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Help Trapping Strong Stray!

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
It has taken 4 months to finally win the trust of a large stray cat who appeared on our back deck. He now sits on my lap, lets me pick him up, rub his belly, stroke his now it's time to get him to the vet to be neutered and for his shots, etc. so we can make him part of the family indoors. I set a clean carrier near his food for a week, then moved his food inside of it. Reluctlantly, he would go inside to eat. Finally, after coordinating with the vet, I waited until he was in the carrier and closed and secured the door....then disaster struck!

He became the Tasmanian Devil! The carrier lifted 4 inches off the deck floor as he banged around inside of it so hard the door sprung open and he ran away!

I was devasted, but to my amazement, that evening he returned as affectionate as ever! I'm determined to get him to the vet, but how is this going to be accomplished? My vet has offered no advise. Has anyone experienced this behavior with a cat? Any suggestions appreciated!
post #2 of 9
Thank you for rescuing this kitty! ...and Welcome to TCS!

We absolutely know this routine - it's just our Tasmanian Devil was only an 8 week old kitten, so he wasn't able to levitate the crate - so the door didn't open and he didn't escape. But he got pretty well scratched up - as this kitty will when trapped. Do your best not to let it freak you out. It's like making a child take medicine they hate - you have to do it for their own good, even if they don't understand it yet.

Check for local rescues. At least one of them will rent or lend a trap. (Often it's just a security deposit you get back when you return the trap). Or google "cat rescue in XXXXX county," or "cat rescue in City, State." You'll find one.

When you get the trap home, wash it with a very light bleach solution - get the smell of fear and other cats off of it. Since you're planning to transition him to an indoor kitty anyway, buy Feliway spray. This is a synthetic hormone that mimics the "friendly" markers in cats' cheeks and helps reduce stress. Spray the wires of the trap on both ends with the Feliway.

Feed him in the trap WITHOUT SETTING IT TO TRIP. I normally recommend that dirt be poured over the bottom of the trap - this way the cat doesn't have to walk on the wires and the trap just lifts right up through it... but being that it's on your deck, try laying some newspaper over it. He'll still trip the trap when it's time.

Once he's eating in there (don't worry if he doesn't the first time. Cats have long memories, and he may be wary of the enclosure after the last incident. Let him go hungry - he'll just be that much more willing to give it a go the next day) for a couple of days and you're ready to get him to the vet - set the trap.

Now - have your car ready. He's going to be FREAKING OUT based on what happened before. The car ride may result in him peeing, pooping or vomiting (or all three) out of fear. So have wherever you are going to place the crate covered in a plastic tarp you can toss. We always covered the trap in a light blanket, leaving the ends open. And we opened the front windows a crack, so there is fresh air, but not a lot of air movement.

Don't worry so much about the trip home - he should be fine in a crate. They're usually VERY happy to be leaving the vet.

Since you're going to be bringing him inside, maybe go ahead and purchase this CD: Maybe consider playing it on the car ride to the vet - harp music REALLY helps scared cats calm down. And talk to him as gently as you can - explain that you're just getting him fixed up so he can live inside with you and be a spoiled kitty, warm and dry for the rest of his life.

For when you bring him home.... have a "safe" room ready for him. Cats are all about territory - and his is about to change. You're ahead of the game because he's friendly to you now... but he may become scared again when you release him into a room, not onto "his" deck. Have the room already sprayed with Feliway, have water and food and his litter box(es) set up (cats that have been going outside often prefer not to poop and pee in the same box, even if scooped). But make sure he has a hidey place - a box on its side, a table with a cloth over it that hangs almost all the way down to the floor... something.

When switching territories on a cat, it's easiest on them if you give them a small territory first - thus just one room that has a door. Give him a few days to make that room "his," and to get used to all the new scents, sounds, &etc. Play it by ear after that. If he's really scared, we've got more tips for you.

Just didn't want you to expect that he'd be happy at first being brought in - it can take them a little while to figure out that "hey - this is a good thing!" They have to get over the fear of the change that just happened first.
post #3 of 9
Thread Starter 
Thank you so much for taking the time to respond to me and for all your helpful advise! The owner of the kennel I use is involved with the feral cat organization in our area so I think I can get her to help me...I hope! I think I will have to wait until the end of next month to plan my trip to the vet as I have a lot of travel coming up over the next few weeks. This project is going to require a lot of my focused attention at home! I have wonderful neighbors who have been feeding him on my deck in my absence. He's become a community kitty! I also have an indoor cat I'll need to introdce him with, although they have already been flirting with one another through the glass doors. My indoor kitty could care less about him though.

One of my future concerns is transporting this poor guy to and from the kennel when I travel. Did your kitten get better over time traveling in the carrier? Is there hope? I can't imaging setting a trap each time I go away.
I can only imagine he was traumatized in his past in that thing.

Again, many thanks for all your advise.
post #4 of 9
I think waiting until after you're back from travel is a good idea too.

Your current kitty doesn't care less about the kitty you want to bring inside because she can't smell him and he's not in her territory - so do take some steps to help ease the intro! Some cats go bonkers at just the site of another cat - and obviously she's smelled him on you, so it is, of course, great news that she hasn't reacted to any of that... but it's still a good idea - since you've got the time - to take some steps now to help her prepare for a new kitty.

One thing you can do right away is getting your indoor kitty to associate his smell with good things. Take a wash cloth or something, and when you pet him, use it. If he'll let you rub him with it, do so. In fact - if you can get a couple of "outdoor kitty scented cloths," that's even better.

If your indoor kitty free-feeds, put one of them under her food dish. Put one in her favorite kitty bed, and any time you have a play session with her, at the end of it, put treats down on another "outdoor scented kitty rag." This will get her associating his smell with things she loves. She still may be upset at first about having to share her territory - but that's natural. If you take it slow, and watch her reaction when she can tell he's in a room and can smell him under the door, it shouldn't be too bad. They will have to work out their hierarchy issues - or not. You just never know. Some become best friends - others duke it out and work out a kind of truce. But breaking the intro down into steps certainly helps minimize any potential aggression issues.

Here's an article on introducing cats:

Now - as to the crate problem. It won't be one. Get a new one - preferably a different type than used for his horrible experience. If you can, take the door off of it. Put a cat bed in it. Spray the sides with Feliway. Put it in his safe room. If the carrier is his "safe space" and a kitty bed... he won't freak out when being transported in it.

Our little guy does not like going to the vet - but that one time was the only time he freaked in the carrier like that. A number of cats HATE the carrier (surprise, surprise) - but this was different. A kitty that is used to his freedom all of a sudden found himself in a VERY small space. It's just like cornering a wild animal.

But once he's been inside with you and has come to trust his new (confined) space and you, he may not like the carrier, but I doubt very much he'll freak out like that again. Hopefully you don't have to crate him within a couple of weeks - the longer he has to build up his trust in you and to adust to the new situation before you have to crate him the better. But using his own crate as his safe space will go a LONG way to helping.

...and since he is going to have to adjust to being inside from having free roam of the outdoors, another idea that our indoor feral rescues all seemed to love is bird feeders. I don't know where you are - we're very rural, so we have to buy the uber-premium stuff with fruit and nuts to attract the birds (can't use suet because it attracts the bears ) - but we use those small plastic feeders that stick to the windows with suction cups, and every window has something the cats can lounge on at window height - the back of a couch, cat trees, window perches - and it is like Cat TV. We don't discourage squirrels - they're just as much fun!

post #5 of 9
Just had another idea. Has he been treated with Advantage or something already? If you're sure he doesn't have fleas, you may want to consider getting a cat bed for him. Start putting his food dish on this. By standing on it, he'll get his scent on it. Even better if he lies on it anywhere - like maybe put it on your lap, and have him on it on your lap.

Then you can put this bed - something with which he's familiar, and something that smells like him - in his room. Even better - in the crate that's going to be his. May help him transition from "crate being scary" to "crate being safe."
post #6 of 9
Thread Starter 
Oh you're very good!

As a matter of fact, I just treated him with Advantage yesterday with no problems. I love the idea of starting a kitty bed on my lap.

With cooler evenings, we had the screen door open and these guys have sniffed each other and purred their brains out, no fighting! But as you mentioned, indoors can be another issue. My indoor cat is very accustom to other cats from being boarded so much. My one concern is that he is a small cat, only 9lbs. This new kid on the block must weigh about 18-20lbs. He's a big boy! Who knows if he'd be a bully. Only time will tell!

We also noticed, we think this fellow is deaf! He never hears the door open or if you whistle behind him...sad.

Many thanks for caring!
post #7 of 9
Yes, but sniffing and purring through a screen door is great news - that does mean quite a bit.

Our biggest kitty weighs 18 pounds, our smallest 7. She wins. With cats, it usually doesn't boil down to size. At least in our home (and we have 7), it's about who's got the most tenacity.
post #8 of 9
Oh deaf kitties are great! That smallest - the white kitty - Flowerbelle - is deaf. She LOVES being as high as she can get - even better if it's in a corner of the room that lets her survey the space.

You can "stomp" train him once he's inside. Stomp once when you put down food - every time. He'll learn to come running. Stomp twice for "no" - and blow a short, sharp puff of air directly in his face. (We use the puffing to teach our cats the word NO and its meaning - they learn fast. Whether they pay attention is a completely different thing. But that puff of air in the face - they don't ignore. But combined with that puff (like when he jumps on counters and you puff him in the face, stomp twice, and set him down) - he'll learn the two-stomp means to stop whatever he's doing).

Can you put up shelves on your walls? Check out how cool this stuff is:
post #9 of 9
...and they just might be blocked due to ear mite dirt or whatever. Sometimes a good ear cleaning will do the trick. But no worries if he's deaf - it just makes him that much less fearless. (And that much safer inside!)
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