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Old 09-09-2016, 04:49 PM
 
Location: USA
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The 3 kittens look about 12-16 weeks old/3 months old. They don't look terribly scrawny. I found them today in the barn. I went out a few times to feed them cat food. And watched them from a distance as they munched on food and play around. They did quickly hide if I got to close to them.

Any suggestions to encourage them to be friendly when I go out and feed them? I was also thinking setting out an old, dirty t-shirt so they can get used to my scent. Would that help?

I heard once they're past 8-12wks. old it's nearly impossible to train them if they had no human socialization
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Old 09-09-2016, 04:56 PM
 
Location: Eastern Washington
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Feeding a cat is the way to make friends with it. I have fed and eventually "tamed" a few adult feral cats. I think your T-shirt idea is a good one, at worst it won't do any harm.

Where is the mom cat?

Just keep bringing food and you should be able to "befriend" the kitties.
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Old 09-09-2016, 04:59 PM
 
Location: St. Louis
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Yep, bribes will work more often than not. Don't expect them to be the fireplace tabby, but they may come to accept you as a resident in their domain. Play is another route to acceptance.
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Old 09-09-2016, 05:00 PM
 
Location: NJ
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It's absolutely not impossible to socialize them when they are older. It is just harder. Our most affectionate cat was one of the older feral bunch that everyone thought would be impossible to socialize- they called him "unhandleable" but now he is super bonded to me and is finally coming around to my husband/ company.

A lot of times these cats will bond to one person and a lot of people will say it's just to that one person but it is possible to train them that other people are sources of pleasure as well. If you are conscious about this/ aware and willing to put in the work then you could have some super sweet cats, but if they remain outdoors the best you might hope for are non-fearful community cats that will come close for food but not seek out affection.
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Old 09-09-2016, 07:14 PM
 
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It is tougher once they are past 8 weeks, but not impossible. I have a big old lazy furry buddy laying next to me on the kitchen table. We took him in when he was 6 months old. However, he was friendly to us outside.

I took in 3 12-week-old kittens years ago. 2 of them came around (EVENTUALLY), but the third one never did trust us, unfortunately.

Keep feeding them, don't make any sudden moves around them, and stand back a bit and observe them if they will let you. Some or all of them will get bolder around you over time.
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Old 09-09-2016, 07:27 PM
 
Location: Des Moines Metro
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I second the tee shirt suggestion.

OP, after feeding them for another week or so, you might take some hand sewing or bean snapping to their area and sit on the floor and do it. Sit there for at least 20 minutes. Do that over the course of several days, and you might notice several coming closer and closer to you.

When I lived on a farm, I made it a point to socialize the barn cats enough so that we could handle them when necessary. They got rabies shots regularly and I occasionally had to inspect a wound or the cause of a limp. I didn't turn them into lap cats -- these were working cats -- but bribing with food works for most.
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Old 09-09-2016, 07:30 PM
 
Location: Eastern Washington
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AndCatsForAll View Post
It's absolutely not impossible to socialize them when they are older. It is just harder. Our most affectionate cat was one of the older feral bunch that everyone thought would be impossible to socialize- they called him "unhandleable" but now he is super bonded to me and is finally coming around to my husband/ company.

A lot of times these cats will bond to one person and a lot of people will say it's just to that one person but it is possible to train them that other people are sources of pleasure as well. If you are conscious about this/ aware and willing to put in the work then you could have some super sweet cats, but if they remain outdoors the best you might hope for are non-fearful community cats that will come close for food but not seek out affection.
This is true and I forgot to mention it. The ferals that I have tamed as adults tend to be OK with me, but not so OK with other people. But I have not had any need to get them to accept other people so have not worked on that. Probably if other people bring them food, the same process would go on.

I like the way you put it - "absolutely not impossible" - that is to say the process can be done, but it's not easy and it takes time.
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Old 09-09-2016, 07:32 PM
 
Location: St. Louis
3,287 posts, read 1,458,035 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Meemur View Post

OP, after feeding them for another week or so, you might take some hand sewing or bean snapping to their area and sit on the floor and do it. Sit there for at least 20 minutes. Do that over the course of several days, and you might notice several coming closer and closer to you.
And be regular, same time every day. That way they will come to expect you and those that won't socialize can withdraw. The ones that remain are your potential converts.
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Old 09-09-2016, 08:28 PM
 
Location: USA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by M3 Mitch View Post
Feeding a cat is the way to make friends with it. I have fed and eventually "tamed" a few adult feral cats. I think your T-shirt idea is a good one, at worst it won't do any harm.

Where is the mom cat?

Just keep bringing food and you should be able to "befriend" the kitties.
I have seen an adult cat come around once in a great while. It could of been the kittens' mom. 2 of them looks a lot like the cat. However, not seen the adult cat recently. The kittens look old enough not to be nursed anymore
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Old 09-09-2016, 10:13 PM
 
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That can be a problem.

We had a feral cat. She wasn't ours but she hung around and she was best friends with one of our cats. We didn't feed her per se but I did put cat food out for my cats and I considered her needs. We tried to adopt her but she wouldn't go for that, or let us near her. She liked us, but from a distance. She would bring us presents of perfectly eviscerated mouse parts. I really liked her even though she was wild.

She had kittens and they were feral. We couldn't get near them to socialize them and we had to take them to the animal shelter where they may or may not have had a future. The kittens were gorgeous so I hope they were able to socialize them but we couldn't.

She was trying to move her kittens and one fell down the hill and we rescued it and hand fed it with a bottle. My aunt took that one and he was their family pet. He was really little when we hand raised him. He was still a little wild in his personality but he bonded with someone in the family and was a favorite to him.

It seems odd to me that is how kittens are. Their parents must teach them how to act. It is environmental, not genetic but is imprinted at such a young age.

I don't know if you can do anything with those kittens. You can try but then what? There are cat rescues who can maybe help you. We have that in our area now.
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