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Stray in front yard

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
Hi all,
I was wondering if you could give me some advice about a stray that I have been seeing in my front yard. I'm so scared that she's going to get hit by a car or mauled by one of the dogs around here. She's not very old but I haven't been able to get close enough to her to guess her age, but she's definitely not full grown. I've only seen her for a couple days now, so I'm not sure if she's someone's lost pet.
My dilemma is: My dad is allergic to cats and won't let me take in any more in addition to Socks and even if I could "sneak" the kitty in, Socks really hates other cats. She seems rather scared of humans and won't let me catch her. I read some advice that maybe I should go outside in the early morning when all is quiet. It's midnight now, and I've been contemplating it. I just feel very sorry for the poor babe. I'm not sure how old she is, so I don't know whether to put out kitten or cat food. (Have to wait until the parents are asleep or I'll get the entire "we buy food for your cat - not the neighbourhood cats" speech). Should I put up posters advertising that I've seen her? I haven't seen any ads for a lost kitty, which is rare in this tiny town...when something's lost, people usually say so. Tonight is garbage night - I'm horrified of the prospect that this kitty might get into somebody's garbage and get poisoned.
I know I'm not thinking straight so I'm sorry if this post made no sense, or even if it's in the wrong forum.
Any suggestions?
post #2 of 23
I'd try to borrow a humane trap from my local vet or humane shelter and capture her. Locate a "no kill" kitty shelter in your area and see if they can take her. You can find one for your area by looking up "no kill kitty shelter" in your search engine, that's how I found some in Ohio. Most areas have several so don't give up if one says, "sorry we're full" because a lot of them have fostering programs, that's how I got involved w/ official fostering myself.

I'm not sure where you're located but I am only a little versed with Wa state. She sounds like she was dumped hon I hate to say, for her to stammer around like that-she seems disoriented. You're right to be concerned, she's probably really scared and a half a cup to a cup of kitty food won't break anyones bank, that's for sure. Even fresh clean water is a plus. Heck if you can scrape up some change you can get her her own can. I hope you can get her hon. Good luck.

post #3 of 23
Thread Starter 
Thanks Elyse. I tried to get her last night but I couldn't. I did take some food out for her, but it hasn't been touched . It's really complicates things because we're leaving to go to the cottage tomorrow, but I've asked a friend to keep an eye on her.
post #4 of 23
Before I moved recently there was a little kitty coming to visit me nightly. She got to where she'd poke her head in the door and even came in a few feet but to no avail. I pray for her daily--poor lil' gal. I believe she was basically feral, had quite the wild look to her eyes and wasn't friendly--just checking things out. Hope you do better than I did, lol--whiley little creatures, aren't they? Makes me feel like the coyote in those cartoons but all we can is offer it I guess. Bless your heart hon and have fun on your trip, hope it's safe to!

post #5 of 23
She has probably been dumped somewhere and found her way to your property. Right now, just feeding her and giving her water is giving her more security than she has had in a long time. If you can find an empty cardboard box and flip it over, cut holes in it so she can come and go and weight it down on top so it doesn't turn over, you can provide her shelter as well. If she is feral, she is not going to want to trust you for quite awhile, so you need to work almost in slow motion when she is near you. Talk to her softly the entire time you are out there giving her her needs, doesn't matter what you say, just let her know your voice and don't look at her full into her face, ferals consider that a threat. It would be best if you could trap her in a humane trap, but if there is no place for her to go, then that idea is moot. Good luck!
post #6 of 23
Thread Starter 
I'll put out a box for her and get my friend to replace it if it rains. If she's still around when I get home, I'll try to get a trap and find her a home. The neighbours said she was at their house a few days ago, so it seems she might be working her way up the street. I have another friend that lives on a farm and will take her if I get her spayed, which I don't mind. So it all depends on
a)if she's still here
b)if I can get a trap
c)if I can catch her with that trap

Do they usually stick around if you feed them and give them water? I don't want her to go away, but I really have to go to the cottage. If it were any other week, it wouldn't matter, but this happens to be the family reunion that I have to go to.

If by chance she *is* somebody's pet (which I'm beginning to doubt, but I can't really tell), and I take her and get her spayed, could I get into legal trouble with her owners if she has any?

PS: Sorry about putting in the wrong forum. I still don't know quite where everything belongs!
post #7 of 23
Jenn, Don't worry about posting in the wrong place.
The moderators just move it for you if you do. You're such a sweetheart to care so much about the kitten. You already have such great advice, there's not much I can add. You can place an ad in the paper telling the location she was found, but I would not describe her in the ad. There are people looking to make a few dollars selling cats and kittens for research. Make sure the owner can identify her by her markings. If your friend keeps her fed and watered, I think she will keep coming back. I know you don't have a lot of money, and we parents can be unreasonable at times, but I would use a bit of my spending money to buy a few reasonably priced cans of food to mix with the dry. That will be more tempting to her and she'll be more likely to stay around your house. I have taken in so many kittens because my kids told me they were "positive" they knew whose cat it was---and it wasn't---I can understand how your parents feel. I'm not sorry, though. God loves a kind and willing heart like yours!! Give us the news when you get home, please.
post #8 of 23
Thread Starter 
Thanks Jeanie. If she's still around when I get back, I will put an ad out for her. I got a better look at her today - she's really thin, and by the looks of it, she's hanging around with an orange striped kitty that's equally as thin. They're about the same size, they look about, maybe 6 months old (I'm not a good estimater, though!). It's the first time I've seen the orange striped cat though. I've looked in the paper and around town, noticeboards and such, and haven't seen an ad for a lost cat (or cats), I don't know if they are littermates or just buddies. But their similarity in size makes me think they might be littermates that somebody dropped off...

I'll pick up some canned food at the grocery store when I go to see if I can have some cardboard boxes. I only have about $10 left though... (Filled the gastank in my car yesterday. If I'd known about these kitties then, I wouldn't have put the money out. I really need a job!).

Thanks everyone and I'll keep you posted when I get back.
post #9 of 23
What you can do while you are away is take an old covered plastic trashcan (that you really don't care about anymore) scrub it out well and cut a hole in the side of it- almost to the bottom but not quite. Fill the trashcan up with dry food, set it somewhere with a cookie sheet under it to catch the food. You want something flat that keeps it off the ground. And set it up for her in a protected place in your yard. She will come to feed and when the food gets jammed into the hole, all she has to do is reach in with her paw and more will pour out. I have a 32 gallon plastic feeder set up like this in the back of our shop and it works well. Ideally, if you can set it up on bricks to keep it off the ground but still accessible to the cat, that works best. Thank you for caring for this little one, you are undoubtedly showing her the first act of human kindness in her life. You should get her spayed, and IF someone claims her (but I doubt they will) they will never know she has been spayed because once the incision heals, even vets are hard pressed to find it. Good luck! Maybe your friend with the farm can look after her while you are gone? But no, you don't generally hang around a feral while they are eating, I usually leave them in peace so they don't feel threatened.
post #10 of 23
Jenn, My vet told me not to feed soft food as a steady diet. You'll just need a small amount to give the dry food a "good" smell and keep her coming back. You have a good heart. You don't have to give her "gourmet" canned foods. Just tempt her with that smell. God bless your good heart!
post #11 of 23
Thread Starter 
Thank you both! I don't know what I would do without this site, really. You have given me such great suggestions. I don't really have a spare garbage can right now, but my neighbour has offered me some old pails he has from some wholesale salad or something from a restaurant. I think I'll take him up on it and modify your idea but use the pail instead (it's fairly large) and put it on bricks (I do have a few of those kickin' around). I'll get my friend to come over and make sure it's full and give her/them fresh water and little bits of canned food here and there. If only I could coax them to the backyard patio! My front lawn is very close to the street. The street isn't busy, but I'm scared they'll take that for granted and get hit one of the rare times it is busy. (When the highway is closed for maintenance or accidents, this is the detour route. And it gets very busy).
post #12 of 23
You've already gotten such great advice, I just wanted to say what an angel you are! You may have already taken off for wherever it is you're going, but you'll see this when you get back. How great that you've got friends to help you, and that you're so determined to help these poor little ones!!!!!
post #13 of 23
As to how to get the cats to look for food in the back instead of the front, use the old bread trail idea. Shift the food each day a little bit in the direction of the side of the house. It is is always in the same kind of dish and has a little wet food mixed in for smell, the cats will shift along with the food every day a little closer to your backyard. Once they know you are feeding them, however, they will probably go round and round the house anyway to make sure you didn't put the food somewhere else -- one recent newcat I took in was a once-domesticated cat who had gone wild. I was feeding him outside the garden under some bushes for a few days, and leaving water for him on the wall near my front gate. After three or four days, I was surprised to see him climb up to a cat door I have in the fence, and stalk right past 6 dogs to come to the front doorway and demand food. So you never know how a stray will react or what their past has been like. Best is not to attempt to touch until you are invited. So the animal trap is the best way unless you have some big carry cages and can tempt your two orphans in with some strong-smelling canned food...then a trip to the vets for spay and neuter, and off to your friend on the farm.

Only perhaps it will all play out differently. You can't win them all, or save them all. All you can do is your best. Good luck.
post #14 of 23
Thread Starter 
Thanks all.
Haven't seen them since I arrived home, but they've eaten a bit.
post #15 of 23
Gee - I just read this post! What an angel you are for caring for these little guys.
Any news?
post #16 of 23
Thread Starter 
Nope, saw the black and white one last night, and they're still eating a little food. I feel sorry for feeding them this cheap filth (Meow Mix...bleh... I highly doubt they care if their food is shaped and coloured) but I can't afford anything else...
post #17 of 23
Consider what they would be eating without you....compared with nothing, Meow Mix is gourmet.
post #18 of 23
Thread Starter 
Paisley (the orange one) came up to me today and ate a Pounce treat out of my hand! I guess this is a good step forward, although I'm scared he will spray me.
Zoey, the black and white and gold one, is still shy and hasn't gained much weight. She won't touch the food anymore and broke into our garbage. She's very nervous and won't come near me.
I consider them "my outside cats" now, which is why I have given them names (and to keep who's who straight!) but I'm trying not to get overly attached to them, seeing as I know they'd have better lives elsewhere as soon as they're confident enough to come close. I could probably get Paisley into a carrier with some treats, but I don't really want to separate him from Zoey...
Anyway, Paisley has improved but I can't say much for his sister. I guess I'll just have to wait and see. Pais likes the cardboard box I've set out, but I haven't seen Zoe use it...

Thanks again for all your help, you guys are really great.
post #19 of 23
Hi Jenn,

You are doing good! Just wanted you to know that. It is quite rare for a feral male to spray a human. You just need to be careful you don't get scratched or bit. When you interact with these guys just try and look away from their eyes, I always look over the tops of their heads. For a feral staring full at their face threatens them and you could be headed for trouble.
Also on the food issue. If you take the time to visit all of the cat food sites on the internet and go through the somewhat boring process of filling out their email forms then ask them if they have a program for discount food in rescue efforts that are not a business,but private, they are kind enough to send you coupons to get either free food or discount on what is already there. Friskies, Purina, Hills, Iams, they all do it but you have to inquire and you can only do it one time.

Just thought I would let you know. Anything helps when it comes to feeding the unloved cats of the world. Good luck with these guys and thanks for caring!
post #20 of 23
Thread Starter 
Thanks, Hissy. I will look into that.
Have you ever had a problem with bugs in the cat food outside? I'm getting earwigs left and right, no matter how many times I clean the bowls (I was getting them more with the pail idea, so now they get bowls a couple times a day. I have a feeling it's more than the two of them though...they're big bowls and they're always gone!)
post #21 of 23
Take a couple of bricks or flat pieces of wood and put the bowls on these off the ground.That should do the trick for you.
post #22 of 23
Thread Starter 
Originally posted by hissy
Take a couple of bricks or flat pieces of wood and put the bowls on these off the ground.That should do the trick for you.
It's already on a couple smaller bricks... maybe I'll put some wood under so the kitties can get it but the bugs can't.
post #23 of 23
In any case, insects make up a certain amount of any outdoor cat's diet (and indoor cat's as well when they can catch a fly or cockroach). Since the cats are cleaning out the bowls every day, they are also probably relishing the extra protein. Divorce yourself from Western human biases about food. There are many PEOPLE in other countries who each insects of all kinds, including things like worms and larvae. Personally my stomach is as biased against the thought as any other westerner, but I have acquaintances who think that adding crip-fried ants to their rice dish just before serving is especially good, and a very great delicacy in Egypt is a larva that tastes like chicken when cooked.

The major problem is to keep the feeding bowls away from an obvious track into the house, and to spray against creepy-crawlies at doorways. That usually discourages your bugs from trying to come in with the cats to enjoy the additional food treats offered in a home (fibers, glues, books, floorboards, carboard or paper packets of food...). Of course I know you would keep in mind that cats can't manage too much insecticide, and you won't, of course, use any that are strictly off-limits to pets.

Insects are something that most folk in Israel are battling every day year-round. It always seems to be some insect's favorite growing season. It is actually a hardship for me sometimes, because the most effective garden sprays against ticks and fleas is OK for dogs but poisonous for cats. Disinfecting an area is also difficult, since you have to be very careful not to use more than a little chlorine and amonia in mop or cleaning water if cats are living in the house. I always run any new ideas about cleaning or spraying products or ingredients and proportions by my vets before I try them out.

Happiness for my cats catching (and eating) a grasshopper...
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