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Author Topic: Scruff the cat lives in the woods  (Read 11513 times)
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Don Earl
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« on: June 26, 2008, 06:48:48 PM »

Scruff showed up last winter nearly starved to death. I'd been seeing him around off and on for probably a year or so, but he was always very shy and didn't stick around much.

It's kind of hard saying if he's a domestic that has gone feral, or a feral with some domestic tendancies. When I first started feeding him, I was certain he was feral. By about day 4, he'd let me pet him and he purrs on contact. Over the months, he's become used to the idea we're friends and is far less shy than early on, but is still generally very skittish. Oddly, if we're both outside, he won't let me get near him, or come closer than about 10 feet. If I sit on the floor just inside the sliding door, however, he'll come just inside for purrs, shoulder rolls, head bumpings and petting. There have been a few times he has come all the way inside for 30 minutes to almost an hour (usually when it's very cold out). On occasion, he'll play with string toys like he remembers all about it from kittenhood.

The really sad part is this is a cat with an absolutely sweet tempered nature that I would have loved to have had since he was a kitten. Unfortunately, whatever his history is, he just can't quite break through the barrier to becoming people. Was he abused or abandoned? Was he a barn cat that ran away? Was he a feral that may have had limited contact with people when he was little? I don't know.

He'll usually come if I call him and tends to hang around close enough where he can hear me. One of the funnier things he does is he tends to come to the back deck when he hears water running in the house - he does it the same way an indoor cat comes to the sound of a can opener.

He just got back from a 4-5 disappearance and I was starting to think I wouldn't be seeing him again. It's happened a couple other times for a day or two or three, and each time I'm sure something happened to him and he's gone for good. I live in a rural area with plenty of predators, especially coyotes. It almost amazes me he has been able to survive as long as he has under the circumstances. Each time he comes back, he's more than a little hungry, which makes me wonder if he occasionally ends locked up by accident in someone's shed or garage. Hard saying, but I'm glad to see him okay.

Oh, yeah, I named him "Scruff" partly because of the sad shape he was in last winter, and partly because he usually shows up with half the forest stuck to him. If I did this right, there's a picture of him attached. He's has long white hair except his tail and ears are black. Rather odd markings and I still can't decided if he's pretty or not. He is cute.

Anyhow, it seems like I spend so much time on the legal, corporate and political part of pet issues that I needed a place to take a break from some of that. Scruff is kind of the ultimate free citizen, and while he's not my cat, we're pretty good buddies.


* scruff.jpg (66.29 KB, 684x512 - viewed 354 times.)
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petslave
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« Reply #1 on: June 26, 2008, 06:59:06 PM »

Scruff is cute, and he looks like he's fairly young yet too.  I remember you posted about him on another thread recently, I figured he'd be settled into that house by now!  Good to hear he's still surviving, and is still friendly.

I bet if you kept him in the house for a month, he'd mellow into a great cat.  True ferals wouldn't be coming up to you & asking for attention with head butts & purring.  Maybe he lived with a family where the adults argued & fought all time, but a child loved him and petted him & treated him with kindness.  He was probably dumped, or left behind when his former people left the area.

(I still think Chuckles has something to do with this!)
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petslave
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« Reply #2 on: June 26, 2008, 08:14:27 PM »

Yes, it's best not to make them stay in if they are freaking out & bouncing off the walls to get out.  There may be some territorial issues with the resident cats that mere humans can't read.  They may be saying, OK, right inside the door is tolerable, for a half hour, then it's outside for you buddy.  Hopefully all of them will slowly come around to longer stays until he can stay.  Let's hope he stays safe outside until then!

Is he neutered?

Are your two stripeys siblings?
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kaffe
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« Reply #3 on: June 26, 2008, 08:44:29 PM »

Scruff looks to be between 2 and 5 yrs old... hard to tell... but his coat looks good and pretty well groomed... I am happy that Scruff has found a human freind who'll give him pats and chin tickles now and again and good food when he needs it... I also often wonder where the roaming half-feral cats I see around here disappear to... their survival skills are nothing short of amazing too... perhaps Scruff will decide to stay indoors or indoor-outdoor one day... the resident cats may be hissing right now, but they will be getting used to Scruff's scent and presence and realize he is no threat to the food source or comfort zone  Cheesy 
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Sandi K
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« Reply #4 on: June 26, 2008, 09:30:25 PM »

Don, your two furkids are adorable and very stripey!   Grin  Hopefully Scruff will realize he/she has a warm safe home when he/she is ready.  These kitties just dont understand how one worries about them even if they arent a permanent live-in....I bet its hard not to worry and wonder when he does his disappearing act.
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catwoods
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« Reply #5 on: June 26, 2008, 10:29:26 PM »

Scruff, Monster, and Buzzer are all beautiful cats.

We have one cat, and my mother has had several cats, who were unaproachable at first and became slowly petable while being fed outdoors. They would come look in the door at both houses, plainly curious about what sort of place it was - there were already cats there. After being taken inside, Mom's ferals adjusted slowly, and became lap cats with us, but will hide when visitors come. I agree that slow is best if the cat isn't calm about being inside. If the cat's agitated and scared, best to let it out for awhile. Our Pretty Girl spent some time in, some time out, for months before really cold weather convinced her that indoor life was fine.

Every cat is different and Scruff may come to a different conclusion. I agree that all the cats will slowly grow accustomed to everyone's scent.
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kaffe
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« Reply #6 on: June 26, 2008, 10:47:44 PM »

Don:  Glad to finally see pics of your other kitties  Cheesy  They look adorable!
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catwoods
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« Reply #7 on: June 26, 2008, 11:31:04 PM »

In one of the cat behavior books I've read, the author recommends petting the resident cats in the presence of the new one, while ignoring the newcomer, until the residents become more accepting. And making sure the residents see you ignoring the new cat at the time. I don't have experience trying that and observing the reactions, though. Before reading the book, I did it sort of instinctively whenever we had a new one.

The outside shelter is a great idea, too.

Edited to remove the reference which I could not find in the book I noted - sorry, my oops - if I can locate the correct citation I will post.
« Last Edit: June 27, 2008, 11:08:58 AM by catwoods » Logged
JustMe
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My RB Angels Elvis, 1991-2010, and Twit, 2001-2010


« Reply #8 on: June 27, 2008, 03:26:54 AM »

Don,

Awwww, Scruff is really cute.  I've never seen markings like that.  Reminds me of a little reverse skunk!  In the photo, he looks like he maintains his long fur quite well. He looks clean.  I hope your cats will accept him so he can work his way inside with you.  He does looks young. What does he eat?  Same food you make for your other cats?

Can you touch him at all?  We can still only pet one of our ferals occasionally.  She's very skittish, but her sister likes to be petted, though, and has a very loud purr.  We adopted them about 4 years ago at the age of 6 or 7 months from the lady who rescued them.  She doesn't like her space invaded (although I can hand-feed her chicken without getting bitten).

Monster and Buzzer are adorable.   Grin  I'm laughing at the "monster" name, as that's a nickname for one of our little "monsters".   Tongue

I sure hope your cats let Scuff come in to stay soon.
« Last Edit: June 27, 2008, 03:42:24 AM by JustMe » Logged

Eventually they will understand,
Replied the glorious cat
For I will whisper into their hearts
That I am always with them
I just am....forever and ever and ever.
Poem for Cats, author unknown

"A kitten in the animal kingdom is like a rosebud in a garden", author unknown
catbird
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« Reply #9 on: June 27, 2008, 05:18:16 AM »

What a sweet-looking kitty Scruff is!  I too would bet on his being a former pet who was either abandoned or got lost.  I've seen the behavior you describe many times before in scared cats outside, including a friend's cat who went "walkabout" for a month for unknown reasons and had to be live-trapped to get him in.  Poor baby!  I hope some day he will move in with you.
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JustMe
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My RB Angels Elvis, 1991-2010, and Twit, 2001-2010


« Reply #10 on: June 27, 2008, 06:02:34 AM »

If I sit on the floor just inside the sliding door, however, he'll come just inside for purrs, shoulder rolls, head bumpings and petting. There have been a few times he has come all the way inside for 30 minutes to almost an hour (usually when it's very cold out). On occasion, he'll play with string toys like he remembers all about it from kittenhood.


I've just re-read this thread a couple of times.  I agree, he doesn't sound like a feral.  Sounds like someone dumped him or he ran away. 

If it was me, I'd close the door next time he comes in (but that's just me) and let him join the family Tongue

My ferals weren't that friendly at all even though the rescuer had them for several months.  Our new arrivals usually hide for awhile or we separate them in a kitty playpen for a few weeks until they all get done with the hissing and sniffing.
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Eventually they will understand,
Replied the glorious cat
For I will whisper into their hearts
That I am always with them
I just am....forever and ever and ever.
Poem for Cats, author unknown

"A kitten in the animal kingdom is like a rosebud in a garden", author unknown
Orange Fuzzball
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We miss you KD


« Reply #11 on: June 27, 2008, 09:05:59 AM »

He's very pretty.  Smiley

Sounds like he's already a member of your family, whether or not he ends up living in your house. He has someone to take care of him - as much as he'll let you.  Wink
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JustMe
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My RB Angels Elvis, 1991-2010, and Twit, 2001-2010


« Reply #12 on: June 27, 2008, 11:34:44 AM »

His panic attacks are rather intense when he gets scared and wants out. I'm quick to open the door when that happens and it seems to reinforce his perception that it's safe to come in the next time. My first choice is for an easy transition if that's possible. It's kind of hard to explain, but my overall feeling about him is if I were to engage in the kind of abuse of trust involved in trying to force anything on him, it'd trigger everything bad that's ever happened to him in his life and he'd likely go ballistic. I'd rather not risk setting him off and maybe ruining months of work if that's possible.


No, that wouldn't be a good idea since he gets that freaked out.  Hopefully, he'll come around soon and decide he's got a good thing goin'.   Tongue

He's definitely a very cute "Monster". 
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Eventually they will understand,
Replied the glorious cat
For I will whisper into their hearts
That I am always with them
I just am....forever and ever and ever.
Poem for Cats, author unknown

"A kitten in the animal kingdom is like a rosebud in a garden", author unknown
trudy1
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« Reply #13 on: June 27, 2008, 11:39:40 AM »

Don, Scruff is a beautiful cat.
I don't think you mentioned if He was nuetered or not? If He's not nuetered, then his "walkabouts" might be going through the woods, neighborhood, and getting all the females pregnant. That wouldn't be good. also, He probably needs some shots.
and if He's not nutered, that might be why your other kitty doesn't like him.
He sounds like He will be a great pet to you eventually.
But see if he's been nutered first, because He'll have to be sooner or later.
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The Greatness Of A Nation And It's Moral Progress Can Be Judged By The Way It's Animals Are Treated-Gandhi
catbird
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« Reply #14 on: June 27, 2008, 12:56:10 PM »

My friend's cat had always been an indoor cat, and they had raised him from a kitten.  He was neutered at an early age, and devoted to the family.  One night something apparently panicked him, and he pushed out a screen and ran off.  Her daughter heard it happen.  They called and searched and put out food, but could not find him or get him to come in.  Several weeks later, they sighted him in their yard, and tried to entice him to come in.  But even at the sight of people he loved and had lived with all his life, he panicked and ran off when they got close.  They had always been kind and loving to him, but whatever spooked him that night had left such a bad impression that he just couldn't bring himself to come back.  Maybe he'd had some other traumatic experiences, too, while he was out.

When they succeeded with the live trap, he behaved like what was described with Scruff for about 2 days.  Then he suddenly settled in, and it was as though he had never left and been gone for three months.  All very mysterious.

When my cat Kalahari, a house cat all her life and also raised by us from a kitten, went out a door accidentally left open and disappeared for twelve hours, we had a hard time catching her when she came back, because she was so terrified, too.  She panicked and scratched us when brought inside the house, and ran for her "safe spot."  Next morning, she was fine.  Huh

Some kind of panic just takes over for them at times, and it sounds like that's what is up with Scruff.
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