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The Story of Voldemort (i.e. omgpleasehelp)

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
Here's the setup:

I live in northernish VA and we just moved into a new house in June. In the middle of July, this grey tabby cat started waiting for me on my front step after I'd get home from work. From the get-go, he was practically mugging me for attention and love. At first I was hesitant to pet him, since I didn't know if he'd have fleas or what not, but an initial inspection revealed him to be clean.

I've been noticing that he's losing weight. He's not in dire straights yet, but he's definitely underweight and his skin is starting to get dandruffy. Tonight I discovered (when he jumped in my lap) that he's been declawed in all four paws. This would explain why he's unable to take care of himself and why he's so friendly.

He was somebody's kitty!

His fur was very full and glossy, but not it's starting to get dull and while he doesn't have a collar, there were initially fur marks of one. I've checked with the shelters and nobody's missing him, so it seems he either escaped or somebody dumped him. He looks to be full grown, but my knowledge of cats is based on my friends pets (whom I've pet-sat and spent a great deal of time with) as my family has usually been a dog family.

I'm a college student who's about to graduate with a steady job. The money would be tight, but I could definitely afford him and I'm no stranger to animals. I've also been thinking about getting a cat for a long time and have done basic research on my own. However this is a special case, as he wouldn't be adopted from an agency.

My questions are this:

How much would a vet visit cost in this case? He still doesn't seem to have fleas or ticks, but what vaccinations would he need?

What signs of serious illness should I look for? He seems happy, other than the whole starving thing, and his fur isn't patchy. His feet are in good shape and he lets me handle his feet and pick him up.

What is the best litter stuff to use, if he was a housecat, but has now been living wild for the better part of a month (at least)?

Any warnings?

I have two housemates, who both have cats at their respective familial dwellings, but one of them has a guinea pig here. Will the cat torment him? It is possible to shut the guinea pig's room off, but you can't exactly introduce them like you would a dog. Any advice about how to introduce caged animals? We also have a fish - is this an unresistable temptation when combined with a mantle above a fireplace?

What kind of food do you feed an underfed cat?

If I can't keep him, who can I give him to? Our shelter is a kill shelter and most shelters in the area aren't accepting cats due to the giant feral cat population here. I see at least 7 cats in our back yard a day, but they do not approach humans and regularly catch birds and such. This cat (whom I've dubbed Voldemort) seeks out human contact and responds to commands of "down" "no" and "come here!" I thought he was a housecat before, but the declawed thing confirms it.

So far, I've fed him only the tiniest bit of cat food and he hasn't been allowed inside (although he begs and wines to come in, even when I'm out with him).

And that's it. Please help?
post #2 of 20
OK. I'm half dead tired....so bear with me please!


My adivce, take him to a vet ASAP! Go to vet for deworming & fleas meds. Never use OTC fleas meds/dewormer!! Test for FeLV(feline leukemia) & FIV(kitty aids). Get an age, make sure he's neutered.

Do not introduce him to the new kitties until he's tested FIV & FeLV-. FeLV can spread easily, fast, & it sucks when they have it. You'll have to do introductions slowly. There are threads on it in the behavior forum. Yes, the kitties will eventually accept each other, but it takes time, a lot of patience, & a lot of hissing/growling on the kitties part usually. But once they get along, it is wonderful!
post #3 of 20
Thread Starter 
But how much money am I looking at here?

And thanks for the warm welcome!

I also must point out that there are no cats at the house now. Just a guinea pig and a beta fish. I made the cat comment to show that my roomies are cat people and familiar with felines in general. However it is rather early in the morning and my meaning probably didn't come out right. It made sense in my head - promise!

Thanks for the quick reply ^^
post #4 of 20
Mm... about $100. Depending on your area and whether he needs to be treated for anything. It can vary up or down by quite a lot though.

Big things to worry about: FLV and FIV of course, but more likely fleas, ticks, ear mites, worms, and othis parasites. You can find flea evidence easily with a flea comb (flea dirt--looks like pepper--or the fleas themselves). Ear mites if he's scratching his ears a lot. Worms can show up in his stool; tapeworms look like rice; but the smaller ones won't be noticeable. Suspect worms if he's eating a LOT more than you expect--but since he's been hungry it can be difficult. You might want to ask the vet if he will want a stool sample.

Also: Behavioral problems. he's friendly, but may have fears he's acquired during his time as a lost cat. Some cats are afraid of men, of car rides, of being picked up or handled or of certain sounds, smells, etc. We recently had a cat on the Behavior forum who had been lost and is so afraid of hands reaching for his that he'd bolt. All you can do for those is the normal stuff you'd do to help a fearful cat--be gentle, be predictable, proceed at his pace.

Issues related to declawing can also crop up. Litter box avoidance is a biggie. So is biting, because without his claws he goes straight for the "big guns"--his teeth. If the declawing wasn't done right, he may have nails re-growing; but you say his paws aren't painful, so this is unlikely. Most declawed cats also become arthritic much earlier than clawed ones, due to not being able to stretch properly; this can be handled with a pain reliever, so as he ages watch out for it. he does seem to be lucky, though--he will let you handle his paws, which means he likely does not have phantom pain in his paws. Chronic pain is a big problem for declawed cats.

Makes me mad that somebody was mean or ignorant enough to do it to all four of his paws--and then let his go out without a collar!! Unless he is a lost cat being actively searched for--in which case you would have seen posters tacked up in the animal helter, an ad in the newspaper, neighborhood flyers, etc... But you didn't. So I guess you have a cat now.

Food: Whatever he'll eat, but get something with actual meat as the first ingredient. Don't free-feed; just feed normal amounts (so he doesn't eat himself sick). Kitty vitamins can also help. Once he's used to eating again, try kitten food--it's high in protein and should help him put on some weight.

Cats can be really good at hiding pain. They are solitary hunters, and do not have the protection of a pack, as dogs do; so they can lose their territories to the next guy who challenges them if they don't look tough. Consequently, cats often look less sick than they are...
Signs of illness in a cat:
Behavior change
Lack of grooming
Visible third eyelid
Hiding (for a normally friendly cat)
Lack of energy
Not eating (in the absence of a recent change in food--cats can be finicky)
Excessive grooming (either emotional or in an attempt to alleviate pain)
post #5 of 20
I really hope you can find a way to adopt Voldemort (I love the name, btw )! I totally understand about the whole money aspect, being a college student as well. However, I think pets are totally worth it and you can find little ways of saving money elsewhere (buying everything I need from amazon.com is a huge money saver for me!). Anyway, I recently took my kitten, Nimbus, to the vet and here's the bill...Keep in mind, this was his first visit and I had to have a lot of stuff done.

Examination: 45.00
Blood Test for FeLV and FIV: 59.77
Fecal Sample/Test for Parasites: 23.00
FVRCPC (Distemper Vaccine): 21.45
Treatment for Worms: 12.87
Treatment for Ear Mites: 14.70

TOTAL: 176.79 (178.72 with tax)

I live in central New Jersey, though, so it may be a bit more expensive here. Also, you should call a few different vets and ask them their prices! Every place is different!

Keep us updated!

post #6 of 20
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the great replies! They were perfect.

Behavioral problems I can work with, as all of our four dogs have come from shelters and been adopted at various stages in their lives. One was 4 and had spent the entire 4 years on the streets or in various shelters. He was so street-smart that when you took him walking, he wouldn't cross a street unless he couldn't hear any cars - which was useful with children around.

I know Voldemort seems perfect now and must have some flaws, but I'm willing to work with them. If it doesn't work out for me, then I'll certainly make sure he finds a good home.

Should I get a litterbox and some food and let him come in and get settled for a bit? Or should I get a carrier, put him in (well, attempt to put him in) and immediately take him to the vet as the first thing I do?

The reason I'm not real worried about snatching him off the streets is because it's been nice and warm out, I'm going to start giving him some food outside, and he's shown up every night between 9 and 11 for a month. I want to be ready before I take him in so I can do right by him.
post #7 of 20
If you take him inside, prepare a single room for him--a small one that won't overwhelm him, where he can't do much damage. A bathroom is good. That should be "his" room--both to keep him away from other pets, and to keep him in a small, controllable environment. Cats are creatures of habit; and the unfamiliar frightens them. The smaller the new, unfamiliar room, the more quickly it will become familiar.

If you could take him to the vet right away, yes, you should; but leaving him in a carrier overnight before you take him in the morning would be rather stressful for him, since there's no place to pee and no water in a carrier.
post #8 of 20
Luckily for you, if he is declawed he is most likely neutered too, so that cuts out a good portion of your expenses right there. Shame he is declawed, and then dumped no less. How awful. Search the internet for a low cost clinic near you. No reason for that to be over $50, I can get that stuff done at a few clinics here for only $30 or so.
post #9 of 20
If you're in Northern VA ( I am too), call the local downtown Humane Society, they have a clinic. They might also have other local clinics closer to you, but they'll know at the main one. I take mine to Banfield in Fairfax. At Banfield, the cost is normally about $45 per office visit, and then the tests and so forth, but they can look that up for you if you call them. You'd probably want to just call whichever local vet you have and ask them what the costs would be. They're usually happy to look it up for you.

Now, I don't see a problem with bringing him in before you see a vet given that there are no other resident cats there. I don't think anything is communicable to the guinea pig.. and the beta is probably safe. With the beta you'll just have to watch him to see if he tries to get on the mantel and get to it. Obviously, though, you're going to want to have him vet checked, and they'll probably insist on doing the bloodwork to test for FiLV and FIV before they'll give him the shots. Your roommates will also want to make sure try to keep their clothes or anything that might have contact with their kitties that aren't in residence away from Voldemort when they're going to see them. Spray alcohol on shoe soles (and if it won't damage the shoes themselves, spray the uppers as well), and around their pants legs if it won't ruin the material. Sanitize hands before seeing Voldemort after seeing the other kitties, and vice versa. If the other cats have been vaccinated it's probably okay, but you may still want to make sure. There are some things that could still be transferred between them. Once Voldemort has a clean bill of health, I wouldn't bother doing it any more.

The guinea pig.. well, we've *had* cats and guinea pigs and rabbits that all lived together and free roamed peacefully. I think that's all going to depend on the cat. I couldn't toss one in with my bunch now, but I've had it before.

It sounds like the major issue with him is that he needs food, and is probably just not getting enough from outside. It could account for his coat as well as his loss of weight. And lack of water may contribute as well.

If he's trying to come in, chances are that he's not going to be overly scared or timid about exploring your house. Putting him in a small room might be a good start, but you'll want to put the litter box and the food/water as far away from each other as physically possible.

Hopefully this helps some and sorry if I repeated anything anyone else said. My cat is not feeling so hot today and I'm kinda worried about him. Feel free to PM me if you have more questions or anything.
post #10 of 20
Thread Starter 
Great info and thanks for the tips! The "keep him in the bathroom" stuff is very good to know for right now. Are there any dry cat food brands I should stay away from? I know with dogs a lot of what they say is good for them on the packaging actually isn't. Or at least, not without supplementing the diet with other things.

How in the world do you cat-proof a house? Just make sure no food is out and cords are tucked away and such?

Mebbe it's time for me to hit Borders or something and get a cat book. My problem is that most of the stuff I've found is for kittens and doesn't address re-training.
post #11 of 20
Originally Posted by Zee View Post
Great info and thanks for the tips! The "keep him in the bathroom" stuff is very good to know for right now. Are there any dry cat food brands I should stay away from? I know with dogs a lot of what they say is good for them on the packaging actually isn't. Or at least, not without supplementing the diet with other things.

How in the world do you cat-proof a house? Just make sure no food is out and cords are tucked away and such?

Mebbe it's time for me to hit Borders or something and get a cat book. My problem is that most of the stuff I've found is for kittens and doesn't address re-training.
You know, that's kind of going to be an "as it comes" type of deal, I think. You may bring him in and find there are absolutely no problems at all. If he's not a kitten, you probably won't have the problem with the cords. You'll want to keep an eye out and make sure that he doesn't climb into the dishwaher, fridge, dryer, washer, etc.. but that tends to be more of a kitten thing as well (of course, having said that, my adult Bengal tries it every other time I open one of them)..

Try not to use Pine-sol, most animals are allergic to it. Um.. you'll want to make sure there's no ant/roach/insect stuff down that's harmful to animals. If you have houseplants, check to see if that particular type is harmful to cats if they eat it. You might have to put that up. Make sure that he can't get behind any of the electrical appliances, or most especially behind and under. I used a cardboard box to block off the sides of my fridge when we bring in kittens (that being said, I don't think he can fit back there now that he's bigger), but it depends on how much space there is and how big the cat is.

I'd check the "bottoms" of your cabinets that come off the floor. I had an apartment once that had a side piece that wasn't quite all the way back (looked fine from the outside) but the cat was able to get back there and under the cabinets and subsequently into the walls of the house, so now I always double check. It's the only place I'd ever seen it and all ended up well as he came out on his own, but I was beside myself while he was in there.

A couple of things to keep in mind for him or any cat when you set up their box and food locations is... (and I know I mentioned this one earlier) but make sure that their box far away from their food and water. It's actually suggested that it be 15 feet or farther from the food/water. Some cats prefer their water and food seperately, so several feet apart, and toys go in an altogether different spot than any of the above. For litter boxes, the books I've been reading suggest an uncovered box, in a location that the cat can see pretty far in any direction (so that they feel safe that they can see any potential dangers), because apparently they like to be able to see. Ideally, according to the book, it would be an open wall where there's nothing blocking their view into more than one room, or 10 feet or more in any direction. (That being said.. um.. the author also notes that this is not usually possible, and just that giving as much as possible is good). Someplace you wouldn't want to put it for example would be in a closet, or a laundry room where they can't see, or like behind a couch where furniture blocks their view.

As far as litter goes, I'd probably try the clumping clay kind first, but he may decide he doesn't like it, and you might have to try several differen't types to find one he likes. My cats will use any of them without any fuss. Scoop once a day (or more if you prefer) but I wouldn't suggest scooping any less than that.

Good drys aren't that hard to find. Personally I feed a raw diet to my cats (which is definitely not an option for everyone, so I'm not advocating that), and I tend toward dry foods like Serengetti, or Innova Evo .. iow, dry foods based on a raw diet which is high protein, no grains, low carb. However, with basic commercial drys, I'd suggest Royal Canin, or people on TCS seem to like Chicken Soup for the Cat Lover's Soul, and ... erm I think some have said that California Natural is good. I have never tried Chicken Soup or California Natural. I have tried Royal Canin, and they did very well on that when I was feeding it. As someone mentioned earlier, you want to make sure that a "specific" kind of meat is the first ingredient. You absolutely do NOT want to feed anything that says "meat" or "meat byproducts". If it doesn't specify what type of meat it is, don't get it. I have not been overly impressed with Science Diet or with Iams. For about the same price, I'd go with the Royal Canin.

You may want to see if your local pet store has a product called "nutrical" which is a calorie supplement with vitamins, etc in it. I don't know if they sell it over the counter or not, but I know you can get it from any vet for about $8 a tube or something thereabouts. While he's gaining weight back I don't think it would hurt at all to supplement his food with that.

What kind of retraining are you trying to do with him? I just read a book with some suggestions on how to bring an outdoor cat in, but I'm not sure if that's what you're looking to retrain or not.
post #12 of 20
Thread Starter 
Well folks, the cat is currently sleeping on the pillow next to me.

I just went ahead and took the plunge and brought him/her/it inside. At first he was just in the master bath, but he was ready to come out pretty soon. All three of us (me holding, the other two poking) examined him for fleas and ticks and other things and found nothing, so we let him into the bedroom. He wasn't timid at all and hasn't even been under the bed yet. His litter's in the bathroom and his food is in my room and he's already got the litter part down and it's been 3 hours and he hasn't marked anything yet (knock on wood), so I think he'll do just fine and I've been worrying for nothing.

He's settled in just fine and is trying his hardest to get into the rest of the house. After a vet visit tomorrow (if I can get one) I'll let him explore a little more as he doesn't seem to have any timidity issues.

As for retraining, I was worried he'd have litterbox problems or something else weird going on, but he seems as normal as normal can be.

I took some pictures of him in the daylight today, as I discovered that he comes when you jingle the keys. Click the link for awesome catness!


You can see how skinny he is too

I'll let you all know how the vet visit goes and thanks for all your wonderful help! This place rocks.
post #13 of 20
He is a very beautiful cat!!!! Let us know how things go at the vet sending lots of that all is well with Voldermort!
post #14 of 20
He's gorgeous!
post #15 of 20
Wow he's so beautiful!!! I'm very happy that he's adjusting well and I hope the vet trip is easy! I think you and Voldemort will have a wonderful life together (assuming he never acquires a wand and a rabid desire for immortality ).

post #16 of 20
Pretty baby! And he obviously has good judgement as he picked the soft heart in the neighborhood! Good vibes for an awesome vet visit! Keep us updated.
post #17 of 20
If you haven't tried already, you might want to post this kitty on the lost and found section of craigslist.com and petfinder.com
post #18 of 20
Beautiful little girl she is.

I was going to ask if you checked around for lost cat postings? I know it is possible she was dumped, but wanted to ask if you made sure (to the best of your ability).
post #19 of 20
Thread Starter 
Well, the vet visit came and went and the cat's all clear for everything but ear mites. He is, in fact, a guy. Just, as they said, "A very, very neutered guy." He's somewhere in the vicinity of 3 and is 11 lbs. I know he didn't start out that much when I took him in because he's clearly put on weight and his coat is much shinier. He's being renamed Mal (from the Firefly tv show) because that fits his personality better.

Mal's currently tripping out on catnip, so I'm going to go point and laugh for a bit. Thanks for all of your great help! I really appreciate it (and he does too).

Edit: And yep, I've checked every place six ways to sunday and nobody is claiming him - so I will!
post #20 of 20
Yay! Another happy ending! Keep us posted on his progress.
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