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Question about ferals

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
Hi Everyone,

I just have a question for the experts about feral cats. I live in a rural area and I have 1 cat who I feed on a regular basis. There isnt a colony of cats just about 3 independent ones that dont run together in a group. I feed all of them but this one cat comes at the same time every night (around 7:30pm) and he's the one that seems to reside on our property where the other ones are most likely barn cats belonging to some of the farmers around me. Anyway, he appears to be very healthy but definitely not social. I have cats of my own so I feed him the same dry food I feed them plus he has a dish of fresh water and gets a treat of wet food every now and then (just like my own indoor kitties too!). My question is...what should I do about shelter? We have two sheds on our property but I dont think they would be very appropriate as a shelter because my Dad keeps garden tools and such in there. I'm only a student and therefore cant afford anything elaborate but I was thinking about pooling some money together and buying a plastic or wooden dog house...would this be appropriate? I'm thinking ahead of time for the winter when it's snowy and cold. This cat is definitely a male and he's been around for quite some time. I would guess he's over 5 at least. He does come when he's called and will only approach me so close. The other night I decided to be brave and reach out and pet him..well, he seemed ok with it for about 2 seconds and then reared back and hissed at me (didnt try and scratch or bite though) so I wont trying that again any time soon (actually, I feel a bit afraid of him now since I've never had to deal with a cat who isnt social). I really want to make sure he has the best life possible and I'm just sorry I cant do more. I would like to get him neutered but it'll take me awhile to save the money and my parents really cant help me out because we already have a brood of cats of our own, a dog and 3 guinea pigs. I know a lady who rescues cats who, when the time comes, can lend my a trap or maybe even help me trap him but that definitely wont be for some time. I feel really guilty knowing all the people out there who rescue cats and take care of animal colonies and I can't completely help 1 by getting him neutered and vaccinated. Anyway, any shelter suggestions or any kind of advice at all would be really helpful.

post #2 of 9

Bless you for caring for this wild one. One of our members once posted that she made a nifty cat shelter out of those relatively inexpensive styrofoam coolers. She bought several large ones, cut holes in them, taped them together, set a heavy flat board on the bottom and on the top and made an insulated cat shelter of sorts. I have an old three sided shelter my ferals will use, plus they love the shop and the hay barn and the horse stall when it get cold. If you put an insulated shelter inside one of your sheds and started feeding this cat in the shed, I am sure he will be grateful once winter arrives. Again, thank you for caring.
post #3 of 9
THANK YOU so much for caring for this little one! He must be very special to you for you to take the time to be so comcerned about him. There needs to be MORE young people like you in this world. I was the one with the styrofoam cooler idea - my only suggestion to you is that you buy the sturdiest one you can find. A little hay or an old blanket and he should be all set. Please keep us posted on your progress with him! I hope you stay here with us and post often about your progress!
post #4 of 9
Bravo to you for helping these feral cats! Check out the Alley Cat Allies web site. Their organization is all about helping feral cats.


On their site you can find instructions on how to build a shelter for your ferals.


I hope you visit the Cat Site often and share your stories about your inside and outside cats.
post #5 of 9
By the way....when your feral guy hissed at you, he was simply telling you that he was uncomfortable. So, don't be frightened by that. When they hiss I just say "Oh, I'm sorry I made you uncomfortable" and then I pull my hand away. All he needs is for you to respect his boundaries and his hisses tell you when you and he have both gone just a little too far.
post #6 of 9
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the suggestions! The cooler idea is excellent and I can definitely pick up some of those. My Dad also has some scrap wood in the basement I can use. One of our sheds is completely enclosed whereas the other one has an open back and is attached to what used to be our dog run which is open and no longer used. I'm going to check it later today and see how I can utilize it as well. We have plenty of old towels and blankets (we get them second hand because our guinea pigs are house on towels and not wood chips).

His hissing did scare me but when I went out last night to put some more food out he was there waiting and seemed perfectly calm. I've just learned to respect his limits!

I'll definitely keep everyone updated on the status of my shelter and cat. I plan on making it large enough to accomodate more then just one cat considering the other cats that I've seen on the property and in the area. I'll have to ask my Dad if it's ok to use the shed but I'm sure he wont mind since he doesnt seem to use it for anything anyway.

It's really no hardship for me to help this cat and any other that needs food/shelter. I absolutely love cats and I hope to either become a rescuer myself when I'm independent or help a shelter/rescue by fostering. I admire those of you who do this full time!

Thanks for the help,
post #7 of 9
We love cats too (now!), and we don't do this full time. We're certainly not experts - we just try to help out the "lost souls" around here. We're muddling through figuring out how to house and feed the ferals here. Just wanted to let you know our hearts leap out to you. We'd so love it if you could keep us posted!

Being a student, anything you can do is super. Going out of your way to provide shelter has already earned you angel wings! Just wanted to "whisper in your ear" for future consideration, since you might not have thought of it...and we know you're short of resources, and if times were better we'd offer to provide the financing for this, but we can't really afford our own batch right now. But, at some point you may want to consider figuring out how to get "your kitties" spayed/neutered so the population of strays and ferals around you doesn't grow to large numbers. Is there a shelter where you are that may provide the service for free? Trapping, neutering and releasing is a widely accepted practice - it helps control the population, and enables you to continue to care for the kitties but contain their growth in numbers. Just "a bug in your ear," because anything you can do to help is so appreciated by your strays/ferals and everyone who loves them!

You already have lots and lots of fans on this site! As someone said to me when I first needed help & encouragement - You Go Girl!!!!!
post #8 of 9
Thread Starter 
Spaying and Neutering definitely figures into my plan. I live in a very rural area and no shelter (there is only one around here) or Vet will provide spay/neuter for ferals for zero cost (low cost,yes). I'm going to talk to the lady who rescues cats in our area and find out what she does. I'm very, very limited to my resources as, to get personal, I was disabled this past year with severe depression and had to cancel all plans of going to school and I also couldnt work.I've finally gotten back on my feet and managed to get a scholarship to attend school at the end of this month but still dont have a job (hard to come by in an area like this). The best I can do, at the moment, is provide food and shelter but once I have a job( which, with any luck, will be within the next few weeks) and have some savings put aside fixing these cats will certainly be a major priority. Right now, my parents are paying for my cats (which includes over $500 for one cat who has suffered from multiple illnesses) plus they have also paid for my Guinea pigs as well (which includes well exceeding $500 for one of my guineas who has a deformity of the urethra which caused recurrent bladder infections and bladder stones which have required surgery). All my 4 cats and my 3 guineas are my total responsibility and my parents have been amazing at the lengths they have gone to to help me look after my pets and there is no way they would help me with these ferals! My Dad and Mom did give me permission to convert one of our sheds into a cat enclosure and they have also said they will purchase the foam coolers for that use as well.

Rest assured though, that these cats will be fixed as soon as humanly possible because there is already enough overpopulation and homeless cats as there is without neglectfully creating more!

post #9 of 9
You truly are an angel! I almost hated to mention the spay/neuter issue - it's a costly proposition for anyone. What a wonderful family you have!

Best of luck on the job front. It's really tough out there, rural area or no. We know first-hand how debilitating clinical depression can be. My brother's wife and my husband's sister suffer from this terrible disease. I applaud what success you seem to have made in fighting this. All I can say is you've found a wonderful support network here on the cat site, both for you personally and for help and advice with your animals.

Whatever you can do to help these amazing creatures is appreciated by all cat lovers - and most importantly, the kitties themselves. You've already earned your wings!

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