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Difficult Situation

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
Ok, I need some advice. I own 5 happy healthy housecats that all get along in my household. For six months now an outdoor kitty has been showing up on my back patio. He seems to be somewhat feral. He asks for food but under no circumstances allows you to touch him. He gets aggressive and will hiss and even lunge at you if you get near him while he is eating. (I feed him every time he shows up)

I feel bad for the little guy. I cannot take in anymore cats. I wish I could, but I've already pushed the limit with 5. I want to do something, but I don't know what. To me...its not fair that my kitties are sleeping on the warm sofas, playing on their cat trees, and staying nice a dry while this little guy looks in from the outside.

I don't want to trap & take him to a shelter, because he is not very adoptable and will probably be put down. I hesitate to take him to a rescue group because I can't afford to make a donation, and I don't want them to think I contribute to the problem. He was someones cat and has been fixed. I've posted lost cat signs, and asked all my neighbors and nobody know where this cat came from.

Any advice ?

post #2 of 14
I’m a little confused, if you can’t get near him how do you know he’s been fixed? If in fact he/she has been fixed then that worry is out of the way. Can you provide some type of shelter outside for him? Set up a feeding and watering station? Provide vet care when/if needed? If you could do all of this, that would be a great way to start helping him. In the meantime, maybe you could find someone that would be willing to foster and work with taming and making him adoptable?
post #3 of 14
Providing him adequate shelter outside and food and water puts him ahead of the game. Like House of Cats says, getting him neutered is of prime importance but you say he is fixed. You have to do what is comfortable for you to do. And if bringing him indoors will create a hardship, then don't bring him indoors. You would have to get him vetted first and if you don't have money to make a donation to a rescue group, then you probably don't have extra money for a vet bill. There is nothing wrong with that- I know the feeling well.

BTW many rescue groups will take very small donations, or donations of cat related essential items or even some of your time to work on a cat cause. Just a thought-
post #4 of 14
Also, do you have any no-kill shelters that would take this cat in?
post #5 of 14
Thread Starter 
Let me claify.

First, I know he is fixed because ....well....how do I say this. He is male and does not certain "equipment". I'm seen him laying on his back in a position that you can see everything.

An outdoor shelter is an idea. I could build something out of cedar for him. I just hope he is not lonely. However, there is a problem I have with leaving food out. Possums and other wild animals sneak up and steal the cats food. Right now, I only feed the cat when I see him. I live in a rural area.

Vet care is a problem, because I would have to trap / sedate him. My vet has warned me about bring her "wild" cats. As it is I have to sedate 1 of my indoor cats because she went insane at the Vet's office and bit the Vet (broke skin) and scratched up 2 vet techs. She actually had to be caught in a Dog catcher net. Anyway, I worry because outdoor cats really need their shots,,,more so than indoor ones. Vet bills can be expensive. Its cost me 300-400 dollars a year already for my herd of 5.

No-kill shelters...?? I have not found any in my area, but I could look.
post #6 of 14
Try contacting these groups and see if they can give you advice:



post #7 of 14
Providing food, water and shelter is one of the best things you can do for this cat. As long as they are dry, they can and will stay warm. I fed 2 ferals in a park for many years and they survived all the winters. If you do build a shelter, please DO NOT use cedar. The aroma the cedar gives off may be pleasant smelling, but those odors are harmul. Small animals such as rabbits and guinea pigs can suffer liver problems when kept in cedar bedding. Since most cats do not like strong odors, this cat may not use it as well.
post #8 of 14
As for not feeding your local wildlife instead of kitty, try to start a routine with the kitty as to when you will feed him. He will probably start this on his own, as cats definitely like routine. If kitty usually shows up in the evening, be ready with food every time he shows up. Once he starts showing up regularly, have the food waiting for him, and take it up when he's done so you aren't feeding possums and 'coons. If possible, water should be available for him all the time. He'll catch on pretty quick that dinner (or breakfast or lunch, as the case may be) is served at this time.

As for shelter, here are a couple links for ideas on building shelters that are not only inexpensive, but also cozy places for kitty to stay safe and warm.

post #9 of 14
What caught my eye was comments about your vet. Warning you to not bring in ferals, requiring you to sedate a cat and chasing them with nets?!

My vet has of course cautioned me about the potential danger to my cats from ferals I bring in but he is more than willing to work with me (and others.) On one visit a feral got loose in the exam room. Rather than try to chase it around/down his attitude was 'well, ok, let's just sit here a bit and wait for it to check the place out and calm down some.' There may be an exception, but the best way to de-escalate a cat is to de-escalate yourself.

Maybe I'm the only one - but I've seen a number of comments about vets that I've found troublesome. If there is a need, rather than hijack this thread, perhaps Hissy would start a new one.
post #10 of 14
2tame, I was thinking this myself. My vey would never chase a cat or would she ever warn me about brining in any of my cats that may go wild in the exam room. Heck, she was more than willing to have me bring Amber in. That was a big concern for me. I was worried that I was going to have a difficult time finding a vet that would allow a bobcat in there office. I bring Amber in just so the vet techs can see her and say hello
post #11 of 14
I have only had one feral cat that a vet warned me NEVER to bring to their office again, and that was Cleo. He is a big, stout Manx mix and he hates to be inside- completely goes bonkers. I took him in to be neutered over 7 years ago, and they *thought* they had sedated him- wrong........He escaped and he trashed the surgical room, upended trays of instruments, scattered contents all over the place and it took them over 45 minutes to catch him! LOL He shut down the surgeries for that day because instruments needed to be resterilized and the floor mopped when he had let loose in his fright. he did get neutered though, just not that day-

System, what I would do if I were you is modify one of your cat posts for outdoor living and make enclosures around the top platform to make a snug house. I have always dreamed of making an outside cat condo with many levels, making it as waterproof as possible and letting my outdoor ferals live there if they wished...
post #12 of 14
System, you've already gotten some great advice. This is such a wonderful thing you're doing!!

I did want to straighten out one part of the discussion, though already addressed.... like many others that participate in this part of TCS, we trap feral cats. These are completely unapproachable cats (outside our home), and most of them have only had negative interaction with people. There has never been any sedation involved (other than for the spay or neuter), there has never been any chasing with nets or other devices. They are usually so terrified that they are completey subdued when removed from the crate/trap at the vet. They sit in fear for exam, shots, temperature being taken, etc. So if your outside kitty is ever involved in a fight or is injured or visibly sick in some way and you need to get him to the vet, please bear this in mind. And given your vet's response to "wild" cats, I'd suggest that you may want to consider finding a different vet. You may want to go so far as to start feeding kitty in a crate with the door open. If he's been eating inside the crate for four months, it'll be a lot easier to just close that door than to try trapping the cat if he is ever in need of urgent medical attention.

Also - just wanted to add - we had a multi-year old feral that we've been feeding for quite some time (had him neutered last year). Hubby would spend time outside just sitting while he ate. Feeding him regulary got him used to the sound of food, and it got to the point where he'd come running when he heard him shake the kibble. Little by little, he would move closer to him while he was eating (I'm talking over weeks/months, not days) - and it got to the point where he'd come running when he heard the food, and he trusted hubby enough to get very close to him. Gary never tried to reach out and pet him. I think he was getting close to the point where he was about to headbump Gary for pets - but he got involved in a very bad fight, had his nose ripped up pretty bad, and we had to get him to the vet. We REALLY wanted him to be adopted out as a pet - it's been a subzero Winter here, and we've already got five rescues living full time in an R.V. so there is no way we could bring an older feral that needs socialization inside! Fortunately, one of the vet techs that is experienced with rescuing decided to adopt him - and that was just a few months ago. He's already a cuddle bug.

Also, just so you know there is hope of socializing this guy, we have an inside cat that was all hiss & vinegar from six weeks of age. Tuxedo now has an amazing bond with my husband. This little ball of arched back, flamed tail and hiss was attacking hubby (who didn't try to approach him, was just pouring food in a bowl) from eight weeks of age. His brothers and sisters all became friendly very quickly - but this little ball of fire attacked him, other cats, new cats to the colony, etc. This went on from eight weeks of age - and for the next nine months. And this was despite being fed about 4 times a day by hubby, being fed warmed chicken broth and warmed milk in subzero weather, being dug out of a groundhog burrow after being trapped in there for two days under three feet of snow. It was March of last year, I think, and Gary went out to feed him. He ran over to Gary, attacked him as he was pouring food (!) - and Gary just sat down on the picnic table bench (in the snow) and cried, he was so frustrated. THEN the little nut walked up to Gary and head bumped him on the ankle. And that was it. He came running for pets after that. He loved being held not too long after that. But this was a cat that we began feeding as a kitten. With an older feral it will likely take longer. The trick is to do things on the cat's time schedule, and to let the cat make the first moves. Believe me - they know who they're caretakers are. Once they know you won't ever try to reach out for them no matter how close they get, that's when the real trust begins. But wait for that headbump before trying to reach out for kitty, and despite the fact that he lives outside, I expect that one day you'll end up with a lap cat. It can happen - but so much of it depends upon you, your patience, and the signals you send to kitty.

post #13 of 14
Couple of last comments.... kitty will be SO thankful if you can find the resources to help keep him pest free. DO NOT use over-the-counter de-worming products and DO NOT use flea collars! The OTC de-worming products DO NOT kill the worms - they only cause the cat to expel them live. It's useless. To deworm a kitty you must use a product purchased from the vet after determing what types of worms kitty has.

Also, to keep kitty flea and tick-free, Advantage is really the best product. Flea collars are actually dangerous and threaten the life, not only the health, of your cat. Advantage is expensive, but worth saving up for over the next few months. It is VERY effective, and only needs to be applied to the back of the neck once a month. If you're feeding kitty in a crate, it'll make it a lot easier to apply. There are two options - working on being next to kitty while he's eating over the next couple of months (one of our ferals never noticed we squeezed the Advantage on her while her head was down and she was eating). OR, if you wear leather gloves and you've been feeding kitty in a crate, you should be able to restrain him long enough to get the Advantage on him. Of course he'll be mad and it will likely set back your socialization efforts, but that's a decision you'll have to make - the trade-off between him being pest free and his level of trust for you. Ferals are difficult to medicate, but my belief is that they do understand the difference between when you are trying to help them and when you are trying to hurt them, and to me that is enough.

Just some more thoughts on your new outside pet.....
post #14 of 14
Sorry! More thoughts for you. Around here, skunks, possums and raccoons are a problem. We had to take down our feral feeder because of them. What we do instead is put food out first thing in the morning and take it away at sundown. The raccoons, possums and skunks would only eat the cat food in the evening and at night, so putting food out after sun-up and taking it away before sundown solved our problem. The "scaredy" ferals learned to come by while the food was out because we use times that are before the sun's all the way up and the food's still there at dusk.

BTW - while trapping, Gary once trapped a possum so big he couldn't believe it squeezed itself into the trap!
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