This is a video from a feral cat rescuer Maria Tories on TikTok. TikTok allows people to download videos. In this instance I have trimmed the video slightly to reduce the file size. The educational aspect of the video is that we see a plastic fork being used by Maria to stroke the head of the feral cat who has been taken in from the outside to a cage inside her home where she is gradually introducing this cat to human life. This cat was a long-term feral. You can see than in his/her appearance; sort of beat up and messy.
And the safest way to start this process is to stroke with a fork or some other similar object which allows the socialiser to touch without using their hands for safety reasons. And what’s nice about the video is that Maria stops using the plastic fork and starts using her hands without the cat knowing about it. This is the transition from not being able to touch a feral cat to using the hands. The start of a long journey. The cat will feel the hands. A different sensation. It is the start in building up trust.
You can see the slightly calmer facial expression and behaviour of the cat after being stroked by the fork followed by the hand. The treatment is working already which is nice to see. And I also like to see her using the back of her hand as this creates a softer form of touch while at the same time protecting the fingers. The back of the hand is less sensitive than the fingertips. This is a precautionary measure in case the cat suddenly loses his nerve and strikes out.
The big word when socialising feral cats, as I’m sure you recognise, is “patience”. Everything is done slowly, progressively and gently. Feral cats distrust any other animal except some cats in their colony including the human animal because they are potentially dangerous to them. And they are correct. Humans are dangerous to feral cats. You have to overcome this distrust and it takes time depending upon the cat’s personality.
Sometimes it might take a few months and other times it might take 18 months. And I suspect that you never quite end up with a fully-fledged domestic cat. Yes, they are domesticated and they make a good cat companion but I think it is fair to say that you will see moments when a hint of their feral cat upbringing comes to the top.
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