Flower My Feral Cat

Flower My Feral Cat

by Deb
(Boston, Mass)

Flower my feral cat

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Flower my feral cat

I have already posted the story of Flower, however I do have other questions. She will follow me around the whole house all the time and lay near me but when I pet her she attacks me. She does not attach all of the time but most of the time. Is this because she did not have socialization at a young age. She is just over two years old.


Hi Deb, thanks for posting. I think this is a tough one. I hope other people provide advice too. These are my thoughts.

Certainly yes, one reason that she might "attack you" when you pet her is because of things learned as a youngster in the same way a lot of our character is formed when we are young.

However, this would seem to be more than just a lack of socialisation. An unsocialised cat might hide etc but not actively dislike stroking and touching for an indefinite period. She may have had some bad experiences as well.

It may fade a bit in time. And you may be able to change it in gradual small steps. I am not sure what type of "petting" you are doing. She may accept some types of attention and not others. A certain type of stroking etc. may be similar to a negative experience she had and she is therefore defensive when it is repeated.

I would be surprised if she rejects all forms of stroking and touching. You might like to find a type of stroking/brushing/combing etc and an area that she finds acceptable.

Does she bite you when you stroke her? Is it as simply as that? I am not sure how strongly you are stroking her. A very gentle stroke in a certain area, say the shoulders or on top of the head may be acceptable to Flower. These are what I would call the safer areas.

I think that it is possible for Flower to at least partially unlearn what she has learned earlier in life but the challenge (to retrain her) may be a little steep but time and gentle training should produce some positive results I would hope. I think too that we have to be careful that we don't reinforce bad habits by stroking our cat in a certain way that is unacceptable and then admonishing our cat. I am sure you aren't doing this but it may happen in some homes.

Are there other cats by the way? These may be a factor. Sometimes too there may be an underlying health issue. She may be tender in an area, something that is not obvious. Soreness of any sort can lead to an aggressive response if the area is touched. Even, for example, a flea infestation can produce irritation in an area. You might explore this by gently seeing if one area is sensitive. Cats are good at hiding health problems as we know. I would certainly check this one out carefully.

Another possible underlying cause might be stress, just general stress caused by any number of reasons. It might be the fact she is indoors and used to being outdoors for example. Other possible stressors are: a change in her lifestyle, noise, other cats, other people. You might like to think what she gets stressed by (if this could be a reason) and eliminate the cause. Some people recommend natural human products like Bach's Rescue Remedy to help relieve stress in cats.

There is also behavior called re-directed aggression. This is when a cat is aggressive towards something but expresses towards someone else. For example she might want to attack a bird but can't and then you stroke her and she attacks you instead. But this would not seem to apply here.

Flower my feral cat to Feral cats

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Flower My Feral Cat

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May 14, 2010 Flower
by: Kimi

How is Flower doing? I have a feral cat that I found as a kitten and he also loves to follow me and lay next to or even on me and he will sometimes attack me when stroked. It used to be terrible he would bite and latch on. I have been able to train him a little. When he bites I do say No firmly once but not yelling, just in a firm low tone and I sit him beside me. At first he would continue to attack me until I left the room. Now when he is ready for me to stop petting him or is not in the mood he will give me a little warning bite and I will stop whatever I am doing and he is fine, however there are still times when he gets frightened and will bite into me but they are very rare now. I have had my cat, Fuzzy for 2 years now.

Oct 27, 2009 Flower may bite because...
by: C. Kennie

Flower may bite because before you saved her, someone may have coaxed her over and patted her and then hurt her in some way. She has lost the ability to trust and is starved for affection but too scared to be hurt again to trust you.

I cat-sat for a lady and her cat was a beautiful silky black cat, named, Bella. Bella would put her teeth on you in a light bite if you tried to pat her.

After a week she was sitting on my lap purring and kneading her paws. She was still easily frightened but loved the affection.

I would keep patting her for very short times and stop and leave the room as soon as she bit. I did the continuously all during the time that I was with her. I always kept my voice soft and I moved slowly. I got her to eat her favorite canned food out of my hand. She was loke a totally different cat...she just needed to regain her trust. I wish you all the best with Flower.

Sep 23, 2009 Flower has already taken the first step
by: Finn Frode, Denmark

Hi Deb. The fact that Flower follows you around the house and lays down near you, means she has been able to bond with you. That probably must have been quite a step for her and is worth remembering when things otherwise don't move so fast.
I don't have any feral cat experience, but feeding time is probably the best time to touch any cat and gradually accustom it to being stroked. Of course never hold a threatening han in front of a cat and always talk in a friendly voice - which I reckon you already do. πŸ˜‰

Your Flower looks real cute with that diagonal split of black and white in her face. With your patience I'm sure she'll take further steps towards becoming a real house cat. Good luck to you both.

Sep 23, 2009 Flower
by: Ruth

I'm sure she will come around with time and patience, you sound such a kind understanding person. It makes me sad doing cat rescue when cats are past being tame-able as they have such hard short lives as ferals.
I think Flower probably knows how lucky she is !

Sep 23, 2009 Flower
by: Deb

Thank you for your comments. She will allow me to pet her sometimes. I think I just need to be patient with her. When she lived outside with her family, they lived in a quiet wooded area in my friends backyard. She was the boldest I might add when coming up on the deck to eat. I hope with time she will come around. I have had her indoors for almost a year now and although enjoys sitting in the window and watching the outside world it does not seem to bother her being inside.

Sep 23, 2009 Flower
by: Ruth aka Kattaddorra

Flower is absolutely beautiful ! I agree with all Michael says but would like to add, with cats like her, whether feral or abused, sometimes they feel threatened at us towering above them.We do look like giants from a cats viewpoint.Maybe as you reach down to pet her it reminds her of someone hurting her.I once actually got down on the floor for a morning and looked at life from a cats perspective (yes many people think I'm mad but I'm past caring ha ha ) and since I did that I try to approach cats without spooking them,by getting down as near to their level as possible so they don't feel threatened. Maybe if you try this with Flower for a while you'll find a big improvement.My friend/neighbour took in an abused cat a short while back and she's taken up residence on the bathroom windowsill,she was absolutely terified of us at first but as often as I can now I go and sit on the toilet seat so I'm lower than she is and just talk to her quietly.She now lets me reach up and stroke and tickle her.
Good luck.

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