Questions about feral cats lifestyle long term

BBirdcat

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From recent thread, just had a semi feral cat pass and had some questions as I'm dealing w the aftermath.

- Do feral cats always have problems w fleas, ear mites, ticks etc??? I had put Advantage on my cat which seemed to stop the fleas (it was getting unpleasant for her and I saw at one point 2 fleas on her face and many on her stomach) which seemed to help TREMENDOUSLY for 2 weeks, but by the third week she was back to scratching.

- On the last day I saw her, she was having issues sleeping more than 5-10 minutes at a time and would constantly move. I also noticed she was incessantly grooming her stomach AND was scratching at her eyeball a lot. She would also occasionally shake her head too (I put ear drops in her ears twice which helped a little) but it seems like the summer months made everything for her REALLY buggy.

- I guess my question is do outdoor cats deal w this their entire lives? I thought the Advantage would work. I was going to give her Revolution in 2 weeks from now which supposedly helps w fleas, ticks, ear mites etc.. but if my cat was constantly diving into dirt/garden areas wouldn't they just keep coming back??

- What do feral cats do at night? This was when she was most active I thought, and it seemed like she just looked for moths and water bugs to hunt. How far do they travel?

- My feral cat was at 11 months and I guess in the teenager phase. IS this when they "rebel" and start exploring more? The 2nd to last night before I saw her I called for her twice like I normally do and she never responded. I freaked out but it turned out at 4am that day she was just wandering around.

- I also noticed different sorts of bugs on her in the prior week (one big black bug that jumped REALLY high up in the air when I tried to kill it) AND she was constantly going in and out of the house WAY more than usual. What could this behavior signify?

Sorry if a lot of questions, but thank you for answering! Still trying to deal w this and process it.
 

Norachan

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Hi B BBirdcat

I saw your other thread. I'm sorry you lost your girl that way.

:hugs:

Outdoor cats do have a really tough time. They are bothered by fleas, lice, ticks, mosquitoes, round worms and tapeworms. My cats only have enclosure access, but they need to be treated every 30 days during the warmer months to keep the bugs away. I live in a pretty cold, mountainous area so for us the ticks and mosquitoes are the worse problem.

You can use food grade Diatomaceous Earth in your yard to keep fleas away.

Diatomaceous Earth for Fleas in a Yard.

If cats have been spayed/neutered they won't usually move that far from their home territory. The only things that would cause them to roam are looking for a better food source, if they don't get regular food where they are, or avoiding more dominant cats or other predators that have moved into the area.

What they do at night depends on the climate. As I said, I live in a cold place so our winters are well below zero. My cats stay indoors and sleep all night in the winter, but are more active at night in the summer. Cats are crepuscular, which means they are most active at sun rise and sun set. Not every cat follows this rule though. One of mine is active all through the night all year round.

Going in and out of the house could mean she was nervous about another animal she could smell/hear out there. It could have just meant that summer was coming and there were more birds and things around to interest her.

I know it's not always possible, but if you can make a cat indoor only or build them an enclosure other animals can't get into they will live a lot longer.
 
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BBirdcat

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Hi B BBirdcat

I saw your other thread. I'm sorry you lost your girl that way.

:hugs:

Outdoor cats do have a really tough time. They are bothered by fleas, lice, ticks, mosquitoes, round worms and tapeworms. My cats only have enclosure access, but they need to be treated every 30 days during the warmer months to keep the bugs away. I live in a pretty cold, mountainous area so for us the ticks and mosquitoes are the worse problem.

You can use food grade Diatomaceous Earth in your yard to keep fleas away.

Diatomaceous Earth for Fleas in a Yard.

If cats have been spayed/neutered they won't usually move that far from their home territory. The only things that would cause them to roam are looking for a better food source, if they don't get regular food where they are, or avoiding more dominant cats or other predators that have moved into the area.

What they do at night depends on the climate. As I said, I live in a cold place so our winters are well below zero. My cats stay indoors and sleep all night in the winter, but are more active at night in the summer. Cats are crepuscular, which means they are most active at sun rise and sun set. Not every cat follows this rule though. One of mine is active all through the night all year round.

Going in and out of the house could mean she was nervous about another animal she could smell/hear out there. It could have just meant that summer was coming and there were more birds and things around to interest her.

I know it's not always possible, but if you can make a cat indoor only or build them an enclosure other animals can't get into they will live a lot longer.
Thank you. I did not enclose my cat so it roamed around a LOT around bushes dirt things, etc she loved that so much but obviously brought all those pesky bugs on her, her ears etc..

The climate is pretty sunny where I live. She was sprayed but I just find it so weird that the night before this happened, I called for her twice and she never came. That hasn't happened in months. I wonder where she went off to..

I also wanted to put a cat tracker on her, but I read for feral cats it's not good in case they get trapped or stuck in a tree branch or something. Is that accurate?

I think it's possible she just wanted to roam a lot. I have another family member who takes care of her in the morning (since I did the shift from 8PM-12am sporadically on and off), and she would leave the door open all morning giving her more freedom.

She did sniff around at night the last week or two so I wonder if another animal was in the patio/back area..... although I had cameras back there and there was no pictures of any animals there. I think she started to get bored of the house though as she had stopped playing w the toys and mainly came to rest or eat (or drink water, bathroom).


I might try for future animal to have an enclosure so they can feel fresh air but not wander off or get eaten. Do you have a recommendation for an enclosure item?
 

Norachan

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I might try for future animal to have an enclosure so they can feel fresh air but not wander off or get eaten. Do you have a recommendation for an enclosure item?
We have a couple of articles on making the perfect catio.

Building A Cat Enclosure
Cat Enclosures

It really depends on how much space you have, how much money you want to spend and whether you want to build a lot of things for your cat to climb on by yourself. I really enjoy making things, so I've added a lot of outdoor climbing trees to my enclosure.

The thread is a few years old now, but you can see some pictures here.

Moving House, Taking The Colony With Me.

I think the most important things to keep in mind are what your weather is like (Will the cat need protection from the sun, will the enclosure have to stand up to heavy snow, is it likely to get muddy after heavy rain etc) and what other animals you have in the area. If coyotes are a problem you will need a roof and you'll need to ensure the enclosure walls are dug deep into the earth to stop them digging their way in.

Oh, and make the most of vertical space! Cat's are happy in a smaller enclosure as long as they have two or three levels they can climb up to.
 
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BBirdcat

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We have a couple of articles on making the perfect catio.

Building A Cat Enclosure
Cat Enclosures

It really depends on how much space you have, how much money you want to spend and whether you want to build a lot of things for your cat to climb on by yourself. I really enjoy making things, so I've added a lot of outdoor climbing trees to my enclosure.

The thread is a few years old now, but you can see some pictures here.

Moving House, Taking The Colony With Me.

I think the most important things to keep in mind are what your weather is like (Will the cat need protection from the sun, will the enclosure have to stand up to heavy snow, is it likely to get muddy after heavy rain etc) and what other animals you have in the area. If coyotes are a problem you will need a roof and you'll need to ensure the enclosure walls are dug deep into the earth to stop them digging their way in.

Oh, and make the most of vertical space! Cat's are happy in a smaller enclosure as long as they have two or three levels they can climb up to.
thanks, I was hoping for something I could just buy. It seems like a lot of work and my cat was so skittish I worry the construction would spook her.

But thank you anyway.
 

Norachan

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You can just buy them ready to assemble, but they cost a bit more that way. Do a Google search, you:ll see lots of companies that make catios and cat enclosures.
 

di and bob

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Research the flea treatments next time if you get another cat and see which will treat ear mites. Revolution would. That way it covers a broader spectrum of pests.
I'm so sorry for your loss. II hope you find comfort in knowing you made her life better and I'm sure she loved you for it. Cats that live outdoors have a tough time surviving. I have lost many to the road, predators and disease. It never gets easier. Bless you for helping her......
 
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BBirdcat

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Research the flea treatments next time if you get another cat and see which will treat ear mites. Revolution would. That way it covers a broader spectrum of pests.
I'm so sorry for your loss. II hope you find comfort in knowing you made her life better and I'm sure she loved you for it. Cats that live outdoors have a tough time surviving. I have lost many to the road, predators and disease. It never gets easier. Bless you for helping her......
Thank you. I'm still not 100% she got eaten by a coyote, but I've looked all over and can't find her. I may look again tomorrow but in a way it'd be better if she had a quick happy life and quick death than her somewhere freaking out outside totally lost and scared again like when she was a little kitten.

I bought a European Revolution that hasn't even arrived yet because unfortunately no veterinarian would give me a prescription without seeing the cat in person (which would be impossible sine she refused to be picked up or moved somewhere unless trapped which was super traumatic for her)

Out of curiosity: at what age did the cats you took care of outdoors died? Mine was 11 months. :( I read they usually lived 2-5 years so was pretty disappointed.
 

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My true ferals who were entirely wild and completely uninterested in having any human contact usually made it about 2 years. In my area, I believe that predation is down to coyotes exclusively. The ferals who were not adoptable but who stuck closer to houses, garages, prepared shelters, apartment hallways all survived longer.

I am very sorry about the loss of your cat; you evidently did a lot to try to make her comfortable and happy.
 
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BBirdcat

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My true ferals who were entirely wild and completely uninterested in having any human contact usually made it about 2 years. In my area, I believe that predation is down to coyotes exclusively. The ferals who were not adoptable but who stuck closer to houses, garages, prepared shelters, apartment hallways all survived longer.

I am very sorry about the loss of your cat; you evidently did a lot to try to make her comfortable and happy.
Thank you.
I don't know how my cat got eaten then at only 11 months :( :(

She was very adventurous and liked to roam and travel a lot. She would easily get distracted by bugs and things but thought she had a good sense of danger. Maybe she was too trusting or comfortable outside.

I was able to pet her back and on her last day hold her paws and little leg for 5-6 seconds.
 
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BBirdcat

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Still trying to piece things together.

Does anyone have experience rescuing a feral cat abandoned by her mother very early on in their life (born for under a month)?

We took her in early in life, as the cat was nearly dead and extremely thirsty and hungry.

My family doesn't think the cat was ever socialized properly, and was never taught by her mother how to take care of herself or look out for herself in the wild. By the time of her I think death, she was 11 months and was getting braver and braver exploring further areas outside and was always on the cameras super distracted by bugs in vulnerable areas outdoors.

Having said that, she also after 3 months felt comfortable enough to go inside the house, and after 4 months was comfortable w me petting her, but even after 11 months didn't like being petted by anyone else.

After about 6-7 months she started licking me which I would think her mother taught her, unless it was just instinct? She also liked her head being scratched which also may have been instinct or her mother taught her? Not sure.

If people have stories or personality insights into feral cats abandoned by their mothers (not properly socialized) that would be very helpful and soothing. Thank you.
 

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Did you find her remains? If not, it is possible she may still show up, I have had outdoor cats disappear for weeks. The last feral I lost was hit by a car at a year old, I have lost them as young as two weeks to owls, and 6 weeks to distemper. Out of twenty or so over the years, I have had ONE die of old age, at 14, and have one left, a little two year old gray and white that I am going to trap and bring with me when we move, I hope. The road gets a lot of them here, but I'm afraid the coyotes will get him where we are going. Though the neighbors do have cats a few miles down the road. It's damned if you do and damned if you don't......
 

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When I was a kid my family adopted an 8 week old cat who was abandoned by his mother at a few days old. His mom was a barn cat and he was a runt, she left him when she moved her other kittens. The barn owner found him and bottle fed him, and I guess spent a lot of time socializing him. I'm not sure if the kitten (Boo) was exposed to other cats during his time with the barn owner or not, but he had no issues grooming or socializing with our older cat.

Boo was a really wonderful cat. He was the sweetest boy you could imagine, very silly and just so loving. You could do anything to him, he was just happy that you were paying attention to him. He would sit on my shoulders and I would walk around the house with him like that. He was not brave in the slightest. He was kinda pathetic, honestly lmao. He was allowed to go outside (we had other indoor/outdoor cats already, so we weren't able to just keep Boo in) and his reaction to being started was to jump onto the nearest tree, about 3 feet in the air, hanging there with all his limbs splayed out, and just freeze. He also did that to the screen door when he wanted to go in or out. One year he did that to the Christmas tree and took the whole thing down! He was a very special cat, but unfortunately he did not get to live a full life. We always kept him inside at night, but one night I went to take the dog out and he slipped out the door. He never came home after that, despite weeks of searching and putting flyers everywhere. I know he was not an adept fighter, I know what happened to him. It's been 13 years now, and I don't cry about him anymore, it's mostly happy memories. I do still feel guilt over it, I don't know that I'll ever not feel guilty. I know it wasn't necessarily my fault, he ran out the door, but it also is my fault, I'm the one that opened the door and wasn't able to stop him. He was about 5, I think. He was a really wonderful cat, and I always attributed his good qualities to that kind barn owner who took care of him from such a young age.
 
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BBirdcat

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Did you find her remains? If not, it is possible she may still show up, I have had outdoor cats disappear for weeks. The last feral I lost was hit by a car at a year old, I have lost them as young as two weeks to owls, and 6 weeks to distemper. Out of twenty or so over the years, I have had ONE die of old age, at 14, and have one left, a little two year old gray and white that I am going to trap and bring with me when we move, I hope. The road gets a lot of them here, but I'm afraid the coyotes will get him where we are going. Though the neighbors do have cats a few miles down the road. It's damned if you do and damned if you don't......
Have not found her remains. Asked gardeners if they see it but they have not.

I fear the coyote probably killed her and dragged her back to wherever.

My kitten I think lasted 11 months but I wish it was longer :( Im so lonely and miss my buddy

Still kicking myself for not keeping her in the house as long as she wanted, even that meant staying up all night w her. She had her face right at the door and wanted to come back in which was unusual. Maybe she knew coyotes were outside and wanted to stay safe. I feel awful.
 
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BBirdcat

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When I was a kid my family adopted an 8 week old cat who was abandoned by his mother at a few days old. His mom was a barn cat and he was a runt, she left him when she moved her other kittens. The barn owner found him and bottle fed him, and I guess spent a lot of time socializing him. I'm not sure if the kitten (Boo) was exposed to other cats during his time with the barn owner or not, but he had no issues grooming or socializing with our older cat.

Boo was a really wonderful cat. He was the sweetest boy you could imagine, very silly and just so loving. You could do anything to him, he was just happy that you were paying attention to him. He would sit on my shoulders and I would walk around the house with him like that. He was not brave in the slightest. He was kinda pathetic, honestly lmao. He was allowed to go outside (we had other indoor/outdoor cats already, so we weren't able to just keep Boo in) and his reaction to being started was to jump onto the nearest tree, about 3 feet in the air, hanging there with all his limbs splayed out, and just freeze. He also did that to the screen door when he wanted to go in or out. One year he did that to the Christmas tree and took the whole thing down! He was a very special cat, but unfortunately he did not get to live a full life. We always kept him inside at night, but one night I went to take the dog out and he slipped out the door. He never came home after that, despite weeks of searching and putting flyers everywhere. I know he was not an adept fighter, I know what happened to him. It's been 13 years now, and I don't cry about him anymore, it's mostly happy memories. I do still feel guilt over it, I don't know that I'll ever not feel guilty. I know it wasn't necessarily my fault, he ran out the door, but it also is my fault, I'm the one that opened the door and wasn't able to stop him. He was about 5, I think. He was a really wonderful cat, and I always attributed his good qualities to that kind barn owner who took care of him from such a young age.
thank you.

Still kicking myself for not keeping her in the house as long as she wanted, even that meant staying up all night w her. She had her face right at the door and wanted to come back in which was unusual. Maybe she knew coyotes were outside and wanted to stay safe. I feel awful.

Think I had to stay w my cat all night potentially but had I known the alternative, I would have done that.
 

di and bob

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These doubts and regrets always come with grief. Do not go there.... Try to concentrate on knowing you gave her someone to love which is all she ever wanted. The not knowing what happened is the worst, it brings no kind of closure. Even with coyote kills there is always some kind of signs, blood. fur, etc., maybe one chased her so far away she can't find her way back. Don't think the worst until it actually happens. She may eventually find her way back, and I will pray she does so, and for you to find peace in your heart and always have that secure spot for her love there to comfort you.
 
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