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post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
Good day everyone. I have a group of feral cats who actually live in one of my sheds on my property. One of the group will come to me. They are fed twice a day with wet food and dry food and have a heated water bowl. Our temperatures have been dipping down below 0 degrees and I have noticed that a few seem to have colds with runny noses and their food is not disappearing like usual. My husband and I are very attached to these feral cats. Even though they are not our pets, they are on our property and we have been caring for them since they appeared. Should I be concerned, should I try and trap and get medicated somehow, should I try to medicate their food? or should I just have faith and hope? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thank you. Tracy
post #2 of 13
Tracy..great questions....I would keep checking back as I'm not sure if Hissy or KTLynn are on right now.

A bit unrelated...but are all these ferals spayed/neutered? If not, this would be the time to get them to the vet and at the same time they are getting spayed/neutered, the vet could check them out to see if they have an URI.

post #3 of 13
Maybe you could get a referral for a local veterinarian who works with ferals. Working with the ferals can take lots of creativity & flexibility! I just hope that it's simple colds & nothing more serious (I'm assuming that the cats aren't vaccinated) .Thank goodness the cats have you in their corner!
post #4 of 13
I feed a colony of feral cats on the edge of our town at an old grain mill. One of the cats there--who has NOT been able to get caught had a terrible bout of sneezing and coughing. I was desperate to do something. I knew it really did like canned catfood. So, I got an antibiotic liquid from the Vets and added it into that one can of food, and left it where, I KNEW it always would be looking for food. It DID eat the food, even with the antibiotic added!! It DID get better too!!! We are always trying to capture kitties up there and we get them spayed or neutered and give them shots etc. Then, if they are not TOO feral, they work with them to get them ready to be adoped out. If they are too feral, they are eventually re-released at the grainmill. I have made a whole lot of box shelters to put up there in a covered in area that stays quite dry. I was up there tonight, and it looks like a "Kitty Dormitory" right now!!! But, for SURE, I know they are warmer, and are fed well and I give them warm water and food almost every single day! So, my kitties love me (I am their "Food Lady") and I love my kitties!!
post #5 of 13
Thread Starter 
Hi Katie. They have been neutered and spayed, received dystemper and rabies shots. However, I've never fed them tuna. I think I am going to experiment along the lines of "Missy&SpikesMom" suggested - place medicine in food that the kitties will eat. The problem with that is right now they aren't really eating their wet food and are eating a little of the dry food. I do heat their food and as I stated before they have a heated water bowl. They have a dog house that has straw on the floor and they have my whole shed which has straw too - we cleared it out so that they could have a good shelter! I will also keep checking back as you have suggested. Thank you. Tracy
post #6 of 13
Hi Tracy - First, thank you for taking such good care of these cats - I wish all feral kitties were this lucky! You have a great set-up for keeping them warm. A suggestion for keeping them even warmer would be to use Snugglesafe Micro Discs - they're heated in the microwave, and slipped under the straw bedding. Depending on outside temps, they give off heat for 5-12 hours. How many cats are you caring for? Are they related and do you know their ages?

If your vet will give you meds (and not all will unless they actually examine the cat - obviously not practical with ferals), you can certainly try putting the medicine in the food. The tricky part is A) getting the cats to eat the food with the meds, and B) getting the medicine only into the cats who need it. If they are accustomed to eating from separate dishes that will make things easier, of course. Using something like a little tuna to help motivate them to eat can be helpful too. If you have the pill form of the food, try putting it whole into a little "meatball" of canned food, and dribble a little water from a can of tuna on it. If the cats don't eat it in this form, ask the vet if it's ok to crush the tablets in case you need to try adding it to the food that way instead.

If they haven't been eating much canned food (which actually is better for them, especially this time of year), try giving them a very small amount of the canned with the med in it and sprinkled with pieces of the dry food they like pressed into the wet food.

If you've been free-feeding dry food, don't do that while you're trying to medicate.
Treating colds is tough, because to get the meds into the cats you've got to get them to eat, which they don't really want to do if they're congested to the point where they can't smell their food. If food is left down constantly, they'll be even less motivated to eat.

I've found that in general, feral cats are a tough bunch. They often heal from small wounds and get better from common illnesses on their own. This is especially true when they are being well cared for, as they are in your case. That is not to say that their medical problems don't warrant attention - they certainly do. If you find that the symptoms are worsening, and you can't get meds into the cats, you'll have to trap them and get them in to the vet.

Thanks again for taking great care of these little guys - it's nice to see another feral mom from Jersey!
post #7 of 13
My ferals take their medicine readily enough when I put it inside that spray cheese stuff? You can buy the stuff at the grocery store near the crackers, and cats love it. You can put pills inside of it and just toss them the cheese balls. Works for me-
post #8 of 13
Thread Starter 
Hi KTLynn! Thanks for the information. Do you know where I can get the Snugglesafe Micro Discs? I am definately interested in getting that. My shed and a huge doggie house near it has straw on the floors for them.

I will definately try the suggestions regarding meds in the food. Because I live in an area that has many animals, I don't free feed. Hence, the twice a day feeding. I used to free feed and I had all kinds of animals eating cat food - possums, racoons, deer, even wild turkey! I don't mind feeding animals in general, but I started to become concerned about diseases, mostly rabies and decided it was safest to feed on a schedule. My ferals do know their feeding schedule and will usually wait at my door for me. However, with the very cold temps, they haven't been coming out of the shed, so I have been bringing food to the shed instead of feeding in their normal spot. I only have 3 kitties left of my colony: Male adult kitty and 2 babies-1female, 1 male, I believe from his littering - these babies are now 1-1/2 years old and I really don't know how old the male adult is. The babies' mother used to be fed by me and one other baby of hers - these two have disappeared approximately 6 months ago. I also feed the feral mother to 5 babies I socialized, but I haven't seen her in awhile. She does appear, disappear, appear - so this may be a normal disappearance. I also have several kitties that are not of the feral group that do come by and eat! - about 3-5 adults, 1 is friendly and acceptable to human touch, the others are not. All of these cats let me enter their feeding area, feed and then leave, without scattering off. They will not let my husband enter their feeding area and will scatter off if he tries (he tries because he loves them so and thinks they will react the same as our indoor babies - snuggly).

Thank you so much and any other suggestions are definately welcomed -this is the first time in my life that I have a feral group that is reliant upon me.
post #9 of 13
Thread Starter 
Hi Hissy! Thank you for your suggestion. I will definately add it to my list of tries. Do I crush the pill up or leave it whole? (I am assuming that my vet will administer meds to me - she knows me very well and no longer requires to see my cats when I describe their problems - colds, worms, simple stuff - also, I am one of her foster people).

post #10 of 13
I just leave it whole, and toss it to them. They generally gulp it right down. You can also use braunswager (the liver sausage in the deli section?) Cat's generally love it, and the smell overpowers the medicine smell
post #11 of 13
Tracy, you can get the SnuggleSafe Microdiscs from www.drsfostersmith.com. I've been using them for several weeks now, and the cats have been fine with them. I was afraid that they might not use their shelters with an "unknown object" slipped under the straw, but there's been no problem. It's a great thing to be able to bring warmth to them now with these super-low temps.

Though it's very helpful that you've got a shed for the cats, it's a good idea to put small shelters for the cats inside it. The smaller the shelter, the less the warmth from the cats dissipates. Having small shelters within the shed to curl up in will keep the cats very toasty, especially if you use the SnuggleSafe discs. You can make shelters from styrofoam coolers, or even cardboard boxes. Small, wooden doghouses are ok too. For ideas on homemade ones look at www.neighborhoodcats.org/info/wintershelter.htm
Make sure you put a thick layer of straw inside each shelter, too.

It's sad that some of your ferals disappeared. This happened to two of my females. It's three years later and I still miss them and wonder what happened. Were your two mom cats and kitten already spayed/neutered when they disappeared?

It sounds like your original colony is growing with the other cats who are now showing up for meals. What's their S/N status? You don't want a feline overpopulation explosion in your backyard, so now's the time to trap any kitties still in need of neutering! Your original cats must be very easy-going to tolerate these "visiting" cats!

You mentioned socializing 5 kittens - how did that work out? Were they all adopted or did you keep any?

You're doing a great job for someone who's new to caring for a feral colony! Your hubby sounds like a sweet guy to keep trying to get the cats to warm up to him! If it'll make him feel any better, tell him most ferals react this way to men. Ferals usually respond better to women's voices, so tell him to try talking to the cats in a softer, higher voice next time - it probably won't make a difference, but at least you'll get a good laugh out of it!

Let us know how it's going - hopefully, the cats will soon be over their colds.
post #12 of 13
Thread Starter 
Hi KTLynn. It is sad that 2 of my ferals disappeared. I try not to think about it though because I do miss them so.

As far as the 5 socializing kittens, we kept 2 and adopted out 3. My husband was out of work at the time, so he would sit outside with a small cage and a string attached to the door (mostly because the cats wouldn't go in the traps!). The minute one went in the cage, he pulled the door shut. My husband made what we call the cage door. It's a frame the size of a regular door with mesh wire attached. The kittens would first be closed off in our bathroom until they were given distemper shots, rabies, neutered/spayed and tested for FeLV and FIV. My husband and I would sit in the bathroom for hours on end just talking until the kittens started to accept us. After a little while we would attached the "cage door" so that they would get used to all the other cats in our household and all the other noises and smells. We originally were slated to adopt all of them out. The last one was Poly, to be adopted out by a local police officer. I asked him to start coming over for visitations and to bring worn clothing so that Poly would get used to his sent. After a month of tracking the officer down, I told he couldn't have her because he didn't take the time for her. She became our first owned out of the group. Shortly thereafter we caught Sammy who was probably about 10-12 weeks old. He has never fully socialized and is only accepting of us, when he wants to be. We never adopted him out because of that. Sammy lives in our house on his rules! I don't think we did too bad considering we never owned cats or socialized prior. We did rescue an older kitty who ended up being FeLV, she lives in a separate part of our house. When I took her to get spayed the clinic advised that she was FeLV positive and that I either had to euthanize her or keep her indoors. She is non-symptomatic and is sooo wonderful! She's my little pork ball!

As far as my husband, he's a big burly mushball who thinks that all 10 of our indoors are his babies (not mine!)

I did go out and check on Himhim who wasn't eating - I put a bowl of fish in aspic (the really gross stuff) right next to him. I think he ate it. When I was checking on him, he was curled up with his sister on a box sleeping. Still he sounds bad, but I won't be able to do anything till I reach out to my vet tomorrow.

Thanks for your continued help. Tracy
post #13 of 13
I'd try to medicate them, talk to your vet. If you can try to heat the shed if you havn't already. If you can get in there, try to put heaed pads for them to sleep on. Good luck!!
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