Stray cat, considering bringing her inside.

ImaRobot

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Bit of a lengthy post, but I feel it best fleshes everything out.

I've lived at my current apartment for 4 years now. As long as I've been here there's been a stray cat, missing half her tail, that would come and visit my 2 boys constantly, though, she would completely avoid any and all human contact, you couldn't even get close to her. My two will always run up to the metal gate door to my apartment whenever she was out front and would just hang out with her, and she would be off on her way an hour or so later. They seem to get a long great, although my boys sometimes get a little too excited to see her and she gets startled, but not in an angry way. She'll back off away from the porch immediately, but will come back up minutes later, I guess after they calmed down. Again, they would just hang out by the door.

There was always 1 or 2 other cats around. One was just a female outside cat that belong to the back neighbors, the other was another stray male that would come around while in heat every once in a while and mark everything, annoyingly. Of the 3 outdoor cats, the little girl was the runt and was the one always bullied and chased off by the others to the point that she would just run off mostly on eye contact within 10 feet of each other. About 6-8 months ago I started to leave her a handful of food by my parking spot when I'd leave to work in the morning. This began the cycle of trust. At first I would just put it down and leave immediately. After about 2 months in, I would put the back of my hand out before I put the food down so she can smell me. There was absolutely no contact though. This continued for about 1-2 more months, with each month she would get closer and closer, eventually petting me with her head and leaving her scent, but only for a second. I still could not pet her myself.

2 months after that, I continue the process daily - Put the back of my hand out, she pets me(now longer than before), but this time, I'm able to give her a little bit of scritches on her back but she'll skip away in a hurry. She'll then come back to me seconds later, and lets me continue for another split second and then skips off again. I don't push the encounter, and put her food down and head off to work. She's always been extremely skittish and it's obvious when shes done with the encounter. Now, within the two months, I'm finally able to give full on contact. Same process as usual, she pets me, and that's my chance to pet back. As long as I start from her tail and work my way forward to her chin, she was fine with that. If I start from her head she'll back off extremely hesitant, but if she pets me first with her head, I can continue to give her affection on her head. She just doesn't like the feeling of something enclosing in on her view. At this point, I feel like she felt comfortable and felt like she finally belonged, as it seemed like no other human cared or tried to show her affection at all, but she still stood around regardless off that. She was also no longer the bullied, she would stand up for her self, and a few times I even caught her chasing out the other cats if they tried to get too frisky.

Come about 3 weeks ago, My neighbors moved out. I talked to them as they were packing and learned that the cat was actually originally there's, but was supposedly a menace to them so they threw her out. I couldn't really believe it was just the cat, she was extremely loving, albeit, a terrified of people. I knew there was obviously another side of the story not being told her. After that, I decided to give her at least a little bit of a sanctuary and leave her her own food bowl and water bowl outside on my doorstep. Since then, I can finally full on pet her as long as I follow the same process I've set up for half a year now. Avoid full on head pets unless she pets first, start from the back and work forward. One day I just decided to pet her with both hands. So I instead softly pet her with both hands on the sides of her belly and one day just pulled her closer to me as she would always tend to scurry away very slowly when I pet her with one hand. She completely accepted it, I can even pick her up now from her stomach whenever I want if we're already giving each other affection.

She's there every single morning doing stretches and making biscuits literally as soon as I open the door to leave to work at 6AM. Shes sitting on the steps waiting for me as soon as I get home, even if she has food and water in the bowl. I'll get out of my car and pet her for 5 minutes or so before I go inside, then she'll eat, hang out with my boys for a bit, then disappear for the night. I live in East Los Angeles, California so technically we don't really get harsh winters, but I do notice that some mornings since a fraction of winter coldness finally started to peak its head in, she wont show up in the mornings. It got me thinking "maybe I should bring her in?" I mean, she's already tried a few attempts of sneaking in when I left the door open as I bring groceries in, so she definitely doesn't seem opposed to the idea herself.

So long story short(and I'm very sorry for the long story, it just kind of makes me happy to think about it), I'm curious of what I'd have to expect from the vets when I take her in, both in processes and financially. I know it can vary, and its case by case, but what about just first and foremost, what would they preform and what can I expect in cost? I don't want to jump at it, take her in, then not have the money for everything off the bat. I also don't want to put her through the stress of being captured and contained if I cant get everything sorted out the first go around. I think I remember the neighbors saying shes also been spayed, I've also never seen her exhibit the typical signs of being in heat as it's usually not difficult to spot, as I've been around cats all my life. It being Christmas season, I'll likely wait till January before I make the jump but just looking for some advice on what to be prepared for on a vet visit. I'm just hoping she doesn't have anything contagious like FIV or FelV, as that will eliminate any chances of bringing her in with my 2 boys.

Attached some Photos for attention too.

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Furballsmom

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(and I'm very sorry for the long story, it just kind of makes me happy to think about it),
This is the best long story to read :)

As you mentioned, veterinarian costs for wellness checkups vary from region to region. Typically they look at ears, eyes, teeth, body condition, and if the cat is amenable they compress the stomach. A blood draw for a younger cat is maybe $150?

You might call, since you need to set up the appointment anyway, and ask them for specifics :).
 
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ImaRobot

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This is the best long story to read :)

As you mentioned, veterinarian costs for wellness checkups vary from region to region. Typically they look at ears, eyes, teeth, body condition, and if the cat is amenable they compress the stomach. A blood draw for a younger cat is maybe $150?

You might call, since you need to set up the appointment anyway, and ask them for specifics :).
It's definitely something I made a mental note to try to figure out soon. I wasn't fully decided, but was just thinking about it at work today for some reason. Typically don't have much free time during the week but hopefully I can squeeze something in sooner or later.

Not sure how much this varies by region, but how long do bloodwork tests typically take? I'd be hesitant to stress her out keeping her indoors, but away from my boys, only to find out that I have to kick her back out again. Would break some trust but would also break my heart to have to do that to her.
 

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It depends. You can pay a bit more for same-day results otherwise it's about a week, give or take.
 

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Since there's no historical record, you'll likely also be looking at rabies shots and the fiv/felv shots, or I think you could do what's called a titer test to see if she needs those yet ... ?
 
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ImaRobot

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Since there's no historical record, you'll likely also be looking at rabies shots and the fiv/felv shots, or I think you could do what's called a titer test to see if she needs those yet ... ?
Will look into the same day results for the blood work. As for everything else, I'm going to assume I'll need the full 9-yards as I've been here 4 years and shes been here, outside, longer then that. She also hasn't seemed to grow one bit so I'm guessing she was already an adult as I moved in.
 

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I am a little more inland then you are, I would probably do a wellness visit and blood work with the vet you want to be established with. At my vet I'd be looking around $200 for both of those. Test result only take a few hours for the in house ones.

For vaccines, you can do a clinic. Luckily East LA area does have a good number of resources for clinics. This one for example, Low-Cost Pet Vaccines of Southern California
 
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ImaRobot

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I am a little more inland then you are, I would probably do a wellness visit and blood work with the vet you want to be established with. At my vet I'd be looking around $200 for both of those. Test result only take a few hours for the in house ones.

For vaccines, you can do a clinic. Luckily East LA area does have a good number of resources for clinics. This one for example, Low-Cost Pet Vaccines of Southern California
Thanks for the info, and the ballpark figure. That should give me an idea of what to put to the side.

Was a bit bummed out yesterday. It had lightly rained last night, but she was still waiting for me when I got home. Luckily it had already stopped and she was relatively dry, just felt like she had a few drops on her. Had our usual hang out before I went inside, but she was really wanting to come inside. She would have too, if I didn't put my foot in the way to block her. I tried putting together a little makeshift housing with a milk crate covered with a hoody and stuffed this pinapple shapped cat cubby inside of it and covered any other opening with cardboard, hoping she would use it. She smelled it and was curious but eventually went on her way. I'm going to keep it regardless just incase she's a bit more curious one day.
 

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Thanks for the info, and the ballpark figure. That should give me an idea of what to put to the side.

Was a bit bummed out yesterday. It had lightly rained last night, but she was still waiting for me when I got home. Luckily it had already stopped and she was relatively dry, just felt like she had a few drops on her. Had our usual hang out before I went inside, but she was really wanting to come inside. She would have too, if I didn't put my foot in the way to block her. I tried putting together a little makeshift housing with a milk crate covered with a hoody and stuffed this pinapple shapped cat cubby inside of it and covered any other opening with cardboard, hoping she would use it. She smelled it and was curious but eventually went on her way. I'm going to keep it regardless just incase she's a bit more curious one day.
I have a Stray/Feral about 1.5 years old, He has made himself at home inside
(indoor/outdoor) I have been trying to get him use to the Carrier, it needed to be
in the same place for a while, I also had a tuperware resealable container that
is filled with Cat Treats, I tossed it in the back of the carrier and the next day
I found him sleeping in it. ALTHOUGH now he has chosen to sleep on top of it :)

Anyway I guess i am saying leave it there for a few days until he is used to seeing it
OH Another tip if you have a pillow or small cat bed try sitting on it for a few days
and then toss it in, your scent may be a comforting draw
 
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ImaRobot

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I am a little more inland then you are, I would probably do a wellness visit and blood work with the vet you want to be established with. At my vet I'd be looking around $200 for both of those. Test result only take a few hours for the in house ones.

For vaccines, you can do a clinic. Luckily East LA area does have a good number of resources for clinics. This one for example, Low-Cost Pet Vaccines of Southern California
I got a quote for about $275-300 for an Exam, all vaccines needed, Bloodwork Test(FeLV, FIV, Heartworms), and FVRCP shots, located in South Pasadena. Not as bad as I was expecting. Should be doable mid January~ or at the most, when I get my tax return back. Little Girl is going to be off the streets soon.
 
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ImaRobot

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Christmas hasn't affected my income as much as I was expecting it to, so I'm trying to get an appointment set for next Friday as I have the day off, and if all goes well, I can get the little girl acclimated to her knew surroundings over that time frame while I'm away from work for the weekend.

I bought a new larger, more open walled cat carrier that has large view ports on all sides lined with mesh instead of a hard plastic casing, hopefully making it a little more comfortable when I catch her. That should be here by tomorrow, so over the next week and a half I'm going to put articles of my clothing and some of my cats toys inside and constantly feed her inside of it - enticing her to get inside of it if she wants some kibbles. Will probably use wet food instead for that, just as a little more incentive.

I've also had a good amount of wall mounted furniture and perches in my Amazon cart for so long and decided to just buy them as well. Not only would it be good for my two boys, but should give her some extra verticality if she needs it, and even then, there's always our cat tree. I also have an older couch that I've had in the room that I've decided to stand upright on it's side a and against a wall to save room, a few years back. It was going to be trashed but the cats have turned it into a makeshift cat tree/scratching post/perch - they're also allowed to scratch it so it saves my actual couch at times. There's no shortage of scratch posts either at my place.

Crossing my fingers for her bloodwork tests. Also, side note - She's started trusting other humans that come in/out of my specific apartment. I have a few really close friends that are over every weekend, and she's pet them if they put their hand far enough out, where as she wouldn't let a stranger get that close even if she was on my steps. Was a little heartwarming to know that she's regaining trust, not just with me, but in general.
 
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ImaRobot

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Sorry for all the back to back responses, though theyre spread out so hopefully that's not too much of an issue.

With just days to go I've been showing her the carrier I bought for her, and she actually seems like she likes it. I have my sweater inside as well as one of my boys toy that has some catnip in it. She immediately walked into it curiously and started making biscuits, and quickly laid down. I sat outside with her for about 30 mins or so just hanging out and she eventually even went to sleep inside of it. I think she found it as a safe enclosed space to actually be comfortable in, that she likely never had before. I'm sure it helped that I was hanging out with her as well, but it was good progress none the less.

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Come Friday, I'm hoping the next photo you see of her is from inside my apartment. Which is great timing as it's supposed to rain this weekend. Plus it's also a 4 day weekend so it gives me time to spend time with her and get her used to her new surroundings.
 
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ImaRobot

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So she has FIV and I'm torn and bummed. Nothing else though so im glad for that. The doctor assured me that it's a fairly normal disease for outdoor cats to have and that many many cats live long lives even with it, but it is still transmitable. I honestly don't even know if my boys have it as one was from a feral mom and the other was an unknown street cat, but the decision to keep her or not is weighing heavy on me. I'm bummed. She's in the room sleeping/hiding in the closet but she makes biscuits and purrs loudly when I call to her.

Any advice will be so helpful.
 

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ImaRobot ImaRobot , I took in a feral/stray last November and after his vet visit he too was diagnosed FIV+. My vet said she also has FIV+ cats in her home as well as FIV- cats and she hasn't had any issues. The biggest concern with housing FIV+ cats and FIV- cats together is deep cat bites transmitting the disease.

I also added a 2nd stray to my home over 6 months ago and he is FIV-. They do wrestle together daily sometimes being extremely over zealous and eliciting loud cries of pain but I've never found anything more than minor scratches and pin prick bite marks.
 
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ImaRobot

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ImaRobot ImaRobot , I took in a feral/stray last November and after his vet visit he too was diagnosed FIV+. My vet said she also has FIV+ cats in her home as well as FIV- cats and she hasn't had any issues. The biggest concern with housing FIV+ cats and FIV- cats together is deep cat bites transmitting the disease.

I also added a 2nd stray to my home over 6 months ago and he is FIV-. They do wrestle together daily sometimes being extremely over zealous and eliciting loud cries of pain but I've never found anything more than minor scratches and pin prick bite marks.
This is something that crossed my mind too, when you specifically mention minor scratches. My boys have gotten it while their playing escalates but I haven't found so much as a scratch. Even no.matter who yelps and cries. Something that made me a little hopeful.

Either way, right now she's doing great in doors. I got her to come out of her hiding spot within a few hours. She'll come straight to me as soon as I get in the room for some pets and scratches. She doesn't have as large an appetite as she did when she was outside but I can see why. She's all purrs and slow blinks right now.
 
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She's adjusting quickly. She wasn't drinking water for the first day but she's doing good with that now. She's extremely playful, all the toys I've bought over the years for my two boys are finally being used as the boys are super picky haha. They literally prefer a wooden branch with a shoe lace tied to the end.

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Happy New Year everyone!

After some positive affirmation here, as well as some extensive readings over the weekend about households with both FIV+ and - cats, I've decided to keep her. I'm going to take the slow and long road to get her acclimated and comfortable, as well as my boys being comfortable, and keep her separated in her own room for the next month or so(or how ever long it takes) and pull out all the tricks I know, as well as look into anything else I don't. I want it to be as safe as possible for all of them, but if worst comes to worst it will always be my boys first and foremost.

However, I'm extremely hopeful and staying positive that she'll do great with time. She does not sleep in her hiding places anymore but on my bed corner instead, as well as the vertically standing couch in my room that perches very high and close to the ceiling. She barely found out she can climb it so shes been loving it up there lately. She wants constant pets and will come to me every time I put my hand out like I did when we were outside. She purrs every chance I get to pet her, and makes biscuits in spot.

Her current favorite toy, it seems.

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Weirdly enough, she unsure/scared of the blanket, but is fine on the bed if its out of the way(the orange one in the back.) When I go to cover myself, even though I'm not frantic or going in fast motions, she runs off into the corner looking at me curiously/nervously. If I want her to come to the bed I have to make sure to move it first. Struck me as odd, I havent seen a cat react like that before to a blanket, so I'm guessing past trauma or she thinks its eating me.

Also I want to say thanks to everyone for the help, advice, and comments. It's truly been so helpful and I'm very grateful for it.
 
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ImaRobot

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Forgot to mention that she gets some extreme zoomies in the room and it’s so adorable. For quite an older cat, shes extremely uppity, even if it’s her by herself. She probably didnt have much of a safe space to do things like this in the wild.

The video tries to imbed itself and ends up not working, but heres a hot link to her playing with her favorite toy.
 
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