I love feral cats. My first feral was “Josie,” a tiny kitten, so young she crawled. My daughter found her on the campus of a local college and brought her home.
I fed Josie kitten formula through a syringe. She bonded with me quickly but was skittish around others, men in particular. She thought I was her mother, apparently. She was extremely possessive.
Josie felt safe and never tried to get outside. Lived a long time. Meanwhile, I saw a calico kitten in the parking lot of a shopping center. Set a trap three times before I caught her. Had her spayed and vaccinated right away and named her “Abigail.”
She is still with me. She’s shy but loyal and has a “passive-aggressive” personality. I trapped “Harper” some years ago. He is either a Maine Coon, a Ragamuffin, or (most likely) a mixture of several breeds.
He is the most feral of all the cats I’ve caught and kept. Over time he has become domesticated and sweet. The funny thing is that my other cats are afraid of him. Harper thinks he’s tough, so he gets right in their faces, and they back away.
The most recent feral that I have trapped and kept is “Pickles.” He is a large, short-haired black and white cat. After about 8 months, I caught him in the cat trap, had him neutered (as with all my cats), vaccinated, etc.
He has adjusted better than any of my ferals. He has become very domesticated and occasionally jumps in my lap. He “talks” a lot. Every feral has a different personality, I’ve never had a feral that I couldn’t domesticate. I’m in favor of TNR. The only thing is that I bond with the ferals and wind up keeping them. Some of them become lap cats.
I live in the woods, so it’s not unusual for a feral cat to come around. Feral cats usually appear at night and are frightened of people. Patience, time, food, (especially food), and TLC will turn a feral into the sweetest, loyal animal you can imagine. I have four cats.
By the way, if you have more than one cat, make sure that you have more than one litter box. Ferals are very easy to litter train, but they are also territorial.
Hi Sheryl… thanks for your useful article. I changed the title to one people search for, “Socializing Feral Cats”, which is what you do very well indeed it seems to me.
I am impressed with your skill and patience. It shows true concern and love for our fellow animals.
I wrote a post about taming feral cats and kittens but it was not based on first hand experience although I do have first hand experience of dealing with semi-feral cats.