Caring for feral cat.

Cindy Petty

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I worked with a lady at ADL several years ago. We kept seeing 4 feral cats near a gas station that had woods behind building. The cashiers put food out for them and me and my husband gave them shelter I wanted to get them some help because they didn’t need to live there. So I called for assistance. The lady from ADL trapped all 4 and they are still living in our basement. They are all friendly and socialized now. So I’ve had experience with feral cats before. The neighborhood we live in has woods behind our house. We have a couple of ferals that come to eat after dark so I put food out for them. They looked pretty well fed so I tried to figure out who else was feeding them. If you cut through our woods there is a townhouse complex. There is a couple of ladies that feed them. I found that out last summer. This summer a cat starting coming that I knew was pregnant so we tried to trap her but wasn’t able before she had kittens. Finally found kittens under a neighbors porch several streets over. I was able to trap all 4 kittens and mom. While searching for kittens I talked to lady feeding ferals at townhouses. Just doesn’t know what to do because although she is feeding them they have been reproducing and it’s getting out of control. The lady at ADL that helped me can no longer trap because she has cancer. I offered to help. The one female she feeds has already had 5 litters. A lot of the kittens end up getting run over in parking lot. She just had kittens about 3 months ago. We have 2 traps and I’ve been able to trap 2 kittens so far and they have been extremely easy to socialize. Very sweet kittens. ADL is helping with shots and surgeries for all. After letting you know all this and asking for any advice on how to trap others I have one other question. I managed to trap one of the males that had been coming to eat at our house for several months. Took him to have surgery and shots. I decided to keep him in our basement bathroom for awhile to see if he could be socialized. I kept him for 3 months. All he did was hide. He never would even come out to eat food when I was in room. I would sit in floor and talk to him and try to play with him but he wasn’t having anything to do with it. We have 10 of our own cats and now I’ve taken in mom and 4 kittens and 2 other kittens. Our house is overrun with cats. So I felt like the male feral needed to go back out. He didn’t really have a life other than coming out of hiding to eat when no one was there. I will say this community of cat have the woods and a easy cut through from townhouses to our house. So I left the window open for him to go back out. He went out about 3 days ago. We have cameras on our front porch and deck. I haven’t seen him since. I am so worried about him. I thought he would just go back out and come for food early morning and right after dark. That’s when he came before. I am putting food near edge of woods and it’s being eaten. Did I do the wrong thing putting him out? I really didn’t have the extra room since he wasn’t coming around at all.
 

Furballsmom

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Hi, and welcome!

they are still living in our basement.
Do they have access to windows, lots of light and fresh air?

Are you able to keep the litterboxes taken care of on a daily basis, which is to say, do you have help with all these cats?

It's hard to say what that male cat will do, but you may see him later on.
 
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Cindy Petty

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I answered but not sure if it showed up. Sorry I’m new to this site so make take me a little while to figure out.
Yes. Our basement is completely finished so it has heat and air conditioning. They have 2 doors with glass and 2 cat trees in front of windows. They love hanging out on them. My husband works from home in the extension to room they are in. There is another room open to them with litter boxes and places to hide if needed. They are welcome to come upstairs. One of them stays upstairs more than in basement. Others may come up but just for a bit. The basement is their safe place. Yes I have help. My husband and 2 daughters help scoop the many litter boxes daily and feed all them. That is part of the reason I decided to let the feral male cat go. We have so many cats and kittens in different rooms that I have run out of places to keep them separated. If I felt like he was able to socialize I would of kept working with him. He is 4 to 5 years old. That’s what lady at townhouse said. So he’s was born to a feral mom and has been feral every since. Did I make the right decision to let him back out? The adult ferals in this community do really well. They have food and the woods are a small area between 2 neighborhoods. So not full of wild animals. They just need to be TNR to take care of neuter/spay and shots. Thanks for your help.
 

Furballsmom

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I think, due to how stressed he was inside, that you chose the lesser of two difficult/challenging situations for him. And, cats are interesting to say the least and he just might show up later on :)
 

fionasmom

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The male cat was fixed. That is a huge favor that you did for him. You and your family have done so much for these cats and are to be congratulated! You have also done a great job with socializing some of these cats; however, in the world of ferals, some remain feral and you did all that you could for him. He may not have ever become accustomed to living as a pet cat.

I have had ferals who were released after being at the vet for TNR run off for a couple of days. Don't give up watching for him. He may just be laying low, especially if he did not want to be inside and is wary it might happen again.


Are you asking for advice on trapping other cats? You are doing quite a good job, so I was not sure if you needed more advice. Hard to trap cats? Multiple traps? Bait for hard to catch cats?

After letting you know all this and asking for any advice on how to trap others I have one other question.
 

kittychick

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I too am SO happy you found this site! It (and its wonderful members) have saved my sanity - and many so often lent a soft shoulder to lean on. You’re definitely not the only caretaker who stresses and worries - - which is why coming here helps. You learn you’re not alone. And while the advice members give is helpful beyond belief, for me, finding a place where I could ask questions and not feel stupid while constantly being offered encouragement really helped me from crumbling in tears many times! Hopefully we can be there for you too. You obviously care a lot for all of these guys - all of them, inside and out.

I agree that you did the most vitally important thing for the male right now - which was neutering him. That not only helped him, keeping him from roaming and fighting so much, helping him avoid some health issues, and - most obviously - it keeps hundreds of kittens from being born. Could you possibly have done something differently to socialize him? Maybe - but it sounds like it would have been very difficult, and I’m sure you know that socializing a feral adult is (while not impossible at all) hard and despite best efforts, not always possible. But it sounds like he was over stressed despite your efforts, so don’t beat yourself up for not keeping him in. We have, besides our permanent indoor furry family, we have 3 feral kittties (semi feral is a much closer description at this point - since it’s now 8 years after we TNR’d them). I tell you this because we lost 2 of the 5 in the past few years - one was hit, severing his spine (he wanted so desperately to get home to us, his home and his furry family that he drug himself across a road and up a large hill to get to our house). This broke us - and we decided right then to bring the remaining 3 inside. Despite having fostered and socialized many kitties, 2 of the 3 were beyond miserable. We used every trick I know, but the 2 that were miserable we finally made the heartbreaking decision to let them go back outside (where they do have heated shelters in our garage, etc so they’re well cared for).. They stay very close to the house (and all 3 come in when it’s bad weather or cold) - - But it was heartbreaking and I kept beating myself up over it. I kept feeling like I’ve failed. I’ve talked myself off the ledge (mostly) but it is rough. So I very much understand how you feel. You obviously care deeply for the ones you care for in your home, but the ones in the colony too. Try not to beat yourself up too much (come on here when you get too frustrated!).

It does sound like you need more help with the outside guys as far as trapping. The one organization sounds like they’re helping a lot, but it still sounds like you’re drowning in fur babies. Is there another group in your area you could also talk to about helping trap, etc.? One place to check (and I’m running out of batteries or I’d grab the links) are two organizations that are online: take a look at bestfriends.org and check out their section on community cat care. They have resources to help you find local groups that can help you where you are. Also check out alleycat.org (the website for Alley Cat Allies - a group that focuses on TNR and feral kitties and their caretakers. On their homepage, they have a big button that says “HELP” that will direct you to organizations and vets etc that help people dealing with situations just like yours. It sounds like you know how to trap just fine - -it’s more the “getting help trapping, etc.” part where you need more hands and resources.

So please don’t feel alone. Lots of us here on this site are happy to help answer as much as possible, and checking out those other 2 sites for local help could also make a big difference. Keep your chin up - - and keep us posted!
 
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