Feral rescue

Julest

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Hi all
This is my first post here. I had a cat who went missing 8 months ago and I have been looking for her ever since.
When I lost her I had actually gone back to my childhood home for 2 weeks as my Dad had died and she went missing just before I got home.
Fast forward to this month and I got a message from LostMyKitty to advise me that someone may have found my cat.
The person who thought she had found it had been feeding a badly injured, limping stray/ feral cat that she was very concerned about so she had done an online search to see if anyone was missing a cat of that description. My details came up and she subsequently got in touch.
Desperately wishing it was my Smokey I got a trap and dropped it off hoping that she could catch the cat and that it would be my missing kitty.
A few days later she contacted me to say that she had been successful in catching the cat so I immediately went over to her house. Unfortunately it wasn't my Smokey but as the cat was badly injured and was unlikely to survive outside for long with these injuries I decided to see what I could do to help.
I brought it home with me and took it to a vet a couple of days later for them to assess it. Unfortunately they determined that the injuries were as a result of serious bites to its leg and tail which had become badly infected so they advised me that I have 2 options. Either 1) keep the cat at home in a 6 month quarantine with no contact or 2) have it euthanised. This is because they apparently have to treat an unvaccinated feral with serious unconfirmed bite wounds as a potential rabies carrier. They also said I should watch it closely for the initial 10 days for any signs or symptoms of rabies as that is when it was initially handled by myself and the vet.
Today is day 10 and the cat is still fine so I am now looking for guidance.
Apologies for the long post.
I have it in a dog crate with a litter tray, blanket, cat carrier and food. It spent the first week hiding in the cat carrier only coming out and feeding at night when I was not around. It now comes out at night and sits on top of the carrier until the morning when it usually goes back inside the cat carrier for security. I close the door to keep it it inside when I am feeding it or cleaning the litter tray but if it is outside sitting on top of the carrier it hisses, spits, and tries to scratch me If I open the door of the dog crate.
How can I try to socialise it if I cannot touch it for 6 months?
What should I do to ensure it settles in and has some semblance of stimulation and mental enrichment during this time in confinement? I am concerned about its mental wellbeing.
All recommendations are greatly appreciated.
It is definitely more relaxed than it was, as it is now coming outside but it is also behaving territorially.
The vet said they won't neuter it or sex it until after the 6 month period.
I also have another cat, a dog and a family at home.
I have been told I am the only person who can handle it at the moment and the usual recommendation in this situation is euthanasia. I really can't do this so all help is much appreciated.

Thank you!

I have attached photos from the day after I rescued it and now (10 days later). It is looking so much healthier. Its coat is getting glossy, its leg and tail are healing and it is much more relaxed (until I attempt any contact then it hisses and growls).
P.S. I have named it Billie/ Billy - I needed a name that works for both a male or female and I won't find out what it is until after the 6 month period.

Thanks for any and all feedback x
 

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silent meowlook

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Hi. Those are some crazy rules about the rabies. I have never heard that.
From photo 1 to photo 2 the cat looks so much better.
The last thing you want is for this cat to have mental stimulation. You want this cat to be bored. So bored that the cat will finally seek you out for interaction. Just don’t look at the cat or even act as though you can see the cat. Let the cat think they are invisible. Just go in and feed water do litter but otherwise don’t try to engage the cat in any way.
Thank you for helping this cat.
 
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Julest

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Thank you. That is useful to know. I was worried about boredom but feel reassured now. It is definitely much more relaxed in its space but not sure how long it will take for Billie to actually seek me out. Do all ferals eventually seek out human contact? It seems to be a true feral rather than a stray.
 

silent meowlook

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The ones I have worked with do. They like to be invisible for a couple of months, then when they feel safe they get bored and start to vocalize when I come in. After that it’s usually only a few weeks with most.
 
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Julest

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I also should have said that the vet did treat the cat's injuries at the time. The wounds were cleaned out and it was given antibiotics. She also tried to check it to see if it had been neutered and see what sex it was but it's fur was so badly matted and it was getting so upset that she didn't want to continue. It received its rabies vaccination at the appointment also but the quarantine period is to ensure it hasn't contracted the virus from the initial bites.
It's difficult for me to clean its litter and feed it sometimes as it will guard the doors. Other times it moves into the carrier and then it's easy to clean the litter and feed it.
Any and all helpful advice is appreciated, no matter how small and simple the ideas might seem to all of you.
The cat seems totally feral.
The ones I have worked with do. They like to be invisible for a couple of months, then when they feel safe they get bored and start to vocalize when I come in. After that it’s usually only a few weeks with most.
thank you! I guess it's only been 10 days with this one. I will relax for the next couple of months and not expect anything before then
 

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J Julest , check out some basics in the following link Feral Cat Set Up Long Term Fosters though I'm sure there are other feral focused sites to choose from. I used this site or similar for my not-quite- feral and 1 feral for a few days.

I'll tag Kwik Kwik as she has done marvelous things with her last feral and she can offer personal advice and suggestions.

Are you planning on keeping Billie/Billy or will you look for a home for him/her?
 
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Julest

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J Julest , check out some basics in the following link Feral Cat Set Up Long Term Fosters though I'm sure there are other feral focused sites to choose from. I used this site or similar for my not-quite- feral and 1 feral for a few days.

I'll tag Kwik Kwik as she has done marvelous things with her last feral and she can offer personal advice and suggestions.

Are you planning on keeping Billie/Billy or will you look for a home for him/her?
thank you! I will look at the link you have posted.

If Billie manages to settle into life here I will keep him/ her. If not I will look at other options. We have another cat, a dog and 2 sons so it may prove to be too stressful for Billie/y or us. I am hoping that if I can work with the advice from experienced feral owners it can stay with me though. If it doesn't settle here he/ she may not be able to be rehomed. Another option is I put up a garden shed and train it as a semi feral cat with a safe space. We live on a reasonably large property backing onto open space and woodlands so it is relatively safe for a cat.
I have the 6 months quarantine period to see how well it settles in to a domestic home life but would like to ensure the transition is as smooth as possible for all of us.
I am a bit nervous around it at the moment because if I am not quick I would be attacked when feeding it or changing the litter. It's a stealth job to get in and out safely 😁
 
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Julest

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J Julest , check out some basics in the following link Feral Cat Set Up Long Term Fosters though I'm sure there are other feral focused sites to choose from. I used this site or similar for my not-quite- feral and 1 feral for a few days.

I'll tag Kwik Kwik as she has done marvelous things with her last feral and she can offer personal advice and suggestions.

Are you planning on keeping Billie/Billy or will you look for a home for him/her?
that is reassuring- the set up that is recommended is exactly the best up I have. The difference is that I have been opening the door even when the cat is outside the carrier and that is when it is hissing. I will make sure I only do it when the cat is inside the carrier now as I realise it is definitely a risk for attack or escape if it's not enclosed. I am also just putting my hands in which is why I am nervous so I will use a stick initially- thank you! This was helpful
 

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Make sure the cat has a cardboard box to hide in that isn’t the carrier in a different area so the cat always has a place to hide.
 
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Julest

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There isn't room as I need to keep it in a large dog crate for the time being. Once I let it out into the room I will put extra hiding spots out for it
 

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Hi there,one of my colony cats showed up one day with a broken leg.I took her to the vet and was told ideally the leg should be operated on but because she was a feral cat that was not an option ,anyway she recommended I crate her for 2 months,I used the exact set up that DeesCat recommended. It worked great for me ,she would retreat to her carrier when I would enter the room ,I would use the stick to close the door,reach in and lock the carrier door ,much safer that way. I used a two door XL dog crate and kept it covered with a sheet.Once shes locked in the carrier you can even remove the whole carrier out so you can clean inside the crate if you have to,kitty litter goes all over the place. I just used a hand held broom and dust pan.She also lied on top of the carrier ,I folded a towel on top so she had some cushion up there.When she started to get braver she would not go into the carrier so I would clap my hands, or do something to scare her into the carrier.Also great she used the carrier as her safe spot just in case of an emergency ,or vet visit it would be easier to get her out of there, Anyway,if there is anything I can help you with please let me know.You are a very kind person for doing this for Billie (just my guess) Thank you
 

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Hi ,Welcome to TCS

I definitely agree with S silent meowlook in that those are some of the craziest rules I've ever heard of from a Vet although I have no idea what State you live in ( Virginia,NC,NJ,Pa,NY,Texas,Ca?) Coyotes?Racoons?Foxes?Skunks?usual carriers of rabies..... Where was this animal found and have they had reports of rabies in that area or do they suspect the cat got into it with a dog?

I really don't like referencing animals as " it" so I'll just call him/her Billy.....I can't imagine a Vet examining any critter and not being able to determine the sex so I'm not thrilled about that to begin with,what exactly did they do for Billy's wounds?Are his injuries his hind legs?Usually a kitty gets seriously injured by a dog or does not survive because they turn and run and are grabbed from behind.... the liklihood of them in a fight with a racoon or the other wild animals I mentioned are quite slim as they are not species competing for food

Anyway,I dint know thst Billy is feral,a true feral that badly injured surely wouldn't be seen by anyone,they'd go off, hide and never be seen- now a hungry semi feral would certainly show themselves- so this person actually believed Billy was someone's missing cat- what made her think that?How long was she feeding Billy and where?I'd like to know more about the conversation you had with her if thsts okay,,could be helpful

Can I ask some questions?How old are your sons? Where are your dog ,your cat and where is Billy?How big is Billy crate? How does he act on top of the carrier ,he doesn't run in it when you go in the room? Sure doesn't seem feral to me but he sure looks absolutely terrified.

I'm not sure this is a task you want to undertake,that's why I asked about your family....helping and socializing Billy will take alot of time and effort - do you have it to give,sadly it seems Billy doesn't have many options except you but I will tell you this- of course Billy can be transitioned to indoor life and become a wonderful housecat and it does begin with containment to do it properly ..... how much time do you have on your hands because after Billy is alright and is used to a new territory and you he has a family to adjust to and other pets.....it's a long process

If your willing and able to commit to the task at hand I'd suggest a nice size enclosure for him with some vertical space,upper and lower doors for you to access the interior and give him the room he needs to move around without many options except a den to hide in- a hissing ,growling cat let out in a room with many places to hide and who is under quarantine ( possible virus incubation time) is not a good idea unless you have 8hrs a day to spend in that room with him( IF you want a socialized kitty).....

Are you married? I only ask because ideally you could sleep in his room?

I know I ask loads of questions but I'm happy to help if I know where your mind is at,your lifestyle and about your house lay out.....I'm sure you understand thst if you're planning on putting Billy outside and undecided about committing to him then there's not much sense in my own dedication..... what say ye,lol❤
 

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Oh- I also want to express my condolences for the loss of your Dad- I'm so very sorry

Yesterday must've been tough,I certainly felt it and my Dad is gone quite a few years....and I'm sorry your kitty went missing while you were away,,how'd that happen? Have you heard of any sightings of her?Sounds like you've had a very difficult time,my heart and prayers goes out to you

If you want to give Billy a forever home I'm not going anywhere (God Willing)& I'm here for ya..... I'm a little different in some ways becsusd I firmly believe with all my heart thst ANY cat can be a great ' pet" given the right environment and reconditioning-though it's very hard work with some it's well worth the effort..I've relocated and transitioned hundreds of ferals over the years and had a socialization program going for a very long time,reconditioning " unadoptable" behavior to prepare for their new lives as houscats.... it takes a certain type of person to commit and give them a chance,it's not for everyone so here you'll find support in whatever you decide what works for you and your family🥰
 
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Julest

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Hi ,Welcome to TCS

I definitely agree with S silent meowlook in that those are some of the craziest rules I've ever heard of from a Vet although I have no idea what State you live in ( Virginia,NC,NJ,Pa,NY,Texas,Ca?) Coyotes?Racoons?Foxes?Skunks?usual carriers of rabies..... Where was this animal found and have they had reports of rabies in that area or do they suspect the cat got into it with a dog?

I really don't like referencing animals as " it" so I'll just call him/her Billy.....I can't imagine a Vet examining any critter and not being able to determine the sex so I'm not thrilled about that to begin with,what exactly did they do for Billy's wounds?Are his injuries his hind legs?Usually a kitty gets seriously injured by a dog or does not survive because they turn and run and are grabbed from behind.... the liklihood of them in a fight with a racoon or the other wild animals I mentioned are quite slim as they are not species competing for food

Anyway,I dint know thst Billy is feral,a true feral that badly injured surely wouldn't be seen by anyone,they'd go off, hide and never be seen- now a hungry semi feral would certainly show themselves- so this person actually believed Billy was someone's missing cat- what made her think that?How long was she feeding Billy and where?I'd like to know more about the conversation you had with her if thsts okay,,could be helpful

Can I ask some questions?How old are your sons? Where are your dog ,your cat and where is Billy?How big is Billy crate? How does he act on top of the carrier ,he doesn't run in it when you go in the room? Sure doesn't seem feral to me but he sure looks absolutely terrified.

I'm not sure this is a task you want to undertake,that's why I asked about your family....helping and socializing Billy will take alot of time and effort - do you have it to give,sadly it seems Billy doesn't have many options except you but I will tell you this- of course Billy can be transitioned to indoor life and become a wonderful housecat and it does begin with containment to do it properly ..... how much time do you have on your hands because after Billy is alright and is used to a new territory and you he has a family to adjust to and other pets.....it's a long process

If your willing and able to commit to the task at hand I'd suggest a nice size enclosure for him with some vertical space,upper and lower doors for you to access the interior and give him the room he needs to move around without many options except a den to hide in- a hissing ,growling cat let out in a room with many places to hide and who is under quarantine ( possible virus incubation time) is not a good idea unless you have 8hrs a day to spend in that room with him( IF you want a socialized kitty).....

Are you married? I only ask because ideally you could sleep in his room?

I know I ask loads of questions but I'm happy to help if I know where your mind is at,your lifestyle and about your house lay out.....I'm sure you understand thst if you're planning on putting Billy outside and undecided about committing to him then there's not much sense in my own dedication..... what say ye,lol❤
Hi
I will answer your questions to the best of my ability but will start by saying that I am dedicated and have quite a lot of experience around animals - just not integrating a feral/ semi feral cat into the household (yet).
I agree with the rules being crazy but unfortunately these are the rules. I live in NJ and was given a print out.
The vet was great and actually works with rescue services in the area. She really didn't want to stress Billie any more than was necessary but as there were fur matted balls and the cat was really stressed she said get priority was treating the injuries. She also gave him/ her antibiotics and vaccinated for rabies.
There have been reports of rabies in that area. Actually a cat with rabies a few weeks ago about 2 miles from there. She did say the chances of him/ her being infected were not high but as rabies is fatal she has to issue a rabies risk notice which she did. I was given a printed sheet of paper from CDC. If I had involved animal control they would have euthanised apparently.
The injury is on the front leg and the tail.
She had been feeding Billy for a few weeks. She fed a group of ferals but this one was much more nervous and would run from the other cats as well as her. Her concern was that it only appeared for food after the injury so she felt it wouldn't possibly survive for long. She phoned animal control as she was worried and they suggested doing a search online to see if a cat fitting that description was missing. That's when she contacted me.
I took a trap round and she managed to catch it and I picked it up. I really think it is feral and the vet works with ferals and felt this too.
My sons are older so not worried about them being irresponsible. My dog and cat are kept away from Billie/y. The cat is in the basement but it is a converted studio (my space) with windows and fully finished. I gave him there as it is peaceful and isolated.
Billy's crate is 42" large dog crate. I have it set up with the cat carrier as a cubby/ hide space, a litter tray, a blanket and food. When I go into the room she doesn't always hide now but for when she first came here. If I go too close she hisses and spits though.
I feel that billy doesn't have any other options/ it's not going to be easy though as we also travel quite often. I have already canceled one trip as I am not sure what to do if I am not here.
I am married and can't sleep in the room.
I will take it step by step.
thank you
 
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Julest

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Sorry for the typos. I need to check before I hit send as there is no edit button after it has posted.
 

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Hi
I will answer your questions to the best of my ability but will start by saying that I am dedicated and have quite a lot of experience around animals - just not integrating a feral/ semi feral cat into the household (yet).
I agree with the rules being crazy but unfortunately these are the rules. I live in NJ and was given a print out.
The vet was great and actually works with rescue services in the area. She really didn't want to stress Billie any more than was necessary but as there were fur matted balls and the cat was really stressed she said get priority was treating the injuries. She also gave him/ her antibiotics and vaccinated for rabies.
There have been reports of rabies in that area. Actually a cat with rabies a few weeks ago about 2 miles from there. She did say the chances of him/ her being infected were not high but as rabies is fatal she has to issue a rabies risk notice which she did. I was given a printed sheet of paper from CDC. If I had involved animal control they would have euthanised apparently.
The injury is on the front leg and the tail.
She had been feeding Billy for a few weeks. She fed a group of ferals but this one was much more nervous and would run from the other cats as well as her. Her concern was that it only appeared for food after the injury so she felt it wouldn't possibly survive for long. She phoned animal control as she was worried and they suggested doing a search online to see if a cat fitting that description was missing. That's when she contacted me.
I took a trap round and she managed to catch it and I picked it up. I really think it is feral and the vet works with ferals and felt this too.
My sons are older so not worried about them being irresponsible. My dog and cat are kept away from Billie/y. The cat is in the basement but it is a converted studio (my space) with windows and fully finished. I gave him there as it is peaceful and isolated.
Billy's crate is 42" large dog crate. I have it set up with the cat carrier as a cubby/ hide space, a litter tray, a blanket and food. When I go into the room she doesn't always hide now but for when she first came here. If I go too close she hisses and spits though.
I feel that billy doesn't have any other options/ it's not going to be easy though as we also travel quite often. I have already canceled one trip as I am not sure what to do if I am not here.
I am married and can't sleep in ..... room.
I will take it step by step.
thank you
I wish you the best- No,he doesn't have any other options.... Very sad but very true

Yep Jersey is one of those States with reported cases ( haven't seen a cat report though- if that's true and in your County that's alarming.....that means someone was bitten and they captured and euthanized that animal)Anytime you have a person going to ER for an animal bite in the United States they are required to report it to State Dept of Health,who reports to Animal Control.

Glad you are content with your Vet and it sounds like you've got it all worked out- do keep us all updated.... I'll keep Billie in prayer for a clean bill of health and a speedy recovery

Nice meeting you
 
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Kwik

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Sorry for the typos. I need to check before I hit send as there is no edit button after it has posted.
No worries,I'm the biggest typo IST on the site,lol
I believe after xxx amount of posts you'll be able to edit,might be after " kitten" status changes - when I first joined I was a mess without the ability to edit,you've done well👍
 
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Julest

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I wish you the best- No,he doesn't have any other options.... Very sad but very true

Yep Jersey is one of those States with reported cases ( haven't seen a cat report though- if that's true and in your County that's alarming.....that means someone was bitten and they captured and euthanized that animal)Anytime you have a person going to ER for an animal bite in the United States they are required to report it to Animal Control.

Glad you are content with your Vet and it sounds like you've got it all worked out- do keep us all updated.... I'll keep Billie in prayer for a clean bill of health and a speedy recovery

Nice meeting you
I got it wrong. I just looked online. It was a rabid raccoon that was found in the area 2 weeks ago - not a cat. There were 18 cats with rabies last year in NJ and 2 in the local area (1 in each county of the bordering area my little Billie cat was found). Not high numbers however the local authorities are required to report unidentified wounds on unvaccinated animals.
That is another reason the vet didn't want to stress the cat. She said if she was bitten she was obliged to euthanise and test and she was really trying to do the best she could. She has a rescue feral herself that she said is by no means a lap cat but they have a mutual respect for each other and she is passionate about doing what she can for the unwanted. My own veterinary practice, who are amazing, didn't want to treat Billie as she had bite wounds and is feral. They suggested I contact the local animal control.
Thank you for being kind and taking the time to respond. I appreciate it and will keep you posted on our progress ... hoping it's a positive one 🤞
 
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Julest

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The ones I have worked with do. They like to be invisible for a couple of months, then when they feel safe they get bored and start to vocalize when I come in. After that it’s usually only a few weeks with most.
thank you. The poor cat has not made a sound since I brought him/ her home. He really is the quietest little creature I have met (unless it is hissing at me 😂 then it is truly intimidating!!)
 

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thank you. The poor cat has not made a sound since I brought him/ her home. He really is the quietest little creature I have met (unless it is hissing at me 😂 then it is truly intimidating!!)
Well,ferals don't meow - but typically they'll do a bit of thrashing around at first..... most semi ferals are pretty quiet as well,it's the strays that do a lot of meowing and complaining vocally

My ex-feral boy( who's 8) is just learning meowing gets hoomans attention after a year of watching my 4 others ,especially from my Bengal guy who has a lot to say
 
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