Advice to help a feral cat please
I am writing this from Sydney, Australia.
We have a big stray cat population at our work. The cats have been tolerated for a while, but recently it was decided by someone very high up that the cats would all have to go, and they called in the pest guy. One particular adult cat (only about 18 months old herself) had just had her second litter of 6 kittens (the kittens were 5 weeks old). Knowing that their days were numbered, my supervisor and I collected up the kittens 2 days ago and found two very understanding vets who agreed to hand rear them until they were old enough to be re-homed. I understand that 5 weeks is generally too young to remove kittens from their mother, but the vets assured us that given the correct care, they would be ok and were still young enough to be domesticated and re-homed. From what I hear, the kittens are all doing well, and the vets are very positive about their future. The kittens would have been killed if we had not taken them.
Yesterday the pest controller arrived to trap the mother cat. This mother cat had previously been very friendly. She would approach you for a pat when she saw you, eat out of your hand, jump on your lap and even let you pick her up (although admittedly she didn't like being picked up and would growl). Even after we took her kittens, she was still friendly towards us, and I was able to give her flea and worm medicine without any problems.
However, the pest guy was very aggressive when he caught her, and by the time he put her in a cage she was ready to scratch out the eyes of anyone who looked at her. She scratched the pest guy quite badly too.
Because she had been such a lovely cat before, I agreed to take her home temporarily until I could find a "no kill" shelter who would take her. If I had not done this, the pest controller was going to take her straight to the pound where I am quite sure they would have killed her immediately (I checked their policy on their website - they either kill on the spot or give the cat a maximum of 7 days to find a home).
This is where the problem begins. She is far too aggressive at the moment to be kept inside my house anywhere, so I had to put her in my kids' outdoor cubby house. Since she is not desexed/spayed yet, I could not risk letting her go outside to create a new stray population either. None of the "no kill" shelters in Sydney have any space available at the moment. Although I could take her to the RSPCA (this is the Australian version of ASPCA), they also euthanize cats who are being aggressive.
After I brought her home and opened up the cage, she leapt out towards my face screeching. She did not make contact with me luckily, but she is incredibly scared and being very aggressive. She was previously on a hunger strike, but has now eaten a bowl of food. Her aggression is slightly better since yesterday, considering that I am now able to open the door of the cubby house slightly and push in a bowl of food. She only hisses at me when I do this now, whereas before she would have lunged at me.
My question for everyone is whether this cat is a lost cause, or whether this current aggression is just a temporary fear response due to the trauma of being caught? If I leave her in this quiet space for a few days will she calm down and revert to her former sweet temperament? Or will she now always associate me with fear and behave violently?
A rescue sanctuary (who has no room to take her) recommended a product called Feline Tranquil Formula. I am not sure if this is available outside Australia, but she swore by it as a means to calm down an aggressive cat. I have put some in her food, but she has not eaten that bowl of food yet. The ingredients just look like vitamins to me, but as I said, this lady swore by it.
What else can I do to help her calm down?
Any help would be greatly appreciated.