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Cat hoarding relative

post #1 of 41
Thread Starter 
I made a thread in Cat Nutrition, asking for help with giving my spouse advice on what food to get while taking care of his mother's cats. I got a lot of good advice there. I still want to talk about this situation, but I don't think I need more food advice. Therefore, I've made this new thread. This is a long and really, really awful story. You all know how bad cat hoarding can get, and it got really, really bad.

This morning I wrote an email to a cat rescue network in Georgia. The next four paragraphs are this email, because it's the most complete description of the situation that I've written so far.

My spouse is taking care of his mother's property while she is recovering from a surgery. Unfortunately, his mother is a cat-hoarder. My spouse and his siblings are trying to prevent further breeding and cat deaths from neglect. The situation was very bad: they have found cat skeletons under couches and in piles of trash in the house. They are cleaning up the house and coming up with a system of having responsible people visit monthly to prevent deterioration of the situation. My spouse was getting the cats fixed, but one died after a neutering surgery and the vet has told him to get the cats' weight up before any more cats are fixed. All of the cats are currently outdoor cats, and being fed wet food twice daily to get their weight up. There are worms and communicable diseases in this group of cats.

Right now there are three categories of cats on the property: 1) cute and friendly kittens who should be adopted out to homes while they are still cute and adoptable, 2) friendly cats around and under the age of one year who would ideally be adopted out, and 3) feral or semi-feral young adults and older, battle-scarred cats who would probably do best staying on the property with the planned increased supervision. There are an unknown number of the cats on the property, but there may be as many as 40. The vast majority of the cats are around or under one year old. I believe that there is one litter of six healthy kittens old enough to adopt out right now, three kittens of unknown origin around the same age but not as healthy, and three kittens too young to adopt out. There are something like 6 lactating cats on the property, some of which are presumably the mothers of the six kittens with unknown origins, but some of which are unfortunately in the
semi-feral category.

My spouse and his siblings are paying to have the cats fixed and given their first set of vaccines, and they want to get at least the kittens into in-home foster situations to make them as adoptable as possible. If the only other option is to have the cats put into a kill shelter, the animals will stay on the property.

My spouse has a digital camera and a laptop with him but no internet access on the property. He can write up individual descriptions of the cats, along with pictures, and we can find a way to get these descriptions and images emailed to you. I suspect that the best solution for many of the adoptable young adults will be to keep them on the property while you help with listing them on PetFinder, but one disadvantage of that is that it will be difficult to litter box train the cats and figure out which ones are good with always using litter boxes while they are on the property. Some of the lactating cats would make good wet nurses to be paired with a kitten or kittens going to a foster home. The vast majority of the cats do not have names.

The approach that my spouse (I'll call him S) is taking about this keeps changing. He originally planned on just taking care of the property now and then never talking to his mother again, then he was going to fix everything up himself and depend on his mother (I'll call her C) to keep it going, then he was just going to walk out right now because any care he gave felt like making cats healthy in order to endure a concentration camp, then he was back to just feeding the cats and never coming back again, and, most recently, he's planning on adopting out as many cats as possible and then creating a spayed/neutered colony out of the feral, semi-feral, and just beat-up old farm cats.

I'm going to keep updating the situation here, and advice and encouragement would be appreciated.
post #2 of 41
he's planning on adopting out as many cats as possible and then creating a spayed/neutered colony out of the feral, semi-feral, and just beat-up old farm cats.

To me that's the best plan, although I know its probably the toughest route to take. Mom is ill and she's going to need help. It is so sad when people who probably have thebest intentions get overhwelmed.

Hopefully, your email will produce some help. In the meantime, here's some vibes for all of you ...
post #3 of 41
Wow! I don't even know what to say! I wish you the best of luck and good vibes that everything works out!

post #4 of 41
Oh my gosh!!!
More from me! Keep us posted on the situation!
post #5 of 41
Originally Posted by Enuja View Post

it will be difficult to litter box train the cats and figure out which ones are good with always using litter boxes while they are on the property.

I'm going to keep updating the situation here, and advice and encouragement would be appreciated.
I have 4 former ferals that live with me now and they are very maticulous with their litterbox habits. All the other ferals that I have trapped to have spay/neutered were very good about using the litterbox. I know that all cats are different, but my experience has been positive with ferals learning to use the litterbox. Those that may not be using the litterbox regularly because of marking territory could improve with being separated (in rescue process) and getting spay/neutered.

It would seem that confining those you wish to train in a small bathroom could help with learning to use the litterbox.

Just throwing out thoughts in the event it may help.

"S" is doing an amazing thing for those cats. This will greatly help his mother in the long run. Many for his success and for any rescue group that will offer assistance. Keep posting in the event someone has more to offer. Best to you both and for his mother's recovery.
post #6 of 41
I agree with the others that the best plan is too adopt out the younger cats and create a managed colony of older unadoptable cats.

But, to adopt out the young cats responsibly you or the rescue group you work with should be getting the youngsters tested for FELV and FIV. And be prepared for any unpleasant surprises. My guess is if your relative let the situation get this outta control that the cats weren't vaccinated for or tested for communicable cat diseases. It's hard to find homes for one + testing cat let alone dozens.

Remember you are doing what you can with an unpleasant and unfortunate situation. If you are faced with the reality of having to PTS any animals because of their condition, try not to feel guilty over what you cannot fix or control. Thanks to you and your spouse for helping. Many would walk away.
post #7 of 41
ALL I can say IS WOW!!!

I would add a litterbox to the outside area....see who uses it. You may be suprised. Good luck to you and yours. And great job getting everyone fater.
post #8 of 41
Be aware - we dealt with a cat hoarder here. She brought in the youngest first, they turned out to be 10+ years old (there were younger, she just had no idea). They were costly, as most had severe anemia due to fleas, no one was fixed, etc.

So, due to the severity of some neglect cases, some shelters may not be able to help for a few reasons:
1) it is kitten season & they may be full to the brim
2) hoarded cats tend to be more costly than your "average" surrender (health, behavior, etc)

The hoarder lady was allowed to keep one cat under supervision, however, she had to get that kitty fixed, vetted, etc & provide proof the cat received yearly vet care. So they may want proof you are fixing the one staying there.

And you may just out & out get ignored. I've known that to happen elsewhere, unfortunately.

As for litter pans, I've had cats of varying ages ranging from semi-feral to pet that have used the litterpan no problem when introduced to it.
post #9 of 41
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all of the advice and encouragement. C has found some people who helped to rescue a previous hoarding situation in the local area, and a vet and animal loving police office are coming out to assess the situation. C has finally accepted the idea that authorities will be involved, which is all to the good, from my perspective.

I think the major issue is going to be: what communicable diseases are in this colony? C thinks that there was feline leukemia, but a mass die-off killed the animals with it and that the colony currently only has respiratory type infections. Hopefully, he's correct that there aren't any serious infectious diseases that will require mass euthanasia or a miracle of a long term infected cat rescue taking in a huge number of cats.

The issue of how unhealthy and expensive to get to adoptable these cats are is also going to be huge. I really don't know, and it's possible either way: the surviving cats could be remarkably healthy and trainable to household living once you get them into a good situation, as some of you have said. On the other hand, maybe they are cat-hoarding type cats, who have learned to defecate and urinate everywhere but a cat box and have lots of expensive diseases and symptoms that need treatment. The vet coming out to the property is a very useful first step, as is a finding a vet who will do reduced cost rescue work.

C wrote a hilarious, sweet, and heart-wrenching "newsletter" as a coping mechanism. Here are excerpts from it with images. Warning, there is an "in memoriam", complete with images of an ill cat, at the end.


(Catland) This evening over twenty-five members of the community sampled the new dining options in Catland, and response was overwhelmingly positive. The new menu, featuring a combination of Special Kitty for Kittens dry and one-and-a-half cans of Tuna Dinner Special Kitty wet cat food, was praised for its nutrient content, easy chewability, and general tastiness. Under a new system designed to promote weight gain, food is distributed in a large variety of serving bowls, allowing high traffic volume with no hissing or clawing. Then, after about 90 minutes, all remaining food is poured into two large of the larger bowls leaving a modest amount of dry food for cats to consume freely between the scheduled morning and evening feeding times. To ensure proper hydration, two liters of chilled fresh water are provided daily, with the replacement of old water occurring in the early afternoon as the temperature rises. Waste is minimal, and all participating residents enjoy fresh and healthy food.

(Front Yard)- The renowned food thief Dancer expressed outrage today as new provisions to store grain and range cubes in the back of the black truck prevented him and other goats from butting off lids of storage bins and pilfering the tasty contents. This latest indignation follows Dancer’s recent failed efforts to break into Catland, from where the smell of wet cat food wafts over the front yard, causing him to pound his hoof in frustration.

(Back Yard)- Area residents celebrated the delivery of eight tasty round bales from a Vienna-based firm. The new supplier delivered the hay to the exact locations where it needed to go, and horses are now feeling much less anxiety regarding their hay-consuming needs. Goats and bull were unavailable for comment, due to their mouths being full.

Long-time favorite eatery and local hangout Jeep Cherokee has closed its doors to area residents. The roof and shaded ground underneath remain available for lounging. Additionally, food is no longer served in the house. Cats who are too large or unsociable to enjoy the fare at Catland are now directed to the Cat Ghetto on the side, where they can enjoy adult dry cat food with a modest amount of wet food served on two dishes, along with fresh water changed daily. At least eight residents are taking advantage of this service, although no more than three have been observed dining at the same time. So far, goats have appeared unable to access the small, uneven surface of the old air conditioning unit to steal the food, but authorities are prepared to add further goat impediments should such measures prove necessary.

One neutered and six spayed community members recently rejoined the general population after several days in the convalescence room. The least social among them is now one of the very few female regulars at the Cat Ghetto, while the others are delighted to join the throngs in Catland.

Several wonderful surrogate mothers, including one recently spayed (pictured), continue providing milk, licking, and other nurturing services for the three most youngest and most vulnerable members of the community.

The entire community is deeply saddened by the passing of Gray Tabby. An elegant and charming cat recognized for his trusting, affectionate manner and dignified bearing, he died last Thursday at the [vet] despite the valiant efforts of the staff there to save him. He will be missed.
The following pictures, taken on the morning of his hospitalization, do not adequately capture his grace and beauty, but they are all that we have to remember him by.

post #10 of 41
The last 2 pics are heartbreaking....Poor Grey Tabby...I can understand wanting to help out animals...But common sense should take over at some point...If u can't afford vet care for the sickly ones then enough is enough...Its a good thing that your hubby is wanting to help out...but also very sad when you see the conditions those cats have to live in...I honestly hope most cats there can be saved but I highly doubt it...Sad
post #11 of 41
Thread Starter 
Yes, S is extremely angry at C: she has "adopted" two pregnant cats in the last two months. Young cats are dying on her property due to malnutrition and parasites, and yet she's still "adopting" them? She's taking them in, saying she cares about animals, and then putting out just enough dry food to keep them around (she doesn't rotate the dry food, so it gets insects), breeding, and trading at least parasites and respiratory infections. However, there are a lot of healthy looking cats, and S is unwilling to just have them put to sleep. He wants to get as many of them as possible out of there, and the rest of them healthy and spneutered.

It's been really tough for him: he's been having a hard time getting other people involved. However, my emailing of groups who put cats on petfinder has paid off: I'm currently in email contact with three people, two who are offering discounted vet care, and one who is offering petfinder listing and contacts with the local groups that do petsmart adoptions. Unfortunately, yahoo email's spam filter has been causing me problems: I'd actually gotten replies as early as Monday, but simply didn't check my spam folder and so didn't see them.

I know that the pictures of the Grey Tabby are painful to look at. I don't think that the rest of cats look anything like that. That picture was taken on Monday. The cat was fixed on Friday (must have looked somewhat healthy because S decided to have him neutered and the vet did it), and taken back to the vet on Monday. The cat died on Thursday.

Hopefully, with the current scheduled wet food meals and the assistance of local cat rescue groups with discounted vet services, a large percentage of these cats will live happy lives and some of them will even go on to be adopted, loved pets.
post #12 of 41
Wow. I've been feeling guilty because I've refused to take any more cats into my house, thanks for a reminder of what could have happened had I not said "No more". I wish ya'll the best in rehoming those who are adoptable, and in the spay/nueter of the rest. How sad for all involved, human and cat.
post #13 of 41
All I can say is wow!!! You and your DH are doing an absolutely wonderful thing, and it has to be so hard on you to go thru all of this!!

I don't have any specific advice for you, as it sounds like you are doing the right thing and making the right decisions right now.

I agree with others who have stated that they have gotten feral cats to use litter boxes. All of mine were born feral and all use the litter boxes. If you go thru that process yourselves, you may need to add elements from the outside (sand, dirt, mulch) in those litter boxes until they are used to them, then switch to regular litter.

Is there anything specific you need from us, other than lots of vibes and hugs to carry you through this?

and btw
post #14 of 41
Thread Starter 
A vet visited the property last night, and I just deleted the rest of this paragraph. S just talked to the vet again, and he had completely misunderstood what she'd said and what she was willing to do. The plan is currently more sensible and believable than it was if you read this the first time I posted it, although it's still amazing and as impressive and good sounding. Current plan: the vet is taking all of the healthy kittens and the two adoptable puppies into her practice, from where she will adopt them out. S will pay a reduced cost for these spay and neuter surgeries, and will simply leave the kittens there and no longer be responsible for them. However, the vet will either 1) euthanize or 2) send to a responsible, reliable isolated disease safe place any cats that test positive for FIV or FeLV. All feral cats who test positive for FIV or FeLV will be euthanized.

So anyone who wants some barn cats or can adopt or foster cats near Americus, Columbus or Macon, Georgia, or knows anyone who can, I'd love to hear from you! This is still true, as the healthy adult cats will go back to C's property, and, depending on the numbers, could still use to be adopted out to a better place. It's even more true that I'd love to hear from anyone in the southeast who knows of a place that can care for FIV or FeLV positive cats. I'm going to go look up these diseases, about which I know very little. S is really, really a no-kill kinda guy and really, really wants to find possible homes for any cats that test positive, all the while we cross our fingers and hope that no-body tests positive.

We also want to print out and give to C a very reliable, well supported, well sourced, description of cat best practices that might convince C and convince her son who lives near by and who has a bit of a Darwinian-as-moral approach to cat care (if they die, that means they shouldn't live) to enforce it. Any help from you all to point me towards things written by vets and/or including reliable sources that I can put together to support the most basic of cat care best practices would be greatly appreciated. The things we need to convince them of include:
1) Food must be rotated (use oldest).
2) Feed on a schedule.
3) Easy availability of water (C expected adult cats to drink from the horse troughs).
4) Merits of wet food.
This is basic stuff, but just saying that it's true isn't going to help. S is planning on giving his brother money to buy cat food, including wet cat food, and having him drop it off once a month as he checks on C and the animals. This should make it more possible for this to work, but C still has to have wet-food meal-times and actually feed dry food, instead of just expecting cats to break into the bags and feed themselves (the previous "system"). She also needs to change cat water bowls daily, instead of just horse troughs changed daily.

I got some more fantastic images from S.

Here is catland (goat fence around the majority of the front porch, to keep goats and other large non-cat organisms from eating the catfood) before feeding, showing the general setup of the current front porch. S added the goat-fence, with C's help before she left, and hopefully, that's one innovation that will last.

Here is catland during feeding

Here is catland during feeding, while someone is taking a flying leap from the open bookcase to the floor on the other side of catland.

Catland after feeding

Here is a cute kitten who (baring any unexpected health issues) be available for adoption at the vet's office.

And here are some images of some very cute, very friendly, adult cats, who will be available either as healthy adoptees or as FIV/FeLV adoptees.

So, again, we have a fantastic vet involved who will be adopting out two dogs and any healthy kittens. What I need is any and all resources in the US southeast that might be willing to adopt diseased cats. When we've got the number of FIV/FeLV adoptable spaces open, S will take the cats to the vet, test them all, and euthanize animals above that number who have FIV/FeLV.
post #15 of 41
Thread Starter 
Evening update!

S has been taking pictures of cats (see above) and I've been writing down descriptions and designations (cat A1, A2, A3 ...). We are up to 35 cats. S can specifically list 5 cats that he hasn't taken pictures of yet. So we know there are 40 cats. And there are other shy or feral cats, too. We don't know how big this colony will turn out to be, bit it is certainly very, very large.

S is taking at least 8, maybe 10 (there are two shy kittens he may or may not be able catch) kittens to the vet on Monday to have them tested and, depending on size, fixed. There are 10 more super-friendly cats.

S has spent probably about $1,200 dollars on the cats so far. He has $2000 more dollars to spend on cats. And now that he's got a vet who is doing so much to help (different vet than the first one) he's going to pay the reduced fee for all of them (he can't just stop when he runs out of money). So, I know that asking for donations here is problematic, but if anyone wants to help pay towards reduced cost vetting, I will give you the contact information for the vet, and it would be hugely helpful. It looks like we are going to also get some help from some local cat rescue organizations for the vet costs, but every little bit would help, and this is going to have some serious financial repercussions for us and probably also to the cat rescue community in the area. FIV/FeLV testing and spaying and neutering for 50 or so cats is simply not cheap, no matter the discount.

Again, if anyone knows where friendly cats with FIV/FeLV can go, it would be greatly appreciated, because if we don't have places for them to go, positive tests mean euthanasia.

Bonus kitten pictures!

post #16 of 41
Those pictures make me want to cry, and what Ya'll are doing makes me want to hug you. If there were a million more like you and your husband there would be no homeless cats starving and dying alone.
post #17 of 41
Wow! Some of these cats are VERY skinny! Bless you for doing this and fingers crossed that everything works out.
post #18 of 41
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all of the vibes and nice things you all have been saying! It's really nice to read. I've made a picture thread for this place, which most of you probably noticed, but I figured I should put a pointer here anyway. So far, all of the tested cats (14!) have tested FeLV/FIV negative! The 8 younger, friendly kittens are, indeed, going to be adopted out of the vet's office: they are at the office now, and it looks like they aren't even ever going back to the property.

C is currently staying at the rural house of one of her sons, and, unfortunately, he has a situation which is probably going to help teach C bad habits. This son has been really helpful in cleaning out and re-building C's house, and his place looks great, but he has some farm cats that he doesn't treat how you and I would want him to. He's got four outdoor adult cats who he doesn't buy any catfood for, and to whom he gives leftover table scraps. He expects them to live off of the rodents they catch. There are also three kittens on his property right now. It's a place that clearly needs its own intervention, but the cats apparently look healthy, and I'm most worried right now about the bad lessons that C's son is teaching C by example. S is going to spend a few days there cleaning up and getting a flight out and the like after C comes home, so hopefully he'll be able to stage a mini-intervention and get any unspayed females there spayed.

We are planning on giving something to C (and asking C's son to enforce it) to set up new operating procedures on the property. Below is my first draft. I need to use the most conventional wisdom possible: homeopathic vets and wet-food diets would be neither convincing nor useful in this rescue situation. I'm planning on giving a plan with explanation to her, along with copies of reliable sources to back it up. Right now I'm planning on giving her the Cornell Feline Health Center Brochure on feeding (here's the text, I'm going to print out the .pdf brochure). Does anyone have suggestions for other reliable sources, especially about consistent mealtimes for colonies of friendly outdoor cats? Any suggestions to improve the information and directions below?

Why these cats need to be fed and can't live off the land.
Cats are obligate carnivores, and there are so many cats here that there isn't enough prey for any of the cats to survive on. One cat did apparently die of malnutrition and parasitism while you were away (very skinny, eating voraciously, started looking worse, disappeared). The food that you have been providing attracts cats and gives them enough resources to reproduce, but did not give them enough resources to be healthy.

Why these cats need water and wet food.

Because cats are obligate carnivores, and fresh meat has a lot of water, they don't usually drink very much and don't have a strong “thirst driveâ€. If they eat dry food, they need to drink a lot of water in compensation, and they don't have enough of thirst drive to go find the water. Fresh water must be provided next to any dry cat food. The cat that died after being neutered by Dr. Giles died probably due to malnutrition and dehydration.

In a low-stress situation where cats are at a healthy weight, don't have to fight new parasites and aren't crowded by a large number of other cats, it is possible for cats to be very healthy on dry food alone. However, when cats are underweight, or are challenged by a lot of parasites where they live, they need a lot of meat and a lot of water, and wet food is a very good way to provide both meat and water. Feeding wet food and having available water will make it much easier for these cats to deal with all of the inevitable stressors in their lives.

Why these cats need wet food mealtimes.
There are a large number of cats, and the bigger, stronger, healthier ones were able to monopolize the bags of dry food in the jeep and keep the most vulnerable cats from getting enough food. Wet food mealtimes allow you to see how the cats are doing, see if any new cats have walked onto the property (and therefore need to be spayed or neutered), and minimize fighting. You can minimize fighting by spooning wet food into a large number of bowls, so that the aggressive cats who monopolize food can monopolize only one bowl, and therefore can't keep other cats from eating if they want to eat. Catland currently has a large number of different places where cats can eat, and all of the different shelves need to be kept clean and available spaces where you can put aggressive cats with their own bowl of wet food. If some cats have to wait to eat while other cats finish, some the cats who wait will not get enough food, will be underweight, and will be vulnerable to parasites and diseases.

Although being overweight is not likely to be serious problem for these cats because they are outside, if some of the cats get in danger of becoming overweight, having feeding times will also minimize overeating.
post #19 of 41
It sounds like good instructions, but is she able to follow them? Feeding that many in the summer heat (or dead of winter) could get old real fast if she isn't totaly dedicated. I'm on the verge of burnout just taking care of 14 indoors, I can't imagine being faced with what she has. Wonder if there are any local kids who are in love with animals who would be willing to volunteer a little after school time? That should count towards some Girl Scout or Eagle Scout badge or another. I know my 12 year old grand daughter would pay for the chance to love and care for that many cats.

Great news on the tests, I'm thinking with that many if there were any positives in the colony at least one of those tested would have been positive.

Sounds like it's coming along well, but it must be frustrating to have to educate the other son too. Sometimes I think the well meaning do almost as much harm as the monsters who deliberately hurt them, but at least the harm caused by the well meaning can be stopped with education. The monsters we have to wait until they graduate to humans before they are stopped.
post #20 of 41
Thread Starter 
The suggestion of finding someone to help out on a daily basis is a good one. C has, in the past, suggested running a home for troubled children on the property: she has a lot of things that need doing, and likes telling people what to do. However, she obviously isn't good at actually getting things done herself, and, as all four of her children found ways to get off of the property between the ages of 14 and 16, she's clearly not the nurturing parent figure type. With all of that knowledge, having a kid come by, just to feed cats, who was somehow comfortable with being told what to do (inevitable if you step on the property) and good at doing the right thing instead, would be wonderful. I don't know if it is possible. And C really is good at knowing what to do with individual animals in a health crisis: she's just horrendous at organizing systems and making logical decisions that make her property manageable.

I think that it might be most realistic to come up with a one meal a day system: people do it for feral cats, there would be dry food out at all times, and one wet food meal a day might be more sustainable, more do-able, and actually better at getting a census of cats every day. What do you all think of that?

Bookworm, taking care of 14 indoor cats is probably at least twice the amount of work as taking care of 40 outdoor cats. With the indoor cats, not only do you have to feed them, you also have to clean litter boxes and police where they go (get off my kitchen counter, you). Also, they apparently only beg for attention when someone settles down, and C only settles down inside, in front of the TV.

The vet is giving us free labor, charging just for materials, and a local rescue group called Homeless Animal Rescue & Placement Services (HARPS) is also helping out. So we're going to be able to do this financially. If anyone wants to help, just donate to HARPS.
post #21 of 41
Originally Posted by Enuja View Post

I think that it might be most realistic to come up with a one meal a day system: people do it for feral cats, there would be dry food out at all times, and one wet food meal a day might be more sustainable, more do-able, and actually better at getting a census of cats every day. What do you all think of that?
It sounds good, either first thing in the morning or just about dark is when the ferals eat most often, I doubt domestics would find it hard to adjust to the same schedule. I feed my colony about three mornings a week now, and there is another cat lady who comes by a few nights a week. Other than parasites they're a pretty healthy looking bunch, sleek coats and no more ribs visible from a distance.

Originally Posted by Enuja View Post
Bookworm, taking care of 14 indoor cats is probably at least twice the amount of work as taking care of 40 outdoor cats. With the indoor cats, not only do you have to feed them, you also have to clean litter boxes and police where they go (get off my kitchen counter, you). Also, they apparently only beg for attention when someone settles down, and C only settles down inside, in front of the TV.
I have the litter boxes down to a science, one that has a sifter and I just do an assembly line sifting from it. All but two are lined up in the same room, so scooping them all is only about 10 minutes twice a day. I've given up on the counters, I just clean them before getting food out. While I never fed them table scraps it's still neccisary to keep a water pistol by my plate. Attention, yeah even the one I couldn't touch for 18 months now demands her share. I come in after work and they are all wrapped around my legs for a while. It's crazy. The cat hair is the worst. I sweep my carpet before vacuuming, four need hairball gel once or twice a week, and I have to hang my dark clothes inside out. It's a madhouse.
post #22 of 41
My farm kitties get fed dry food 1x a day, free fed (more than enough for everyone). If someone doesn't show up for food during the day (I pick up food at night to avoid unwanted visitors), I offer a 2nd supervised meal later in the evening. They get wet food 1x a day (2 if needed, I bump up feedings in the winter months). I tend to over-feed the farm kitties, as I'd rather they all have too much to eat than too little, and so far no one has had a weight problem (except Squishy, but he's another story).

Depending on location, I have a heated water bowl purchase for $15 for winter.
post #23 of 41
Wow, I've only just read through all this for the first time, it's really quite amazing. Your husband is a wonderful man to be doing all this, I imagine how hard it must be for him and you to see.

Just wanted to say you're doing a great job!
post #24 of 41
Sending tonnes and tonnes of prayers and vibes your way. That is some task ahead for you

post #25 of 41
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all of the good wishes. Things are going very well: 21 of the adults on the property are have been spayed or neutered and tested negative for FeLV and FIV (2 of which were older males, already neutered: C did try to get the animals fixed, she just failed). There are 11 more adults on the property identified, and probably a few more than we haven't numbered yet. Many of the animals are fairly healthy, although there is a horrendous hookworm infestation in the yard and in the cats (being treated).

Some of the information I have above contradicts information on this Alley Cats Allies page. They say that it's okay to have cats waiting to eat, that the more dominant cats will leave enough food. This seems untrue to me, especially as S says that many of the cats were skinny because the big cats monopolized the dry food in the Jeep.

Does anyone have good cat behavioral sources which would clarify this issue?
post #26 of 41
Wow, I just have to say I think what you and hubby are doing is AMAZING. You have done SUCH a great job pulling people/resources together, and THANK YOU.

As to the cat behavioral issue... I can only speak from experience. We never had a large colony, but we did have one VERY aggressive feral for a while that TOTALLY disrupted feeding. The other cats were NOT able to eat, and we did have to feed him first, away from the rest.

I would definitely play it safe and not think it's OK to leave cats waiting, unless you are POSITIVE there is more than enough food. Because these cats are not true ferals in the sense that they'll come at feeding time and that's it, it may be that they'd wait. We only put food out at dusk and at dawn for about 2 hours each because of other animals - and with the aggressive male around, many did not get the chance to eat.


post #27 of 41
I feed from multiple plates in multiple places, as I know I have a few pushy/piggy eaters who wouldn't let others in to eat. With a colony that large, I'd wonder if there wouldn't be a dominant kitty who would eat most of the food or not let others eat.
post #28 of 41
wow my mom works for hospice and she had a patient similar to this thread. they were all drop offs. and they bred and bred. my one cat that i got from out there is an inbred but she is healthy except for the scabs. but the guy feeds them human food. like left over scraps and stuff. i dont about now whats its like. last i went out there with my mom was back in 05. glad S is trying to help the colony out. majority of the ppl would have left it alone. good luck.
post #29 of 41
I think it is wonderful what you and your husband are doing for those cats. A lot of people would have become overwhelmed with the situation and given up. You two have very big hearts and you should be proud of yourselves. Those cats would not have had a chance without you. I noticed in your husbands article that she has a lot of horses also, and that someone had to provide hay for them as well. Will she and is she capable of caring for them? I know this is a cat forum, but I am a horse lover as well and am concerned about them. If she is capable of caring for them then that's great....If not there are rescue organizations for horses as well or if there are any that are trained to ride, maybe some could be sold for the overall upkeep of the property. Just a suggestion. Hugs to you and your hubby for the great job you are doing!
post #30 of 41
Thread Starter 
A vet who has been out to the property (and offered to geld the two stallions for free) said "the horses look good", a former friend of C (not a friend anymore because of the way C treats animals) said that the horses look good, expect for the hooves of one stallion, from standing in too much manure, and two cat rescuers who dropped off cat traps said the horses look good. So the consensus seems to be that the horses, overall, look good. C has agreed to sell 5 horses to people she knows, but no more, and has not agreed to have the stallions gelded. C told her about a new neighbor who stopped by and asked to buy a horse and a goat, and C said "Absolutely not: he's a Mexican, he'll just sell the horse for meat." In addition to the absurdity that she's already planning on selling the goats for meat (that's why she has goats, people do move out to the country so their kids can have a horse, and the racism of that statement is just flooring. She doesn't make sense. In order to get the horses rescued, we've either got to get a court to sign over her ownership in the horses, or she's got to agree to do it. At the moment, she won't agree to do it, and C's brother wants to keep an eye on the property himself instead of getting authorities involved.

Suffice it to say that, if C's brother cannot keep an eye on C to the extent that C will take proper care of herself and the animals, S is going to do everything in his power to get C legally prevented from owning animals (and in a nursing home, if at all possible) and the animals rescued. However, it doesn't make sense to fight C's brother about this at the moment: if the brother has the drive and time to make everything there work, then more power to him. If he fails, he'll be a valuable ally in the necessary legal processes. C actually knows a huge amount of information about horses and did an excellent job of training them and taking care of them at one point in her life.

The thing that's killing me right now is how to prevent C from getting any new cats onto her property. S has one more week and 6 more cats to catch and fix. In the month he's been there, he saw one kitten and one adult cat die, two cats disappeared and are presumed dead, and one male that he got neutered died. There was a horrendous birth rate and turn-over on that property. Hopefully, what with the massive spay/neuter and the food provision, this is going to stop. S is going to pay to have his brother deliver wet and dry cat food to the property, but the huge disadvantage of this is that C will have "free food" and will continue to "rescue" cats. We've got to get them fixed, but, better yet, we've simply got to keep her from accepting any more. And, since she will be living alone and will have a car, we simply don't know how to do so. S is doing his best to tell everyone who loves cats in the area that C is a cat hoarder and cannot be allowed to get any new cats, but that doesn't stop her from seeing and abducting an abandoned cat when she drives to Wal-Mart.

The good news, though: everybody has so far tested FeLV/FIV negative, and the cats that haven't disappeared are looking better and better.
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