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Scared Cat - what do we do?

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
There was a family of ferals living behind us in the woods (wrote about it in the feral forum). Despite regularly providing food and water, the family seems to have moved. But one kitten was left behind. We've continued to give her food and water for the last two days - but I couldn't take her crying any more. It was so sad. We were hoping her family would come back - but still no sign of them. So today when we fed her, we grabbed her and put her in a cage (thanks for the advice as to how to do that, Hissy!). What do we do now? She's so scared. We've made arrangements to take her to the Vet tomorrow. She's somewhere between five, (probably six) and eight weeks old. We don't have cats, don't know much about cats, and don't know what to do for her. My heart aches.
post #2 of 18
LDG - first of all GOOD JOB!!!
You have one scared and lonely kitty on your hands that is for sure. Cover the cage with an old blanket and keep her in a quiet spot. Play some soft music if possible - Make sure she has food and water and a box in there too. Talk gently to her and just spend some time sitting by her. Even though she is young, she can really bite and scratch! It will take some time and work but it is worth every bit of effort in the long run. I have socialized a few once-feral babes. It is the most rewarding thing you can do!
post #3 of 18
Thread Starter 
It's not a large cage, but she's a kitten. We put a box with dirt in it into the back of the cage. We were thinking she might use it to go to the bathroom in - but she seems to want to lie on that - which, I guess seems normal, because that's where she lies outside. She's stopped crying, ate some, and is finally sleeping. Thanks for the advice.
post #4 of 18
Anne just published an article I wrote about this very thing. I hope it helps you. Here is the link......

Feral Care

Also I will move this to the feral forum. Good luck with your kitty!
post #5 of 18
Thread Starter 
Thanks - I tried the link. I'd already read her article though. The suggestions are great, but I don't live in a house. My husband and I live in a recreational vehicle, which is the equivalent of a 200 sq. ft. studio apartment. We don't have a separate room for kitty (now named BooBoo). For now, we have her in the crate. We took Debra's advice, and covered it (mostly) with a blanket. Fortunately it cooled off a lot around here. We left the front open for air circulation. We've taken turns sitting by her and talking to her. She calmed down a lot, so my husband (who's great with animals) took her out and held her in a towel in his lap, and explored her for ticks, fleas and lice. Thankfully he didn't find any. Almost amazing, I guess.

She relaxed enough to knead and purr and fall asleep in his lap for a little while. When she woke up she bolted and started crying again. He scooped her up and she's back in her cage, asleep on her dirt. She'll see the Vet tomorrow, and we'll just muddle through. We'll do our best to socialize her. Once she's more comfortable here and with us, we'll let her out of the cage. Once she's used to people, all the noises of home, and is litter box trained, we'll give her away. The Vet says they get calls for kitties all the time.

Thanks for all,

post #6 of 18
Sounds like you are on the right track. I think you will have a sweet kitty before to long. Good luck!
post #7 of 18
Thread Starter 
Thanks for support and advice. Took her to the vet this morning. Turns out it's a him. Although BooBoo works for a boy, too, we decided to change his name to Lazlo. He was very clean - no ticks, lice or fleas. No ear mites. No Leukemia. Probably worms. Doc thinks he's 8 - 9 weeks old. We gave him all his shots, and the Doc clipped his nails (which have been gouging my husband's back and shoulders).

He has an incredibly sweet personality. My husband got his purr motor going last night - and Laz finally figured out how to use the box of dirt. He still seems unhappy crying at times, but not wailing any more. A couple of whimpers now and then. But he now walks around, curious, with his tail up instead of running for corners with his tail between his legs. He is also quite playful at times now.

My husband, who doesn't really like cats (used to be a cat hater, but tolerates them now because of Rocki, the stray) has a real affinity for this little guy, who loves him so much. (It helps that every time he pets Laz, Laz starts purring up a storm, pushes his head into my husband's cheek, and tries to make a nest in his arm!)

We decided to socialize him, litter box train him, and give him away. I've been secretly hoping we could keep him - and when Doc was amazed at how much this cat already loves and trusts my husband (Gary), Gary was the first one to say out loud maybe we should consider keeping him.

Now it looks like he's going to be litter box trained immediately. We took him straight to a pet store after the Doc, bought toys, grooming items, litter box, a bed he can bury his way into, a scratching post, stain & oder cleaner (just in case), etc. As soon as we got home, he used the litter box, ate some food, buried himself in his new bed and passed out. It's been an exhausting couple of days for all of us.

We've been watching for his family out back every couple of hours (even all last night. No one got much sleep around here). They just turned up about half an hour ago. Now we have a terrible dilemna - what do we do? Mom & family have been gone since last Tuesday night or Wednesday some time. For some reason this little guy wasn't with them. He was scared and alone for several days before we finally trapped him and brought him in. He seems to be adjusting pretty rapidly. Do we release him back to his family? We think he's at least six weeks old - Doc says he thinks he's nine weeks old. Will the family/mom take him back? And his claws were just clipped - that really worries us. And in the long run, he's got to be healthier, if not happier, with us (or another family) as opposed to on his own. Or am I just justifying my desire to keep him? What's best for him? We don't know what to do. I'd love to know what you think, and would appreciate your thoughts. Thanks in advance,

post #8 of 18
You and your husband are s for taking in Lazlo. As for keeping him, I think that's the best thing for all parties involved. He's getting attatched to you, it sounds like you and your husband are getting attatched back. Not only are you giving him love and attention and care, but you will be extending his life. Indoors cats live longer than outdoors, and I would say cared-for cats also live longer than ferals. I don't think you need to justify your decision at all-it's a wonderful one!
post #9 of 18
Laurie please keep him. Turning him back out in the wild is not an option and unless you can trap and catch the entire family- and I know that isn't possible for you to do, the family will eventually go their own ways since mom is not spayed and the kittens aren't fixed either. Mom will miss him a little bit but she has her other babies and they will fill the gap. It sounds like Boo has found a home with you and I hope you do get to keep him. He has adapted wonderfully through all your accounts of what is going on and he would be hard to approach if released. You see, he trusts you now, even though you are *human* and if you release him to be cold, and hungry and scared, he won't trust so easily the next time, or maybe not at all. It would be one thing if you had a home and a few barns and you could monitor what the family is doing, but they will outgrow that burrow soon and move on. Because that is the way of the feral colony.
post #10 of 18
What a great story! I agree 100% with Hissy. Please do not put Lazlo back out with his family. He has already shown that he is a people-cat, so even if you two decide not to keep him, he will make a wonderful pet for some other family. His life as a feral will be short and full of peril. Please save him from that!
post #11 of 18
Thread Starter 
Thanks for helping us to make the decision - we're keeping him. I hope he'll be happy in our very small home. When I wrote, we just weren't sure if it was better for him to be with his mom & family for the next 3 - 4 weeks or not. But if he's becoming an indoor cat, he doesn't need to learn to hunt, etc.

We're still a little worried that he hasn't pooped yet, but the Vet said he felt no obstructions, etc. If he hasn't by tomorrow morning, we'll take him back to the Doc. He keeps using the litter box to pee, so he knows where to go!

We bought him an oyster-shell shaped bed, which with the help of a box and some pillows we turned into a burrow for him. (He grew up in a hole/burrow in the woods. Yesterday he kept trying to burrow into the bookshelf). He took right to it. I wanted it to be a "safe" place, but my husband can't help but reach in there every once in a while and pet him. Laz (formerly Boo) doesn't seem to mind at all, and usually just starts purring, rearranges himself, and passes out again. I sure hope he sleeps through the night - we need the sleep!

Oh - P.S. (I know, I always write so much!) - we fed and provided water for the family, while they were here. They ate twice their normal amount, and then disappeared again (one of the kittens was missing). Our Vet hasn't found the humane trap yet. I'd really like to get at least Mom to get her spayed. The rest of the kittens, if like our little Laz, should be in pretty healthy shape. Vet says they shouldn't be fixed until 5-6 months. Vet also says there's a humane shelter about an hour from here, so maybe we'll pay for them all to see the Vet and then take them there (and pay in advance for the Shelter to give them the Leukemia follow-up). But we have to catch them first.....
post #12 of 18
Thread Starter 
We took a few pictures of Lazlo today, so when we get them developed I'll have pictures of Rocki too, to post on the forum. But this Avatar looks very much like our new little boy! I thought he was a grey tiger, but he's a creamy chocolate with black stripes, and a kind of white over-layer of hairs that makes him look greyish if not right next to him.
post #13 of 18
How does Rocki like her new little brother? It is so good of you to take in these cats, especially with your limited living space. There are not many people that would do that and look out for the ones outside. The fact that Laz and Rocki took to you so quickly, being ferals, really says a lot about you. ALL GOOD! Rescued kitties make wonderful pets, I have 4 myself. Much happiness to you and you new additions!
post #14 of 18
YIPPE-SKIPPEE....a happy ending for little Laz. I am so thankful and proud of you and hubby for taking on this family's care!
GOOD JOB and lots of kitty kisses to your home from mine!
post #15 of 18
You two are wonderful people! It made my day to hear that y'all are keeping Laz and hoping to catch the momma and babies for neutering and shots.

Woo Hoo!!!!!
post #16 of 18
Thread Starter 
Thanks all! Laz is doing great. He doesn't like being alone, but who could blame him? We'll work on that later. He's the sweetest thing in the world.

We are having problems with Rocki. Inside the house was never really her territory, except near the entrance. She eats on the bottom step (inside), her bed is at the top of the steps (only two), and my lap is on the couch opposite her bed. Other than in heavy rain and winter storms she doesn't like it inside and is still freakish (nine months later) about many noises (plastic bags, the printer, the microwave, etc.).

Rocki came in only once since Laz has been here (we don't let Laz sleep in Rocki's bed). Rocki has been jealous of the ferals, and before the family left, when we were up in the woods with them, she would inevitably come up from behind us, and often would arch her back and hiss at them. Obviously I would leave Gary up there and I'd run down to give Rocki lots of love and attention (and food). Laz was in Gary's lap, and Rocki definitely knew he was in here because of the meowing/crying. She came in, saw Laz, really hissed LOUD, freaked the kitten out completely, so I took her out. I've been meaning to ask what to do. So far, I've been hanging out with Rocki outside (which she loves). I've been feeding her out there, too, but the weather's been great. It's only been for two days (seems like so much more! Guess it's the lack of sleep...), but I don't know what to do. Rocki does not like Laz (or is jealous), and he is now scared of her. Should I write in the Behavior forum? All advice appreciated, because I at least want to negotiate some type of truce so Rocki can (and wants) to sleep here without us worrying about Laz.
post #17 of 18
Yeah for Lazlo! I am so happy for all three of you! He sounds like a real doll, and I can't wait to see pics of both Rocki and Lazlo. I read the post when the family came back and was so worried about what would happen to him. I'm so glad it is a happy ending. Maybe you should work on harness training little Lazlo so he can come outside with you and go on happy walks with his new Mommy and Daddy.

It's really amazing how those little critters just know how to snuggle into someone's heart - especially the one who *supposedly* doesn't want to keep them. (My sister brought home a puppy to a not-very-happy father. Felicia snuggled up to Dad, and they became best buddies.)
post #18 of 18
Thread Starter 
I know - I'm soooo happy Lazlo loves my hubby. Rocki runs real hot and cold toward him, and being a "dog" person, he doesn't really have the patience for cat independence (he thinks Rocki should be more grateful). But little Laz has already wormed his way into hubby's heart, and treats him more like mommy than me, which is makes me even happier, because now no matter how Laz develops, he's my hubby's baby.

:tounge2: We already bought Lazlo a harness! I'd read about it in this site. We haven't taken him out yet, but he doesn't mind having the harness put on him or wearing it at all. Until Laz showed up, hubby & I hiked several miles a day in the evening. I expect we'll have to carry Laz quite a bit, but I bet he'll be joining us.
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