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Captured! But now I don't know...

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
DH finally caught the feral cat that he has been feeding at the office. He took "Big Red" to the vet and warned them that the cat is extremely wild. They said, "Oh, we've dealt with cats wilder than this." But that was before they tried to take him out of the carrier. Bless his heart, he had to be sedated before they could move him. The good news is, Red is negative for feline leukemia, etc. And we had him neutered, treated for a bite on his leg, and got his 1st shots. The bad news is, the vet feels that he is too feral to bring into our home at this point. He said there is no way we could keep him in our house, especially with the other cats. He wants DH to take Red back over to the office and gradually try to tame him. We are disappointed; we were really hoping to bring him home. Our vet is really good and I trust his judgement. However, this means Red has to go back to living next to a busy highway. Sorry to be so long, thank you for your patience in reading this. The vet thinks we are doing the best we can, but I feel guilty.
post #2 of 16
Wow.. .I'm not the one to advise you on ferals. But bless you for helping Big Red....
post #3 of 16
Do you have a place that you would be able to keep the cat by himself.
We kept ours in the basement. I would bring down food and sit with the cat and just talk. Eventually the cat got use to me and the basement. I blocked off a small area at first and then slowly opened up more to the cat. I put up dog gates in the doorway and let the cats see each other, but not actually able to get close to one another. Eventually I took down the gates and they started to interact. We still have some hissing and growling, but everyone starting to get along better and better. It is a slow process, and some days are better than others. Mommie ( our feral ) likes to lay on my pillow with me as I watch tv.

Mommie did not like being in a crate either. She did have a different attitude when she calmed down and started to get use to her surroundings. Cats do not like change. So you have to take small steps. Good Luck.
post #4 of 16
Is there a possibility that you have a spare room that you could use as a "wild kitty" room. You could keep him sequestered while he adjusts to being indoors but keep him and the other cats safe? I know it sounds horrible to keep him locked up in one room but if it would keep him from being back outside it might work.

I know I've read a lot of posts here about ferals being kept in one room with the door closed while they learn to go from outdoor to indoor. Maybe you could search for those and see if any of them could give you some advice.
post #5 of 16
I was exactly in your shoes about 2 years ago. A very feral cat showed up at my husband's office with a litter of 3 kittens. After about 2 months she left them and we started to move them closer to the building until we caught 2 of them. They were females and had their "spa day" at the vet and one of the secretaries took them home. We put a trap up to catch the third kitten ( which we sadly never did) and the mom showed up and went right into the trap. She was so wild she cut her nose open on the trap before she even got to the vet. My vet called and strongly suggested to put her right back where she was, she was just too wild to ever tame. It was the beginning of winter and I just could not do it. I kept her in a sunroom, which is very much like being outside, and it did take a very long time but now she is fully intergrated with my others and although still very afraid of strangers, she is very comfortable living indoors. Whatever you choose, you have done a wonderful thing for Red. He always has someone to care for him.

Sorry for the long post, but as a side note, now there is another cat at the office. We have tried to trap him several times, we are now taking a slower approach, he comes into the office for a few hours each day. He has a heated shelter and I know that even when we do get him to the vet, that I cannot bring him here, but we are committed to taking care of him where he is, hoping he can be someday an "inside office cat"
post #6 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by nurseangel View Post
The bad news is, the vet feels that he is too feral to bring into our home at this point.

He said there is no way we could keep him in our house, especially with the other cats.

Our vet is really good and I trust his judgment.

However, this means Red has to go back to living next to a busy highway.
I am not as experienced as some but I have rescued many and have tamed some. 4 former ferals now live with me.

First.....How many ferals has your vet tamed? Bringing a feral into your home is MUCH different than treating at the vets office. Yes, they have seen 'wild cats' but how they react there is not the same when you get them home and give them a little time.

.........I do not believe there is any way to predict how a cat will interact with other cats. That's why we all follow the "introduction guidelines". You will not know until you give them a chance.

.........What is it going to be like for this cat to go back to a busy highway? He is scared to death right now. What was he like before you trapped him. Was he aggressive? If not, you probably know his personality somewhat.

I do not see how a vet, no matter his talent in medicine, can predict a ferals personality. Just my personal thought. I have been to great vets, highly respected. One said it is impossible to feed raw meat to a dog or cat. One also said it is impossible to socialize a feral cat. I sleep with one of these impossibilities.

You could always try things for a time and see how it goes. You have to decide what works for you. I wish you the best.
post #7 of 16
Well... your vet is an idiot for trying to take him out of the cage without sedating him! That makes me instantly think that he doesn't know a lot about ferals. I had to take a feral to the vet who was incredibly lethargic after her spay - turns out she had a temperature and was very dehydrated - despite being so lethargic, they sedated her while she was still in her trap.

Anyway, if you release this boy, he will never go back into a trap, and the best you can hope for is that he'll come to your general vicinity when you feed him.

If you have a quiet room, preferably basement, you can keep him there and do as suggested above. Good luck!
post #8 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skimble View Post
One said it is impossible to feed raw meat to a dog or cat. One also said it is impossible to socialize a feral cat. I sleep with one of these impossibilities.
I hope you're sleeping with the feral cat, not the raw meat...
post #9 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skimble View Post
.........I do not believe there is any way to predict how a cat will interact with other cats. That's why we all follow the "introduction guidelines". You will not know until you give them a chance.
Right. Better safe than sorry.

But reading what many fosterers tell, and also talking to experienced rescue-shelter people, I believe there are some probabilities.

The most important, shy semiferales / ferales usually / surprising often dont have great issues with residents, usually being submissive to them.
- They know this is not their territory, so they MUST adjust. They are also often used to live in colonies, and thus - tolerating others being there.
All in all, shy semiferales may be easier to get accepted with residents then a common, buyed, homeraised cat.

The big exception to be very careful with are uncut tomcats. Especially the non shy tomcat (they can be surprising friendly to people, but mercilessly and violently beat up the residents) and the territorial, dominating tomcats.
These male cats must be neutered in very good time before any attempts to let them meet the residents. Especielly if the residents are male. Docile female residents are rather safe. So let the first contact be with such one.

Shy tomcats are usually rather docile meeting the residents. No big difference to shy females.


But of course, dont take unnecessary risks. There are several ways of safety first meeting.



Do you agree Skimble and other forumists?
post #10 of 16
While I agree with everything everyone has posted (six of our seven cats are feral rescues, and the 7th was apparently a stray) - there is a HUGE difference between socializing feral kittens and socializing older feral cats. The most experienced cat rescuer I know (probably the most experienced rescuer most of us at TCS know) is "Hissy." She's been rescuing for 12 or 14 years. Her experience? If they are truly feral and older than 3 years old, they cannot be socialized to an indoor only life.

It can be VERY hard to tell if a kitty - especially if older - was a stray that has become feral-like or is truly a feral. But if you suspect this cat was born feral, and your vet believes he is older than three years, do NOT feel guilty for releasing him. It's probably best.

Otherwise? It can just be a long process and you simply have to turn off your clock and your expectations.



Laurie
post #11 of 16
Thread Starter 
Thank you all for your help. The vet thinks it will be possible to start taming Red after the testosterone is out of his system, which takes around 30 days after being neutered. Red is now back at the office, where there is at least a warm place for him to sleep and plenty to eat (he weighs 12 lbs and looks lean...he is a very large cat). DH is somewhat of a "Cat Whisperer" and has tamed a few ferals or feral like strays in the past. (Cats love him; he attracts cats like the Pied Piper.) The difference between those cats and Red is that they came to our house, so there was no issue of changing environment. One of the ferals DH tamed lived with us for years until having to be PTS due to cancer. That cat would let DH pick him up, etc., but would only let me touch him on the very tip of the nose. So please send good vibes that Red will tame quickly. And thanks Laurie for telling me not to feel guilty. I've been so worried about doing the right thing.
post #12 of 16
No need for guilty feelings. Bless you for caring about him. You have taken care of his needs.

It is great that he has a nice warm place to go back to and your DH is amazing for what he does.

What I have gone through may be the exception. I have learned much here and especially from TCS member 'hissy'. It is my opinion that the personality of the cat does play a part in this equation.

My 4 former ferals had their home destroyed (a ditch). This was one year ago. The gang age at time of rescue:

*male estimated by vet and area businesses at over 4 years old, my sweetest and follows me everywhere, even lays next to my feet while I use hairdryer!

*female estimated over 2 years old, now lounges on the desk while I work, she was my most shy but has learned to trust

*two females same age about 10-12 months, one shy but will sleep on bed with me, the other is very comfortable with anyone that visits often

ALL were born feral in a ditch and the colony was there for about 8 years so these are not first generation ferals.

I have a couple more that were born feral and orphaned at a few weeks old. They will NOT sleep with me or sit in a lap. Personality in my opinion, again as they were held and cuddled very much by several people while growing.

You just never know what will happen until you get there and it most definitely has to be without a clock!

You did the right thing for him and you. He will do fine in your husbands care.
post #13 of 16
Every stray is different.

Some strays want nothing to do with people. While others do.

Some strays can live wild their whole life outside, and then one day just come "knocking on the door" for food, shelter, and a nice hug.
post #14 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by bszaronos View Post
Cats do not like change. So you have to take small steps. Good Luck.
Some cats can respond positively to change.

When they realize how cold it is outside and their paws are cold.

They can change pretty quickly.
post #15 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by LDG View Post
- there is a HUGE difference between socializing feral kittens and socializing older feral cats. The most experienced cat rescuer I know (probably the most experienced rescuer most of us at TCS know) is "Hissy." She's been rescuing for 12 or 14 years. Her experience? If they are truly feral and older than 3 years old, they cannot be socialized to an indoor only life.
...if you suspect this cat was born feral, and your vet believes he is older than three years, do NOT feel guilty for releasing him. It's probably best.

Otherwise? It can just be a long process and you simply have to turn off your clock and your expectations.



Laurie
Yeah. Sure. But still, there IS hope also for the older ferals to be fostered:
Skimble has mentioned there is a natural variety also amongs ferales. Some are easier to foster, some are more difficult - perhaps even practically impossible yes.

My contribution is: What fosters always want and hope for is the rescued cat will be a homecat, a pet. We do gladely accept an ex-feral will remain shy to strangers, but we want himher to become a loving pet with Mom or Dad. This is the great wonder we all work for.

However. There is a step before. The feral not achieving pet-phase, but becoming tame. Tame as say goats, chickens etc. Ie accepting to live with humans, being friendly with them, cooperating - but normally not petting, and even somewhat shy.
Sometimes this is enough!!!
(Variation here: These cats can often get a good job being a stable cat or such...)

I have heard of one wonderful example. A rescuer adopted a grown up ferale she-cat. Age about 6-7 years. She get "tame" but not more. Lived as a semiferale indoor the house. Accepted and accepting the other cats although not real friend with them. Accepting vicinity of the humans, but never allowing petting nor hardly touching. Mostly active at nights. Not very shy to them though and moderately happy.
But this was still a saved life, and a live worth living (we dont have much TNR in Sweden, so if not rescued they get often killed off). And this good woman had other cats to pet and be petted by, so she accepted gladely this extra inhabitant.
Six years did it took. 6 long years. But on the late autumn of her live, our ex-feral did at last come forward, seeking pet and giving pet, and now sleeping together with the other cats in Moms bed.
post #16 of 16
What a wonderful example and well said !! You are in my opinion and limited experience, correct in that we must ask ourselves what end result are we hoping to achieve.

If this is a situation where you are saving the cat's life and allowing it food, warmth and a comfortable environment then being petted is not a priority.

All of my 4 started out like this. They had no home and would be euthanized if the shelter took them because they were feral and older. I had no expectations other than to give them a safe home. Years go by and they trust more.

These ferals would hiss and swat at my resident male cats. This was after a lengthy introduction and using a screen door to separate. Nothing more aggressive took place and they all now sleep together and groom each other.

You expressed that very well. Thank you. That is what I experienced.
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