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How much will behavior change after TNR?

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
Hi--
I am new to this site, though I posted a little this summer.

About 6 weeks ago, a feral (very wild) tomcat showed up in my backyard--especially under the birdfeeders. I can tell he is a tom based on the jaws, and after looking at his "aft region" closely through binoculars. He won't let me get within 20 ft of him. After talking to my neighbors, I determined that people on the next street over had been feeding him but then moved. He is a magnificent cat, and may be 2-3 yrs old based on the story I heard of when he showed up.

I have helped trap cats in the past, and am generally familiar with the tenets of TNR, but have never been a feral cat caretaker. I plan to trap this guy and get him tested for FIV/FeLV; if negative, then neutered, and ear tipped. My yard is safe from dogs, and I've built a catshelter out of plywood and stuffed with clean straw. I've been feeding him 2x/ day since he showed up, and plan to continue.

My question is--he tends to fight with the indoor/outdoor cats of two of my neighbors. They are very nice people, and generally quite responsible cat owners. One has offered to assist me with the cost of the neuter but I am concerned that Mr Bill (the tomcat) will continue to fight with their cats post-TNR. About 2 weeks ago Mr Bill (the tomcat) had a pretty nasty fight one of the cats who goes out only briefly and under supervision. I know that most male cats settle down after being neutered--but do older toms do the same? is there anything I can do (short of requesting that everyone keep their cats in at all times) to prevent or minimize fighting? Is he just adjusting to new territory? I don't want my cats (if they get out) or my neighbors' cats to be hurt.

I'd love to know what others have experienced in similar situations. Thank you in advance...and keep up the great work I'm reading about here
post #2 of 13
The neutering should help. I know that DaddyCat had the job of patrolling the neighborhood to protect his family, but after he was neutered he was NEVER in another fight.

That's not to say that there may be personality conflicts with the cats next door, but over dominance and territory, that should stop.
post #3 of 13
I've been a caretaker for feral cats for about 14+ years. Once neutered, they tend to stick closer to their "home" territory. This lessens the fights. They no longer feel the need to go after females in heat therefore less fights. This is not to say that if a stray wanders into his territory, he's not going to drive it away and there may be a fight with that. On the other hand, cats are social animals and if another neutered cat comes by, he might welcome the company.

You will GREATLY reduce his need to fight once neutered. If you can get him used to your back yard as his "territory", things may work out very well for you!

Good luck - and thanks for taking care of this boy!!
post #4 of 13
Thursday I cooked Thanksgiving dinner--a turkey breast with all the trimmings. As the bird neared completion I heard an insistent meowing outside my window--it was Anna, our second TNR feral and a cat fed by many of the neighbors. Apparently she smelled the turkey and wanted some.

This is noteworthy because she had never returned to our house after we released her; she preferred to to to those who had fed her before her capture. She is, however, a regular at The Farm, where I feed the colony. What's also interesting is that feral cats are seldom vocal, but she was meowing quite loudly....
post #5 of 13
I agree with the others. With a liiitle luck he should be far less agressive after castration. He may even become pal to the others. Although it MAY take time as he is fully grown.

But if not. You could perhaps try to make a indoor cat of him? It will be easier when he is neutered. Not so few ex semiferals do make happy indoor-cats, especielly if they had a hard time in "freedom".
post #6 of 13
Thread Starter 
Thank you all for your thoughts and responses. I am excited to report that I have made an appointment for him on Wednesday with a good vet who works with ferals. Let's just hope I can succeed with the trapping...he is a very wily kitty.

StefanZ--if he comes around and wants to be friendly, I'll do my best to convert him to the joys of life as a housecat...if he wants to stick it out in the Great Outdoors, well, I'll be living here for some years to come and will keep looking out for him.

It helps a lot to read of other people's experience & opinions...thank you.
post #7 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aridisol View Post
Thank you all for your thoughts and responses. I am excited to report that I have made an appointment for him on Wednesday with a good vet who works with ferals. Let's just hope I can succeed with the trapping...he is a very wily kitty.
I worked with my vet to find out the days that he did surgeries and we agreed that I could bring up cats for speuters on those days without an appointment. It gave me some flexibility for those times when they alluded the trap and I didn't have to cancel appointments. As a courtesy, I usually called him the day before I intended to trap to make sure he wasn't overbooked on surgeries.

I trapped early in the morning as I didn't like leaving them in a trap overnight. Many folks that TNR do night trappings as cats are active then. I chose the early morning as that was when I consistently fed them and they would come out of hiding to eat. I never had to go far to trap ferals - most of the cats I caught were on my front porch! I served the best food around and was also the dumping ground for the area.
post #8 of 13
I think you have received some great advice but I wanted to ask what you meant by this comment?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aridisol View Post
I plan to trap this guy and get him tested for FIV/FeLV; if negative, then neutered, and ear tipped.
...and if positive?
If he has FIV he can be neutered and released or placed into a home, many TNR groups are doing this. If he has FeLV he cannot be released and should be rehomed. I just wanted to clarify what you plan to do with him if he is positive for either of these.

That is great that you are caring for these ferals!
post #9 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jen View Post
I think you have received some great advice but I wanted to ask what you meant by this comment?

...and if positive?
If he has FIV he can be neutered and released or placed into a home, many TNR groups are doing this. If he has FeLV he cannot be released and should be rehomed. I just wanted to clarify what you plan to do with him if he is positive for either of these.

That is great that you are caring for these ferals!
Hi Jen. Good question (here's a very longwinded response!) I have been volunteering with several rescues here for 7 years, and for 4 yrs before that in another state, and am familiar with the resources here. This cat is _very_ wild--hence my OP about behavior change post-neuter. Mr Bill is one of the most feral wild cats I have observed in helping with multiple trapping efforts over the last 10 yrs! I strongly doubt that he will ever be a housecat, though I will see what happens.

I know there is debate about the transmissivity of the viruses, but I feel there is a responsibility incumbent on me as the caretaker of a feral cat to protect the owned cats of the area. The vaccinations are not 100% effective. I don't think I would risk my current "permanent" cats or the ones I foster by bringing in a housecat with FIV or FeLV, so I feel I can't do the same with a feral. I feel bad enough that the other cats he has fought with have been exposed to potentially lethal viruses. Their owners want to know what the tests come back as so they can get their cats retested if need be.

I mention the volunteer work because I am all-too familiar with the lack of resources here for releasing ferals into a new home, not to mention the difficulty they have in adjusting to a new spot. I have checked around, and there is no place for him if he is positive. Not all TNR or rescue groups will keep a cat with FIV. If he has FeLV he cannot live in a home, given his current very wild status. I know several very happy FIV and/or FeLV+ housecats who are doing fine, but the prevailing notion remains to PTS cats of that status

Thus, I don't think he can be "rehomed". IF he tests positive for either one, he will have to be PTS. I will bring him home and bury him under a tree he likes to hunt under.

In short, the rescues here as in so many places are so short on space, time, and resources that a focus is placed on non-FIV/FeLV cats in general. It sucks, and maybe it will change? but right now that's the situation. I appreciate your concern MrBill is the first feral I am taking care of -- so I truly hope he will be healthy & happy in my backyard. He likes the house made of plywood lined with straw. His appointment had to be moved to next week! Yay! Hope the weather holds for a good trapping. (I'm sorry this is so long, I've had too much coffee).

PS--Momofmany--I plant to trap in the AM too...good to hear that works out for you and thank you for the tips on working with the vet. Work obligations today meant I had to move his appointment--but I will call them Tuesday. That's a great idea.
post #10 of 13
If you don't mind me asking, Aridisol, where do you live?

Also I didn't necessarily mean rehomed as in actually going into someone's house, but what about going to a barn? I mean unless he is ripping other cats to shreads he is not going to transfer the FIV, I am not talking about FeLV, that is a whole different story. I guess there really isn't any way to know if he will rip others to shreads after neutering unless you actually give him the chance to do it. Which was the basis of your original post I guess wasn't it? Sorry, I am just thinking things through. I guess you do what you can right?

But seriously do you live anywhere near PA, OH or KY?
post #11 of 13
Thread Starter 
Hi Jen--
He was ripping the other kitties to shreds literally ... He is quite large (maybe 15-17 lbs?) and very solid. Yesterday, the contractors who are renovating my house accidentally let out my (wimpy) male cat...they said "That mean black cat chased your cat right back into the house like his tail was on fire!"...so he is aggressively defending his territory.

I have been helping the neighbor administer antibiotics to her kitty who needed stitches after tangling with Mr. Bill (the nasty fight I mentioned). Not just puncture wounds, but I was worried that neighborkitty might even lose an eye! (and that is one very laidback, neutered male kitty). I checked mr. bill out with binocs afterwards and he did not show any obvious wounds. He doesn't even have the ear notches most toms get after a while, so I think he is pretty much topcat.

I am in TN, actually. Do you know of barn homes in KY? My ILs have a farm but are full up on kitties including one tomcat FIL will not neuter he fights but loves people. No idea on his virus status. The other people I know with barns are likewise full-up...After thinking about this the last couple of days, I am feeling bad about PTS for FIV. He roams quite a bit into yards w/out dogs, I don't think I could contain him (but the neuter should reduce the roaming, I hope!). I hope he quits with the shredding...

just rambling here...thanks for your thoughts and talking about this...it helps thinking about it.
post #12 of 13
Quote:
My ILs have a farm but are full up on kitties including one tomcat FIL will not neuter
If it were me....I'd take him to be neutered myself. Most people cannot tell that a cat has been neutered and it will be MUCH healthier for him.

Good luck for the cat you are planning to trap....I would hold off on relocating him until you have seen how the neuter affects his personality. Give him a couple of weeks.

Katie
post #13 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by TNR1 View Post
If it were me....I'd take him to be neutered myself. Most people cannot tell that a cat has been neutered and it will be MUCH healthier for him.

Good luck for the cat you are planning to trap....I would hold off on relocating him until you have seen how the neuter affects his personality. Give him a couple of weeks.

Katie
About that...they live ~2.25 hrs from me and are retired so would definitely notice if I tried to pick him up and just do it. They are home most of the time on th farm and are very observant. FIL has this weird male ego thing tied into this cat *groan* MIL, DH, and I have tried all we can think of to change his mind...no luck (yet). Should they go on vacation, I'll make a special trip up there and just get it done...it's odd, the other cats are all fixed, but this one is Special. He is a truly lovely tomcat, but missing his testicles wouldn't hurt his personality or hunting skills one iota IMO.

Update on Mr. Bill--tried to trap him this AM for his appointment. I had no luck with him, though I caught a perfectly lovely orange tabby that I've never seen before...turns out he is owned by yet another neighbor. Mr. Bill showed up for dinner though and appeared fine. I'm guessing Orange Tabby just beat him to the trap-breakfast.

And, Jen...I've talked to my personal vet and the vet who will be doing the ferals, and did more reading on FIV. If he tests postive for FIV, I asked the vet to NOT PTS! I'll give him a chance to quit shredding other kitties, while at the same time I've begun a "Are your cats up-to-date on all vaccinations? and fixed?" campaign with neighbors with the intent of providing max protection for the kitties who either go out or might get out accidentally. Plus, it's just good pet ownership The vets suggested several months to see if he settles down--what do you all think?

The weather is supposed to turn ugly cold tonight and tomorrow. The vet doesn't do ferals on Saturdays so I'll try again next week, work schedule permitting. Mr. Bill is currently tucked into his plywood and straw "house" as I added a tarp to seal off drafts and more straw...I saw him go in after his dinner. I watch that cat more through the binocs than I do the birds I planned to watch with them!
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