Age Range: Adult
This handsome, formerly-feral boy is named Oxbow, after the region he was found in, along with a female cat and a litter of kittens. The mother and kittens are now in a foster home, while Oxbow resides at CATS Cradle Shelter.
Oxbow’s transition to domestic life has been rocky, as the flow of strangers in and out of the shelter causes him anxiety. But he’s been getting extra attention and is warming up to the volunteers, proving to be gentle and affectionate once he gets to know you.
Normally feral cats are considered unadoptable. Shelters rarely accept them, as their behavior can be unpredictable. In the wilderness, their means of survival involves avoiding humans and assembling colonies with their own social hierarchies.
Due to the low rate of success when it comes to domesticating feral cats, activists nationwide have taken up the practice of Trap-Neuter-Return, or TNR, to curb local populations. With so many adoptable domestic cats who prefer being indoors, socializing feral cats is a low priority.
But Oxbow—now neutered, housetrained, and vaccinated—is a rare success story. Since arriving at the shelter, he’s discovered he enjoys the luxury of being brushed, and especially likes being visited by the woman who fed him when he was feral. He instantly starts purring at the sight of her; and hopefully soon he will be that comfortable around the average visitor.
Before inviting a feral cat into your home, whether from the shelter or from your backyard, create a “safe room” for them, where they can have multiple hiding places. Boxes, rugs, makeshift tents, and pieces of furniture they can hide under are all good options. Lighting should be dim so they can hide more easily, while cardboard tunnels could allow the cat to move around without feeling exposed. We all know cats love to climb, so add something for them to perch on and keep it near the window so they can feel close to nature.
Feral cats will not take to going to the bathroom indoors right away. So instead of a litter box, use a large plastic storage container. Place it along a far wall opposite the door so the cat will have room to hide if someone walks in unexpectedly. Instead of kitty litter, use garden soil or sand, and then gradually mix in some unscented litter that most resembles the natural texture.
A cat’s sense of smell is vital to their day-to-day life, so one way to get them accustomed to your presence is with your scent. Place used towels or worn articles of clothing in the room so they can become comfortable with smelling you every day.
Integrating Oxbow into a new household will take time, energy, and patience. But given the progress he’s made and the potential he’s shown, the effort will be well worth it.
For more information on Oxbow and other adoptable cats at CATS Cradle, head to their website at catscradle.org.
– Särah Nour