October 20th, 2005, 11:15 AM
Needing some advice on the below situation from you stray savvy people. Sorry for the length. I just know that the ones who can really help me will read to the end. I give full details and description so that everyone can have a good grasp on the situation at hand. Thanks in advance for your help!
A few weeks ago, I discovered a stray cat on my porch. He (looks male), was sleeping in a box waiting to be broken down for recycling. I opened our porch door and this little head popped out and stared at me with curious and frightened eyes. Judging from the head he looked like a full grown cat. But when I moved towards opening the door he shot right off! The body is very small and I would assume he is about 6-8mons. He was very VERY thin too - so I don't know if being underweight could make his growth stunted?
Well, since then I decided not to break that box down. Being Canadian I knew that the cooler weather would be here sooner then later. So, I went back in my house and grabbed an old housecoat, pillow case and baby-blanket - also, some recycling bags.
I lined the box, inside and out with the recycling bags - to weather proof it. Then I folded up the housecoat and wrapped it with the pillow case and put it inside, for a nice cushy bed. Then I put the baby-blanket on top as it is made out of really soft material. My cats loved it when they were kittens and noticed how much they still love soft materials. So, I thought it would be nice for this little guy.
I have also been putting out fresh food and water every time it empties - or the water looks dirty.
He was coming almost every other day at first. Then everyday between 2-3p.m. for a few hours to eat and sleep. Now he is there everyday at all hours. I change his food and water regularly when he is gone on an adventure.
He lets me sit at the back door now and talk to him, but still takes off when I go to open the door. He was there this morning before I left for work. I noticed his dish was empty and his water dirty. So, I thought I could sneak around him. I took food, water and a couple of sewn together large towels and went out our front door. I moved around to the back. I put the food on the deck and went to climb over the top. He heard me and took off. I had the towels so that I could cover the top of the box and create a half-curtain, for added warmth - as the nights and days are getting colder. It is a concrete porch, with two open sides.
My husband and I want to befriend him. Get him to trust us so that we can get him in a carrier and take him to our vet. Then we want to find a rescue to take him in and adopt him out. The winter is coming and we have seen how every winter the local strays usually are not around the next winter....
Any advice would be wonderful. Do you think this box is warm enough? Should I go buy a better "house" for him? I won't bring him in our own home until I know he is healthy and cannot pass anything to our furries.
Thank you :pawprint:
October 20th, 2005, 11:21 AM
do you have a cat carrier that you can swap for the box? put the same blankets etc inside so it smells familiar? you might have a better chance of sneaking up on him to close the door if you do, every few days, pull the door a little bit more closed till he has just a small opening to get in and out from.
October 20th, 2005, 11:30 AM
You could try calling animal controle and see if they have humane traps they can lend you?
It will be stressfull for the cat to be caught in it, but hey, its Canada and winter is coming... Stuck in a trap has to be less stressfull than -40 windchills?!
October 20th, 2005, 11:32 AM
I have some experience in trapping and taming ferals.
If you have a spare room and an hour to kill, I strongly suggest you catch him/her now. The older s/he gets outside, the harder it will be to get him/her adopted and/or get him/her use to you. 6 to 8 months old is not too old to tame... 2 years old is too old to tame.
1.Start feeding him inside a small pet carrier so that he gets use to going inside the carrier. You will never get him in there willingly.
2. skip his feeding for 1 day
3. put tuna at the end of a pet carrier and let him eat inside the carrier
4. stay near enough to shut the carrier door...sneak up and shut the carrier dog. (he'll go nuts inside but he'll calm down)
5. take him to vet and have him fixed and vaccinated.
6. isolate him in a spare room/bathroom and work on him daily
Things I learned too late:
1. it is NEARLY impossible to get a cat adopted from outside
2. it is neary impossible to get an older cat adopted
3. rescues are more willing to deal with indoor/tamed friendly cats
4. harldy anyone will deal with outdoor/untamed cats
5. it is easier to tame a cat indoors in isolation rather than outdoors
6. a couple of months of indoor/isolated/socialization beats years of baby steps that will onlymake it harder to find him a home.
7. catch them right away...if she/he is pregnant, you will have more than 5 mouths to feed and your problems for adoption/housing/feeding will increase very quickly.
I started off just like you...now my feral cats (5 now) are 2 yrs old and I can't find a single person to adopt them. Had I taken the advice above or found a way to get them off the streets at 8 months old, they would be homed by now...
If you need advice on how to tame a feral kitty, there is much out there. But they have to be trapped ASAP....trust me, the sooner the better.
Don't give up on him/her. It's not too late... Good luck!
October 20th, 2005, 12:32 PM
You could also try some dried catnip. I have strays that just keel over for it and are easier to snatch. You might want to wear gloves, a well-placed claw could cause you to drop him and then you would have to re-win his trust. You didn't say if you are in a position to keep him. There is a wait of ten days between vaccinations and neutering/spaying (I'm betting it's a male) although vets will sometimes reduce that a bit. During that time, you could keep him in a spare room and gradually befriend him, feed him up. If he's as young as you think, it shouldn't be too difficult, life outside is hell, he'll know he's onto a good thing.
As for finding homes for strays, as long as they're reasonably domesticated, it's not impossible, many of us have done it. But yes, you must keep him inside for any of this to be feasible; unless they are rescuers themselves, most people are just not willing to take the risk of getting stuck with a cat that never really comes around (a few of them don't).
I don't know whether your local humane society is no-kill but most of them are so crowded, the threat of euthanasia is ever-present.
Good luck! and thanks for caring.
October 20th, 2005, 12:39 PM
You might want to wear gloves, a well-placed claw could cause you to drop him and then you would have to re-win his trust.
Or a well placed set of teeth. I was bitten by a feral that was hanging around my dad's house. I tried to stop him from coming in the house(dad was letting him stay in garage), and he bit my hand, all four fangs went in as far as they could and he started shaking his head. I had a major infection :sick: on my hand, and my arm was swollen to my elbow :eek: . Right before I was bitten, the cat was purring and rubbing up against my legs. :pawprint:
October 20th, 2005, 12:43 PM
I wouldn't suggest trying to grab any feral cat with gloves unless they are less that 4 weeks old or already tamed or else they will fight back. It's much safer to trap them inside a carrier or humane trap.
I've caught over 50 ferals so far and all of them with a pet carrier though a humane trap would have been MUCH MUCH quicker and easier.
Also the advantage to the humane trap is that you don't have to be near him to trap him.
October 20th, 2005, 02:28 PM
Thank you all so much. If you have any more suggestions, please keep them coming. All and any are very helpful. I have never had a stray so close to my home that I was able to help it. Now I have that chance and I am determined.
We don't have a spare room to keep him in. For a transition period. My vet is amazing though and I know, when I catch him, that he will take a look at him. If he is healthy and does not pose a threat to my other furries, then I would definitely take him in to foster. Sadly, I couldn't keep him though. As we rent and we are so very lucky that our landlord lets us have 3 cats! I wish I could - I fall in love with every furry I set my eyes on - as well as my husband. We did have a spare room, but my brother-in-law is residing there at the moment.
I have contacted a friend of mine that does rescue work. I am just waiting for a reply - I am so anxious to help him.
My goal is to have him to a vet, or even better, in a friendly rescue before the end of the month.
If my friend can help I am going to sponsor him. Since the rescue is volunteer based I will pay for his vetting, toys, etc. I am keeping my fingers crossed that there is room. If not and he is healthy, I will foster him myself. I think my landlord will understand that.
There are many rescues that home animals in foster homes, instead of crates, which is ideal. I would prefer this over the Humane Society. Not that I have anything against the H.S. as every shelter worker is a blessing.
Don't worry, I won't try to catch him by hand - unless I can actually get him to trust me. :pawprint:
October 20th, 2005, 03:12 PM
Don't expect the stray to bond with your kitties or vice versa right away. It's a waste of time to force a meeting between them.
If you do decide to foster him in your bathroom, let me know, I have tons of small tricks that would help ease the transition and adjustment for the stray.
October 20th, 2005, 05:01 PM
We had "strays" that now live here, so they aren't strays now :) ...the one that was really almost feral is coming around really well now. It just took time. This will be his first winter here.
I am in NC, we get cold, surely not as cold as Canada of course, but last year we bought the other two little cozy beds and they were put in a "cat-house" my dad made. It is a big wooden box. Then we found Snuggle Safe disks from Petco or petsmart. They get heated in the microwave and stay warm for several hours. The cats loved it.
October 20th, 2005, 08:10 PM
I agree you should trap him with a humane trap. You can rent or borrow them from local Rescue groups or SPCA - not sure where you live. Find the smelliest stuff you have - tuna or sardines and draw him in with that tho it sounds as tho that area is well covered by his expectation of food from you. Place the food in the trap and "grab" him, NOT literally. Do not lift him with bare hands or even gloved hands. Serious injury can result from feral kitties who will be terrified in a trap. Remember to cover the trap once he is in it.
Once you get him to a vet and make sure he is OK, if you have a seperate place - like a bathroom, that would be the best place to keep him. You might have to make sure he is OK before having him neutered. In all liklihood, there will be some things you need to take care of - does he have fleas, worms, etc - and you will have to treat him for those. And while you are feeding him, he is prob hungry.
You can't integrate him with your cats until any medical issues are resolved and even then, it will have to be done carefully and slowly - following the various articles on this site and others about how to do that. In the seperate room, provide litter and food and water. You may have to use potting soil so that he recognizes what it's for.
Needless to say - in whatever room you keep him, you will have to let him come to you on his own terms. Don't attempt to pick him up. Leave a radio on with classical music - or somethings soothing. Talk to him or read to him so he grows accustomed to your voice and smell. Provide him with a hideyhole so he feels he has a safe place to go. Most ferals will eventually come to you or at least be comfortable with being indoors. on those terms. He may never be a lap cat but that's true even of non ferals.
He may be freaked out when he first in the trap and claw and scratch to get out, It is heartbreaking to watch but ultimately, he will be getting vet care and a better life. Just make sure he doesn't hurt himself. He'll be a little groggy when he comes back from the vet so that is the best time to start the socialization process. I actually do not agree that one "tames" a feral - we can socialize them but taming is something else again. Maybe kittens less than 3 weeks old can be tamed but that is about it. Many socialized ferals, however, can become wonderful lap kitties but it would be a mistake to expect that of every feral cat. Hopefully, this kitty is a former or lost domestic cat.
Once he is used to your voice, he may wander out to investigate - curiosity and cats and all that. Let him come to you. You could try to pet him if he is calm with a glove. Remember he is so frightened and in a place he does not know.
Here is a good pdf file on socializing feral kitties:
Thank you so much for caring for the little fellow. He is lucky to have found you! And good luck!!
October 27th, 2005, 10:32 AM
I have not seen my stray cat for a week now! My hubby and I keep looking for him everyday and he has not been around. We look for him multiple times in a day. He was coming to our porch everyday. He has his own little place, up off the ground in a box with "insulation", blankets and a towel door to keep out as much cool night air as possible. Food and water.... He was there everyday.... I am fearing the worst, should I be? I was going to help him!