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feral cats and worms?

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 
Hi all!

I haven't posted here in a while! It's good to be back! My three kitties are all fine these days. But I have a question about my feral kitty.

He's an unneutered male. He's completely feral. I think he's probably about a year old because I haven't seen him until this winter, and also he doesn't look scraggly. He has beautiful black fur, thick and very shiny.

I started feeding him during the winter when he turned up on my back porch. He lives under the neighbor's porch. We've gotten into a pattern now where I feed him definitely in the morning (why else would I be up at 6:30AM on a Saturday!) and sometimes also in the evening.

I don't know any vets who are willing to deal with ferals but if anyone knows a feral-friendly vet in the west suburbs of Chicago, let me know.

So here are my questions: My feral boy eats 6oz wet food plus about a quarter cup dry food in the AM. Sometimes at night he will come back and eat another 6oz wet food and a bit of dry food as well. Is this an unusually large amount? Should I give him worm medicine (crushed in his food?). If he doesn't have worms, will it hurt him to treat him?

He doesn't look at all sick but that seems like a lot of food, and if I feed him less, he will sometimes sit and wait for more.

I read a bit about trapping cats in the above threads. I have trapped one other kitty - it was a few years ago. The other kitty also came to my back door, definitly homeless. Actually he was pretty tame and I just put him into a carrier. It turned out that he had FIV. I was able to find him a home anyhow.

I am reluctant to trap this guy because he does seem very feral. He has not warmed up to me talking to him. But I would welcome advice from others who have trapped very feral cats. What are his chances of becoming socialized and finding a home? I do volunteer work with a foster home shelter but they tell me they do not accept ferals because the vets will not see them and they are impossible to find homes for. And I recently had to stop fostering because my own cats became too stressed by the process. My hubby and I both work and we are away from the house 10 hours/day.

On my part, it would be nice to find him a home and socialize him because I would like to open my screen door this summer and that poses a problem with feral kitty and my three cats.

Sorry this is such a long post! My final thoughts - I have only seen two other feral cats this whole winter. A scraggly orange Tom chased a female (am guessing) into my feral kitty's porch. I haven't seen them since but am guessing kittens will be somewhere - wherever these kitties live - probably in the many woods around our home area. Is there a way to find these cats or should I just stick with my feral boy? We call him Prince.
post #2 of 28
I'm not sure how to answer your "medical" questions....but here is an article about feral cats in Chicago as well as some contact information.

I would suggest you contact this group:

Chicagoland Stray Cat Coalition • (847) 289-4557

and see if they can assist you.

Thank you for caring about these cats.

post #3 of 28
If you do decide to worm him, I would only go with a pill from your vet, and in order to do this safely the vet needs to know the weight of the cat. (over the counter wormers DO NOT work and some are even harmful). As for all he eats, that is common because he knows that if he doesn't eat it all there may be no more coming. It is a survival technique for them. You can start by feeding him small amounts about 5 times a day (if that is possible) always feed at the same time, same place, same bowl, and he may soon relax and know that food will be there for him.
post #4 of 28
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the info and links - these look good and I will follow up. I recognize the Chicagoland Tails magazine.

re: Feedings. I feed him the same time every morning (i.e. dawn).

He hasn't come back during the day for dry food I have left out. We are gone 10 hours/day so that is all I can do.

When darkness falls we have to remove the dry food and can only feed him when he shows up, due to racoons that live under my porch. In the summer the racoons come out in broad daylight as well.

The worming pills are prescription and I have a weight-to-amount ratio worked out although I am only able to guess his weight.

The reason I thought he was hungry is because if I feed him less than the 6oz he stays there and waits for a refill. It sounds like you are saying he wants to eat all he can fit into his little kitty body optimally in one sitting.
post #5 of 28
I have trapped extremely feral cats. They hated every minute of it, but while at the vet they were neutered, vaccinated, de-wormed, and treated for ear mites. So, even though they were miserable, it was the absolute best thing for them in the long run. Because these cats were unadoptable, they were released back into the place where I trapped them. This is what you would want to do for your feral friend. Once neutered he will be very happy living in your yard (just like he is now), so no need to worry about whether he is adoptable!

There is a thread at the top of this forum on trapping feral cats. In it you will read lots of great hints and advice on how to do a successful trapping and vetting.

Good luck!
post #6 of 28
Here is the link to the trapping thread.
post #7 of 28
Maybe its because I live in a rural area, but I've never encountered a vet that wouldn't take an appointment for a feral! Have you called any vets in the area to ask if you can bring in a trapped cat for a neuter and a check up? In my experience, the ferals are so frightened by the strangeness of all the people and the "scariness" of the vet facilities that they are more docile than our pet cats when being examined. There's only been one exception out of .... about 30 cats.

If you can't find someone or an org that will help you, I think lotsocats' suggestion is the best one. Trap him, have him fixed, and just return him to where you trapped him and release him. He'll be your outside kitty!

Good luck, and if you get a chance, please keep us posted!

post #8 of 28
Thread Starter 
Well it looks like I may have to trap him this weekend regardless because this afternoon he showed up walking on three legs and holding up his right front one. He was fine this morning but not anymore. I don't see any sign of blood or bites but I'm guessing it's only a matter of time before a wound of some sort is evident.

Even though he is feral, this guy is not from a colony and seems to not know how to fend. I've seen the coons chase him away a few times.

I fed him for now because I don't have a trap, but I will get one from my foster home friends.
post #9 of 28
Thread Starter 
Well I will get the trap tomorrow. He was back today. He can walk on the paw but it took him longer to get here and he is still holding it up.

The smart little fella did not try to leave my porch after eating this morning and instead went under a tarp covering one of our outside deck chairs. It is finally warm enough so that all he needs is a bit of cover from the rain today. But then he came back to the door for more food. I think he really wants us to help him make the hurting paw feel better. If only he were not so feral and I had a trap.

Ok I am late for work but it is good news to see him today.
post #10 of 28
Hi Barb! I don't know which western subarb you are in, but perhaps call some vets that are a bit further out towards the farmland just west of the burbs (even Aurora may have some feral friendly vets). See if you can find some rescue groups out that way also. If you can't keep him around your place, sometimes they will do relocations to farms (all farmers want barn cats).

If you are linked up with a group already, perhaps they can give you a referal. Good luck!
post #11 of 28
Let us know how the trapping and vetting went. I hope this poor boy is going to be okay!
post #12 of 28
Thread Starter 
I found a good vet in Chicago - The Chicago Cat Clinic on Devon Ave, in case anyone is interested- who sees ferals all the time.

I just set the trap - it's a have-a-heart coyote trap. So I am just waiting, and hoping of course that a)the racoons who live under our porch don't come out this morning and spring it (it is 5:45AM here); and b) that our little hurt boy will walk into it.

His appointment is for 10:20AM so if he shows up at all and actually goes in the trap, he will have some sitting in the trap time. If anyone has advice for how to make that less stressful, I'd appreciate it.

Ok here is my next question.: Assuming he gets in the trap and gets to the vet and is not FIV positive and all that fun stuff (yeah that is assuming a lot)- should I plan to neuter, vaccinate etc. and then release him again, or socialize him? I hadn't really counted on socializing him, but to tell you the truth, our area has a huge amount of wildlife and he seems pretty hapless, and I don't think he will last long around here otherwise.

I would be interested in others' experience in socializing feral males. Is this viable? I may be able to get some good advice at this clinic too. I've been there once before and they really seem fabulous and very knowledgeable. But I would appreciate firsthand experience. Thanks for all your advice.
post #13 of 28
Thread Starter 
Ok, he went into the trap but did not set it off. He ate his food and came out of the trap and came to the door for more.

My hubby and I reset the trap and this time we did it so there is more tension, but the noise of resetting and testing it and my hubby being outside scared him.

So anyhow he is sitting outside the neighbor's porch now- a sort of good sign because he doesn't usually do that, but I hope it's not because he ran on his hurt paw. So maybe he will come back. I have until around 9:45 this morning and then after that I will have to reschedule probably for AM Monday. Augh!
post #14 of 28
Thread Starter 
Ok- I got him in the trap. He is not very happy and is using his injured paw to try and get out. I am crying but I know this is best for him.
post #15 of 28
Thread Starter 
I am back from the vet. It was the saddest news. He had several wounds and tested FIV positive. I had to euthanize him. Please say a prayer for this poor little kitty who never did anything bad to anyone. I pray he is in a warm and sunny spot where there are plenty of birdies to watch and lots of reasons to purr.
post #16 of 28
You poor thing. You must be completely heartbroken. Please know that this poor kitty is in a wonderful place now, where he no longer has to worry about predators, fights, food or anything else unpleasant or scary.

If you have never before read about the Rainbow Bridge, here is the story. Even though this cat wasn't your live-inside companion, my bet is that he will be there to meet you on the other side of the Bridge.

The Rainbow Bridge

Just this side of Heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.
When an aniumal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so that they can run and play topgether. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made well and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content except for one small thing: they each miss someone very special to them who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group,flying over the green grass, his legs carring him faster and faster.

You have been spotted and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, not to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face: your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look on again into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life, but never absent from your heart.

Then, you cross the Rainbow Bridge together..........
post #17 of 28
Thread Starter 
Thank you so much for sharing the Heaven story. I do hope I see him again. And thank you for caring. I felt alone in my grief until I read your note.

And thank you for giving me so much help and advice, so I could get help for him. I know he would otherwise have slowly died on my back porch. The vet said his paw was very infected and swollen and he had gashes too. (I worried that gave him a false positive but the vet said no).

I am still in awful shape about this. It is hard to look outside my back door. But I do know it would have gotten worse if I hadn't done anything, and hopefully there are other kitties out there who will live because this little guy is at peace now.

Sometimes reality is just awful.
post #18 of 28
OH BARB!! I am sooo sorry to hear about that. I KNOW how you are feeling right now.

I went through EXACTLY THE SAME THING AS YOU DID. I had a feral cat named Giles who used to come for feedings. One day he showed up walking on 3 paws and not using one of his paws at all. After a few days of this, I was able to see that he had several puncture holes in the injured paw. To make a long and painful story short, I finally trapped him and took him to be treated. Found out he was tested positive for FIV and had several other wounds besides the ones on his paw so he was put to sleep.

Here's the thread on my experience.

It was a very PAINFUL time for me and I felt so HORRIBLE like I was a murderer. I felt like I had failed in taking care of Giles and that the decision to put him to sleep was a TERRIBLE mistake. Some comments made in that thread I posted above didn't help me feel better at all (made me feel even worse)BUTother comments were very supportive and helpful.

Barb, now as I look back, I THINK it was the right thing to put Giles to sleep. I just found out 2 weeks ago that I have to move out of my current apt by april 30th due to my landlord wanting to put his house on the market. This means I would not have been able to watch Giles and get him taken care of if needed in the future if I had decided to take him back from the vet and release in the wild. So, in the long run, Giles might've suffered a lot more with FIV (EVENTUALLY if the FIV was not full blown at the time I caught him) and future wounds/infections.

You helped put this poor cat out of its suffering.. I KNOW that still doesn't help. ((((HHHUUGGSS))))))) Life can really SUCK sometimes.

It will take time for u to be able to look outside and not think of him. It took me a couple weeks before I was able to accept that Giles was really gone and that I wouldn't see him stroll up, eat and stare at me. I cried cried cried like a maniac every time I thought about him or looked outside...NOW when I think of him, the PAIN has eased, I still cry a bit but not like before and I am somewhat at peace with the whole situation regarding Giles.

I WISH I could be there to hug u. I KNOW how u feel.. If u need to talk anytime regarding this, feel free to pm me anytime. I MEAN IT.
post #19 of 28
Oh Barb,

I am sorry for the end result, but think about how you saved this cat some misery by making his exit more peaceful. That is what counts, that you cared enough to trap this fella and get him seen. Thank you for having that concern in your heart. I know that the gentleman who wrote The Rainbow Bridge was a pet grief counselor, and he was known to say that he hopes the Bridge exists in the afterlife, and that it needs to exist in the here and now, so people can work through the grief.
post #20 of 28
Barb...I am sorry.

post #21 of 28
Thread Starter 
Thank you so much for all the kind words. It's been a rough day today. I only met this kitty in the winter time and I was so looking forward to being able to see him enjoy some warm weather.

I read your thread Pamela. We did go through the exact same experience! I too was so worried my kitty would have a hard time in the trap. I felt like I was reading my story when I read yours!

I am sure I did the right thing in euthanizing him, even though it is the saddest thing I have ever had to do in my life.

I had a bad feeling about my kitty when he showed up hurt as soon as the weather permitted him to roam. I think he was FIV+ the whole time and survived only because he was holed up all winter except when he came out to eat. It is very rough outside here and there was no way I could put him back outside with the illness.

I had one other stray who showed up on my porch about 3 years ago. That kitty was also FIV positive but he was tame. I was able to pet him and befriend him and find him a home because he was already socialized. Even then, the home was in Springfield Illinois and I was just very lucky to have found someone to take him.
post #22 of 28
Barb...I appreciate that you were able to rehome the FIV stray you found.

post #23 of 28
Thread Starter 
Hi Katie, It sounds as if FIV+ kitties are very near and dear to your heart. They do have the hardest time in a world that doesn't have room even for kitties in the best of health.

In the case of the little FIV guy a few years back, it was indeed a story with a happy ending. He was not injured or feral and so there was no issue of interim care and he was very loving. An old couple adopted him. The mom named him Henry and the dad named him Lou, so he became Henry Lou. They bought a little harness for him to take him on walks.

I had a lot of help- Lisa and Val, two wonderful people who coordinate pointer rescues between here and Springfield. Good deeds make the world go round. I only wish it could have worked out this way for Prince. We felt much closer to him. Thank you for making me remember the good rescue.
post #24 of 28
Barb....yes they are near and dear to my heart and I know what a struggle it is to place even healthy FIV+ cats. My hope is that eventually there will be more understanding and a better outcome for these cats in the future.

post #25 of 28
BTW...Pamela and Barb....I just saw a post on petfinder where another caretaker is struggling with the same issue:

I directed her to Pamela's post and hope that she will be able to make a dicision she is comfortable with and know that she is not alone.

post #26 of 28
With sorrow in my heart and great respect, I move this thread to Crossing The Bridge-
post #27 of 28
Oh Barb I am so sorry you had to go through this after all the trapping and testing. You must be totally heartbroken.

Keep hold of the fact that you did what you did because you care.
post #28 of 28
Thread Starter 
Thank you Alexis, that is so nice of you. I still think of him everytime I look outside. It bothers me most of all that I never even was able to touch him once or hear him meow. I had believed all of that was still to come.

The vet asked if I wanted to say goodbye, but I knew I would go to pieces petting him while he was anesthetized, and where it was not also his choice.

I do hope I will get to know him on the other side of the bridge. I so loved him.
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