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RobZip
August 28th 06, 09:54 PM
I pretty well know the definition of a feral cat. Sometimes I see reference
to semi-feral. Where and how does one determine the difference?

We have several clearly feral cats in the area. They avoid human contact and
will seek cover at the mere sight of a human. Others, I'm not so sure about.
We have one character around here I call Scruffy. He's a battle scarred
tabby tom, one ear shriveled up from infection due to a bite, etc. He will
come around when I put food out for the other cats, but seems terribly shy
and reclusive, even among his own kind. He will not shoulder into the crowd
at the food pile like the others do. He waits on the fringes. Often times
there isn't anything left, so I've taken to dumping a separate pile just for
ol' Scruffy several feet away from the rest of the cats. He will timidly
venture forth and eat.

If I'm sitting outside, he might approach headed to the area where I put
food out. He will take a wide line around me by several feet, being very
wary for the slightest movement. Many times he will sit within 5 feet or so
away. If I start babytalking him, you can see his eyes close and an obvious
look of comfort and pleasure on his face. He seems to enjoy some attention -
at a distance. The slightest movement from me at times and he will scurry
away for cover. Sometimes I look outside and he will be sitting on my front
steps. Today is the boldest I've seen - actually on the top step and peeking
in the door. He has many times observed some of the discarded pets in the
group sit on my lap and parade around my ankles, so he knows the others
interact with me at close range.

Despite being somewhat acclimated to humans in his environment if not
totally tolerant, would he still be considered feral?

August 28th 06, 10:57 PM
In article >,
"RobZip" <no > wrote:

> We have one character around here I call Scruffy. He's a battle
> scarred tabby tom, one ear shriveled up from infection due to a bite,
> etc. He will come around when I put food out for the other cats, but
> seems terribly shy and reclusive, even among his own kind. He will
> not shoulder into the crowd at the food pile like the others do. He
> waits on the fringes. Often times there isn't anything left, so I've
> taken to dumping a separate pile just for ol' Scruffy several feet
> away from the rest of the cats. He will timidly venture forth and
> eat.

Scruffy sounds blessed. By you, I mean. I have no doubt that he looks
for you with some special cat attention for doing that. Cats return the
high regard offered them.

> Despite being somewhat acclimated to humans in his environment if not
> totally tolerant, would he still be considered feral?

Having spent some time rescuing and caring for feral colonies, I
consider any cat to be feral who was born and reared without human
influence. Within that <ahem> category, I have observed that there are
some who, for whatever reason, seem more inclined toward human contact
than others.

Of the feral cats I have rescued and placed in adoptive homes, many
retain their most obvious wild characteristics even after they adapt to
their new situation. This does not stop their adoptive families from
loving them (sometimes even more than they would another pet), but it
does present challenges.

I live in the country now, and care for barn cats. The situation is
very similar among these animals. They are used to having food left for
them in the barn where they live. There are just a few of these cats who
should be living in a house with someone; they are naturally that
domesticated and gentle. Most are not, though; they are tough,
suspicious and wary and are very capable of inflicting damage. This
serves them well, considering their predator-filled environment.

Interestingly, it seems as though the most gentle and domesticable of
these wild cats are also the best hunters. They are the ones you see
catching moles, mice and birds, while the more timid and suspicious
cats often seem to be the least healthy and well-fed.

Gail Futoran
August 29th 06, 01:00 AM
> wrote in message
...
> In article >,
> "RobZip" <no > wrote:
>
>> We have one character around here I call Scruffy. He's a battle
>> scarred tabby tom, one ear shriveled up from infection due to a bite,
>> etc. He will come around when I put food out for the other cats, but
>> seems terribly shy and reclusive, even among his own kind. He will
>> not shoulder into the crowd at the food pile like the others do. He
>> waits on the fringes. Often times there isn't anything left, so I've
>> taken to dumping a separate pile just for ol' Scruffy several feet
>> away from the rest of the cats. He will timidly venture forth and
>> eat.
>
> Scruffy sounds blessed. By you, I mean. I have no doubt that he looks
> for you with some special cat attention for doing that. Cats return the
> high regard offered them.
>
>> Despite being somewhat acclimated to humans in his environment if not
>> totally tolerant, would he still be considered feral?
>
> Having spent some time rescuing and caring for feral colonies, I
> consider any cat to be feral who was born and reared without human
> influence. Within that <ahem> category, I have observed that there are
> some who, for whatever reason, seem more inclined toward human contact
> than others.
>
> Of the feral cats I have rescued and placed in adoptive homes, many
> retain their most obvious wild characteristics even after they adapt to
> their new situation. This does not stop their adoptive families from
> loving them (sometimes even more than they would another pet), but it
> does present challenges.
>
> I live in the country now, and care for barn cats. The situation is
> very similar among these animals. They are used to having food left for
> them in the barn where they live. There are just a few of these cats who
> should be living in a house with someone; they are naturally that
> domesticated and gentle. Most are not, though; they are tough,
> suspicious and wary and are very capable of inflicting damage. This
> serves them well, considering their predator-filled environment.
>
> Interestingly, it seems as though the most gentle and domesticable of
> these wild cats are also the best hunters. They are the ones you see
> catching moles, mice and birds, while the more timid and suspicious
> cats often seem to be the least healthy and well-fed.

A feral (?) we adopted in December had had a litter under our neighbor's
free-standing deck during last summer. By all reports, she was an excellent
provider. (We're in a rural area so there are a lot of mice.) Once our
neighbor and we started offering food, she would approach and eat, and got
friendlier over time, allowing us to pet her but keeping her distance
otherwise. Once kittens were weaned and homed, I plotted to trap her,
simply by picking her up and putting her into a carrier. Although only 7
lbs (as we later found out), she struggled so hard I couldn't hold onto her.
Interestingly, she never tried to bite or scratch. My husband came out and
between us we got her in the carrier. After being tested, spayed, and
vaccinated, we kept her in a isolation room we built on the patio. Two days
later I attempted to let her return to the neighborhood, and she would have
none of it! Eventually we integrated her into our cat family and she's
become a true house cat. You couldn't get her outside for any bribe, which
shows how smart she is. She still isn't a true lap cat, but if you put her
on your lap, she's likely to stay for quite a while, which is very different
from her behavior when we first got her.

Was she truly feral? Or abandoned/run away? We'll never know. Another
lost or feral cat we adopted in 2000 was also quite comfortable outside, but
once inside would have nothing to do with the outside. Recently, though,
she enjoys going into the enclosed patio area for grass and lying on the
patio, so her habits have changed a bit over time.

I guess what I'm saying is it's hard to predict how a cat will react when
circumstances change, but a cat that will approach a human probably has a
good chance of becoming part of a human family.

Gail F.
Owned by Lao Ma, Ephiny, Minya, Melosa

RobZip
August 29th 06, 12:22 PM
> wrote in message
...
> Interestingly, it seems as though the most gentle and domesticable of
> these wild cats are also the best hunters. They are the ones you see
> catching moles, mice and birds, while the more timid and suspicious
> cats often seem to be the least healthy and well-fed.

Scruffy would seem to bear this out. When we first arrived here, Scruffy
showed up looking terrible. He was emaciated and had patches of fur that
were very thin from malnutrition. After almost 2 years of getting an
improved diet, his coat is full and good looking although he is still rather
lanky looking. If he shows up today, I'll try to get a pic or two of him and
post in alt.binaries.pictures.animals.