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Indoor Feral Cat Can't Be Caught - Help Please!

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
Sadie is a feral cat who was born in the wild. I would guess her to be around 6 months old. She spent the early part of her life living under a woodpile in my backyard. For many reasons (coyotes, busy street, getting pregnant, and just because she is SO DARN cute!!), I wanted to take her in. About 3 months ago, I managed to trap her in the shed and brought her in the house. I have one other cat and they get along famously! It's the rest of us that are the problem.

My question - I really should take her to the vet; she's never had shots, and who knows when she will go into heat! Plus she's long haired and really needs to be brushed. I simply CANNOT catch her. She will sit on the floor near me; she will eat food from my hand, but when I move, she's off like a shot. My vet told me to get a dog crate and keep her in it for a few days, all the while touching her and getting her used to us, but I CAN'T EVEN GET HER IN THE CRATE! She won't even go near it for her favorite food, tuna. When I even trap her in a room, she flips out and bounces off the walls. I can't throw a towel over her because I can't get close enough. She's MUCH better than she was.....when she was first brought in, she hid for days and now she comes when you call her (well, only SO close - LOL) and will sit in the same room as us, and even be hand fed.

Does anyone have any suggestions? Should I just continue to wait? She appears to be healthy. My other cat is a spayed female so there's no problem with pregnancy. I have never had a cat in heat so I don't know what to expect if she does go into heat. I know some ferals can be loving cats in time, and others never get that far. I'm at my wit's end! Thanks so much!!!!!!
post #2 of 18
I would suggest getting a humane trap (you may be able to borrow one from your vet or from a local shelter) and using it to trap her and get her to the vet to be spayed ASAP.

Even if you plan to keep her indoors, when she comes into heat she might manage to get out despite your best efforts to keep her inside. I had a kitten who came into heat at 5 months tear through my screen door to get outside.
post #3 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by joolzann
Sadie is a feral cat who was born in the wild. I would guess her to be around 6 months old. She spent the early part of her life living under a woodpile in my backyard. For many reasons (coyotes, busy street, getting pregnant, and just because she is SO DARN cute!!), I wanted to take her in. About 3 months ago, I managed to trap her in the shed and brought her in the house. I have one other cat and they get along famously! It's the rest of us that are the problem.

My question - I really should take her to the vet; she's never had shots, and who knows when she will go into heat! Plus she's long haired and really needs to be brushed. I simply CANNOT catch her. She will sit on the floor near me; she will eat food from my hand, but when I move, she's off like a shot. My vet told me to get a dog crate and keep her in it for a few days, all the while touching her and getting her used to us, but I CAN'T EVEN GET HER IN THE CRATE! She won't even go near it for her favorite food, tuna. When I even trap her in a room, she flips out and bounces off the walls. I can't throw a towel over her because I can't get close enough. She's MUCH better than she was.....when she was first brought in, she hid for days and now she comes when you call her (well, only SO close - LOL) and will sit in the same room as us, and even be hand fed.

Does anyone have any suggestions? Should I just continue to wait? She appears to be healthy. My other cat is a spayed female so there's no problem with pregnancy. I have never had a cat in heat so I don't know what to expect if she does go into heat. I know some ferals can be loving cats in time, and others never get that far. I'm at my wit's end! Thanks so much!!!!!!
Given how skittish she is....a humane trap will most likely be best way to get her to the vet. Ask your local vet or humane society if they have one you can borrow.

Katie
post #4 of 18
No don't wait. She needs to be vet checked, and spayed. Go into her room and dim her lights. Spread a little bit of catnip on the floor for her so she will relax. Put a heavy dark blanket in the room. Go in and sit with her, and using the blanket, use that to corral her up and put her in a carrier. Leave her in the carrier overnight until you go to the vet. Call the vet in the morning and ask if you can bring her in. She may have to spend one night in a cage, before she can be spayed.
post #5 of 18
Oh, and don't feed her after 10 or so if you get her spayed. (Duh, I'm sure you know that.) I've got to tell you I've got a former feral that became the SWEETEST cat when spayed. She's not a lap cat, but she's my little shadow, and follows me all over the place. Good luck!
post #6 of 18
I would try Hissy's suggestion, and if it won't work, try a trap. Remember, her ability not to be caught is what kept her alive before. You do not want to teach her that you are trying to grab her.

Eating out of your hand is a good idea for training purposes. Does she also eat food from a bowl? You could place the bowl in a carrier to get her used to going into the carrier. Then she won't be so nervous when she does get shut in the carrier.

Good luck with this little wild child!
post #7 of 18
My boy Jasper was the same way. What I did was similar to what was already stated. I put him in my bedroom with the carrier.I left to door off, put in a blanket, his toy and food. I would sit in the room with him and play near the carrier, coaxing him in. I did this for about 2 weeks before I took him to be neutered. he was a sick boy when I found him, so he had to recover for a few weeks before neutering. Eventually, Jasper would go into the carrier on his own as his little nest. When we had to take him ,it wasn't a scary place anymore.
post #8 of 18
Thread Starter 
Thanks everyone, for your suggestions and support. I will try, firstly, using the carrier trick and if that doesn't work, I'll try the trap. She is so quick and feisty; even trying to trap her in a ROOM is going to be a huge challenge. And she's so stubborn. Still, I shall persevere! And I WILL win! LOL!!! I'll keep you posted! Julie
post #9 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by joolzann
Thanks everyone, for your suggestions and support. I will try, firstly, using the carrier trick and if that doesn't work, I'll try the trap. She is so quick and feisty; even trying to trap her in a ROOM is going to be a huge challenge. And she's so stubborn. Still, I shall persevere! And I WILL win! LOL!!! I'll keep you posted! Julie
Hate to break it to you, but she will win. Feral cats, like all cats, are in charge. We can try to encourage the behaviors we want, but cannot change them at all. We just do our best to convince dear kitty that our way is best.

I hate cats on kitchen counters. However, we have one counter by a window, and the cats have taught me that it is fine for them to sit there so they can look outside. (However, when Garfield put his paws on top of the nearby microwave when it beeped last night, I convinced him that he needed to get down!) I hate pets that beg for food while I am eating, but the kitties have taught me that they are not begging, simply politely reminding me that they get the left overs.

I know you are already aware of this. Keep perservering until you can get her into one room and close the door. Then after that is possible, get her crated or trapped. The blanket trick that Hissy suggested worked great with my feral kittens this morning. I just held a blanket up to shoo them where I wanted them to go. It scared them enough that they went into their cage, without them being scared by me or my hands. (I use scared loosely, they were not SCARED, but they did get in their cage, which is a safe place in their minds.)
post #10 of 18
Thread Starter 
Well, I did it! It took two of us, but Sadie is now safe in a crate, with her toys and blankets. She is, however, miserable. She howls when you leave the room, is quiet when you sit in the room, and hisses when I come too close. When I first put her in, she went insane, crashing her head and even cutting her cute little face.....I feel so bad, though I know it's the right thing to do. I think I will give her a few days before I take her to the vet, and I'll talk to her and keep trying to touch her gently. I'll keep you posted - thanks for your good thoughts! Julie
post #11 of 18
Yay, good job! Don't wait, though. Get that girl to the vet today, and get it over with. Later you can work on getting used to the carrier. For now, just do it! (IMHO)
post #12 of 18
I would agree, do NOT wait, get her to the vet. Crate training a feral cat can have an adverse effect on them. I liken it to breaking their spirit. There are better ways for you and her to bond. They are longer ways, but they are indeed better. The more you confine her in a tiny space, the more she will come to fear and even resent you.
post #13 of 18
Thread Starter 
Thanks guys! I don't want to disagree with you, as you obviously have lots of experience, but she seems to be calming down a bit; shouldn't I wait? She has been eating and drinking, no more cage rattling, and after the little hiss when I put my hand in, she has even let me stroke her, and offers me her chin to scratch! She doesn't seem mad and she doesn't seem broken. What do you think?
post #14 of 18
Thread Starter 
One more thing I should have mentioned. She's in a large dog crate (one for a Lab). So, she's not squished or anything.
post #15 of 18
I would just get her to the vet asap even though the crate is large its confining.
post #16 of 18
When I moved my cats, I used a huge dog crate for extra large dogs. You might try that. I put their food and water in it so they got comfortable going inside.

I also used it as a make shift kitty shelter after I got each one fixed while they recovered from surgery. It is large enough for a litter box and their food while they recover.

The large crates are about 80.00 at Walmart.

Personally, I would not use the blanket thing like someone suggested. It will scare her to death and she will remember you trapping her that way.

If she will go in a crate, you can then shut the door and load her in your vehicle. Patience will get this done. Half the battle is that she is already in the house.

Good luck...!
post #17 of 18
I agree with Hissy - and I have socialized many many ferals over the yrs! Please do not leave her there, it really does break their tiny spirits. Just because she is quiet does not mean she is happy - it is more likely suggestive of depression. You want a happy and emotionally and physically healthy cat - and you know how cats who are emotionally upset can become physically ill. Get her to the vet asap!!!!!! Please!!! Other than that, you are going very well with her!!!!!! Good job!!!!
post #18 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by jcribbs

Personally, I would not use the blanket thing like someone suggested. It will scare her to death and she will remember you trapping her that way.

If she will go in a crate, you can then shut the door and load her in your vehicle. Patience will get this done. Half the battle is that she is already in the house.
I am using the blanket thing. I just hold the blanket up by my feral kittens, and use it to "shoo" them into the cage. They are not frightened during the process, as that would undo all my work at taming.

And I would NOT try transferring her from the crate to a smaller carrier. She will most likely get out during the process.

IMHO, the longer you keep her in the crate, the more she settles down, but then she gets another big scare at the vet. I say just get the dirty deed done, and then let her calm down after the surgery.

Also, insist that the vet give her the anesthetic (I swear I can't spell today!) before he begins the exam. In fact, you should call ahead and let them know you are bringing in a feral who cannot safely be handled. Then they will schedule the exam, shots, and spay all together, so it can be done while she is asleep. This prevents her from escaping, prevents her from feeling the pain of the vaccinations, and prevents her from injuring the vet.

There is another post on TCS of a feral cat who escaped at the vets office, because it was allowed out of the cage with the office door open. Kitty escaped outside. Do not underestimate the intelligence of a cat. And some vets do not have much experience with ferals, and just expect a shy pet kitty.

You are in the situation, so in many ways you know best. But I think it is best to call the vet and get her in asap.
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