Stray Cat Missing

lynne8832

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Hi everyone.
I have been feeding my stray/feral, Monty, for about 3 months now. I TNR'd him 2 weeks ago and he recovered well and has continued to come back for food. He usually comes by 1-2 times per day, usually in the morning and later in the evening. He came by for food on Sunday night as expected, but I have not seen him since then. It has been almost 48 hours and this is the longest that he has gone without coming by. I have walked around the neighborhood multiple times and have not seen any sign of him. I also called animal control to see if they had any calls about a cat that matched his description, but they haven't. I know that nobody could have picked him up or adopted him because he will not let anybody touch him. My fear is that he was either hit by a car or attacked by another animal. When I walked up by the road, I didn't see any sign that he had been hit by a car, but I guess somebody could have moved him out of the road if that were the case. He is at least 4 years old, so I assume that he knows to stay away from the road by now?
I also wonder if he is out and about more since the weather is getting warmer and he is just wandering and will come back again soon. I have tried to keep him inside, but he absolutely will not have that. I have never taken care of a stray/feral cat before, and I hate that there is so much uncertainty about when they will come back and if they are safe.
Has anybody had a situation like this happen? I am trying to stay positive, it just seems so strange that he has been gone for 2 days considering that he has come by every day for the past 3 months.
Thanks in advance!
 

Regina_K

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If he's not been in an accident, then he may be roaming somewhere. Since he was neutered 2 weeks ago, his hormones have not subsided yet so he may exhibit the usual intact male cat behavior, especially since spring is coming. I had one stray intact male disappear for 5 days. I was afraid he's stuck somewhere and can't get out, which sometimes happens in our neighborhood. I checked and checked....no trace of him. After 5 days he reappeared as if nothing happened. Hope yours is OK! This is part of caring for strays...we worry, and worry...and the worry never ends.
 
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lynne8832

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If he's not been in an accident, then he may be roaming somewhere. Since he was neutered 2 weeks ago, his hormones have not subsided yet so he may exhibit the usual intact male cat behavior, especially since spring is coming. I had one stray intact male disappear for 5 days. I was afraid he's stuck somewhere and can't get out, which sometimes happens in our neighborhood. I checked and checked....no trace of him. After 5 days he reappeared as if nothing happened. Hope yours is OK! This is part of caring for strays...we worry, and worry...and the worry never ends.
That's what I'm hoping! I have left all of his food out and I have been checking to see if he is back, but still nothing yet. It is reassuring to hear that your cat came back after 5 days!
 

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I had been feeding a couple outdoor feral strays for about a year, finally trapped both of them in the same week and took them in for TNR. The male waited about a week before returning to feeding on my patio and the female took almost 3 weeks before returning.

I am on a busy street 45 MPH, but the houses are spaced out on 5 acre properties so they have lots of room to roam and I too was worried they wouldn't return but they did eventually and have remained daily visitors.
 

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I fed a neutered, feral male for a couple of years... twice a day, regular times. There were a few times when he didn't show up, once for several days. Like you, I worried. (Finally moved him inside.) I've read that it can take as long as a month for hormones to adjust after neutering, so he may be off catting around.
 
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lynne8832

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Thank you all so much for the reassurance. This has definitely caused me quite a bit of anxiety over the past few days. I think I am failing to realize that he probably has multiple caretakers. He was pretty chunky when he first showed up, so I'm sure there are multiple people that feed him - maybe he is just off hanging out at one of his other spots for a few days. I drove up and down the main road and didn't see any signs that he was hit by a car - he is pretty skittish and I assume that he knows to avoid the road, so it seems unlikely that is what happened. I also considered that he could have been attacked by another animal, but that also seems unlikely. It seems most plausible that since it has been so warm here recently, he is off on an adventure or spending time at one of the other places that he gets food from. I am also making myself feel so guilty that I didn't keep him inside when I had the chance. He has come inside a few times over the past few weeks, but when I try to keep him inside he gets upset and I cannot even attempt to touch him. I was thinking that it would be unfair to him to make him live in a small apartment when he clearly loves to be outside, but now I am doubting my decision to let him back out and I feel that I will be responsible if anything happens to him.
 
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lynne8832

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It’s been officially 48 hours since I last saw Monty. I feel so guilty and responsible and like I could have done more to make sure that he was safe, but I didn’t think that he wanted to be an indoor cat. I have looked for him all day and I feel like he is never going to come back and I will never see him again. I don’t know if this has anything to do with his TNR since it was 2 weeks ago and he has come back since then. I am just coming to terms with the fact that I may never see him again.
 

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Has anybody had a situation like this happen? I am trying to stay positive, it just seems so strange that he has been gone for 2 days considering that he has come by every day for the past 3 months.
If nothing adverse happened to him, he's probably roaming to other territories and also probably finding food elsewhere or is being fed by someone else. Some cats move around and some will stay put and some don't.
We have strays and ferals here and I don't see some of them for long time but they do come back once in awhile and I even spotted them several streets away. This is pretty normal with them.

After neutering, the testosterones takes around 8 weeks to leave the system. In the meanwhile, he still feels intact.
 
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lynne8832

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If nothing adverse happened to him, he's probably roaming to other territories and also probably finding food elsewhere or is being fed by someone else. Some cats move around and some will stay put and some don't.
We have strays and ferals here and I don't see some of them for long time but they do come back once in awhile and I even spotted them several streets away. This is pretty normal with them.

After neutering, the testosterones takes around 8 weeks to leave the system. In the meanwhile, he still feels intact.
Thank you so much, I’m hoping that’s the case. I assumed that if he were hit by a car, I would have seen him in or near the road, so hopefully that’s not the case. Waiting is tough but I know that sometimes they can pop up after being gone for a while
 

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Thank you so much, I’m hoping that’s the case. I assumed that if he were hit by a car, I would have seen him in or near the road, so hopefully that’s not the case. Waiting is tough but I know that sometimes they can pop up after being gone for a while
Errrr...............sometimes an animal is cleared off the streets after an accident by people or and you may never know that has happened and also if an animal is hit by a car, it may still have the last strength to scramble to a safe place to hide as it is afraid and usually, they die soon due of the injury inflicted by the accident as they cannot move and no longer can find food. I do hope nothing of such happened to your cat.

I remember we had a cat long ago and she was hit by a car and died on the spot and that was like 4 streets away from us we were being informed of what happened to her as the people know that she was our cat.

I believe he's somewhere else.
 
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lynne8832

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Errrr...............sometimes an animal is cleared off the streets after an accident by people or and you may never know that has happened and also if an animal is hit by a car, it may still have the last strength to scramble to a safe place to hide as it is afraid and usually, they die soon due of the injury inflicted by the accident as they cannot move and no longer can find food. I do hope nothing of such happened to your cat.

I remember we had a cat long ago and she was hit by a car and died on the spot and that was like 4 streets away from us we were being informed of what happened to her as the people know that she was our cat.

I believe he's somewhere else.
That's what I was thinking too. I called the local animal control and spoke to the maintenance people in my apartment leasing office and they said they haven't seen or heard of any injured animals by the road, so I'm just hoping that is not what happened to him. I have posted on Next Door so my neighbors will be keeping an eye out for him. I just feel guilty that I didn't keep him inside - I really tried, but he seemed so miserable and just seemed too feral for that to be a good life for him. If he shows back up, I will try again, but I feel like it will be my fault if I never see him again.
 

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That's what I was thinking too. I called the local animal control and spoke to the maintenance people in my apartment leasing office and they said they haven't seen or heard of any injured animals by the road, so I'm just hoping that is not what happened to him. I have posted on Next Door so my neighbors will be keeping an eye out for him. I just feel guilty that I didn't keep him inside - I really tried, but he seemed so miserable and just seemed too feral for that to be a good life for him. If he shows back up, I will try again, but I feel like it will be my fault if I never see him again.
Please don't feel this way. He may show up again. This is how feral cats work. Maybe you can prepare yourself and your home to receive him. He already knows you and has been into your house on several occasions and that makes it easier for him to be inside.
 
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lynne8832

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Hi everyone. I am thrilled to report that Monty showed back up this morning - I looked outside at about 11:00 am and he was eating the food that I had left out. I have no idea where he could have gone for the past 3 days, but I am so glad that he returned. Is it normal or expected for them to go missing for periods of time and then show back up? I'm not sure if maybe somebody else is feeding and taking care of him or if he was just out and about on an adventure. One thing that I do find odd is that he no longer spends much time sleeping on my porch. For most of December and January, he would spend hours every day curled up on the chair on my porch or the cat bed that I put on the outdoor couch for him. He would be there almost every time I came home and usually stayed overnight - he would eat and then jump up into his bed and stay for the entire night. However, he hasn't jumped up onto the couch or his bed once in the past 2-3 weeks and I can't figure out why. I'm not sure if maybe he is more hesitant to stick around after I TNR'd him or if he just doesn't need a place to sleep anymore? I just find it strange that he went from sleeping on the porch for 10-12 hours every day to not even jumping up on the couch at all. My current dilemma is deciding whether or not I will bring him inside again - every time I try, he seems so desperate to get back outside and I can't even get close to touching him. He seems to love being outside and roaming around, but I worry that something will happen to him or he will go off on another adventure and never come back. Part of me wants to just bring him inside, but the other part of me doesn't think that is fair to him or that it will be good for his wellbeing since I live in a small 1 bedroom apartment and he has lived his entire life outside, so it would be a massive change for him and I'm not sure if that would be fair to him.
 

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I am so happy to hear that he has returned!! It's normal for intact males to go missing for some periods of time and yours is practically still intact because you neutered him a few weeks ago.

In my opinion, regarding bringing him inside, you might need to wait until his hormones wear off completely. When it will happen - you'll notice a change of behavior. He will become more social and calm (hopefully, most neutered males do, but not all). When that happens, you could try to bring him inside again. If it doesn't work, do not give up, you can try again at a later point when you feel the time is right. Neutered males have much smaller territory claims than intact ones, so your one bedroom apartment might suit him when he's ready for his new life. Just give him time to readjust to his new status.
 
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lynne8832

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I am so happy to hear that he has returned!! It's normal for intact males to go missing for some periods of time and yours is practically still intact because you neutered him a few weeks ago.

In my opinion, regarding bringing him inside, you might need to wait until his hormones wear off completely. When it will happen - you'll notice a change of behavior. He will become more social and calm (hopefully, most neutered males do, but not all). When that happens, you could try to bring him inside again. If it doesn't work, do not give up, you can try again at a later point when you feel the time is right. Neutered males have much smaller territory claims than intact ones, so your one bedroom apartment might suit him when he's ready for his new life. Just give him time to readjust to his new status.
This is great advice, thank you so much! I think I am just worried that he is going to disappear for good now and never come back before I have a chance to try to bring him inside again, but I assume he won't just leave for good since he is used to coming here for food. I think it just shocked me that he was gone for 3 days without stopping by since he was coming every single day, but I read a lot of stories on this forum of people that had their stray/feral cats leave for weeks or even months and then randomly show back up. I feel like he might freak out if I bring him inside at this point, so maybe waiting is the best option and I can try again when he seems more ready to come inside.
 

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Yes, with time he will change. He will become more docile, understanding, and social. I had aggressive males become such after neutering, but it took quite a while, I'd say, more than a year. Give him time and I pray nothing bad happens to him meanwhile. He will gradually stop roaming which is much safer for him.
 
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lynne8832

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Yes, with time he will change. He will become more docile, understanding, and social. I had aggressive males become such after neutering, but it took quite a while, I'd say, more than a year. Give him time and I pray nothing bad happens to him meanwhile. He will gradually stop roaming which is much safer for him.
That makes me feel hopeful, thank you so much! I am tempted to bring him inside now to prevent anything from happening to him or him wandering off and never showing back up, but I feel like it might be too early to do that and it may do more harm than good for him at this point.
 

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I have brought inside 6 feral and stray cats. Some were very feral and others more semi feral. Each cat was a bit different.

For starters, the cat needs a safe room. Do you have any other animals in your home? The safe room should be as empty as possible. Some people use a small extra bathroom or a guest room. I have used both. When using a bedroom, the biggest tip is to either pick the bed up and lean against the wall or remove it from the room or put the bed flat on the floor. Under the bed is the first place a cat will go to hide. When you are working on socializing, you don't want them hiding under the bed. Yet you do want a safe hiding place. This can be a box or a cozy cat cabanna.

Be sure to keep windows closed. Watch out for window treatments. Cats can try to climb them. I usually keep the blinds tightly closed for the first few days and then start allowing more access to the window as time goes by. A few of the cats I have brought inside immediately threw themselves against the window trying to get out.

Be sure other pieces of large furniture are blocked. I had one cat get behind a large bookshelf. I was frantic as I couldn't find him anywhere. No idea how he squeezed himself behind, but he did.

I always have a Feliway plugged in to help calm the kitty. Playing soft cat music can be soothing too. I have a night light on during the night. A few of my feral cats have yowled and howled all night long. I gave them Composure liquid max in their wet food or Composure treats. It is safe to double the dosage for a few days. It did help. The yowling and howling is often when people feel the cat is miserable and let the cat back outside. You need to be firm and allow the cat time to settle. This can take a week or more. You just have to be patient and remember that inside is best.

Some cats will go on a hunger strike and refuse to eat. This can be dangerous. Closely monitor how much food they are eating as well as litter box habits. A cat should not go more than 2-3 days without eating. I am talking eating nothing at all. You may need to get creative and offer canned tuna, baby food, plain cooked chicken or very stinky wet cat food.

Have at least 2 litter boxes. I like to use Dr. Elsey litter attract. It works very well to quickly get a cat used to the litter box. If the cat does pee or poop on the floor, I will sop up urine with a paper towel and bury the paper towel in the litter box. Same with the poop. Cats are attracted to their own scent.

Remember that all cats are different in how long it takes them to adjust to inside living. I had one cat who took almost a solid year to feel comfortable inside. Others will adjust quickly. I try not to set lofty goals as it only leads to disappointment. We humans like to rush the process. Cats often work on one step forward, two steps back! Just be patient.

Lastly, visit often. Knock softly on the door to announce your self. Keep your gaze low (no direct eye contact). Sit on the floor so you are not looming over him. You can talk softly to him or even read allowed from a book. I used to bring my lap top into the room and just sit. Also bringing a high value treat is helpful. Enter the room and toss something delicious his way. He may not take it right away, but in time he will learn to associate you with yummy things.

We are all here to help so ask lots of questions!
 

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Almost ten years ago, I began feeding a semi-feral cat who had kittens in my backyard. Long story short, I adopted one of the kittens, trapped the mama and had her spayed, and continued to take care of her outdoors. Eventually she was joined by a stray one-eyed male cat and he became my second outdoor cat.

I fed and provided shelter for these two cats for about three years. At that point, I wrote to the Cat Site to ask for help! I was tired of worrying about them all the time, watching them cross my busy street, waking up to gifts of half-dead baby bunnies on my back patio, wondering where they were when they missed a meal.

I received the most wonderful support and advice (including from Shadowsrescue who has tons of experience with this) and I made a plan to bring them both inside. There were ups and downs and it took lots of time and patience, but the relief of knowing they were safe cannot be overstated!

You sound like you are ready to give some serious thought to bringing Monty inside. When you are ready, you will get lots of help here!
 
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lynne8832

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Thank you both SO much for the wonderful advice. Unfortunately, I don't have a spare room to keep him in since I live in a 1 bedroom apartment - I just have my bedroom, my small bathroom, and the rest is an open concept kitchen and living room, so I'm not sure where I would keep him while he adjusted to being inside. I had him in an XL dog crate for one night after his neuter. He tolerated it, but he was NOT thrilled at all and seemed very upset. I would feel so terrible having to keep him in a crate for weeks or months while he got acclimated. Do you think that I should try to keep him inside now, or give it a few more weeks/months to allow him to settle down since he was just neutered 2 weeks ago? Is it possible that some feral cats just never adjust to being inside?
I would absolutely take Monty inside in a heartbeat and give him a forever home - I absolutely love him. I just want to do what is best for him and I don't want his wellbeing to suffer from being inside since it would be such a huge change for him.
Thank you all again for your support and very helpful advice!!
 
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