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Any ideas on how to help a grieving stray?

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
One of the strays that I take care of, Greyie , I assume, recently had kittens. (she looked very pregnant, disappeared for a few weeks, then returned intermittantly to feed then left quickly.). Since the morning of the 23rd, she's been on the back porch (where the main "food station" is) wailing until I come out and sit and pet her for awhile. You'd think that with kittens, I'm guessing would be 5 weeks old or less, that she wouldn't be hanging around 24/7 and wailing if everything was alright with them. (Unfortunately, I'm in an area that gets cold winters, and my father will not permit any more cats in the house, 2 is more than enough for him, so I have no choice to leave them outside with homemade insulated shelters, which they don't seem to like too much. I don't know how to handle catching them all, only have access to one rentable humane trap, and I have no idea where I'd go about storing the strays during the recovery time after "fixing" them, so I haven't been able to get them altered yet. )

3 out of the last 4 days (Thanksgiving and the previous 3 days) before the crying started, the ground was covered in morning frost, so I assume they had to have perished in the cold, since there's no real way to know for sure other than her constant hanging around and crying, since I never learned where her latest nest was since she shunned my shelters. She's been crying nearly non-stop since then, only stopping when I'm out there petting her. Is there anything else I can do to help her to feel better?

(Oddly enough the other strays, who didn't get along before, seem to be tolerating each other and staying close to her. I can only assume they are being supportive in some way. I didn't know cats did that, but until last year, I've been in an Only Cat home, so maybe this is typical behavior and I wasn't aware of it. )
post #2 of 14
Quote:
3 out of the last 4 days (Thanksgiving and the previous 3 days) before the crying started, the ground was covered in morning frost, so I assume they had to have perished in the cold, since there's no real way to know for sure other than her constant hanging around and crying, since I never learned where her latest nest was since she shunned my shelters. She's been crying nearly non-stop since then, only stopping when I'm out there petting her. Is there anything else I can do to help her to feel better?
Yes...you can trap her to be taken to the vet so that she can be spayed. That way, she will no longer have to grieve the death of any kittens because she will not become pregnant again. This is the very BEST gift you can give her this season. I would also have the rest of the strays you care for spayed/neutered before next year's kitten season.

List of low cost clinics by state:

http://www.lovethatcat.com/spayneuter.html

As far as where to keep them during recovery....even a garage will do. Some caretakers return cats within a couple of days of getting them fixed. Just make sure the vet understands that these are outdoor cats and will need dissolving stitches and glue used. The important thing is to definately work on getting all these strays the medical care they deserve....feeding them will only encourage them to depend on you and if you do not spay/neuter...the colony will grow and you will be responsible for feeding additional members. That is why it is best to do something now.

Katie
post #3 of 14
post #4 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by TNR1 View Post

As far as where to keep them during recovery....even a garage will do. Some caretakers return cats within a couple of days of getting them fixed. Just make sure the vet understands that these are outdoor cats and will need dissolving stitches and glue used.
Yes. They dont demand any luxury. Garage, heater room, a cellar. Perhaps combined with a dog crate (clean of course). A blanket on it.
A dog crate better than it sounds, they do feel secure in there...
Blanket/towel inside/ igloo/sideturned cardboax, water food, a travelling litter... Voilá.
post #5 of 14
I don't think ground frost would be enough to cause all her kittens to die,It is possible she may have only had a couple of kittens and if like you say they would be 5 weeks old thats about old enough for them to get themselves into any kind of predicament.
If her kittens are trapped somewhere and unable to get out,she will cry for them as much as she would if they were dead.
It is possible she had her kittens in somebodys shed or garage and they may have been locked in while she was out looking for food
I would go out searching for them crying,if it's too noisy in the day go out at night to see if you hear them.They can survive on their own for a while.
Either way it's better to know they are still not out there

I also agree it would be best to trap her now before anymore of those' friendly' cats bring her back in heat

Good luck on finding the kittens
post #6 of 14
Oh, poor Greyie! My heart goes out to her. It's so hard when you try to help them with homemade shelters and they go off and have the kittens somewhere else. I'm sending up a prayer that maybe they will still turn up well. I am glad that she lets you pet her... Keep showering her with attention and love.

I have a feral that goes off to have her kittens and then brings them to me when they are around 8 weeks old. I am dealing with 6 young ferals now besides the regular colony. It can be so overwhelming! Good luck with everything and please keep us posted.

JIL05
post #7 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by JIL05 View Post
Oh, poor Greyie! My heart goes out to her. It's so hard when you try to help them with homemade shelters and they go off and have the kittens somewhere else. I'm sending up a prayer that maybe they will still turn up well. I am glad that she lets you pet her... Keep showering her with attention and love.

I have a feral that goes off to have her kittens and then brings them to me when they are around 8 weeks old. I am dealing with 6 young ferals now besides the regular colony. It can be so overwhelming! Good luck with everything and please keep us posted.

JIL05

Hey Jill....why not trap this lovely girl and get her spayed..that way, she won't be having litter after litter after litter.

Katie
post #8 of 14
I have tried many times to catch this feral.... Have even written about her many times...

I have even asked my vet if there was any way to try to tranquilize her. I have asked organizations for help...There just doesn't seem to be much help where I live. The organizations don't even respond to e-mails!

Despite being out of work for a long time after a heart operation, I had managed to spay/neuter all of my colony except for this one cat who is not really a permanent resident at my house. She comes and goes...I mainly see her when she is pregnant and needs extra food or for a while after she brings the kittens to me. Believe me...I would love to catch this cat and stop new kittens from coming. The cost of cat food alone is staggering never mind the complaints from some of the neighbors.

I will keep trying though and one day I will be able to write that I finally caught her.
post #9 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by JIL05 View Post
I have tried many times to catch this feral.... Have even written about her many times...

I have even asked my vet if there was any way to try to tranquilize her. I have asked organizations for help...There just doesn't seem to be much help where I live. The organizations don't even respond to e-mails!

Despite being out of work for a long time after a heart operation, I had managed to spay/neuter all of my colony except for this one cat who is not really a permanent resident at my house. She comes and goes...I mainly see her when she is pregnant and needs extra food or for a while after she brings the kittens to me. Believe me...I would love to catch this cat and stop new kittens from coming. The cost of cat food alone is staggering never mind the complaints from some of the neighbors.

I will keep trying though and one day I will be able to write that I finally caught her.

Jill....what bait do you use?? I've heard that cats cannot resist warm, deskinned, deboned KFC. Also, have you tried this group:

http://pets.groups.yahoo.com/group/feral_cats/

They may have other suggestions for you.

Katie
post #10 of 14
Could another unspayed cat be watching/nursing her kittens? I have heard stories of strays (ones who lost their own kittens) nursing another cats kittens.
post #11 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by keith p View Post
Could another unspayed cat be watching/nursing her kittens? I have heard stories of strays (ones who lost their own kittens) nursing another cats kittens.
The survival rate of kittens born outdoors is rather bleak....which is why it is kinder in the end to work towards getting any cats with kittens inside until the kittens are weaned. Then have mom and the kittens spayed/neutered.

Katie
post #12 of 14
Could another unspayed cat be watching/nursing her kittens? I have heard stories of strays (ones who lost their own kittens) nursing another cats kittens.

But back to my point, this sort of thing HAS happened before.
post #13 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by keith p View Post
Could another unspayed cat be watching/nursing her kittens? I have heard stories of strays (ones who lost their own kittens) nursing another cats kittens.

But back to my point, this sort of thing HAS happened before.
I've read about that occuring more frequently in situations of indoor cats who have been around each other a long time and are pregnant around the same time..it is far less frequent in the outdoor stray populations. Kitten mortality rates are usually very high—over 50 percent.

The OP had asked what she could do to confort this girl...and I truly believe given the high motality rate of outdoor kittens, that it is most humane and kind to have this female spayed so that she will not have to mourn any more kittens.

Katie
post #14 of 14
A few things to take into account
1) A nursing cat is hungrier than others, I know when there's a mom at the colony (cross everything, not since last year, her litter is in my siggy) she'd be bawling more than the others for food.
Granted, sometimes is because her litter is in trouble but more often is b/c she is hungry.

2) Ferals many times do share duties; one cares for her friend's litter while she hunts (or takes a break, whatever)
It can happen that the babysitter steal the kittens if she has had a litter recently and it died.
Or that she adopts the litter if she's also nursing and Mom never comes back (had one like that at the colony, it was great b/c she adopted 4 kittens the mother abandoned)
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