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I don't even know where to begin!

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
A little back story - when my husband and I moved into our townhome complex nearly 3 years ago, we saw 3 little kittens that for the life of me I couldn't get near (2 b&Ws and one dilute calico). Each time I would try and coax them they would run into a fenced/boarded off empty lot that is impossible to get into. Well, first one of the b&w's disappeared and then 6 months ago the second one did leaving the dilute calico I've name Suzy Q.

Now she is TERRIFIED of people and runs anytime I try to get near. I really want to catch her and get her fixed/vaccinated/taken to a feral colony as I'm afraid things may of happened to her siblings.

So here is my biggest worry, from what I know, she does not come into my complex but only to the cars that park directly in front. I worry about putting her in a vulnerable position as we have a lot of misfits and vagrants and drunks (a bar just up from us) and I worry that her being trapped out in the open could become an issue for her safety.

I'm torn between two approaches: Do I try and get her to start eating on my porch which is about 600 feet away from the curb and then catch her? I'm so far back that I worry she will become afraid going deep in especially since 2 of my 3 neighbors have very loud dogs, and I myself have 4 cats that will hiss and growl if they smell/sense her. Or do I set a trap in the vacant lot - the major issue i see being I would have to lower the trap on a rope, I can't guarantee that someone wouldn't cut the rope/take the cage, or worse the rope falls and I can't jump down (about a 7 foot drop) to reach her.

The lot has a 5 foot fence on one side (south facing) with barbed wire on top. There appears to be no access points (gates or anything) and no openings in the fence with the exception being an area that has boards instead of fencing that opens just slightly (I'm guessing her access point). The south side of the lot to the north side of the lot ramps up to a 10 foot difference. There is an apartment complex on one side, a mini-mall (with the bar) on the other, and the street on the direct north. The street side is a sheer 10 foot drop, and while the mini mall side ramps up from a sloped parking area, there is fence with wire until it reaches about 6 feet. Additionally, the weeds are very high but you can easily see broken glass, car parts, just nasty gnarly things strewn about.

Yes, I live in a ghetto-fab area.

I know cats are not necessarily pack animals, but I can't help but hope that the other two have just wandered off somewhere. But she is so tiny and such a pretty little girl that I just want to catch her, get her fixed up, and take her somewhere she can live out her days in peace and safety.

Any ideas?
post #2 of 6
Oh boy, what a situation. Just to let you know I have read it and am thinking. There are so many on the site who know so much. Someone will come along. Meanwhile, I am thinking. But you have such a good heart to want to help the little one.
post #3 of 6
A human trap is probably best. Risky? Her life is already risky.

If somebody cuts off the rope? Do you have possibility to get down with a ladder? Ie somwhere where are no wire, but only very steep down...??

You can always lend a ladder from somewhere. But it is too much work for an occasional villain.

Proceed with your talk with us.

Good luck!
post #4 of 6
I would try feeding her, but only if the dogs aren't able to get to her. If she's hungry, she'll come to the food, no matter what the noise, and she'll learn its just noise soon enough. Also, start feeding her in the open trap right away - use a zip tie or wire to hold the door open for a few days/weeks, so she'll get used to the idea that the trap is where the food is.

But do not trap her until you know where's she's going. After surgery, someone has to recuperate her and then she'll need a few weeks in a large crate at the new site. You can't just take her to a new place - cats are very territorial and she'll just try to get "home."

Bless you for taking care of her. In all probablity, she's truly feral now, so taming her is likely not an option. Other than relocating her, is there a possibilty that you can continue to feed her after the surgery? She's obviously made it this far in her territory. It might be easier to keep her in a familiar place, even though it's not the Taj Mahal.
post #5 of 6
Hi, you are a wonderful person to try to help. So many will see her and turn their heads. These are my first thoughts and I will also think about it more. There are many experienced with ferals on this forum so keep posting. Remember there are many suggestions and you have to look at things and see what might work for you.

First, if the hole in the fence is where you see her can you put food and water there? I would put it out in the morn and take it up in the evening so as not to attract raccoons. Your own cats will know she is on your porch and they may react. It sounds like your porch is a distance from the fence and she will have to navigate dogs and cars to get there?

Very important to know what you are going to do with her BEFORE you trap her. And if you start feeding her, she will depend on you for food to survive. Also, if you start feeding her and cannot move her somewhere you will need to get her spayed and put her back. That way she will not have kittens to add to the problem.

Call the local shelters and vet offices to ask if they know of any feral cat rescuers in your area. They will be a great resource for advice and maybe loan you a trap.

I have never tried to move one feral cat into another feral colony. They are very territorial and will not just accept a new cat and the new cat will NOT stay. They have to be confined to the area and cared for until they adjust. A better situation may be to relocate to a barn or shed on a safe property where someone is willing to care for her or maybe already has barn cats.

Try to find rescue groups as a start and see what they can tell you about resources for relocation in your area.
post #6 of 6
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all your wonderful suggestions. I have thought about the ladder, but logistically knowing it is on level ground is what worries me. It does me no good to break an ankle trying to get to her. Ha.

The food through the fence sounds like a good idea and I think I will try that first. I feel I may become more confident if I know she will eat from a consistent location and then I can worry about getting a trap in there.

Sorry - feral colony was the incorrect phrase. In Los Angeles, there are feral sanctuaries where you can take a cat to be fixed and cared for and they keep them or place them in a safe area. One of the places I used to work for had a few ferals that the company wanted to "dispose" of. Luckily one of our girls knew about this place, they gave us a trap, and we caught them in about a month. I've reached out to a friend of a friend to find that person and get the name, but I also have a few other people I've asked who work in animal rescues to help me secure the trap.

Ideally... IDEALLY... I would love to care for her and domesticate her. But I think at this point, since she has probably had only negative run-ins with people, it's the biggest long shot ever.

But great ideas! I'm always looking at the lot thinking "How do I get over?" because I know I would have the best chance of trapping her there.
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