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post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

I just read the wonderful story of Lucky (thanks to all who posted
in that thread -- the info has been invaluable!), since I have just
recently adopted two semi-feral sisters, Trick and Treat.

Now I have a question.

Background: T&T came with their mother, Pumpkin, to the local
refuge around Holloween, 2004. They were then approx. 2 weeks
old. Their mom was adopted, but they were not, until I came in
5 weeks ago with the "SUCKER" sign that only cats can read.

I had just lost Tigger, who had been with me for 19 years and who
had helped me when I lost her older companion, Penny at age 20.
Now, with no one to help me, I needed FUR. NOW. I didn't really
realize I was adopting semi-ferals.

These cats did not receive any socializing at the refuge. We had them
checked by our vet on the way home, and Treat was diagnosed with
conjunctivitis. It should cure on its own, but it will take time. Better
if we give her drops 3x/day.


Obviously, we didn't try at first. Over the first 4 weeks we managed to
get them to come out from under the bed, get to know us (my husband
and myself) and come for food (wet food -- dry food is always available.)
They got to the point where they would play with us and accept
scritches, although only with one hand. If we reach out two hands, they
are GONE. I have an animal communicator friend who has been talking
to them.

After 4 weeks it seemed time to start the medication. It wasn't. We did
get a dose into Treat's eye, but my husband was scratched and I
went to the ER with multiple bites (which, yes, infected. It's only a week
later that I can type all this.)

Trick, who was not involved except vicariously, has continued to
progress over the last week, although I still cannot touch her with 2
hands. Treat has regressed -- she's back to hiding when I first
enter the room, although she will come out fairly soon, and she will
only cautiously take a single finger scritch occasionally. She will
still approach for wet food (Treat is the eater of the two!) but she
is obviously VERY wary.

Here -- finally -- is the question. The refuge owner has offered to
come on Thursday to see if she can help me clip their claws, which
needless to say, we have not done. Is it too soon? I think it is,
but I don't know how long cats can go without clipping the claws.
(Both Penny and Tiger were declawed cats.) How long can they
go unclipped?

And when do I try again with the eye drops?

Although I've had cats for the past 25 years, I'm in new water
with semi-ferals.


Carol Flynt
post #2 of 6
Welcome to the world of ferals Carol! I'm very glad you're here, and I've very glad that Trick and Treat (what cute names!!) have such a patient and understanding family.

About petting with two hands, that may not be something they are comfortable with for a long time, if ever. My feral girl Ophelia (we rescued her at 6 weeks old) is still not entirely comfortable with two hands petting her and she is 6 years old. I think it's because they feel trapped. It's really hard for ferals to get past the idea that since we are bigger than them, we are possible predators.

As for clipping the claws, others will be more helpful with that than I. My husband is totaly wrapped around Ophelia's little paw, and is scared that she will be mad at hime. So we provide a lot of good scratchers for her to blunt her own claws on, and so far they haven't gotten too long. She's very, very good with her claws, though. If you can get them used to clipping their claws, it would definitely be for the best all around.
post #3 of 6
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the greetings, Heidi.

I'm hoping that Trick and Treat will eventually get to a two-handed
scritch, but I'm prepared for it to be LONG time. I'm talkin to my
husband about the possiblity of a third cat, one a bit older and
a proved lovebug, who can help model the "right" behavior for
these cats who have never known a human bond.

I'll look forward to any advice others have on the claw clipping
and drops.


post #4 of 6
Hi Carol,

I can only give you my experience with claws, and that is, I've never clipped them! I didn't even realize that was common until we took a stray pregnant cat to the vet and they clipped her claws for me when they wormed her.
We've always had indoor/outdoor kitties and cat trees and such, and I guess they've always just shed them as they roam around.
Since you obviously won't be letting yours outside, I would suggest some fun cat furniture with sisal rope and some catnip rubbed in and they should take to that quite well, though they may not play on it when you're around.
Good luck with them, it sounds like they're progressing wonderfully for you. And I hope your bites get better!

post #5 of 6
Thread Starter 

Sounds as though I can let the claws go for a while. I bought a
cat tower for Trick and Treat, which has lots of carpeted surface
plus two sisal rope borders along the condo part. I also got them
a scratch box, and so far they seem content to scratch on those
and no other surfaces. (Trick scratched at the chair the first
day she came out of hiding, but when I said a gentle "out, no"
and shoved the scratch box her way, she took the box and never
scratched the chair again.) So my concern is not scratching things
as much as a fear that their claws might wrap into their paws. If
that's not something I need to worry about, I'd rather not push them
again to accept handling for claw clipping.

That leaves the drops -- that's more medicinal.

Thoughts? Anyone? How soon can I try again -- what signs
should I watch for?

Thanks for the help!

[edited to close my open parenthetical phrase.]
post #6 of 6
To be honest, I think I would try to do the medicine as soon as you can so you can work on the socialization without the major setbacks. Health has to come first, though.

Whoever is handling her should wear THICK leather gloves, long sleeves, long pants, boots/thick shoes. It is going to be traumatic for her and for you, I won't lie. If possible, bring in a thick towel to use for catching and holding her. They tend to freeze when their head is covered at least for a few seconds. Have one hold her tight (not squeezing, obviously, but very firmly and use their body to hold her back/butt against them...) and the other put the medicine in her eye as quickly as possible. Use the scruff to your advantage - don't pick her up by her scruff, just grab it enough and hold it when you're putting the medicine in so she doesn't fight so much, if at all. You'll need 4 hands. ALWAYS leave her a treat when you're done - whatever she likes best. That will hopefully convince her that she can put up with the catching part because something good always follows.

If anyone else has a better method for medicating ferals, I hope they will share. This should work, in theory anyway.
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