What to do....or leave well enough alone?
Ok, I have taken care of Arwen, my feral girl, for about a year and a half, although I know she has been living in my relatively quiet neighborhood for at least 3 years, perhaps longer. My neighbor across the street believes she was born in her azalea hedge about that long ago, and that a neighbor that lives in the cul de sac across from me, used to have random cats roaming that had babies regularly and just let them roam. Well, apparently, either someone in the neighborhood, or possibly that neighbor that had the random cats, must have taken some of the cats in to be fixed because she is ear tipped, never been pregnant, so we assume she was taken to a vet at least once. She seemed completely feral though, but has come around to me, and now my hubby. We live on a very quiet street, she hangs comfortably in my yard and several other yards where neighbors are very familiar with her, they all know she is sort of the neighborhood cat that mostly I feed and take care of.
We have thought about bringing her in, but we have 3 inside cats already, NOT by choice even, they all found me and we are over limit as it is. But that is not what keeps me from bringing her in. Even from the get go, I thought possibly that this cat might either possibly be felv + or worse. There was one time when she was lethargic, didn't eat for a few days, I was worried, this was almost a year ago though, and she has not done that since. She is sometimes very bloated, and I have seen tapeworms, and I worm her now and then, but it seems like a hard battle to fight, that they come back a lot (I use drontal), and I regularly put revolution on her for fleas. We have been letting her into our garage, although she is very nervous even coming in there, possibly though since my husband is usually tinkering with something in there and noises scare her, but we are hoping that this winter she will spend more time in there, but we are in FL, and the winters are not that bad and she usually takes up residence under my neighbors shed on really cold nights, which they are fine with.
I am terrified that if I trap her and take her to the vet, 1. She is going to flip, and 2. I am going to betray her trust that I have worked so long and hard to gain...and now she has even gained my husbands trust. I am agonizing over this. If I do trap her, I know my vet said that they can sedate her in the crate with gas without even removing her from it, which they said is less stressful, but that sounds scary to me. My husband thinks it is a bad idea to bring her in, that it would upset her too much, that she has a good life now as it is, but I am second guessing myself. She had a little swelling around her mouth the other day, possibly a rodent ulcer (from what I read) but I'm not sure about that, and the swelling is now down and looks normal, and she is eating fine and otherwise seems fine. I don't think this girl could ever be inside though, I just don't think she would even know what to do, and it would freak her out so badly, and she would want to be in indoor/outdoor cat, which I am totally uncomfortable with since I have 3 indoor cats that are healthy.
What to do??? I feel l like I'm failing her in a way, and then my husband is like, you are doing more for her than she has ever had, feeding her, etc. But I know she could use some more shots too, although at this point, if she is felv + or worse, what good would it even do? The last thing I want to do is stress her or lose her trust. I know I have had this dilemma about this same cat, sorry if I am redundant. It is just something that keeps me up at nights sometimes. My husband and I have already agreed that if something bad did happen to her, and she shows up really sick or hurt, we will have to trap her and get her into a vet, but I almost feel like I'm waiting for that? Which seems awful. Then again, is it ok to just let her live the only life she has ever known, she is obviously TNR, so she has had shots at least once and fixed, do I just leave her as she is, comfortable and seemingly happy with the way her life is, or stress her out and trap her and risk losing her trust? I seriously do not know what to do. I just know how much I love her. Oh, and she has never made an aggressive move towards other cats outside, she will literally step aside if another cat comes along, rather than fight it, and my cats look at her in the window all the time, and there seems to be no real stress from any of the cats, but obviously Beep (my vicious NON cat friendly cat) would never accept her, although Taffy would (5yo male) but Stephano (1yo total pain in the butt stuck in kitten mode) would likely annoy the crap out of her and try to play with her.....something she has NO idea how to do, and I think it would freak her out.
Beating my head slowly on the table thinking about this........