It feels like a betrayal- advice needed re: neutering

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emelyssa

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So I trapped one of the two feral boys, but when I got him to TCAP it turned out he was already ear tipped and microchipped, so I just got his vaccines, FIV/FLV test, flea treatment and de-worming. His tests were negative. I contacted the Microchip company and did some detective work. It turns out that he's about five years old. In October 2018, a trapper for the city's TNR program brought him in for TNR. The city did the surgery and dropped him off where he was found the next day. He's been on his own ever since and didn't have a caretaker. His vaccines not updated since then either. The TNR program director encouraged me to adopt him.

After I set him up in his room at 3 p.m., he had a bad time. I was even feeling some doubt, like can I do this? Can I tame a five year old totally feral cat? Well, I don't know what happened, but at 10 p.m. when I came in with the second serving of wet food, he was all purrs. He decided I should pet him and keep petting him. He has been head butting and giving kisses. He doesn't stop purring, rubbing his body on everything and kneading the floor. He is so relaxed and happy.
He went from total feral to lover boy in one day. Now I just have to catch his brother, who most definitely is not neutered or tipped.
 

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tabbytom

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So I trapped one of the two feral boys, but when I got him to TCAP it turned out he was already ear tipped and microchipped, so I just got his vaccines, FIV/FLV test, flea treatment and de-worming. His tests were negative. I contacted the Microchip company and did some detective work. It turns out that he's about five years old. In October 2018, a trapper for the city's TNR program brought him in for TNR. The city did the surgery and dropped him off where he was found the next day. He's been on his own ever since and didn't have a caretaker. His vaccines not updated since then either. The TNR program director encouraged me to adopt him.

After I set him up in his room at 3 p.m., he had a bad time. I was even feeling some doubt, like can I do this? Can I tame a five year old totally feral cat? Well, I don't know what happened, but at 10 p.m. when I came in with the second serving of wet food, he was all purrs. He decided I should pet him and keep petting him. He has been head butting and giving kisses. He doesn't stop purring, rubbing his body on everything and kneading the floor. He is so relaxed and happy.
He went from total feral to lover boy in one day. Now I just have to catch his brother, who most definitely is not neutered or tipped.
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What a handsome chap! :redheartpump: :hearthrob: Great that it turned out well for him and you. Hopefully you can trap his brother without much fuss.

Thank you!
 
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emelyssa

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After the vet visit is the ideal time to bring them inside. Just have a safe room completely cat proofed. I like to either put the bed flat on the floor lean against a wall or remove it. Under the bed is the first place they will go to hide and it's next to impossible to get them out. Also block under and behind all large furniture. You do want a safe place to hide, like a hiding box/bed or cat tree with hiding box. These places are more out in the open and easier to work with continued socializing.

Watch out for windows too. You want curtains removed, or put up on the rod and the same for blinds. Watch the strings. Many cats feral/stray cats that I have brought inside have immediately freaked and run to the window and tried to get out. Be sure the windows are tightly closed.

I like to have 2 litter boxes. Some people like to bring in a bit of garden soil, but I find most cats take really well to a litter box. If there is a pee or poo accident just sop up the pee with a paper towel and bury it in the litter box. Same with poo. Cats are attracted to their own scent.

Playing soft music can help too. You can find some relaxing cat music on Amazon or even youtube. I like to keep a nightlight in the room too.

Be prepared that the first few days can be challenging. Some cats will not want to eat and hide as well as hiss and spit. This will subside and do your absolute best to not cave and let them back outside. Composure treats or liquid are a great decompressor. They are non sedating calming supplements. Feliway plug ins can help too.

Try to visit often for short spurts. Sit on the floor so that you are not looming. No direct eye contact as this is frightening to the cat. If possible each time you enter the room, bring something extra delicious. Bring canned tuna or plain cooked chicken. This will signal to them that you are extra special as you bring such yummy treats.

I like to sit in the room with the cats and read or do some light work on my computer. Just spending some quiet time with them helps to ease the tension.

We are all here to help. I have brought in 6 feral/stray cats and each has adapted with time. Some do well right from the start and others need lots of encouragement along the way.
All of this advice has been very helpful. As you may have read in some of my most recent posts, both cats are now inside. They are five year old feral cats.

Drexl was picked up by my city's TNR program when he was about one year old, neutered, ear tipped, and released 24 hrs later. I know all of this because he was microchipped, and I was able to follow up and find all about him. Thank goodness he tested negative for FIV and FeLV when I brought him to the vet; I know getting neutered at a young age helped him a great deal. Regarding TNR, he was brought in by a dedicated trapper that attempts to TNR feral cats all around my city, not a caretaker. So, Drexl has been on his own without anyone to care for him his whole life. It must have meant a lot to him- the food and talking to him in the dark every night while he hid and cried in the bushes- because when he found himself in my house after trapping and vetting, it took him only 6 hrs to realize he loves it. I could not ask for a more perfect cat. He greets me with kisses, purrs all the time, plays like a kitten- he's just fantastic. Drexl has been here in my home for two weeks. He will graduate from his safe room in my office to also having access to my master suite this weekend after some cat proofing and a few more meet and greets with my dog (I crack the door open a couple times a day and tell them to greet each other- Drexl is very shy with the dog, but he enjoys this ritual and my dog is super patient- she loves cats). My husband won't give him the whole reign of the house until we have a better idea of his habits with furniture.

Brax, on the other hand, almost definitely Drexl's littermate, was never TNR'd. He has just been out and about on his own for five years unaltered. He is FIV+. While I had established some rapport with him outside, all his good will towards me has been demolished since the ordeal of trapping, vetting, being in my house, and then even a trip to the ER vet when he wasn't eating. Brax has been in my home since Friday they day he was trapped and neutered)- almost a week. He is eating again, but he is very hateful towards me. He flattens his ears, gives me mean looks and sometimes hisses at me. I have him in my master bathroom for now with two litter pans,a cave set up for him which is covered by a blanket for his privacy and has enough space for his bed, a litter pan, food and water. The other litter pan is outside the cave, but he does use it. There is a window, toys, and a scratching post. I have Feliway plugged in. I've been bringing him his favorite foods every couple hours and I speak to him gently. It's hard to imagine he will ever come around. I bought the composure treats you recommended in liquid form so I can mix into his food. This will arrive tomorrow and I really hope it helps!! Do you think it's really possible to win Brax's trust eventually? Have I ruined his life by bringing him in?
 

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You are doing all of the right things. Keep in mind it has only been a week. Most cats take months to adjust to inside living. The first feral I brought inside was 3 years old. He took 1 solid year to decide it was ok to live inside. One week is just a drop in the bucket. You have to remember to move at cat time not human time. He has been through so much.

I would come into the room every hour or so if that is possible. Just sit on the floor. Talk to him (without eye contact). Tell him he is safe. Each time you visit toss him a yummy snack. He may not retrieve it while you are there. Toss another one when you leave. If he is interested in the snack keep tossing it and find his challenge line. You may have to find different yummy snacks. Try Gerber baby food (stage 2 in small glass jar with blue lid in chicken or turkey), Churu, tuna or stinky wet food. I once took an old wand toy ( a dowel rod would work too) and duct taped a baby spoon to the end. I put baby food or tuna on the end and reached it towards the cat. That is something you can try.

Keep your visits short. Just 5-10 minutes. But try to visit often. I always knock on the door to announce my presence. I used to spring the special treat in a zip lock bag and shake it as I entered.

The biggest mistake made when bringing a cat inside and working on socialization is wanting the process to go at warp human speed. You need to have lots and lots of patience. If you move at your speed things will not progress. I am a goal setter and had hoped the same for my feral cats. I would try to set lofty goals and a time when those goals had to be met. It never worked. Just relax and celebrate each and every milestone no matter when they happen.

As for the Composure, I would recommend doubling the dosage for morning and then give a regular dosage in the evening. It is safe to even triple the dosage for a week or so. I used to give doubled in the morning and regular dose in evening. I did this for many months.

Please keep us posted. You are doing so well!
 
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emelyssa

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Thanks so much for this advice!! This has to be better for him in the long-run than being on the street, right? I look forward to the composure liquid arriving later today.

I know that Drexl's behavior was just a stroke of luck, but I'm grateful for it!
 

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Just keep telling yourself that he is much better off inside than outside. It's a huge adjustment. Just take it all day by day. There will be good days and bad days. Stay calm and give him time to adjust.
 

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He doesn't hate you, he is just frightened. He will come around when he is ready. Don't forget he had to be that way to protect himself from the dangers of outside. Not all people are kind to animals and there's no telling what happened outside.

You need to teach him there are kind people in the world who won't hurt him.
 
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emelyssa

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Just keep telling yourself that he is much better off inside than outside. It's a huge adjustment. Just take it all day by day. There will be good days and bad days. Stay calm and give him time to adjust.
Is it normal for him to be depressed right now? Today begins Week 2. He is a picky eater, though he does eat, and he often seems to be sleeping or pretending to sleep when I look in at him. He sometimes lays turned away from me. He is coming out of his cave and exploring a bit when we are not around.
 

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Yep, this is all part of the process. Adjustments take awhile. Have you tried giving him any catnip or playing with him? What about a bird feeder outside the closed window? He needs some things to enrich his new inside life. Does he have any toys he can interact with alone such as a spinning toy with ball in the middle, catnip toys or other mice like toys? I would also try to play with him. Start slowly with something simple like a wand toy or shoe string under a blanket that you move or pull out slowly then quicker.

Cats like to sleep and take in their new environment. This is all new and each step along with way will be new and have its own set of challenges. Keep a routine with him and that will help too. He will look forward to meal time, play time, treat time, etc...
 
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I haven't worked up to playing with him yet as he really just recovered from his neuter (he had a hard time with it). But, I will give that a try. I do have some catnip mice in the room for him. I'll put one of the ball tracks in there and look into a bird feeder near his window. He is in my master bathroom right now & I'm thinking that's where he needs to stay until he can be handled.
 

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He would probably be ok in a room of his own as long as it is cat proofed. If there is a bed it's best to place on the floor or pick it up as you do not want the cat under the bed. Blocking behind all furniture too.

I have moved all of my feral cats into rooms of their own after a few days recovery. I am just sure that it is completely cat proofed. Windows must be close, blinds/drapes put up especially cords. I then have a cat tree and lots of toys and a litter box. A hiding box or even the cat carrier works as a good hiding spot. Most cats will be a bit happier if they have a bit of space to roam and explore.

If you don't have a safe place for him, then the bathroom will do. Males recover very quickly from a neuter.
 
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emelyssa

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He would probably be ok in a room of his own as long as it is cat proofed. If there is a bed it's best to place on the floor or pick it up as you do not want the cat under the bed. Blocking behind all furniture too.

I have moved all of my feral cats into rooms of their own after a few days recovery. I am just sure that it is completely cat proofed. Windows must be close, blinds/drapes put up especially cords. I then have a cat tree and lots of toys and a litter box. A hiding box or even the cat carrier works as a good hiding spot. Most cats will be a bit happier if they have a bit of space to roam and explore.

If you don't have a safe place for him, then the bathroom will do. Males recover very quickly from a neuter.
I have the perfect room to put him in, except the problem is I'm concerned it will way too stressful to get him in the cat carrier to move him. So he'll just need to stay in the bathroom until he can be handled. It's a large bathroom but it would be ideal if I could move him to the other room.

The only reason he wasn't in the bigger room to start with is that I had Drexl in there already. Drexl has graduated to whole house privileges starting this weekend.
 

shadowsrescue

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Can you put the cat carrier back in the bathroom and see if he will just use it as a hiding spot? You might be surprised and one day just shut it and take him over to his new digs.
 
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I'll put it in the bathroom, though I doubt he will choose it over his cave area. He is the only cat that's been in that one and it does have a soft bed.
 

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I have the perfect room to put him in, except the problem is I'm concerned it will way too stressful to get him in the cat carrier to move him. So he'll just need to stay in the bathroom until he can be handled. It's a large bathroom but it would be ideal if I could move him to the other room.

The only reason he wasn't in the bigger room to start with is that I had Drexl in there already. Drexl has graduated to whole house privileges starting this weekend.
I think it's ok for him to stay in the bathroom for the time being as moving him may cause him to be more weary again as he does not know that moving him to a bigger room is better for him. He might think that his life now is being captured and recaptured again and again.

Let him get use to the bathroom and you and slowly transit him out to the house once he gains confident and moreover Drexl has all access pass to the house, he'll sure to get to meet his brother and that will probably give him more confidence.

The less stress now for him the better.
 
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emelyssa

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Thanks, tabbytom. While I know that Brax knows Drexl, they were competing for resources when they were outside. As Brax is FIV+ and sweet Drexl is not, it's all the more important that I don't introduce them until I can trust Brax. Additionally, we have a dog, which I'm sure will be easier to introduce Brax to if he can ever get used to us people first.

P.S. the dog is the only reason Drexl doesn't have full reign just yet. They greet each other every day but he's still a little shy with her. Hopefully by Monday he will be ready.
 
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Also, Brax isn't comfortable enough to play with me yet.
 

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That he came out so fast and was affectionate is fabulous! In time he is going to adjust. I think he will be fine in your house in time. I thought I posted on this one before so sorry if it is a repeat.

I am doing the same with one of my last two outdoors, he is much more scared and timid etc. I think he will be the hardest to tame and adjust of any of my outdoor cats who came in. He has been out there for at least 6- 7 years now since I did his tnr. He has a bff who has to come in too. So far he is getting along with my 3 boys in small visits with treats and overnight stays with Merlin.

Baby steps and patience are needed, I have to remind myself of that. Right now he is on gaba also which helped his aggression as well as his limp paw which was why he came in, he was in a drop trap for two weeks but is now in a big bedroom.
 
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