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Feral in danger?

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 
I started feeding a feral about a week ago on my campus after seeing how desperate he was for food, looking at everything to see if it was edible, he was eating french fries and bread that had been dropped on the ground by other students. I know it is a feral as I saw it last year follow its mom all over campus as a kitten plus he won't let anyone near him and is very skittish. I started feeding him cat food under my window and ever since then he has started sleeping under my windowsill about 6 feet below my room in a corner. There is little cover from surrounding plants, etc and I am afraid he may freeze as there is nothing to keep out the wind and cold air. It is supposed to get to 27 degrees tonight here in Central PA. Anything I can do to help him? I made him a shelter in a box, but I can't do much because he sleeps exposed to the rest of the campus under six feet under my windowsill. Anything I put up in his sleeping spot will be seen and removed by campus officials. He would find a warmer spot to sleep before he would freeze to death, right?
post #2 of 28
First, I want to thank you for helping this poor little guy. He could use a friend.

Shelter is very important and cats will do their best to keep warm.

Unfortunately, they'll sometimes go places that are dangerous, like under car hoods to stay warm on the engine block. You can imagine what could happen to a cat if the car is started while he's still under there... (in cold weather always knock on the hood of your car before starting it, or blow the horn first, for this reason).

See if you can find a better spot to hide his shelter that's still fairly close to where you've been feeding him. A group of low evergreen bushes would be ideal since you could hide the shelter underneath, tucking it back under the branches as far as possible. Try to elevate the shelter too, putting it on bricks or a wood palette. Make sure it doesn't rock, since the cat will be afraid of it if it seems unsteady when he tries to go in. Don't use towels or blankets inside, since these things absorb moisture. Use fresh straw or bedding hay. Put lots of it in there, the cat will make a "nest" in it and it will compress some with his weight, so you need a good layer of straw or hay.

In the meantime, feed him as good a quality canned food as you can. Try to get him on a feeding schedule too.

Do some research and see if there are any local TNR (trap-neuter-return) groups in your area. Find out what the University policy is toward feral cats. Some actually have managed feral colonies - hopefully your school will be one of them.

Thanks again for caring about this kitty. He's lucky. Please keep us updated!
post #3 of 28
Thread Starter 
The box is covered in leaves and branches and is stashed behind an evergreen bush. He was joined last night in sleeping under my windowsill by his mother whom I had seen occasionally every few weeks or so. She is a gorgeous long haired black cat with white legs, while he is a very smooth short haired tortoiseshell with white feet. She is much healthier and seems to know more about how to find food then her son does, who looked on the verge of starvation before I started feeding him.

Luckily, we have a local cat organization called PA PETS that promotes controlling the pet population through spaying and neutering. They have been very helpful so far and are going to provide me with a trap in order to catch the cats and have them fixed. All I have to do is pay the $8 for the rabies shot and take the cats to the vet and back to my campus to let them go.
post #4 of 28
That's great that you found a safe spot to hide the cats' shelter. Sounds like you did a good job of camouflaging it! It's also a bonus that the mom cat has joined her son - they'll help keep each other warm, and it's always good for kitties to have company.

Are you certain that they are both feral? How close can you get to them?

I'm so glad that you found an organization to help you spay/neuter and you sure can't beat the price. There are a couple of things to keep in mind:

Both cats will need time to recover from the neutering, especially the mom cat. As you know, spaying is major surgery for a cat, so she absolutely can *not* be released before she's had time to heal. Ideally, it's best to keep the female cat confined for 5-7 days to ensure there's no infection and she's healing properly. I realize that this is probably impossible for you to do. Ask if one of the volunteers at PA Pets would be willing to keep momcat for at least 2 days so she has time to recover. The male cat, as well, should be allowed to rest at least overnite before he's released. Making sure the cats are not under the effects of the anesthesia is extremely important. Ask if mom cat will get at least one shot of pain meds after the surgery. She should.

Too often, feral cats are released before they've fully come out of anesthesia, or female cats aren't given even a day or two to heal, because unfortunately, sometimes ferals are not given the same level of care as housecats. All cats deserve a high level of care. Ferals are cats first, feral second.

The other thing you need to think about is this: who will continue to feed the cats when you graduate? The cats depend on you, so you'll need to find someone who can continue to care for them. If you haven't already done so, check to see if there are any groups on campus that care for ferals or if PA Pets can eventually help when the time comes for you to leave
school.

You are wonderful to do this for these cats!!! They are truly very lucky.
Thank you for caring about them, and please continue to let us know how it's going.
post #5 of 28
You are doing such a wonderful thing for these cats!! Good for you!!I am not sure what campus you are on, but there are several college campuses that take care of feral and strays. Perhaps you could start a club or organization and get others involved. If you google feral cats there should be a link to help you out. Good luck and keep us posted.
post #6 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by KTLynn View Post
That's great that you found a safe spot to hide the cats' shelter. Sounds like you did a good job of camouflaging it! It's also a bonus that the mom cat has joined her son - they'll help keep each other warm, and it's always good for kitties to have company.

Are you certain that they are both feral? How close can you get to them?

I'm so glad that you found an organization to help you spay/neuter and you sure can't beat the price. There are a couple of things to keep in mind:

Both cats will need time to recover from the neutering, especially the mom cat. As you know, spaying is major surgery for a cat, so she absolutely can *not* be released before she's had time to heal. Ideally, it's best to keep the female cat confined for 5-7 days to ensure there's no infection and she's healing properly. I realize that this is probably impossible for you to do. Ask if one of the volunteers at PA Pets would be willing to keep momcat for at least 2 days so she has time to recover. The male cat, as well, should be allowed to rest at least overnite before he's released. Making sure the cats are not under the effects of the anesthesia is extremely important. Ask if mom cat will get at least one shot of pain meds after the surgery. She should.

Too often, feral cats are released before they've fully come out of anesthesia, or female cats aren't given even a day or two to heal, because unfortunately, sometimes ferals are not given the same level of care as housecats. All cats deserve a high level of care. Ferals are cats first, feral second.

The other thing you need to think about is this: who will continue to feed the cats when you graduate? The cats depend on you, so you'll need to find someone who can continue to care for them. If you haven't already done so, check to see if there are any groups on campus that care for ferals or if PA Pets can eventually help when the time comes for you to leave
school.

You are wonderful to do this for these cats!!! They are truly very lucky.
Thank you for caring about them, and please continue to let us know how it's going.
They are definitely both feral. I cannot get within 10 feet of them. I glance out my window once or twice every night and I sometimes accidently scare them with just a look even though I avoid looking into their eyes. I know the son has always been feral as I saw him follow his mom all over campus last year as a kitten. He still likes to play with leaves and twigs and anything else he can grab when he thinks I am not watching him.

I can certainly find a place for them to heal for a little bit. If nothing else, I can hide them in my room for a few days. It is also extra important I realize in allowing them to heal because of how cold it is outside. It is currently getting into the 30's every night and every once in a while the 20's. I would not want them to freeze after going through surgery. I hid baby rabbits and two feral kittens in my room last year without anyone knowing. I saved the baby rabbits because they were being eaten by a cat. A week later and the day after I released the rabbits I found the kittens whose mom was the one that was killing and eating the rabbits, so that is sort of a neat little side note. Two of these kittens are living at my house currently.

I am certain that I can find someone to care for the cats when I graduate. I already have someone living in the town that I go to school in volunteering to feed them while I am gone over Thanksgiving break. Someone who works cleaning at my school is also a member of PA PETS and has volunteered to help me. It is also extra important I realize in allowing them to heal because of how cold it is outside. It is currently getting into the 30's every night and every once in a while the 20's. I would not want them to freeze after going through surgery.

I will find a way to make sure they are taken care of after I graduate.

I go to a very small school, Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove, PA so it will probably be hard to get a large group, but I am sure that two or three other determined is certainly possible.
post #7 of 28
you can make an inexpensive shelter from a sterilite or rubbermaid tote - waterproof, too! the sterilite ones come in a transparent version, which would be easier to hide, i would think. there are directions here
the best thing for cutting the holes is a hot knife - i got one here, altho i've also seen them in hobby stores [think Hobby Lobby or Michael's].
good luck!
post #8 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by andrewrichard5 View Post
I am certain that I can find someone to care for the cats when I graduate. I already have someone living in the town that I go to school in volunteering to feed them while I am gone over Thanksgiving break. Someone who works cleaning at my school is also a member of PA PETS and has volunteered to help me. It is also extra important I realize in allowing them to heal because of how cold it is outside. It is currently getting into the 30's every night and every once in a while the 20's. I would not want them to freeze after going through surgery.

I will find a way to make sure they are taken care of after I graduate.

I am so glad about this!!! Caring for ferals requires real commitment, which you obviously have, but because you will eventually leave school, the future of these cats was cause for concern. I'm very happy you'll be able to provide the kitties with the ongoing care they need.

When you bring mom cat in for her spay, remind the vet that she's an outside kitty. Ask if they can please shave as little of her hair as possible to help her stay warm. And remember to request pain meds for her.

It's great that you'll be able to keep the cats for at least a couple of days so they can recuperate. That's important.

I'm curious about the kittens you mentioned that are at your house now. How old were they when you brought them home? How old are they now, and how are they doing? Are they the first cats you've ever had? It's terrific that you adopted them. They'd surely be part of the feral population on campus if you hadn't.

Thanks again, on behalf of mom cat and her son, for making their lives so much healthier and happier.

PS - I'd love to see you start a feral cat care/advocacy group for the cats on your campus. Do you think there any like-minded students that would work with you on this?
post #9 of 28
You are doing an awesome job. Their lives have been saved with your efforts. Hang in there.

Quote:
Originally Posted by andrewrichard5 View Post
he is a very smooth short haired tortoiseshell with white feet.
If this is a tortise shell and white, most likely it is female. Others will know more about this than I do.

Best of luck to you.
post #10 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skimble View Post
You are doing an awesome job. Their lives have been saved with your efforts. Hang in there.



If this is a tortise shell and white, most likely it is female. Others will know more about this than I do.

Best of luck to you.

Excellent observation. I suppose it is a female. I went on petfinder to look at the tortoiseshell cats for adoption and the first 100 on there were all females. I guess HamCat would be a female too. Thank you for the correction and the help.
post #11 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by laureen227 View Post
you can make an inexpensive shelter from a sterilite or rubbermaid tote - waterproof, too! the sterilite ones come in a transparent version, which would be easier to hide, i would think. there are directions here
the best thing for cutting the holes is a hot knife - i got one here, altho i've also seen them in hobby stores [think Hobby Lobby or Michael's].
good luck!
HamCat was using the shelter last night. It is pretty well concealed as it has leaves and evergreen branches covering it and is behind an evergreen bush so it blends in really well. I was able to shine a flashlight in the box last night while hanging out my window and saw HamCat's back turned toward me inside the box. The only way to see the box is to hang out my window, because there is a wall protecting everyone else from seeing down toward the box. Thank you for the advice though and I will certianly keep it in mind if a problem arises with this one or I need another box for some reason.
post #12 of 28
This is awesome what you are doing!!! Do you have the shelter stuffed with straw? That would certainly help with warmth for them. I am so glad these kitties are going to be taken care of, getting others to help you out is a blessing. Keep up the good work!!
post #13 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by KTLynn View Post
I'm curious about the kittens you mentioned that are at your house now. How old were they when you brought them home? How old are they now, and how are they doing? Are they the first cats you've ever had? It's terrific that you adopted them. They'd surely be part of the feral population on campus if you hadn't.

Thanks again, on behalf of mom cat and her son, for making their lives so much healthier and happier.

PS - I'd love to see you start a feral cat care/advocacy group for the cats on your campus. Do you think there any like-minded students that would work with you on this?
We rescued the kittens when they were around 5 weeks old according to the vet. They are very social and loved playing with people from the very start of when we found them. Right now they are little demons that love to sleep on your lap and just run around and play all day like normal kittens. They are very mischievous, having chewed through my cell phone charging cord, chewed up sneakers and flip flops and one of them likes to take the paper out of the printer after each sheet has printed. The same one also likes to drink out of the faucet in the bathtub like it is a bottle. When he hears the shower turn on he goes running into the bathroom to try and get to the water. He is really weird.

When we first took them to the vet they had worms, but that was it. They were also very healthy for having lived outside. They ate dry food right away and we had to give a lot of wet food because of constipation right away. We almost went to get kitten formula, but they were eating the other food.

They were living in a deep window well and were trapped in there. Someone found the kittens when the mom was scratching at the glass and growling when someone got close. There is no way the mother could have been able to get the kittens out of the window well because of how deep it was and with the kittens weight. The kittens were sort of trapped there because they were either born in there or were moved into the window well when they were smaller. They would have been born around April 1st so she may have given birth there because it was warm and secluded. The window well was only covered with stones on the bottom and when we found the kittens they were in a pile to keep warm.

The mom was an absolute beast of a cat and was always seen on campus hunting or drifting into a bush. She was all black and was hard to get a glimpse of, but she was a great mom.

All in all they were just like normal indoor born kittens because we socialized and rescued at such an early age.

I have two other cats at home and have had cats since I was a kid, usually 3 or 4 at a time. I used to tame feral cats when I was in elementary school by bringing there food closer and closer to me and the house and watching them for an hour or so every night. I must have tamed a dozen in this way from elementary school to middle school. I also rescued a few regular strays during this time. So I am not new to cats or feral cats, just wasn't technically aware of the terminology.

As for the club, I will see what I can do, but next semester because it is a very busy finish for this semester right now.
post #14 of 28
Hmm, sneak him indoors, lol.
post #15 of 28
Thread Starter 
I currently have the box stuffed with shredded newspaper because I couldn't get any straw. This seems to be working for them just fine so far.

As for sneaking them inside, I would if they would follow me inside, but they are much too feral for that.
post #16 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by andrewrichard5 View Post
I currently have the box stuffed with shredded newspaper because I couldn't get any straw. This seems to be working for them just fine so far.
Keep trying to get straw. Most nurseries will carry it, as well as feed stores.
Straw is great to use because it insulates, the cats can form a comfortable "nest" in it, and it doesn't absorb moisture, which is very important.

Bedding hay will work too, though it's not quite as good as straw.

Newspaper will unfortunately absorb moisture, so until you get straw or hay, keep checking the shelter and replace the newspaper often.

Thank you for telling us about the kittens you rescued - they sound adorable and I hope you can eventually post pictures of them. It was lucky that someone noticed them in the window well; luckier still that you gave them a home!

BTW, what happened to their mom?
post #17 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by KTLynn View Post
Keep trying to get straw. Most nurseries will carry it, as well as feed stores.
Straw is great to use because it insulates, the cats can form a comfortable "nest" in it, and it doesn't absorb moisture, which is very important.
i got a little 'mini-bale' of straw @ Hobby Lobby - look at crafting stores.
post #18 of 28
Thread Starter 
I talked to the person that is going to be taking care of them for me over Thanksgiving break. She has a small doghouse that she is going to give me and fill it with straw so all five of the cats that are currently coming can sleep in it together instead of in the corner of the building in a little pile like three of them did last night. I have to contact my school and see if they will allow me to do this, so wish me luck. This will be the first time I have contacted the school about any of what I am doing.

As for the mother of the kittens, according to a secondary source one of the secretaries that helped rescue the kittens was finally able to capture one her and have her spayed. So that is very good. As for what happened to her after that I do not know. I asked if she had been taken to a shelter because I realize being feral that she wouldn't have much of a chance of being adopted. I was then told by this person that the secretary would never allow an animal in her care to be killed by a shelter. The person I talked to seemed to know her quite well so I believe him that the cat is still alive somewhere. I will try to find out what happened to her, because she was a beautiful cat and one of the best feral mothers of all time.
post #19 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by andrewrichard5 View Post
I talked to the person that is going to be taking care of them for me over Thanksgiving break. She has a small doghouse that she is going to give me and fill it with straw so all five of the cats that are currently coming can sleep in it together instead of in the corner of the building in a little pile like three of them did last night. I have to contact my school and see if they will allow me to do this, so wish me luck. This will be the first time I have contacted the school about any of what I am doing.

It may not be the best idea to inform your school about your cats yet.

Unfortunately, you don't know if the school officials are "animal-friendly" or not. If they aren't receptive to what you've been doing, you'll have a very bad situation on your hands if they tell you they do not want you caring for the cats. This is not the time of year to risk the cats losing their shelters if the school tells you to remove them.

It's better to try to find out first, and anonymously, what the school's attitude is toward feral cats. Speak with the secretary who got the other mom cat spayed - she may be able to find out if the school is sympathetic.
You can also make calls to whomever you think would make decisions about this issue, without identifying yourself, and inquire about their policy, if there is one, toward cats on campus.

Most of us who care for ferals have learned to (sadly) assume that many folks will not be sympathetic to what we're doing. That's why we try to keep "a low profile" by not drawing attention to the cats. We feed in hidden areas, and hide the shelters as best we can. The bottom line is the cats' safety. Sometimes we luck out, and we find kindred spirits who care about the cats too. But you just don't know.

That's why I would urge you not to call attention to the cats at this point, unless you get completely reliable information that school officials will look kindly on what you're doing.
post #20 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by KTLynn View Post
It may not be the best idea to inform your school about your cats yet.

Unfortunately, you don't know if the school officials are "animal-friendly" or not. If they aren't receptive to what you've been doing, you'll have a very bad situation on your hands if they tell you they do not want you caring for the cats. This is not the time of year to risk the cats losing their shelters if the school tells you to remove them.

It's better to try to find out first, and anonymously, what the school's attitude is toward feral cats. Speak with the secretary who got the other mom cat spayed - she may be able to find out if the school is sympathetic.
You can also make calls to whomever you think would make decisions about this issue, without identifying yourself, and inquire about their policy, if there is one, toward cats on campus.

Most of us who care for ferals have learned to (sadly) assume that many folks will not be sympathetic to what we're doing. That's why we try to keep "a low profile" by not drawing attention to the cats. We feed in hidden areas, and hide the shelters as best we can. The bottom line is the cats' safety. Sometimes we luck out, and we find kindred spirits who care about the cats too. But you just don't know.

That's why I would urge you not to call attention to the cats at this point, unless you get completely reliable information that school officials will look kindly on what you're doing.
Excellent idea. I was thinking that myself as well that they may not want all of the cats. I will see if I can get in touch with the secretary that helped out. Thank you.
post #21 of 28
Thread Starter 
Here is the response I got about what happened to my two kittens' mom:

"I was able to trap “Hannah†(aptly name for campus!) and she was successfully spayed AFTER she had another litter of 4 kittens in my house. We adopted out the two male kittens she had and ended up keeping the 2 female kittens. And surprisingly NONE of them were all black this time. We have taken Hannah into our home too and she’s getting along well with all of our other cats. She’s still pretty skittish around us but we’re making small steps toward being able to pet her and give her the affection she deserves. We had toyed with the idea of releasing her back on campus but we ended up putting about $200 of our own money into her and decided to keep her. (We were also fortunate to collect about $200 from staff in Selinsgrove Hall to help with her spay procedure.)"

The second litter must have had a different dad or something because 3 of the 5 were all black in the first litter like mom and in this litter none of them were. At least the most prolific breeder has been taken off the streets of this campus so far.
post #22 of 28
It sounds like you have some people on campus who are cat lovers and have already taken steps toward TNR. That is great and I am hope you can find others, getting them spayed/neutered now while the colony is small is also beneficial for everyone. Keep looking, there also may be a feral organization that could also help you. Are there shelters around your campus or veterinary offices-there may be someone there who knows of an organization who would also be willing to help you. Good luck, don't give up!!
post #23 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by KRZ View Post
It sounds like you have some people on campus who are cat lovers and have already taken steps toward TNR. That is great and I am hope you can find others, getting them spayed/neutered now while the colony is small is also beneficial for everyone. Keep looking, there also may be a feral organization that could also help you. Are there shelters around your campus or veterinary offices-there may be someone there who knows of an organization who would also be willing to help you. Good luck, don't give up!!
I am currently working with and have been approved for PA Pets' Feral Cat Program. PA Pets is an organization in Central Pennsylvania that is dedicated to providing neutering and spaying assistance to low income families as well as promoting getting pets spayed and neutered. Their feral cat program which I am now approved for will cover all the costs related to the TNR of up to 10 cats. They have told me if I bring in 10 then I will be sponsored for an additional 10 so I can pretty much have as many ferals TNRed as I can catch all for free. I just have to take the cats to the vet, pick them up and pay the $8 fee for the rabies shot, PA Pets covers the rest. They even hooked me up with a trap and someone to feed and care for the cats when I am on Thanksgiving break. They have also offered a small doghouse to put next to my building, but it is probably too early to try to ask the school about that.
post #24 of 28
Have you heard of the Stanford Cat Network? It is not sponsored by Stanford University, but is working on their campus. If you google it, you can contact them, they might have some additional ideas or advice for you about approaching the proper individuals at your school. You are doing an amazing job, hopefully when you graduate, others will step up and carry on what you have started. Your parents must be very proud of you!
post #25 of 28
Thread Starter 
Stanford Cat Network. I will certainly look that up. Thank you as always.
post #26 of 28

Please do no inform the school.  It is best to keep it as secretive as possible.  If they don't like what you are doing,  your rescue mission will be done.  I learned this the hard way.  I confided to a neighbor's daughter, who is in her 50's no less,  living on   apt. complex grounds .She was helping to feed them so I thought she'd be amenable to keeping them warm.  The elderly mom just seems to like to watch them eat but she has all her faculties.  Her comment was they can do what they have been doing all along with the freezing cold. I don't want a home here.  After hours of research,  buying the purrfect plastic box, driving 10 miles to get straw, and getting styrofoam from supermarkets,  the mom got suspicious as to what I was doing with the styrofoam after I cleaned it out,  asked  her daughter I assume, and then she told me she does not want it on her property behind the bushes.  It was a great spot because it was hidden from other apt. dwellers who don't like rules broken or who don't care about animals.   The daughter had even cleaned out the area behind the bushes that held her gardening tools.  I am so sorry I didn't keep my mouth shut. In my enthusiasm to help the cats and share the good will,   I now have no place to put the wonderful shelter I put together. And all along the daughter knew I was getting a shelter ready.    If it is a public place of any kind,  you will get grief from somebody.  Thank you for doing your best and helping these poor innocent cats.  If only more people were like you. 

post #27 of 28
purrly, first of all, welcome to TCS! wavey.gif

Second, you are posting in a thread that's three years old. biggrin.gif Please feel free to wander on over to the New Cats On The Block forum and introduce yourself. We would all love to see pictures of you and your cats.

My name is Katie, and if you need help finding your way around here, just click on my username and send me a PM, and let me know. clap.gif
post #28 of 28
Purrly - YES - WELCOME to TCS. Please make yourself at home here on the site. And as Speakhandsforme suggests - go to the New Cat's on the Block Forum and please introduce yourself biggrin.gif Hope you have a wonderful time exploring this wonderful forum clap.gifclap.gif
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