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Overwhelmed by strays

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 
Hi. I posted here a few weeks ago about a stray cat that I took in that had kittens. You were great help, so I am asking for advice again. I still have her and am trying to find homes for her kittens. So far, they have their first shots and I am looking at getting them speutered. It is really hard to find a vet that will do it while they are young. Anyway, to my problem - I had another stray cat that I started feeding - he is male and is very friendly, and I named him Tennesse. He brought along a friend, another male that I assume to be feral, because he won't come near me. I am also assuming that he is very young, because of his size. Because I was putting out food, it seemed to draw every stray cat in the neighborhood. I am now also feeding another stray momma cat (feral) and her 5 feral kittens, in addition to another male who does not get along with the original male stray,Tennessee. I also occasionally see another stray calico that runs from me that looks to be very pregnant. I am feeling very overwhelmed. I feel that I should try to catch the feral momma and her kittens, so that I could at least tame the kittens and find them homes, but I am having a hard enough time finding home for the 6 kittens that I already have. I am also a little fearful of one of the male strays - the one that doesn't get along with Tennessee. He used to be very fearful of me and wouldn't come near me. Now, he acts really weird. Whenever, I let my dog out to go potty, he will run up to me and meow like crazy. He always has a wound from a fight. He acts like he is starving, but he won't eat the food that I put out. He keeps trying to get in my house or he rubs against my legs or even tries to rub up against the dog, sometimes while hissing at her. It is really hard to explain his behavior, so I can explain exactly why I feel so leary. I have been around lots of cats and have never seen a cat act like him. Is he nuts or is he just starved for affection? I am leary of petting him, because I don't want him to bite me, especially since he always has a wound and may have something. Any advice on what I should do would be greatly appreciated. I am sorry that it is so long. My family and friends listen and then tell me to stop feeding them and they will go away.
post #2 of 3
You will continue to be overwhelmed until all the stray cats a speutered- that is just the way of it. The process of trapping- spaying and neutering is not only expensive it is emotional and stressful. I tell people, it's like the field of dreams movie- "If you feed them they will come."

About the stray, you really can't *catch* anything from him, except if you are not sanitary, worms, or ringworm or if you are susceptable to bartonella, cat scratch fever. I suspect, that like most ferals I run into, that he is sick, and understands you are his last hope to get better. I would seriously start making friends with him, trap him or grab him up and get him to a vet. I would warn you that some people who rescue can sucessfully trap without using mechanical means, but if you don't know how to, you can end up in a world of hurt, because once a cat is scruffed or restrained then that is when they fight you most- so I would urge you no matter how friendly this guy *seems* trap him humanely and get him to the vet. Then you won't be able to get rid of him (I suspect him to be a loving house pet underneath it all).

Good luck, you can PM me with any questions you might have, or post them here-
post #3 of 3
Mystified - you have a couple of choices here. If you can't afford to spay and neuter them, it's really best to stop feeding them. Helping them with nutrition but without preventing them from breeding will create serious problems -for you and for them. If you can afford speutering - or have located low-cost speutering, then the absolute best thing to do is to start trapping them. You'll either have to buy or borrow a trap. You can find out about them by looking up the correct category here: www.meowhoo.com

Many of us use have-a-hart traps. If you're buying, buy a long one, not a short one.

If you fill the bottom with cat litter (through the wires, so they don't have to step on wire), but leave the trip uncovered, that should really help in getting them into the trap. You can also put the food in the trap for several days without setting it to trip - that way they get used to eating in there.

We use doggie wee-wee pads on the bottom of the trap. Scared ferals will often pee or vomit in the car, so if you use the litter method, put something down on the seat of your car. Cover up the trap with a light blanket - make sure they can get air, but not being able to see will help calm them. Don't freak if they freak in the cage - it is still the most humane thing to do, and it is normal for them to be scared. We've never been hurt by a feral in a trap, so I wouldn't worry about that.

We started with one mom and five kittens. We ended up adopting four ourselves and adopting out a total of six other kittens (different female & assorted rescues) and having 28 adults speutered in one year. But we had no kittens the next year, and we even had the owners of the property contact us - we'd done such a good job with the cats that they had a mice problem in the barns, and wanted the ferals relocated to the barns. They learned the hard way the value of cats, but now they know how to care for them properly.

We can point you to lots of resources if you decide to take on this project. You'll find LOTS of support and advice here! Just let us know what direction you're going to take.

And don't worry - if you don't have the resources to care for the cats and decide to stop feeding them, we won't jump all over you. Knowing your limits is one of the most difficult yet important aspects of rescue work and working with ferals.

BTW - If the kittens can't be adopted out - and we weren't sure we were going to be able to adopt out the kitties that turned up here - we treated them like they were going to be part of the feral colony, but spent lots of time outside to get them as socialized as possible. In the end, we found them all homes - some of them after five months - but we adopted them out with adoption agreements and information pamphlets (like "Bringing Outdoor Cats Inside,") and other things. Two of them are outdoor working barn cats - but VERY loved by their owners and allowed inside when they want - the others are all inside pets and are doing great - and didn't have any transition issues their new parents' weren't prepared for.
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