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I've been adopted - Help..

post #1 of 2
Thread Starter 
I've been adopted by a feral cat and I need a little help. I live on a farm with my three horses and one inside cat. There's a feed room where we keep all the horse feed, and the door is usually cracked for easy entry and for safety (I don't want my kids accidentally locking themselves in it).

Last month around Halloween, It was dark and I entered the feed room with a flashlight. I heard some "rustling" from what I knew had to be a large animal of some sort. I was scared to death, frantically searching for it with my flashlight and then all of a sudden it LEAPT down onto me from an overhead rafter!! I had a HEART ATTACK!!! It was a large black cat, just as scared as I was and he ran out the door as quickly as he could.

From that point forward he took up residence in my feed room - most likely picking off mice. He was as wild as they come, and wouldn't let me near him but he quickly became familiar with who I was because he would watch me prepare the horse's food from a distance. I gave him his distance, and simply said "hello" to him from across the room every time I entered the feed room. I noticed he was breathing heavy, and had an obvious nasal discharge. You could "hear" him breathing through his nostrils, with the mucus bubbling as he breathed out. I knew he had to be sick. I told him that he could stay there in the feed room as long as he wanted, especially to get out of the wind and cold. I started putting food out and he began eating it fiercely as soon as I was a fair enough distance away from the food.

Well - today nearly a month after our first scary encounter, as I was preparing the horse's food in the feed room I felt something rubbing against my lower legs. I looked down and it was the black cat purring and loving on me, basically "choosing" me to be his permanent owner. It was his way of saying he accepts me and he wants some love. I bent down and let him sniff my hand - and he arched his head upwards at it wanting me to pet him. I couldn't believe it was the same cat that for the past few weeks has wanted nothing to do with me. I was in shock, but touched at the same time by his change in personality literally overnight. Then and there I decided to name my new outdoor friend "Spook" which I felt to be fitting due to our first encounter.

So here's the question: He needs some sort of medical attention for his upper respiratory/cold thing he still has going on. So what if he's not actually mine? What if he's not actually feral and belongs to someone else near me? And furthermore, I don't know how he'd feel about me grabbing him and putting him into a pet carrier (I've never actually held him) - hauling him off the vet for check-up and treatment, especially after it took a whole month for him to simply allow me to pet him. Wouldn't I completely "Undo" all of the trust I patiently gained over the past month?

How do you think I should proceed? He's awful skinny by the way...
post #2 of 2
Welcome to TCS! You've been adopted!

First & foremost - be careful. Even if he is acting friendly - trying to restrain him to put him in a carrier or look him over could result in panicked attacking of you.

IMO - he needs to be seen by a vet ASAP. A URI can progressively get worse - and the sooner treated the better. It's hard to do in a cat that isn't domesticated, however, there are things like anti-biotics injections that can be used.

What I would do is this - get him to the vet initially for treatment of the URI, de-worm & treat for fleas/ticks - once healthy have the vet neuter him & give him his shots. You might need to put some food in a livetrap & get him to the vet that way - for his safety & yours. Can you keep him locked in the feed room?

In all honesty - many cats that are found do not have owners. I'd get him vet checked for now....and look for an owner. Check with the local shelters, etc. So many people have unaltered barn cats that they do not much care about that it's possible he's one of the many.

For now - be sure to keep feeding him & ensure he has water. If you can, keep him closed in the feed room to prevent him from "wandering" or getting injured. Cats with URIs are often a little "slower" on noticing danger. He also may not want to eat much as it inhibits his ability to smell.

FYI - I have several "pet" barn cats & "not-so-pet" barn cats. All are fixed & vetted. They range from 4 years to 18 years old. A well cared for barn cat can make a lovely pet provided they receive adequate vet care, food/water, & shelter.
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