Caring for ferals long term - Cat Forum : Cat Discussion Forums
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post #1 of 28 (permalink) Old 09-21-2012, 04:31 PM Thread Starter
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Caring for ferals long term

I am feeding a cat that is living in my garage and is possibly feral. At first I thought it was one of two forclosure kitties next door, but now that I've seen it up close I'm not sure, it looks young, like an older kitten even. I am unable to bring it inside at the moment as I have 6 cats indoors (3 mine, 3 fosters), but I hope to have fewer cats by winter and be able to bring it in and see if it's feral.

In the meantime I would like to continue caring for it outside and provide the best environment I can for it. Priority one is trapping and getting it fixed before it reproduces. I have a trap coming tomorrow. I want to get it spay/neutered, combo tested, vetted as much as I can, but if it is feral I will have to release it again.

So.....question 1...do T&R cats usually stay in the area? Is it neccessary to get the ear tipped? I'd rather not if I could adopt it out or make it a house cat at some point.

Question 2...I have a set up in the garage, a comfy chair, a table with a box of old linens under it that it appears to be sleeping in, food, water. The door is always open, it is a detached garage and I'm afraid it would get too hot if I tried to close it in. Weather is nice right now...does that sound ok?

Question 3...any way to tell after I trap it how tamable it will be?

The cat is all black and I named it Mouse, figured that works for a boy or girl.
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post #2 of 28 (permalink) Old 09-21-2012, 04:50 PM
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Thank you for taking care of the cat.
Use, TNR cats usually stay in the area IF there is enough food. I have been feeding a colony of around 10 cats, around five have been previously owned, for around two years. The really feral cats have become somewhat more accustom to me but not a lot. The stray/dumped cats, continue to let me pet them. During the same time period, I TNRd 35 cats, obviously not all stuck around to dine at "my restaurant" (a/k/a dumpster).
Regarding ear tipping, if this is the only cat you see, then not necesary. But some organization requires ear tipping (Alley Cat Allies), although if you explain you plan to foster the cat, then they might waive that requirement. I ear tip the cats I TNR, it's the only way I can tell if it's a new cat that I need to TNR.
The garage set up seems fine. Though depending on where you live, you might look into safe heat sources; straw works well in an igloo device (search the internet and cat forums for pictures, how to).
Regarding tamming Mouse, you can get an idea NOW how tamable Mouse might be. How close can you get to Mouse? Can you sit kind of near her when she is eating? The optimal age is around three months or less, but my friend rescued Ritz and her brothers and sisters when they were closer to five or six months old. And, Ritz is a lap cat and likes her belly rubbed (but still skittish--that's simply her personality; her brothers and sisters aren't like that). A lot depends on the cat; it's them not you.
I can tell you in my experience there is little correlation to how the cat reacts in the trap to how tamable they will be. The cat that reacted the most violently when TNRd turned out to be a real love bug who purrs 24x7. Though he hates other cats with a passion.
In conclusion, I would certainly first get it fully vetted, including tested for FIV/FELK and continue feeding Mouse after he is neutered/spayed.
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post #3 of 28 (permalink) Old 09-21-2012, 05:47 PM
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I'll throw in some opinions. If you pay "full fare" for the spay/nuter then YOU call the shots and can tip or not, your choice. If you are using one of the many groups out there that assist people in TNRing then a lot depends on how "rule bound" they are and your personal relationship is with them. I have had a few, what I considered adoptable cats fixed and not tipped but I have a long relationship whith them and it still took some talking.

You didn't say where you are from, but unless it's really cold/damp your garage with a few amenities will be fine. Out of the wind and wet is the primary concern. The recommended straw bales is an excellent suggestion and is one that I also use. One of the low watt kitty beds is an option as well. Straw is better than linens and such things that tend to hold moisture.

Given food, shelter and security there is an excellent chance that mouse will stick around, I would

As far as training goes, I don't have anything to offer.

Good on ya and good luck.

Last edited by lyle; 09-21-2012 at 05:49 PM. Reason: Add thought
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post #4 of 28 (permalink) Old 09-22-2012, 02:20 AM Thread Starter
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I am in north Georgia, the weather is great right now and will be until mid November. The closest I have gotten is a couple of feet when I accidentally walked up on her (could be him) eating. She first ran into her box then when I started talking to her ran out past me and into the woods. I was afraid I had spooked her and she wouldn't come back but she came back and ate later that day. I have only been feeding her a couple of weeks, never seen her before that, but I am certain by her condition she is not currently owned, and she is the only one I've seen. She looks to be 6 months to a year old.

Oh, and as far as her vetting, I will either use project catsnip which is $60 or a free spay/neuter place a friend told me about, but it is a longer drive. I read through a couple of trapping threads and I will try to have an appointment ready before I trap her. I will ask them not to tip the ear since she is not part of a colony.
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post #5 of 28 (permalink) Old 09-22-2012, 03:33 AM
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I would still have her ear tipped, just in case someone else down the line traps her. It would be a shame to have the vet open her up, just to find that she's been spayed already. Just a thought.

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post #6 of 28 (permalink) Old 09-22-2012, 10:16 AM
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Of course it would depend on the local situation, but if you aren't concerned about your cat being picked up by the authorities (primarily) or any one else I wouldn't worry much about the tip. I think that it is SOP to "tattoo" a mark on the stomach now as an indicator that the cat was fixed. If you really want to go the distance, so to speak, you can have it "chipped". Chipping free roaming stray/feral that is being provided for is not uncommon. Of course if it's picked up have a good story ready

Last edited by lyle; 09-22-2012 at 10:18 AM. Reason: Add com
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post #7 of 28 (permalink) Old 09-23-2012, 05:26 PM Thread Starter
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I got the trap yesterday and Project Catsnip is doing a clinic in my area on Thursday, so hopefully I can swing that. Problem is she hasn't been to eat in two days. I think I will wait and see how feral she is before I decide to tip or not, and I'm also planning to call local ac and ask what their policy is on picking up strays, do they pick up tipped cats or not, etc.
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post #8 of 28 (permalink) Old 09-26-2012, 09:48 PM Thread Starter
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The cat is back and has been eating regularly, so the trap is baited and set tonight. Fingers crossed, and fingers crossed that she ends up not being feral because we will both have a lot more options if she isn't.
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post #9 of 28 (permalink) Old 09-26-2012, 10:21 PM Thread Starter
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Since I posted just now she has managed to go in the trap and eat all the food without tripping it.
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post #10 of 28 (permalink) Old 09-27-2012, 12:18 AM
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No prob. Cover the trip plate with something like straw or a light cloth.
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