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I joined today to ask for help with feral. I apologise for the post that follows being so long, I want to give as complete a picture as possible!

We moved to our farm in July, the farm had been empty for 18 months and the owners left ''three or four'' ''barn cats''. Bombolone (our name for her)we were told, was about 12, male and neutered. She turns out to be probably not yet 5 and female, but neutered.

She has always stayed closer to the house than the others, who I haven't yet discerned entirely from my neighbours cats (neutered). I'm happy to feed them for the rest of their lives, we're not moving again, but I did want to verify they are neutered, I suspect the limited numbers mean they are, though wonder if Bombolone is the offspring of a cat older than her that arrived 12 years ago.


Bombolone got in a pattern of waiting for food, which I take out when ever I see her, at 11 am and 6pm, nd sometimes other times too. She often came with a couple of cats my neighbours say are theirs, sometimes alone.

I fed her/them by my open front door and also in an outhouse where I later put food in a trap, and caught noone!

A few weeks ago Bombolone had the crouched uncomfortable posture of a cat with bladder infection, or a lower back problem and I decided she needed a vet trip urgently. It cleared up, but I sat with the food daily, moving it further in the house. Sometimes my own cats would join us and they'd all eat together.

The weekend before last Bombolone came far enough in the house for me to close the door. She was obviously very stressed, and my vet suggested I give her a few days to acclimatise in a very large crate, with a hidey hole, a litter tray. She saw the vet four days later who gave her a relatively clean bill of immediate health, but confirmed it probably had been a bladder infection (WBC count indicated infection) and that she has the very, very early stages of renal issues: failure to concentrate her urine.


The vet suggested we spend a few weeks trying to socialise her, so that she could receive treatment at later date when its needed, or be caught to be PTS at a later date.

So just over a week on and I feel very conflicted...are we really doing the right thing for her? She has very bad diarrhoea (the vet feels this is stress of change nothing more serious) and though she purrs and enjoys a scratch and a stroke, purring wildly after a while, but each time I approach her it takes 5- 15 minutes stroking with a long handled brush to get to the stage I can put my hand n her.

My vet things we should give it four months, handling and feeding and providing warmth.

She's coping with the litter tray ok, getting the idea...apart from with the diarrhoea. She has free access to the bathroom, and a large landing all the time, at night I open the room to my bedroom so she is ''close'' and realises proximity isn't always about pressuring her. She and my pet cats ignore each other pretty much, they sleep with me.

I feel she's not getting any happier with handling right now, though it has been suggested I'm too close to see we're making progress.

where do I go from here? Just persist with handling?
 

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I think you're doing a fine job. Just take everything slowly. Sit quietly on the floor with an interactive toy, a good book, and some great smelling food. Let kitty make the decisions. Move the food closer, bit by bit. Eventually, you could put the food on your lap. That might work. Then pet her while she eats. Just take your time. :)

Pumpkin will help regulate her digestive system,both diarrhea and constipation, just a spoonful will do.

Pumpkin: A Natural Remedy for Constipation and Diarrhea in Cats and Dogs - Associated Content - associatedcontent.com

Thank you for caring for her!
 

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Yup, just be patient with her. It's a lot harder to tame older cats, than kittens.
I finally caught the last kitten of a feral litter the other day...about the same way you did. I put food just inside the doorway, and shut the door while she was distracted with eating (almost got a tomcat, but he was "smart" and ran outside before I could get to the door). She's 5 months old, and while she doesn't seem to mind hanging out in the bedroom, still won't let me touch her. I have petted her a few times when she's either distracted with eating, or sleeping...but I only get a moment, before she up and bolts away. Last time, she actually laid still and sniffed my finger, then backed up a few steps.
Hopefully I can catch her Monday night or Tuesday morning, as the vet said they have an opening to get her spayed that day!

Having your own cats around will probably help a bit, too. Disco (cat I caught the other day) has her sister Zinny, who's already been tamed, and my 2 cats with her. I think that's why it's only taken a couple days for her to be as calm as she is. She sees me petting them, without them acting like it's harmful.
 

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I've always tamed adult ferals and helped them become accustomed to handling outside before I brought them in. Doing it that way can take a long time because the cat can leave whenever they feel uncomfortable. Having your kitty already contained is both helping and hurting. It is helping because it creates an opportunity for the kitty to learn she can trust you and it hurts because she doesn't understand and fully trust everything right now so she is stressed.
To me, it sounds like you are doing great. You are handling her in ways that she feels comfortable and you are allowing her to feel comfortable with each step before you progress. Just keep trying to have every experience be as positive as you can so she can learn you will be consistent and trustworthy.

It will happen, it just takes time for the kitty to have enough experiences with you to learn nothing bad happens and at that point ... the point where their fear is no longer overriding all other thought processes ... the kitty will begin to really learn and will progress forward at a steady and smooth rate.

The kitty progresses on its' own time-table, not ours. We can sometimes help it along, but doing so must be done in a structured environment and accompanied by an equally structured socialization plan. I generally only quicken things when I am fostering for an adoption agency. My own, personal feral-to-housecats take as long as they take.
Malibu took 5mo from TNR until I could first touch her.
Pretty took 14mo from TNR to first touch.
Cats are individuals and we need to be flexible and do what the cat needs us to do to help it learn. Cookie-cutter methods are good for general information but it is good to have other things in your bag-of-tricks. I like to use tasty food treats/bribes and interactive toys to help them relax.
I think you're doing a GREAT job!
heidi =^..^=
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thank you for the reassurance. :)

Last night after typing all that, I went to bed and Bombolone came in the room and slept under a chest of drawers. Still hiding, but hiding closer!
 

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May I ask what she was eating before you moved in? Was she getting mice, birds, lizards, whatever or was the previous owner feeding her as well?

What are you feeding her?

I'm absolutely not saying that she doesn't have a medical issue, I'm just wondering if the diarrhea is also because her diet has changed now that she comes to you for food.

I think you're doing a good job, a great job, in fact. Just take it slow...you're doing a good thing.
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
May I ask what she was eating before you moved in? Was she getting mice, birds, lizards, whatever or was the previous owner feeding her as well?

What are you feeding her?

I'm absolutely not saying that she doesn't have a medical issue, I'm just wondering if the diarrhea is also because her diet has changed now that she comes to you for food.

I think you're doing a good job, a great job, in fact. Just take it slow...you're doing a good thing.
Of course you may ask! I'm so grateful for all this help!


As well as the many, many pigeon feathers I found daily I also found in her early stools here a lot of grain...I'm guessing she used to eat our chicken grain a bit. And we don't have a rodent issue here, so I guess they got eaten too. finally my neighbours are dairy farmers, and I'm afraid have the kind but dietary iffy policy of putting their milk dregs out for the cats, since they were abandoned here.


She was eating outside a mixture of cheaper cat food I put out at dusk for the bunch...the ferals and my neighbours cats...I did warn my neighbours..(the cheap stuff seems to smell stronger ):( All wet food, but also, when she came for her ''individual'' feed the food I feed my cats: Bozita
Great Deals on Bozita Canned Cat Food at zooplus


I feed the tetra packs because they work really well for me. One of mine has a grain intolerance (I sound like a food nut, but she gets itchy when she eats food that isn't high percentage meat plus we raw feed....our own organic chicken...but not given that to Bombolone yet...which is odd, because its more like what she is used to!)

She's not thought much of the fish and rice post the fast my vet suggested: fussy feral!

I put some pumpkin in it tonight (thank goodness its All Hallows, squash isn't always available in the diversity and quantity in UK!) and tomorow plan to reintroduce bozita a little at a time with the fish.
 

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I thought I'd give you all an update.

Bombolone is doing...ok. The most progress is that her poop is solid now. This is amazingly exciting when you're cleaning carpets daily where she is living! She's become less good about the litter...she'll go in it sometimes to widdle but I'm obviously not helping her understand it would be better all the time....I scoop once or twice a day....should it be more often? Less often? Once she's got the hang of that I feel her life will be better, she could have more space to hide from me in for example.

I wouldn't say we've made much, or any, progress in making friends. She still hisses and spits when she sees me, but will give in eventually to stroking. I have read now that purring can be in response to extreme fear, not just relaxing...so I feel less relieved when she purrs, though she does seem to enjoy being stroked....she leans into facial strokes and lifts her rear end when I stroke her back.

he weather here has been a little wild wet and windy and my neighbour told me he found one of our ferals dead today in one of his barns :(. The neighbours and I are the only people round here and they love the cats too, he was very upset.

I still feel ''morally conflicted'' over what we're trying to do. I can't see Bombolone ever taking daily medicine from me with minima stress should her kidneys worsen.
 

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Actually, she is making amazing progress. You are obviously very patient with her. She has only been inside a couple of weeks. Wait till you see how far she'll come in another month. She is definitely getting there.

As far as using the litter box: I had only one feral who didn't get it.
I put regular old dirt on top of the litter and she began using it every time. Start with a lot of dirt, even all dirt, then you can decrease it. Avoid scented litter.
 

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Have you tried mixing the medicine in a bit of her canned food? I think you're doing well with her. :) Remember; it could take as long as a year. Patience, treats, and interactive toys are the keys!

She's not on anything yet. The vet said because we've got this early she's only at the stage where her urine fails to concentrate well and that ATM the thing to do is get her eating and drinking well, keep warm and healthy and avoid future infection...but that in the future this will change or she will need to be PTS. :(

Actually, she is making amazing progress. You are obviously very patient with her. She has only been inside a couple of weeks. Wait till you see how far she'll come in another month. She is definitely getting there.

As far as using the litter box: I had only one feral who didn't get it.
I put regular old dirt on top of the litter and she began using it every time. Start with a lot of dirt, even all dirt, then you can decrease it. Avoid scented litter.
Thank you BOTH for the reminder of timing. It feels like so much longer because every day takes so long atm! (I've got the other critters to tend to and haven't left the farm much, so one day trugs on from another in a blur...)

Maybe I should make a weekly post to chart things.

Interactive toys..well...I've tried slowly dragging around a DA BIRD...because I know she ate loads of pigeon, but even though I don't flick it at her she looks horrified...the only thing I know she likes is food...in any form. I've got a treat ball somewhere that I want to find for her, but we just do this thing where I food reward for allowing my hand near her. She roots, but I tempt her to reach for the treats etc. I'll feel progress when she will take a step for something tasty.

And scented litter...YIKES, I've topped up with the other litter and didn't put earth back in, what a fool I am....will attend to that RIGHT NOW. Thank you thank you Thank you!
 

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A positive update. We've been getting on ok. still not hitting the litter box, now with earth in, but I'm coping. I've decided to hire a carpet cleaner this weekend. However well I clean by hand I guess its full of pheromones and smells better than the litter box to her.

Also, a weird one, she did do a piddle not in the carpet or tray but rather on the plate she had had breakfast from. I came in and there it was, not a drop spilled.

she's always choosing to sleep in the bedroom with me, under a chest of drawers, but this morning, REAL progress, in stead of scuttling out to hide in ''her'' place on the landing she sat ...not cowered or crouched, just normally, in the door way watching me and the pet cats having a cuddle. She has seen my girls petted a lot, but from where she happens to be, not somewhere she's chosen to be where she can get a good view and also I was so pleased with her body language.

Thanks for letting me witter on here, it helps. :)
 

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I apologize for asking a quick question w/out reading back through your topic ... but is it possible she has a UTI?
(Urinary Tract Inflamation/Infection?)
 

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I apologize for asking a quick question w/out reading back through your topic ... but is it possible she has a UTI?
(Urinary Tract Inflamation/Infection?)
she probably has had recently. I saw her a few weeks before successfully catching her with a crouched posture, and the tests at the vet showed white blood cell elevation ...as if having fought of infection recently.:(

Anyway, the diarrhoea is back and very severe. The poor wee mite. Vet said to fast her for 24 hours again and go back to rice and fish. Vet is convinced this is a stress reaction, but nothing has changed and the droppings were getting firmer and now...woosh...still feeding same brand of food as she's been introduced to, with a teaspoon of pumpkin, but only once a day now with the squash. Maybe her little feral system needs a ''less good'' food?

I have almost finished the bag of attractant litter, but I'm going to get another tomorrow to mix with the earth. She seem's to be peeing in the tray more reliably the last day or two (I had to remove her ''box-bed''because it was drenched with pee and this seems to have helped her to go in the litter tray), and with a bad tummy then I really don't expect her to succeed with anything else. She has two trays, a covered one and an uncovered one, side by side, so that she can choose. she seems to prefer the uncovered.
 

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My sister, who takes care of my cats when I travel for business, calls my feral Nessie because she has not seen her in an entire year. The female former feral runs when the door bell rings and won't come out if there is a stranger in the house. It's been 15 months and she still trusts no one but me.
 

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If the pumpkin doesn't work, I would consult the vet. Good luck. You're doing well!

The vet just keeps saying it'll be stress. I've asked if I can take a sample in, but they keep suggesting I wait. :(

I AM transitioning to another food though, because it might be the food doesn't suit her. My reservation with this is that the vet thinks we should try Royal Canin sensible, whereas I'm worried about dried food with the renal issues, but we've decided its got to be better than the corn and odds and sods she was eating out side. There are other bonuses with the dried food. Though she still ignores every other toy or game she got the idea of a treat ball immediately! So this keeps her busy AND slows down her eating, which is more like a starving dog than a cat...10 seconds and its gone.
 

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I rescued a feral about 10 years ago, and she's still skittish. She startles if I move too quick, or she'll hide if things get too noisy (like when I vacuum).

Toys - Paizly seems terrified of store-bought stuff! Da Bird would send her running to hide in a corner (haven't tired that, but similary toys). Any plastic balls I roll to her she'll balk from. However, she does like home made stuff... rolled up balls of aluminum foil, or small papers rolled up. She likes bottle caps and also the 'rings' from plastic jugs too. She likes the laser pointer...sometimes. She won't run from it, but if she doesn't chase it, she just sits there and stares at it. I will put a couple beans in a pill bottle to make it rattle, and she likes that okay... actually, she likes the empty/non-rattle ones, too!

Litter box - Paizly doesn't like covered litter boxes. I've tried different kinds.. one with a solid top, and one with a canvas 'tent' over it. I think she likes open ones, because then she can watch what goes on around her and be warned of any impending threats (not that there are any, of course, but she thinks there might be!)

Handling - The newest feral I rescued didn't mind being petted...if I did it right. I put her in my lap, on a towel, and draped the sides over her to gently wrap her up. Then I would pet her from behind, as I've heard hands going toward/over them can frighten them. At first she would try to squirm away, but after a few days she began to like the attention. I didn't even need the towel by the end of the week. Another week later, I could pet her from the front, if I moved slowly and quietly.
Talk in a quiet voice, while you pet. Purring can indicate stress, but it's usually a quick & short purr... if the purrs are longer and blend together, that usually means a happy purr.

Keeping a log would be great. I'm keeping one for my ferals... sort of a diary with daily entries (and in the summer, when I can sit out on the patio and work, I usually write hourly stuff if there's lots to make notes on about them!)
I do the most recent day first, and the very bottom of the document is the beginning of the diary. I keep mine on the computer, but if you're doing a paper book, I guess you could write it like a regular diary.
 

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Thank you all again. :)

Bombolone and I took a sample into the vet this morning and I pushed the issue. Bombe had been booked in to stay for the day and be examined under sedation but we saw an older, braver vet who actually LISTENED to me abut her often purring and liking contact and eating fro my hand etc and she asked if I thought I could get her from the cratejust to see what she was like before sedation.
Well I'm so proud of that little cat.

She came out, she was examined, and petted by me, the vet and vet nurse, she purred (and the vet confirmed its a good purr) and had to injections, and a spot on again.

The vet was fabulous (and sadly part time otherwise I'd want to see her always!) and was really keen to treat Bombe as a person not just a ''feral''. She is slightly concerned Bombe might have salmonella or something similar and that this should have been tested for on her first visit and it not dismissed as stress. She accepted that this WILL be a stressful process for Bombolone but that her progress is staggeringly good.

She also said the further good news is that she has put on weight, even with this terrible diarrhoea and that this MIGHT suggest that she has been ill for sometime and that the good diet and warmth is already helping.

Its good to have a really positive update!
 
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