any feral cat people here? I have a question!

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Guspuppy

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So my uncle has a feral cat that had kittens about 6-7 weeks ago. I am thinking of taking one of them in to tame into a house cat. My dilemma is that I have a dog. He grew up with a cat in the house until at least the age of one, I can't remember exactly when my cat did not come back one day. He's got a high prey drive but I'm pretty sure he would not hurt a kitten, just want to play with it. So my question is, will a feral kitten ever tame down well enough to endure a big scary predator housemate?

I have a dog crate I'm planning to use to confine the kitten until s/he starts to get tame, and I have a cat hole cut in the basement door from my last cat so cats always have a safe place to escape to if needed. (And I keep the litter box down there when a cat is in residence!)

Any advice if I decide to go forward with this plan?
 

Steve85569

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IF you get the kitten as soon as it can be weaned - yes. You need to be as quick as possible about it though so the cat will imprint on you and adopt the dog. Just my experience.

We have a semi feral cat the was dumped at about 12 weeks and it took us a couple months after we discovered it to get it up to the deck to eat. She will NOT come into the house without a LOT of screaming and clawing so she lives outside. We feed her when she come around and we managed to trap her and get her fixed. She's cute and we don't have gophers in the yard.:mrgreen:
 

mx6inpenn

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My husband worked in a shipyard many years ago. Tons of feral cats that had babies. He used to bring home abandoned babies that we bottle fed. We ended up with 8 or 9 at one point. Never had any issues with any of them.
 

crispysoap

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We picked up a feral kitten once. He stayed with us for about three years before he took of. He would come back to eat occasionally, but we haven't seen him in about 2 years now. As for the dog, if he accepts the kitten it probably won't take long before the wee feral runs the roost :)
 

JuneP

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If the feral kitten is around and handled by humans, it won't be feral. Even ferals can be tamed. I tamed one several years ago, through food and affection which developed trust. It took a long while but I just started putting food out and putting it closer to the house. And when I'd see him I'd speak as sweetly and softly as I could, and made sure he would see me putting out the food. Eventually I got it up to the front porch; and eventually I sat on the porch and he came would come up with me sitting there;and after a while after that, he came and rubbed against me, showing his trust. From there, I was able to pet him and then eventually pick him up.

Unfortunately he grew so close to me he got very territorial and almost killed my other other cat Bonnie, so I wound up taking him (Tommy was his name), to our vet and paid for him to get all his shots, get altered, and the vet kept him until someone would adopt him. He said that he'd make a great barn cat. He was a big, beautiful, tiger boy! It broke my heart to have to give him up but I had no choice. I tried to keep him in my studio for a couple of days but it was like prison for him. :-(
 

fuzz-juzz

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Both of our cats were feral as kittens.
Boy is a huge cat, possibly Maine Coon (or similar) cross. He's a great people's cat and we never had any issues with his behaviour. He's goofy, playable, loveable, smart, overall an awesome cat.
However, girl is also great cat appart from few issues.
She is very timid, our family members are only humans she trusts.
When visitors come, she's fine with spending 2-3 days straight under bed.
She's scared of unfamiliar noise, if she's about to eat and there's some noise outside, she will happily walk away, leave food and look for a hiding spot.
She can't play with male cat without fighting. I'm not sure if that's the 2 cat thing, as we never had 2 cats until last year... but they either spend their time apart or if the male tries to play she goes all crazy, hissing, claws out etc..
Otherwise, with us she's really great, she wants to play, loves her toys, she loves pats, likes to cuddle on the lap etc.
She loves bugs and will chase them all day long. Also birds, she spends half of awake time looking through windows and dreaming about chasing them.
They are both desexed and live 100% indoor. Girl has no desire to go outside, boy on the other hand is obsessed. We take him for a short walks outside with a leash but I'm not comfortable with them living outside as we live near some very busy roads.
 

cmzaha

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I had a feral cat years ago that blessed me with two litters before she tamed enough for me to crate her and spay her. She was very feral and tamed down. The kittens were fine. I have a cat now that was feral after a neighbor moved and left her, she is sweeter than the cat I have had as a kitten, the was feral cat even loves the grand kids. The only drawback with her is she has to stay outside because she sprays even though she if spayed. I think that comes from being feral
 

JuneP

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If the feral kitten is around and handled by humans, it won't be feral. Even ferals can be tamed. I tamed one several years ago, through food and affection which developed trust. It took a long while but I just started putting food out and putting it closer to the house. And when I'd see him I'd speak as sweetly and softly as I could, and made sure he would see me putting out the food. Eventually I got it up to the front porch; and eventually I sat on the porch and he came would come up with me sitting there;and after a while after that, he came and rubbed against me, showing his trust. From there, I was able to pet him and then eventually pick him up.

Unfortunately he grew so close to me he got very territorial and almost killed my other other cat Bonnie, so I wound up taking him (Tommy was his name), to our vet and paid for him to get all his shots, get altered, and the vet kept him until someone would adopt him. He said that he'd make a great barn cat. He was a big, beautiful, tiger boy! It broke my heart to have to give him up but I had no choice. I tried to keep him in my studio for a couple of days but it was like prison for him. :-(
 

kchaystack

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Check and see if there is a TNR (Trap, Neuter, Release) program near you. If you can take in all the kittens and the momma and have them all fixed, then let them go it would be a big help in keeping feral populations down, even if you adopt 1.
 

lenarenee

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No problem taming a feral cat at that young of an age.

It's the strong prey drive of your dog that concerns me. I grew up on a farm and had tons of indoor, outdoor, feral, tame, cats and dogs. It was the calmest, quietest, patient dog that - when left alone with a cat - attacked it.

I don't volunteer at the shelter any more, but cats were not placed in homes where the current dog hadn't already proven he was not a threat.

Prey drive is driven by instinct, and many aspects of cat's (especially kitten's playfulness) behavior like darting, twitching tail, and running are triggers.

I wish you success if you try this! But don't let them alone for many weeks if not months. And, unhappily, be prepared to have to give one of them up.

Oh, and don't get the kitten declawed (for many reasons). But a claw to a dog's nose can earn a lot of respect and may be key to having them get along.
 
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cmzaha

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Check and see if there is a TNR (Trap, Neuter, Release) program near you. If you can take in all the kittens and the momma and have them all fixed, then let them go it would be a big help in keeping feral populations down, even if you adopt 1.
We had a similar program here, which is how I got my, semi feral cat (Squeegee) spayed and shots. They just accepted donations. They are only feral because no one takes care of them. As mentioned above most will tame with time and patience
 

Saponista

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My in laws have a feral kitten that was abandoned on a roadside and left to die. When you take them in young and handle them a lot you can definitely get they used to humans. Nutmeg still isn't as friendly as their other cat darcy, and spends a lot of time roaming outside, but she still likes being stroked on her terms and isn't scratchy or aggressive with humans.
 

dixiedragon

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Talk to a vet, but the sooner you get them the better. We got feral kittens at about 5 weeks old. We were going to bottle feed them, but they took to wet kitten food right away.

The key is a LOT of gentle human contact. hand feed them. Pet them while they eat. hold them gently. Sit in the room where you are keeping them and read quietly so they can approach you.

Our once-feral kitten lives almost 100% inside.

As for the dog, I might get flamed for this...but you may want to consider a shock collar. Since the chasing and the barking go together, that's been the best way that we taught a dog with a VERY high prey drive to stop chasing the cats.
 

Guspuppy

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Thanks everyone! You give me hope! :) I had planned to keep the kitten in the dog crate on a table by my chair so it would be in my presence all the time (while I'm home of course) and the dog would not be able to get to it at all. I would of course cover the crate and give it a box or something to hide in as well. Also, my uncle feeds his feral colony and the kittens of his favorite cat come onto his porch to eat, so we think I could catch it fairly easily with a wet food offering. The kittens are still nursing but they do come up on his porch and eat the dry food. The kitten I want has no tail at all, not even a nub. Somewhere in the family history was a manx, mama cat has about a 1/3rd tail and her kittens range from no tail to full tail and everything in between. Mama cat comes into his house to eat canned food and he can pet her so I have NO IDEA why he won't get her fixed!! My uncle has been talking about spaying the mama cat for years and I have told him I would take her in if he set up the appointment and paid for it (we have a low-cost place close by) but he lets inertia set in. :thumbdown:
 

newbie

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Kittens can certainly be socialized easily so that is not an issue. I have a breed of dog that generally has a very high prey drive. Some have taught their dogs the command "Gentle" to let the dog know how to behave. If a cat is confident, it will teach the dog as well. Using an ecollar is another idea. I have ones that have a vibrate feature which is very good at halting bad behaviors. I try not to use the shock as it does hurt, although in matters of safety, like running into a road or going after a cat, I would use it. Both vibrate and shock can be very effective deterrents to bad behavior but I would never use them to try to form good behaviors, like using it to teach sit or shake.
 

DeeAnna

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Here's a video that might help:

[ame]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vHrHBZIA5h4[/ame]
 

Guspuppy

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I've watched hundreds of dog training videos and that guy is REALLY good. I'll be watching more of him! Thanks for that DeeAnna!

ETA: we are going to try and catch the kitten tomorrow. I'll post a pic if we manage!
 
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