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Not sure I did the right thing with a stray kitten (LONG)

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
I'm not sure I did the right thing with a stray calico kitten I trapped yesterday evening. My brother-in-law told me that he'd seen a stray kitten running around the playground near his apartment complex. He said that she was wary of people, but would quickly come to eat any food that you put down, but only if you stayed like 5 feet away. If you got any closer, she would run.

I considered the options. I certainly couldn't let it go on like this; she needed a steady diet of nutritious kitten food, and she needed to be spayed (I'd estimate her at about three months, I took some pics of her which I'll post later). The area itself wasn't ideal. There was a busy road right outside of the playground, and there was the potential of kids harrassing the kitten. I thought about simply TNR'ing her, but she was sort of friendly; in my experience a totally feral cat won't even approach the food unless you are completely out of site. I believe that she has been fed by several people and is somewhat used to people (it's even possible that she was dumped out there). Also, she's young and is a beautiful calico, which should increase her chances of adoption. The no-kill shelters weren't any help because they are chock full of cats and only accept cats through their inside channels (pulling cats from shelters, taking cats from volunteers).

I got to the playground at about 7:30, and thankfully no one was around. She was seen around the thick row of bushes. I walked up and down the bushes, but it was too difficult to see anything. Just when I was about to leave I heard a rustle, and I knew it was her. She peeked her small face out; I think she knew she was going to get fed. I put down a little Fancy Feast, which she ran towards after I backed off a bit. I was shocked at how quickly she approached the food, and even thought she might be friendly so I cautiously approached but she ran for it. This gave me the chance to take the food and put it in the back of the cat carrier. When she went in, I lunged at the carrier and shut the door. She almost got out in time! She cried out quite a bit, which also leads me to believe she's somewhat socialized (almost all ferals I've trapped just crouch down and stay quiet). She doesn't appear to be sick; I might have expected goopy eyes or a runny nose, but she looked very healthy.

When I dropped her off at the Humane Society, I asked if there was some way I could get involved in socializing her more. They said that volunteers could only work with cats that were already up for adoption, so this worried me. The only good news is they told me that the local rescue groups had been visiting quite often to pull cats that they feel are adoptable, and like I said, this kitten shouldn't have too many problems.

I'm starting to think I should've just TNR'd the kitten and relocated her to my neighborhood. I can't have animals in my house; otherwise I wouldn't hesitate to bring her home. Now that I think about it, I probably could've still slowly socialized her even if she was outside, and I wish I did that. The Humane Society did say that I could keep track of what happens to her; I'm going to stop by today and request that they contact me before doing something. If they plan to euthanize her, I'll try to convince them to let me just get her neutered and release her (not sure what the rules are regarding that, I'll have to ask). I really wish I did things differently, she's just a gorgeous cat and I think she could be very friendly. Well, any advice (for now and for future rescues) is appreciated.
post #2 of 23
I am surprised the shelter even took her with the intent to adopt her. Sadly, most feral kittens in shelters are automatically euthanized because they are deemed unadoptable. If there is a rescue group that comes in routinely, then perhaps she has a chance.

It is hard to say if you did the right thing or not, because basically everything hinges on the policy of the shelter. I get so baffled with shelters sometimes when they take a found kitten in and shut the doors on the person who found them, making it next to impossible for you to adopt the kitten out. It really makes no sense to me at all.

I know around here, if someone has a feral kitten, either I get the litter or another couple of gals do who rescue. But if they are taken to the shelters, the cats or kittens are always put to sleep.
post #3 of 23
You are in a tough spot...wanting to help, but not being able to adopt the cat on your own. Hopefully they will see what a sweet (though shy)cat she is and will keep her for as long as they need to find her a home.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed for you.
post #4 of 23
But if she is a kitten, isn't she adoptable? Max was found in the rafter of someone's garage. I got him when he was 3 months old. Wasn't he a feral? He's the most huggable kitty and just loves to snuggle. He is afraid of other people at first, but if they are not making a lot of noise and are sitting down, he comes out to visit. I don't know what I'd do without him. So can't this kitten be socialized like Max?
post #5 of 23
Nora, you are thinking logically, which many shelters seem incapable of doing. To many people at shelters, if they hear that the kitten wasn't born into a human family, they figure it won't be able to be socialized. You know and the rest of us here know that this is really ignorant and totally wrong. But, alas, this is a common belief. It is very very sad, and many wonderful ferals are killed because of it.
post #6 of 23
yes it is sad, and horribly unfair. The shelters in my area, for the most part look on ferals as wild, and diseased, and some do not have the staff to socialize wild kittens. The want kittens in cages to be cute and to run up and meet and greet the people, having one that is hiss spit and claws is bad for their business......sigh....
post #7 of 23
Glen, it's so tough!!! Fortunately, we already knew that shelters around here automatically euthanize ferals, and unforunately, the no-kill shelters were full. They always are.

What we did was the equivalent of if you had released her near your home. We socialized the kittens outside - it took a few weeks for them to get used to us, but the more time we spent, the friendlier they got. It does work!!!!

We live in a small space (now with 5 cats!), so we couldn't train the kitties to be inside kitties here. Our solution was to make friends with a cat-only boarding facility, and when the kittens were ready to adopt out, the boarding facility owner would take the cats for a few weeks, so they were litterbox trained. She was kind enough to spend extra time with them during the day - many places will do so if you pay extra. And she allowed us to pay over time. But, this was during the Winter when she had the space. If it had happened during the summer, she wouldn't have.

But after that, the kitties got adopted out to their furrever homes! They took extra work, and we made sure their new owners understood that. We also provided brochures on how to make the new kitties comfortable in their new homes.

This is something you might consider doing in the future. Trap the kitty, get her to the vet, and release her at your home. How to keep her there is a different subject.....

...but if they're going to euthanize the kitty, is there any way perhaps that you can get her back and take her to your vet and then start this process?

No matter what happens, it's tough to learn the hard way.

Thank you for trying to be her angel.

post #8 of 23
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the advice and sharing your experiences. I definately know that I'm just going to do the relocate and slow socialization the next time. I really hope that I'll have a chance to make things right with the calico kitty. I'll let you know what happens after I visit the shelter today.
post #9 of 23
Thread Starter 
Well, when I got to the shelter they said the calico kitten was still being held in one of the cages; she has 5 days before they take action. In the meantime they're going to do a health checkup and see if she's friendly (it will be hard for her, being in a strange new place, but I hope she shows the glimpse of friendliness I saw). At the end of the 5 days, if they don't think she's adoptable, they will contact the local rescue groups as a last resort. I asked if I could take her back as a last last resort, but they said I had to give them $50. I was kind of shocked at that, and didn't think to ask what that would pay for. I told them I didn't have the money right now but if they were going to euthanize her I wanted them to contact me so I could decide if I would get her. They said I actually had to put up the money right then and there if I wanted to reserve the right to pick her up later (again, I'm not sure why I would have to pay right at that moment). When I asked if the money would be refunded if a rescue group did take her, they said no! It was like a lose-lose situation. However, I have her ID number so I can keep up to date with what's happening; I'm praying that the rescue group can help her.

For what it's worth, I posted the pictures I took of her. Near the bottom of the page is the black feral cat I'm feeding right now; I've named him Shadow and will do the TNR thing as soon as the pet store calls me (I'm on the waiting list for a cat trap). At the very bottom is my cat Snowball, who was a stray cat that came to me last September. I thought she was feral at first, but when I brought her to the vet they found that she was already spayed! They still went ahead and tipped her right ear because she was vaccinated under the $10 feral program. She turned out to be a total lap cat, the sweetest, most well behaved cat ever. Here's the link:
post #10 of 23
Glen, she's so cute!!!!! I also LOVE Shadow!!! (We have a sweet spot for black and white kitties ). We have a Shadow in our feral colony... he's all black, and we rarely see him - just flitting by. He's just... a shadow!

I couldn't see the pictures of Snowball. They showed up as "undefined".

The same thing happened to us with what turned out to be a Maine Coon cat. We thought she was feral, too - but she'd been spayed! I just posted a bunch of pics I recently found of her... although this past January we adopted her out with the help of Maine Coon Rescue. She also turned out to be a total snuggle bug lap kitty. Here's the link: Booger!!!

Good luck with the little Calico kitty. I hope you'll be able to keep track of her - and that they'll decide she's adoptable!!!!

Thanks so much for keeping us posted!!!!!!


post #11 of 23
Oh - forgot. I meant to mention - you can also try contacting your vet to borrow a trap (if you haven't already). Our vet lends them without a rental fee. (Of course, it means a spay or neuter, a check-up and shots!)
post #12 of 23
Thread Starter 
Wow, Laurie, Booger is quite the looker! It's pretty incredible when a "feral" cat turns out to be a lap cat in disguise. As for the kitten, I'm going to call them up every day just to see what progress has been made, but mostly so that they take notice that I care about the cat. That way when the deadline is up, I can try to bargain with them. I wouldn't mind paying the $50 if it actually went towards something, like immunization shots or neutering. I think if I really show them that I'm trying to help the kitten they can make me a deal. $50 is like 10 lunches for me, or two weeks worth. If I just bring my lunch to work for two weeks, I can justify it. It was my fault for bringing her to the shelter, so I just have to make things right if at all possible.
post #13 of 23
Glen, I really admire your attitude!!! Though my hubby used to hate cats, Booger taught him to love them. She wasn't always so beautiful... she was a raggy, smelly, dirty horrible looking thing at first. That long hair was all matted... but after a few months, when we could touch and interact with her, we got her combed out, removed the mats... and slowly but surely this beautiful cat emerged!!! That was fall/winter of 2001/2002. By the first snow, she was comfortable enough to try coming inside. She was very scared of all the inside noises at first... but she sure loved the dryness and warmth! (And pets!)

That summer, the feral kittens turned up in our yard. And while we let them live outside - one by one they ended up in here. Or adopted. But we've fostered along the way... because we saved a couple of lives. And once that happened, Gary always felt an obligation to see it through, and see the kitties into a safe home. Like I said at the beginning of this note, it's an attitude I really respect and admire.

Also, I'd like to say that I totally understand being sensitive to money issues... (Gary and I sometimes have it, and sometimes we don't!). It seems to me that the Humane Society has very crazy rules, and I respect your decision. So many people have tried to do the right thing, only to get caught in the same craziness you're facing now. Throwing the money at an organization you don't like with no "guaranteed results" makes no sense.

I just hope you're able to help this little girl, and I'm so glad you want to see it through!!!

(BTW - don't forget to check with your vet about borrowing a trap. DON'T borrow or rent one from the SPCA or Humane Society - they want the cat back with it!)

post #14 of 23
Thread Starter 
Well, unfortunately, the Humane Society euthanized the kitten. They held her for 5 days, but didn't do anything with her (except feed her probably) the whole time. I really wanted to try to socialize her as much as possible in that short time, but they wouldn't let me and they wouldn't do it themselves. I did call several times, but they basically told me no action would be taken until after the 5th day. So I called the 6th day and they had already put her to sleep. Their reason was that "she did not come when called," so they didn't feel she was adoptable. I would think that they would know that a cat that has been taken from it's territory and stuffed in a cage isn't about to show it's friendly side. It takes a lot of time! I feel terrible, but at the very least I learned that the Humane Society, while their intentions might be good, are useless when it comes to helping strays and ferals.

So now I'm contacting the local rescue groups to see if I can volunteer somehow. Also, I could use their help in taking care of a new colony I found just yesterday. I was riding my bike (I ride every evening) through the city and saw a black cat walking in a parking lot. As I rode towards him, I saw another cat, which looked like some kind of purebred cat (I think a seal point siamese or something). Both ran off, but as I cruised around the street, I saw two more black kittens hanging out by a dumpster. When they saw me they high tailed it as well. Finally, I saw a cat with very unique markings; it (don't know the gender) had a mostly cream colored body, but with 1 big black splotch on the back, a striped tail, and a siamese type face (possible offspring of the purebred cat?). So far only this one showed any hint of socialization. I had a small bag of Innova with me (yes, I carry cat food around just in case I see a stray!) and put some down. The cat came out pretty quickly and started to eat it. I was standing about 20 feet away at this point, and the cat would occasionally look up to make sure I wasn't trying anything funny.

I went back today at about 10:00 pm, but no cat was in sight. By the way, this is the first cat colony I've ever seen. Up until now I've only seen 1 or 2 cata roaming around any given area. I was armed with a can of food and a little dry kibble, and of course a flashlight. I went to the same spot, shook the food bag (hoping that this cat had at some point been fed by a person and would recognize the noise), and put down a little food. My plan was to back off and see if any cats came out, then I would offer the canned food (didn't want to leave the canned food out for too long). I started to walk away, but I didn't even take 5 steps when I heard the kibble being crunched, and I turned around and saw the cat! Already it was comfortable with eating in my presence, although of course it still ran when I got too close. I'm 99% sure that this cat was once owned by someone, because it's already so comfortable with me (only two days!). This time, I know what to do. I will TNR this one for sure. Also, I'm going to try to work with one of the local rescue groups to see if we can't help out the whole colony. This rescue thing can get very overwhelming, very quickly!

I'm going to borrow my brother's digital camera again and get a photo of this semi-friendly cat; he or she is simply stunning.

Oh, by the way Laurie, your suggestion about borrowing a trap from the vet is a good one, but none of the vets near me have traps. In fact, support for feral care has basically disappeared in my area (California Bay Area). They used to have a $10 program which would take care of neutering, testing, and vaccinations, but it has since been dropped. The best I can do now, with the money I have, is to do the $5 program which only neuters the cat. Still, it's better than nothing.
post #15 of 23
Hey Glen. I'm so sorry to hear what happened. It's a hard lesson all the way around. I think it is horrible what they did.

I don't know where in the Bay area you are, but the San Fran SPCA has a really good explanation of the relationship between animal control and the SPCA (which is no-kill) here: SPCA FAQs

The San Fran Bay area has a number of organizations helping feral cats.

The San Fran SPCA has a no-kill policy (but rarely, if ever, has space to take cats/kittens from the public). However, they do have "Cat Assistance Teams" in some neighborhoods. You may want to contact them to see if they can be of any assistance. The do say that through ther Feral Fix program "The SF/SPCA provides vaccinations and spay/neuter surgery for San Francisco feral cats, all at no charge to their caregivers. Since the program began we have altered over 10,000 cats."

Here is a link: Feral Cat Assistance Program of the San Fran SPCA

This is a PDF description of the program. It is excellent, and has phone contact numbers in it: (You can get to it through the site if this link doesn't take you directly to the document)

Also, here is a list of local orgs that may be able to provide assistance if you don't live in San Fran Resources

And here is a link to the Homeless Cat Network: "The Homeless Cat Network is an all-volunteer, 501(c)(3) nonprofit, feline rescue organization working to humanely reduce the homeless cat population on the San Francisco Peninsula through spay/neuter, adoption, public education and responsible colony management.

We provide advice, assistance and mentoring to individuals, public agencies and businesses. We offer training in humane trapping, socialization, foster care, colony management and adoption procedures. We offer a variety of rewarding volunteer opportunities for reliable, caring people, including supervised activities for high school students earning community service credit."

This is the link:

Here is a list of trap sales and rentals (although it's principally San Jose, Cupertino, Milpitas, etc.) This is a PDF file so unless you have an Adobe Acrobat reader you won't be able to link....

...and I found another list of local shelters that includes some not on the other list. Any of these might have or know where you can rent a trap...

Nike Animal Rescue Resources page (The main page of Nike Animal Rescue is )

Good luck and keep us posted!
post #16 of 23
Hi Glen, I'm in the Bay Area as well and there are some good organizations here that need your help! Check out Fix Our Ferals -- they are holding their next spay/neuter clinic for ferals on August 17th. They are always looking for caring volunteers like yourself.

If you are in the East Bay or Contra Costa counties, the Feral Cat Foundation is another great resource for feral cats. And, they need volunteer assistance as well.

Thank you for wanting to help.
post #17 of 23
Glen, that is so sad that they euthanized that beautiful calico Poor little girl! You are amazing, being so caring and even carrying cat food around with you! One question, what is FNRing? Good luck on this new colony of kitties you found. I hope you have better luck this time!
post #18 of 23
Thread Starter 
TNR stands for Trap-Neuter-Return. After you trap and neuter the cats in a colony, you return them to their territory. This is a very effective strategy for managing cat populations and keeping them stable. Many people have found a very friendly cats in their colonies and find homes for them!
post #19 of 23
I am not involved in rescuing ferals, however I read this thread with great interest. I am appalled they euthanized this beautiful cat knowing that Glen was interested in her! They had the perfect opportunity to do something right and they stepped all over it. Shame on them!

Glen, your heart is bigger than the Grand Canyon. More power to you! I certainly wish there were more people like you in this world. It would make for a much finer place to live.
post #20 of 23
Glen, I haven't been around much for the last week, and missed the sad news. My heart goes out to you. Shame on the shelter for euthanizing the kitten when you were willing to work with it to help if ecome socialized.

I am excited to hear that you are wanting to help the little colony by the dumpster. The one cat sure sounds like it can be easily socialized and adopted. It is a wonderful thing to take care of a feral colony. I wish you much success with this venture.
post #21 of 23
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the replies and encouragement, it's so nice to have your support. At first, it feels a little strange to admit that I feed cats; my friends jokingly say that I'm becoming "The cat man"! I guess the stereotype is of the old cat lady who is sort of out of touch with reality and gets swarmed by an army of felines when she goes to feed them. Then I remember that everyone here LOVES cats and nothing is strange when it comes to doing good for our kitties

In other news, I've fed Raku (I've name the new stray cat Raku because he/she has markings similar to a raccoon) three days in a row. Last night, I got to the place, and again there were no cats in sight. I shook the bag, put the food down, and then out of the corner of my eye I saw Raku running towards me (she was about 50 feet away). At that point I opened up the can of food and started scooping it out on some paper plates I "borrowed" from work (hey, they never use them!). Raku was really hungry, and I could see that she wanted to run up and gobble the food but didn't want to get too close to me. She would walk towards me, back off, walk to the left and right, sit down, walk towards me again but didn't approach until I sat down. I was only 5 feet away!

Oh yeah, for those in the Bay Area, I've contact Furry Friends Rescue in Fremont, so I'll see if I can work with them. If not, I'll try some of the places y'all mentioned.
post #22 of 23
I like the name Raku! What a clever name to give her. I hope the Furry Friends Rescue turns out to be a good place to volunteer -- and that they can help you start a TNR program with Raku's little colony.

BTW, I noticed that you said "y'all." Were you originally from the South? Or, have you simply learned what a handy word this is?
post #23 of 23
Hi Glen! Glad she's still coming around.

Just a quick comment - I posted lots of links to places that I thought might assist you, or that might know of someone or an org that might assist you in taking care of that colony. It is a LOT of work trapping and getting everyone spayed/neutered and vaccinated, let alone getting them fed and "watered" on a daily basis, though you don't have to make that kind of commitment to the colony up front. But you'll wind up there, I'm pretty sure... .

And as far as our Vet is concerned, Gary (hubby) is the "crazy cat lady" (so to speak) of our town! They call him The Cat Man of Blairstown, LOL!

Again, good luck, and keep us posted.

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