Thinking of feeding ferals fewer days per week.

2 dozen

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I do TNR in my community and also feed 3 colonies every day. I sometimes feel it is not a good idea for them to rely on me for their food. I shall be 70 years old next month and have no one to take care of the cats when I die. I am in relatively good health, will need both knees replaced this year, not planning on dying soon but one never knows.

My husband is older and not a cat person, but I'm sure he will feed them while I recuperate  but not every day.

I am wondering if I feed them every other day or so they will get into the habit of hunting for their food, I live in the mountains and there is small prey for them. At present, some of them are waiting for me to show up for their food. I was notified about one colony when their caretaker, an elderly man with no family, fell in the tub and died but no one knew for a few weeks. The cats were seen eating the corn a neighbor put out for the deer, one of the clues there was something amiss; they didn't seem to be able to fend for themselves.

My friends are my age or older, none of them inclined to do this in any case. Not many young people around, there really is no one to cover for me. My cat sitter is not available anymore so husband and I haven't gone anywhere together for any length of time lately.

Thoughts/suggestions?

Thanks, Karen
 

ondine

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Bless you for going the extra mile for these cats! If you absolutely have no one else, the feeding them less frequently may work.

Did a group help you with the TNR? I would first contact them for support. Our TNR groups registers colonies, so if one caregiver has troubles, there are others who can step in to help. Ask around, there may be someone willing to help - even take over. Good luck!
 

DreamerRose

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Karen, feeding them less often is a good idea. Cats are excellent hunters. Yours just need some encouragement. I wouldn't say this about an urban colony, but yours are in a location where prey is available. Nobody needs all those baby rabbits and mice anyway.  
 
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Ondine, I started doing this June 2011 with permission from the community's Board Of Directors. Since then I have TNR'd 176 cats by myself!!! I am proud of my accomplishments with this program as I have never initiated anything before being a follower rather than a leader.. The BOD has shown their appreciation of my success by adding it to the annual budget which now covers half my expenses.

Sadly, there really is no one else interested in doing this. When I was organizing the program I put an advertisement in the community newsletter inviting interested parties to my home for a meeting. Aside from my friends, who are the community's main volunteers, 2 other women showed up and admitted they just wanted to see the inside of the house.

DreamerRose....There are plenty of mice but alas, no rabbits. Coyotes in competition for what is around but since the deer ate all the underbrush over the years there is no protection for the bunnies.

How often would be good to feed the cats?

Thanks to you both for your responses.

Karen
 

ondine

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Ondine, I started doing this June 2011 with permission from the community's Board Of Directors. Since then I have TNR'd 176 cats by myself!!! I am proud of my accomplishments with this program as I have never initiated anything before being a follower rather than a leader.. The BOD has shown their appreciation of my success by adding it to the annual budget which now covers half my expenses.

Sadly, there really is no one else interested in doing this. When I was organizing the program I put an advertisement in the community newsletter inviting interested parties to my home for a meeting. Aside from my friends, who are the community's main volunteers, 2 other women showed up and admitted they just wanted to see the inside of the house.

Karen
Wow!  You have gone the extra mile.  So glad that your BOD supports your efforts.  If they know about the issue, perhaps one of them can step up or suggest someone.  The cats are going to die out, because they are all fixed, so it is in the BOD's best interests to continue support.  If they are helping with expenses, then the new person won't have a big out-of pocket costs, especially if you can reduce the costs of food.

I would think one good meal once a day would work.  If you can, reduce the feeding gradually.  Every other day for a few weeks, then every day.

You have made the lives of these cats so much better.  
 

lesliel76

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It is absolutely amazing what you have done for these cats in your community you truly are a saint.

I totally think its resonable to cut back to every other day feedings.

Ive also known people who have built these gravity cat feeders from large garbage bins. I couldn't find a a good photo of anything online but they are based on the smaller ones you buy in the store. Attaching a couple of pics I found. Maybe you could get these large bins in place and just get someone to fill up once a month or something like that.

 

fyllis

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I would think there would be a problem with those automatic feeders in that they would draw in every mouse, raccoon, possum, stray dog and other varmints and the food would deplete overnight. It makes me wonder if the Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts would be able to 'adopt' a colony? I know they often work with the Humane Society in raising money and volunteering at the shelters and such. Even if they helped out one day a week, it would be some help. And, they would earn their "Cause for Paws" award patch! 
 
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I am thinking to gradually reduce the current daily feeding to 3x/week: Tues, Thurs, and Sat.. Maybe won't start decreasing the feedings till the spring as I know they need extra calories keeping warm during the winter.

Thanks for replying, and the suggestions about the scouts, I'll look into that. A big problem is that I am feeding one of the colonies on someone's deck. The house seems abandoned, haven't seen anyone there for four years and  I have an overturned dog shelter bottom on the deck to keep the food dry. So, I am trespassing and can't ask anyone to do that.

Some people are so clever, love those homemade auto feeders, but Fyllis is right. Raccoons eat any food left out. I have to try to remember to bring in the food I leave out on my deck for the 4 ferals who come up there to eat. 2 of them were the first ferals(mama and her little kitten) I saw when I first moved here in 2007. After eventually trapping 9 cats that came on my deck for the cat food is when I realized there was a problem in the community and asked for permission to start trapping.

Most of the original ferals lasted only 2 years or so, it is a very dangerous world out there. I am amazed that Little Mama and Little Phantom are still around, but they do not get along since Little Phantom grew up. There is a black kitty  that comes every day that may be from 2008 but most of the ferals are black or b&w so it is hard to say if he is the original Midnight.

I need to cut back on expenses since I spend over $5000/year on vet, gas to the various sites the spay mobile I use goes to, and food. The budget is $3000 so if I feed 3x/week I may not have to use personal funds anymore.

Talk about a "crazy cat lady"!!!!

Karen
 

Mamanyt1953

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THEY STILL NEED FRESH WATER DAILY, TWICE A DAY IF COLD AND FREEZES.....And in winter need more food, not less.
You are absolutely right about this, but keep in mind that this is one woman, turning 70 very shortly, with bad knees and NO help.  No matter what the cats need, there is only so much that she is physically able to do, with the best will in the world.
 
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2 dozen

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Kevin, calm down. No need to yell at me.

If I weren"t feeding them they would have already died or be in pretty bad shape. They will get what I am able to give. I did say above that I shall wait till spring as I know they need more calories in the winter.

My Mom always said "If you can't say something nice, don't ay anything at all." Paraphrasing: If you can't say something in a nice way, just be quiet.

Karen
 
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Mamanyt1953:

Nice of you to understand the situation .I feed around 30 cats every day at 3 different locations, I have 15 inside, 3 are kittens I TNR'd in Dec but retrapped them after they were returned because I worried about them being hungry and cold and had not seen mama for awhile.. They are in the master suite with a few others, have not told my husband about them yet. He has one of the upstairs guest bedrooms off the loft so I am able to get away with this.

While trying to trap the mama I caught 2 adult males, the large feral I am sure is kittens daddy, the other one turned out to be an already neutered male who is extremely affectionate. I have a notice in the newsletter  in the hopes of reuniting him with his humans but will be very happy to keep him. I can't release kittens or non feral adults and have exhausted available friends and family to adopt the ones I trap. 

Last week I finally saw kittens mama, will try and get her TNR'd asap.

Thanks to all of you who have posted kind replies.

Karen 
 

kittychick

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Could someone(s) on BOD be tasked w feeding 3x a week if/when you can't? It seems as though they understand the value. Although they probably wouldn't trap "new" ones so perhaps the point is moot.

Honestly so happy you got answers....I saw your original post & to be honest, I actually went to my husband and told him about your post & said it was the first time I'd read anything and was so stumped about how to answer I took the coward's way out & didn't answer :(.

If it makes you feel any better, when the U.S. Had the huge $1.6 Billion lottery last week - first thing on my list if we won was moving but to a place we could do an enormous enclosure & take our ferals with us. And we have very understanding & willing to feed & TNR behind us. They just don't care quite like I do :) See - THAT's crazy cat lady ;)
 
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Kittychick,

If I won,(we didn't even bother to buy a ticket) one of my daydreams was about hiring trackers to find all the ferals here, also expanded the search to neighboring towns, the whole country if funds permitted, building large shelters for them. I am acquainted with a homeless woman whom I helped trap her cats after her eviction  and brought them to a no kill shelter. I would buy/build her a big house and hire her to care for the cats. She is an animal lover but has no car, actually she has nothing, otherwise she would love to cover for me.

Maybe I should start buying lottery tickets, lol.

The BOD are all volunteers, they give much of their time already to the community. Also, I don't want them to know I am trespassing on this apparently abandoned house. I don't know the story but no one has been there for the 4 years I have been going there for the cats. Another factor in who would want to cover for me if I knew anyone interested. I am in the mountains so food has to be up away from the deer so I am using the deck of the empty house across the road from the deceased gentleman.  I even have a shelter I made from a large pet carrier, lining it with Styrofoam I covered with mylar material, filling it with straw. There are depressions in the straw so someone uses it at times. I seem to be taking over this deck, hope I don't try to break into the house to let the cats in!!!

Karen
 

lesliel76

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Yes no reason to get upset here. Everyone is just talking and Karen you have done so much already, and continue to do so much. The upkeep is unreal. I have 3 in my yard and thats a ton of work. I cant imagine taking on what you are. Like you said these cats might already be dead without your help.

I know my idea of the gravity feeders doesnt help with wildlife,but what if you put them in something with a door only big enough for a cat? I have a shed with a cat door and the raccoons and possums cannot fit inside it.

Otherwise a girl scout troop as mentioned seems like a great idea. Or maybe post a flyer at local vets, pet stores etc. There might be more people in your area willing to help that you just dont know about. Theres a site also called meetup groups that I sometimes use and volunteer on. You might start a group you can educate and see what doors that might open for you with connections. It would be great to get you some help.

The outdoor cats are defiantly surviors and they are more savy then we give them credit for. They are smart and will do what it takes. Im amazed by the stories I hear about these outdoor warriors. With your help Karen even if you cut back a day or two they will be ok.
 
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lesliel76

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The abandoned house thing is a bit trickier to give advice one without knowing the exact situation. Is their a spot near by you can slowly move them to incase someone decides to occupy this property in the future.

Whoever owns this place should be thankful, it would be more overun with cats if you didnt step in to get them fixed.

Wishing you continued good luck with your colonies and hoping you find a way to get some help.
 
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Leslie176,

Your suggestion about gravity feeder inside something that cats could get into and not the deer during the day or raccoons/other wildlife at night  is a great idea. It could then go in woods behind the house and if anyone covers for me they wouldn't have to trespass.

I am fine feeding them every day at present, my concern is their dependence on me. When I have my knee surgery, when I die, whenever I can no longer do this regardless of the reason, I want them to be able to care for themselves. Right now they don't have to hunt or look for food. I want them to become a little more self sufficient to be prepared when I can no longer do this.

I doubt anyone will take over for me. When I first started this program the very first property owner who contacted me was a neighbor of the man who I reference above who died. There were possibly almost 100 cats around his property, the neighbor told me he had complained for years but nothing was done till I came along. 2 years later he said the problem now was with mice getting inside as there were hardly any cats around to keep them in check. So I know they could catch and eat mice to survive, they just need to be encouraged to do so and getting hungry is the only way I can think of to make them independent.

Karen
 

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I agree with the suggestion of gravity feeders. Give it a try.  I would also hope that you could continue to feed them once a day since some of them are already dependent on you--one good meal a day is better than none. I think only feeding them 3 times a week would be too dramatic a change, especially in the winter. Have you asked your local Humane Society if they could provide some cat food for you? Mine offered to help me with food a few years ago, but I didn't see the need since I wasn't caring for too many cats. It's worth a shot. 

You are only 70 years old, and must be in good shape to be feeding all those cats! I hope and pray you live to be at least 90. Also, you have your husband who must know how much you love and care for these cats. Unless you have a terminal health issue that you're not mentioning, I think that maybe it's too soon for you to be worrying about not being around to care for these kitties?

I'm a single, middle-aged person and I worry constantly about the one feral cat I've been taking care of outside for over 4 years on my block (not to mention the 4 rescues I have inside). I have peace of mind knowing that if something happened to me, several of my neighbors would take care of him. I also have "godparents" for 3 of my indoor cats. I hope and pray that you find people in your neighborhood or family who could take care of them if and when the need arises. God bless you for all your hard work!  
 
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I don't intend to stop the daily feedings during the winter, it has been 11 degrees the past 2 days. When the weather warms up I shall gradually decrease the daily feedings to encourage them to hunt for themselves, so that when I become incapacitated they can take care of themselves.

I sincerely appreciate everyone's input, thank you very much.

Karen
 
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