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post #1 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-29-2010, 05:33 PM Thread Starter
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Please help me help her.

I joined today to ask for help with feral. I apologise for the post that follows being so long, I want to give as complete a picture as possible!

We moved to our farm in July, the farm had been empty for 18 months and the owners left ''three or four'' ''barn cats''. Bombolone (our name for her)we were told, was about 12, male and neutered. She turns out to be probably not yet 5 and female, but neutered.

She has always stayed closer to the house than the others, who I haven't yet discerned entirely from my neighbours cats (neutered). I'm happy to feed them for the rest of their lives, we're not moving again, but I did want to verify they are neutered, I suspect the limited numbers mean they are, though wonder if Bombolone is the offspring of a cat older than her that arrived 12 years ago.


Bombolone got in a pattern of waiting for food, which I take out when ever I see her, at 11 am and 6pm, nd sometimes other times too. She often came with a couple of cats my neighbours say are theirs, sometimes alone.

I fed her/them by my open front door and also in an outhouse where I later put food in a trap, and caught noone!

A few weeks ago Bombolone had the crouched uncomfortable posture of a cat with bladder infection, or a lower back problem and I decided she needed a vet trip urgently. It cleared up, but I sat with the food daily, moving it further in the house. Sometimes my own cats would join us and they'd all eat together.

The weekend before last Bombolone came far enough in the house for me to close the door. She was obviously very stressed, and my vet suggested I give her a few days to acclimatise in a very large crate, with a hidey hole, a litter tray. She saw the vet four days later who gave her a relatively clean bill of immediate health, but confirmed it probably had been a bladder infection (WBC count indicated infection) and that she has the very, very early stages of renal issues: failure to concentrate her urine.


The vet suggested we spend a few weeks trying to socialise her, so that she could receive treatment at later date when its needed, or be caught to be PTS at a later date.

So just over a week on and I feel very conflicted...are we really doing the right thing for her? She has very bad diarrhoea (the vet feels this is stress of change nothing more serious) and though she purrs and enjoys a scratch and a stroke, purring wildly after a while, but each time I approach her it takes 5- 15 minutes stroking with a long handled brush to get to the stage I can put my hand n her.

My vet things we should give it four months, handling and feeding and providing warmth.

She's coping with the litter tray ok, getting the idea...apart from with the diarrhoea. She has free access to the bathroom, and a large landing all the time, at night I open the room to my bedroom so she is ''close'' and realises proximity isn't always about pressuring her. She and my pet cats ignore each other pretty much, they sleep with me.

I feel she's not getting any happier with handling right now, though it has been suggested I'm too close to see we're making progress.

where do I go from here? Just persist with handling?
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post #2 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-29-2010, 09:25 PM
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I think you're doing a fine job. Just take everything slowly. Sit quietly on the floor with an interactive toy, a good book, and some great smelling food. Let kitty make the decisions. Move the food closer, bit by bit. Eventually, you could put the food on your lap. That might work. Then pet her while she eats. Just take your time.

Pumpkin will help regulate her digestive system,both diarrhea and constipation, just a spoonful will do.

Pumpkin: A Natural Remedy for Constipation and Diarrhea in Cats and Dogs - Associated Content - associatedcontent.com

Thank you for caring for her!




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post #3 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-29-2010, 10:18 PM
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Yup, just be patient with her. It's a lot harder to tame older cats, than kittens.
I finally caught the last kitten of a feral litter the other day...about the same way you did. I put food just inside the doorway, and shut the door while she was distracted with eating (almost got a tomcat, but he was "smart" and ran outside before I could get to the door). She's 5 months old, and while she doesn't seem to mind hanging out in the bedroom, still won't let me touch her. I have petted her a few times when she's either distracted with eating, or sleeping...but I only get a moment, before she up and bolts away. Last time, she actually laid still and sniffed my finger, then backed up a few steps.
Hopefully I can catch her Monday night or Tuesday morning, as the vet said they have an opening to get her spayed that day!

Having your own cats around will probably help a bit, too. Disco (cat I caught the other day) has her sister Zinny, who's already been tamed, and my 2 cats with her. I think that's why it's only taken a couple days for her to be as calm as she is. She sees me petting them, without them acting like it's harmful.
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post #4 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-30-2010, 01:33 AM
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I've always tamed adult ferals and helped them become accustomed to handling outside before I brought them in. Doing it that way can take a long time because the cat can leave whenever they feel uncomfortable. Having your kitty already contained is both helping and hurting. It is helping because it creates an opportunity for the kitty to learn she can trust you and it hurts because she doesn't understand and fully trust everything right now so she is stressed.
To me, it sounds like you are doing great. You are handling her in ways that she feels comfortable and you are allowing her to feel comfortable with each step before you progress. Just keep trying to have every experience be as positive as you can so she can learn you will be consistent and trustworthy.

It will happen, it just takes time for the kitty to have enough experiences with you to learn nothing bad happens and at that point ... the point where their fear is no longer overriding all other thought processes ... the kitty will begin to really learn and will progress forward at a steady and smooth rate.

The kitty progresses on its' own time-table, not ours. We can sometimes help it along, but doing so must be done in a structured environment and accompanied by an equally structured socialization plan. I generally only quicken things when I am fostering for an adoption agency. My own, personal feral-to-housecats take as long as they take.
Malibu took 5mo from TNR until I could first touch her.
Pretty took 14mo from TNR to first touch.
Cats are individuals and we need to be flexible and do what the cat needs us to do to help it learn. Cookie-cutter methods are good for general information but it is good to have other things in your bag-of-tricks. I like to use tasty food treats/bribes and interactive toys to help them relax.
I think you're doing a GREAT job!
heidi =^..^=



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post #5 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-30-2010, 06:56 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you for the reassurance.

Last night after typing all that, I went to bed and Bombolone came in the room and slept under a chest of drawers. Still hiding, but hiding closer!
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post #6 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-30-2010, 10:32 AM
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May I ask what she was eating before you moved in? Was she getting mice, birds, lizards, whatever or was the previous owner feeding her as well?

What are you feeding her?

I'm absolutely not saying that she doesn't have a medical issue, I'm just wondering if the diarrhea is also because her diet has changed now that she comes to you for food.

I think you're doing a good job, a great job, in fact. Just take it slow...you're doing a good thing.

Last edited by SerenityFL; 10-30-2010 at 10:32 AM. Reason: correcting grammar
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post #7 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-30-2010, 04:12 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by SerenityFL View Post
May I ask what she was eating before you moved in? Was she getting mice, birds, lizards, whatever or was the previous owner feeding her as well?

What are you feeding her?

I'm absolutely not saying that she doesn't have a medical issue, I'm just wondering if the diarrhea is also because her diet has changed now that she comes to you for food.

I think you're doing a good job, a great job, in fact. Just take it slow...you're doing a good thing.
Of course you may ask! I'm so grateful for all this help!


As well as the many, many pigeon feathers I found daily I also found in her early stools here a lot of grain...I'm guessing she used to eat our chicken grain a bit. And we don't have a rodent issue here, so I guess they got eaten too. finally my neighbours are dairy farmers, and I'm afraid have the kind but dietary iffy policy of putting their milk dregs out for the cats, since they were abandoned here.


She was eating outside a mixture of cheaper cat food I put out at dusk for the bunch...the ferals and my neighbours cats...I did warn my neighbours..(the cheap stuff seems to smell stronger ) All wet food, but also, when she came for her ''individual'' feed the food I feed my cats: Bozita
Great Deals on Bozita Canned Cat Food at zooplus


I feed the tetra packs because they work really well for me. One of mine has a grain intolerance (I sound like a food nut, but she gets itchy when she eats food that isn't high percentage meat plus we raw feed....our own organic chicken...but not given that to Bombolone yet...which is odd, because its more like what she is used to!)

She's not thought much of the fish and rice post the fast my vet suggested: fussy feral!

I put some pumpkin in it tonight (thank goodness its All Hallows, squash isn't always available in the diversity and quantity in UK!) and tomorow plan to reintroduce bozita a little at a time with the fish.

Last edited by Bombolone; 10-30-2010 at 04:17 PM.
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post #8 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-11-2010, 03:49 PM Thread Starter
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I thought I'd give you all an update.

Bombolone is doing...ok. The most progress is that her poop is solid now. This is amazingly exciting when you're cleaning carpets daily where she is living! She's become less good about the litter...she'll go in it sometimes to widdle but I'm obviously not helping her understand it would be better all the time....I scoop once or twice a day....should it be more often? Less often? Once she's got the hang of that I feel her life will be better, she could have more space to hide from me in for example.

I wouldn't say we've made much, or any, progress in making friends. She still hisses and spits when she sees me, but will give in eventually to stroking. I have read now that purring can be in response to extreme fear, not just relaxing...so I feel less relieved when she purrs, though she does seem to enjoy being stroked....she leans into facial strokes and lifts her rear end when I stroke her back.

he weather here has been a little wild wet and windy and my neighbour told me he found one of our ferals dead today in one of his barns . The neighbours and I are the only people round here and they love the cats too, he was very upset.

I still feel ''morally conflicted'' over what we're trying to do. I can't see Bombolone ever taking daily medicine from me with minima stress should her kidneys worsen.
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post #9 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-11-2010, 04:00 PM
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Have you tried mixing the medicine in a bit of her canned food? I think you're doing well with her. Remember; it could take as long as a year. Patience, treats, and interactive toys are the keys!




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post #10 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-11-2010, 04:05 PM
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Actually, she is making amazing progress. You are obviously very patient with her. She has only been inside a couple of weeks. Wait till you see how far she'll come in another month. She is definitely getting there.

As far as using the litter box: I had only one feral who didn't get it.
I put regular old dirt on top of the litter and she began using it every time. Start with a lot of dirt, even all dirt, then you can decrease it. Avoid scented litter.
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