Will Feral Cat Ever Calm Down?

DEAR PAW’S CORNER:
I live in a senior community. In my backyard garden earlier this year, a feral cat had a litter of kittens. Some of us ladies decided to trap the kittens and have them spayed or neutered before releasing them back into the wild. We managed to trap two: My neighbor kept one, and I kept the other. My neighbor’s kitten has adjusted well, but my kitten, Stripes, is not calm yet. If I talk to her in calm tones, she will stay in the room with my two other cats, but when I move just the slightest bit, she darts out of the room. Is there something I can do to calm her down? — Helene H., Geneseo, N.Y.

DEAR HELENE:
I, too, for many years had a half-feral cat whose behavior as a young cat was exactly the same as Stripes’. Dodge passed away two years ago, but by the time he reached his senior years, he had become a loving and trusting cat, although never a “lap cat.”

You are taking the right approach in speaking calmly and moving slowly. It is a great help that you have two fully tame cats. Stripes is observing their behavior closely, believe me, and she will begin copying their patterns, including how they interact with you.

It took several months to get close enough to Dodge to pet him. I would toss a bit of steamed shrimp his way, then toss the next bit closer. Over time he got close enough for me to scratch his head, and then to pet him gently.

Accept that Stripes might never be a highly sociable cat. But she can learn to trust you, and that’s important. Here’s wishing the best to you and your pets.

Send your questions or comments to ask@pawscorner.com, or write to Paw’s Corner, c/o King Features Weekly Service, P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. For more pet care-related advice and information, visit www.pawscorner.com. © 2008 King Features Synd., Inc.

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