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awatkins
04-01-2006, 03:34 AM
Hi everybody,

Seems like we have a cat. :) She showed up a month or so ago and was so skittish we couldn't get close to her. Since we didn't see her often, I figured she must be a neighbor's cat who was just visiting. Then she started hanging around more and running toward us when we called her. We started putting out food for her and now it looks like maybe she's adopted us.

Here's my question: she'll rub all around my legs and ankles, going round and round in a circle, purring like mad. If I reach down to pet her, she runs away. As soon as I straighten back up, she comes back to rub on my legs again. But if I sit on the back steps (where we feed her), she'll let me pet her. She still shies away some, but as long as I let her lead, she is agreeable to being touched. Do you think maybe she was abused or mistreated? Could that be why she's shy about being touched?

She's a pretty little thing - a gray striped tabby with yellow-green eyes. I hope she stays.

veinglory
04-01-2006, 03:58 AM
The most likely thing is that she has never been extensively handled--either feral of raised by people who did not interact much with the kittens during their 'sensitive period'. Cats not handled as kitten remain easily startled especially when being gripped by hands (it's an innate anti-predatory response). I would suggest nobody attempt to life her up and you use a series of gradual steps moving in that direction. For example sit and get her to lean up on and sit on your lap, hold and briefly lift her paw, then patting and resting your hand on her back and so on until she get used to being touched and handled--reward with praise and treats, try and stop as soon as she started getting tense (before she startles or flees). This is a slow process and semi-feral beginnings tend to never to totally overcome an aversion to being bodily lifted up but they may be okay with riding on your arms or shoulders without being held.

If she is reacting to active abuse then the aversion should fades away pretty quickly just with time and normal friendly interactions with people.

awatkins
04-01-2006, 04:05 AM
Thanks, Em! I was hoping you'd see this. Very interesting insights, and they make a lot of sense.

By her behavior, I think she may be a drop-off. Her coat is immaculate, clean and shiny, and besides being very skinny when she first showed up, she looks to be in good condition. Since we've been feeding her, she's gained some weight and doesn't look so bony.

I've been afraid to do more than just pet her, though she did roll over on her back yesterday and let me rub her tummy. So far, I'm the only one she's gotten this close to. She did take food from my husband's hand, but she immediately ran away with the treat.

I didn't think it would be a good idea to try to pick her up yet and have been very careful to make only non-threatening movements. I'd like for her to get to the point where she'll sit on my lap, but I'm not going to rush her. It's nice to have a cat to touch again. I've missed that.

akelsey333
04-01-2006, 04:22 AM
Awatkins, I agree with veinglory. The way the cat reacts when you bend over, I would guess she is feral or semi-feral.

When working with ferals, I start out interacting with them from a squatting position--it's less threatening than a person looming over them. I also make sure they see me bend over to pet other animals or to pick something up so they begin to see the movement as less scary. Then I work my way up to interacting with them from a standing position.

Whether or not they respond positively to being touched depends on the cat. We took in two half-grown feral cats a month ago. One is already sleeping on me and loves being pet; the other is still terrified of any movement I make.

Congrats on getting a new cat :)

~ Kelsey (aka InkFairie)

awatkins
04-01-2006, 04:32 AM
Hi, Kelsey! Nice to see you again. :)

It's possible that she is feral/semi-feral, especially since this is such a rural area. I had wondered about that, but would a feral's coat look so healthy? She's really glossy and pretty.

I'm just thrilled that she lets me touch her at all. She responds well, arching her back and purring--as long as I am sitting down and it's her idea. That's okay with me; I want her to feel comfortable and safe. It cracks me up the way she rubs against my legs. She pushes so hard she makes me wobble! lol

I do hope she hangs around. Haven't named her yet, won't do that until I see if she's going to stay. For now, I'll just enjoy what's going on. :)

BlueBadger
04-01-2006, 04:33 AM
My parents adopted a stray that my brother found at four weeks old. Despite lots of handling, he's still quite feral and won't let anyone even pet him aside from my dad and my husband. Of course, people always try to pet him because he's really a handsome beast. What's funny is that he doesn't run away from these people; he'll sit in one spot and duck and weave to get away from their hands.

Since we're on the topic of cat behaviour, maybe someone can tell me what's up with my black monster and his incessent meowing? Dante's a very talky cat, and often when my husband and I are asleep, he'll stand at our door and meow softly but insistently.

veinglory
04-01-2006, 04:34 AM
One fun think to do if you have time can be to take a pillow and lie right down on the ground and just let her have a good look.

I miss having cats but moving all around the world with a dog is hard enough. I'll need an actual settled domicile before... well, cats just tend to turn up at that point, don;t they? ;)

awatkins
04-01-2006, 04:39 AM
I miss having cats but moving all around the world with a dog is hard enough. I'll need an actual settled domicile before... well, cats just tend to turn up at that point, don;t they? ;)

It would seem so! :D

I'll have to try that pillow thing and see how it goes.

awatkins
04-01-2006, 04:40 AM
Dante's a very talky cat, and often when my husband and I are asleep, he'll stand at our door and meow softly but insistently.

He wonders what you're doing sleeping in his bed. :D

Is the door shut?

Jamesaritchie
04-01-2006, 05:33 AM
We've faced this same situation several times, and out vet says it's pretty much the opposite of feral. It nearly always means the cat DOES have an owner, though likely one who lets the cat run free most of the time, as many, many cat owners do. It's always best not to feed such a cat because you're usurping the owner's identity, and may discourage the cat from ever going home.

This cat almost certainly has an owner somewhere. This is typical behavior for a cat that has an owner, but that you're feeding, and there's nothing about such behavior that is feral. Feral cats will not rub around your legs and ankles, abnd do not ever roll over on their backs for you. Cats that have owners will, but they often won't let you pick them up and pet them precisely because you aren't the owner.

Rubbing around the legs and ankles is a sign they either want food, or it's a thank you for giving them food. Rolling over on their backs means they've learned to trust some human somewhere, and it isn't you, or the cat would also let you hold it.

Cats often rnage far from home, and if they find a steady food source, they may well decide to stay there. And an owner somewhere loses a pet.

veinglory
04-01-2006, 05:39 AM
I would disagree, especially as the cat was 'very skinny'. But it's worth keeping an open mind and asking around. One trick is to get a safety flea collar and write your phone number on it--you'll find any pre-exisiting owner pretty quick that way ;)

Based on a simple written description none of us can say with certainty one way or the other but I would say that I have seen exactly this sort of behavior with semi-ferals many times (as an animal behaviorist and as a rehoming volunteer).

WriterInChains
04-01-2006, 06:03 AM
Hi BlueBadger,

Sounds like Dante has some Siamese in him. My black cat, Asher, does (his grandma was a papered Himalayan) and some days he walks around talking to everyone and to himself. It's cute. He'll also ask to be let into my bedroom if the door's closed, so I just don't close it anymore at night. Every cat I've had that's part Siamese does this. :)

Hi awatkins,

For what it's worth, I've had cats all my life and have two now.

Asher was born feral, his mom decided domestic life wasn't for her & had her litter outside, he & his littermates were brought inside at about 10-12 weeks & I adopted him 2 weeks later. He still hides as far away as possible when anyone knocks on our front door, and won't be held for more than a few seconds. He's one of the sweetest cats I've ever had, but part of him will always be a little wild I think.

Phoebe was dumped on the doorstep of a shelter at about 9 months in a box, very pregnant, & I adopted her the day her stitches were removed after she was spayed. She was obviously abused; after almost 7 years she still shys away from our hands if we move toward her face too quickly by accident, and hates to have her paws touched. She'll let us, but not for longer than it takes to clip 2-3 toenails. She'll roll on her back in front of us, but is happiest when we take the gesture for what it is and don't try to rub her belly -- sometimes she still can't keep herself from lashing out & then obviously feels badly for biting/scratching us.

I think it depends on the cat. Some get over things, & some don't, just like people. I've been told many times not to anthropomorphize cats, but I've lived with too many to listen to that nonsense. :)

Good luck with your new friend! :)
Caren

awatkins
04-01-2006, 07:16 AM
Cats often rnage far from home, and if they find a steady food source, they may well decide to stay there. And an owner somewhere loses a pet.

That's why we didn't feed her until recently. I called all the neighbors and asked if she belonged to them, and asked if they knew anyone who was missing a cat. Everyone said no. This area is a notorious dumping ground for unwanted pets and that's why I wondered if maybe she had been dropped off.

akelsey333
04-01-2006, 07:23 AM
We've faced this same situation several times, and out vet says it's pretty much the opposite of feral.

This is typical behavior for a cat that has an owner, but that you're feeding, and there's nothing about such behavior that is feral. Feral cats will not rub around your legs and ankles, abnd do not ever roll over on their backs for you.

Sorry, guy, but I also disagree with you. I, too, have seen this kind of behavior in ferals and semi-ferals.

But as veinglory pointed out, none of us can tell the background of the cat from a written description :)

GHF65
04-01-2006, 08:48 PM
I've got to chime in here. My cat, Closet Kitty, fell out the window when he was young. I'd had him almost from birth and he was handled extensively, but when he got ouside, he was lost. It happened the day we moved into our current house, so the surroundings were completely unfamiliar to him. He wouldn't come when called, showed no interest in food or treats I put out for him, and cried constantly . . . under the shrub below the window he'd fallen from. Very poor with maps. that one. When I finally got him back three months later, he was a bit thin, but very glad to see us.

To me, the "very skinny" is a dead giveaway. Feral cats are incredibly resilient and able to forage with great success. A homebody who just took an unexpected wander is likely to have much more trouble finding an automatic feeder or can of Friskies handy in the wild.

My point is that my normally overly-affectionate cat was not feral, not mistreated, and not left to his own devices. He just got lost and felt uneasy. He ate the food one neighbor left out for him, but he wouldn't allow her (or us!)to get too close and was thin as a rail when he finally figured out where home was. The vet said another week of roughing it would probably have been his last. I think he might have gotten the picture more quickly if no one had fed him. He liked her brand better than he liked mine, so he snubbed my lures and hung out at her house across the street.

On the up side, the neighbors found my daughter with her cat carrier to be a great depository for the strays that were hanging out at their houses, so we wound up with some really nice cats.

If you're going to feed the cat and allow yourself to be adopted, it would be nice if you were to run a lost-and-found ad in the paper just in case there's a heartbroken owner (like me) somewhere wondering where her kitty's gotten to. Couldn't hurt. If no one responds in a couple of weeks, I'd say you're free to become her new owner.

awatkins
04-01-2006, 10:47 PM
If you're going to feed the cat and allow yourself to be adopted, it would be nice if you were to run a lost-and-found ad in the paper just in case there's a heartbroken owner (like me) somewhere wondering where her kitty's gotten to. Couldn't hurt. If no one responds in a couple of weeks, I'd say you're free to become her new owner.

See, that's the thing. In this immediate area, there are maybe 7-8 farms/homes--then for miles it's forest, undeveloped land, creeks, etc. Nobody around here claims the cat, and this area is so far away from any town or other populated area it would be a really long way for a small cat to wander. That's why I keep leaning toward the idea that she was dropped off as unwanted.

I'm not trying to encourage her to adopt us (even though it appears that might be her intent) nor am I trying to make the cat a pet. But I am enjoying her company when she's around. Also, she looked like she was starving (her hip bones are still sticking out even though she's put on some weight) and I don't intend to let her starve. And I will be friendly to her if she is agreeable to it. I guess over the month-to-a-month and a half that she's been hanging around here, I've spent at the most a 10 minute stretch petting her or letting her rub against my legs--that's happened twice. The rest of the time, none of us see her unless she wants to be seen. So she's either feral, semi-feral, or a drop-off.

I'll try the want ad thing but don't really expect any replies. Thanks for caring about the kitty.

Fern
04-01-2006, 11:53 PM
It is amazing how many folks will drop a dog or cat off when they get tired of feeding it or being responsible for it. Sometimes they do it just because they found a cuter one. Why do they always pick country people to dump them on? Its like they figure the further out they dump them, the less likely they are to find their way home. Never mind that they are lots more likely to meet an untimely death out in the boonies. .. bobcats, coyotes, just plain starving, etc.

Once I came home and just down the road was an entire litter of pups dumped out. . .left a box with a little feed and about 8 or 9 pups.

We seem to be a "draw" for people like that. I don't know if it is because they see we have other animals, or figure with kids around their unwanted pets will have a better chance of staying or just what. Our latest dumpees are 2 kittens which we added to our menagerie. Before that it has been numerous dogs which we could not keep since we have 3 of our own. We try to find good homes, and so far have been lucky. However, I feel it is the responsibility of the original owner to let people know their pet is missing, run it in the paper, etc.

I think dumpers should be outrageously fined if it is determined they've dropped off an animal to fend for itself. They should not slough their dirty work off on others and expect to get by with it. When an animal shows up on our doorstep we have 4 options. . .keep it (you can't keep'em all); give your best effort in finding it a home;shoo it off and don't feed it (if you feed it once, its yours); kill it. We have no pound or facility to place them with in my area. . . closest would be 50 miles or more away. Okay. . .sorry. . I'm off my soapbox now, but its a subject that just gets me going!

Just as an aside: Have you ever figured up what it costs to feed your pets for a year? I figured once for 2 outside cow dogs we had. . dry dog food only. . .$500 year. This did not include shots; flea/tick treatment, wormer, or any extra tidbits & its been a few years ago so would be more now.

So, alright, I'm really off my soapbox now. I meant to post and say it sounds like you are right and have a dumpee, awatkins. Then I got all blabby. Sorry.

jdkiggins
04-01-2006, 11:54 PM
It's always best not to feed such a cat because you're usurping the owner's identity, and may discourage the cat from ever going home.
Hmm, well if that's the case, maybe you could tell my neighbor's cats to quit eating my cat's food. I don't think a cat will be discouraged from going home, James. Outside cats often roam, find food, and go back home. Ask my neighbor. His cats sit on his steps happily cleaning themselves after they've enjoyed a meal at my expense.

My point is that my normally overly-affectionate cat was not feral, not mistreated, and not left to his own devices. He just got lost and felt uneasy. He ate the food one neighbor left out for him, but he wouldn't allow her (or us!)to get too close and was thin as a rail when he finally figured out where home was. The vet said another week of roughing it would probably have been his last.
So what Anne is doing is a good thing, even if the cat doesn't want to get real close for the time being.

I think he might have gotten the picture more quickly if no one had fed him. If you're going to feed the cat and allow yourself to be adopted, it would be nice if you were to run a lost-and-found ad in the paper just in case there's a heartbroken owner (like me) somewhere wondering where her kitty's gotten to. Couldn't hurt.
There's no telling if your cat would have 'gotten the picture' if no one had fed him. If the vet said he may not have lasted another week, you may not have had your cat back at all, so the person who fed him, kept him alive until he found his way back home to you. I'm glad it worked out and you have your kitty back. http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/images/smilies/smile.gif

Anne said she checked with the locals and no one claims the cat, so I'm more prone to believe that it was a stop and drop as Anne suggested. Feral, semi-feral, I don't know, but if a cat has belonged to someone, even for a few days, and the people decide they don't want it and drop it somewhere, I'd imagine that would have some affect on its personality.

Anne, another thing about the rubbing against you and then not wanting to be held, is that the cat may be in heat. They tend to purr and rub continuously, then don't want to be bothered. You did say "she," so I'm figuring you did check the sex.

I think what you're doing is a good thing whether the cat is from the area or a drop off. Since you've already checked with the neighbors, I don't know that I'd go to the expense of running an ad.

rich
04-01-2006, 11:58 PM
I'm more of an inbetweener. Kind of an urban-suburban. I now have a beagle because somebody got tired of him and wanted to take him to a shelter. I also have another dog, a dog I puppy sit, and two cats: one found in the backyard. I can almost understand those folks who wind up with fifty cats in their house.

Ain't gonna be me.

jdkiggins
04-02-2006, 12:33 AM
I'm more of an inbetweener. Kind of an urban-suburban. I now have a beagle because somebody got tired of him and wanted to take him to a shelter. I also have another dog, a dog I puppy sit, and two cats: one found in the backyard. I can almost understand those folks who wind up with fifty cats in their house.

Ain't gonna be me.
Darn! I was going to ship my neighbor's cats to you.

awatkins
04-02-2006, 07:12 PM
Cat update: My husband spotted the kitty this morning hanging around with a huge black tom cat we know is a feral. The black cat has visited us for years and enjoys prowling around on our front porch at night, for some weird reason.

Rich, beagles are great little dogs, aren't they? My dad has two of them and is always cracking me up with their latest adventures. He really enjoys those dogs.

GHF65
04-02-2006, 07:34 PM
There's no telling if your cat would have 'gotten the picture' if no one had fed him. If the vet said he may not have lasted another week, you may not have had your cat back at all, so the person who fed him, kept him alive until he found his way back home to you. I'm glad it worked out and you have your kitty back. http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/images/smilies/smile.gif

Ah! But you see he was eating some of her food but not enough to keep him alive because he was so upset. If she hadn't put food out for him (remember he was only across the street from home), he might have found my offerings more attractive and been home sooner.

I'm not saying that the cat in question is necessarily in the same predicament, just offering an alternative viewpoint.




Anne said she checked with the locals and no one claims the cat, so I'm more prone to believe that it was a stop and drop as Anne suggested. Feral, semi-feral, I don't know, but if a cat has belonged to someone, even for a few days, and the people decide they don't want it and drop it somewhere, I'd imagine that would have some affect on its personality.


Very true. But let's also keep in mind the many stories of cats wandering miles to find previous homes or owners, and there's always the intact cat lured by a mate and becoming disoriented on the return trip. I'm not saying that the feral/semi-feral or drop-off scenarios are impossible, just that there's another one to consider.



I think what you're doing is a good thing whether the cat is from the area or a drop off. Since you've already checked with the neighbors, I don't know that I'd go to the expense of running an ad.

Here those ads are free in the small local paper and about $27 for three lines in the bigger daily for a full week. Granted it's a long shot, but I got responses to my ad from several towns away, and I followed up all the leads. They weren't my cat, but they could have been, and that $27 was a lot less than what it cost me to have the vet do a thorough exam on my boy when he finally came home. It's cheaper than all the shots an unknown kitty will have to have before the vet will even do a checkup, and cheaper than feeding a stray. Please think about the fact that if the neighbor hadn't been so jaded by the endless stream of strays, she might have run an ad when she first saw my cat, and I might have had him home in a matter of days instead of three months.

My story is just a cautionary tale on behalf of cat owners whose "babies" stray. Again, I'm just making the point, not so much for Anne who's made it clear that she lives in a relatively isolated area so isn't likely to have wound up with a neighbor's kitty, but for anyone else reading these posts and thinking about keeping a stray, that it's possible for assumptions to be off the mark.

I live in a very bad area for drop-offs and for feral and semi-feral cats. It's a difficult and heart-breaking situation. There's an excellent chance that Anne's wandering cat has found a very good home and will be a great addition to the family.

jdkiggins
04-02-2006, 08:28 PM
I see your point, Joanne. But you as the cat owner put the ad in and followed up on calls made to you. I have to agree with Fern, that the owner is responsible, and in your case, you were. You should be commended for that.

There are far too many cats and dogs being dumped because uncaring people get tired of them. It's difficult to determine whether any of these animals have had a previous owner or are strays that have wondered in search of food.

This reminds me of another situation last fall. I looked out Mom's kitchen window and saw two beautiful, but thin, white horses standing by the barn eating her flowers. I knew our other neighbor had horses, but I didn't have his unlisted phone number. He had no idea his horses broke the fence and were loose.

I immediately ran downstairs, grabbed some rope and tied it to their bridles. My SO walked both horses through the woods and said as he got closer to the neighbor's pasture, the horses acted nervous, and fought being led closer. The neighbor was working in his yard and my SO had to yell to the neighbor that he had the horses.

You don't know how tempted I was to ask the neighbor if I could keep them since he didn't seem to notice them missing. A horse is a pretty large animal not to notice it missing, especially when you're working right near the barn and pasture they graze in.

I'm not going to assume the horses were mistreated or not fed properly because they were thinner than they should be, but when they became nervous approaching their own pasture, and didn't want to be led there, it made me wonder. Just makes me think that sometimes some animals may be trying to find a better home and might be better off if someone else stepped in and took over.

Those horses have been loose and in our yard four times since. Believe me, I'd love to have the expense of owning them. They seem to want to be here anyway. :) Next time, I may just ask him if he would rather us just take care of them.

Some people are simply very neglectful of their animals and shouldn't own pets at all. :(

jdkiggins
04-02-2006, 09:53 PM
http://home.comcast.net/~joannedkiggins/images/CAT.jpg
I just got around to reading this morning's paper and this little tid bit was in the Odds & Ends section.

Sort of coincidental, but true none the less. Sort of fits our discussion. Couldn't help but think it helps add validity to the fact that the owner is responsible for his or her animals.

ETA: And be careful, Anne. If your visiting feline has a rap sheet, make sure you tell the arresting officer that it's not your cat, it just keeps showing up. :D

GHF65
04-03-2006, 04:41 PM
Outrageous! :ROFL: I know it isn't really funny that folks were attacked by that cat, and people really should be held accountable for their pets' behavior, but the image of Lewis stalking the Avon lady made me laugh anyway. If he's available, I've got some Jehovah's Witnesses who aren't falling for "I wrote my own version of the Bible . . . wanna read it?" anymore.

The article reminded me of our new kitten hiding behind the newel post on the staircase and jumping, all claws and teeth, onto the huge, hairy butt of our innocent collie/husky mix. The dog never even knew the kitten was there. She'd just lumber along with Max hissing and hopping around on top of her, trying his best to get through all that hair to something with nerve endings.

On a sober note, there's a town nearby with such a bad feral cat problem that they petitioned for a hunt to be approved. It wasn't, but the idea of all those stalking kitties is a little unnerving. I am always astounded by people who insist on having pets but don't take reponsibility for their care.

awatkins
04-03-2006, 08:34 PM
Oh, good grief. :ROFL: I think the cat's probably clean, but these two parrots...they're the ones I need to watch out for! Hmmm...just who do I contact to see if they have rap sheets??

jdkiggins
04-03-2006, 09:44 PM
The Parrot troopers maybe?:ROFL:

GHF65
04-04-2006, 04:44 PM
GROOOOOOOAN! :e2thud:

awatkins
04-04-2006, 06:33 PM
The Parrot troopers maybe?:ROFL:

Jo, dear, I think you need to slow down. All that speeding around has gone to your head. :roll:

jdkiggins
04-06-2006, 04:41 AM
Jo, dear, I think you need to slow down. All that speeding around has gone to your head. :roll:
It's the roadrunners fault. He has a sick sense of humor, just like me. ;)