My feral girl Arwen - Cat Forum : Cat Discussion Forums
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-01-2013, 09:36 AM Thread Starter
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My feral girl Arwen

For at least 3 years, I noticed a feral cat in my neighborhood, you would only actually see her at night, on garbage days, when people put out their trash, and she would run if she saw a human. I tried, without luck, to feed her several times. I finally caught a glimpse of her during the day and left some cat food for her by the curb and this time, she ate it. So started the daily ritual of leaving food by the curb. She would eat it and run. But she would return at the same time every evening, right at sunset. One day I set the plate closer to my front door and she started to eat there. Eventually, she would crawl, on her belly, to the plate of food while I remained in the chair about 20 feet away. She would hiss at me and inhale the food. She started to hang around after she ate the food, she would lay down and not run. A year later, we have gone from this scrawny, dull, drab gray looking awful thing, to a sweet dilute calico, with orange and brown and all over her colors have just popped. She is not thin, not fat, solid muscle and looks great. She is missing the right tip of her ear, but it has also been bitten, so I was not positive if she had been a TNR, but my vet said if she has not had kittens in all this time, chances are she has been spayed. I remember the day she brushed up against my leg, I just melted. Then she allowed me to pet her tail and as long as she didn't see the hand coming towards her, she eventually allowed me to pet her....although it took months to get to that point. I was very patient and never rushed her. Now, 1 year later, I can pet her, scratch her chin, she lays next to me, she once jumped in my lap in the chair that I sit in next to her, for a few seconds, but never settled down....I had treats in my hand and she took them and jumped down. I believe this girl was completely feral, I really do, although she might have been just semi feral. Of the few other strays we have seen in our neighborhood, she does not fight with them, in fact she will step aside on the few occasions that they tried to eat her food, but she does not "hang" with these other cats. She stays only in the yards of 3 or 4 houses on my street. I have 3 indoor cats....all strays, one 10, 5 and a 9 month old kitten. I feel guilt sometimes that I don't bring Arwen inside, but I truly don't see this girl ever being an indoor cat. I have seen her pee on things outside, she was really sick once and I wasn't sure if she was going to make it, but 4 days later, she was back to normal...but I have my suspicions about her health not being good. I feed her twice a day, fancy feast.....all the little brat will eat! She will not touch any of the top dollar stuff I feed my indoor cats, and I have tried, so ff it is. She brings me a dead rat or a squirrel now and then. I live in FL, so we don't have too many cold nights, but I did make a little house for her with blankets that she slept ON TOP OF on the cold nights, go figure. I guess she felt trapped inside the house. I have put a warming cat bed out on the cold nights too, which she will huddle next to, but not on. So I have committed myself to caring for Arwen for life, I worry about her more than my indoor cats, I have this overwhelming amount of love for her, I just adore her. Part of me is just plagued by this guilt that I don't try to bring her inside, but I feel like I know cats pretty well, and I just don't see her being an indoor cat. Yet, when I open the door in the morning to feed her, she tries to walk in my house, but I can't let her around my inside kitties without knowing her health status. I have thought of trapping her...I easily could, and bringing her to the vet for shots and tests, but I feel like I would lose her trust and traumatize her so I don't. She trusts me. She has recenty gotten to where she will rub against my husbands leg and let him feed her although she wants no part of him or anyone else petting her, only me will she allow to touch her. The guilt is consuming me some days, leaving her out there, and yet I know her life is so much better now than a year ago when she was eating out of trash cans, skinny and drab in color. I just wonder if I should try to do more for her. I feel that it would be awful for her to be taken away from the only place she has ever lived....I think this when I have thought of trying to find a home for her. I doubt she would stay inside without trying to get out. How do people with a cat in this situation deal with the guilt....or is just me? Should I be doing more for her? One of my cats, my 10 year old female, is very vicious to other cats and I have to play "cat rotation" with her and my two males that get along fine, so I don't know how I could even have her inside my house in a separate room....I really don't think that would be possible. I just know that I have a bond with this girl that is so special. On the few nights we had here I just cried when I saw her outside knowing she was cold, even though she had the blankets and house, I still cried. Knowing I am all she has makes me so unbelievably sad
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-01-2013, 09:55 AM
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Thanks for taking care of her.

I think she should go to the vet, at least for the minimum check-up, shots, make sure she's spayed, and if economically feasible, have her tested for the common kitty illnesses. That way if she does accidentally come in contact w/ the indoor cats, you'll know they probably won't catch anything. I don't think you will lose her trust from a trip to the vet. She may be put off for a short while, but ultimately you're her person and the provider of her food.

Don't feel guilty for leaving her outside for the sake of your indoor cats. Nature has designed her to live outdoors so every bit of food, shelter, bedding you provide are all bonuses.

If you do feel more and more like she belongs to you and you want to bring her in part-time, just segregate your current crew. If you want her to become a permanent addition to your family (which she already is in a way), whether indoor only or indoor/outdoor, do the normal slow introduction process.

Just my two cents...


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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-01-2013, 10:14 AM
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What a caring and wonderful person to invest so much time and effort into this poor homeless creature! Maybe you could trap and get a friend to take her to the vet for you. Have vet write down EVERYTHING about her health so nothing is forgotten - at least get her rabies shots. When the cat is returned to you, you will have a good report of her health, Arwen will be vaccinated and Arwen will not associate you with an unpleasant experience.

I think I would leave her outside. I am a firm believer in not upsetting the indoor cats unless it is absolutely necessary and in this case I don't think it is. There are dangers in living outside, but it's a risk that we take with feeding strays and ferals. Thanks for being so loving to her. I know just what you mean about caring more about her than the others. My Abby took a full year before she totally trusted me enough to let me rub her belly. Once she bonded with me, it was only a year later before she died. I was crying like a baby over her for the longest time. Her heart was so hard to earn, and I invested so much emotion but it was totally worth it even for a short time.

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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-01-2013, 10:19 AM
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That's such an awesome story and dedication from you . That takes a lot of patience which a lot of people don't have including me but trying to learn daily . I'm sure the kitty is so thankful of you and taking him to the vet wouldn't be too bad . I'm sure he will forgive you very quickly . And as the above person said it will be okay if he's outside nature has create them in a way to deal with the environment . Good luck and wish you all the best


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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-01-2013, 01:59 PM
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Best wishes - hope all goes well.
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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-01-2013, 10:05 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you so much for the great responses. I know in my heart that should probably trap her and get her into the vet, although I'm not sure how they would handle her...but I'm sure they are familiar with how to handle a feral cat. Lots to think about, but thank you for the great responses. I just went out to say goodnight to her before bed. She waits until I say goodnight and then she walks across the street to the neighbors shed that she sleeps in. It's funny...she waits until I tell her "night night", and then hears the deadbolt lock before she goes to sleep. We have such a routine now
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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-02-2013, 10:36 AM
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Can you maybe leave your garage door open just enough for her to come into at night? Put some of her things in there like blankets and food? Just a thought to give her a safer alternative. At least you'd know where she is at night. Such a sweet story. I would definitely get her checked out. If you knew she was healthy then you could always give her the choice to come inside.
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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-02-2013, 10:38 AM
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As a side note; most importantly you could get her vaccinated so she doesn't contract deadly viruses. That's the most loving thing you can do for her.
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-02-2013, 12:44 PM
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When I was getting ready to trap my Ben, I called the vet before and told them what I was doing, so they were ready anytime she went in the trap. It has worked out well, she is in the house, separated from my 16 yr. old cat, she has adjusted well, but it is still a work in progress. We live in the north, so leaving her outside was not an option because of the severe cold weather.
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-02-2013, 11:13 PM Thread Starter
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We have thought of the garage thing, but in FL, you will get an abundance of snakes and rats in your garage if you do that, as well as other cats in the neighborhood. I have actually wanted to do this, but my husband is dead set against it. I'm really thinking towards taking her in for shots and to see if she has diseases. So funny, I always say goodnight to her, and tonight she was not out there...which is short for, she was out hunting. It was the first really warm day we had here, and I bet money that I will have a nice surprise on my doorstep in the morning The last time, it was a squirrel, and a half hour later....squirrel was no more, just a tail
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