Archive for September, 2012

A Purrfect Moment With Chloe

cat

My Chloe

I called this blog Purrfect Moments because I feel all the moments with my cats are some of the very best moments in my life. They give us such a huge amount of love and trust. Who can look into those beautiful eyes and not have their heart melt?

The other day I was feeling very down. I just lost one of my babies, Heidi, to kidney problems. She was 16 years old and I got her when she was just 8 weeks old, a little stray looking for food. Like all my babies, she had my heart in her little paws. I was sitting in a small sun room I have and crying, just missing her so much.

Chloe, another little stray I found 15 years ago, is not the most affectionate cat in the world. She likes to be petted but doesn’t like to cuddle much and doesn’t  like being held or picked up.  She came into the room and got up on the couch with me. I told her that mama was just sad, but it was ok. She came over to me and crawled into my lap and let me hug her. She stayed there for a long time, which for her is very unusual.

It was one of those purrfect moments. There is a quote I found somewhere: “We don’t remember days; we remember moments.” I think this is so true. That moment will forever be in my mind. We finally got off the couch and went to the kitchen for some treats. She gave me a comfort I doubt anyone else could have. I just wanted to share one of my purrfect moments with you. I would love to hear about yours.

Feral Felines: How to “Tame” Them (Step 1)

I have 23 feral cats, so I’ve had a lot of experience in dealing with them. I’m hoping to pass on my tips so that more people will try to take care of the feral cats that show up in their yard. They really need help and the rewards you’ll reap are so worth the trouble it takes to make them friendly.

I had to put tame in quotes in the title, because you never really completely tame a feral cat. That’s not to say you won’t eventually be able to have them as a house cat and be able to cuddle and pet them. It can definitely be done and I have done it many, many times. But there are some areas that you might always have some problems with. One of them is visits to the vet or being friendly with other people.

feral cat Mia

This is the mama feral cat I talked about in the post...Mia.

A lot of people ask me, “What’s the difference between a feral cat and a stray and how do you tell the difference?” A feral cat has never had any social  interaction with humans, or at least not good ones. They have never had a home and have only been in contact with humans in the wild, so to speak. A stray has had a home but, for whatever reason, no longer does. When you start feeding a stray, it shouldn’t take long before they will let you get near them and pet them. With a feral cat, it will take a long time.

The first step to dealing with a feral cat is to use only one person to  interact with them. Feral cats don’t trust anyone.  It has to be a one on one experience. I have to say right here that “socializing” a feral cat takes a lot of patience…a lot! It’s a slow process, so if you don’t have the time or patience, don’t even try. It took me a year and a half to finally get one of my feral mama cats inside and “tamed”, so you’ll have to be in this for the long run.

Obviously, the first step is to put food out for them. Try to establish a schedule so that the cat will get used to it’s feeding time. Put the food down a fair distance from the house and then call out, “time to eat.” I also make a whistling sound and then go back in the house. If you can watch from a window where they won’t see you, fine. Otherwise, don’t stare out the window at them. They have to learn that it is safe to eat…no one is going to try to capture them.

Keep this up every day and hopefully they will eventually start to peek at you from a bush or a distance. Say hi, tell them what a good baby they are, put the food down and go back inside. To jump ahead (because this may go on for months without them ever getting near you) when they finally do start to get closer to you, keep up the same routine… say sweet things to them in a soothing voice, put the food down and leave. Don’t try to pet them or even reach out towards them, no matter how tempted you are!

The ultimate goal is that the cat will eventually come to you on it’s own. It has to be on their terms, not yours. This will get you started and will take awhile. I am going to make more posts on this subject, but I don’t want to overwhelm you with a long post! I’ll do it step by step. I hope this helps you get started with bonding with that feral cat that you want to take care of. You are building a bond of trust with them that will grow…slowly, but one day, they’ll trust you and it’s such a wonderful feeling!

I have to say, obviously, if the cat appears to be sick, don’t try to catch it yourself. You don’t want to be scratched or bitten by a sick cat. You can try a Havahart trap.

Feral Felines: How to “Tame” Them (Step 2)

feral cats

This is Mia, my feral mama, and her "clone" Echo, one of her five babies.

Ok, in the first part of my feral tips, we are feeding them, but basically ignoring them. We are showing them that we are there for them, but not trying to catch them. We are building a bond of trust with them, which is very important.

As I said before, this may take a very long time. When dealing with feral cats, you have to have patience, patience and more patience!  Hopefully, by now, the cat is getting closer to you. He or she may even be close enough as you put the food down that you could touch it. DON’T! This will only spook the cat and you will probably end up with a nasty scratch or bite.

What you need to do next is start putting the food down and then going a fair distance from the cat and doing something else. You might keep something in the yard that you can fiddle with just for this purpose. Whatever you choose to do, make it something quiet and calming. I used to keep two bowls on a table with sand in them and would spoon sand from one bowl to the  other.  It was something calm and quiet to do and actually quite relaxing for me. The cat sees you are focused on something else and will eat.

While your doing your “busy work” don’t look at the cat. They instinctively know someone is staring at them. Just do your thing and you can maybe take a sly peek a couple of times. And if you have been out there for awhile, you can go inside also. As long as the path to your door doesn’t go by them, it’s ok to tell them something sweet and go into the house. Once you get to this point, you do want to stay out for awhile every day though just to keep that “contact”, although it’s long distance at this point, with them.

One thing I want to mention here is that you must be very calm around a feral cat. Talk softly to them and move slowly. This really does help them relax and makes the whole experience much more positive for them. Besides, cats don’t like loud noises or a lot of fuss around them. I never understand people who talk loudly to cats. Dogs love excitement, but not cats.

You will continue with this for awhile, until the cat doesn’t hesitate to come and eat once you move away. Over time, he will come more quickly and won’t wait until you are far away. Believe me, it will happen…just have patience. Whatever you do, don’t try to approach him. We still have some trust to build because that feral cat has only survived long enough to be in your yard by being extremely leery of people and defending himself against harm. It’s only natural that it takes a long time to undo those instincts. Good luck with this step. If you can stay outside with the cat and he eats, you have come a long way, so you’re doing good! If you have any questions, please ask in the comments section.

 

Feral Felines: How to “Tame” Them (Step 3)

If you have gotten through Step 1 and Step 2, the first thing you need to do is give yourself a huge pat on the back! You now have your feral feline letting you stay nearby while he/she eats. That’s a huge accomplishment.

Hopefully, at this point he is not only eating somewhat near you, but also hanging around a little after he eats. The next step is to hang around a little too. You need to move a little closer to the eating area and sit. You can sit in a chair, but I’ve found sitting on the ground, if possible, if even better. You need to always try to get down to a cat’s level…it’s less threatening to them.

feral cat Cuddles

One of my ferals, Cuddles.

So you grab a chair or sit on the ground and read a book or magazine or whatever you like. Pick something that is not noisy and can be done in a relaxed way. Remember, you don’t want loud noises or fast movements that will spook the cat. Be slow and relaxed, speak softly and sound comforting. Just sit and do your thing and ignore the little furball. You can look at them once in awhile briefly and say something sweet, but try to keep your attention on your book.

I have to remind you again that this whole procedure takes a lot of time, so have patience. The reward though is that you will build a long trusting relationship with this cat. It will  be built on mutual love and is a bond that will be strong forever. So just sit and read. The next achievement will be that the cat will eventually come to check you out.

When this happens, let the cat come near you and continue to read. Don’t make any sudden movements or try to pet them. Let them come to you at their own pace. If they sniff your arm or rub against you, just say something sweet to them and tell them what a good baby they are. Still, don’t try to pet them. As much as you want to (and I know how tempting it is!) don’t touch yet.

One trick I used was to leave my arm resting on my leg, but with my hand hanging over my knee. They would eventually rub against my hand and this got them used to feeling my hand on them. I still didn’t actually put any pressure on them or try to turn it into a petting action, but just let them rub against my hand. There will then come that day when you can actually pet them. That is quite an exciting day, let me tell you.

These may sound like ridiculously slow, simple steps, but they are very important. As I said in the very beginning, you have to let them come to you and go at their pace. When you conquer this step, you are almost there!

I have to say something here about safety. You should definitely have your tetanus shot up to date and some people get Rabies Vaccines. It is very likely that at some point you may get scratched or bitten by a feral cat. This is one of the reasons you have to go so slowly with them, it helps prevent this. I have reached out many times way too soon and been scratched, so I’ve  learned from my own mistakes in the past! Obviously, if a cat seems sick, you want to make other arrangements to try to trap them and get them to a vet before you attempt to deal with them on your own.

Step 3 is the most exciting step because at the end you will have some contact with that spooked little creature you saw hiding in your bushes! It will make your heart melt the first time they let you actually pet them, so all the hard work is worth it. You can just keep going with this step until they let you pet them without jumping away or swinging at you. Slowly, but surely, you will be able to approach the cat and give it a pet and it will welcome it. If your reading this, please leave a comment and let me know how you’re progressing, or ask me any questions you might have. I would love to hear from all my fellow cat lovers!

 

 

Feral Felines: How to “Tame” Them (Step 4)

If you are now at Step 4 you have done a fabulous job! You have created a bond of trust and are well on your way to turning that feisty little furball into a snuggly lap cat. You can feel proud of yourself for all the time and patience you have put in.

Your next step is to continue on until you can easily pet and pick up your cat. Even if they just let you pick them up for a minute before becoming squirmy, that’s great. Always put them back down immediately when they show any sign of irritation or stress. Remember that to “tame” a feral cat, you have to cater to them. That doesn’t mean, though, that you can’t gently scold them if they get too irritable with you. For instance, at this point, if you’re petting them and they swat at you, you can gently say, “No, no. that’s not nice.” Then ignore them for awhile.

feral cat

One of my other ferals, Honey.

If you have no other cats in your house, you can now start trying to lure them inside. If at all possible, leave your door open and go sit down in the house. If they wander in, just let them look around and don’t bother them. If you need to shut the door, go ahead and see how they react. The minute they panic and go to the door or start racing around looking scared, open the door back up and let them escape. Just do this every day.

At this point, if you can lure them into a carrier and get them to the vet, that would be terrific. They obviously need to be checked out, get their shots and be fixed. But again, you will have to be careful about this so you don’t spook them and undo all of your efforts. One thing people worry about is that they will never have anything to do with you again when you bring them back home from the vet. All I can say is that I have never had this happen. They may be shy for a few days afterwards, but they get over it quickly. It’s amazing…I’ve often thought they know instinctively you are helping them. Once you’ve built that trust, they will be yours forever.

I can’t say enough about the incredible feeling of helping a feral cat. It is a bond you will cherish forever and truly a gift of love. They need our help and though it takes enormous time and patience, it is so rewarding. I’ve often joked that I put in a lot of blood, sweat and tears for my cats. Blood, because scratches, and sometimes bites, are going to happen. Sweat because I live in the South, so all the time I spend with them in the process outdoors results in some damp hours! And tears, both from joy and grief. The first time my first feral cat let me pet her, I cried from joy…it was such an incredible feeling. Unfortunately, I have had a few who tested positive for leukemia or FIV and had to have them put to sleep. So, yes, tears from grief too.

Congratulations to all of you who have taken on a feral cat and won. You have the heart and soul of an angel, believe me, because it’s not easy. And a huge thank you because you have saved one more cat from a terrible life. Please let me know your experiences. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask. The very best of luck to you!

 

 

 

The Cat Chaise Lounge

When I started my cat furniture website, I started looking for some unusual items to add to the site besides the regular cat trees and scratching posts. While these are great for your cat and there are so many different kinds out there these days, I wanted to add all kinds of furniture for our little fur balls.

A friend of mine ran into cat chaise lounges while searching for cat furniture. Frankly, I had never heard of them or seen them at pet stores. When I finally checked them out, I was amazed. They are so adorable and truly something unique. I just wanted to share them with you, so click on the pic below and see for yourself. Are they not the cutest things you’ve ever seen?

 

I just found this set and had to add it too…sooooo cute!

Click picture to get details!