Saturday, April 27, 2013

Socializing Tips for Feral Kittens



Feral kittens in our care
Socializing a feral kitten is easier than an adult cat however the taming process does take time. In order to be successful the trainer must remain calm and provide the cat with positive energy. 

Charlie and Notti are feral kittens that were rescued when their mother was injured and we needed to take her in for emergency care.  The two kittens suffered from being separated from their mother.  When our veterinarian examined the kittens he advised me to release them because he found them too be too wild. 

I do not always do what I am told and did not give up on the feral kittens, even thought the socializing period was traumatic.  The kittens had not been weaned and we had to trap and cage them to feed them. 

The kittens did not like being handled by a human and they spit out the formula.  Along with their behavior issues they were both crying loudly for their mother.   

Both kittens showed improvement within a few days as they did not fight us when my husband and I tried to feed them. They were dependent upon us and were adjusting to their new surroundings even thought they were still a little scared.

Socializing Progress Report:
The feral kittens are dependent upon me and are getting friendlier.  The orange tabby kitten that I call Charlie has shown me some affection; sits on my desk and watches me while I work on the computer.  Sometimes he will tap my hand with his paw before running to hide behind the trashcan.  Notti will walk close to me and rub her head on my leg. 
6 week old kittens playing/ Notti on top

Both kittens were introduced to small catnip toys and a cat scratcher.  The toys enabled me to interact with the kittens and to build a stronger bond of trust.


Friday, April 26, 2013

Communicating With Feral Cat

Feral cat resting in a field
Feral cats are terrified of humans and thus communicating with them must be on their terms.  The best way to communicate with a wild cat  is to understand and respect the animal and then take time to allow the cat to trust you.

The feral is an animal that has been born outdoors and has no contact with humans.  When a human crosses into the feral cats territory the cat will react in defense by hissing, snarling and in some cases they will show you their claws.  In cat terminology this means " I am afraid of you please stop and do not come any closer"  or " I have kittens close by and I must protect them from all predators."  The feral cat is not viscous they are merely trying to protect themselves.

Feral cat hiding in brush
I have been caring for a feral cat colony since 1999 and in that time I have come in contact with many feral cats.  In my observations at the colony all cats get along when the energy is positive but when a cat displays a negative or nervous behavior then all of the colony cats are on edge.

In my studies of the feral cat I have found that they are welcoming to other animals into the colony as long as the animal comes in peace and is not threatening.    A perfect example of this is a raccoon kit was observed sleeping with feral kittens.  I have observed first hand feral cats and raccoons living in the same territory in peace and harmony.

Cautious feral cat
A human to a feral cat is a predator and is not to be trusted.  Most humans when they approached a feral cat is abrupt, children run toward the cat, humans talk loudly and body language is not calm.  The feral cat detects that the human is threatening.



Take steps to communicate with the feral cat by allowing the cat to become accustomed to your scent and your energy.  Achieve this friendship by bringing the cat food and water at a feeding station. 

Set up the food at a safe distance.  If the cat’s colony is 50 feet away then turn off your phone and walk slowly to 25 feet and set up a feeding station.  You may not view cats in the area however they are well aware of your presence and watching you from afar.   Put down the food and step back 25 feet and sit calmly and quietly.  While you are sitting you may read a book, but you may not text or talk on the phone. 

It takes time for a feral cat to approach the food station. When the cats comes out of hiding and approaches the food station do not  make direct  eye contact as the feral cat will view this as hostile.  Look at them indirectly and keep your body calm. Any excitement or rise in your body temperature will communicate a threat to the feral cat.

It is helpful to think of situations where you are petting the feral cat and talking to the cat softly.  Think that the cat is purring and is showing you that they like you petting them. These thoughts will project positive energy which will comfort a feral cat.

Tips

Repeat these steps daily but instead of moving away 25 feet from the feeding station, move one foot closer to the cat each day.  By doing this you are communicating with the cat that you come in peace and that you will not hurt them. 
The feral cat accepts you by eating the food that you bring to them.   Your calm and caring energy will communicate with the feral cat and in time they will trust and depend on you.

Remove the food bowl after the cat walks away.  Approach the feeding station slowly with your eyes looking toward the ground. Feed the feral cats daily at the same time.   

If you are too close to the cat they will like hiss at you. This is the cat communicating to you that you are not in a safe distance.  Move back slowly four or five feet and sit calmly.  If the cat hisses or snarls at you then this communication is a warning and it is best that you move further a way. 

Take digital photographs with a zoom lens at safe and non threatening distance. Taking photographs of feral cats in the wild is enjoyable as it shows how loving and caring they are with each other in a colony setting.