Sad feral kitty update

Clocat

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Hello all, I posted about a feral kitty we caught had had treated for an ear infection: Advice on a 10+ year old feral kitty currently in my spare bedroom

Well, long story short, she went on a multi-day hunger strike, and eventually I left the window open and she left that way. I wasn't really sure what else to--I obviously couldn't force-feed her, and we tried every possible type of tempting food product for her, to no avail.

I didn't see her for a full week. She showed up this morning for the first time since she'd left, and waited for me like always. I left a can of Fancy Feast for her, and she ate it all.

The bad news is that the ear infection that we'd originally trapped her for is back. She was holding her ears out to the side, Yoda-style. When the vet treated her for this (with a Convenia shot), she said that the ears were really bad. I know she was practically deaf when we caught her.

So, now we're back at square one. Her ear infection is back. I'm guessing she won't go anywhere near a drop trap, which is what we used to catch her earlier this month. She's clearly too feral to be an indoor kitty.

I was thinking I might start to slowly feed her closer and closer to the same window she left from, leaving it open and then try feeding her just inside the window, to see if she might start coming in and out of the house at will. (RIP our heating bills.)

Does anyone else have any ideas? I feel like I've already pretty badly bungled this, and just want to help her, with no idea how to,
 

Kflowers

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I did that with feral we were getting to know. He'd lost a cheek and was happy to eat his amoxicillin in his wet food. He never spit it out anywhere I could see. But I think he swallowed the pills since he healed up fairly quickly.
 

fionasmom

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You did not bungle anything. Dealing with ferals is a huge unknown and you can only do the best you can. I agree that putting meds in the food, or a pill pocket (leave it with the food) is a good idea. If you have a conventional trap like a Havahart, you might try starting to feed the cat in the trap, just at the door, then move the food a little closer to the back each day. While you do this, the trap has to be rigged open with a piece or wire or cord, or a stable prop.

But if you can get meds from the vet, the best thing would be to try to start putting them in food. I did this with a feral and it worked much better than my indoor cats who have plenty of time on their hands to be picky. He was hungry, so he at the laced food.
 

iPappy

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We tried to make an adult outdoor cat into an indoor cat. It was not going to work, the poor thing was panicked. Some cats just do not want to be indoors, I agree, you didn't bungle a thing. :)
 
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Clocat

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I have an update on this situation. HLA (the silly name that we gave her years ago because she looked like a late cat of ours, Hank--"Hank Lookalike" aka "HLA") had been coming around about once a day over the last week or two for meals. Often her ears were flattened due to her ear infection. She also seems incredibly fragile, is emaciated, holding her tail at a weird angle, etc. I tried repeatedly to lure her back into the drop trap, but she wasn't having that again.

Wednesday night, after she ate, she huddled in the middle of our front yard for over an hour in 34 degree weather. I couldn't stand it, and finally my husband and I went out there. He stood in front of her and distracted her, and I had a large fishing net that I snagged her in, then threw a towel over her. I got her back into our spare bedroom and gave her flea meds through a slit we cut through the towel (thanks to Tinykittens for that method).

Took her to the vet on Thursday morning and it was the most worthless vet visit ever. They agreed she had an ear infection, but they were out of the med that could be used to treat it. When asked about her body condition, the vet literally said, "I don't know. She's an old feral." (We're guessing her age at anywhere from 11 to 15 years.)

Right now the big US winter storm is raging outside and it's negative 25 degrees out. Obviously we aren't letting her back out into this. We're hoping to get her in to see our regular vet, but the next available appointment is mid-January.

Since being inside she's eaten, used the litterbox, sat and looked out the window, laid on the bed and sought escape routes :(. She's wary of us but I think there is a very, very limited amount of trust she has in us (for instance, if she's laying on the desk when you come into the room, which is small, she won't immediately jump down and try to hide). When we were feeding her outside over the last week, at one point she had her muzzle over the plate while I was spooning food onto it, so I was able to get very close.

I'm thinking that I might try to keep her inside until the end of winter, maybe mid-March? Try again to socialize her to at least a limited degree. Hope that she doesn't shut down and completely stop eating again. :( As of today she's been curled up in her carrier all day, and hasn't eaten since last night. I feel like there are no good choices here. :(
 

Kflowers

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Don't push her, she's had a lot to think about. leave food where she can get it. Some ferals/strays are only comfortable eating when they are alone, at night.

She may become a great deal more friendly once the ear infection is taken care of. I've read that an ear infection can make your own dog of many years refuse to come close to you. Given that, I think you're doing really well. I think she trusts you a lot, and I think she's feeling better. I suspect when you caught her she was on the edge of despair. Ear ache or not, inside with food is better than freezing to death. She knows whose house she's in, and who brings the food.

With luck someone will cancel an appointment in early Jan and you'll get her taken care of. Animals walking back from the verge of despair make the best of friends.
 

fionasmom

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Thank you for helping this cat and for having worked so hard at it. You trapped her Wednesday, which is no time whatsoever in the world of a cat, even one who is not a feral, who has been brought into a new place. Believe me, she knows that she is where it is warm and safe and is showing already limited trust in you which will probably grow. She may never be a lap cat, but she may adjust to an indoor life and become much more socialized.

If I recall correctly, she did not eat the last time that you had her inside. It sounds like she is now eating, using the litter box, and sitting on the bed. The search for escape routes will often continue until the cat relaxes a little bit more; it does not mean that she has to be released or is unhappy inside...she is just unsure.

She does not sound in great shape and if you can, I would keep her inside even if you have to encourage eating and offer special foods. By this I do not mean expensive, just food that might appeal to her.

Any Good Tips To Get Your Cats To Eat? Share Them Here!

I have seen vets express little interest in ferals, even very good vets. Since they did see the cat, I believe that they can legally prescribe the ear medication, or whatever they were going to give you, so I would try to follow up on that.
 
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Clocat

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Thanks for your replies! She did eat a little more this afternoon, which is encouraging. She's been in her carrier all day, but that could possibly be due to the fact that it's pretty chilly inside, even with our furnace running nonstop. I gave her Revolution Plus for fleas on Wednesday, which the vet said will get rid of ear mites, and I'm hoping that will help with the ear infection. Right now I'm feeling good about the decision to have her indoors, but that might change by New Year's Day, when it's supposed to be almost 60 degrees F outside(!) But I just don't want to go back and forth all winter with catching her, releasing her, watching her struggle and suffer and worry about being able to catch her again before a big winter storm rolls in. I will definitely keep the thread on fussy eaters handy.
 

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I have an update on this situation. HLA (the silly name that we gave her years ago because she looked like a late cat of ours, Hank--"Hank Lookalike" aka "HLA") had been coming around about once a day over the last week or two for meals. Often her ears were flattened due to her ear infection. She also seems incredibly fragile, is emaciated, holding her tail at a weird angle, etc. I tried repeatedly to lure her back into the drop trap, but she wasn't having that again.

Wednesday night, after she ate, she huddled in the middle of our front yard for over an hour in 34 degree weather. I couldn't stand it, and finally my husband and I went out there. He stood in front of her and distracted her, and I had a large fishing net that I snagged her in, then threw a towel over her. I got her back into our spare bedroom and gave her flea meds through a slit we cut through the towel (thanks to Tinykittens for that method).

Took her to the vet on Thursday morning and it was the most worthless vet visit ever. They agreed she had an ear infection, but they were out of the med that could be used to treat it. When asked about her body condition, the vet literally said, "I don't know. She's an old feral." (We're guessing her age at anywhere from 11 to 15 years.)

Right now the big US winter storm is raging outside and it's negative 25 degrees out. Obviously we aren't letting her back out into this. We're hoping to get her in to see our regular vet, but the next available appointment is mid-January.

Since being inside she's eaten, used the litterbox, sat and looked out the window, laid on the bed and sought escape routes :(. She's wary of us but I think there is a very, very limited amount of trust she has in us (for instance, if she's laying on the desk when you come into the room, which is small, she won't immediately jump down and try to hide). When we were feeding her outside over the last week, at one point she had her muzzle over the plate while I was spooning food onto it, so I was able to get very close.

I'm thinking that I might try to keep her inside until the end of winter, maybe mid-March? Try again to socialize her to at least a limited degree. Hope that she doesn't shut down and completely stop eating again. :( As of today she's been curled up in her carrier all day, and hasn't eaten since last night. I feel like there are no good choices here. :(
I would suggest colloidal silver.
Colloidal silver: Medical miracle in a bottle
 

Meowmee

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I have an update on this situation. HLA (the silly name that we gave her years ago because she looked like a late cat of ours, Hank--"Hank Lookalike" aka "HLA") had been coming around about once a day over the last week or two for meals. Often her ears were flattened due to her ear infection. She also seems incredibly fragile, is emaciated, holding her tail at a weird angle, etc. I tried repeatedly to lure her back into the drop trap, but she wasn't having that again.

Wednesday night, after she ate, she huddled in the middle of our front yard for over an hour in 34 degree weather. I couldn't stand it, and finally my husband and I went out there. He stood in front of her and distracted her, and I had a large fishing net that I snagged her in, then threw a towel over her. I got her back into our spare bedroom and gave her flea meds through a slit we cut through the towel (thanks to Tinykittens for that method).

Took her to the vet on Thursday morning and it was the most worthless vet visit ever. They agreed she had an ear infection, but they were out of the med that could be used to treat it. When asked about her body condition, the vet literally said, "I don't know. She's an old feral." (We're guessing her age at anywhere from 11 to 15 years.)

Right now the big US winter storm is raging outside and it's negative 25 degrees out. Obviously we aren't letting her back out into this. We're hoping to get her in to see our regular vet, but the next available appointment is mid-January.

Since being inside she's eaten, used the litterbox, sat and looked out the window, laid on the bed and sought escape routes :(. She's wary of us but I think there is a very, very limited amount of trust she has in us (for instance, if she's laying on the desk when you come into the room, which is small, she won't immediately jump down and try to hide). When we were feeding her outside over the last week, at one point she had her muzzle over the plate while I was spooning food onto it, so I was able to get very close.

I'm thinking that I might try to keep her inside until the end of winter, maybe mid-March? Try again to socialize her to at least a limited degree. Hope that she doesn't shut down and completely stop eating again. :( As of today she's been curled up in her carrier all day, and hasn't eaten since last night. I feel like there are no good choices here. :(
Don’t let her out again. Get her in a small room with a box or bed she can hide in. Take it slowly. Coming inside is traumatic, it is going to take time. Caging can help to calm them also. I am trying without the cage this time but it has worked several times for me now. Good luck and ty for helping her. ❤
Ask the dvm to rx the drugs online if they don’t have them or you can pick them up when they get them in.
 

Kflowers

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Meowmee is right going back and forth in and out will only be more distressing for her. Staying inside where she won't get sick or hurt again gives you both the space to adjust. It takes a long time with cats because they are prey animals and, mostly, because we don't have a common language. She wants to trust you, to trust being inside where it's safe and warm, but her instincts are 'fear anyone not me'.

When we say a long time we're talking several months. There, I could have lied like the vet did about when dog could walk again -- he kept saying two weeks and I hurt my back lifting her -- but we're not lying. Time and patient, even when she doesn't agree will bring joy to both of you. The steps will be very small some days and some days you'll go backwards, but it will work. Don't rush it. She came out of the carrier, she let you put the revolution on her (oh, you thought you caught her and forced that? Nope, in the end, she let you. I know this since you didn't mention going to the ER. ;-) That alone proves how much she wants to trust you.
 
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Clocat

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Thanks for your replies! So as not to paint too rosy of a picture, I will say that the only reason I was able to apply the Revolution was because we'd caught her in a fishing net, then immediately threw a towel over her, bundled her up, and carried her inside. Once in her room, I cut a small slit in the towel, just big enough to apply the Revolution, then let her go. I wish that whole process could have been less traumatic, but she is SO smart and there was no way she was going back into the drop trap after having been caught in it in early November.

We will take our time with her--right now she's in our small spare bedroom with a carrier to sleep in, window to look out of, etc. I'm thinking it would really be best regardless of what happens to keep her inside at least through early March. Given her condition, I really don't want her to be roughing it anymore. And I'd like to have her thoroughly evaluated by a good vet. Fortunately, her ears haven't seemed to have been bothering her since we got her inside--maybe the ear mites were causing or at least exacerbating her infection.
 

fionasmom

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You are very ingenious, so don't downplay how you applied the Revolution. Getting a cat in a net requires a lot of skill and using the towel as a cover until you could apply the Revolution was really smart.

Keeping her inside is the best thing for all of you as it will save you stress in trying to recapture, worry about her, etc. Ear mites can be very irritating and can go on to cause other issues in the ear and systemically, so that might have been the root of the problem.
 
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Clocat

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Thanks for your replies! We have a really good, cats-only vet who has been out of commission due to surgery, but we've made an appointment for them to see HLA in mid-January. I have had very bad luck with "generalist" veterinarians over the years (those who see both cats and dogs) because they almost all seem to know way more about dogs than cats. In some cases I had to push for tests or treatments that I later learned, when we switched to a cats-only vet, are standard, front-line treatments for cat ailments. Anyways, thanks again for your replies--I may start a new thread soon because the subject heading for this one is depressing, lol, and I'm coming up with a bunch of questions on how to proceed with HLA.
 

dustydiamond1

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Oh please don't let her loose outside ever again. Our girl Gypsy was the neighborhood stray. Late Oct of 2016 she decided to allow us to become her devoted minions. Through the winter she was content to stay inside. Spring came and she wanted out. By then we loved her too much to take a chance even though the neighborhood was, and still is, a peaceful safe place. I researched and bought a Kitty Holster brand walking jacket to take her out on a leash. At first she acted like she couldn't walk and would just flop.Didn't take long for to get over that and we were able to go to a less restrictive harness. It's not like walking a dog, she meanders and takes lots of sniff breaks and knows she only gets to go outside in harness with us.
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