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A Lot Of (still) Newbie Questions

Discussion in 'Caring for Strays and Ferals' started by MoonstoneWolf, May 6, 2019.

  1. MoonstoneWolf

    MoonstoneWolf Thread Starter Cat Food Bowl Referee Alpha Cat

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    At the suggestion made by Verna to one of my other posts I'm just going to gather all my questions here in one spot so I'm not flooding the forums every 5 minutes. I'm also going to give a little bit of background so you know where I'm coming from. Most of you know me as a worry wart. And I am a worry wart. Here is the entire situation. I moved in with my mother in 2005, after my father who she was married to for 59 1/2 years passed away. I was down on my luck and the living situation worked out for us both. Now it's 14 years later, she's 95 soon to be 96 years old and going into dementia. The slightest thing sets her off into a rage. And while she would never intentionally hurt any animal she isn't fond of animals. My Dad was only a dog person and never liked cats. Me I like them all, even the creepy crawlies so not sure where I got that from. I've always had a soft spot in my heart and there was a void in my heart when I lost my beloved Calico Pepper after 23 years. She was an indoor cat til we had to move in with Mom and she spent the last year of her life outside or in the garage. I still, to this day feel guilty that circumstances put her in that condition as she was not let inside or that I didn't find better accommodations then her being stuck in the weather. I suppose that when Shaman showed up last year after I fractured my humerus and was in a sling I felt that this was my 2nd chance. I didn't really approach her at first nor did I make much contact as I've seen cats wander through, stay a day or two and move on. But when Shaman along with Treasure and Shadow remained through the summer months I knew they were here to stay. So I started talking to them when I saw them. Shaman was the bravest and started to come closer to me. Treasure was and still is the most skittish and can cover 1/4 acre in 2 seconds when I come near. Shadow, well lately she seems despondent and depressed. I didn't think (and I feel bad about this) about feeding them until I saw the guy across the street feeding them bread, pizza and cereal. I can't get mad at him as he's challenged and so I decided to buy the food and give them something that would be healthy for them. That's going on 9 months that I've been feeding them. The past 2 months I started watching them on a private periscope (can't afford a decent camera) and Shadow was always like clockwork. She'd be here begging for food at 5am which she didn't get fed til 7:30, and then here every 2 or 3 hours a day since. Like Treasure she'd run the distance of 1/4 acre in 2 seconds when I came out but always slowly crept back. I then started setting out toys for them and I've shared those photos on here with many of you in my other posts. All 3 cats seem to have taken to the toys quite well. The one problem I have is that a couple of weeks ago Shadow disappeared for 48 hours and came back. She was completely different. At first she was diagnosed as pregnant but that turned out to be a false diagnosis. Her attitude however has changed. She no longer ran the yard away from me but let me come up to a foot away. I noticed however she crouched and trembled a lot, like a cat that has been abused. Her taste in food had changed a lot as well. She is sweet but seems that none of the other cats like her. Shaman runs when she sees Shadow. Treasure wants to always fight her. The other night I watched as Shadow slinked away with her tail between her legs, like someone rejected and unloved. I cried for her. And don't get me wrong I love all of these cats. Yesterday morning, she showed up, got into a fight with Shaman, Treasure and the neighbor's cat. She showed up briefly mid afternoon, sniffed the food and walked away. She walked well but she hasn't been seen by any of the neighbors since. My only hope is that she is being fed by a neighbor who chooses not to be known. Or that she found her own feline buddy like Shaman has. And the feeding is another challenge. If Shaman and Treasure are feeding, Shadow stays far away, depressed, until they finish and move on. If Shadow is here, Shaman and Treasure stay at a distance (conversing with one another about the traitor: Me) until Shadow sadly shuffles off the property. I know not to worry as the cats pick up on my emotions but with all of this going on, it's really kind of hard to not worry.

    Sorry for the very long winded post but so far this is pretty much the background. Except one other problem which is my mother. It's her house and she would throw an absolute fit if she knew I was feeding these cats. Like I said my big heart gets me in trouble with other humans. The area I have has to be monitored and the stuff "not visible" to my mother. Yes she can still walk up and down the stairs and all. I know this pretty much disrupts the cats so I need to find a better arrangement with this. So here are my questions and I have quite a few.

    1. On a feeding schedule here it's only feasible from 7:30 am to 5:00 pm bringing dishes in no later than 6:15 pm. Any good timetable for these cats? Somewhere that maybe my Mom won't throw fits? It's been raining a lot so hopefully I'll be able to set up those feeding stations soon.

    2. Should I invest in a good "toy box" to put away their toys at night and bring out during the day? Again my Mom. I'll figure out something to say about the cat tree.

    3. If I bring out the food, use a clicker, place the food and wait, will the cats hear me if they're at the other side of my 1/4 acre yard?

    4. What about smell? Can they smell from that distance?

    5. How do I incorporate clicker training with these feral cats?

    6. Would it be better if I ask a neighbor to take care of Shadow or is there a possibility that these cats may some day get along? Especially if I succeed in TNR and adopting? And what can I do with the one without making the others jealous?

    I suppose that's all the questions I have for now. Anymore and I'll post in this thread. Thank you all for bearing with me. :)
     
    Last edited: May 6, 2019
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  2. walli

    walli TCS Member Alpha Cat

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    You have a good heart! I would definitely talk to the neighbor, maybe you guys can help each other out! As for your mom, sounds like you are taking care of her?
    Is there anyway you can stand up to her? I know this might not be an option, if you can keep hiding it from her, maybe that is best.
    Her having dementia, she can't stay on top of things too well, sorry to advise deception, but don't see any other option. I would definitely see if the neighbor is feeding. You may need to ask for help to Neuter these cats, a local TNR program?
     
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  3. Furballsmom

    Furballsmom Cat Fan especially Black Cats Staff Member Forum Helper

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    Hi!
    1 the cats will adapt to, and accomodate whatever schedule you're able to work out
    2 maybe a toy box would be good
    3 yes
    4 yes unless the wind is blowing the wrong way
    5 start with your idea in number 3. They'll learn to associate good things with that sound, especially if you are able to be as repeatedly consistent as possible. :)
    6 I think @walli is right
     
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  4. MoonstoneWolf

    MoonstoneWolf Thread Starter Cat Food Bowl Referee Alpha Cat

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    They all missed lunch so now they have to wait til supper. I guess hunger will keep them close by?

    I look into a nice toy box. Leave one out with the cat tree at night and all.

    I see right now Shaman and Treasure (still no Shadow) have shown up waiting for a meal. But since they missed lunch I guess they have to wait?
     
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  5. marmoset

    marmoset TCS Member Alpha Cat

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    Whew you have a lot going on. Bless you for taking all of it on and loving these cats when you have also have your mom to care for.

    I think the time-range you have for feeding is just fine. Lots of people bring in dishes in the evening so as to not attract other wildlife like raccoons. The cats will be fine.

    I don't usually have toys for outdoor community cats or ferals. They are outdoors so have plenty of stimulation already but maybe someone else would have input. IMO if your mom is going to be distressed about cat toys outside then I'd hold off as the cats don't really need them.

    It's not a bad idea to get them used to the clicker. IME feral cats know when you are coming and they know when you put out food and they can even predict when you will come and anticipate your arrival if you stick to even a remotely similar schedule. There's certainly no harm in trying to clicker train. I would not use the clicker when the cats are close at first. House-cats are better with dealing with novel sounds.

    I'm not sure if I understand your last question fully. It's so much easier if you have someone helping especially if you want to TnR and can't hold a cat for recovery at your mom's having a second person to help would just be fantastic.

    If you are worried about one cat being jealous of the other..that's not really something cats do. What matters to them is cat communication. So right now if you have one cat that waits to eat until the other is done- it's not rejection or depression it's just that cat doesn't have the confidence YET to approach and eat while the other is. Nine times out of ten it's the submissive cat sending signals to the more confident cats that they are uncertain of how to behave (which sets the confident cat on edge). In time I bet they will eat from the same bowl.
     
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  6. Furballsmom

    Furballsmom Cat Fan especially Black Cats Staff Member Forum Helper

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    How much time from when lunch would have been are they? As mentioned, a little flexibility isn't bad :)
     
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  7. MoonstoneWolf

    MoonstoneWolf Thread Starter Cat Food Bowl Referee Alpha Cat

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    I don't get up til 6:45 am but I have my coffee first. I set out the first bowl at 7:30 am and leave for an hour. Lunch I set out from Noon to One. Again another hour. Then Supper is more flexible. I set that out 4:00 to 6:00 pm as I'm usually helping with my own supper during that time. I'm wondering if I should make it 1 1/2 hours for them instead. Again all working around my Mom and because of the crime in the area Mom likes to have the burglar alarm set no later than 7PM.

    Yea I hear ya about the toys but if I took those toys away from Treasure I'd have to enroll in witness protection plan. haha She's laying on the turbo scratcher right now like it's hers.
     
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  8. MoonstoneWolf

    MoonstoneWolf Thread Starter Cat Food Bowl Referee Alpha Cat

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    I am hoping that after TNR (which I strongly suspect these cats been down that road due to Shaman having a tipped ear and all 3 avoid anything that resembles a trap like the plague) I am hoping to adopt these cats. Yes my Mom will be a bit put out but (and not to sound morbid) she won't be here forever and then I'm all alone. These cats bring me so much joy and Shaman has been a guardian angel this past year in more ways then just showing up for the first time when I fractured my humerus.

    Oops forgot to mention: They all eat from the same bowl just not at the same time. Shadow is alone, and Shaman is always and I mean always with Treasure. In the years they've been in the neighborhood (not my yard) there have never been any mating attempts or kittens.) We think Shaman and Treasure are either siblings or mother/daughter. Shaman and Treasure refuse to eat in separate bowls. They have to eat in same bowl at same time. Shadow always patiently waited for her food. Even if I was 4 hours in getting it she waited. Shaman is not very patient at all. She give you like 30 minutes from the time she shows up and then she goes off pouting Treasure right behind her. lol And she shows up when she wants to show up.

    I hope it's ok to repeat a lot of these photos I have but this is the limited space I have to work with. Some of them may be out of order. Sorry about that.

    Space for the cats.jpg

    And we have the shelves that was a catch all for 55 years that I can do something with for them(no building anything is allowed though)

    Shelves.jpg

    As you can see they do love their toys:

    Look what you did to the center.jpg Maybe the ball comes out.jpg I don't know but you're a messy eater.jpg How do I play this.jpg

    And this is Shaman. She went to sleep in the tree last night and woke up this morning. All the cats love this cat tree. Oh and I mostly serve wet food. I just leave the dry out for them as a snack although Shaman pouts about it. lol

    Good morning Shaman.jpg Goognight Shaman.png
     
    Last edited: May 6, 2019
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  9. Furballsmom

    Furballsmom Cat Fan especially Black Cats Staff Member Forum Helper

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    :thumbsup: go furbaby Treasure!
     
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  10. walli

    walli TCS Member Alpha Cat

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    Feeding 3 meals, they may not have been hungry for lunch.
    Are you able to watch and see who is eating and what time? I bet they all are eating and your not seeing it.
    My Street Ferals eat at different times as 1 of the cats is a little overprotective of the food, He ends up leaving and the rest come out to eat.

    fyi: I only feed once a day, I know they come back for another meal before I pick up the food at 5:30, I was able to watch them all eat on the weekend, and have figured out the right amount of food to leave.

    My friend feeds hers twice a day
     

  11. MoonstoneWolf

    MoonstoneWolf Thread Starter Cat Food Bowl Referee Alpha Cat

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    I run a private periscope broadcast 24/7 on the cats to see who is showing up an who isn't so even after I end my private broadcast I have the ability to watch fast mode in rewind. That's why I feed 3 x a day because normally they do eat a breakfast, lunch and supper. Any more than that is wasted. But they do come that many times. Well today is understandable with Shaman and Treasure as our yard was mowed but again Shadow is here every 2 hours wanting to eat and if I put the food out there she would be eating. However, looking through 24 hours of broadcast replay she has not been here but for a few seconds after she got into a fight with Shaman and Treasure. Just odd behaviour after 9 months.
     
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  12. MoonstoneWolf

    MoonstoneWolf Thread Starter Cat Food Bowl Referee Alpha Cat

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    And they don't even respond to a clicker, whether 5 feet away, 100 yards away or in the bushes 1/4 acre away. And the food sits, spoils and that's it. Then once it spoils they show up. I feel like I'm spinning wheels here with them or they're trying to make me go crazy although I love them all.
     
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  13. Furballsmom

    Furballsmom Cat Fan especially Black Cats Staff Member Forum Helper

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    Do you have a way you could have some ice in a dish underneath the food dish?

    Hang in there, it will take time, but they're smart. They'll make the association of clicker sound and food :thumbsup:
     
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  14. MoonstoneWolf

    MoonstoneWolf Thread Starter Cat Food Bowl Referee Alpha Cat

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    No. And because of raccoons at night don’t want to leave out. Nothing to cover the food either.
     
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  15. Furballsmom

    Furballsmom Cat Fan especially Black Cats Staff Member Forum Helper

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    How hot is it where you are?
     

  16. MoonstoneWolf

    MoonstoneWolf Thread Starter Cat Food Bowl Referee Alpha Cat

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    I’m in St Louis MO. It can be all 4 seasons in one day. Woke up to temps in 40s and now it’s 67°
     
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  17. MoonstoneWolf

    MoonstoneWolf Thread Starter Cat Food Bowl Referee Alpha Cat

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    Still very worried about Shadow. She looked so bad after her fight but we looked and she can’t be found
     
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  18. Furballsmom

    Furballsmom Cat Fan especially Black Cats Staff Member Forum Helper

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    You're right, food begins to spoil at 40 degrees F, but you'll be ok with the food out for an hour and a half until the temps reach the 90's, then leave it out for only an hour. I(thinking of the USDA food advice of not leaving food out for more than two hours).
     

  19. Furballsmom

    Furballsmom Cat Fan especially Black Cats Staff Member Forum Helper

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    :vibes::crossfingers:
     

  20. MoonstoneWolf

    MoonstoneWolf Thread Starter Cat Food Bowl Referee Alpha Cat

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    I just looked through the replays again and it does look like Shadow was here at 6:30 last night. I have a jerky type footage of some cat that came close to 10 pm to eat (I can't tell if it was Shadow or another cat) the footage is so jerky. The cat (or Shadow) ate and left, came back and ate again and left and then the racoon visited and finished the food and even played with the cat toys (go figure a racoon playing with the toys) and left, then the racoon came again looking for more food and left shortly followed by Treasure. Treasure walked in same direction as the racoon and shortly after that Shaman came, climbed the cat tree, went to sleep. And slept there all night long.Sadly the outlet outside isn't providing enough power to keep my phone charged all night for this (Android) and I'm not leaving the iphone outside so tonight I'm not able to run a cam. I left just enough for Shaman to eat and brought in the rest of the dishes and locked up as like I mentioned high crime area so Mom likes that burglar alarm on at 7PM central.
     
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