.
They lived in a secluded back yard and survived by catching birds, and begging wherever they could.
They were not friendly, but would come to my house for a meal and then return to their yard only to show up at my door when they were hungry again.
I started talking to them, and Big Red was facinated, I would call his name as he walked by my door, and he would stop to listen.
Little by little they would come closer, and soon they would let me touch them, even though Little Red was cautious.
A couple of weeks ago they moved into my yard, I don't know why, since I have been feeding them for two years, but they made the choice.
Yesterday I was sitting in my yard and Big Red jumped onto my lap and put his front paws on my shoulders and looked into my eyes, as though to say.....We are friends and I trust you. What a wonderful feeling to see such a transition.
Little Red is still cautious, but the other morning I found a gift that he had left at my door, a little bird, Little Red is the hunter of the two, and I am sure this was his way of saying we are friends as well.
Time and patience will bring many feral cats to be friends, after all they just want someone to love and care for them, and they will be more than happy to return the favor tenfold.


Jul 10, 2010 Thanks
by: Michael

Thanks, Corie, for a quality article and an inspiring one. I hope it saves some lives.

Michael Avatar



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