Semi-feral kitten not feeling well - am I getting too attached to cats?

moreknow

TCS Member
Thread starter
Young Cat
Joined
Apr 21, 2020
Messages
39
Reaction score
45
Hi all,
So i have this feral kitten that was born in April. I have seen her behavior and she seems to be very shy and not very playful, but for some reason she has been more social than all the other kittens and is the only one that lets me pet and hold her. She’s one of the smallest ones but eats a lot
Recently a tropical depression has hit and there has been a lot of rain for the past 3 days, and usually all my cats and kittens know how to avoid the rain but this one seems to have gotten the most wet. Ive dried her up and i started realizing she wasn’t feeling good. I believe she ate a little. But her ears felt cold and she seems a little lethargic, and meows when she’s looking for me or for something. She still purrs whenever i pet her nicely,, though. But it’s weird because she was born 5 months ago but looks so small and fragile. Her brother is bigger and looks more fully developed. She gets a big round stomach when she eats but i can still feel her fragile bones at times. She looks underdeveloped

In the past I've had a kitten that was like this; smaller and more sociable than the rest of the litter and eating more than them. She was also sick and passed away.

I wish I could take them to the vet but my parents have always told me to not get attached to these cats as they're not my pets but I always treat them like they are. This is where I struggle because sometimes I feel like I get too attached to these cats, I currently have around 17 outdoor/feral cats and I have been feeding them everyday since 2017.

If this kitten passes away, I would feel terrible b/c I feel like they're my responsibility and i would have failed her. It wouldn't be the first time I lost a cat due to my self-perceived "negligence". I have gotten terrible anxiety attacks and sadness because I've experienced my cats disappear, slowly die away, in pain after being ran over, and even not seeing one of my cats for one day. At times I feel that I care way more about these cats than myself, my family and humans in general, I just don't know if what I'm doing is healthy or not. I didn't choose this lifestyle, and I never thought I would be this attached to cats. Everyone my age is out enjoying their lives and going on vacation, and I have gotten so reluctant to go out for fear that something will happen to one of the cats and it'll be my fault for not looking after them. I feel terrible about all of this. I apologize for being all over the place in this thread but in short I would really truly appreciate the feedback for my questions:
-what can I do to help her besides taking her to the vet?
-What can I do to not feel this way about these cats?


To the people in this website, Thank you very much for helping me out. God bless
 

Norachan

Moderator
Staff Member
Moderator
Joined
May 27, 2013
Messages
23,800
Reaction score
20,670
Location
Mount Fuji, Japan
M moreknow If you have as many as 17 cats that you are feeding you really should be getting them spayed and neutered as well. It's very irresponsible to let the cats breed like this. Of course most of the kittens will die outside. They are not supposed to be outdoor animals. They are vulnerable to cars, predators, dogs, poison, disease and starvation You need to get all of the cats in your care spayed and neutered before more kittens are born.

Lots of people care for feral cats on TCS. We all love our ferals, even the ones that can't be petted at all. But we do our best to ensure that no more kittens are born into the feral life, because it is so hard on them and so many of them suffer and die horribly.

Please take a look at these articles.

Everything You Need To Know About Tnr (trap-neuter-release) – TheCatSite Articles

TNR And The Law: What Feral Caretakers Need To Know – TheCatSite Articles

Some TNR groups that you could reach out to.

North Texas — TNR Texas

http://www.victoriatnr.org/

Home - Spay Neuter Network

moxiewild moxiewild do you know of anyone else who could help?
 
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #3

moreknow

TCS Member
Thread starter
Young Cat
Joined
Apr 21, 2020
Messages
39
Reaction score
45
M moreknow If you have as many as 17 cats that you are feeding you really should be getting them spayed and neutered as well. It's very irresponsible to let the cats breed like this. Of course most of the kittens will die outside. They are not supposed to be outdoor animals. They are vulnerable to cars, predators, dogs, poison, disease and starvation You need to get all of the cats in your care spayed and neutered before more kittens are born.

Lots of people care for feral cats on TCS. We all love our ferals, even the ones that can't be petted at all. But we do our best to ensure that no more kittens are born into the feral life, because it is so hard on them and so many of them suffer and die horribly.

Please take a look at these articles.

Everything You Need To Know About Tnr (trap-neuter-release) – TheCatSite Articles

TNR And The Law: What Feral Caretakers Need To Know – TheCatSite Articles

Some TNR groups that you could reach out to.

North Texas — TNR Texas

Victoria TNR | Nonprofit Trap-Neuter-Return for the Victoria, Texas area

Home - Spay Neuter Network

moxiewild moxiewild do you know of anyone else who could help?
Yes I started taking 4 cats to get fixed at a clinic in a TNR program in December, but since the pandemic happened they have closed so I can't do anything right now
 

FeebysOwner

TCS Member
Top Cat
Joined
Jun 13, 2018
Messages
10,946
Reaction score
14,228
Location
Central FL (Born in OH)
Given this one particular kitten appears ill, I would take it to a vet to be checked out. And, since it is relatively friendly, it should be able to be fostered and cared for until it is healthy again and can be spayed and adopted. Are there any rescue groups/centers you could contact about a vet they deal with that is open and about finding this little one a foster home as well. The odds are not in her favor without some intervention.

I can't help you with the attachment issue. It happens to a lot of people. Is it possible to take one of the cats (maybe this kitten) as one of your own and make it an indoor only cat? If you have one to call your own, it might help you separate your feelings for the ferals from that of one that truly belongs to you.
 

tnrmakessense

TCS Member
Alpha Cat
Joined
Sep 22, 2015
Messages
390
Reaction score
709
Location
Central Florida
M moreknow If you have as many as 17 cats that you are feeding you really should be getting them spayed and neutered as well. It's very irresponsible to let the cats breed like this. Of course most of the kittens will die outside. They are not supposed to be outdoor animals. They are vulnerable to cars, predators, dogs, poison, disease and starvation You need to get all of the cats in your care spayed and neutered before more kittens are born.

Lots of people care for feral cats on TCS. We all love our ferals, even the ones that can't be petted at all. But we do our best to ensure that no more kittens are born into the feral life, because it is so hard on them and so many of them suffer and die horribly.

Please take a look at these articles.

Everything You Need To Know About Tnr (trap-neuter-release) – TheCatSite Articles

TNR And The Law: What Feral Caretakers Need To Know – TheCatSite Articles

Some TNR groups that you could reach out to.

North Texas — TNR Texas

Victoria TNR | Nonprofit Trap-Neuter-Return for the Victoria, Texas area

Home - Spay Neuter Network

moxiewild moxiewild do you know of anyone else who could help?
I've posted before that I've taken in sickly feral kittens and that what really seemed to help them turn the corner was real chicken, or tuna, finely chopped. I don't know if this will help with your kitten, but it couldn't hurt. Eating (and staying dry) is the most important thing, so keep offering food.

Do you have shelters hidden for the cats ? That's important. There is all kinds of good info. on sites like Alley Cat Allies and Best Friends about making a shelter.

It is important to have the kitties spayed and neutered but I understand the obstacles. I've posted before that I've used Nonovulin, ordered through EBAY from Bulgaria, as an edible birth control to stabilize colonies as I'm waiting to T/N/R all cats in the colony. I've used it for over 10 years with no adverse reactions and no kittens born in colonies that I'm dosing. I use a much smaller dose than the dosage on the package. I discuss my research and experience on floridacatnews.blogspot.com. A colleague has a site called birthcontrolforcats.com that offers his insight and experience.

Good luck to you and your little guy. You may not be doing the things your peers are doing, but you're doing something far more important. It's a tough road for a sensitive person, but if you're like me, you have no choice. As a rescue mom I battle the guilt that comes with grief constantly. Here's something that helps....a little

Fragile Circle

"We who choose to surround ourselves with lives even more temporary than our own, live within a fragile circle, easily and often breached.

Unable to accept its awful gaps, we still would live no other way. We cherish memory as the only certain immortality,
never fully understanding the necessary plan."

Irving Townsend.
 

moxiewild

Seniors, Special Needs, and Ferals
Super Cat
Joined
Aug 4, 2014
Messages
883
Reaction score
1,069
Okay, I’m going to break this up into two separate comments, since your questions deal with two very different topics.

Preventing reproduction -

I was going to recommend MA/Ovaban/Nonovulin, but I see that’s already been suggested! That’s definitely my suggestion when caretakers have to wait on s/n for whatever reason.

It’s not terribly expensive, and if your cats are socialized enough to allow you to target only the females, then it’s even cheaper.

Sick Kitten -

- What are the symptoms, exactly? What you’ve described is very vague - she was more wet than the others (was this only once?), ears were cold, she ate a little, and she looks small. Need a little bit more than that. Please post pictures of her body condition too if you can.

- Do the cats have shelter? Is it enough for everyone?

- How well do the other kittens and cats seem to get along with this kitten? Anything notable about the sort of dynamics you’ve observed?

- What are your barriers to taking the kitten to the vet? Is it just because you feel like you’re not supposed to since they aren’t “yours”? Is it your parents? Financial?

- What is your budget to care for her if you can’t take her to the vet? Can we recommend supplements? Feeding syringes? Need more information on how much money, time, and energy you can/are willing to allocate to care for her.

- Is bringing her inside an option (whether temporarily or permanently)? If so, under what circumstances?

- Have you tried placing this kitten or any of the others with a rescue before? If so, how many have you contacted? If you’re willing to share your general location, we can help you track down any you might have missed. A rescue will be able to treat the kitten, find them a home, and give you one+ less mouths to feed.

- Have you contacted your TNR clinic to see if they have an idea of when they’ll reopen? Again, if you give us your general location, we might be able to find another clinic or low cost vet near you that’s still offering services.
 

moxiewild

Seniors, Special Needs, and Ferals
Super Cat
Joined
Aug 4, 2014
Messages
883
Reaction score
1,069
Now about your attachment -

All of us get attached to these cats. Colony caretakers do what they do because they care.

Most of us sink a whole lot of time and money, and sometimes put a lot at risk, to be able to care for cats we usually cannot even pet or get anywhere near. Some of us even face fines and jail out of refusal to abandon our colony when others try to force us to.

People typically don’t take on a colony unless they already have the propensity to become attached. The compassion and empathy required to manage a colony are also perquisites for attachment.

This is normal, this is okay. It is not something you should strive to rid yourself of. If more people cared even half as much as you, most of these homeless cats would not be suffering in the first place.

They may not be “your cats” in the typical sense of a pet - but nonetheless, you do have stewardship over them as their caretaker and guardian.

Now, if you would like advice on how to cope with the challenges and heartache that sometimes come with being a colony caretaker, that is a completely different matter, and we’re here for support.

However, there is one thing you said that stood out to me -

Everyone my age is out enjoying their lives and going on vacation, and I have gotten so reluctant to go out for fear that something will happen to one of the cats and it'll be my fault for not looking after them.
This could be potentially problematic depending on what exactly you mean.

If you’re talking about going on vacation, then this is more normal - it’s why many owners still get pet sitters for their indoor cats even if they’ll only be away for a few days.

But if you feel like you can’t even go out for the night to hang out with your friends, then this is might be crossing into different territory that needs to be reflected upon more.

For instance, it would be reasonable if you didn’t want to go out right now because you think one of your kittens might be ill. That’s rational, and the situation is only temporary.

But if you’re always concerned about the cats (for no specific reason) enough to make you not go out for the evening, then this is more problematic.

So what exactly are you hesitant about, and why?

It also seems like you might be on the younger side?

I started dog and wildlife rescue when I was 12-14 years old, and I’ve been doing it ever since. In the past 6 or so years, I’ve been increasingly focused on cat rescue.

My entire teens and all of my 20s so far has been dedicated to helping animals.

And there’s a definite alienation with that in terms of your peers.

When all my friends have wanted to go out Friday night to a club/bar/movies/whatever, I’ve had to pass because I need to trap that night and get up super early the next morning since Saturday is the only day the spay/neuter clinic is accepting ferals. Or an animal is sick. Or I just don’t have the money due to food/vet/TNR costs this month.

And these are not things most people commonly have to consider. It deviates from concerns regarding “typical” responsibilities - these aren’t even our own “pets” after all.

And that doesn’t change with age, I don’t think. I think only other rescuers and colony caretakers have the capacity to truly understand us, regardless of age.

But when you’re young, the idea can seem even more foreign to your peers, and to yourself in relation to what your peers are doing, because people tend to have much less responsibility and obligations at that age.

The only question is, what do you actually want to do?

You said your friends are enjoying their lives. Does this imply you aren’t?

And if you’re not, then why?

Do you really, really want to go out, but feel guilty and bogged down by a perceived obligation to be home for the cats (absent of any specific reason, like one of them being ill)?

Does it feel almost compulsive? Do your concerns about the kitties feel intrusive?

Or, do you feel overwhelmed caring for them or dealing with the emotional difficulties of doing so?

Do you want to go out, but you also don’t mind (or even enjoy) staying home to be with the cats?

If so, then do you feel as conflicted as you do because no one understands or you have no support? Or because of what you - or other people - think you “should” be doing at your age? Or because your parents don’t approve?

Any reason you may have is valid - we just need to find out what that reason is.

There’s a significant lack of control when it comes to taking care of community cats. And as a “control freak” myself, I still struggle to find ways to cope with that.

But coping mechanisms to help you better navigate the emotional difficulties and uncertainties of caring for community cats can be learned. Ideally from a professional, but we’ll do what we can here if that’s not an option for you.

Or, if you feel alone, or like no one understands and you need some encouragement and support - we’re here.

Or, if you’re overwhelmed or there are too many cats for you to handle - we’re here, and we’ll do everything we can to track down resources for you.

Caring for community cats shouldn’t feel like an unwilling, compulsive sacrifice. It doesn’t mean you must give up all balance or other activities in your life.

Take some time to reflect on how it is you really feel and why, and what it is you really want. What are you missing?

Whatever you need, we’re here.
 

moxiewild

Seniors, Special Needs, and Ferals
Super Cat
Joined
Aug 4, 2014
Messages
883
Reaction score
1,069
Ahh, I see why Norachan tagged me now.

I skimmed your history and saw you’re from southeast Texas.

I’m in south central Texas - so in Texas miles, we’re basically nextdoor neighbors 😂

I’m sure we’d be able to find a spay/neuter clinic somewhere between us, but mine is open and has no restrictions on income or location. I can drive quite a ways if necessary and recover your cats here if need be before bringing them back to you for release.

For your kitten, absolute worst case scenario - if a vet is out of the question, I have some broad spectrum antibiotics you can try. I can also administer fluids if she’s dehydrated, teach you how to syringe feed and leave you with some syringes, prescription Hills A/D and other supplies if needed.
 

Norachan

Moderator
Staff Member
Moderator
Joined
May 27, 2013
Messages
23,800
Reaction score
20,670
Location
Mount Fuji, Japan
Some wonderful suggestions there moxiewild moxiewild Thank you so much for weighing in.

M moreknow when I first started feeding the feral cats around my house I was in a similar situation to you. I put food out for one friendly tom, then before I knew it his wives and kids all showed up for food to. It can be overwhelming, frustrating, exhausting, expensive and heart breaking to try and care for outdoor cats.

The situation becomes infinitely more manageable once you've got the cats fixed, so that you know you aren't going to be dealing with dozens more kittens every year.

Having a network of like-minded friends really lightens the load too. Even if they are miles away, knowing people who can lend you a trap or recommend a vet or help you find a foster when you're really in need can be a life saver. Literally.

Reach out to people around you. The more people involved in TNR and rescue you are in contact with the better.

I have some very glamourous friends who no doubt think I'm a bit weird for spending all my time and money on cats, but it doesn't mean I can't hang out with them sometimes too. When the cats let me have a night off.

:)
 

jefferd18

Ms. Jeff's Legacy
Top Cat
Joined
Jul 2, 2019
Messages
1,857
Reaction score
1,184
Yes I started taking 4 cats to get fixed at a clinic in a TNR program in December, but since the pandemic happened they have closed so I can't do anything right now

Take the ONE kitten to your vet and see if you can either pay the bill off, or surrender the kitten to the vet or a rescue group. And considering the fact that you can't financially take care of them, have a rescue group come in and trap all seventeen. You say you will feel badly if the kitten passes away, well, this is your chance to do something for her- for all of them.

She doesn't have to pass away, she just needs medical attention.
 

Whenallhellbreakslose

Living in Kitty Paradise.
Adult Cat
Joined
Sep 17, 2020
Messages
215
Reaction score
536
Hi all,
So i have this feral kitten that was born in April. I have seen her behavior and she seems to be very shy and not very playful, but for some reason she has been more social than all the other kittens and is the only one that lets me pet and hold her. She’s one of the smallest ones but eats a lot
Recently a tropical depression has hit and there has been a lot of rain for the past 3 days, and usually all my cats and kittens know how to avoid the rain but this one seems to have gotten the most wet. Ive dried her up and i started realizing she wasn’t feeling good. I believe she ate a little. But her ears felt cold and she seems a little lethargic, and meows when she’s looking for me or for something. She still purrs whenever i pet her nicely,, though. But it’s weird because she was born 5 months ago but looks so small and fragile. Her brother is bigger and looks more fully developed. She gets a big round stomach when she eats but i can still feel her fragile bones at times. She looks underdeveloped

In the past I've had a kitten that was like this; smaller and more sociable than the rest of the litter and eating more than them. She was also sick and passed away.

I wish I could take them to the vet but my parents have always told me to not get attached to these cats as they're not my pets but I always treat them like they are. This is where I struggle because sometimes I feel like I get too attached to these cats, I currently have around 17 outdoor/feral cats and I have been feeding them everyday since 2017.

If this kitten passes away, I would feel terrible b/c I feel like they're my responsibility and i would have failed her. It wouldn't be the first time I lost a cat due to my self-perceived "negligence". I have gotten terrible anxiety attacks and sadness because I've experienced my cats disappear, slowly die away, in pain after being ran over, and even not seeing one of my cats for one day. At times I feel that I care way more about these cats than myself, my family and humans in general, I just don't know if what I'm doing is healthy or not. I didn't choose this lifestyle, and I never thought I would be this attached to cats. Everyone my age is out enjoying their lives and going on vacation, and I have gotten so reluctant to go out for fear that something will happen to one of the cats and it'll be my fault for not looking after them. I feel terrible about all of this. I apologize for being all over the place in this thread but in short I would really truly appreciate the feedback for my questions:
-what can I do to help her besides taking her to the vet?
-What can I do to not feel this way about these cats?


To the people in this website, Thank you very much for helping me out. God bless
The others who responded to this thread have left some good responses. As I read your posts, I couldn't help thinking that your kitty may have parasites. I have taken in kittens in the past and the sickly ones almost always had issues with worms or had other parasitic conditions such as Giardia. This pudgy belly the kitty has on top of looking malnourished and getting sick seems to point to that. If this kitty is friendly to you could you take him in and put him in a crate and try to nurse back to health? I have financial setbacks as well, often enough people who care for homeless animals hearts are bigger than their wallets. Could you reach out to any rescue group or individual rescuers and see if they have medicines to give you. You need to seek help for this kitty and in getting your colony tnred. When you have a colony not tnred, the conditions are ripe for illness anything from cats with Upper Respirtory Infections to Feline Distemper( which can outright kill kittens and unvaccinated cats, especially those with low immune systems.) Please take this kitty in and try to save him. I have a number
Of friendly cats i feed and if i could i would take them in in a heartbeat. I am bonded to them and constantly worrying over their welfare. These precious animals leave their paw prints on our hearts. How could you not love them? This is why no matter how much grief i get for feeding them, I just couldn't stop. Unless, I feel they have a good setup elsewhere, I am committed to their survival. Best of luck, I hope you found this reply helpful.
 

Antonio65

TCS Member
Top Cat
Joined
Feb 27, 2017
Messages
3,645
Reaction score
5,505
Location
Orbassano - Italy
All of us get attached to these cats. Colony caretakers do what they do because they care.

Most of us sink a whole lot of time and money, and sometimes put a lot at risk, to be able to care for cats we usually cannot even pet or get anywhere near. Some of us even face fines and jail out of refusal to abandon our colony when others try to force us to.
Wow, that is an amazing and powerful sentence!
Money and time poured in this activity shouldn't be counted, or you get a heart-attack.

But if you’re always concerned about the cats (for no specific reason) enough to make you not go out for the evening, then this is more problematic.
Sometimes I feel like this...

And that doesn’t change with age, I don’t think. I think only other rescuers and colony caretakers have the capacity to truly understand us, regardless of age.
True, it doesn't change with age, it can even get worse, I mean, you put more energy in this mission when you get older, because you gain experience and build more bonds with more cats.

Do you want to go out, but you also don’t mind (or even enjoy) staying home to be with the cats?
This is me :lol:

Whatever you need, we’re here.
Great post indeed!
 
Top