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Cats/How do I handle a pet gone feral?


QUESTION: Hi: My daughter and I rescued and raised 2 kittens from the time they were 3 days old.  I took them to school with me (I am a teacher) and fed them with bottles, rubbed their tummies to help them evacuate: they were like our babies.  More than cats.  We had them for over 3 years.  We moved, got a dog, then another; and they both adjusted pretty well.  About 14 months ago Storm (the male) disappeared.  I grieved and was afraid he had been hit by a car.  Searched for him all over.  About 10 days ago, he showed up outside my house.  At first in front, but now more in the back.  I have been leaving food out for him.  At first he just ran away whenever I came near, but now he is not running when he sees me, but he still will not let me approach him.  He seems well fed, but is acting feral.  he eats, then yowls and runs off if I try to open the glass door.  He will now let me open the door, and has come back when I call to him.  (At first when I called, he would stop and listen, then run away, now he comes back, but still will not get close or let me pet him.)  There is a dog house in the back yard that my dogs won't use, so I am hoping that he is sheltering there when it is so windy cold and rainy.  Is there anything I can do to facilitate this process?  i want to get him to the vet, and take him inside and make him warm and safe, but I need to protect my other animals. :-(

ANSWER: Tricia,

If you can get this cat into a carrier, you can get him to a vet.  Sometimes abrupt changes in behavior can be due to medical issues, which is why a vet check would be important.  You may have to use a live trap to catch him!  These are available fro most animal shelters and humane societies.

The best approach to take with cats is to make any desired behavior seem like their idea. This may take some ingenuity, but is often achievable.

Why do you feel this cat may do harm to the other pets?

I am anxious to hear what develops.

Best regards... Norm.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Hi Norm: Thanks for answering.  I am not afraid he will harm my other pets, per se, it is just that he has not had his vaccinations or anything else in 14 months, so I don't know if he has worms, or fleas or any other communicable kitten had fleas and worms when I first got him...took him to the vet, had him de-wormed and got a flea treatment and vaccinations for him and had to do the flea treatment with all my other animals.  I don't think he will hurt them.  i miss him.  Wouldn't he be mad at him if i trap him?  He is getting so he eats the food I set out, but he still runs away if I try to open the sliding glass door.


Make up a room in your household just for him so he will be isolated from everyone else. You will have to regain his trust which is much easier if he is in the house rather than outside. So, although he may be non-plussed at being trapped, in the long run it should make reintegration into your household easier.  As far as vaccinations are concerned, depending on his age and whether he had yearly shots yearly after the kitten shots, he might not need any vaccinations against the most virulent viruses.

Before you do anything, first read:

It provides a really good recipe for (re)integrating a cat gone feral into an existing environment. I know it says Abyssinian, but the techniques provided work with any cat.

Please let me know how things work out.

Best regards... Norm.


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Norman Auspitz


I can answer most non-veterinary questions about cats. My particular expertise is pedigree cats, breeding and showing. However, I am versed in feline behavior, cat breeds and their characteristics, general feline husbandry, and the like.


I judged for the Canadian Cat Association from 1975 until 1982. I am currently an approved allbreed judge for the Cat Fanciers'' Association (the world''s largets cat registry), and have been judging for them since 1991. I have been breeding pedigreed cats since 1971 and have been exhibiting pedigreed cats in shows since 1970. I obtained my first pedigreed cat in 1970 and have never looked back. In 1971, I obtained my first Abyssinian which has become my primary breed. In addition, I have bred Manx and Persians. Currently, besides the Abyssinians, I am also breeding Maine Coons.

Cat Fanciers'' Association, inc. (CFA) and the Manx, Maine Coon, and Abyssinian breed councils. I am currently Abyssinian breed council secretary.

Cat Fancy Magazine, The Abyssinian Chapter in The Cat Fanciers'' Association Complete Cat Book, and Articles for various editions of The Cat Fanciers'' Association Yearbook

I received a B.S. from Drexel University in 1968, a M.Math from University of Waterloo, in 1970, a Ph.D. from University of Waterloo in 1975, and a MBA from McMaster University in 1980. I received my approved allbreed judging status in the Cat Fanciers'' Association in 1999.

Awards and Honors
We have produced a number of Cat Fanciers'' Association (CFA) National winning Abyssinian and Maine Coons. We have produced a number of Abyssinian and Maine Coon Distinguished Merit females (an award for a top producing cat), including the first Distinguished Merit Abyssinian in the red (sorrel) color. I am the CFA Abyssinian breed council secretary and belong and/or hold office in a number of cat clubs. I am also a member of the CFA Judges Association.

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