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Old 06-28-2014, 08:46 AM
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Default Tips for socializing feral kitten?

I guess some small part of me was hoping the kitten's initial behavior was due to the stress of the day. Alas, not so. His behavior is fear based, but he chooses to sit and hiss and growl and swat versus retreating. He will retreat, too, but only as a last resort.

I've dealt with hissy, skittish kittens before, but never something to this degree. Hearing a full on cat grumble growl coming from that tiny of a throat is just wrong. The only way I was able to reach into his cage this morning and change his food and water was by dropping a towel on top of him (which quieted him down and kept him from moving).

For right now, he's in a secluded part of the house (the garage, actually) to keep his stress levels low and the dogs away. He keeps crying, but there isn't anything I can do about that. :/

My question is, how long should I keep him secluded? Would it be better to bring the cage inside so he has more exposure to things, or will that just make things worse? On a similar note, should I be taking things on his basis (don't interact with him if he doesn't want to interact with me), or should I do some forced interaction? (Picking him up in a towel and holding him, or something, or wearing gloves so I can clean his cage without needing to toss a towel on him?)

Also, how soon should I start to see improvement? Or, in other words, when will I know it is a lost cause? He's only around 6- weeks old or so, so I'm assuming he can learn to come around in a few weeks? However, trying to find a home for a feral kitten/cat is going to be...impossible and if he continues to be too fear aggressive (weeks later)...humanely euthanizing is probably going to be my only option. I wasn't sure at what age they were too "engrained" in their behaviors to not be able to make much progress, or if there was no way to know until you try.
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Old 06-28-2014, 08:51 AM
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I would let him in the house and out of his cage for periods of time (in a room where he can be easily caught again) and just let him come to you.

I caught and cared for two semi feral (one warmed up really quickly, the other was as you describe this one) and that is how I got them to become social and friendly. I just gave them time. It took less than a day to get the male to trust me and the female took a few weeks of daily interaction with me. Finally she would cuddle with me, purring and happy every time she saw me.

p.s. I did hold her in a towel for a while before I would let her loose in the room so that she was kind of forced to have some physical contact from me. Pretty quickly she would actually start purring as I rubbed her head.

And the kittens were about that age/size when I found them so I don't think his behavior is too ingrained yet.
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Old 06-28-2014, 09:47 AM
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For the little feral guys I've worked with, ignoring them and keeping them in a safe but traffic-ish area (we used the kitchen) was what worked for us.
Eventually the curiosity gets the best of them, and they tend to come out of their shells on their own once they are used to our schedule and no longer freaked over water/food/litter changes and no longer are freaked we are gonna reach for them (the trick is to NOT try to pet/touch them during those times, don't force it)

Oh and try to sit in their area and doing something quiet (read a book works) and let them come out. If you do a few minutes of this every day with some treats by you...you are going to notice him getting braver
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Old 06-28-2014, 10:08 AM
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Only problem of bringing him inside is going to be the dogs. Abrams is large, bouncy, and loud, and any normal traffic area is going to have him in it. :/ Otherwise, I think it would work nicely. I don't have a place that is normal traffic for us that I can block off from the dogs and still have room for a crate.
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Old 06-28-2014, 01:15 PM
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Patience & caution. You don't want the dogs to get scratched by the cat.
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Old 06-28-2014, 03:15 PM
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What about a bathroom? That way the kitten could have quiet space, you could close the door to keep the dogs out, but it's a room that gets frequent traffic throughout the day. Maybe even put a doggie gate or two gates stacked on top of each other in the door way.
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Old 06-28-2014, 03:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheGatorGal View Post
What about a bathroom? That way the kitten could have quiet space, you could close the door to keep the dogs out, but it's a room that gets frequent traffic throughout the day. Maybe even put a doggie gate or two gates stacked on top of each other in the door way.
The only bathroom that would work is our master bath - the crate won't fit in the other (I'm not really even sure the crate would fit in the master bath, to be honest). *Maybe* in a closet in the bathroom, but I don't think my husband would enjoy having it in his bathroom.

The garage will just have to work for now. The door is in the living room, so I know he can hear us puttering around inside. Hopefully that will be enough for now, coupled with me spending time out by his crate with him.

Poor guy keeps yowling, and I can't figure out if it's because he's just so scared or if he's injured in some way.
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Old 06-29-2014, 07:59 AM
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I would keep the crate where it is but bring him inside a few times a day and set him loose in the bathroom or your bedroom for the socializing part. The kittens that I mentioned above stayed in a dog crate in our air conditioned shed when I didn't have them loose in my room for social time.
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Chloe - 8 y/o Dachshund/Chihuahua | Violet - 2 y/o Siberian Husky
Rest in peace - Holly (Siberian Husky)|Misty (Siberian Husky)|Princess (Silky Terrier)
Forever in my heart - Dixie (Yorkshire Terrier)|Lucy (Silky Terrier/Yorkie Mix)
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  #9  
Old 06-29-2014, 09:22 AM
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I think we may move him to a smaller crate (Cynder's) and bring him in to the living room and set him on top of a cabinet that currently is just holding all of our "grab this on your way out the door" things. That way he's up off the floor and will be in the main part of the house. We'll just cover part of the crate so it's not as open.

He saw Cynder the other day and didn't flip out like I was expecting, so he may nor mind the dogs being around as much as I thought.
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Old 06-29-2014, 10:26 AM
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Personally, I would set the bathroom up as a kitty room - all the resources in there including a couple of small crates with the doors off or boxes that he can choose to hide/sleep in, but I wouldn't keep him IN a crate unless I had to move him in and out of the room regularly for some reason. The more choice and control he feels like he has, the better. If you must keep him in a crate, put a hiding box inside the crate along with everything else.

Then I would go in there a couple of times a day with a good book, laptop/tablet, or whatever will entertain you and just hang around completely ignoring him. He'll probably hide a lot, that's ok - let him. IME if you push these little guys, you set yourself back and it takes way longer. He needs to learn that you are SAFE above and beyond everything else before he can even think about making friends with you.

At this age, these feral kittens can be hard to win over and he may never be a snuggly, loves attention cat. But there's no reason he can't learn to feel safe and comfortable with "his" people.
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