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How to Catch A Former Feral?

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
We had a problem yesterday. Ophelia had an appointment at the vet so we had to try to catch her. Needless to say, it didn't happen. She is SO smart and remembers everything, so when she caught a glimpse of the carrier it was all over. We were trying to put a towel over her to get her in the carrier, but we never even made it that far. (Despite our desperate attempts for the next 15 minutes which only resulted in scaring the hell out of her, and a couple nice scratches on both of us.)

Any tips on how we can do this successfully next week when we rescheduled her appointment?
post #2 of 10
Bring the carrier out full time- make it a fun place for her to be, spray it with catnip spray, and put toys in it, feed her in it, make a nice warm comfy bed for her in it- so she realizes that it isn't something to be feared.

Once she gets in it, snap it closed, and take her for a short ride (5 minutes) bring her home, feed her a tasty treat and let her out. Do this a few times before she goes to the vet. The day of the vet visit, spray the inside with feliway spray, and don't get anxious yourself. See if you can block her in a small bathroom, use a heavy towel or blanket and carefully work her into a corner, then wrap her with the towel, and place her in the carrier. If she will let you, put some vanilla extract under her chin to keep the smells of the vet office from overpowering her.

My trick with my ferals, is I take in a can of cheese whiz (the spray cheese?) I give it to my vet and she gives my cats little tastes of it during the visit, as a treat. They love the stuff, and they become easier to handle that way.
post #3 of 10
Thread Starter 
We did bring out the carrier, put a nice towel in it (she loves laying on towels), and put catnip in it. Trent goes in and lays on it, Ophelia jumps on top. Our biggest mistake was that she actually did go in the carrier about an hour before the appt. and we didn't just close the door. Sitting in there would have been much less traumatic than our catching attemps.

Thanks for the tips, Mary Anne. Darn, we were just at the grocery and I didn't even think of the squirt cheese.
post #4 of 10
When I do make an appointment, I'll start trying to catch them about an hour before the appointment. I also warn my vet in advance before I bring in a feral so that I can cancel at the last minute if necessary.

My vet is flexible enough that I will call them early in the week and find out what their schedule is for the week - what days & times are hectic and when they have some slack time. They usually give me a window such as Wednesday from 1-5. Also, depending on what needs to be done, we will pick a day when the vet is out and one of the experienced vet techs can handle the cat (with the vet's permission). Eileen and I have drawn blood, done shots, and dewormed more than one together.

As a last resort, if I have a hard to trap feral, I will catch them when I can, bring the trap to the vets and leave them there in a quiet room with a towel over the cage. The vet will get to them when he is in between other patients and calls me when he is done.
post #5 of 10
Before I ever get out the carrier I go around the house and close every door to every room excpet the bathroom. This either traps the cat in the room she was in when you started closing doors, or forces her to run into the bathroom, where it is real easy to grab and cage her.

After a while I learned everyone's hiding patterns and know exactly where to look. With the doors closed, they can't run past and hide in a different room (except the bathroom). And, even if they do escape the room you have them trapped inside when you open the door to go in the only place they have left to hide is the bathroom.
post #6 of 10
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the suggestions!

I think what I'm going to try (and I know this will only work once, but it's worth a try) is to start giving her super-yummy treats in the cat carrier (finger of sour cream is my bribe at the moment). Then on Friday, we just give her a touch of treat in the carrier and close the door! Sounds too good to actually work, huh?

But I do have a questions for all of you feral converts. We've been able to get her in the carrier on the first try prior to this one, but obviously our plan was flawed this time and she remembers it. Anyway, this whole weekend she spent basically hiding in the bedroom. We re-scheduled the appointment for this coming Friday, the 16th. Is this too soon? I can't put my plan in motion if she doesn't come out to the living room and so far the only time she comes out to be social is when we are getting ready for or are in bed. (I.e. when we are safe)

I love her to death, but she is very frustrating right now, and I know we are quite frustrating to her right now as well.
post #7 of 10
I would do as Renae suggests and close off her access to rooms except for the bathroom. Easiest room to catch a cat in IMO. She needs to see the vet, so the sooner you ease her fears about the carrier, the better it will be for you all. I know this sounds dumb, but if you want to really relax a feral cat yawn at them I know, don't ask me why, but it works for some reason? I found that out when I had Cyclone in captivity. Maybe they think because you are so unconcerned that you are yawning, they don't need to worry so much? But it works-
post #8 of 10
Thread Starter 
Thank you everyone for your suggestions!! We got her!

Since she didn't come out of the bedroom until Thursday, my initial plan didn't have a chance. We ended up flipping the mattresses on end so she didn't have the whole underneath the bed to hide, and closed the doors to everywhere but the bathroom as Renae suggested. After a bit of drama, Ophelia ran into the bathroom, where she was very easy to catch and put in the carrier.

Thank you again! We've never had this much trouble with her before!
post #9 of 10
That's great that you did manage to take Ophelia to her appointment this week.

Hopefully she recovers quickly from the drama.
post #10 of 10
Congrats! A trick I use on Eight-ball is to simply lay down in the recliner and lift the leg rest. He hears the noise and comes running to jump in my lap. Falls for it every time, and then forgets that I caught him that way so it's not like he stops jumping on my lap (OK, he's not the brightest cat in the house)! I've also used the closed door trick for Tigger.
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