Thursday, July 12, 2018

Living with a semi feral cat

**a post by the mom
First a little background. Eight years ago now, a neighbor and I spotted some kittens and decided to do some TNR in our neighborhood. The first set of kittens were smaller and socialized really well and were adopted through a local shelter. Shortly after that we caught a slightly older kitten.

Once we had him, I didn't have the heart to let him go back outside. Unfortunately, he was about 3 months old which is about the outside edge of being able to socialize kittens. I will also say that I didn't know as much then as I do now. The downside to my decision is that I have what I term a "semi-feral" cat living in my house. He has been here since we caught him. He has been seen by a vet twice since I can't catch him easily or without stressing him out. He lives a good life and is good with kittens and the other cats that live here (mostly - he has some stalker tendencies with Ivy). But he won't come near me. Recently he has gotten up on the bed every once in a while at night when I am reading and will lay at the very edge, but that is as close as he is willing to get. But if I move - he is gone.

Don't get me wrong - I am a proponent of annual check ups for all pets. However, in Junior's case, it is more stressful to try catch him. However, a few months ago I noticed he seemed to be having some mouth pain when he yawned or ate something. I had to decide....let it go and hope it wasn't serious and knowing he was uncomfortable, or set an appointment for a dental and catch him.

Busted and headed to the vet
I am very lucky that the tech at my vet's office is also a friend. We talked about it a couple of times and I set an appointment.

However, how do you catch a cat that is afraid of people? I went through a couple of plans in my head. The other thing we had spoken about was trying to get gabapentin into him before bringing him to the office. After some thought, I decided to try to live trap him in one of the bedrooms. I could mix the meds in the food and have a safe way to move him. Plus once we got to the vet, the trap could be set up on one end to be able to sedate him with an injection.

Junior had other plans. Tuesday morning I locked the girls in the back bedroom, herded him into my bedroom and set the trap. After over an hour....nothing. I was now down to 45 minutes before I had to be to the vet. I moved the trap to the bathroom. However, once he got out the bedroom (and I shut the door behind him to limit his space), he freaked out. He bounced around the living room and would not head where I wanted him to go. I knew if I didn't catch him, he wasn't getting to the vet and moreover it would be months before I would even be able to try this again.

Finally he wedged himself behind a pillow on the sofa. It was now or never. I put one of the soft carriers on the chair and grabbed a towel. I threw it over him and wrapped him as much as I could then shoved him into the carrier. It wasn't elegant, but it seemed to work. I locked the zippers on the carrier, threw a towel over the top of the carrier and headed off.

The nice part about the mesh on the carrier is they were able to sedate him by injection right through the mesh - I hadn't thought about that but it was brilliant. He finally dozed off and they got him set up for surgery. I did get a chance to pet him a little and also get a look at his teeth.

I will admit, I did fear that we would find something really bad....up to a possible mass in his mouth. They clipped his nails and he had a full bloodwork panel done along with getting a rabies shot. The bloodwork came back excellent. However, he ended up losing 9 teeth. They could have done more but wanted to not take everything now. I joked with the tech that with a 3 years rabies shot, we would be back then.

The only thing that overcomes ignorance is education. I've learned a lot in 8 years. Would I make the same decision today that I made then? I honestly don't know. While he may be afraid of people, showing his feral birth, I know he has lived a much safer life inside. Right now, he seems to be doing OK. There has been canned food left out and while I think Daiquiri is eating most of it, he is eating. He REALLY does dislike me now though - I so much as breathe in his direction and he disappears. Hopefully that will taper off (or at least back to his normal) after a while.


  1. Poor fellow, and you too. In spite of the ordeal, I'm glad you do have him inside. He certainly isn't living the kind of hard life he would have been otherwise. We can only do the best we can with what we know at the time, after all.

  2. Oh I know exactly what you are talking about. I have one this morning at least shut in the extra bedroom that I have to take to the vet this morning since he has lost a lot of weight. Just hope I can catch him and get him in the carrier. Glad Junior got through his ordeal and will become friendly to you again.

  3. Good job! You do what you can with cats like him. Living indoors beats living outdoors, especially since he is tolerant. I know a lot more than I did either years ago too, and so does everyone else in rescue and TNR. Things change all the time as we learn more ways to help cats.

  4. He will forgive you! Although Sweetie and The PO'M allow petting and even picking up, putting them in a carrier is NOT GONNA HAPPEN, so I must trap them. I am glad that Junior got a dental; both Sweetie and The PO'M had horrible teeth, and they were so much better after. Pain makes cats do stuff, like hide and be mean, etc. Please let us know how Junior is after a few days, once he's healing. Good for you!

  5. Boodie was semi-feral when she came home, and was really scared of people. She and her sister were found abandoned in a box in the parking lot of a vet clinic, and they were very hissy and scared. And they were 5 months old. Between the time my human's soul cat died and Sparkle was born, my human needed a second cat, mainly to keep Binga from acquiring "only cat" syndrome (i.e., thinking the humans didn't need any more cats, MOL!). So my human offered to foster Boodie, who by then was 9 months old and still hissy. Well, the foster only called for her once for a potential adopter to view, and the humans never heard from them again! So Boodie has always sort of been the extra cat around here. She is 17 now, and it took well over a decade for her to come out of her shell. But it eventually happened, and although she is permanently quirky, she doesn't hide from strangers anymore.

  6. dood...sorree buddy; we noe ya wented thru a lot but ina few dayz yur gonna feel 1000000000000000000 timez way better.....sorree ya loozed sew manee teeth; we hope ya put em under yur bed sew they can tern ther selvez inta 50's and 100's....buzzed happee yur blood werk came back eggz cell francis' blessing two ewe N sum for mom two...just coz... her noez why ~~~~~~~~ ♥♥♥

  7. We wish that he gets back to his old self again. You are doing an amazing job keeping him safe and happy. It's hard when one of your little ones aren't feeling well. Thanks for sharing your story and hopefully everything will be alright from now on. Have a wonderful day.
    World of Animals

  8. One of my cats is similar - except he likes me and will cuddle and even sleep with me. He has no desire to go back oiutside but he is not about to be caught and put in a carrier...if he becomes obviously sick or in pain I will try it again. It is a quandry .

  9. Poor Junior, I'm sure he was freaked out...but I'm certain he'll forgive you at some point. It can't have been pleasant for you either, though I'm certain the mostly good health report makes the trouble worthwhile.

  10. It’s a tough one. I’m glad you were able to get Junior in to the vet and have his teeth done. I have Zoey who was either semi-feral or just one terrified stray. Fortunately, I keep her isolated in a separate room most of the time and I have to block under the bed so she can’t get under there. Because if she could...I probably never would see her. Taking her to the vet is always a challenge. Thank cod for gabapentin. Though even with that, she still can’t be handled very well. Sigh.....

  11. Poor Junior. You made the best decision you could. Though you want him to like you - who wouldn't want that? - the important thing is that you got him to the vet, and he will be free from pain. That's worth a little distrust, which I believe he will regain. Cat wonder why we do such things to them, but they have a remarkable forgiveness in them, and few hold grudges. Good work. Feel proud every time Junior takes a bite of food - and enjoys it!

  12. I'm glad you were able to get him in for his vet visit. Sounds like quite the ordeal, but definitely worth it! I hope he's feeling better now with all those teeth gone.


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