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Old 06-29-2013, 10:43 PM
 
Location: Chapel Hill, N.C.
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In light of Hopes new baby I started thinking about the use of the word feral. I know what a feral cat is but if a kitten is born feral and at a very young age is rescued and loved and cared for doesn't she stop being a feral kitten? I have a friend who has taken in a few ferals as young kittens but she still refers to them as My Feral Cats when they are now 2 years old. Everybody expects to see some wild unsocial group of strays only to be greeted by what appears to be domesticated and tame house cats.
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Old 06-30-2013, 04:47 AM
 
Location: Pennsylvania
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I guess my criteria would be if it's comfortable inside.

All this feral cat stuff is new to me, since Potamus showed up about 2 yrs ago. I don't know if she was born feral ( a lot of barn cats locally) or was dropped off but she'll only come in in winter, or when it's thundering. Mostly she wants out. Desperately. Emphatically. (Note to self: start looking for new curtains)

One of her 'kittens', adult now, if very friendly outside. When I picked him up from getting fixed, they said he was someone's pet that was dropped off. Nope-born feral on my porch. I can pet him, hold him for a minute or so. I cannot rub his belly, nor will he have anything to do with coming inside. (Note to self: fix window screen) I consider him feral.

I don't know if there's any definite criteria but your friend's cats don't sound feral to me. Glad she adopted them.
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Old 06-30-2013, 05:18 AM
 
Location: Boonies
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I have never used the term feral cats, kittens. Growing up we called them wild kittens or a wild cat or barn cats! We always adopted these kind of cats when I was growing up and even as an adult. We never would have thought of going to buy one. We never had any issues with them and they made the nicest cats. My son recently had some born under his house and they are so cute. He just kept going out to play and talk to them and they are as friendly as can be. Luckily they all found good homes!
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Old 06-30-2013, 03:35 PM
 
Location: Cambridge, MA
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Seteria and her five siblings were born around the start of spring last year because I couldn't get their mother - Blaliko - TNR'd soon enough. From what anyone can tell Blaliko had begun her life as somebody's pet only to be either mistreated, to the extent that she escaped when she got a chance, or more likely abandoned when her uncaring owner(s) relocated or decided she "wasn't worth the trouble." It took some ten months from when she made her debut appearance on my property to her allowing for quick furtive ear scratches. Once she was TNR'd her full acceptance of me followed quickly and we're living happily ever after.

But, back to Seteria. Due to her being the type to "hide behind Mom's skirts," over a dozen attempts to capture her for TNR failed. All of her litter-mates were caught within the time frame for being readily adoptable and (I hope) are in 1-5 happy "forever homes" elsewhere. Not Seteria. After over a month of trap dodging on her part it was getting to be ridiculous. And I knew my city's Animal Commission had other things to do besides bring a cage and bait to my address only to leave with it empty at the end of the day, over and over again. So in mid-July '12 I managed to corral Seteria within a section of my place. (Keeping windows closed on a hot summer day was worth it. ) After trashing part of a bedroom and the basement - and hurling herself against window panes in that scary way ferals do - she was netted and vetted. Following a hostile reception lasting several days from her mom when she came back home, for which Blaliko was absolved after I learned the reason ("She can't be sure it's her by smell"), Seteria moved in for keeps. Well...sort of. From the middle of July well into September she persisted in not letting me approach within any less than about two feet although she had NO problem eating/drinking/snoozing inside. It's due to this that she couldn't have been taken for adoption; her "feral" or whatever-you-want-to-call-them instincts had kicked in. Over time, though, tentative overtures were accepted and Seteria was won over too. Today mother + daughter + human are a family.

The answer to the original question is the same as it is for most questions about felines' changing their behavior: "When they get good n' ready to." I have no doubt that Seteria's transition was a great deal faster thanks to Blaliko's having set an example by adopting me. ("If Mommy is OK with getting her tummy rubbed by that big animal - she's even purring - then it should be OK for me too. But let me take some notes from a safe distance at least 35 more times first." ) Other wild-born kittens might adapt within a matter of days. Still others might never completely come around for the duration of this life.

Parents of humans do the same thing (far more often the mothers, there's no denying this. ) To wit: "Jennifer is our most beautiful, expensive, and valuable wedding present. She was conceived during our honeymoon!" "Loren was our change-of-life surprise - born two weeks before my 49th birthday!" For the sake of the child it's obviously best that this kind of talk be done away with before their infancy is over. But we all can tell stories of when that didn't happen. The OP's friend's pets will always be "Her Feral Cats" just as "Jennifer" will always be thought of as a wedding gift and "Loren" will be the change-of-life shocker. What matters is that they have loving homes. And where the felines are concerned they of course couldn't care less how they're labeled!

Last edited by goyguy; 06-30-2013 at 03:43 PM..
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Old 06-30-2013, 03:48 PM
 
Location: Pittsburgh area
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Seems pretty simple to me. If the cat's main behaviors and actions are similar to those we would expect from any pet domestic cat, then it can no longer really be regarded as feral, regardless of its origins. Plenty of kittens born outside become house pets. They are not any more feral than a kitten born inside someone's house.

I'm sure there are many cats who exhibit some in between behaviors that make for tough classifying, but with a kitten who starts being handled so young, the fact that it was born outside to a feral cat becomes irrelevant once it is interested in being around people and can use a litter box and other similar such things. With a young kitten such as the one Hopes picked up, the problem isn't so much that she was born feral as it is that she doesn't have her own mother around to teach her things. Take a 4 week old kitten from an indoor cat mother and I think you'd have all the same problems.
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Old 06-30-2013, 04:50 PM
 
Location: Somewhere
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I'm sure this woman knows her cats are no longer truly feral. It's probably just her way of referring to them. I could also see her using that term when trying to explain where her kitties came from versus where they are today.

You will see in a lot of my posts I refer to mine as feral...well...because they were when I found them and still to this day (almost a year later) have some of their feral tendencies/instincts. I also don't like to refer to my cats as cats. I tell my husband all the time...they are not cats......they are kittens.....and always will be to me. So even when they are 18 years old I will still probably refer to them as my kittens. Don't ask me why...because I don't even know why :-) I just like calling them "My Kittens".
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Old 06-30-2013, 07:10 PM
 
Location: Chapel Hill, N.C.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NRaleigh Mom View Post
I'm sure this woman knows her cats are no longer truly feral. It's probably just her way of referring to them. I could also see her using that term when trying to explain where her kitties came from versus where they are today.

You will see in a lot of my posts I refer to mine as feral...well...because they were when I found them and still to this day (almost a year later) have some of their feral tendencies/instincts. I also don't like to refer to my cats as cats. I tell my husband all the time...they are not cats......they are kittens.....and always will be to me. So even when they are 18 years old I will still probably refer to them as my kittens. Don't ask me why...because I don't even know why :-) I just like calling them "My Kittens".
Probably similar to how Mamas call their 50 year old children "My kids".
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Old 07-02-2013, 12:42 PM
 
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I think many retain various degrees of feral characteristics. It really depends on each specific cat's personality and/or how old they were when they were acclimated to people and indoor living. After a certain age, they can't be readily tamed.

My girlfriend has never had a feral work out. She says they all escape and run away eventually. She'll have them for a few years and one day they'll escape and never come back. Their desire to be outside and wild is just too great.

Then there is a childhood cat we had that lived in our basement and only came out at night to eat and use the litter box. He never got used to being around people.

I don't think we'll ever refer to Bobbles as feral, unless she does something really freaky that can't be explained otherwise.
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Old 07-02-2013, 04:17 PM
 
Location: SE Michigan
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I really think it depends on the individual cat; many simply never become truly "tame." I have two indoor cats and one was a feral kitten born to a feral mother near my last house. Gorman now lives inside and is very bonded to my other cat, but I cannot pick him up and he is three years old. I can pet him and he enjoys that. Nobody else can get near him; he disappears when people come to my house. Extremely skittish.

On the other hand, a litter of four kittens was born near my current house, also to a feral mother, last year. I did what I could to get them tame, using lots of canned cat food and sitting outside while they came around to eat and getting them used to being near humans and touched. Only one of the four ever really became tame, right from the start as a little kitten he was braver and more willing to be friendly....I did find him a home. The other three are still around and used to me (despite my trapping them all and getting them neutered) but...I cannot touch them.

But in the above cases the kittens were 5-6 weeks old before they ever encountered humans and that early imprinting really sticks, I think. Of course: for a wild animal (or feral cat) being extremely fearful and wary is an essential survival tool!

I've also had a couple of kittens that started out feral but I got them before they were weaned so I bottle-fed them and they imprinted differently and were no different to any cat born and raised with human contact.
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Old 07-03-2013, 10:50 PM
 
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Five of my six cats were feral kittens we were given or found. You'd never know it now. Takes no time at all to win their trust and love, just good food and lodgings.
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