Thursday, August 18, 2016

Socializing Kittens

As promised, I have better kitty pictures because they no longer hide under the bed or in dark corners. We've had them now for almost three weeks and it's interesting to watch and learn their personalities. They are still not sociable, preferring to be left to themselves than to be with us, but they know that we bring them food and will come near us to eat. They also love to play and get so engrossed chasing a piece of fleece on a fishing rod that they forget we are there. I pick them up when they are well fed and sleepy and oh, how they purr!

 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

 

This is my first experience socializing feral cats and I could cry (oh, who am I kidding, I do cry). I miss having a cat in bed. Or on my lap. Or on my papers or trying to type. With my other cats, within a week of adoption, they had the run of the house and they *owned* us.

Some things I'm learning about socializing feral cats (and the jury's still out on whether we're successful with this pair).
1. Go slow. Try not to rush the interaction. Best thing is to sit with a good book while they go about their business so that you become a natural presence to them.
2. Give them a limited space where they will be comfortable, but still accessible. Too much space too soon and you'll never see them. We had these kittens in Dagny's room but they quickly figured out that we couldn't reach them at all under the bed. Now they are in our bedroom/bathroom and it's so much easier to pick them up. 
3. Withhold food once they get used to the surroundings. Feeding time then becomes special and you can use food to encourage them to come near you.
3. Have special treats for new experiences. These kittens love salmon off the grill, so much so that bad boy Benny growled at Jules. Funny how he's the alpha cat even though he's a runt. 
4. Do disturb them. Pet them while eating. Pick them up. The sooner they associate the human touch with food, the better.
5. Play with them. Kittens love to play. Tucker them out and then pick them up.

And consider yourself blessed if a cat deigns to come to you of its own accord. I'm still waiting ... Pray for them.

And because Catholics have a saint for every malady, there's even a patron saint for cats! St. Gertrude of Nivelles.

Our shelter and vet have been very helpful and I also found this excellent website on taming feral kittens.

3 comments:

Mirka Breen said...

Heart melting.
One of our three was a feral who was trapped and traumatized by this, before being rescued, (after three days without food) and brought to the city shelter. What socialized him was one of our other adoptees who was of similar age, a stray who loves humans, and outgoing but not aggressive. Brother helped brother to learn to trust us. To this day the former feral hides when anyone else comes to our home. But of the three, this once-feral baby is the one most attached to US. Outdoors, he's the first to run and greet us, meowing loudly until he gets a "Hello" back. He is also the one to sit with us and place his paw on top of us in a kitty-hug.
DD is his absolute favorite. She's off to school in another part of the country most of the time. But this intelligent (and discerning!) guy just has to hear the sound of her voice when she comes home and he comes running, and sticks to her like glue.
Our "feral rescue" story^. It works, and yes, it's different from taking in most strays.

Bless you for working on this.

ClaudineGueh@CarryUsOffBooks said...

Oh, they will come to you soon, Vijaya. Cats love humans even though they pretend not to. I've only had two cats and they were both stray cats. Love your darlings. More pictures whenever possible, please!

Vijaya said...

Mirka, it is soooo helpful and hopeful to read your story, that time can heal all wounds. Although I've not been able to pet Jules while she eats, she gets close. And of course, she has no idea that when I'm under the blanket, it's my toe she's trying to bite! Thank you so much for your story. I love it.

Claudine, this morning I had the unexpected pleasure of Benny boy putting his paws on my bare leg for no reason except perhaps to garner some pets. It was easy to gather him up to my heart. And Jules, watching from just a foot away began to purr as well. I'm so glad to know you also have a couple of stray cats. (And now I'm thinking of that band).