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advice on a stray/feral, with a resident cat

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
So my DH and I have been caring for a little kitty that lived next to my work. I know she was born outside behind the store, we, employies included have been caring for the whole litter. The reason I am listing her as a stray/feral is because all the others act feral but this one girl has desided that she wants to be friendly and plays with people. She is a bit on the skitish side, runs if you move to fast or there is a loud noise but once she gets food she has no problem getting love.

My main issue now is that DH and I want to trap her and bring her home. She looks to be about 6 months old maybe less. No one could remember when she first came around but we all think it was around the begining of summer. I have a pretty good idea on how to go about getting her and to keep her in a quiet space for the time being but my main concern is the resident cat, Monkey.

What are the health risk that are posed on her by bringing a stray into the house? Monkey has been fully vacinated but does she still run a risk of catching something? It is going to be a few days before we can get the stray in to be tested for FiV and FeLV. How do we keep Monkey safe and still help this little one? What precautions do we need to follow? I know to keep them seperated but is there more we have to do? We can handle fleas and things of that nature its the major diseases that we are worried about.

Any advise would be great.
post #2 of 11
Congrats for rescuing a kitty!

Here's what you need to do - she needs to be separated in her own room initially anyway - health risks or not, and there are some.

She will be scared. Cats are territorial, and despite the fact that she'll probably come around pretty quickly, she'll need time to adjust. That happens best in a small territory, like a large bathroom or guest bedroom or something. And introducing cats always works best when they're separated for at least a few days if not a few weeks. Monkey needs time to adjust to the idea that there's a cat with which she's going to need to share her territory, so letting them smell each other's scent under the door is the best way to go anyway.

Your new little kitty won't understand what's happening to her, and never having been inside a house before, everything is going to smell and sound really scary to her at first. MAKE SURE THERE IS NO WAY FOR HER TO ESCAPE THE ROOM. No pipe holes, no holes near lights, if it's a bathroom, no holes in the wall for plumbing. You cannot take her wanting to run and hide personally. It is instinct that will drive her at first.

But DO make sure she has several places to hide within the room. Under a bed is great - a box on its side is great. Under a table that has a cloth over it is great. Stuff like that.

If you've got a CD player or a radio, leaving classical music on for her is good. I'd put a nightlite in the room.

Knocking on the door gently before you enter and telling her you're coming in helps.
Keeping a schedule helps - especially when it comes to making sure her water bowl is cleaned, her food dish is full, and cleaning her litter box.

Until you can get her to the vet, do not wear shoes/sandals/slippers into the room that you use anywhere else in the house. Best thing to do is to keep a pair of flip-flop thingies just inside the door of her room - take of your shoes and socks off outside the door, and put those on. Leave them behind, and immediately go wash your hands.

Best to keep her separated for two weeks (see how it goes after that). But if she's got a virus (like a cold or something) it'll show up by then.

In the meantime, give Monkey extra play time to work of the stress.

And spend as much time in new little kitty's room as you can - ignoring her. It sounds counter-intuitive, but just letting her get used to the new sights, smells, sounds - and you (and or kids and hubby) is so important. Read out loud, sing, work on a laptop, fold laundry, sew, knit, watch TV - whatever. She may come over and headbump you - then pet her. But TRY not to force yourself on her (it can be hard! ) and let her take the lead. It really works best in the long run that way.

Obviously put some toys out for her (if they're interactive wand toys, do NOT leave them out - ferals tend to chew the string and it can get wrapped around their intestines). She doesn't really know what play is yet, but she'll figure it out with time.

You may want to consider purchasing Feliway. It is a synthetic hormone that mimics the "friendly" markers in cats' cheeks. Spray it around the house and in her room - it will help both Monkey and new kitty to be less stressed.

Also, you may have to use potting soil instead of litter at first - or even just a layer of potting soil over the litter. I also HIGHLY recommend putting two litter boxes out for her to use - ferals are not used to going pee and poopy in the same spot.

I would also consider procuring Frontline or Advantage and applying it to her ASAP (the safest, best way to kill fleas and ticks and quickly). When you take her to the vet, if there's someone else in the house, buy a flea collar, chop it up into three or four pieces, and put it in the vacuum cleaner bag or cylinder, and vacuum the room while she's at the vet, just to be on the safe side. If you're both taking her to the vet, then leave her in the crate outside her room while you give it a quick vacuum.

She will need to be de-wormed. There is now a topical for this, called ProFender. Make sure the vet applies it when she goes in (maybe talk to the vet about applying it just a few days after the Frontline application - I don't know about this yet). HOWEVER - even if it's OK to apply the ProFender a couple of days after the Frontline, you need to be aware that it (like any de-wormer) only kills the adult worms. The gestation period is 2 - 3 weeks, so a second application of whatever is used - if it's an oral med, the same thing applies - she will need at least one more dose three weeks after the initial dose.

As to making introductions? I'd bring Monkey into the room for 10 - 15 minutes at a time, supervised initially. Of course, that depends upon her reaction to just having another cat in the house. If there's hissing and spitting from Monkey at under the door (not uncommon), then I'd immediately start swapping scents. Take a towel and rub new little kitty all over with it. Put this "new kitty" scented rag under Monkey's food dish. Take another one, and rub new kitty all over with it - and put treats out twice a day for Monkey on that one. Do the same thing for new little kitty with Monkey - rub Monkey all over, and put that "Monkey" scented wash cloth under new little kitty's food dish. Take a second, do the same thing, and put treats down for her on it (don't have to wait or watch her eat them). This will help them come to associate each other with "good things."

Also, if Monkey is just curious about the new scent and sounds through the door, simply praise her. And on the first intro, if there's no hissing, again, praise them a lot for being nice kitties. But be ready to wisk Monkey out of the room. Maybe want to have an empty can with coins in it ready to shake - that's only if they get into a fight before you can stop it. Do not EVER try to separate fighting kitties with your hands. The loud noise of the coins in the can will startle them out of it (if it even gets there, which doesn't happen too often, but best if prepared).

Just remember - take it slow, be guided by what you sense from both Monkey and new little kitty, give it at least two weeks on keeping new little kitty separated for Monkey's health, make sure you follow-up on the dewormer and the distemper - both are three weeks after the initial ones - and remember to praise them for good behavior. It's just as important as telling them "no" for behavior you don't want.

And once you open that door - leave her room set up for a while. It will continue to be her "safe" space to which she can retreat when scared.

And with the two kitties, I would keep at least three litter boxes out (rule of thumb is the number of litter boxes you should have is the number of kitties you have plus one. ).

And remember - we love pics and are here to answer questions along the way!

...and now that I've written all of this, she'll be a total love bug, comfortable within two days, and Monkey and new little kitty will be chomping at the bit to meet each other after two weeks and will be best of friends within two days! All of this is because while it sometimes does go like that - with a slightly older kitty it usually takes a little while, and it's best to just turn off your clock and your expectations. She WILL come around. And we've found it easiest to introduce new kitties to males - our females all get jealous, and it takes a while for them to accept another female into their territory - let alone into their hearts.

for what you're doing!

post #3 of 11
Health risks, yes. There are apparently some real risks. Although not that great as many fears. Lots of forum participants wrote their experiences. Both here, in Poland and in Sweden. time and again they get clean vet bills, even those who had some running noses... In any cases, the real heavy sicknesses arent that common. But clamydia is quite common...

Although a quarantene is of course useful - yes necessary. About 3 weeks should suffice. Vet check, deworming, shots must have time for developing....

many cat-rescuers use their own bathroom. If you dont have any spare room, you can use a big dog-cage. That cage you can have almost anywhere, so not your resident cat cant have contact.

Good washing with soap usually is enogh, but if you do worry, change clothes, shoes, wash hands and surfaces with virkon (antiseptical fluid; I think it is in US too).
LDG advices are very good!

Once inside, you shouldnt have great difficulties between them. Shy semiferals are usually submissive to resident cats.
post #4 of 11
Actually, I do agree with Stefan - because of the worms, three weeks on separating them is probably a good idea. Just to be sure.

post #5 of 11
Thread Starter 
Thank you so much for all the advice.

We got her. She is living in our bathroom right now, very scared. She gives a little non threatening hiss, more of a stay away type but a hiss none the less, every time one of us goes in. I had to work this afternoon after we caught her and DH was here all day. He said she was hiding under the shelves in the bathroom now she is behind the toilet so she seems a little more comfy. She has eaten a bit of wet food and I saw foot prints in the litter box but no action. Monkey has paid no attention to the bathroom. She did go up to the door and sniff a little and let out a small meow but other than that she basicly acts like she does not care. Is that a good thing? Monkey has gotten use to her litter being in a different spot, I don't think she even cares right now. As long as we are here she is happy.

I promise I will get pictures of the new little one asap. I just want to wait till she is a bit more comfy. Its funny, 3 years ago this week Monkey came walking through our front door and decided she would live with us. She as you can tell from my siggy is a tortie. The new little one dicided that we would make good parents and is here. She is a calico. Its a cosmic thing. We were planning on a dog but oh well a new kitty is just as good. I am starting to worry though. Is this going to be a tradition? Every 3 years are we going to take on a stray?

Everyone at work is so happy. They all have fallen in love with her and were very protective of her. They all know that we are the best choice for her. We have made Monkey into a wonderful house cat and can do it again, hopefully.

One question though, how long will it take for her to begin to trust again? I know it varies from cat to cat but what can we expect? She seems to know who we are she is just very scared.

Stay tuned for pictures and a name poll.
post #6 of 11
There's just no way to know how long it'll take for her to trust you again. The more time you can spend in there "doing nothing" to her, the quicker it will go.

And I think Monkey acknowledging her presence and not caring about it is a good thing. Doesn't mean she won't be upset a little bit at the first meeting - but that could just be my experience with our female cats - they're all just so much more pissy about these things than our males!

I'm so glad she's home with you. And.... we now have six, and we're probably bringing in what may turn out to be a permanent foster in a few days. So given your "every three years," you've got another 15 years to go until you're fully loaded up!

post #7 of 11
Thread Starter 
Thank you Laurie

So last night we both went in to the bathroom to see her and she came out from hiding and just started to purr and headbut us. She seems like she understands and is happy. We spent about 30 minutes in there with her, we did not want to over stimulate her too much. After we left she stuck her little paw under the door and started to cry for us to come back. So of courrse we did and she hissed once than headbutted DH. She is so cute, tryiing to act all tough than just being silly. She held onto DHs hand and just floped over and let him pet her belly and just rolled around.

This is why I am so confused. I know she was born outside and was feral. The only time anyone ever saw the rest of the kittens would be late at night and only at a distance, behind the store. This one though just showed up in front of the store and wanted attention and food. Coworkers have said they have all seen her hanging out in the supply cage and would not run when they would come in. So she seems more of a stray. Is is possable that she just figured it out and realized people are not so bad?

I made a lot of calls today. I found out that San Diego has a program that pays for the spay and shots. All we have to pay is $20 for the FiV and FeLV test. We were expecting to pay alot more. This is wonderful. I also found out that they would also pay for all pregnancy cost if in the event she was.

I will keep you updated on all the progress.

Thanks again for all you help.

Monkey has discovered her! They played a bit through the door. The little one would shove her paw out and Monkey would grab it, then Monkey would shove her paw under and the little one would grab it. They talked a little too. DH put some cardboard up so the could not touch eachother yet. Untill the new one gets her shots and all her test we don't want to risk any spread of disease. They can still smell eachother and talk but not touch. Monkey seems okay with it. Her tail was poofed a bit but as soon as we told her it was okay and gave her some love she has calmed down. Now she is just sitting at the door waiting for something to happen.

We are kind of thinking about the name Roxy. We are both into skating and the whole skate and surf lifestyle, so it fits. Also some of my favorite female surfers ride for Roxy Clothing. Its also just a cute name.
We will be taking photos tonight and posting them.
post #8 of 11
Roxy and Monkey!

Maybe ask the vet when you take her in for the spay and shots - perhaps you can introduce her to Monkey earlier than 2 - 3 weeks? I'd go with the vet advice - after all, they see the cat. Sounds like she will NOT be happy about being cooped up in the bathroom that long - and sounds like Monkey is not going to have a lot of problems with her.

post #9 of 11
Thread Starter 
Well Roxy has settled right in. She has finally used the box She peed a bit in it the first night but that was it. I was a bit worried but then I went in this morning and was almost gased out by the smell. I looked in the box and I swear it was the size of Texas. Its no wonder she ate all her food in about 2 minutes. She emptied herself out. She is still having issues with the water bowl. Is there anything I can do to help her understand what it is? It seems like the only time she drinks is if DH or I splash the water around a bit, then she gulps it down. How can I help her to drink it with out us splashing it?

Other than the water issue she seems happy. We switched her to kitten kibble and kitten wet. The kibble for now is Purina Growing Years. I figured give her a bit more junky food to make sure she eats it. She just needs to put on so weight and get good nutrients. She spent to long foraging for food. Her wet though is going to be ellness kitten so I know she at least is getting good stuff there. I want to wait a few days before giving her the wet. I want her to get use to kibble. All people ever gave her outside was wet so I want to help her teeth by giving the dry. Does that make sence? Should I be giving her more wet untill she starts to drink without our help?

She has become a love bug. It seems really fast but oh well. She jst attacks and starts to purr and rub her head all over us. She is so carefull to. If we don't pick her up right away or start petting her she just wraps her paws around you leg and pulls on you pants with her teeth untill she gets attention. It make using the bathroom for us a trick.

She will be going into the low cost clinic next Saturday for all her tests, FiV and FeLV. I am waiting for the lady who does the shots to call me back, she comes to the house and does it. Its part of the Shots for Spays program through Pet Assistance. Once she gets her shots it off the the vet for her spay.

Now to get her to sit still long enough for pictures
post #10 of 11
She sounds like a doll!

As to the water... when one of our kitties was sick and wouldn't drink, we'd mix a little warm water in with his wet food. We also used baby food to fatten him up (Gerber's chicken), and we'd mix a little warm water with that.

However, some kitties are just not interested in drinking water unless it is moving. There are a number of water fountains available out there. For our gang, the best one was the Drinkwell. It has a little spout that the water pours out of, making a waterfall - so it makes that splashy sound. The other readily available one is the Petmate. On this one, the water flows down a ramp, so while it makes the water in the bowl swirl around, it doesn't make any water splashy noise. I'd recommend getting one of these, as it may just always be an issue.

post #11 of 11
Thread Starter 
Well she is starting to do great. She has started to drink water on her own with out our help. I am still thinking about getting a fountain, especialy when they are both together. Just so I know that fresh water is available.

I do have a litter box concern. I have noticed that since Roxy has been fed regularly and has good food that she is using the box twice a day. She pees regularly but poos 2 times a day. Its not little kitten poops either. These are well the size of a small truck. I just went in to see her and looked in her box and it was full. The last itme I looked it was clean and empty. Is this normal for a stray who never had solid regular meals? Large poops 2 times a day seems like an awful lot to me. Will she get use to it or will she just always be a twice dayly kitty? Everything looks fine. They are solid regular looking poops. They just are so big. I know she has a tape worm, could this have anything to do with it?

Other than that she seems to be doing great. She loves to just sit in our laps and get love. She has a strong happy purr that you can hear accross the room. She loves to play and seems very happy and glad to have a home. Monkey acts like there is a monster in the bathroom most of the time. The noises seem to keep her interested but not aggressive. She just seems curious. I hope the intros go well.

One more thing, since I know Roxy has a tape worm, I have seen them. Should we get Monkey wormed as a precaution?
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