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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-08-2009, 07:19 PM Thread Starter
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Need Advice About Feral Cat

Opinions Please.

Question 1: I have been feeding a feral cat for about 3 years. It has taken that long for him to feel comfortable coming into my downstairs hot tub room (separate door to outside) to eat and he has started laying on a rug that's on a box in the room. He would come in almost every afternoon and luxuriate. Last night he was inside eating and we shut the door (he has been in the room overnight a few nights off and on; he hides behind the tub). Usually after he's been in the room at night, he doesn't show up for 2-3 days, but today he was back in the late afternoon (we let him out at about noon after it warmed up outside ) -- he wanted more food. He was quite tentative about coming into the room but I put food in his dish and then went by the door. He came in and I shut the door. He ran for the door and then hid behind the hot tub. I left; he came out and ate, and then went on top of the tub and looked out the window. He was on the tub again later but jumped down when I came in the room. Tomorrow I'll let him out again and see what happens. He doesn't howl but he would run out in a heartbeat if I open the door. I am so afraid of alienating him. Don't want him afraid to come and eat. Have gotten attached and want him to keep coming back. Ideally, he would go out during the day and be inside at night. We live in the mountains in NC so it gets in the 20's at night and 40-50's in daytime. My husband says the cat was quite self-sufficient to keep himself warm before I came along and maybe I should just let him be. I want to make his life as comfortable as possible. Would eventually like to be able to be able to touch him and get him vet care. Have tried Have A Heart trap; he won't come near it -- leaves; won't even eat. Does it sound like he's hating being inside? Is my husband right about feeding him but just letting him run wild and not keeping him in at night? Am I only thinking of me and not what is best for the cat?

Second question. His eye is hurt -- runny but no yellow discharge. He keeps it half open or shut. This started yesterday. No way I can get ointment into eye. Should I ask my vet for antibiotic to put in food?

Thanks for your advice. It's appreciated.
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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-08-2009, 08:32 PM
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Re: Need Advice About Feral Cat

Should I ask my vet for antibiotic to put in food?
Yes, it couldn't hurt. You could mash it in wet food or try a pill pocket. Pill pockets have always went over well with my cats.

Sorry I can't help you with your first question but I'm sure others here can and will.
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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-08-2009, 08:55 PM
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Re: Need Advice About Feral Cat

How kind of you to care for this cat! Have you tried camouflaging the trap by putting in in some evergreen bushes? And tempted him with some really "good" smelling food, like fish? (only for special reasons, like trapping) It would be best to cover the trap to keep him calm. The vet could neuter him and treat his eye while he's there, and he will be less likely to get in a fight again.

While he's still droopy from the anesthetic, he could be put into a large cage with a litter box and food trays, and kept there at home until his eye heals. (If the vet allows) I'm sure the vet could give you some hints regarding getting access to his eye. (perhaps tempting him with food, and then a quick couple of drops.) I understand your fear of losing his trust, but I know of many people who have had ferals neutered, who did not lose the cat's trust. Some of them decide they'd rather be house cats. I so hope you can help your little friend. Keep us informed, please.

Hopefully, you'll find some help with the neutering here:


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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-09-2009, 12:28 AM
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Re: Need Advice About Feral Cat

Originally Posted by mollyannietaffychester
My husband says the cat was quite self-sufficient to keep himself warm before I came along and maybe I should just let him be.
I want to make his life as comfortable as possible.
You are both right...the cat has been self-sufficient, but it is also very kind of you to want to make his life better. ANY improvement over how he was living on his own, is still an improvement in that cat's quality of life. I think you are doing a very good thing for that cat.

I think he is nervous when he is inside, only because it is unfamiliar and he doesn't have options when he is closed in. As it happens more often he should be able to grow accustomed to it and be more accepting and maybe lose some of his skittish-ness. If you continue providing food and being reliable, he certainly could come around for you, but it may take a long time.

I have TNRd (Trap, Neuter, Released) many ferals. Every one of them was also tamed and became housecats. Some tamed quickly. Some took a long time. My two longest-to-tame ferals to date are Malibu, 5mo from time of TNR until I was able to touch her fur, and Pretty who was TNRd and took 14mo until I could touch her fur.

Mallie tamed pretty quickly when she learned my fingers felt pretty good giving her a massage and petting but Pretty was a challenge and it seemed to take forever: 14mo to 1st touch, probably another year before I was able to touch her reliably and let her learn that scrubbling felt pretty good and longer still until I could sit and lift her into my lap and hold (scruff) her for petting/scrubbling massages and another year getting her comfortable coming inside the back door to eat canned food with the other cats. This past year she is very comfortable coming in/out and sleeping either during the day or all night. I've also been able to pick her up and she will let me put my face near hers without getting anxious. She likes to snooze in my lap when I watch TV movies.

When I began feeding these ferals that showed up on our property, one of the first things I did was get them spayed/neutered through local TNR programs. Yes, it is traumatic and scary for the cat, but I have NEVER had one leave and not come back for the food they were accustomed to getting at my home. Do not let the fear of damaging his trust in you deter you from getting him neutered.

As for his eye...if you could get him trapped and taken in asap for neutering he could have his eye looked at and the vet could do something to help, even if you would be unable to handle him for further medication after he is returned and released.
*sometimes the only way to get a cat trapped is to stop feeding it so it will be hungry and then set the trap with a very tempting offer of food, like smelly sardines.

Some of my best housecat pets were former-ferals, and as an advocate of TNR and taming ferals to become housecats, I wish you success.
Best of luck,

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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-09-2009, 03:27 AM
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Re: Need Advice About Feral Cat

Best luck in helping this poor little guy.
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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-15-2009, 08:08 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Need Advice About Feral Cat

I would love to trap and neuter this guy; have been trying for 3 years. He's pretty smart about not getting caught and he definitely knows the trap, even when it was disguised -- won't even eat near it. About a week ago I was able to shut him in the downstairs room 3 nights in a row and was thrilled. Thought we were making progress. Then he disappeared for a week. Came back today, very skittish but did come in to eat. Didn't seem starving.
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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-24-2009, 08:44 PM
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Re: Need Advice About Feral Cat

I would wire open the Have a Heart trap and cover it in your hot tub room. Then put wet food in there for him daily so he gets use to eating in the trap. Keep moving the food back further and further.

Make an appt with a vet (ahead of time) who is use to S/N feral cats. Then set the trap to bring him in. The vet can treat the eye while he is under and give you meds for him when you pick him up. We keep ferals, which need medical attention, in a large wire dog kennel or large 4 x 4 kennels so they can recover and get meds in their food.

This cat is surviving and what your doing for him will help improve his quality of life. Good luck on your efforts. Keep us posted.
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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-24-2009, 08:50 PM
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Re: Need Advice About Feral Cat

My understanding is that now there is an antibiotic shot that is given once but is the equivilant of 14 days worth--not harmful, but is great for hard to med cats.

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