Proper way of taking care of cat colony while working and going to school?

moreknow

TCS Member
Thread starter
Young Cat
Joined
Apr 21, 2020
Messages
24
Reaction score
19
Hi guys,
So since July 4, 2017, I have fed these feral cats in my backyard, and little did I know that I would create a strong bond and commitment to them, and also I did not know that they would mate a lot, and I have 10+ cats from 4 generations. I have taken 4 cats (2 male, 2 female) to get fixed in December, but both males died/disapperared unfortunately. I have let around 9 cats into my house throughout the last 3 yrs (not at the same time), and currently I have 3 cats who I consider semiferal and almost domesticated b/c they let us pet them but they would still be super scared of being in a cage and taken somewhere. Hopefully once this pandemic dies down I will be able to take 4 cats monthly to the shelter to get fixed in the TNR programs. Last week I had 2-3 cats that I've taken care of disappear, one most likely died due to stress or something b/c there was this outside cat that would always attack him, and the other 2 have disappeared. I do what I can to defend my cats from that outside cat, I've already tried to provide for that cat but he seems very aggressive to all the other males in my colony so I gave up. There are many threats around my area, and I do not want to see more of these cats that i take care of suffer, b/c I always end up feeling emotional and guilty b/c I feel like i let them down.
So I just want to find a way to take care of them properly while being a full time cook and college student
I have heard cats are good at hiding their pain from diseases, so i might not even notice they are dying. I just want to note that my parents would ridicule me if I spent time and money taking a cat that's 'not mine' to the vet, and besides it is a strenous task taking a feral cat to the vet, so I rule that out of what I can do to take care of them.
I feed them 2-3 times a day, I wet the dry kibble in six double bowls and mix it with Purina wet cans and add Tomlyn immune system support powder. When I see a cat that seems like they're more hungry or I haven't seen them in days, I feed them extra. I sometimes put catnip in the grass so I can see which cats are able to be active. The older cats don't respond much to it.
I plan on adding a roof to our backyard porch and put a screen door and windows so they could probably treat it as their 'catio' and not go away and get killed or anything
Despite that, I feel like im not doing enough. these cats are a part of my life, but they are dying despite the many kittens that are out there right now. I know that one day, they will all go away, and I am preparing myself from now to let go of them so I won't suffer anymore. But as of now, I would really really really appreciate any feedback or recommendations on what's the optimum way of feeding them, giving them water, shelter, etc.. so they can live as long and healthily as possible. (i live in southeast texas fyi)

many many thanks in advance,
Uriel :)
 

Jcatbird

TCS Member
Top Cat
Joined
Dec 5, 2017
Messages
6,763
Reaction score
34,380
Location
Southern U.S.
I totally get how difficult this is and how other people may view caring for a colony. I think many of us face that at times. I can tell you that caring for a colony is an act of devotion and love. Personally, I feel that those who see a problem but are not part of solving it become a part of the problem. If more people were responsible in their care of animals, none of us would need to rescue. I applaud your kind heart and efforts to help these kitties. There are ways to handle a colony without so much distress for you. Feeding enables cats to have better health and to breed. I know that this Covid has interrupted spays and neuters but as soon as you can, start getting that done. Spaying and neutering will help them to have a healthier and longer life. As long as females are coming into heat, males will be attracted. Numbers will increase. How do I know? I caught, spayed, neutered, vetted and socialized over a hundred kitties over three years and did it on a limited income. I am an older person and have vision issues too. At first, I had no one to turn to for support. The cats here were high risk because of humans that did not like them so I felt great pressure of time. The good news..... I caught them all and most got socialized and adopted! The remainder continue safe lives here.
I used tarps at first like Pup tents to give shelter. I put different levels in height and fed and watered away from these shelters. Putting food out in the morning and evening and staying with the kitties as they ate so I could remove uneaten food which kept predators away. I put out more than one feeding area to help separate kitties that were more aggressive. If a female is in heat, the males will scare or chase others off but that does not mean that your kitties are gone forever. As you get them spayed and neutered the colony will calm done and those in hiding should reappear. Females also hide at times because they are avoiding mating or trying to hide their kittens away. My method was to get females fixed first to stop the population from growing. Sometimes I got a male before a female so, they got fixed too. I think you will find much more peace of mind as you can get kitties fixed. Everything calms down to some extent when that starts happening.
Are there any rescue or feral groups near you? You can look by doing a google search for feral cat or cat rescues and then your city, town, county and state. You will probably have to contact them repeatedly to get help but never, ever give up. Look for people who can foster the kittens. If you get kittens into fosters and they get socialized, they have a great opportunity of finding a forever home. I know you are attached to each fur baby but remember, you want them all to have the best life you can give them. Socialing older cats can be done too. I can send some photos through private messaging to show you the colony here.
I would also like for others who have helped ferals and rescues to weigh in here if they are online. W walli is one of the kindest rescuers. catsknowme catsknowme is as well. N NY cat man is another who has saved lives and has a great heart. There are many, many people here who have been in your position with more kitties or less but either way, had to put in the effort to save lives. Keep posting and tell us all about your kitties. TCS is a great place to be and full of caring humans who understand what you are doing for the kitties. There is also great information here on a multitude of cat issues. Post questions or concerns. You are making our world better. Thank you for helping these kitties!
 

catsknowme

TCS Member
Top Cat
Joined
Jan 2, 2005
Messages
10,208
Reaction score
4,610
Location
Eastern California,USA
Please stay encouraged! You are a strong wall against the trials & tribulations that the ferals are facing. JCatbird has shared valuable words of truth and wisdom. Whatever your life's goals are, your experiences with ferals will make you stronger, wiser, better. Your feeding protocol sounds excellent. I am unsure why your cats disappear - do they show signs of illness? As JCatbird said, once they are all fixed, the group will calm down considerably. Baby kittens add a lot of stress to a colony, especially if they are ill - even the males get upset at hearing kittens mew in distress and will lash out at each other. I do believe that cats are much,much more social than shown in ommon studies, especially here in the US,
 

NY cat man

TCS Member
Top Cat
Joined
Aug 6, 2018
Messages
4,812
Reaction score
10,229
First off, bless you for your efforts on behalf of the cats. There really isn't much that I can add to what Jcatbird Jcatbird and catsknowme catsknowme have posted, except this: As much as we might wish otherwise, and try as hard as we can, we can't save every cat out there. We can only do our best to save those that we can, and not let the fact that we can't do everything discourage us from doing anything at all. You have set a noble goal for yourself, and I commend you for it. It won't be easy, but as I heard a local contractor say "What may be hard by the yard, by the inch is a cinch". Take things an inch at a time, and don't overwhelm yourself. Good luck to you and your kitties.
 
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #5

moreknow

TCS Member
Thread starter
Young Cat
Joined
Apr 21, 2020
Messages
24
Reaction score
19
Thank you so much for y'all's words :D I appreciate knowing that there are others out there that take care for feral cats
I have taken 4 cats last december to get fixed at this animal shelter who offers free surgeries to feral cats, and once covid dies down I will start taking them again, but as of now, it just seems that some cats are disappearing. One of them who is 3 years old returned and seems completely fine after not eating for 3 days. I always take attendance and see who's missing and try to see any abnormalities and signs of illness (which I haven't seen, honestly), and there have been many unusual absences happening. It's unsettling but again, I feel that I have to let go of the fear of losing them, attachment can lead to many negative feelings and thoughts. I may sound like I know what I am saying, but it's really hard to follow the 'advice' i just said. Nonetheless, I feel comfort in knowing that there are others out there who care for ferals, and just know that I am with you in spirit in the good times and bad times with your cats :D
 

NY cat man

TCS Member
Top Cat
Joined
Aug 6, 2018
Messages
4,812
Reaction score
10,229
Thank you so much for y'all's words :D I appreciate knowing that there are others out there that take care for feral cats
I have taken 4 cats last december to get fixed at this animal shelter who offers free surgeries to feral cats, and once covid dies down I will start taking them again, but as of now, it just seems that some cats are disappearing. One of them who is 3 years old returned and seems completely fine after not eating for 3 days. I always take attendance and see who's missing and try to see any abnormalities and signs of illness (which I haven't seen, honestly), and there have been many unusual absences happening. It's unsettling but again, I feel that I have to let go of the fear of losing them, attachment can lead to many negative feelings and thoughts. I may sound like I know what I am saying, but it's really hard to follow the 'advice' i just said. Nonetheless, I feel comfort in knowing that there are others out there who care for ferals, and just know that I am with you in spirit in the good times and bad times with your cats :D
If it was easy, anyone could do it.
 

catsknowme

TCS Member
Top Cat
Joined
Jan 2, 2005
Messages
10,208
Reaction score
4,610
Location
Eastern California,USA
It sounds likely that there may be another cat-caregiver in the area. Many cat guardians seek to go unnoticed for the safety of the cats as well as their own.
 

moxiewild

Seniors, Special Needs, and Ferals
Super Cat
Joined
Aug 4, 2014
Messages
811
Reaction score
930
M moreknow You haven’t specified whether they’re currently offering spay/neuter services in your area right now or not.

I do rescue across south and central Texas, and (for now) clinics are are open, and most stayed open during shelter-at-home but just switched to curbside and/or limited appointments/openings.

I ask because I actually work in rescue, and I noticed immediately that people were very commonly assuming that regular vets and/or TNR or spay/neuter clinics weren’t open, or that they weren’t safe (people didn’t realize clinics switched to curbside).

Is there a reason you can’t start TNR’ing now?

That is the absolute best thing you can do to improve the quality of life for these cats.

It will also help address many of the issues you’re seeing - roaming/disappearing and fighting are typical behaviors for unneutered colonies. Unneutered cats roam to breed, and both neutered and unneutered cats will roam to escape an aggressive (or looking to mate) unneutered cat, for instance.

My neutered colony still has infighting, so I have to have three separate feeding stations (back porch, front porch, and garage), and this helps a ton. At least at the feeding stations, there is usually only one confrontation every couple of months.

Another key to that is leaving out extra food. Cats are territorial, and they will compete over food if it is not obviously plentiful sometimes. Setting out more food than is actually needed (I separate dry and wet, so I only use dry for the “extra” so that it can be picked up and used later), has also helped to decrease tension.

These changes might help until you can get the aggressive interloper neutered.

Luckily, living in south Texas means you don’t have to worry too much about winter shelters. They can survive south Texas winters without, although they’re nice to have and simple to make! All you need is some plastic storage totes, a box cutter, some reflectix insulaton or Mylar/emergency/space blankets, and some straw!

If it rains quite a bit where you are, you can often make do with lean-tos for most of the year, which are very simple to set up and take down as needed, and are also cheap. Just some plywood, a tarp, and some bricks or heavy rocks will usually do (though you can add other things if you want!).
 
Top