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need advice on emotional distance

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
i have just started caring for the feral cats in our area... next week we are going to start TNR here... i suspect we will get about 3 different cats. I'm just worried i'll get too attatched to them... especially to one of the grey and white ones that is quite friendly, he'll cme up to me and head butt me etc... he also has a gash about half an inch long on his back foot. it's in a spot that he can lick but it looks quite deep. it doesn't look infected but it looks deep. he is not limping

what should i do?
post #2 of 15
Generally during TNR, the cats are checked for other problems like wounds, which can then be treated. If it's bad, they may advise you to keep him for a week or so in order to give him antibiotics. It sounds as though this guy is quite trusting, that shouldn't be a problem.

As for emotional distance, you simply have to steel yourself to the idea that you won't be able to save them all. Things are going to happen (illness, injury). Unless you are independently wealthy and have the means to take them all in, TNR'ing will be the single best thing you can do to help them out.

That being said, it IS hard when they go off and don't come back (or take their sweet time about it). At least it is for me. I've grown attached to the 3 little fur monsters that live in my yard, even if they only see me as the "food lady". Do what you can, when you can. It's more than many bother with. I'm making a hash out of this last bit but let us know if you need moral support. You have a lot of company here
post #3 of 15
This sounds callous, but I'm going to say it anyway, and ask you to repeat it to yourself as often as you need to:

"These cats do not exist to fulfill my emotional needs. REPEAT: These cats do not exist to fulfill my emotional needs."

If you look at things in terms of what is truly in their best interests - and this means what will make them happy, not just what will make them safer - you will be able to serve them best. It's okay to bond with feral cats. And it's okay for them to bond with you. But you need to respect them as they are - wild creatures who were born free and are only happy when they are living free. Sterilize them, vaccinate them, feed them, give them medical care when they need it, but respect their natures and do not try to "own" them.

Above all, do not put off helping these cats for fear that you will become attached. Again - they do not exist to fulfill your emotional needs. So, as they say, "suck it up", get support from friends if possible, and get started. If the cats need help, they need help. It may be hard to let them go free again, even when you know it is what is really best for them, but it would be infinitely worse for you to know that a cat you cared about died from a treatable condition simply because you put off seeking treatment for him.

Here's a good link for you: http://www.wildaboutcats.com/tnr.htm
post #4 of 15
Trapping-neutering and releasing is indeed a way to help these cats. What happens sometimes is one or two makes an impression on the one rescuing him or helping him and that can mean the cat has a home now. Not all ferals are wild and uncontrollable beings. They revert to their feral ways because it is a way of surviving out in the world. The longer they have been out in the world, the more they revert to their natural tendencies and instincts. If this boy was pre-owned by someone and got tossed outside for spraying, or scratching, or just ran away and got lost, he will exhibit his i tendencies of being a house cat that may have just gone dormant.

You cannot save them all. Trust me, last year I tried and I had 23 at one time. I learned the hard way that you do what you can, and you don't over-do, otherwise you go from rescuer to collector in nothing flat- and the ones that pay the price, are the cats.
post #5 of 15
Remember that you are trying to help in a very narrow but important area -- to control the cat population. It is not just the immediate impact of which specific cat lives or dies but rather what your area will look like in 5-10 years. Will the number of euthanised cats be higher or lower?

You can't save the world but you are human and every now and then a particular case with tug at your heart strings. That is normal...but unless you are specifically looking for a "hard luck case" as your pet (*), adopting a healthy house cat that is currently being fostered would be the best way to give a cat a "second chance" and find a companion at the same time.

(*) My first pet was an injuried wild rabbit that had essentially been left for dead. 99%+ of kids would've preferred a cute white bunny from the pet store, so obviously you can tell I have a very different thought process when it comes to pet ownership. Not that one is better than the other, but just that you could expect me to prefer rescued "survivor" cats.
post #6 of 15
[quote=Nano]...but unless you are specifically looking for a "hard luck case" as your pet (*), adopting a healthy house cat that is currently being fostered would be the best way to give a cat a "second chance" and find a companion at the same time.

QUOTE]

I would say that adopting a friendly homeless cat is an even better way to help. Feral cats are wild and perfectly happy to stay that way. Tame cats, in contrast, are not safe outside and have nowhere else to go if they are not adopted - and so they frequently end up killed in shelters. These are the cats who really need you to adopt them. If you called your local rescue group and asked them, you'd probably be shocked to find out how long many of their perfectly friendly cats have been in foster care. These are the animals who are quite literally dying for safe indoor homes.
post #7 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by vegansoprano
I would say that adopting a friendly homeless cat is an even better way to help. Feral cats are wild and perfectly happy to stay that way. Tame cats, in contrast, are not safe outside and have nowhere else to go if they are not adopted - and so they frequently end up killed in shelters. These are the cats who really need you to adopt them. If you called your local rescue group and asked them, you'd probably be shocked to find out how long many of their perfectly friendly cats have been in foster care. These are the animals who are quite literally dying for safe indoor homes.
I do not believe we can hold such a strict line as to say "never" bring a feral indoors...plus we must remember that new members may not know whether they are dealing with a feral or a stray...or/and to which extent the cat is feral.

Katie
post #8 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by TNR1
I do not believe we can hold such a strict line as to say "never" bring a feral indoors...plus we must remember that new members may not know whether they are dealing with a feral or a stray...or/and to which extent the cat is feral.

Katie
Of course you can't say "never" - there are exceptions to every rule. But there's a reason why the rules are there. Truly feral cats - those who have lived outdoors and/or without substantial human contact for their entire lives - are wild animals and are best served by being respected as such. Stray cats, who were once pets, are domesticated animals, and they are best served by being treated as such.

It's always important to listen to what the cat says, and not to project our emotions and needs onto the cat. A cat who looks scared when he's indoors *is* scared, and that needs to be respected. A cat who jumps in any stranger's lap absolutely does not belong outdoors, and that needs to be respected too.
post #9 of 15
Good lord are you always this inflexible? Is it because you have two young kittens at home that you can't touch so you assume that any feral cat or stray is not worth the time to try? I have had so many cats that have hid under the bed, in rafters, under the dining room table, run laps over my head on the ceilings, shredded wallpaper, sprayed my home, and I have never given up on any of them because they are feral or strays. Not to mention the countless people i have helped via emails and PM's with older ferals or kittens who now have wonderful and loving companions as cats in their lives.


Perhaps you should look at it that you are one of the many people out there who do not understand feral cat behavior and therefore you should be the one who needs to adopt homeless friendly cats from shelters instead of spreading your own version of feral cat handling on public forums.
post #10 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by hissy
Good lord are you always this inflexible? Is it because you have two young kittens at home that you can't touch so you assume that any feral cat or stray is not worth the time to try? I have had so many cats that have hid under the bed, in rafters, under the dining room table, run laps over my head on the ceilings, shredded wallpaper, sprayed my home, and I have never given up on any of them because they are feral or strays. Not to mention the countless people i have helped via emails and PM's with older ferals or kittens who now have wonderful and loving companions as cats in their lives.


Perhaps you should look at it that you are one of the many people out there who do not understand feral cat behavior and therefore you should be the one who needs to adopt homeless friendly cats from shelters instead of spreading your own version of feral cat handling on public forums.
Not quite. I have saved literally thousands of lives by focusing on spay/neuter first and foremost. Thousands of births have been prevented. Hundreds of friendly cats and young kittens have been placed in homes. All this because I looked at the problem and saw what the solution really was.

In this city, there are 5-10 feral cats in virtually every alley. The city shelter and the humane society that holds the animal control contract collectively kill approximately 10,000 cats every single year. And at this very moment, kittens are being born in unmentionable places all around this city. About half of these kittens will not survive their first three months of life.

I can't alter the laws of time and space, as much as I would love to have 36 hours in a day and 9 days in a week. So I'm stuck with doing what I can with what I have. And I would be utterly foolish to spend my time trying to socialize a handful of adult feral cats who were just fine where they were, when there are literally hundreds of cats dying right here in this city every day.

And I am not unique here. One must choose where one's time is spent. To choose to spend hours socializing adult ferals is necessarily to choose to ignore or delay helping the other feral cats who are living just a short distance from you. While you are attempting to acclimate a feral cat to indoor life, kittens are being born and tomcats are infecting each other with FIV through fighting and other toms are getting hit by cars as they wander off in search of mates. One neighbor decides he's sick of smelly tomcat urine and litters of kittens under his porch, so he puts out some antifreeze to take care of his problem. Another neighbor notices a dead cat and calls Animal Control, who promptly trap a few more cats who are then killed at the city shelter. One of the cats who was killed was a lactating mother, and her litter of kittens dies of exposure and starvation.

All of these deaths could have been prevented if the cats in this colony had been spayed and neutered. But until compassionate people recognize that this is the only way to save feline lives, this cycle will repeat itself in colony after colony, year after year.

You can do whatever you want with your cats. I am not going to stop you, nor do I particularly care what you do in your spare time. But please don't think that a handful of cats a year is doing anything to solve the problem. The same time and energy could be used to save hundreds of animals and thereby make a real difference.

The other problem with trying to tame every feral is the concept that somehow there is something wrong with being feral. This is just simply not true. Their natures are not broken and in need of fixing. Their natures are what they are and they demand our respect. To respect the cats is to respect the bond they have with their home territory and the other cats there, to respect their inherent fear of humans and of confinement, to respect their wild nature. If we attempt to break the spirit of these magnificent wild creatures because it fits our definition of what is best for them, it is we who do not understand them and not the other way around.

So in short answer to your question, it is absolutely not worth my time to try to tame an individual adult feral who has an established home to go back to. But the reason has nothing to do with whether or not that cat is worth saving. He is, and so I will neuter him and vaccinate him and make sure he has an adequate food supply. The reason is that the feral cat crisis extends way beyond that one cat. Where he came from, there are a dozen more. In the adjacent alley are another 10. And so on, and so on, and so on. Every last one of those lives is equally worthy of my respect. And so I respect them. If they are wild, they are sterilized and returned. If they are friendly or very young, they are placed for adoption. And so the cycle continues, week after week, hundreds of cats per year. And so their lives are changed for the better.

http://www.alleycat.org/pdf/TNRnotTNA.pdf
post #11 of 15
vegansoprano..not everyone is up to the challenge or even has the desire to conquer the feral cat overpopulation in the same manner as you. The fact that some people find a stray/feral cat and want to trap, neuter and socialize it does no one harm in my estimation. There are individuals here who (like Hissy) have had success with socializing (corrected..thanks Hissy) adult feral cats. As long as these cats are also neutered/spayed..I think it is commendable. Again...it wasn't long ago that ferals were either left to breed or trapped and killed..the fact that people care now that they come to a message board and ask questions really shows how TNR has come a long way. However, it also means we must be able to put personal agendas aside and look at all the options available..including socialization.

I will now step off the soap box.

Katie
post #12 of 15
Actually I don't tame them, I socialize them. Big difference in my world.

We are a cat welfare board, not an activist's board. Many of our members joined here not knowing anything about feral cats or strays and because of the difference we made in their lives, they now enjoy the companionship of strays and ferals in their home and are involved in TNR of others.
post #13 of 15
There are many ways that people help homeless cats, depending on the circumstances. Some people team with an existing organization and save "thousands". Some work with the cats in their immediate vicinity, many times doing TNR before they even know TNR exists, perhaps saving "hundreds". Some work to educate others because their time or means do not allow much else - who knows how many are saved by education, perhaps "hundreds" perhaps "thousands". And some help a small number of cats who are in their immediate vicinity, perhaps one or two, who they care for as individuals and not just statistics.

Not all cats who act feral are feral. Take Adelaide for example. I'll fill in the details since you're new here and don't know... Beth was caring for a "feral" in her yard. By all indications, Addie was feral. With compassion and encouragement and a lot of patience, Beth brought her inside, worked with her, and Addie slowly...very slowly came out of her shell. But when Beth brought her to the vet to be spayed...she already was spayed. Addie had been someone's pet at some point in her life. She wasn't a "true" feral, but there was no way of knowing that until Beth brought her in and tried. Had she listened to you, Addie would still be on the street instead of loving being a housecat again.

No need to tell me how Addie could have been saved with an active TNR program. I'm just trying to say that there are more than one way to help homeless cats....and sometimes that is one single individual cat at a time.
post #14 of 15
I am not an animal rights activist. I am just a pet owner and over the course of my life I have always adopted "second chance" animals. The strays, the physically limited, the aging, etc.

As it related to the original poster's question, I was trying to sympathize that if I were doing a lot of TNR work, I'm sure I'd stumble across a "special" cat that I would want to adopt into my own home as a companion. But I was trying to explain to zazi that TNR is about managing an entire colony, not what is best for a specific cat or concerns about a certain cat's health.

So when you do TNR work, you pretty much have to shut out your instincts of how you treat your cats at home and focus on what is best for all homeless cats in that area -- even if means the cutest or friendliest cat of the bunch has to be put to sleep.
post #15 of 15
Thread Starter 
hey sorry i didn't reply earlier... i forgot to select the email notification option... so i had no idea that this thread had gotten so heated...

anyway... i'll just take it as it comes

luckily i do have the time and the resources to try and socialize the ferals and .... you know i think that there needs to be a third term.... something that refers to those cats who have always lived outside BUT are relatively human friendly ... so far those are the types of cats that i have encountered except for ONE who is now upstairs in the guest room waiting to be fostered out.

now i also managed to really socialize one of these inbetween cats and had her spayed and rehomed.... i hope to do that with the cats here also... there are only 3... there were 4 but number one is upstairs, number two is outside he just got back from his neuter today.... the other two are still at large....

anyway ... i really want to make a difference here... it's a small area of about 44 villas and we all share a large garden and pool. i am working in conjunction with this organisation

http://www.felinefriendsuae.com/
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