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meet Buggy

post #1 of 533
Thread Starter 

A very fast, smart 12 year old feral....a beautiful animal. I'm a newbee to this....currently "negotiating" with him...deliberating....TNR or TN and attempt to bring inside?


Some background:


*The neighbor lady who has been feeding the community cats tells us he lost his best buddy/momma last year and verified his age.   

*I'm newly retired, the time, commitment and expense is no problem, I'm resolved to make this guys life easier

*Around Halloween, i started feeding him in our the 2 months since he enters a back room (sliding glass door) and eats indoors. He greets me and I'm able to (carefully) pet him already , while he's concentrating on eating.


As I'm new to such an undertaking, I humbly yield to the collective wisdom and experience of you forum members and submit a question or 2.


As its getting cold here in the northeast (I'm on eastern Long Island) should I TNR *immediately* (releasing after rehab, of course?   OR TN and make an attempt at an indoor foster? 


In this pic he's letting me know "I'm here"!  



post #2 of 533
Hi bigbadbass, welcome to TCS wavey.gif

Thank you for taking time, commitment and your resources to look after this beautiful kitty clap.gif
Since for two months he's been eating indoors, greeting you and letting you pet him while he's eating, this shows that he has trust in you. You have been doing a great job to have this kitty trust you.
Since winter is here and you have no problem trapping him (you don't have to trap him as he is eating indoors), think best is to get him fixed immediately and foster him after all he had already formed a relationship with you.
It's good to give him a loving warm home.
Do update us and keep posting his photos wink.gif
post #3 of 533
Thread Starter 

What will seem trivial to some, yet for me another milestone.... I got him to play with a piece of yarn....just for a minute, i don't want to rush it. i'll try gain later or tomorrow and incrementally increase the play period.


i'm now convinced "the Bug" , even at 12 YO, is still a kitten at heart....and capable of human interaction. In ways, he's defying what I've read about true ferals, though it is confirmed he IS one.  


I will go forward with vet evaluation, testing, proper inoculations and neutering.


Whether he becomes indoor or in/out (or rejects the inside completely?) will remain to be seen, but the potential he displayed today renews my hopes to fully "take him in".


Color me INSPIRED.   Yesss! 

post #4 of 533
Thread Starter 

and thank you Tabby Tom for your comments and most valued input.


Again, this undertaking is new and a bit daunting for me....your guidance, help and experience is both needed and appreciated! 

post #5 of 533
You are most welcomed wink.gif

Since there's interaction time with him, I suggest that you spend more time with him. It seems like he wants to own you as much as you want to own him. It's just like the appealing thing. It looks quite mutual and when this happens, it's a good sign but, go slow. Don't scare him away. Let him own you more that you own him (but actually I think it's more of the other way round laughing02.gif). As for cats, it's always on their terms and not ours. Once you understand this theory, it's easier on you.
As for playing with him using the yarn, I would suggest you use something else as yarns are dangerous when injested. But use under supervision. Try playing with him in the back room so that it is registered in his mind that that is his place (home) and make it cozy for him. Has he slept in there before?
One important thing is if you are going to bring him indoors, please make your house cat safe. Once it's cat safe, let him explore the house and let him own the space and that will boost his confidence greatly. As he is an outdoor cat for 12 years and now going indoor, handle him with care, love and patience. Most important is that he must trust you fully. Otherwise the whole operation will be fruitless.
Take one step at a time and if there are any questions you like to ask, feel free to ask and there are others who have more experience with such situations here and they are most glad to help.
We are happy that you took this step in bringing the kitty in and also for the kitty that he has a warm loving home to live in.
post #6 of 533

Wow, this is the nicest thing I've read in a while!  You are so kind to help this kitty.  He does sound like he's had some socialization but the feral life is tough and they have to be tough, too.


All of TabbyTom's advice is spot-on.  I have only a few suggestions.  Once you get him inside, keep him in his own room for a bit.  Adjusting to an inside home will be a little easier if his territory is somewhat limited.  He will feel safer earlier if he isn't overwhelmed by an entire house.  Cat proof it as TabbyTom suggests.  A room will also make recuperation easier, as he has fewer places to get into/jump up on, etc..


Visit him often and keep his routine the same.  Feeding him, scooping the litter box - try always to have them at the same times.  You can sit in the room and read out loud to him.  It will get him used to your voice and presence.  After a week or so, once he's seen the vet and had his surgery and shots, you can let him begin to explore further.


I would put some dirt or dried leaves on top of his litter for the first week or so.   This is what he's been using and it will help him understand what litter actually is.  You can also purchase Dr. Elsey's Cat Attract litter.  It has a smell that tells them "here's the potty!"  It is a little pricey, so I only use it until they get the idea but some people use it all the time.


If he has any accidents, spray the area well (soak it good) with an enzyme product like Nature's Miracle.  It gets rid of any smell that might remind him this is a good potty spot.


If he does not adjust well to strictly indoor life, can you add a small catio to your house?  It would solve the problem by giving him "outside" time without risking his security (and your peace of mind!)


Blessings on you for helping the beautiful animal.  I have a soft spot in my heart for black cats.  They are so magnificent.

post #7 of 533
Thread Starter 

my wife and kids named him Bagheera, being the creep I am....I shortened it to Buggy...which quickly devolved into "the Bug".  Magnificent is the perfect word. 


Now some further issues submitted for forum consideration and scrutiny. 


He has never slept indoors here. He will only stay inside and eat with my sliding glass door open 6 inches...he instantly bolts out when I approach the door. For the most part he eats then departs to make his rounds of his territory.. I feed him between 7-8AM and again between 4-5PM.daily. Convincing him to stay indoors is difficult.  Very cold here now...I believe he is sleeping in a neighbors unused, dilapidated garage....his "home base", though I'm his primary food bank.    


I'm hoping the neutering process will counteract his hormone driven tendency to roam. Will it cause him to "stick around" at a safe, warm , loving home, once acclimated?


Even though I've made certain breakthroughs I realize his being 12 years old, its not going to be an easy path.  


Thank you members for your valued thoughts and advise.

post #8 of 533
While he is eating, are you near him? As you said, he bolts off instantly when you approached the door, as you are coming in from the outside or the back room has its own door to the outside and the sliding door sepearates the back room from the main house? Always approach him slowly and call his name as you approach so that he dosen't get startled. But it's good to let him have an escape route so that he don't feel trapped.
Yes, make him associate you with food and try feeding him more often so that he'll hang around more rather than eat and run off. Not sure if he's getting food elsewhere. If he is, then he might think that your house is one of the stops for food.
Like you said, it's not an easy path as he roam free for 12 years and it's a challenge, but hopefully after the neutering he'll get a sense of belonging while the anesthesia wears off though it does not take that long but hopefully through the drowsiness will make him think otherwise. Hope for the best.
Let us know the progress with the vet too.
post #9 of 533

Neutering will make a big difference.  I am wondering if you can perhaps do a compromise thing.  Is there a way you can provide him with a good cozy shelter, at least until he realizes what the inside life entails?


He's obviously found a warm spot in the neighbors garage and with 12 years experience, he knows how to handle winters where you are.  I was just thinking a slower transition might be easier on everyone.


I had a black cat, Schofield, who had been running the neighborhood for almost two years, so he was pretty wild.  He decided to adopt my yard, so I started feeding him.  Not long after, another neighbor mistakenly tried to pet him and he swiped at her.  When she told me about it,  I realized if I was going to be responsible for him, I''d better make sure he couldn't do that to anyone again.  So I built him his own enclosure.


I did not have room inside at that house, so for almost two years he had a fenced in area all his own (I was ambitious - it was 15' x 40').  It contained two Rubbermaid houses and a chicken coop that we used for the litter box.  He was warm, cozy and safe.


When I moved here, I was able to transition him into the house.  He's still wild (still love tormenting the other cats) but he's now an inside only cat.


The fact that he has played with you is a biggie.  That is one way I can keep Schofield from bothering the other cats (they are all lots older then he and can't figure him out)


When you do bring him in, make sure he has a room to himself.  You will need this for recuperation purposes and to isolate him from the other cats until the all-clear.  But is is also critical to help him get acclimated to inside.  Adjusting will be tough (he's been the boss of his own life for 12 years).  Having a smaller space all to himself will help that adjustment.


Visit him often (reading out loud to him will help acclimate him to your voice and presence), keep his routine (feeding, scooping, etc) as same as possible every day.


Bug is a lucky kitty!

post #10 of 533
Thread Starter 

Ondine and TT thanks for your ongoing advise and support.


"The bug" feeding room will in fact be his. The sliding glass door is entry/exit....who's teaching who?  He will only enter and eat if I'm away from the door. I've progressively moved his bowls further in to both shield from the cold blast and (thinking ahead) prepping to someday close the door shut while he's in. Its inevitable, must be done.


Hence my comment "negotiating" with the Bug.


I sit, legs crossed, on the floor while he eats and am allowed to pet his majesty WHILE he's concentrating on eating. Of course, I'm talking to him at a low volume the whole time he's there.


I'm calling the vet next week.....preparing financially and mentally for the TN process. I'll further prep the room for his "vacation".


One thing I missed....I've got to contact the neighbor feed lady and some other neighbors along his route....check with them AFA their relationship with him. Its very likely he's being fed by neighbors other than the community cat lady. I want to announce my intentions....make sure no objections from anyone. I'll ask them to stop feeding him, as well, making my efforts somewhat easier.


I bought a K &H heated outdoor house for him....inclement weather has prevented the little kings return today....snow, changing to rain, then back to cold Monday....wet and nasty out there. I yearn for him to be warm, safe and sound inside here, though I realize after 12 years he's a tough little cookie. A major undertaking but in his best interests.    


Thanks, folks for your expert pointers....I'll post up any news.              

post #11 of 533

Good idea to check with the neighbors.  It will make trapping him a lot easier if he's hungry.


Do you plan to use a humane trap?  That might be the least traumatic option - only because grabbing him and trying to force him into a carrier will most likely not work and may result in you getting injured.


You can also keep him in the trap for a day after surgery, just to ensure he doesn't hurt himself.  It will also give you an opportunity to observe how he adjusts to new situation.  A pee pad under the trap makes clean-up pretty quick.  You can also feed him in the trap if needs be.


Good luck with this!  It is always nerve wracking but planning ahead makes all the difference.

post #12 of 533
Good job you are doing here bigbadbass. Let's hope this one is a smooth ride.
post #13 of 533
Thread Starter 

even with snow on ground, Bug stopped on his "rounds" to eat....finished...sat right next to a comfy cat bed inside...cleaned himself (always) and opted to leave as usual


Is this hormones causing him to constantly roam?  Oh, no...could he be looking for his (deceased) mama? 


Suddenly, i'm not 100% convinced in success...nor convinced this guy is a good candidate for any hopes of full socialization and domestication...reading some threads here on the doubtful successes of bringing older ferals indoors....his fiercely independent tendencies have been brought forefront to my attention by my wife.  


My biggest fear....after $500 investment in vet, neuter, effort and ordeal to contain him indoors.....he's not happy being an insider.....i'm forced to open the door and let him go.....HEARTBREAKING  for me.  


Perhaps I'm being too expectant and hopeful, due to his allowing of petting and hint of we've made some headway...I have yet to discuss some details with neighbors and my vet...which will culminate in a decision to go for it 100%.or leave status quo....continue feeding outdoor,, leaving him intact and free where he seems to be happy.


Crunch time will be next week sometime.


Thoughts please?      

post #14 of 533
He has been roaming for 12 years and freedom is in his mind. But the hormones are driving him to roam. Am sure he has fathered kittens and got into fights.
You have to be prepared in your heart, mentally, soulfully if things dosen't work out as planned.
Neutering him will make him loose the desire to roam and to mate and get into fights. But will he stay indoor after that is hard to say.
It's a decision you have to make. It's just two option :- 1) carry on with what as planned and hope for the best. Worse case scenario is let him be part indoor and outdoor cat meaning he just stop by for meals but you are doing him a great by neutering him so that he dosen't roam and won't mate and have more feral kittens and fights and also better for his health. 2) leave him as it is and just feed him whenever he comes by and he is free and happy.
It's hard to say. Maybe Advisor @Ondine has better suggestions.
post #15 of 533

I agree with TabbyTom.  Neutering would be the first thing I did, regardless of the rest.  It will not only reduce his need to roam, it will be a such a good thing to keep other kittens from being born.  There are simply to many of them out there.


When he is neutered, make sure he gets his vaccinations, too.  This will help him and any other critter he meets.


When he comes home from the vet, give indoor life a shot.  If it doesn't work out, you have still  done right by this cat and by many other cats in your neighborhood.  Your idea of giving him an inside life does not mean he won't have a good life outside.  When he's neutered, he will most likely stick close to your house.  You can provide him with the support he needs to live the good life.


And who knows?  He may calm down enough to recognize that being indoors ain't so bad!

post #16 of 533
Thread Starter 

I know you guys are encouraging the right moves, in the best interests of all kitty-dom,  Bug and me.  I thank you.


I'm going to use food somewhat as a tool....enticing him back when I sense he's gonna leave. ..I think i'm doing the right thing? 


Early on I was concerned about him assured that is no longer the case.


Though he INHALES a can of Friskies brand food....then some dry food at each main meal. He's a large cat, eats accordingly. 


This morning, i purposely paused in immediate feeding....extending the greeting process. He actually gave me a "meow". Thats a FIRST!


after inhaling a can...(I am placing dish directly in front of the carrier I plan to use to trap him) he cleaned, and we played with yarn for about 10 minutes! Another FIRST. 


 Keeping him focused using pieces of dry food and playing, back a forth. Associate playing and food = again, am I doing the right thing here?


He also layed out, streched and relaxed on the dry rug (wet outside) for 10 minutes.... I didn't dissuade him when he left....thinking I'll continue this "at his own speed". 


Fantastic this "behavioral modification"  is new to me, the results indicate I'm  doing this right? this correct? Any comments, tips, tricks? Anything i'm doing wrong and should modify?


I recognize this will not be an easy process, ready for setbacks too....."the Bug" and I thank you folks for your ongoing input and AWESOME support!


Your overwhelming experience and knowledge on display! 

post #17 of 533

It sounds like you are right on track.  Taking it slowly and at the cat's pace is always the key.  You will probably have one step forward, two steps back kinds of times but that's to be expected.


The "meow" is interesting as truly feral cats don't use that noise.  He has been socialized at some point - that is the noise that cats use to communicate with us humans.  When they communicate with each other, they use body language (which we humans have a hard time understanding).


If his tail is straight up when he approaches you, he's happy to see you.  If his tail starts twitching, he's annoyed.  Keep it up.  Fingers crossed, he'll be an inside kitty soon!

post #18 of 533
Thread Starter 

ty Ondine....your obvious knowledge and experience appreciated....dealing with a feral (?) a new experience for me....I'm learning as I'm going along here....with some success.


the Bug spent an hour indoors this afternoon...a very little bit of dry food ...he cleaned, stretched out and relaxed, taking a "cat nap".  I held off playing as somehow I think thats going to be a morning activity.


He seems to be easily spooked when its dark out...don't want to push him by playing when he's in that state.


About the meow....thank you again... yours the voice of experience to this newbee. Yes, some of his behavior questionable...seems to defy feral, though the neighbor lady reported his known history...perhaps mama and he were dumped from a home upbringing long ago?  I'll never know....but his improving interaction in 2 months has been inspiring and shows potential. Certainly contradicts what I've read about true feral. 


After the holidays...the vet.  Then i'm thinking forward....contemplating eventually installing a kitty door through the outside wall to allow him freedom of in/out.   


And purchasing a tree type condo for him indoors. Already scoped out the spot in front of the rear glass door where he can visually monitor his 'hood from the comfort of his room. .


d post pics of th

post #19 of 533
I totally agree with what Advisor Ondine had mentioned . It's a good sign that he meows at you and also staying on the rug and he looks very comfortable.
You are doing the right thing and anticipating your progress of a kitty door and cat tree is a very good idea.
As what Mod Ondine said, whether he becomes an indoor or outdoor cat, you can provide him with the support he needs to live a good life. Whatever it is, technically, the kitty is yours.
You are doing a wonderful job for Bugs. I'm sure he appreciate it and we are proud of you clap.gif Looking at the photo with him laying on the rug, I wished I could pet him agree.gif
Keep us posted and hope Bugs will find a new friend in you whom he can trust.
post #20 of 533

He does look comfy on the rug.  I honestly think he's had some inside life.  He's just too relaxed on that rug to be truly feral.  He'd have gone bonkers otherwise - not having any experience with rugs, walls, etc.


I imagine there are critters outside when it gets dark (raccoons and such) who he may have had run-ins with.  I don't blame him for being jumpy.


Your plans for a door and tree are wonderful.  Buggy is a lucky, lucky cat.  Perhaps you could consider building a catio for him.  It would give him outside time but keep him safe.

post #21 of 533
Thread Starter 

Thanks, TT. The photo contrast is terrible, darkens when transferring from phone to desktop. I'll get better pics, he's truly a beautiful animal, his looks defy his reported age. 


I've got a plan to do "the trap" into a carrier which I'll implement after the holidays. In the meantime, I'm slowly transferring food bowl closer to, then inside of...the carrier. 


We're gonna DO this....both Bug and I.   

post #22 of 533
Originally Posted by bigbadbass View Post

We're gonna DO this....both Bug and I.   
post #23 of 533
Thread Starter 



our posts crossed. 


You may be right? I dunno, the lady reported him as feral 12 years....I HOPE she's wrong and this whole process will be less painful and quicker than I fear. If he was domesticated at one point, could account for his very quick transformation into playing and relaxed demeanor indoors.


Perhaps the vet could better estimate his be determined.


I'll have to research "catio" but I think may be a good idea....the glass doors open to my 20' x 24' deck...plenty of room.


In summer, I work on motorcycle stuff in my separate large garage, Bug has already explored....I anticipate we'll both be hangin' out there in spring!


Oh, her's a picture of his indoor roommate (Sophia, my 900 Supersport Ducati)


 Yup, I'm a retired, 65 year old Sport Biker  

post #24 of 533

I am wondering if the neighbor may have seen another black cat before Buggy.  It isn't easy to tell one from another, especially if seen at a distance.  The vet should be able to guesstimate his age.  He does not look 12 (especially after 12 years outside).


Love that bike!  Who knows?  Perhaps Buggy will become a biker cat!

post #25 of 533
Yea, nice bike but a word of caution, :lol3:hope the sound from the bike won't scare him away! laughing02.gif
post #26 of 533
Thread Starter 

I've checked with all neighbors on his "circuit"....the neighbor lady who's been feeding him for 12 years said she'd noticed him filling out and looking well. 

She had no problem with me making an attempt at bringing him in as she's got other community cats she deals with.  


He was there at her house during our conversation!  She whistles to call him...I shook the dry food container (my method to call him) Sure enough out he comes from the bushes!  I wish I could have read his mind when he saw both his providers. He was hiding under a car...and when I walked home he was already there! 

Smart little bugger, I never even saw him. 


She showed me where he chooses to sleep a cellar window well filled with leaves, they were compressed. He also has access to a large cat house but chooses not to use it. This guy is quite independent.  


Anyways, green impediments with neighbors.


I've found a very reasonable vet....just a matter of trapping when the time is right. This guy is very street smart, gonna be a challenge to outsmart him.


Regarding the bike...while I was still riding up to November,  he'd hang undisturbed on the deck as I entered or left via my driveway.


I may make my move sooner than later, if logistics allow. Can anyone advise the approximate rehab time from neuter procedure?  


As always, thanks most gracious members here! 

post #27 of 533
Very good to hear that there's no issues with the neighbors and even the lady that has been feeding him for the past 12 years has given you the green light. And it's a good sign that he is responsive to the whistle and shaking of the food can and he did not hide.
He sounds like a ninja cat! laughing02.gif Got home and waiting for you! 👍🏻 Good to hear that he is not disturbed by the sound of the bike. Who knows, maybe he'll go riding with you one of these days.
Neutering procedure is pretty simple except due to his age, proably the vet has to assess his health before proceeding with the anesthesia. If there's no issue with his health, the incision made to the testicles are just a tiny slit each. After the procedure, he'll feel drowsy from the anesthesia for a day or two. He might not eat or drink but it's ok. Not much has to be taken care of as the surgery part will heal itself in a couple of weeks, as long as it is not infected. There is no suturing. Just make sure that there are no yellowish pus showing. Anyway, many feral cats are neutered and spayed and they are returned to the community immediately after that. So you don't have to worry about the post op.
Do continue to keep us posted.
post #28 of 533

This is great news!  TabbyTom is correct - the neutering itself is a simple procedure.  Its his age that might complicate things.  A good once-over by the vet should tell you.


You might want to look into borrowing a drop trap for him.  If he is as savvy as I think he might not fall for a humane trap.


But I'd use the humane trap first (drop traps are scarce and very pricey).  Tie it open and feed him in the trap only.  Do this until you feel confident he goes all the way into the trap.  Then you can make his appointment and set the trap to spring.  He will be aggravated, so cover the trap and he'll calm down.


He can stay in the trap for a day or so - use a pee pad under it.  If he goes potty, you can life the trap, clean it if necessary and replace the pee pad.


If you let him back outside after the surgery, don't be surprised if he spends some time at his other house.  He'll be annoyed at you for a while.


If you keep him inside after the surgery, give him his own room for a couple of weeks.  Cat proof it, provide him with litter, food and a box or two. Visit him often - reading out loud helps him get used to you.   You can also leave a radio on low - voices to help him make the adjustment.  The sights, sounds, smells and noise inside a house can take some getting used to, so be patient with him.


Blessings on you for helping him.  He'll have a peaceful old age now.

post #29 of 533

I have been adopted by older feral cats before.... sometimes they reach an age they don't mind being safe, warm in winter, cool in summer, and fed regularly.  I do agree with comments from earlier that the cat looks to be in pretty good shape to be feral and 12 years old.  Best of luck

post #30 of 533
Thread Starter 

thanks all for comments, info and encouragement.


Forgot to mention, the little prince allows the neighbor lady to pet him....that explains why I was so easily allowed in such a short period. So that would be the extent of his human interaction. 


Human= food ...thats about indoor, no play, no domestic cat friends.....we've got a lot of adjusting to look forward to. I'm prepped for the long run. The Bug will have his own room, will receive great food, plenty of affection and he is capable of accepting in his own time.    


My wife has 3 indoor ossicat (sp?) and 2 bengals.....all are tame as can be. They have oogled each other through sliding glass doors......the Bug is becoming inquisitive, approaching and sniffing the door leading into the rest of the house. i'm hopeful he will slowly ease into accepting us, there seems some willingness there. The hormones seem to be the immediate impediment..


I'll put up a screen door separating between the Bug room and the rest of the house....slowly inching it open bit by bit , introducing the troops to one another, opening more as they become familiar....provided we have no battles.


Called the vet...they recommend rehab just a day...they get ferals on a routine basis, shouldn't be an issue.  I'm gonna have  blood work/testing, de-worming, de-flea above and beyond neuter.....all while under anesthesia....any other tests you folks recommend while he's under the needle? Want to do everything in one repeats or oooops.


As always, thanks and Happy Holidays all!        


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