View Full Version : Dear God ... What Have I Done????

12-04-2002, 11:02 PM
I am very upset, confused, and even ashamed. To explain ... here is an e-mail I just sent to the lady who sent the little foster kitten (Giles) to my home. I could really use some feedback here!!!!

Hi Linda ....

I'm sorry, but I just don't think I am "the one" to handle a feral cat. Poor little Giles is literally climbing the walls in sheer terror and screaming at the top of his lungs! He even tried to force his head through a small gap in the upper boards of the kennel, trying desperately to escape from me!!!! I am almost in tears, I cannot stand seeing an animal so frightened and lost and confused. I just believe that some of God's creatures were meant to be free. To keep him confined, to please us humans, is to me a terrible torture to this poor baby. I have read that many ferals are never tamed.... do we really have a right to interfere here? I have to ask myself that ... I honestlly feel in my heart that the best we could do for Giles, and those like him, is to trap/alter/release! Although they may not live as long a life as they would in "captivity" ... they will at least live a life and existance that is comfortable and natural to them .... but the numbers of unhomed cats will be declined due to our compassion in having them altered.

Please contact me asap to determine what we should do next with Giles .... he is also causing my bunch stress, which they already were having, and I was already beating myself up over. I am really feeling like I myself have interfered too much trying to "save the world" and now I'm reaping the price for what I've sown. I love my kitties desperately, and only want the best for them ... but is life in a huge, competitive, ever-changing environment truly the best for them? I am no longer sure.

:( :( :(

12-05-2002, 02:55 AM
I'm very sorry that you are having this experience!!! What ended up happening with the email? I think that every once and I while there will be a cat that just can't be tamed, but God bless you for trying to give him a home where he could live a long healthy life. If he's meant to be free, then that is what is meant to be. But not every feral are meant to be free, and we still have to try. Imagine if he DID tame, and you hadn't tried! Plus, sometimes ferals were once loved by people, and just want to be loved again. Rescuing animals is a very noble job, so please don't be discouraged. If nothing else, he will be altered to help with the kitten population.

I will keep you in my prayers!!! Good luck!

12-05-2002, 05:33 AM
awwww.... my heart goes out to you! i dont have the answer here, each case is so different.....do let us know how you work it out....i am sure pt people will offer suggestions......let me know how it all works out.

12-05-2002, 05:48 AM
I had this experience 15 years ago. I took 2 kitties (about 3 months old) from a farm in my apartment and they climbed the walls. They even tried to dig a hole under the door in the concrete floor under the carpet. After a week of horror I gave them back to the farm.
Since then I have looked that my cats came from a situation where they had known people.
On the other hand with my first Grisette it was a good experience. She was afraid and as I said before lived under the kitchen cupboard for 3 weeks but then she started to live with us and to be social.
I hope everything turns out well for you, the kitten and your bunch.

12-05-2002, 08:47 AM
Oh Kim,
I am so sorry this is happening to you!!!1 You can only do what you can do, and ONLY you know what that is. I will say that patience does sometimes win out, and maybe this is too soon? But, I am not there with you, seeing/living what you are. I can't sit in judgment - none of us can. Please hold on...

12-05-2002, 09:55 AM

I have to agree with Cataholic. It is WAY too soon. I'm sorry you're having such trouble. Socializing a kitten CAN be done. But it does take time and patience.

Is there anyway you can put the kitten in a cage in a spare room away from your other kitties? If so, put him in there and leave him be for at least 24-48 hours except to feed, water and scoop his litterbox. If possible, leave a nightlight on and soft, classical music playing.

After that period, go in and sit on the floor. Read out loud to him. Don't make eye contact with him as that is taken as a threat by cats. But whisper softly to him. Asure him that everything will be okay. Keep doing that. Once he sees that you are the one who is feeding him, he'll begin to come around.

How old is he? I know how difficult and frustrating it can be. Usually the older the kittens are, the more difficult it is to socialize them. But it can be done. Sometimes it takes a while (anywhere from a month to 6 months to a year, depending on how feral they are). Cats also pick up on human's vibes, i.e., stress, anger, etc.

I had 3 feral kittens that I rescued just before I moved to Michigan. I put all three in a cage in my spare room. Everyday I would go in and do what I suggested you do. I talked to them softly. Eventually I could make eye contact and I slowly blinked my eyes while whispering to them. Then I started to pet them while they were in the cage. At first they hissed, but eventually they started to purr. Out of the three, only one remained feral. Ozzie and Deke got great homes and are very happy loving kitties.

Grumpy Dave is on a farm in CT happy as a clam to hang out with the rest of his feral buddies.

Do not beat yourself up over this. It's nature's way. If you feel that you can't devote the kind of time that's needed, IT'S OKAY!!! You do what you have to do to keep peace in your kitty family.

If you want to call me, I'll PM you with my phone number. My e-mail is [email protected] Don't hesitate to e-mail or call me.

Hang in there and please, let me know what's happening.


12-05-2002, 10:36 AM
Oh Kim, you're certainly in a difficult situation, but I agree with the advise you've got so far. I don't know how long you've had the cat inside, but it takes a while to tame a cat - I know from experience!! I was very resistant when we first got Fister up from the yard and would let him out at the least sound of complaint. I do think that forcing a cat is quite impossible - and wrong, but with patience you may succeed. I wish you the best of luck! :)

12-05-2002, 11:06 AM
Thank you all so much. I do have Giles in a separate enclosed area ... complete with a large kitty condo and a built- in perch. He doesn't seem to be troubled by my cats ... everytime I go in there, he is lying comfortably on top of the condo. It's totally me that freaks him out. He did the same thing this morning, and finally when I managed to corner him on top of the condo, I gave him a tuna treat "peace offering" ... and he gladly gobbled it up.
I have been making eye contact with him (a mistake, apparently) but I do blink my eyes slowly at him, as I did know that was a loving glace to cats. Uugh.... I guess I will either blink constantly (hehe) or never look at him.

Giles is approximately 5 months old ... so yes, he has had a long time in "the wild".

Thanks again for all of your advice, support and concern.

12-05-2002, 11:22 AM
I agree with moosmom. I believe you can socialize a feral..it just takes lots of time and patience and the older the kitty is, the more of each that's required. A separate area is a must. I took in Scout at 11 weeks. He was feral. Would run from you, hide, hiss horribly if you tried to pick him up.

I kept Scout in the bathroom for the first week. Little eye contact was made. He was forced to spend time with me. Lots of chicken baby food was consumed. I even read to him whatever book I was reading in a soft voice so he could get used to the sound of me. You mentioned finally being able to corner him and gave a treat. You might want to consider confining him to even a smaller place such as a bathroom to work with him until he gets a little more comfortable around you. Scout didn't have anywhere to hide in the bathroom and had to be near me. Within the next couple weeks...now confined to the bathroom and kitchen, I held him a lot. He didn't like being held and would struggle if I was sitting down..but was ok if i held him as I walked around.

It only took a few weeks for him to be lovey towards me, but he was younger than your kitty. All I can say is lots of time and pateince. The more time you spend with kitty...even if he's screaming is best. Eventually he will start to associate you with good things like being fed and treats. Good Luck!

12-05-2002, 11:31 AM

It sounds like you're already making progress!!! He'll come around, I can guarantee it! Especially since he's in a room with no other cats.

A good friend of mine who has a miraculous way with ferals once told me that when socializing a cat or kitten, put all your love and heart into it. The cats will know.

One of the things I did in order to get a kitten used to being handled is to "papoose" him. If you can, wrap him up in a towel with just his head exposed. This way you also prevent yourself from being scratched and him from running away. Pet his head, whisper to him. Handling is a great way to socialize a cat too.

I think you're on your way to making a friend. Tuna doesn't hurt either :D . You'll truly know when he's come around when he jumps up to be petted and gives you head butts.

Good luck hon!

12-05-2002, 12:41 PM
I may be way off base here, because I don't have cats and never have, but, I know that at our SPCA they have a cat that is feral and they've had her for 3 years now. I know that when I sat on the floor over there that she decided I was ok if I ignored her and let her do the investigating. She eventually decided I was so OK that she climbed up in my lap. Please keep in mind that she had been there for 2 years when that happened.

I agree that you've obviously made progress. If the little guy is comfortable enough to lie on the kitty condo, he must be not nuts in the house now. Maybe if you sat outside of the room and just talked softly to him (without making eye contact) a few times a day, eventually he wouldn't be so freaked out and you could move forward. Like you said, he spent the first 5 months of his life in the wild and you've only had him for a short length of time. I would think that it may take a couple of years to get over it and perhaps he never will, but will enjoy the house enough that he can live in the house and have a long and happy life.

However, like Jo and Donna said, YOU are the one in the situation and have yourself and other cats to keep in mind. You need to do what's best for yourself and your other cats.

12-05-2002, 04:16 PM
Originally posted by mugsy
I know that when I sat on the floor over there that she decided I was ok if I ignored her and let her do the investigating. She eventually decided I was so OK that she climbed up in my lap.
This is what I was going to suggest. Just walk in and ignore the little one. Read, talk softly on the phone, lay down, WRAP A PRESENT (that'll get him REALLY interested), anything that is non-offensive towards Giles. Completely ignore him, if he comes over to you, don't address him, just sit there and look away or look anywhere but his eyes.

If he came to you for a tuna treat, that shows a lot of potential. I have a friend who feeds ferals and they wont come near her when she is filling thier outside bowls.

Keep us posted on what you decide on doing.

Take care. :)

12-06-2002, 01:38 AM
Don't give up!! I just got a Feral cat two weeks ago. He is about 7 months old.

When he first can in the Animal Hospital at about 3 months old he was crazy WILD!. He had been stuck on a barbed wired fence hanging by his arm pit! He had maggots all in his 10 in gash.

But anyway I work for a wonderful vet who decided to treat this crazy kitten anyway. We had to muzzel him every day to clean it out! His wound finally healed but we still had to work onhis personality

To make a long story short NO ONE at the hospital thought he could be tamed! But I got this feeling from his eyes that he wanted to be nice but he was just so scared. So everyday I would just talk to him. Then walk away. After a while he seem more relaxed I started to give him his food but i would leave my hand on the dish and he would look at my hand then take a bite and I would let go and leave. After a while I could leave my hand there till he finished eating. Then I started to just put My hand in his cage without food and just leave it there. Soon he would come close to my finger to smell it...i would leave. I repeated that till I was able to touch his nose(I only got scratch once b/c I pushed him too fast) Over A while I would pet his nose for longer and longer. Then I started to touch his foot. So on and so on. I just kept adding a body part I could touch one step at a time.

3 months later on a sunday I was touching his foot when he started to purr. I started to cry. I was so happy. And on that day he let me touch his back and even rolled over on his back and let me touch is belly!!!!!!

Ever since then hes gotten friendier and nicer by the day. I couldn't part with Hooligan (his name) so I adopted him. I swear he is the nicest cat I have ever own. I love him so much. He gives me kisses and rubbes my face. He even loves the dogs!

Not every Feral cat will become friendly. but give the kitten a chance. He still is young. It worked for me and who knows Giles might come around one day too.

hope this helps


12-06-2002, 03:08 AM
that is just the sweetest story with the most wonderful ending...a forever home for hooligan.....just love that name....will we see any pictures of hooligan?

12-06-2002, 08:55 AM
My parents had a cat many years ago that was feral. They were camping and found Ketsy deep in the woods. My dad managed to catch her, and they took her home.
It took many months of patience before she would allow anyone to touch her. The first few weeks were the worst, as she would become very angry whenever she saw my mother or father.My parents kept her in a spare room, and would try to spend as much time with her as she would allow.
Ketsy never was a really cuddly cat, and she hated to be picked up, but she was very affectionate in her own way, and was devoted to both of my parents. She died at age 15, which I would guess is probably twice what she would have lived to in the wild.

smokey the elder
12-06-2002, 09:32 AM
I got Mouse at 3 months. She was a totally wild kitten. I put her in my "kitten room" where there is no place I can't get to her. I would pick her up with gloves on, then hold her close to me so she could hear my heart. Then I'd start petting her. After 2 days she would let me hold her and didn't scratch. I think I was successful since she was very young. Anyway, with kittens it may be useful to "force" the issue a little bit.

After a month Mouse got a new home and was a totally mellow purring mush.

Good luck!:)

12-06-2002, 12:44 PM
I really hope you hang in there. I adopted a semi feral cat Minnie in July. She stayed in my basement, hiding. I never saw her, unless I went hunting for her. I would have welcomed her upstairs, but, she absolutely would not come anywhere near me. Like you, it was ME that she was terrified of, not the other five cats. Would you believe it wasn't until OCTOBER that she finally came upstairs, and now hides 100% of the time under my bed? While it is frustrating for me to move so slowly, it is HUGE progress. Minnie is at least 1.5 years old. She was part of a trap/spay/release program. The group decided she wasn't feral 'enough' for the environment, so, to my house she came. The first time Minnie leaned into my hand to be petted, I cried. The first time she played with a toy while under the bed, I cried.

Just the other day I decided to close the other cats out, and keep minnie and I in the room togehter at night. I moved up a litter box (yes, into my bedroom), and of course she has food, under the bed. I have yet to see Minnie in anything but a crouched position. I lay on the floor and pet her, and talk to her. She normally always lets me do it, though she could scoot away from me. I put a pile of catnip under there, as well as some treats, and some toys. When I came back from work, they were all gone!!! So, progress is being made, slowly- but it is so rewarding.

Please hang in there!!!!!!

12-06-2002, 08:43 PM
Originally posted by Lillycat
that is just the sweetest story with the most wonderful ending...a forever home for hooligan.....just love that name....will we see any pictures of hooligan?

Yay of course. I am trying to get a picture but my camera doesn't take pictures very well in the house(no flash) so all the pictures are coming out black:( I also want to post a new thread about Hooligan when I get a picture. So I am tryng.

Thanks for the nice comment. He really his the best cat I have ever known!!!!!!!!

12-06-2002, 10:02 PM
How heart warming! And I hope it's inspiring for Kim. She's got to be down right now. Ferals can be so difficult to develop trust for humans in (sadly, for good reason sometimes. :().