Progress with my Feral Cat

Last weekend I realised we had made monumental progress with our very timid cat Fermi. Lots of tiny steps had accumulated made me realise how far she has come.Right from the very beginning she was part of the family, but now she seems happier and wants to be with us. A happy cat means a happy cat owner.

Fermi Leaning on Me

Last weekend I literally cried with joy. I realised we had made such progress with our very timid cat Fermi. In a previous blog I’ve talked about how we got her in May. I’d contacted the rescue and they said that they had a suitable cat – used to being indoors. We were told she was very timid. Due to being the first wave of the pandemic, we were handed her, and off we went.

However, she was very much like a feral indoor cat. She is frightened of people, cats and noises. Things have been improving very slowly but this weekend, there have been lots of tiny steps that have made me very happy. Compared to most cats, Fermi has got a long way to go still.

The photo on the right shows Fermi relaxed and actually leaning on me. It was amazing that she felt comfortable to touch me. She has sat on the the sofa with me since this photo, but with space between us. She will walk over my legs to get treats if things are quiet in the living room. We have now got into a routine of doing this after work. It is my time to chill out and have quality time with her.

Befriending a Timid Cat

We are still continuing with the same things to build trust. This includes hand feeding, not stroking her, not chasing her etc. Basically, everything we do with her or near her is done considering her feelings We are trying to encourage her to play and interact whilst making her feel safe.

She really doesn’t like the tumble dryer noise so if she wants to go in the kitchen, I turn it off. She sits at the open door looking very unsure if it is on.

Introducing New Cats

We’ve had Fermi since May and we were told that she preferred the company of other cats and previously had kittens, so after a few months, we thought getting another cat would help. To cut a long story short, we now have Bean, a boisterous kitten from a rescue in Cyprus, and more recently, Daisy-Bear.

Bean likes to play but Fermi is frightened of him. She runs away to safety and he chases her. We are doing our best to keep them separated still and still see each other without the chasing going on. We have a glazed door to the kitchen and now when they meet through it, there is less hissing. Fermi was always very vocal with growls and hissing when she arrived.

Daisy-Bear is a gorgeous fluffy cat but is a runt. She gets on with Bean although has to be watched as he can be a bit rough with her. However, his blindness gives her a chance. Plus she can hide in places he can’t go.

Fermi tolerates Daisy-Bear as long as she doesn’t look at her. If she does, then there is hissing. However, Daisy-Bear takes note of how Fermi feels about her and stays away. Both are interested but wary. The little one respects boundaries. Fermi will come close to get food even if Daisy-Bear is there. (When I first started writing this blog, there was a lot more hissing and growling than now.)

Fermi will now watch Bean and Daisy-Bear playing. She was very unsure at first but now even relaxes and goes to sleep in her cat tree. I do think if Bean spotted her, he would chase her. So she may be relaxed but we are all alert in case she moves or Bean spots her.

Timid Cat Progress

Ear Position

At the beginning, it was very slow progress. The first sign of her settling in was not having her ears flattened against her head. It is a natural reflex for her but we are seeing less unhappy ears.

Feeding

Hand feeding regularly has helped. She isn’t keen to come close and will sometimes hiss as she grabs the food.

Exploring More

We then started to see more of her. Not in normal cat terms, but seeing her walk in and out of the room. Sometimes she would come and have a look at us on the sofa before going out again.

She isn’t always in her hiding places. She has a safe place in each room but now we find her sat on sofas. She will even let us pick up things from near her.

Sleeping in Sight

Then she started to relax a bit and she would sleep in places where we could see her. She would even jump past us onto her cat tree. One day she washed on top of her cat tree and I realised it was the first time she had a proper wash in front of me.

Mad Moments

We only used to hear her having mad moments, usually when we were in bed. We could hear her running, changing direction quickly and jumping. Then as time went on, she had mad moments in the hallway while we were eating in the kitchen and then, she would have random mad moments while we were up. It was so lovely to see, a massive, 6.5kg ball or fluff whizzing through downstairs.

Meow

Before this weekend, she had only meowed on the trip home. A couple of times, I’d seen her open her mouth like she was meowing but no sound came out. On Saturday she meowed (with sound) at my husband when she wanted food. Then on Sunday she did the same for me.

Coming for Treats

She will sometimes come to me quite quickly if she thinks I have treats. When I sit on the sofa, I put treats on my legs for her to take. She now will confidently jump on the sofa and walk on me to see if there is anything yummy. She is still alert and jumps if I move slightly.

Sat on me

On Sunday, Fermi did the best thing ever. After eating treats off my leg, she sat next to me. She usually does this waiting to see if more treats are coming. As she settled down, she got comfy, then went to sleep and lent against my leg. She stayed there for a long time.

Little and Often

The main focus has been keeping all of our interactions little and often. Hopefully, this way, it will build up trust and not overstep her boundaries. The sad part is, Fermi won’t let us stroke her still. She will only let me touch her tail and even then she may flinch.

Where to Next

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Changing cat behaviour is not a short term fix. It takes a lot of time, patience and love. As much as I want to stroke her, I have to resist the temptation. I don’t know what had happened to her in the past. I only have the ability to make her future a happier one.

Firstly, I’m really hoping that she can form a bond with Daisy-Bear. Then hopefully, she can bond with Bean. As he gets older, he may calm down, plus as Daisy-Bear gets bigger, Bean may learn about boundaries.

I’ve asked for help – the vets advised Feliway and Zyklene. Plus when she needed grooming, I got the Kat Lady in as I didn’t want to undo the progress we had made. The Kat Lady will have come again soon as Fermi's nails need doing as well.

The best bit is that she is relaxed and will sleep in a room when we are present. I love it when she walks into the kitchen and eats her food while we are all eating tea. She will then have a mad moment running in the hall.

All three of our cats have made our lives so much better during lockdown number 3. They are always up to something! My husband has said he hopes that we won’t go into another lockdown as we seem to get a new cat each time. Although I have told him, three is enough for us. (For now...)


Any questions or if you have got further thoughts, please get in touch.