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Feral cat is literally boucing off the walls

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 

About 3 weeks ago I trapped a feral cat that I had been feeding for several months. I had her spayed/shots and found a temporary home for her. The woman who took her put her in a room by herself w/ food, water, litterbox etc. Now this poor kitty is so scared that everytime her foster mom walks in the room, she gets scared and literally tries to climb up the walls, she has also banged up against doors and the foster mom is scared she will hurt herself. I don't know exactly how old this kitty is but I'm guessing around 2 years, I don't think she has ever had a home. The foster mom is giving her back to me and I am going to release her back into the woods in the back of our house. I am going to be moving soon, but I want to continue to feed her up until we move and am trying to find someone in our neighborhood to feed her after we leave (I have not had much luck yet). My question is, do you think she will come around again to be fed after she is release or will she be so scared that she will stay away? I feel so bad for this poor little cat. I am keeping her 9 mo old kitten who I also trapped and she seems much more socialized than the mom. I am hoping that I can eventually get her to the point that she will be ready for adoption.
post #2 of 22
You're probably right, this poor girl never had a home and very little exposure to humans. Did the foster mom give her a place to hide, like a cardboard box? If not, the cat felt very vulnerable when the woman walked into the room because of the lack of hiding place, and in part, that could account for her frantic behavior.

If you've been feeding the cat and she has become accustomed to regular meals over time, you really should not release her unless you have definitely lined up someone to take over for you. She has become dependent on you for food and that can't simply stop. She also needs shelter. If you release her back to her original location, she may hide initially, but will come back to be fed if that's what she was used to doing.
This is why you must find a new caretaker. The only other options would be to take her with you and relocate her to the outdoors at your new house, or try to persuade the foster mom to continue to socialize her. Socialization will obviously take lots of time, effort and great patience, and since she's already planning to give the cat back to you, she doesn't sound like the right person for this. Any chance of finding someone else to foster?

I feel bad for this little cat too. I wish I had better advice for you - situations like this with ferals are tough. Good luck with the kitten, and thank you for caring so much about both of them. Please keep us updated.
post #3 of 22
I second the wish that you wouldn't release her.

Pengy was absolutely horrified at what happened...she got trapped, and stuck into a home. She hated humans - and was abjectly terrified to the point where she'd tremble when I was in the room. At first, Pengy was scratching at the windows, the floors, the carpet...everything around...anything around.

I taped the carpets down, blocked the windows with pillows, and just let her lose her mind for a bit. She finally adopted under the bed, and if I even came in the room, she'd hiss. But eventually, she's adjusted...she's no lap cat, and she may never be a cat who looks kindly on people, but she is healthy, warm, regularly fed and never in need of anything.

I made sure she couldn't hurt herself, and I made sure she had lots of places to hide. Once I found out about feliway, I used that. It helped her emerge from under the bed and expand her territory. She's coming 'round, Pengy style, and that's just fine with me.

It can be done...it just takes a certain sort of person.

post #4 of 22
KTLynn is right - sounds like the poor kitty needs a "cave" to hide in! Is there any chance that the foster mom would reconsider giving the cat up? Maybe with some TCS encouragment and support/info. from other TNRs, she would be able to tame the cat. If not, you probably could relocate the cat with you -my brother did that this summer, & his feral actually became tame enough to pet! (Maybe because my brother was the only remaining familiar thing). As for myself, several times I have had to use the technique that my father used on a wild mustang horse that we adopted - I put the cat alone in its room, but food & water was present only when I was there too. I make sure to talk calmly, in a low, soft tone, and explain to the cat my every move, like a good dentist explains to a young child. After I put the dishes down, I sit nearby for as long as possible, all the time talking to the cat, and keeping my hands busy with blowing bubbles, or pulling a bit of string, or sometimes just reading , aloud to myself,trying to take advantage of the cat's curious nature. I make a point of not directly looking at the cat (I adjust my dressing mirror to do any observation) Considering how cruel humans can be to cats, it is understandable that a feral is so fearful - Lord only knows what their experience with humans has been!! I remind myself of this alot, so I don't mistake the cat's using instinctive survival skills with rejection, or frustration on my part. I have been able to tame several hard cases that way (one was a tom that I got from our kill shelter who would actually charge me - I am sure to wear a jacket or padded flannel shirt & gloves) . I know that this takes lots of time and patience ( just like you would expect for a wild mustang horse, that was chased with a helicopter & trapped )but it is so worth it! Anyway, good luck to the cat, the foster mom & yourself. I'm sending lots of encouragement vibes your way!! Susan
post #5 of 22
Thread Starter 
Thanks everyone,

The foster mom was def. not the person to try to do the taming. I gave her a ton of info on taming feral cats and made sure she understood what she was getting into, but I really don't think she expected it to be that bad. The cat was actually slamming into her sliding doors trying to get outside. There were several pieces of furniture in the room for the cat to hide under, but she was still scared anytime someone entered the room and she just went crazy. The foster mom returned her to me Friday night, and I had to release her. Our home is a wreck right now because we are moving and I have the feral kitten closed up in the only available bedroom, plus I have my own cat who is not real crazy about the kitten and keeps trying to get into the room. The kitten is a doll. She rubs against me and purrs like crazy, but I can't pick her up yet without her making a fuss (she has sharp little claws!!). My main problem with her is that I am the only person she has had contact with, so she is terrified of anyone else, even my husband. One of the local no-kill shelters told me they may be able to take her soon, but I am afraid she will never get adopted out since she is not well socialized. I am also worried about how she will react if I have to move her to our new house. She is already pretty scared. I also have work full-time, so I have limited time to spend with the kitten. I try to give her 1/2 hr in the morning before work and at least an hour at night, but it is hard. I give all of you who have worked with these feral so much credit. You are truly angels. They are such sad, difficult cases to work with. I will try to keep everyone updated. I really hope the mom cat comes back again to be fed. I look for her footprints in the snow all the time, but no luck yet.
post #6 of 22
Levi, I'm sorry you had to release mom cat. The best things you can do for her now are to provide her with a sturdy shelter, and a new caretaker. The shelter is pretty easy -you can buy one, of course, or make a homemade one. You'll find info for that on these sites: www.neighborhoodcats.org/info/wintershelter.htm

Just make sure to put a thick layer of straw inside for bedding.

Try everyone you can think of for taking over feeding/watering duties for the cat. Call all local vet offices - ask them who does cat rescue. Also contact every shelter & animal organization and explain the situation. You can contact Alley Cat Allies, too. They maintain a national network of people who rescue and care for animals called "Feral Friends". Best Friends Animal Society does this as well. Try both and see if someone is located near you.


If possible, offer to continue to provide food for the cat if someone is willing to feed her. If that isn't feasible, at least start the new caretaker off with a generous supply of food.

As for the kitten, IMO her best bet is to stay with you. There are ways to make the move easier on her (and your other cat as well). Many TCS members have experience with moving and introducing their cats to a new house. You'll get great advice on socializing the kitten and they can also help you through introducing the new "kid" to your cat. A new playmate could be wonderful for your cat.

I know you have limited time and may think it's not the ideal situation for the kitten. Most people, though, are pretty much in the same boat. Love and compassion, which you have for this kitten, can make up for less than ideal circumstances.

I hope you'll have good luck finding someone to continue to care for mom cat. Please let us know how it's going.
post #7 of 22
Thread Starter 

Thanks for all the links!! I will def. look into them. My problem now is that the "mama" cat has not come back. I have dry food out for her (its too cold to leave wet out all day), but no luck. Yesterday, there were some paws tracks on my deck, but it could have been the neighbors cats. I am going to canvas the neighborhood tonight and see if I can spot her. I feel so sorry for her. Through no fault of her own, she has become so scared of humans that she can't even be in the same room with them. I also feel I have betrayed her trust by trapping her. Before she was trapped, I fed her every day and she even let me pet her a bit while she was eating. She also gave me headbutts from time to time (although she would hiss as soon as she did it(lol). I want to keep the kitten, but I am also worried about my own cat. I am going to post this as another topic in case anyone has suggestions, but my cat is so upset about this kitten being in the house. He sits in front of the bedroom door that she is in for hours at a time and what worries me the most is that he won't eat. He eats the tablespoon of tuna I give him in the morning, but doesn't touch his usual dry food. I am very concerned for him. I don't think I can introduce the 2 of them any time soon. I don't want to let the kitten out of the bedroom until I am able to pick her up, which is what I am working on now.

Thanks again for the advice.
Levi (actually thats my cats name)
post #8 of 22
Hi Levi - You absolutely did not betray the mom cat's trust by trapping her! Please don't feel that way. You did the best thing possible for her by getting her checked by a vet and spayed - don't doubt that for a second! If you hadn't, you would have doomed her to a life of constant pregnancy and caring for litters of kittens, and in turn, those kittens would have suffered the tragedy of becoming feral too. It's a shame you weren't able to find a good foster mom. You had already made progress by being able to pet this cat and the fact that she gave you headbutts (wow!) show that she had potential if only someone had the patience. It wouldn't have been easy and it would have taken lots of effort.

Try leaving food out for her further away from your house. Go in the directions or areas you've seen her come from, and put a dish of food in each of these locations.
Put a makeshift shelter out there ASAP til you have time to get a sturdier one, especially since it's cold out. Though she's scared, she will likely be near your house since she associates that with food and food is priority one for ferals.

Levi (your cat, that is!) is having a normal reaction to a newcomer. He knows the kitten is there, and being a cat, he's territorial and probably not thrilled about this turn of events. You house is also in an uproar due to moving (I know what that's like!) and that's not helping him feel too secure either. All things considered, it's not surprising his appetite's off. Try tempting him with some really good canned food (which is healthier than being fed strictly dry), and make sure to pay as much attention to him as you can to reassure him he's still "Top Cat". Don't worry too much about not being able to introduce the cats to each other. In a way, the intro has already begun because he can smell her and hear her.

You've got your hands full with moving, caring for Levi, and socializing the kitten. I think you've been doing a good job so far juggling all these things. Now if you can just keep it up...!

Hope the links help. Please give us an update when you can.
post #9 of 22
Actually pretty common- please see this thread to see how Cyclone acted when he first came here- now he is as docile as can be

post #10 of 22
Thread Starter 

That is not exactly true. I didn't do what is best for the cats. I should have released them both together after they were spayed/shots. I knew my cat did not like these two feral from the interaction they had before I trapped them. My cat used to try to attack them through the screen on the window. I just thought he would get used to them. Now I have just created a mess. The mother cat is traumatized after being with the foster mom for a week. She is somewhere out there not getting food or water. Based on Hissy's recommendation, I made an appointment for my cat with the vet tomorrow because of the not eating. If the eating problem is due to the feral kitten, I will have to release her immediately and now she won't have the mother cat to take care of her. She has not been outside for 3 weeks now since I trapped her and I hope she remembers the area. I have just totally messed this up and I feel sickened and so upset as I type this. I have really just added to the miserableness of these poor cats lives.
post #11 of 22
Levi, stop beating yourself up about this. You had her *spayed*, which was a VERY good thing for her, and vaccinated, which is also very good.

All of us that have opted to take care of ferals have had things go right and things go wrong. You do what you can, hope/pray for the best and then go on. You did good.
post #12 of 22
Right, please don't beat yourself up about this. Your intentions were good, and you stopped on kitten machine from adding to the problem that exists out there. Part of the problem when you deal with strays and ferals and other cats, I have found, is a solid door between them seems to add to the problem. If they can see each other, and not get to each other, it seems to go easier. My husband built a quick barrier door out of pvc pipe and chicken wire. It keeps the cats away from each other, but because they can see each other openly, they get all the nonsense out of the way like hissing, posturing, and growling. After awhile they tend to just ignore each other, and when that happens that's when I open it up and let them into the main house.

You did a GOOD thing, and hopefully the food you have tossed to your resident cat and the tuna as well will keep that cat out of harm's way.
post #13 of 22
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the kind words, but I still can't help but feel guilty about the strays and worried about my own cat. I did a search on the net and came up with a few ideas of things to try to feed my cat (like canned pumpkin, kitty kaviar etc.) to get him to increase his food intake. I'm not sure what I could put up to separate the cats where they could still see each other, but not interact. My husband is out of town right now, so I can't have his help to construct something plus most of our tools, etc. are boxed in anticipation of moving next week. What if I just opened the door a crack so they could see each other a bit and satisfy the curiosity (probably won't work, right?). When the ferals were living outside, my cat was able to see them and would try to attack them through the screen door. I should have taken the hint then that my cat would not look too kindly upon having them inside the house. I will do my best until after the vet appt tomorrow. I am going on an all out hunt for "mama" cat tonight to see if I can find her. I would feel so much better if I have to release the kitten knowing that her mom was looking after her.

Thanks again, Mary
post #14 of 22
When we brought a third cat into our home late last summer, we kept her in a spare bedroom with the door shut. After we thought she was comfortable, we put an old sliding screendoor up against the door frame and braced it with 2 piles of heavy books. That way, the cats could interact but not physically get at each other.

When the ferals were living outside, my cat was able to see them and would try to attack them through the screen door.
Mine do the same thing. Yet, when the indoor cats have come out on the deck and one of the ferals shows up, they don't exhibit the same behaviour. I don't give them the chance to knock heads, either; I usually shoo mine back in the house. Yours may behave differently, of course.

If you have not tried a Feliway diffuser, I would recommend that as well. It keeps our new girl kitty more on the mellow side, it might help your kitty feel less stressed as well.
post #15 of 22
Thread Starter 

We do have a screen door on for the sliding glass doors on our deck. I could try to get that off and move it inside. Once in a while I take my indoor cat out on a leash (he loves it). One day, this feral kitten happened to be on our deck as we rounded the corner and my cat went after her. Of course, since he was restrained by the leash Levi couldn't get a paw on her. That should have told me that things would not work out, but I had no idea having the feral inside would stress Levi out so much. I do have to take into account that having the furniture disappear before his eyes (we are donating alot to goodwill and disassembling the rest before we move) is bound to add to the stress. This is just a bad situation and now I am very stressed. The ironic thing is that the feral kitten is the most relaxed person/animal in this situation. She is perfectly content to be in her little room and have food and warmth. I am going to feel awful if I have to release her. I pray everything works out, but right now its hard to be optomistic.

post #16 of 22
Mary, like Marion already said, those of us who take care of ferals have had things go wrong despite our best efforts.

I do think mom cat will be ok and will find the food you're putting out. She was only indoors for a week - she will remember her territory, and she will remember where her food source is. No matter what else you may feel about how this situation is turning out, spaying her was the right thing to do. Be glad she won't bring more kittens into the world, and her life will be easier because of that.

As for the kitten, try to make releasing her the last resort. If you don't think you'll be able to socialize her and make her part of your family, contact the no-kill shelter you mentioned in an earlier post - ask if they can still take her. Be honest with them about her socialization needs and see if they have someone to work with her. This may be a long shot too, but what about the woman who had fostered her mom? The kitten is much farther along socially - maybe she would be up to the task since the kitten is friendlier. Where did you find this foster mom, BTW? Was she part of an organization that may have other people fostering who could take the kitten instead?
Another option is to start calling shelters in the area where your new home is located.
It's possible they have more organizations or rescue groups that might be able to help with the kitten than are available where you live now.

You'll still need to find a new caretaker for the mom cat, and the kitten, if you've no other alternative than to release her. I'm assuming the kitten was spayed, too. Call every vet and organization you can think of to see if anyone is willing to work with her before you release her outside. If you do let her out, make sure there's shelter for her.

Mary, if you decide not to keep the kitten, I know you'll do everything you can to get her placed. If that doesn't work out and you have to release her, please try not to be so hard on yourself. You don't have a crystal ball; you had no way of knowing that the foster mom was not up to the task, or that the mom cat would be quite so terrified. It's lousy when our best intentions don't work out but I give you lots of credit for trying. Just do the best you can with the situation as it is now since the time is limited before you need to move.
post #17 of 22
Thread Starter 

I am going to call the no-kill shelter this afternoon when they open. They are open wed-sun and they told me if they adopted out a cat over the weekend they may be able to take my kitten. I hate so much to give her up. She is so sweet and loves to be indoors. She cries when I even open the window to let some air in the room and she outright refuses to look out the window. I will have to be honest with the shelter about her need for socialization, and I don't know how that will effect whether they will take her or not. The foster mom was my secretary at work, she has no formal training with cats so I really can't blame her. I doubt if she will take the baby after her experience with the mom. I have exhausted all resources I can trying to find the kitten a home. I contacted all homeless cat organizations I could find, but they already have their hands full. I will ask my vet today when I take Levi in for his eating problem. We are only moving about 10 miles from our current home, so no additional resources will be available to us. I have asked neighbors if they would care for the cats, but most of them work/have children and don't want the responsibility although one neighbor said she would feed them if she saw them around. My house cat is no better. He will eat some if I feed him people food or if I hand feed him his dry food, but not nearly enough. One potential bright spot is that when I got home from work yesterday the dry cat food I had left at the edge of our deck was eaten. I can't guarantee it was the mama cat, but it could have been. I refilled the bowl yesterday evening, but as of this morning it was untouched. Actually, the mom cat was held for 2 weeks, 1 week in my garage until the foster mom was ready to take her and then 1 week at the foster moms. I am just so emotionally exhausted by this whole experience, I don't know how you guys do it. I am glad that both the mom and the kitten are spayed and have shots, but I really wonder if I have made their lives any better especially if I have to release the kitten. Thanks so much for all your help and kind words. They really do make me feel better. I will just have to see what the vet finds out tonight.

post #18 of 22
Mary, just a few other options for you to consider...

Put 2 "SOS" messages on petfinder.com. One, for someone to feed the mom cat, another for fostering the kitten.

Make sure to contact the two links I gave you for Best Friends Animal Society and Alley Cat Allies to see if anyone in their national network of rescuers lives near you.

Call back all the animal organizations and ask if they have someone in your area who is feeding ferals who'd be willing to add the mom cat to their schedule. Since you're only 10 miles away, offer to provide food on an ongoing basis, maybe dropping it off once per month for the new feeder.

Consider relocation of the mom cat and her kitten to your new home. Relocation isn't simple, but if you can't find someone to take over the care of mom cat, and possibly the kitten too, you should think about it. Other members have had a similar predicament when they need to move and can't find someone to take over the caregiving for them.

Since you're only moving 10 miles away, though not convenient, it would still be possible for you to try to re-trap the mom and move her to your new house (if you've got your own backyard and aren't moving to a condo). If you are willing to relocate her, there are steps you'll need to follow to help make it successful. An information sheet on this is available from Alley Cat Allies. You could also build an outdoor enclosure for mom cat and kitten - some TCS members have done that as well (I will probably be building one this spring). To get an idea of what I'm talking about, take a look at www.just4cats.com Go to pictures of completed projects - there is one by Kathie, a person who built it for her ferals. I've corresponded with her and her cats are doing great.

The other option for the kitten, whom you're obviously already attached to (hard not to be!), is to try to continue to make the kitten part of your family. Only rarely do introductions go smoothly, and Levi's reactions so far are pretty typical. I'm glad you're taking him to the vet - I'd be concerned about the lack of appetite too. How old is he? Has he always been an "only" cat?

And yes, you have made the mom cat and kitten's lives better by having them spayed, no matter how else this turns out. You've also prevented the births of countless kittens who would have been unwanted and forced to live short, very difficult lives trying to survive.
post #19 of 22
Thread Starter 

I will put the messages on petfinder.org. Actually, we are moving to a townhome so relocation of the cats isn't really practical since we have no yard and it is on a busy street. As far as the kitten goes, alot depends on what happens at the vet tonight. If Levi is ok, I will keep the kitten (whom I have become really attached to). Levi is almost 7 years old and yes, he has always been an only cat. He is also very jealous of any attention I give to anyone else including my husband.

Thanks for your help, Mary
post #20 of 22
If you can get two babygates and put them up in the doorway verticle instead of horizontal then the cats can look at each other and the problem might just go away. It is not knowing what is behind that closed door, not being able to smell each other nose to nose, that causes the problems.

I really wouldn't release this kitten out-of-doors, for even if she does meet up with her mom, mom will run her off quickly because she now has alien scents on her. If I was closer I would take her, but turning her out in the cold is not the answer. Here it would never even be an issue because except for rain, and sometimes an uncommon cold front, the weather is quite hospitable.
post #21 of 22
In light of what Hissy said (who happens to know a heck of a lot more about ferals than I do) and the more I think about this situation, I believe you should keep the kitten. She has too many obstacles against her if you release her. The mom cat will likely not care for her, and as Hissy said, may run her off, making her situation even worse. The kitten has no shelter outside that she's accustomed to using. And when you move next week, she'll no longer have food. Re-reading your comments about how comfortable the kitten is being indoors now, and how happy and content she is... It doesn't seem right putting her back outside in the middle of winter. Mary, I know you are agonizing over this. But do you really think YOU'LL be ok once you move knowing that the kitten is alone outside with no food?

The timing is bad because of all the stress you have with the move. But I think you (and Levi) should try to make the kitten a new family member. Lots of us have done this too, and can help you. You care very much about this kitten and thanks to you, she has already made progress. No one can predict how the relationship between the cats will turn out. Rarely do cats react so badly to each other that a new home must be found for one. More likely, at "worst", she and Levi will just tolerate each other. At best, they will become good friends who will keep each other company.
post #22 of 22
Thread Starter 
KT & Hissy,

It was too late by the time I read your postings, but I don't think I had a choice. Levi had thrown up again while I was at work. When I got home and took Levi to the vet, he was seriously dehydrated and the vet had to administer subcutaneous fluids. He did bloodwork, which I will get the results back tomorrow and will decide on a course of treatment for Levi. He suggested cortisone (I think?) to stimulate the appetite again or as he put it "things could get nasty if he doesn't start eating again." He suggested I eliminate the stressor asap by rehoming the kitten, but I had no place to take her. I am just sick over this, I had to make a choice between the kitten and a cat I have had for over 6 years. I really don't think the baby gates would have made much difference. This kitten literally lived on our deck for months before I trapped her and took her in. She and Levi had sniffed each other and had contact through the screen doors and windows for months. Levi would always try to attack the kitten and his mom through the screen. I don't know why I thought things would change when I brought the kitten in the house, but I never imagined it would make Levi sick. I PM'd you KT, but I just don't think I can talk about how difficult releasing the kitten was. It was one of the worst things I have ever had to do, but however I feel, those two poor cats must feel so much worse. This story has no happy ending, only sadness and regret on my part. I do thank all of you so much for your help and patience. I hope the vet can help me get Levi to start eating again. I have tried everything and every food I could possibly think of, but no luck yet.

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