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Introducing feral into multicat household

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
This is my first post here - I just found this forum today. I know the usual forum etiquette is to lurk awhile before posting but I need advice.

We live in a townhouse with four cats, three of them elderly. In fact, one of them is dying of "human" leukemia (NOT FeLV - he tested negative).

Yesterday we saw a cat in the window two doors down, in a vacant townhouse. It was a stray we have seen around the neighborhood. We think she must have slipped in while the maintenance man was there. Fortunately we were able to open a window and our first thought was to let her out, but with it being so cold (we're in Ohio) we decided to leave her in there but have been taking food and water to her. She is friendly and affectionate. Now here is the dilemma. My husband wants to keep her, although I'm not sure it's wise. What steps should we take - take her to the vet first for shots and appropriate testing, and wait for the results before bringing her in? And how long will that take? We are not sure how long she will be able to be kept in the vacant apartment before management finds her and lets her out.

The other issue is our dying cat. Will this be too upsetting for him? He is very lethargic but still eating and drinking, and doesn't appear to be in pain so we don't feel the time is here yet to euthanize him. He tends to spend his time in his favorite hiding places, and the other cats don't bother him.

Please advise!
post #2 of 8
As far as I know, there is no concrete proof that cats can catch human leukemia- but regardless, if you have a sick cat in your home, it is not a good idea to bring in another stray cat for several reasons.

If you cat has a variation of FeLv this means his immune system is down and the stray may be infected with something that adversely affects your sick cat, or your other cats

Adding another cat when one cat is so ill causes stress to all the cats in the home and you could have a big vet bill on your hand

Adding another cat right when one is on its last legs, sends the message to the resident cats that this cat is a predator and their friend when he dies, is replaced by another cat that must have done him in-

So I would keep the stray outside, give it as much warm shelter and hot food and water that you can and leave it at that.
post #3 of 8
I agree with Hissy.

I would certainly take this stray to the vet to check if she has been spayed (and if she hasn't I would have her spayed..make sure the vet is aware you will be returning her outdoors so they can use the stitching that doesn't need to be removed).

post #4 of 8
Thread Starter 
Is it cruel to leave it outside in the cold? After all, there are quite a few strays around here. What do they do when it gets really cold? I am hesitant to adopt her but my husband doesn't want her out in the cold... He doesn't want to take her to the shelter because he's afraid she will be euthanized.
post #5 of 8
The way to keep the ferals warm in the winter is with straw in a waterproof box. You can use a regular cardboard box and wrap it in a tarp (use duct tape) to weatherproof it. Stuff it with straw for warmth. Provide the cat food, (warmed is good) I feed chicken broth in the winter to help the cats ward off the cold. Make your own just boil a chicken in water and no spices, shred the meat and keep the broth on hand to feed the cats. Also provide fresh water making sure it doesn't ice over.
post #6 of 8
Thread Starter 
Getting back to the response re: "human" leukemia - I guess that was my own term. When the cat was diagnosed with leukemia it is acute leukemia, his white blood cell count was over 700,000. Next the vet did a test for the FeLv and it was negative. So what the vet said was that this was not the leukemia caused by a virus but the "garden variety" non-contagious leukemia such as humans would get.
post #7 of 8
Did the vet rule out FIV? Just curious-
post #8 of 8
Thread Starter 
Yes, the vet did an FIV test as well and that was negative.
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