Will My Feral Ever Trust Me Again After Being Spayed?

Discussion in 'Caring for Strays and Ferals' started by ElanorE, Apr 6, 2018.

  1. ElanorE

    ElanorE Thread Starter TCS Member Kitten

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    Apr 5, 2018
    Hi everyone.
    I'm very new here and already amazed by the help and support you guys offer to each other. I hope I can get some advice from you.
    So my very first interaction with cats began about 7 months ago when we moved to our current house. Back then I found out that 3 cute female kittens around 3 months old were hanging around our backyard with their mother. I started feeding them every once in a while, and after about two weeks the mother cat decided to leave them behind and just disappeared!
    It took a lot of effort to get them to trust me. At first I had to leave the food in the yard, they would come and eat only if no one was around. then they started getting used to having me around while eating. I prepared a wooden box for them and filled it with bedding and everything and they just loved it. they used to hang out there most of the day and wait for the meal times. But still they wouldn't let me touch them.
    But as cruel as nature is, they went into heat one after another and the strange behavior began. I decided to spay them (It was my very first time with cats and I didn't know anything about these stuff beforehand) and I even bought baskets and called for an appointment and everything, but my mother suddenly got sick and hospitalized for over 3 weeks. My dad has passed away and my sister is at work until very late so I had to be with my mom. I used to travel between home and hospital 2 to 3 times a day in order to feed them (I could not and still can't leave food outside. Tom cats are really wild in our neighborhood). So I guess you can imagine how they all got pregnant. They would only come for food, and they became super edgy and scared of me. They even got apart from each other and fought all the time.
    One of them though, my sweet and kind phoebe, was so affectionate towards me. She would hang out in the yard all day, waiting for me to go and pet her. we got pretty close. I so wanted to get her fixed but her belly was so big I was afraid if I take her to the vet they wouldn't spay her and she wouldn't trust me anymore.
    She had her babies 6 weeks ago, then all of a sudden her sister lily decided to come and have her babies in the same box! and phoebe let her in generously. They would take care of kittens and nurse them together. Some died (or got eaten by Toms I guess) and 2 of them remained. I noticed her going into heat again, but I waited for the kittens to get older.
    This very wednesday, I finally gathered my courage, put her in the basket and took her to the vet. Man that was one heartbreaking experience. She was SO scared :( but she got spayed, got all necessary shots, and they said one of her teeth was infected so they pulled it out and prescribed anti-biotics for 5 days. They also said that she has to be in a clean, indoor space. Well as lucky as I am, my mom has been against this whole thing and gave me a REALLY hard time so there was no way I could keep her at my house. They suggested to hospitalize her and I had no other choice. She was so nervous and managed to take off the collar and bandages and refused to eat so they had to give her serum. I visited her yesterday, and just couldn't help crying seeing her all petrified... I stayed with her for about 3 hours, pet her, hug her, kissed her over and over again and gave her recovery food little by little with my own hands (she wouldn't eat from the bowl). She fell asleep with her head on my hand and got a little calmer but every time a doctor walked by she just freaked out.
    Meanwhile, lily decided to take the kittens somewhere else and I don't know where they are gone.
    Now my concern is two-fold!
    Do you think she will ever trust me again after this trauma? I mean the day I bring her back and set her free, is it possible that she walks away and never returns??? and will she go where the kittens are? considering they are moved, will she remember them?
    Do you have any advice, on how to treat her or how to gain her trust back? I'm totally losing it. She probably thinks I have abandoned her and I don't know what to do!
    Sorry it got too long and thanks in advance.
     
  2. shadowsrescue

    shadowsrescue Advisor Staff Member Advisor

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    You did the kindest thing for her in getting her spayed. She may be extra cautious of you for awhile, but with food, shelter and your care she will come around again.
    What are you doing with the kittens and her sister? They all need to be spayed/neutered or you are going to have a huge cat problem.

    Hopefully you can come back home soon. Make sure you have her food and shelter in her space as usual. She may run and hide for awhile, but usually hunger wins out.
     
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  3. ElanorE

    ElanorE Thread Starter TCS Member Kitten

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    Apr 5, 2018
    Well I will definitely try and catch them, it's just that they are not as trusting as their sister, and plus I wanted the kittens to have at least one of them for nursing and caring. I assume the kittens will start following their mother sooner or later, and they will end up at our yard again as lily visits for food 3 or 4 times a day.

    I really hope hunger wins out, and the fact that they have become picky eaters and refuse to eat low quality food that some of the neighbors leave out makes her stick around.

    Thanks for the help my friend.
     
  4. shadowsrescue

    shadowsrescue Advisor Staff Member Advisor

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    You may need to borrow or purchase a humane trap. It is the safest way to catch feral cats. The kittens can be spayed/neutered at 2 months and 2 lbs. If you get them soon enough, they might be able to be socialized and adopted out. If not, you will have quite a few to care for. Also getting the Tom neutered will greatly help. Males are super easy as recovery is quick. You can release them the morning after a neuter.

    Is there a rescue group in your area that might be able to assist you? Or other neighbors working together to help with TNR?
     
  5. ElanorE

    ElanorE Thread Starter TCS Member Kitten

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    Apr 5, 2018
    Actually there is a rescue clinic for ferals and I wanted to take them there before the whole going into heat thing, but I eventually decided to go for a local private clinic as I wanted her to have the best treatment and care.
    But I think I will have to take the male and kittens to rescue clinic after all. It does take some effort but it's the right thing to do and I'm up for it :)

    At the time my main concern is the mental health of the spayed one. I really don't want her to become like one of those untrusting cats you see that are not willing to be helped. But I guess I just have to be patient ;)
     
  6. shadowsrescue

    shadowsrescue Advisor Staff Member Advisor

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    When you bring her home try to act like you did before. If you are over the top with worry and she picks up on it, she may be even more afraid. Try to act like you did before. Most likely she will bolt when you first bring her back, but make meal time the same as before. The more normal you make things, the better.
     
  7. ElanorE

    ElanorE Thread Starter TCS Member Kitten

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    Apr 5, 2018
    Okay I will definitely try that. Thank you again for your kind words and comfort
     
  8. msaimee

    msaimee TCS Member Top Cat

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    I trapped and spayed two feral female cats that I took into my house and domesticated, and my neighbor trapped, spayed and adopted another two. The spay recovery can take several days or longer for a female cat, especially if she was either in heat or pregnant when she was spayed, because there is more swelling and bleeding during the surgery. The kitty may go through a time of depression afterwards. Recovery hurts (hopefully the vet gave her a pain patch or other medication), and her hormones will be a little out of whack for a while, especially if she was in heat or pregnant at the time. Unlike the neuter, a spay surgery is major surgery, it is a hysterectomy. When the vet feels she is healed up enough to be released back outside at your home, don't take it personally if she's not quite herself for a while. It will have very little to do with you, and have more to do with hormones and recovering from the experience of being in a pet hospital for several days. One thing I have learned is that cats do not hold grudges. Even if she is standoffish with you for a few days, all will return to normal fairly quickly. The fact that you've been visiting her and petting her while she's in the hospital is a very positive thing. All cats hate vet visits. When I have to take one of mine, they cry and fuss all the way during the car ride. Then they run and hide for a few hours back home after that. Then they are back to normal. Don't worry about her holding a grudge. You did what was in her best interest. Perhaps when you have fully socialized her, you could find her an indoor and forever home?
     
  9. Willowy

    Willowy TCS Member Top Cat

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    She'll be OK. Her perception will be that you saved her from those scary vets, so she won't hold it against you ;). She may stay away for a few days, but she'll come back. Cats are creatures of habit.
     
  10. ElanorE

    ElanorE Thread Starter TCS Member Kitten

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    Apr 5, 2018
    Wow you gave me really good news thank you so much!
    When I visited her, first she seemed super angry at me. She just sat facing away and ignoring me for a while. Then after a few minutes of talking and petting she came around but the thing that really broke my heart was the fact that she showed the collar to me with her hand, and shook her head in a way that obviously meant she wanted me to take it off :( She did that more than 5 or 6 times!

    I know she was not in heat, but she could have been at an early stage of pregnancy. The vet didn't mention anything.

    I truly hope she does not hold grudges against me as you said :) The vet said she had a bad tooth and gum infection which I had not realized as she always preferred dry food and didn't seem to have any problem eating it. Do you think she will distinguish that the gum and tooth pain is gone? and somehow relating it to why she is there?! Don't laugh at me I'm just a desperate mom!!!

    I am seriously considering getting my own place and when I do, I will definitely take her with me. I hope it happens soon :)
     
  11. ElanorE

    ElanorE Thread Starter TCS Member Kitten

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    Apr 5, 2018
    Well I would love to be the superhero who comes and saves her! Thank you for the comfort I really appreciate it.
     
  12. msaimee

    msaimee TCS Member Top Cat

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    When you say she had a collar on, did you mean a collar, or a head cone? If she has a head cone, I would ask the veterinary staff if it would be possible to remove it. I've never needed to use a cone on a spayed cat, and I've never known any vet to suggest one. It's unnecessary in my opinion, it causes a lot of stress for the cat. The cat is not going to lick or chew at a wound that is healing. How much longer does she need to stay at the pet clinic?
     
  13. ElanorE

    ElanorE Thread Starter TCS Member Kitten

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    I thaught it was called elizabeth collar, but yeah, I meant the head cone.
    They said she tried to reach her wound but I will ask them today if it is okay to remove it.

    She needs to get antibiotic shots for the infection and surgery and can come back after that. They said 5 days, so I’m hoping sunday or monday.
    One other reason that I wanted her to be there is that she has the habit of lying in the garden under the bushes and it’s not hygienic. I’m afraid her wound gets infected from all the site seeing that she does on a daily basis!
     
  14. ElanorE

    ElanorE Thread Starter TCS Member Kitten

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    Apr 5, 2018
    Hi everyone!
    So I brought her back today, she is thrilled to be back home! So far she has smelled everything, ran around the garden and seems very happy. And not only she doesn’t keep distance from me, she keeps looking for me and calling me. Actually she has become super vocal and doesn’t stop talking and meowing! Is it a sign of stress or anxiety?
    She is running and playing, but every 5 minutes or so she comes to the door and keeps calling me! I am really glad and relieved that she doesn’t blame me for what she went through, but I’m kind of concered about her new gesture!
    I also wanted to thank you all for your support.
     
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  15. shadowsrescue

    shadowsrescue Advisor Staff Member Advisor

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    I am so happy that she is sticking around and not running away. Give her love and continue to care for her.
     
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  16. trudy1

    trudy1 TCS Member Alpha Cat

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    No, she’s not mad. I think she equates you with protection, food and most of all...love. Congratulations you have just graduated and become more than just her owner. But just be aware that brings a heightened level of responsibility on your part for the above list.

    Great news
     
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  17. marmoset

    marmoset TCS Member Young Cat

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    Awesome news that she is still coming to you. It's been my experience too but I think that worry (that I had just like you did!) puts a lot of people off "fixing" ferals. So now you can be one more success story:) That's fantastic!
     
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  18. ElanorE

    ElanorE Thread Starter TCS Member Kitten

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    Thank you guys I really appreciate the help and support you offer :wave3:

    I myself had a great deal of doubts about this, especially because I didn't want to leave a bad memory in their mind so they wouldn't trust people anymore. I believe the result does depend on each individual cat's personality, and I am very lucky that this kitty has the best and sweetest character, but every time I look at her and I know she will not have to go through heat cycles and labor and nursing and all those difficult things, I wanna cry tears of joy! I vividly remember her pregnancy days, she wouldn't play, she was upset and stressed, and now, she doesn't get tired of jumping and running around and playing with her toys and her sisters! It is so heartwarming!

    I am going to do the same for her sisters although I know they won't take it so well. But as dear trudy mentioned, that's what a responsible person would do. :yess:
     
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  19. msaimee

    msaimee TCS Member Top Cat

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    Trapping cats and taking them on that long ride to the clinic for neuter/spay is almost as stressful for me as it is for the cats. Heck, taking any of my now domesticated cats for a vet trip is also stressful because they cry all the way to the vet, and they're scared. But it's one of the things we have to do as responsible pet parents, and they certainly don't hold grudges against us, and they intuitively know that we are not meaning to hurt them.

    The last feral 5 month old kitten I trapped 2 years ago went so bezerk in the trap that she bloodied up her nose. She settled down once I covered the trap and during the car ride, but wow she was terrified. The clinic kept her several days and she scratched and bit them several times. I stressed and worried about her each of those days. But I knew that I would be taking Cupcake into my home, and that she was going to have a wonderful life. And guess what, she does have a wonderful happy life. She had been pregnant when she was spayed, and had parasites and fleas and was tiny. To this day she is very small, about 6 pounds, she still looks the size of a 6 month old kitten. As soon as she healed up from the surgery she started to act like a kitten, perhaps for the first time. She loves playing with her toys and she is very loving and affectionate and has never expressed a desire to go back outside. The hours or days they spend going through the stressful trap and spay ordeal yields many years of health, happiness, and a great life. I am very happy for every cat that I have trapped and helped my neighbors to trap, they all have terrific lives now.

    For any of you who remember my story about Cupcake from 2 years ago, I want to post a picture I took of her the other day. I want to encourage everyone who is afraid to go through the trapping and spay process with a feral cat that the outcome is most usually sweet, sweet as this little Cupcake.

    20180410_123015.jpg
     
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2018
  20. trudy1

    trudy1 TCS Member Alpha Cat

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    1022C0AC-D916-4BB0-A897-DAFE3BAAB462.jpeg Eleanor, thought you might enjoy a picture of Dolly. She was a rescue from a barn as a 4 month old kitten. It took us a full day and night running the traps every 2-3 hours to get her. We had 4 other cats at the time and if you are old enough to remember the Tasmanian devil cartoons from years ago it was a lot like that when we brought her home to the “cat family”. Look at her now. Worth every minute.
     

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