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Determining the age and condition of a stray cat

post #1 of 58
Thread Starter 
3 weeks ago a male cat showed up on my friend's front porch. She gave it some dry food and it's been sticking around. I met the cat today and became really attached to it. He has the most beautiful eyes I've ever seen on a cat. They're like the Caribbean ocean. He's mostly white with some gray patches. We know he used to be a house cat because he runs indoors all the time, loves dry cat food, and sits on peoples laps.
There was no luck in finding the owners and I'm welcome to adopt him if I want to. Even if I don't, I'd like to get him to a veterinarian because there are a few things with him that seem strange.
He seems really really skinny. His feet and head seem too big for his body. Then... this led me to believe that maybe he's only young like 1 year old and not full grown yet. Because his tail was also very skinny, and he didn't have extra skin hanging anywhere as he would if he were an older cat who had suddenly lost a lot of weight. I would just expect a male cat to be fatter. He has big feet, a big snout, but just seems so scrawny. He was shedding slightly and coughing up hairballs/puking or something... so I wasn't sure if that is younger cat behavior. He was also sneezing and breathing really loud. This is why I would like to get him to a vet... even if I didn't adopt him. He's definitely sick. I think it might just be too cold for him. Can a vet determine his age? How old does it sound like he is? With regards to his smallness, hairballs, slight shedding.... it's kind of hard to tell.
post #2 of 58
Older kitties get hairballs too, so I don't think that's any help.

I don't know if there's really any way to tell. A vet will be able to make a much more educated guess.

And if he's been living out on his own, and has worms, he wouldn't be a fat kitty - getting lots of exercise and sharing all that nutrition with other parasites can limit the size he should be.

Sounds to me like at the very least this kitty should see a vet and be neutered, if he isn't already. Sounds like he's gonna need some meds.

And you're posting to a cat site - so of COURSE we're going to encourage you to adopt this kitty in need!

If he sits on laps - he sounds like he'd make a wonderful pet. With love and attention, who knows what kind of wonderful things this little guy will do.

All six of ours are feral rescues - never had human interaction before. And they are THE BEST pets and companions. Of course.

post #3 of 58
Thread Starter 
That's wonderful that you rescued all 6 of your cats! I think all feral cats need is some love.
I am going to take him to the vet because he just doesn't seem to be in tip top shape.
... but if I didn't have the money to get him shots and medication do you think it would be the vet's duty to ? I didn't think about the possibility that he would need shots or meds, just because I assumed he was maybe recently strayed. But who knows how long he's been on his own really?
I'm going to college, don't have a job right now, living on a tight budget, but really wanna give this kitty a nice home. I'd have no problem getting him food and toys and stuff but I just hope I can get him ALL the things he needs.
Are there options if someone is unable to pay for a pet's medical care? Like companies who can help out?
I mean... he's not even my pet yet, but I'd like him to be.
post #4 of 58
Thread Starter 
ps: is there any way to tell if he was neutered?
post #5 of 58
A lot of vets take Care Credit and there are a low of low cost vet options usually. The vet our kitten goes to only charges $17 for an office visit, we paid $26 for him to be neutered and his 2nd set of shots ran us something like $22. We will be taking him to this vet always--not just because its low cost but because they are knowledgable and really nice.

I'd definitely check with the local humane society and get out the phone book or jump on the yellowpages online and look up vets and start calling around asking for prices.

Also often vets will give discounts for stray cats.


post #6 of 58
If he wasn't neutered, he'll have sacs there - if neutered, there'll just be like a small tight round clump - no sacs.

As to the vet, use the yellow pages to call around to see if there's anyone willing to work with you on a payment plan kind of basis.

Or you can look into low-cost spay/neuter services.

Here's a list of links to help you search:

http://www.pets911.com/organizations/organizations.php - you can also search for shelters and vets here. (Some shelters provide low-cost services for ferals or strays, or are at least worth calling because they may be aware of programs or vets in your area that will work with you)
http://www.petfinder.com/ - this is to search for pets - but it lets you know what organizations or which people may be resources in the area

Hope this helps,

post #7 of 58
Thread Starter 
Thank you you guys I can't stop thinking about that silly cat. he's beautiful! I hope I can do this. I'll let ya know what happens.
post #8 of 58
I hope for BOTH of you that you can make it work!

post #9 of 58
Thread Starter 
The kitty has an appointment with the Vet on Wednesday. The initial visit is going to be $50.00 so hopefully he's healthy and doesn't need anything but shots so I can keep him.

Can the vet tell if he's had the shots he needs, or do they just give them again to make sure?

I'm trying to think of names for him...
I'm not sure if it should be a human name, a name personalized by his features, or if it should be just a cute sounding random name.
Some names Ive come up with that are more human sounding and fit his very thoughtful face....
... I guess I just like these very strictly human names for an animal cuz I think it's cute.
post #10 of 58
Thread Starter 
Frank Sinatra (old blue eyes)... Salvador Dali... Karl... lol
post #11 of 58
Oh, you should post a picture of him if you can (there's a "fur pictures" section on this forum)! We would like to see that gorgious kitty! And maybe we could help with a name!
Good luck and I hope he's in good shape. Keep us posted!

Oh, also, you might think about not letting him out anymore if he's not fixed and didn't have shots. He could make another cat sick or pregnant and there's already too much of these poor cats on the streets, don't you think?

By the way, that's very nice of you to take care of him even though you're a student without a job. You have a big heart and I'm sure everyone here 100% supports you!
post #12 of 58
Thread Starter 
It's by far not a financially sound decision but me and him will make it! haha I have some extra money from my loans and it's just gathering dust in my bank account and I know helping out a homeless cat is something I won't regret. He'll be strictly indoors once I have him!
Right now he's still living outside at my friend's house. They let him in at nights that are too cold and feed him and everything. They just said I can have him because they're not doing too much for him along the lines of making sure he sees a vet and naming him and loving him and everything. So technically I haven't seen him since Saturday, won't see him til Wednesday, but he's always around the house, never ever goes away.
I feel its best to take him to the vet before we let him loose in our home. Just to get some information from the vet on his health and what we should expect. He'll be okay for two more days, even though I'm obsessing over him and I can't bear to not have him for two more days =( I really thought his vet's appointment would end up being today!!! =( soon.... soon....
post #13 of 58
Originally Posted by LDG View Post
I don't know if there's really any way to tell. A vet will be able to make a much more educated guess.
I often wonder how old Alley really is. A vet told me she was about three. But I wonder how close a vet can really come to a cat's actual age. How do they tell, by the teeth or what?
post #14 of 58
Originally Posted by Persi & Alley View Post
I often wonder how old Alley really is. A vet told me she was about three. But I wonder how close a vet can really come to a cat's actual age. How do they tell, by the teeth or what?
You know, I have no idea. I'm assuming the teeth - I don't know there's much else to go by! But we have to take Tuxie in a couple of weeks - we'll ask.

Or Bart5 - you can ask how they tell when you take un-named kitty in!

Got "be well" kitty vibes going out to your kitty until you can bring him home! vibes:

post #15 of 58
How wonderful and exciting! First, don't worry about spending money on lots of spendy cat toys. Some of the ones he'll enjoy most are free or very cheap His health is of paramount importance so focus on that at first - sounds like you'll make a great cat friend

Please do let us see some pics when you can. Sebastian seems to be a great name for a blue-eyed cat I have one myself.

If you need any other cost-cutting hints, just ask. Lots of people here have some creative solutions Please let us know how things go!

Edit: my vet told me they go by the teeth to estimate age, much like they do for humans.
post #16 of 58
Thread Starter 
I'll probably ask the vet how they estimate age anyway... just to make conversation. haha. I really do like the name Sebastian for him. I keep going back to the name Oliver too. Bartholomew, I like, but it's kind of long and tongue-twisting. Me and my roommate have just been calling him Box-cat because his snout seems kinda square and she kept calling him the box-faced cat. She wants to name him Box. I kind of want a more thoughtful sounding name though hahaha
Thanks for the vibes Laur!
I will have pictures up in a few days.

The vet will most likely want to get his vaccinations started on Wednesday so any cost-cutting hints on toys, hiding places, scratching posts... those would all be appreciated!
post #17 of 58
Thread Starter 
Also... I was doing some reading just to make sure I do everything right. Here's what I'm expecting so far with a few questions.

On Wednesday, his Annual Veterinary Examination: $50. What exactly will they do for him, and should it include dental and a blood profile?
-Any vaccinations that are controversial, or important that they won't suggest for him?

He'll get his Core Vaccinations (the ones kittens get that we can't be sure he has gotten)----- how much might this cost? I've heard estimates of $80?

Are there other Vaccinations for an indoor cat?

Annnd, he obviously needs food and a Litter Box and Litter/Scooper/Bags and toys/scratch post.
post #18 of 58
Hidey places - NOTHING BETTER THAN A BOX, period. Ever. Nothing beats 'em! Our living room currently has six boxes of various sizes and shapes scattered around - most of them with some tissue paper or packing paper in them. We have six cats - and if we don't have six boxes out, SOMEBODY is getting kicked out of one at some point. And these aren't hidey places - they're just for fun. To make one more snuggly, put a throw blanket or old pillow in the bottom. But kitties that are used to being outside often like a hard surface (at least at first).

Toys - balled up pieces of paper, bendy straws, milk or water bottle rings - especially if they're the pull-tab kind, pipe cleaners, a piece of leather - those leather shoelaces are great. Tie a knot in the end and make it wiggle - watch kitty go nuts. I guess we can also list tissue paper in a box - great hidey place AND great fun - ping pong balls. Little furry mice are usually one sale somewhere and aren't expensive to begin with. Don't throw out your kleenex box (if it's the rectangular kind, not the square kind) and put a mouse or ping pong ball in it. The square ones are fun - but you have to be there to supervise, because kitty will eventually stick his head in there to get it out and won't be able to get the box off his head.

We stopped buying our cats any toys ages ago. Grab a stick, tape a leather shoelace with a knot on the end, and you've got a great wand toy. The only thing we buy from time to time are catnip toys. We used lots of shoelaces - make a wad of paper, pull a shoelace through it, tape it to a dowel rod (cheap at home depot) - another wand toy! Tie a furry mouse toy tail to the end of the shoelace - another wand toy! Of course we usually end up having to tie the shoelace around the belly of the mouse, and they usually pull it out - but it's still good interactive fun - and they get to run away with the "prize"! Just make sure you don't leave any string or shoe-lace based toys out in any place kitty could conceivably reach - putting them in a coat closet or something is best - because they will eat them, and that's expensive surgery to correct.

Don't put all toys out at once - like 2 or 3 at a time, and rotate them every week. You can also "marinate" some of them in a plastic baggie with catnip in it.

Don't leave catnip toys out for longer than one or two days. Kitties that do respond to catnip become insensitive to it if they're left out. Pick 'em up, put them away for two weeks and put them out again.

Get lots of cardboard boxes and make "kitty condos". Tape them together, cut holes in them - if they're sturdy enough, you can make multi-level condo mazes. We change the configuration every week or so - they LOVE it! Hide treats in it.

In fact, hiding 4 or 5 individual treats around in different places every other day or so is fun for kitty.

If you've got someplace to put birdseed out (we nailed a rubber edge to the outside part of the windowsill and poured seeds into it every day - but cracker or bread crumbs will do too). If your kitty condo reaches up to the window for optimum viewing, birds and squirrels make GREAT cat entertainment! Watch kitty wiggle his butt and chatter his teeth!

Scratchers - find a tree stump! Or a cool thick branch. There are cheap cardboard scratchers - cats usually love these too. Or floor mats on sale - especially if they're that kind of hard, foamy stuff (they're usually sold as kitchen mats). You can also by two 2 x 4s - or one 6 foot 2x4 and cut it in half, nail the two pieces together, buy carpet remnant, pull it around and nail it in. Buy a piece of wood to make a base - like 2' by 2' - nail the 2x4s to the base. You need a kind of wide base to prevent kitty from just pushing it over.

There are also people that have made their own cat trees.

post #19 of 58
$50 will not cover bloodwork - that is often expensive. I don't know if it's going to cover vaccinations, but you probably have to do rabies and distemper. Some people don't even do those, especially if kitty is going to be inside only - but many states require at least the rabies. And if it's a first-time distemper, I think there's a three week follow-up.

You DEFINITELY should ask the vet to check for worms. They can take a small stick and get enough of a poop sample to examine under a microscope. I don't know how much they'll charge for this, but I don't think much. And if kitty does have round worm (very likely), he'll need meds. Stuff from pet stores and supermarkets does NOT work, so you do have to spend the money on the stuff from the vet. Best are Panacur or Strongid. You'll probably have to give it to kitty for 7 to 10 days. Then you have to wait three weeks and do it again. This is because the meds only kill the adult worms, so you have to wait the cycle for the eggs already in there to become adults. This usually does it - but it's still a good idea to take a poop sample to the vet a month after that second round, just to make sure.

Cat Attract Litter is very expensive - but if kitty isn't used to using a litter box and used to going outside, might be a good idea to invest in this at first. OR you may want to start with a clay litter covered with a layer of potting soil (no additives). This is if kitty is used to going in the dirt and doesn't know what a litterbox is. He may actually think it's a bed. Our first rescue held out for over 24 hours before FINALLY relieving himself in the litter box he'd been using as a bed. We immediately scooped his "pee dirt" out and put it in the litter of a clumping litter box - and he got it right away. Popped right in there to go poop and consistently used the litter box after that - and didn't use it as a bed anymore.

Being financially constrained, I'd just talk to the vet about it all, and decide what you need to do and what you don't need to do. Personally, since kitty's going to be inside, I think the checking for worms/fleas and meds to treat those would be more important than the vaccinations. You can always tell the vet you'll make an appointment after your next paycheck to bring kitty in for vaccinations......

And as to the bloodwork - it can be expensive. I think like around $200, depending on everything that's done. Talk to the vet about maybe paying for it in three payments or something. Maybe because you're rescuing a kitty they'll be understanding. Ours was always OK with it - I know others have had trouble with it. If you can't afford it, don't do it now. But it is really good to have it done - if kitty ever gets sick, it is SO helpful to have that "baseline" measure from when kitty wasn't sick.

And for food - just buy the highest quality food you can afford. We let our cats free feed on dry food (they're on a prescription diet, so I don't know much about what's out there) and we feed them one wet meal a day. That's really just for fun. They're not big fans, so one can of wet food gets split between six cats. We mix a little bit of warm water in it to increase their water intake. But kitty's tummies are designed to eat lots of small meals. Our cats literally eat like three bites of food at a time a million times a day. Well - not literally, but you know what I mean.

It's best to use metal over ceramic, and ceramic over plastic. Make sure you clean the water bowl every day though. We clean the food dishes once a week.

post #20 of 58
Oh - I never liked any of the scooper thingies available. They leave too much behind as far as I'm concerned. We have a slotted spoon we never used, so that's our scooper now. You can probably pick one up at one of those dollar stores. You can even check out if they have any under-the-bed type storage containers. Those make great litter boxes.

post #21 of 58
Thread Starter 
Thankyou so much for all the helpful ideas! I'm inspired! Time to go build a kitty condo.
post #22 of 58
Thread Starter 
how do i add to "your cats" and get an avatar?
post #23 of 58
I'm pretty sure you need a certain number of posts, but I don't know what that number is. There's a forum for technical questions - you can ask there.

post #24 of 58
I'm not gonna be around tomorrow, so I'm sending lots of Good Luck vibes!

post #25 of 58
Thread Starter 
thanks! I'm nervous for him. i got him litter, a litter box, a slotted spoon and 2 toys from the dollar store.... food, scratching mat, and stainless steal dishes from the supermarket. I hope he's healthy because not being able to keep him will be a BIIIIIIIIG letdown. I'll letya's know less than 24 hours from now.
post #26 of 58
Thread Starter 
We still don't have a name for him, but we went to get him today. They let him inside so he'd be easy to find. We found him curled up on the couch. The vet de-wormed him, took his temp, checked him for feline leukemia, and gave us some antibiotics for his sniffly nose. He's perfectly healthy other than his sniffles! No F-leukemia, no fleas, or ticks. The vet checked his teeth and said he's only 9 MONTHS OLD! He's still teething!!! This also explains why he's not neutered. I'm so glad I did this for him because he probably wouldn't have done well living outside at such a young age once the temperatures started dropping some more. He CAN meow and he showed us that when he was upset in his cat carrier. He has so much potential to be a great cat.
The minute we let him out of his carrier he sniffed the litter box, looked around, and fearlessly trotted through our house, exploring. He jumped up on my bed and curled up and started to clean himself! He's so content. Here's a few pictures I took of him.

post #27 of 58
awww what a beautiful boy! Those eyes! Looks like he knows he is home You are awesome for taking him in
post #28 of 58
Awwww! Adorable! Did you decide for a name? Good luck for everything
I don't know if you have done it yet, but maybe you should call a few shelter from your area, because they often know about low-cost vet clinics. They can often give the base vaccine for almost nothing and spay/neuter for less than 40$. If you tell these shelters/organisms that it's a cat you found on the street and that you are a student with not a lot of money, they are likely to reffer you to one of these low-cost clinic.

It's really worth it because the bills go up pretty fast with tests and vaccine (where I live, blood test are around 70$, it's 45$ for a consultation+ the price of the vaccines (20$) + you have to come back a month later to do again the vaccine (20$ + the consultation again) + they will want to test him for HIV (I don't remember how much is it) + they will have to test for worms (22$) and probably deworm (2 times 20$)...so to be sure your cat is healthy, without a low-cost clinic it should be around 260$) Oh, and they recommand to vaccine them every year (so 130$ each year). I really don't say that to discourage you or anything. It's just that I am a bit in your situation (money issues, student, cat lover...) and I wanted you to know what you're up against and why it's worth it to try to find a low cost clinic (they won't accept anybody, but as I said, you have a good profile to be admitted and if you are refered by a shelter of your area, you have all the chances to save a lot).

So, again, I wish you all the best . Keep us posted on what's going on with your new little (lovely) fella!
post #29 of 58
Thread Starter 
I think... his name... is going to be... Ed.

... named after a cat-like, yet human character in one of my favorite anime cartoons.

Edward, officially. I think Ed is simple and cute and it has meaning to me. All the other names I thought of just seemed fleeting, but this one stuck with me once I started calling him it.

He's sleeping on my roommate's bed right now. I've never seen a kitten so out cold! He must be recharging. Once he's fully charged he'll probably be bouncing off the walls.

He found his litter box on the first try, he follows you around, comes when you call him, and jumps up when you pat the couch next to you. He's definitely been humanized before he met us. It's unfortunate that he got away from whoever had him before... but at this point... he's lucky that we found him!

I can't stop picking on him, but I better let him sleep. He's probably been through a lot.
post #30 of 58
He probably has been through a lot. There are dangers and situations out there we cannot begin to imagine. Poor little guy has some stories to tell. Please do keep sharing photos. He is just beautiful. Cannot get over his pretty eyes
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