Very sick, senior feral

gilmargl

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Three of us volunteers have taken over the job of feeding the few remaining cats at a feral colony. One of the cats (at least 10 years old) is "friendly" in so far as he can often be seen and sometimes comes up quite close to you. Because he now refuses to go into a trap, when he stopped eating a few years ago he was simply grabbed, forced into a carrier and a vet extracted his bad teeth. Since then he has been eating well.

During the past winter, his condition has deteriorated. His nose is running and he appears to have sores on his nose and mouth. When I go to feed him he is usually in one of the cat houses but runs out and tries to hide in the undergrowth when he sees or hears me. He watches me from a distance but each day he seems to be suffering more. The woman, who has been doing this job for 10 years and knows him best, tried to grab him earlier in the week and was attacked needing hospital treatment.

We have acquired enough antibiotics for 10 days and, on Monday, we will try to get him to take them while ensuring that the other cats don't!

I am not very optimistic that we will succeed in treating him adequately, without getting him to a vet. What do you do, when true ferals get ill? When all else fails, how do you get them to the vet for euthanisation? The senior cats have seen the traps far too many times to willingly just walk in. Do we have to wait till he gets too weak to resist, assuming, of course, that he doesn't just hide away somewhere to die?

We are the only animal rescue charity active in this area. We'll certainly be discussing this (under the conditions which COVID allows). At the moment, this poor cat is certainly always on my mind.
 

fionasmom

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I certainly have been in this situation. The three of you have been very kind to this cat and I hope that possibly the antibiotics will help for the interim assuming that you can get them into him.

Having been in this same predicament does not mean that I ever solved it satisfactorily.

Drop trap won't work? I am rubbish with those but some people have more success. Big net where you deposit him in a carrier and cut the net from the ring and close the door? I have never done that either myself but know people who have.

I had a feral who clearly had diabetic neuropathy, no chance of treatment for the diabetes or neuropathy, but I did manage to get him into a carrier with some food and close the door. It was not pleasant and not easy but it allowed me to get him to the ER to be put to sleep.

Have any just never returned? Yes.

This is one of the really hard things about dealing with ferals and I don't know that there are any definitive answers.
 
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gilmargl

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I certainly have been in this situation. The three of you have been very kind to this cat and I hope that possibly the antibiotics will help for the interim assuming that you can get them into him.

Having been in this same predicament does not mean that I ever solved it satisfactorily.

Drop trap won't work? I am rubbish with those but some people have more success. Big net where you deposit him in a carrier and cut the net from the ring and close the door? I have never done that either myself but know people who have.

I had a feral who clearly had diabetic neuropathy, no chance of treatment for the diabetes or neuropathy, but I did manage to get him into a carrier with some food and close the door. It was not pleasant and not easy but it allowed me to get him to the ER to be put to sleep.

Have any just never returned? Yes.

This is one of the really hard things about dealing with ferals and I don't know that there are any definitive answers.
Thank you for your reply.
Up to now I have been supporting the easier components of TNR. Picking up neutered cats from the vet and keeping them at home with me until they are fit enough to be returned to their own territory. Or doing my best to tame feral kittens. "Our" colonies are in relatively safe areas where there is a responsible person on site (or very close). Food is moved slowly, closer to a building or shed and the land around is kept fairly tidy so that there is room for us to move, when it becomes necessary.

But, we inherited this responsibilty when another animal rescue group simply gave up feeding these cats who are living on derelict land (full of cigarette ends, sweet papers, plastic bags and other litter) belonging to a supermarket, between the parking lot and residential housing.

The area is overgrown, so there's not much room for a drop trap. I don't think we even own such a thing. They look rather dangerous to me. I was thinking about a net - we used one from the local fire brigade when we needed to move a mother duck and her ducklings. But, they were easier to herd into a cage - the net only being used to prevent one straying out of line. Perhaps a net and a very thick blanket! But, there really isn't much space to manoeuvre.

I took this photo, from a distance, yesterday. It was a dry, sunny afternoon so he looks a lot better than when I last saw him on Wednesday in pouring rain.
Sick Feral.jpg
 

fionasmom

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You are certainly doing a lot for these cats. It is tragic that they have been abandoned. While I have never had to take over an abandoned feral colony, I have had TNRed ferals, clearly adults, show up for food which at least raises the possibility that someone stopped caring for them or simply TNRed and walked away from it.

I see what you mean from the picture about the difficulty. It would be hard to even get a net over him if he were in the position that he is in now.

Two other long shots.....get the trap and bait it with something that will attract him. Don't even worry if it is not cat food....fried chicken, very tasty sausages, just about anything that would work. If the only option is to try to grab him which I realize may not be a very good one, it will require that someone wear all sorts of coverings...jackets, animal handling gloves, etc. Would he eat in a carrier for a few days and allow someone to shut the door on him?
 

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I'm so sorry that you're going through this - - you sound like you have an enormous heart. :redheartpump:

I agree with fionasmom fionasmom - I'd been thinking drop trap, but with all of that brush and undergrowth, unless he regularly will come out into an area with less undergrowth, a drop trap - and even a net's probably out.

But I would suggest exactly what fionasmom fionasmom just did - - -is it possible to lure him into eating in a carrier for a few days? We regularly use canned mackerel (because even the most feral kitties just can't resist the stickiness of canned mackerel!) in our humane traps - - but we have used a carrier with fishing line tied to the door, which we then sit slightly out of eye site, and then yank the door shut when the kitty is finally a bit less apprehensive about being in there (bc of the tasty mackerel - - - - we've had luck with bits of KFC chicken too). It does usually take two people though - - - one to be holding the line and one to be behind or off to the side, out of site and ready to rush in and latch the door.

This is definitely one of the most heartbreaking parts of working with feral kitties. I wish I had a magic wand and could take away the stress, the worry, and the fear. I know it's not much comfort - but do know many of us on this forum have dealt with this, and despite knowing this type of thing can (and does) happen, we all still keep going. I know it doesn't solve the problem at all, but try to remember that if you and the group before you hadn't taken such good care of him and his crew - - he would have never made it to 10 years. That's just ancient for most ferals! I'm not saying don't stress, don't worry, don't stop trying to help - - but do your best to remind yourself that you've helped make his life far more comfortable then the lives of most ferals. He's been blessed with people like you who care.

Keep us posted!
 

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Cats are so amazing. It’s so awful that the lady got hurt. It does show that he is still fighting to survive. For future reference, welders gloves are so thick, a cat cannot bite through and they extend well up the arms. A very think coat as well is what I use to handle some cats. You still have to keep them away from your face. I have used large fishing nets. Semi useful. The cats are smart and see that as scary. If someone is good with a cast net, that is more effective. They must be very accurate and fast though. Have you tried just sitting with him? I have had most success with showing trust and gaining their trust. Sitting or laying on the ground with them. It is time consuming but it works. Gerber 2nd foods all meat baby food that is slightly warm carries a scent cats have trouble resisting. Give him just a little taste and then another little taste with the medicine in it. Follow with a reward of the rest of the jar with no medicine. It might work. This food can also be used as a lure to befriend him or to trap. Choose the way it is most helpful. Any chance that the remaining colony members could be brought to live out the rest of their days in a catio somewhere? It would solve many future issues. The feral and rescue group here uses that method for elderly, injured or sick cats. A piece of land adjoining a church is where the catio is located. The church has allowed it to be used and the cats are safe there. Someone is always working in the office and they have a caretaker of the property so someone is always around. The cats are attended to two or three times a day by the volunteers, depending on the needs. Thanks and gratitude to all of you for taking cate of these kitties. You make our world a better place and your sacrifices are appreciated by us all. Kitty guardians are heros.
 
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gilmargl

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Thank you fionasmom fionasmom , kittychick kittychick and Jcatbird Jcatbird for your helpful tips and support. I think we may be winning!
We decided that only one of us would be responsible for feeding and giving medication for the next 10 days. Since we all live in different towns and all need to drive, the woman, who has to travel close by the site everyday, picked up the tablets and a webcam and took on the task. The tomcat loves chicken and groundmeat and has taken his medication without a fuss twice a day for 2 days and seems to be looking better already. She uses the webcam to watch him eat his meat before filling all the other dishes. He no longer comes near her and I've forbidden her to do anything silly without making sure that I am parked nearby to take her to emergency services if anything happens.

We cannot leave the webcam, trap or carrier on the site as things left there simply get stolen. In summer we may risk trapping again as there are more than just the 2 old cats eating the food we put out. We are quite successful trappers - but, at this site, we only manage to catch local pets. You can't leave a cat in a trap unattended for too long, so we need people willing to check the traps regularly. This site is not a priority at the moment as we are searching for lost cats in other areas.

I'll try to answer some of your questions later. A young injured cat (road accident) is having to spend the night at the local surgery. Tomorrow (if he survives and the owner doesn't turn up) he may be brought to my house. There's always something to keep us from getting bored even under corona conditions.
 

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Thank you for the update. That’s great news.
I know what you mean about stolen items, lost cats and emergencies. I hope the hurt cat is okay.
Bored? I would welcome bored.:lol: Bet you would too.;)
 

fionasmom

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I am so glad to hear the good news about the tom cat. You are really a lifeline for all those cats you help in your area.
 
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gilmargl

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Update!
The two cats are still doing the equivalent to hiding under the bed, but, in this case, there's no bed, just brambles, nettles and undergrowth. I've named them Teddy and Blacky (until one of the other helpers comes up with something more original - they've known the cats far longer than I have.)
Teddy has recovered from his cat flu and has become quite friendly towards me - blinking at me, coming very close but always ready to disappear if I happen to drop a dish or water bottle. Blacky is more difficult to see but today I was very surprised to see him only a few feet away watching me from the undergrowth.

Here is Teddy at his favorite observation post!

Teddy.jpg


and here is Blacky, only a few feet away from me but well.camorflaged:

Blacky.jpg


Today, they were hungry (although there was still plenty of food in their dishes from breakfast) they could hardly wait for me to get back to the carpark before investigating what I had left for them.

Looking back from the carpark.jpg

I'm still putting heating pads in two of their houses as it gets very cold at night.

And now the bad news - the young injured cat did not survive. The owner was not found - so not only tragic but expensive for our organisation.
Tomorrow I will be distributing cat and dogfood and some Easter goodies to pet-owners on benefits. Some of the food is donated by a local petfood store and the general public which certainly helps. We usually have about 40 willing recipients but because of Covid restrictions we will again have to deliver personally. But, it's a job I like doing!
 

fionasmom

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Teddy and Blacky look happy and healthy! I am sorry about the poor baby who did not survive though. You do so much for these cats and their owners and it must be so appreciated.
 
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