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Feral Went Missing 4 Months Ago, Showed Up Tonight And Something Is Very Wrong - Video Included

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moxiewild

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W walli Thanks! The Feral Cat Coalition here is one of the organizations that requires classes to borrow traps.

@MoonstoneWolf

That was my idea with the dog whistle! I figured the sound would travel farther than my voice could (at least without annoying the neighbors, haha).

IndyJones IndyJones No, he's not vaccinated. He was the last of my "untrappables" at the time he disappeared.

One of my kidney cats ended up acting lethargic yesterday so we took him to the vet. It gave us the opportunity to speak to him about what was going on and show him photos and videos.

He was as certain as he could be that it's not distemper. He confirmed the head tilt and darting eyes for felines almost universally means one thing, vestibular syndrome (neuro symptoms are more common for dogs and other mammals, though). He said in very rare cases it's a tumor or a parasite, but even for an outdoor, vaccinated feral, he said it will very likely be Vestibular syndrome (especially given the observable symptoms he has/doesn't have).

I'm trying to figure out what precautions I should take just in case, however. I'm particularly concerned about the kitten who isn't finished with her shots.
 

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In your situation, the tendency to roam is much too strong to control the colony. The ferals I have now who are TNRed do stay around my property and have predictable schedules, even the ones who don't trust me, but this is a conventional neighborhood with nothing exciting or enticing beyond the back wall. You are really working against the odds when there is open space available to them.
 

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That's a bummer about having to take classes for the trap, They just give us instructions and links to you tube videos!

The drop trap does require a transfer trap, that's the only hard part I guess.
just have to be ready, I practiced it before I went out a couple times.

I haven't actually got the cat I want yet but hopefully it will all go well when he shows up at the right time!!
 
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moxiewild

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General update -

Pretty Kitty did not show up at all the following day or night.

However, he did come by the next night twice. Not sure if he did last night because our camera that does the recording died :(

I went ahead and bought a drop trap, but it probably won't come until next week!!! So I spent today calling around to even more places trying to find a drop trap that I could have access to sooner, but no luck.

We discussed building one, but I'm not sure we'll have time. Two of our cats are very sick right now, and I have to save my time off for them because they're going to need it. I'm also trying to find a shelter to take/foster a litter of 5 ~2 week old kittens and their maybe-feral mom, especially since they'll be up and moving very soon.

In the meantime, I will continue with the box trap. PK won't even look at it right now. So we might be forced to just zip tie it for a day or two and see if we can warm him up to it at all (never worked in the past, but what else am I going to do?).

........And/or the aggressive cat we were prioritizing before PK showed up. He comes by 6 times a night to circle the trap trying to swipe the bait out but hasn't remotely stepped near the front of it. And if he happens upon any of my cats, he immediately attacks them. I'm terrified it's going to happen to PK.

I'm having to sleep on the couch right now so that I can watch my two sick kitties and try to get them to eat more throughout the night, wake up quickly to cover a trap/release a raccoon, and break up any fights ASAP from The Aggressive One.

I am so exhausted right now. It's definitely one of those times where it feels like every moment of my life is being ruled by cats, and I'm just in a constant state of despair at how useless I feel in helping them.
 

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Hang in there cut yourself a break, I know how it feels to be overwhelmed with cats, it's frustrating.
Just do the best you can, take care of yourself, take care of your kitties,
this is only going to happen when it does, if we could only speak cat!
We could let them know what is going on.
Good you got a drop trap coming, You may need to go ahead and wait for that.
that aggressive one does need to be neutered, that might help his aggression.

I think you say you are feeding at night, and that there is no alternative.
maybe once you get this behind you, we can help you alter the feeding schedule.
when I started feeding my ferals it was so chaotic, they are on a schedule now.
I leave the food out in the morning and pick it up before it gets dark.
because I don't feed them in my yard, I feed them dry food only, I do mix purina pro urinary food with the Costco chicken and rice food, and they always have fresh water. feeding them during daylight hours will help a lot.

This is hard to do but it is wisdom, our worry and stress is not productive,
it doesn't do anything but hurt us, just do what you can one step at a time and try not to worry, you have a big heart, your doing what you can!
 
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moxiewild

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Pretty Kitty has only been showing up every other night, which I find a bit weird.

Very early this morning we received a call from someone who was going through our neighborhood to drop her kid off at school, and she had seen my post on Nextdoor and called to say that she saw PK at the house right across from us.

I figured if he was that close, then he probably came to eat at some point this morning (he comes around 4-7 am a lot). But I checked the camera, and nothing.

I know he's likely a bit disoriented, but it seems like he'd be able to smell the food and meander his way over being that close?

I feel like someone else has to be feeding him, or otherwise leaving food out for their cat at night that he's also accessing.


W walli Thank you. We're hoping that if we have to wait on the drop trap to get PK, then hopefully we can trap the aggressive one in the meantime.
 

walli

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My street Ferals didn't show up for breakfast yesterday and one of them the day before too! They are usually there every morning waiting for me! I thought the worst, but they were both there this morning, I have a couple I don't see much, they come later.

I do suspect someone feeding one of my ferals too.
 
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moxiewild

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IndyJones IndyJones If that's the case, I'd be fine with it if it wasn't for the fact that he is in serious need of medical attention.

The house he was seen at was actually in the process of the renters moving, so it at least wouldn't be that house. It may very well be another, but the cat clearly needs to be taken to a vet (along with neutered and vaccinated).

I am tempted to post flyers in that area, but it's just so risky with ferals. And that's something I feel obligated to disclose.


W walli I hate any time I don't see my ferals! And I mostly only ever even see them via camera! Haha.

We used to be sooo worried about one of our strays, that any time it rained or stormed and he wasn't in any of the shelters, we'd go out and walk all around the neighborhood mid-storm to find him and bring him inside.

He was always hiding in someone's bushes but wouldn't respond to our calls (which he always, always did under normal conditions). However, once we got in front the house he was at, he would meow just loud enough for us to hear him. We'd scoop him up, wrap him in a blanket, and bring him inside.

Eventually he became a permanent resident who now rules the house (as if that ending wasn't obvious :lol:).
 

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What a mess, I'm really sorry you're having to go through all this.
With the vestibulers thing, I've never seen it in cats but I've seen it in dogs plenty of times. Usually the initial onset is the head tilt, eye movements, very uncoordinated ("drunk" walk) and lots of vomiting when they try. Vet says it's probably the worst case of vertigo you can imagine, but after a few days, the vomiting goes away, they regain coordination and balance, the eye movements stop and all you have left is a dog who walks with a head tilt that may or may not go away. I hope this is the case, because while it's no fun for the cat (or dog), it's not a death sentence.
I see why you named this one PK, he's very pretty indeed.
I hope things get ironed out. I wonder if a kind neighbor feeding the strays noticed his condition and set some good food out and is feeding him at their place as well as yours, so he's got his regular home and "summer home" ;)
 
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moxiewild

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W walli I am located in a small town outside of San Antonio.



1 bruce 1 1 bruce 1 - Yes, we spoke to two vets separately to get their input. We showed them the pictures and videos of Pretty Kitty and described what was going on - both agreed it was highly likely to be vestibular, as the head tilt is very specific to that.

However, the causes of vestibular conditions vary wildly - from cancer, to brain parasites, to FIP, and more.

It is most likely idiopathic - which is the kind you describe - or secondary and caused by an ear infection, according to both vets. Those are two of the best options as to what this is too, so that's what we're hoping for.

Other causes still need to be ruled out however, obviously.

Whatever is going on with PK clearly makes him considerably more vulnerable regardless - especially with the busy neighborhood (school just started!), wildlife, and aggressive Tom around - and I need to at least contain him until he is better (and neutered and vaccinated!).


Honestly, sometimes he looks mostly normal at certain angles from above, especially when he's eating. Other times, it only seems like a slight tilt, or something about his posture or movement just seems a little "off".

....but then he'll move in certain ways and look like the bloody exorcist -

View media item 422735
In this instance, he was staring up at me like that for about 10 full seconds or more. Near the end, I moved a bit to see how he would react, but he didn't seem to actually be able to see me - which is the impression I've had multiple times now when spying on him through the speakeasy window on our door as he looks up toward me in some uncomfortable-looking way. Normally he/they bolt if I move.

I do doubt that someone is regularly feeding any strays around here, at least... but I suppose it's possible.

I really wish I could go around and ask, because if someone is feeding him, it would be incredibly helpful to coordinate with them for trapping.
 
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Something sinister could possibly be going on, but like you said it could be an ear infection, or even something like trauma since he was gone so long.
This is why, to us, working with ferals is so difficult. We care about them and want to help them, but they don't trust us enough to get them to a vet by simply scooping them up and taking them like you can with most house cats. You care for them their entire lives and never really know "who they are", but it's sure no reason to quit taking care of them. It's just a little taxing on the nerves sometimes.
I remember a dog once that had a bad episode of this. After a few days, she was up and eating and doing her thing but every other step brought her to the left and she'd walk into a wall. The cause was never really diagnosed, as she was reaching the end of her 15th year and anything that could be done for a cancerous tumor, a parasite or anything else that would require long term invasive treatment wouldn't have been a good choice for her due to health and age. She did however live almost 2 more years, almost saw her 18th and the vestibulers only came back once, but not as bad.
 
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moxiewild

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Yes, taking care of ferals is taxing - it's not even the fact that they aren't a cuddly, social cat, but just the ever present anxiety of "How will I get to you if you need help?"

I've really struggled with this bunch because I have little to no opportunity to build trust. They don't stick around, they don't respond to calls at meal times, most don't even tolerate even seeing me through a window after over a year of caring for them.

In the past, and with other colonies I still care for, they (mostly) stick together in the same general area (most of the time). So even if they run away from me, they're still there, watching me, just at a distance they feel safer at. Over time, it allows them to trust me, they start coming closer, and so on and so forth.

But I've never stepped foot outside with most of the ferals at my house. Plenty of others I have only ever seen on camera, and they have never even actually seen me - even after a year!!!

But, I love every single one of them and I am committed to each and every one of them for the duration of their lives, even if they don't even know I exist.


Re: Vestibular conditions

I think I read that in most cases - at least for cats - once they recover or it resolves on its own, they rarely experience another "episode". Just lingering stuff like the head tilt or minor balance issues. I would have made the same decision about the dog. That's a really old age for a dog, too!
 

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I have just read all your posts. I had a couple of thoughts that I wanted to ad. The cameras are motion detection activated? Unless the kitty is in the proper area to activate, you could be missing some visits. Cats are masters at slipping in undetected. The other thing is that I have had cats that acted like PK because of ongoing ear infections that totally set them off balance. It looked like something much worse at the time. Added mites built up debris and the cats could not hear well either. This may be something that can be handled very well once you catch PK. Maybe I missed it but, are you covering the trap? Camouflage or providing what appears to be nice dark hiding place can really help. If you can , try adding some cardboard boxes to the area and cut a small exit hole into the back or side. If PK will go in any of them then you can put the trap inside a box to try and give him a sense of safety.
You are handling all this so well. I have done the TNR and even socializing of large numbers and the stress levels can be very hard. Not only do I know about sleeping in the sofa, I have camped outside many nights! Lol I found that night feeding did attract other animals so I started staying out ( laying on the ground and often under a tarp) and waiting for the cats to eat so I could remove the dishes. I discovered that this gave me an opportunity to be near many of the cats and over time they realized I was there and accepted it. I began to get closer to them, move when they were near, speak to them and feeding them inside of multiple crates and covered cages. As they became comfortable with all this, I would just close the crate door on the ones I needed to catch. Others just kept eating undisturbed for the most part. They did not usually see the whole event. I would bring the crate in and off to the vet the next morning. Maybe you could spend a little time at night outside. I think the cats feel the safest at night. Cover of darkness, less human activity nearby and it’s quieter at night. My presence kept other animals away too. When I started with this last colony I was wondering if I could ever get them all. Some would vanish into the swamp and I would be so worried, I searched the swamp at night. Kind of felt like swimming against the current trying to catch over a hundred and them breeding too BUT I did what you are doing. I kept trying. It’s just a step by step process. It may seem slow but you do get there. You are making great progress! I finally got this entire colony. Take care of you and just do this as you can. You are a cat guardian and a kitty hero! Thank you for all you are doing. We just need more people like you. Sending vibes for rest, calm, catching and healing along with a part of my heart. :vibes::redheartpump::rock::thanks:
 

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I have just read all your posts. I had a couple of thoughts that I wanted to ad. The cameras are motion detection activated? Unless the kitty is in the proper area to activate, you could be missing some visits. Cats are masters at slipping in undetected. The other thing is that I have had cats that acted like PK because of ongoing ear infections that totally set them off balance. It looked like something much worse at the time. Added mites built up debris and the cats could not hear well either. This may be something that can be handled very well once you catch PK. Maybe I missed it but, are you covering the trap? Camouflage or providing what appears to be nice dark hiding place can really help. If you can , try adding some cardboard boxes to the area and cut a small exit hole into the back or side. If PK will go in any of them then you can put the trap inside a box to try and give him a sense of safety.
You are handling all this so well. I have done the TNR and even socializing of large numbers and the stress levels can be very hard. Not only do I know about sleeping in the sofa, I have camped outside many nights! Lol I found that night feeding did attract other animals so I started staying out ( laying on the ground and often under a tarp) and waiting for the cats to eat so I could remove the dishes. I discovered that this gave me an opportunity to be near many of the cats and over time they realized I was there and accepted it. I began to get closer to them, move when they were near, speak to them and feeding them inside of multiple crates and covered cages. As they became comfortable with all this, I would just close the crate door on the ones I needed to catch. Others just kept eating undisturbed for the most part. They did not usually see the whole event. I would bring the crate in and off to the vet the next morning. Maybe you could spend a little time at night outside. I think the cats feel the safest at night. Cover of darkness, less human activity nearby and it’s quieter at night. My presence kept other animals away too. When I started with this last colony I was wondering if I could ever get them all. Some would vanish into the swamp and I would be so worried, I searched the swamp at night. Kind of felt like swimming against the current trying to catch over a hundred and them breeding too BUT I did what you are doing. I kept trying. It’s just a step by step process. It may seem slow but you do get there. You are making great progress! I finally got this entire colony. Take care of you and just do this as you can. You are a cat guardian and a kitty hero! Thank you for all you are doing. We just need more people like you. Sending vibes for rest, calm, catching and healing along with a part of my heart. :vibes::redheartpump::rock::thanks:
We've had them go missing for months, and come back looking like they just stepped off of the cover of Cat Fancy. I don't know how they do it. One day in the elements and I'd be crammed in a hollowed out log, crying for Mommy :lol:
moxiewild moxiewild I've had luck hanging around while they eat, just visible (not close to their feed pan), just sitting and saying nothing. Don't look directly at them (stare down), don't say hello. Just sit and be still. The braver ones will eventually come around, size you up, think it through and eat. Just remain still and very relaxed in your body posture (don't sit facing them, sit with your side to them and ignore them.) If you do happen to catch their eye, give them a heavy blink and look away. Works like a charm even with ferals, or at least makes them relax a little.
When the braver ones come around, usually the more bashful ones will hang back until they see their buddies eating without incident and will slowly join in. A fwe times the most wild ones wouldn't even come near the barn if I was there, so when the others were done, I'd get up, make sure there were leftovers for the stragglers, and just leave.
Another thing I've done that may or may not help is put my hand in the bowl of food and mix it around so it has my scent on it.
Their level of suspicion is not a bad thing. It probably keeps them safe from cars, people, dogs, cruel idiots who would capture a friendly cat and do God knows what to it, so the goal isn't taming them down 100%, just making them understand that you are that person who doesn't need to be watched quite as close.
 
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moxiewild

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1 bruce 1 1 bruce 1 Hahah, my mom is still shocked I spend as much time outdoors trapping as I do! If it's not for animals, I avoid the outdoors and elements entirely and always have. I definitely would not make it a single day out there! :lol:

Yes, those are all things I've done for my other colonies, both past and present.

But this one is a situation where where the cats are not friends (aside from two inseparable buds), and never hang around one area or near me, the shelters, or feeding stations (they could easily spend most of their time in my fenced in yard, but none of them do). They are scattered in a field and woodsy area well outside of my fence.

I call them, but only a couple come, and they stay either right outside my fence until they hear the back door close (assuming I went inside), or they slink under the fence and just stay there and wait for me to go in.

Most of the others come at their leisure, so when I see them, I'm inside either looking at them (from a good distance away) through a window, or I end up seeing a recording of them. Some run if they see me whatsoever. Some run if I get closer than 30 feet to the window. A couple will allow me to come about 10 feet from the window so long as I don't look at or face them or make too much movement or noise.

My past colonies and other colonies I still care for, I can do what you're talking about no problem. It's just not the case with these guys - they're never here and I can never be outside with them at the same time.

I will try the hand in the bowl thing, though I'm not entirely sure how much it will help since they never get a chance to really smell me anyway, since we're always separated by walls and windows.

Yes, generally, their level of fear is good! I just want there to be at least one person they semi-trust for when they need help and vet care!
 
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moxiewild

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Pretty Kitty showed up last night! I was getting worried because he stopped the pattern of coming every other day. He hadn't shown up since about 4 a.m. on the 27th, so about 5 days. :(

He looks skinnier than normal (pre-disappearance), although I don't think he's dangerously underweight.

It's very difficult to trap without him coming remotely regularly. I'm not sure what to do.

I need to at least know that he'll reliably come over every day/night. I can't just stay up to trap nights on end where he doesn't even show and I have no idea if he even will.

Usually, this isn't a problem, once a cat starts feeding at our stations, they quickly begin coming daily, even if it's only once a day, or at irregular times.

How do I convince him to come more reliably??? I can put stinky food out, but the other cats (and wildlife) will just be constantly eating it, which will again result in me being up all night to replace the food whether I trap or not.

Does anyone have any ideas???

I want to at least have him coming regularly by the time the drop trap is delivered. We're going to work on building one of our own in the meantime if we can too.

For now, we've been feeding right in front of our box trap with it zip tied/unset just in case (we're hoping to get the aggressive cat used to it as well, since he still won't set foot under/in it).
 

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I'm having trouble trapping one cat, we have clinics once a month.
I have tried 4 months in a row, He would not go in the trap, I started using the drop trap last month and he didn't show up, arg!
My friend has been trying to get a Tom for a loong time, she finally got him last month, It's difficult, but I think getting him back on a scheduled eating pattern is a must, I hope someone has more useful info for you on this one.
I suppose there isn't a way to feed him separately. Doesn't sound like it.
Or maybe find where he is hanging out and possibly trap him somewhere else
 

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Pretty Kitty showed up last night! I was getting worried because he stopped the pattern of coming every other day. He hadn't shown up since about 4 a.m. on the 27th, so about 5 days. :(

He looks skinnier than normal (pre-disappearance), although I don't think he's dangerously underweight.

It's very difficult to trap without him coming remotely regularly. I'm not sure what to do.

I need to at least know that he'll reliably come over every day/night. I can't just stay up to trap nights on end where he doesn't even show and I have no idea if he even will.

Usually, this isn't a problem, once a cat starts feeding at our stations, they quickly begin coming daily, even if it's only once a day, or at irregular times.

How do I convince him to come more reliably??? I can put stinky food out, but the other cats (and wildlife) will just be constantly eating it, which will again result in me being up all night to replace the food whether I trap or not.

Does anyone have any ideas???

I want to at least have him coming regularly by the time the drop trap is delivered. We're going to work on building one of our own in the meantime if we can too.

For now, we've been feeding right in front of our box trap with it zip tied/unset just in case (we're hoping to get the aggressive cat used to it as well, since he still won't set foot under/in it).
The only idea I have is to sit and wait for him, and offer the smelliest, best food you can but I know how this is. It can be worked into your life once or twice but you can't do that every day, twice a day.
Do you have updates moxiewild moxiewild ? We have a few barn cats that are very feral, and we don't see them for weeks. Just today, I saw the cat we call Mister Elusive. I haven't seen him in a month and I have no idea where he was, but he shot across the pasture and hid in a place known only to him. If only they knew we only meant to help them.
 
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