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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-02-2014, 09:54 PM Thread Starter
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Thinking about taking in a semi-feral- long

Friends of the family have cared for a colony for many years. All were TNR cats so their numbers did not grow instead they decreased over the years and are down to only 2 remaining adult cats.

For the last few years I've visited these cats and I feel a kinship with a scrappy looking tabby who is shy at first- for like 60 seconds- and then becomes an avid leg-circler. She is already spayed and has had some veterinary care and shots. She has been a well cared for colony stray her entire life. Our best guess is that she is 9 or 10 but she could be verging on seniorhood too.

Her last vet visit was for stiches for a back wound and she was kept indoors at my friends' house in their sunporch until the wound healed. My friends' say that she was fine indoors and after one day of "holding it in" she was using the litter box without a problem.

So, these friends are planning on moving and probably taking the other stay with them. The options for the other cat are to go to the shelter I volunteer at or to come home with me. If she went to the shelter it would probably be her new permanent home. I don't think she'd get adopted out because she has battle scars. I feel it is a little less than ideal for me to add another permanent resident to the shelter (no-kill) when ideally we are trying to place cats to make room for more.

For the last few years I've been so tempted to bring this cat home and I've almost posted this message here a few times. When my last cat was still with us I told myself we shouldn't take in the tabby because my cat was too old and crotchety to be ok with another cat coming in. When our cat did pass I asked my husband about taking in the tabby again and he felt that the pain from losing our companion was too awful and he wanted a cat that was younger to delay having to experience the inevitable loss again within the next few years. At this time in order to lessen my dissapointment I told myself the other cat would be lonely being left alone and agreed on a younger cat so we ended up adopting a stray older kitten who is now about 10 months old.

With the move coming up my desire to take in this kitty and give her some nice secure years for her seniorhood is rising to a new height but I have some reservations. I have no idea how old strays cope with going from being 100% outdoor to 100% indoor cats. If the tabby came home with us she'd never step on grass again. We live in a highrise so even her view of the outdoors will be vastly different (though birds do fly at the level of our windows so there is some entertainment there).

I worry a little about handling her. It's ok if she turns out not to be a lap cat but since she's older she'll get to that point where she will start to have grooming issues and need to be bathed on occasion. She'll also have to get used to having her nails trimmed. I've never tried to pick her up and hold her but she takes to petting very well. Maybe that is a good sign.

I also worry about health issues. I don't know if she's been tested for anything and I need to protect the health of my 10 month old first and foremost. I'm thinking I could quarine the tabby in our spare room until it's seen the vet, been treated for parasites and possibly ringworm (though I don't see any crusty patches) but I'm not sure what to do if it turns out she has FIV or FeLV or anything terrible that can pass to the cat we have now.

So, after all that reading if anyone has any advice or thoughts to share I'd be really grateful. I've spent a lot of time obsessing over this kitty not knowing what the right thing to do is. I know what I want to do- have her come here and live happily as a lazy old pampered girl with her new younger friend but I worry things could go badly if she can't adapt to a more sedentary lifestyle.
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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-03-2014, 01:47 AM
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I give up. I've written 2 posts, and I have accidentally deleted both.!!!

So for right now, just a quick note: it's great that you're thinking of giving this girl a cushy indoor life! She might be tired of having to be on guard all the time, and now that the colony no longer has a bunch of other cats, she just might be ready to come in.

As for diseases, I definitely wouldn't bring her in before getting her checked out and vaccinated. But once that's done, shouldn't your kitty be ok, even if she is FIV or FeLV+ ?

But I also completely understand your reservations - had a similar situation, with a stray - definitely not feral, but 100% outdoors for at least the past 5 years. I didn't let him in at first, because I have 2 senior girls, one of whom is super skittish and easily stressed. Started letting him in this past fall, and he really hates feeling confined. Just yowled incessantly to be let back out, regardless of the weather.

There are at least a couple of members who turned ferals into 100% indoor cats, so it's possible, but the cat's temperament might ultimately be the deciding factor. Did your friends say how she reacted to being trapped?

How far is the colony from where you live? It would be ideal if she could be trapped and taken to the vet, and then you could do a test run to see how she reacts.

But I'm not an expert on ferals - maybe someone will have some better advice for you.
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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-13-2014, 12:54 PM
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Your heart is already telling you what to do! I would take this cat in and have it tested for FeLv and FIV just so you would know if your dealing with it. I would start bringing her into your home now and get her use to being around you and see how she starts to warm up to you.

I have a former out of doors, FeLv cat who is 12 years old now. No issues and does fine with all my fosters and my own cats. I would give it a try. Don't expect every thing to be perfect right from the start. She will have to learn her new "territory" and how to interact with you. She will have to make the decision to trust you totally. It all takes time.

There are lots of cat savvy people on CF. They can help you address concerns along the way. Ive seen lots of cats make the transition of being abandoned out of doors cats into wonderful indoor companions. If they were once someones socialized cat they will come around. It just takes time and TLC.
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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-13-2014, 05:47 PM
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I fed an old stray for 3 years every day, took her to the vet several times, had her overnight in the apt., yet she wouldn't let me touch her nor touched me. But one day, feeling old and not in such good health as before, she started coming into the apt. now and then. She seemed like she was giving a try at retiring from the street life. I was pleasantly surprised, because I had always thought that she'd freak out if I tried to adopt her. So I decided to gradually get her used to being in our home, a little at a time. In the middle of that, she vanished. She'd lived in the same spot for about 10 years, so I can only guess she fell sick and died. I don't think I'll ever have peace for not adopting her by force. I live haunted by this. In light of my experience, all I can say is don't forget this cat lives outdoors - and anything can happen to her at any time. The fact that it didn't for 10 years doesn't mean it won't 5 minutes from now. If you think you'll die a bit inside like me if this happens, then get a trap, bring her home, quarantine her, and hope for the best.

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Her Royal Highness Princess Gatita von Meouw, Nikita Duchess of Meouw and
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Last edited by Straysmommy; 06-13-2014 at 05:51 PM.
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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-13-2014, 06:17 PM
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That made me tear up. Maybe someone else took her in. She is remembered and never forgotten. Each cat in our lives teach us valuable lessons.
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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-13-2014, 06:34 PM
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Thought it would, that's why I'd never shared this painful story on CF - only now, because it may help another stray. It was painful to share, I had to go downstairs and check on the strays just now, to feel a bit better. They're sleeping off the 0.5lbs roast chicken wings meat they each had for dinner tonight.

She didn't come to eat for 3 days, then she came and ate once, then vanished. So it looks like an illness more than anyone having made her disappear (many wanted to, because she used to pee and poo inside the building all the time and there were tons of complaints. She lived in and out of the building).

The Royal von Meouw Dynasty: His Royal Highness the late Prince von Meouw,
Her Royal Highness Princess Gatita von Meouw, Nikita Duchess of Meouw and
His Highness Cuchi-Cuchi, next in line for the throne of Prince von Meouw.
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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 07-01-2014, 08:53 PM
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Straysmommy - this made me tear up too. I remember all too well what you went through when your little stray disappeared, I have not forgotten. This is my own fear with Arwen, my formerly very feral girl, who now loves and trusts me and my husband. She has been in my neighborhood also for 5-8 years (our best guess). She slept in my garage during the cold months, but now doesn't want to come inside. All she does is sleep in one of 3 places outside, and on occasion, she brings me a rat, but for the most part, she sleeps. I go over and over bringing her inside, but I have 4 inside cats, and I feel like the world would fall apart for my inside cats, and they would start having peeing issues. Beep, my oldest cat, as it is, cannot be out with the other three, so that is stressful, having to rotate everyones time out. But still, I wish I could bring her in. We just got word of a possible tropical storm that could become a catagory 1 hurricane....ugh, and I immediately thought of Arwen. Thinking I may have to put her in my spare room, that currently has my latest stray sleeping in it at night. I know that one day it could happen, that she will be gone, or something will get her, and it kills me too. Yet, I don't know what the solution is. I am not convinced she would want to even stay in my house, especially with the other three cats that could possibly be around her. Arwen is so non-confrontational, and Stephano, my 2 year old black male, he is a clown, who would want to play with her, and she does not like to play, so I jsut feel like it wouldn't work.

Still, I think of what you went through. I know this is how I would feel. If it happens, I too will feel like part of me is missing and has died. I think of you all the time when I ponder what to do about Arwen.
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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 07-02-2014, 12:30 PM
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I know from the threads how much you love Arwen, I've often had to re-read to understand that she lives outside, because she's like a house cat for you.

I too was in a chaotic situation at home cat wise back then, so it was the worst time for a new addition. Prince, my all in life, had just died suddenly of cancer and I was broken. Niki had abandoned the house weeks before and come back suddenly, and I was desperately working on getting her to accept the new kitten that was dumped on me 4 weeks before so they could all stay. Princess was only starting to get out of the bedroom after years of living on my bed because Prince sometimes attacked her and she's a terribly scaredy cat. And the new addition, I knew, peed everywhere in our building, and I live by rent in a tiny apt. covered by wall-to-wall carpeting that I'll have to pay dearly if something happens to it, because the landlord has access to my savings account (that's the way it is here).

My modest opinion is, regarding cats getting along, it's all a lot easier when there are no options. Here there are no animal shelters and hardly any adoptions. So cat lovers take in strays all the time, and somehow, just somehow, everyone in the house has to get along, because there's no other option that implies everyone staying alive. And so the cats live together, better or worse, but always a million times better than in the streets. Bottom line: looking back, what I would change is I should've closed the door behind that poor stray and not before her. It would've been very hard on everyone, me and all the cats, but everyone would be alive today. And because they're all neutered, no serious physical harm can ever befall on any of them.

The Royal von Meouw Dynasty: His Royal Highness the late Prince von Meouw,
Her Royal Highness Princess Gatita von Meouw, Nikita Duchess of Meouw and
His Highness Cuchi-Cuchi, next in line for the throne of Prince von Meouw.
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