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opinions on what to do with feral kitty

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
I am new here. I successfully integrated a long-time stray into my home a few years ago. However I am dealing with what a feral cat now and I don't know what to do. He is in my basement now, and he is so scared that he will hide and not move for several hours at a time...he's been there for over a week and will not come out of hiding when I am in the basement at all. I scared him this morning just by coming in the room to feed him - he took a look at me and peed on the floor, poor thing :-( He only eats at night when the house is silent.

I need to get him to the vet to be checked out but I can't go near him. And I can't get him to take the bait and go into a trap either. He actually jumped to a window ledge about 10 feet off the ground from the floor just to get away from the trap.

I am starting to think I am being cruel by causing him so much stress - it is obvious he is scared out of his wits. Should I just let him go back outside and try to get him to use a shelter with a heating pad for the winter? I I hate the thought of him living outside but I feel awful with him so scared like this; I am very good with cats but I am not sure I can reach this one.

Thanks for your help, I am really worried about this poor kitty.

- Alyssa
post #2 of 9
At the top of this forum there are stickies that may help you. You will find mega-information there.

The most important thing you need is patience. You have to let the cat come to you. Spend some time in the same room as the cat - read aloud or talk to the cat. Just keep doing that until the cat realizes you are not an enemy. It took me a month of doing this to get one of our cats to come out of hiding and he wasn't a stray - he had just spent a great deal of his life in a cage at the breeder's place. He turned out to be one of the more affectionate cats I've ever had. Go slowly, don't force kitty to your time table and you should get results.
post #3 of 9

This is a wonderful thing you want to do.

I have one concern about this situation: do you have any idea how old the kitty is? Because if a true feral is over three years old, they rarely adjust to living inside unless they're ill and need you.

The normal advice for socializing a feral doesn't apply here. If you don't know how old this cat is, you need to get him to a vet to find out. If there's any question about his being under three years old, he should be neutered and released.

If you take the normal advice for socializing ferals, it may take too long before you can even get him to a vet, and his spraying/peeing in the basement may be a nightmare to correct/change/fix.

We have heaps of advice for how to work with ferals.

But for now, I think you need to concentrate on getting him in a trap and to a vet.

Here's what I would do.

Make sure you can take him to the vet whenever you get him into a trap and don't need to bring him for a specific appointment at a specific time.

Wash the trap completely with a very light chlorine solution. Get all the smells of fear and cats off of it.

Purchase Feliway spray. DOUSE the basement with it - except near a litter box. Spray some at the ends of the trap.

Cover the trap with a light blanket and put newspaper down on the floor so he doesn't have to walk on the wires. Do NOT set it.

Start putting his food in there - thus he HAS to go in there to eat. It should now smell friendly, not scary.

When you're sure he's eating out of the bowl in the trap for a few days, and you know you can get him to the vet first thing in the morning, set the trap. Make SURE you have a tarp to cover whatever area of the car/truck where the trap will be set. He will very likely vomit, pee or poop during transportation (or all three).

He'll be very unhappy in there for the night, but getting him to a vet and neutered is of paramount importance here (IMO). If he's going to be inside with you, he needs to be dewormed, and treated for fleas and ticks, and he may have ear mites and/or giardia.

In the meantime, to clean up the basement of his pee, I would order several gallons of Nok Out. It really is the best when it comes to cleaning that kind of thing:

...and if it turns out he is under three (for sure) and you want to adopt and socialize him rather than have him neutered and release him ( ), you need to know that the older he is, the longer it will take - but the more rewarding it will be when he does come around. BUT.... that said... if he's coming back home with you, it really would be best if he could be boarded at the vet for a couple of days while you de-smell the basement of his pee scent and de-flea it if necessary.

Hope this helps, I'm sure others will chime in with their thoughts and suggestions, and if you have any other questions, please ask!

post #4 of 9
You have received such great advice. I have a rescued feral and like you, never saw her for months. I did not want to put her back outside as winter was coming. Patience was the key. I let her come to me on her terms. She now is one of the most loving cats you can imagine. I hope everything works out for you.
post #5 of 9
I'll add a couple things to what Laurie suggested.

When you feed him in the trap, simply use a plastic strap or strong twist tie to hold the door open to the trap prior to actually using it to trap him. On the day you want to trap, remove the twist ties and set the trap to close.

For litter, you could try Cat Attract litter, as it has a very earthy smell that smells a bit like soil. If that doesn't work, put soil, sand or a combination of both in the litter box. Remember this cat was used to peeing outside in natural elements, and might do that for you in your basement.

The oldest ferals that I socialized were 2 years old, but I do have 1 boy that was born in my feral colony who is finally socializing at age 6. The difference between this boy and yours is that I fed him all his life so he knows me. It wasn't until he was a little older that I coaxed him into the house to tame him down.
post #6 of 9
Thread Starter 
Thank you so much for the great advice and support. I agree that he needs to get to the vet asap - I don't have any idea how old he is or what medical issues he is dealing with, except that he clearly tics, fleas and probably a UTI.

I will take the advice about the trap and slowly trying to get him more comfortable with it. After he sees the vet I will try again slowly to socialize him over a few months and see how he does. I can't even imagine how scary this is for him.

Thanks again, I really appreciate all the help. I will post an update later on.

post #7 of 9
Alyssa, I totally forgot, but just found a good link. This CD was designed to help all pets relax - but notably, ferals in particular respond in a VERY calming way to harp music. You can really help him calm down by playing harp music for him if you've got a CD player you can put in the basement with him.

Here's a great link:

post #8 of 9
Thread Starter 
I wanted to give an update on "Leo" - the feral kitty I have been trying to help. Thanks to the great advice on how to get him acclimated to the trap again I was finally able to get him to the vet. I got good news from the vet - he is estimated between 1-2 years old and is FIV and leukemia negative. I had him neutered and vaccinated and the vet cleaned out his ears.

He is still very afraid of me and prefers to hide under a dresser whenever I am in the room with him. But he is using the litterbox regularly and he always eats food and drinks water between my visits with him.

I am hoping that he will come around so I am going to give it some more time and try to socialize him. I really hope he eventually can stand to at least not completely hide in my presence eventually. We'll see.

Thanks again for the advice on the trap - it worked!

post #9 of 9
I just saw this thread.
I am so happy about the great news!

You're doing a great thing for this kitty! Good luck with his socialization! I hope you keep us updated!

When I was much younger we had a semi-feral kitty that came inside only to eat, and only did that rarely. Mostly she hunted for herself. She was a beautiful long-haired smokey grey cat. It took a long time (what seemed like forever) but eventually she would let me hug her and hold her and even kiss her nose. She turned out to be very affectionate, even after I thought I'd never see her again, or she'd never let me near her, let alone bond with her. It takes a great deal of patience, but it's possible.

Once again, kudos for helping this baby.
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