anyone here do cat rescues, TNR, fostering? - need advice

For two years I’ve been taking care of two little black female sister cats who have never lived inside. They came from an animal hoarder in my neighborhood and started hanging out on my porch. Last winter when I realized they were sleeping there, I got them an igloo shelter and they stayed in it when the weather was cold. I couldn’t bring them in because I have a small house and 3 cats of my own. We had a fairly mild winter.

Since new year’s, though, it’s been very cold here in the south. The temps got down to around 10 a couple of nights. I put extra straw in the igloo and covered it with blankets and they did fine sleeping there together.

Unfortunately, a pack of dogs got on the porch and startled them out of the shelter early Sunday. They killed one. It just broke my heart to find her. The other one didn’t come home until that night and was very anxious. And now she won’t get in the shelter.

Sunday night was mild but last night it started snowing and the temps dropped rapidly. I kept watching out the window and she just sat in front of the door. Around midnight I couldn’t take it anymore. I moved some stuff out of my spare room, put some food and water and a litter box in there and brought her in. She yowled and paced at first and I sat with her awhile and she calmed down.

This morning when I checked on her she started yowling again and hid behind a bookcase. It looks like she drank some water and maybe ate a little but did not use the litter box. Of course, she has never seen such a thing. But I didn’t see that she had peed or shit anywhere.

I can’t let her back out because it is 13 here today with a few inches of snow. The temps tonight will be around 7 and tomorrow night around 10. I’m afraid if I let her back out she will be freaked out and run off.

I didn’t plan to do this and now I’m not sure what to do. Will she be ok in the room for a few days? Is there anything I can do to make this easier for her? I had to come to work so I won’t be home until later this afternoon. I hate for her to be so scared but at least I know she is warm.

First, thank you for doing this. I suggest you take her to the vet for shots, spaying, de-worming, check-up asap. Assuming you’re thinking of keeping her, that is.

Second, leave an unwashed (=smelling of you) t-shirt in the room to help with bonding/ comforting/ feeling less afraid. If you plan on introducing her to the other cats do the same with t-shirts/ rags/ old towels that will introduce everybody to each others’ scents. (Do not give the other cats a towel she has slept on before the vet says she is healthy) . That would be the first step in introductions.

I would suggest you spend as many hours a day as possible in that room. Entertain yourself with a book or tablet, interact with her gently at times, play with a cat toy by yourself to pique her curiosity before trying to get her to play.

It would be really nice if you could sleep in there sometimes.

What I did when I was nursing a sick kitty before introducing him to my other cat, was to keep a separate set of clothes I put on when visiting him, and changing back when I was done (plus washing hands, arms and face }. Very time consuming. As she is an outdoor cat I suggest following similar steps till the vets sees her to avoid cross-contamination.

Good luck. Let us know how it goes and post pics!

You did the right thing. Like you said, yes she’s scared but she’s warm, has food and water, shelter and safety. Keep her in the room for a few days while it’s cold and use that time to come up with a plan for her and you.

You might want to think about keeping her inside permanently or you might want to spay her and let her back out. Is there a way to make the porch more secure so that dogs can’t get on it?

I’ve done my share of fostering & cat rescues and she will be fine in the room (and thank you for taking her in). Do you plan to keep her and try to adopt her out? Not sure where you live, but it sounds like it gets too cold there for a cat to live outdoors.

She will be ok in the room for a few days. She might not like it, she might protest a lot but, really, that’s better than the alternative of being outside with cold and packs of dogs. In your home, she’s warm, fed and safe. The best you can do is comfort her while she gets used to her new situation.
Getting her examined by a vet should be priority #1 as she could infect your other cats. Make sure to wash any beds or blankets she’s been in contact with. Treat her like she’s in quarantine otherwise you could have to de-worm or treat infections in all your cats.

I also agree with giving her items which have your smell and letting her watch you sleep. Playing with her (balls, laser pointer, stick with a rope and frilly thingy at the end) would also put her at ease.

I think we have a few threads here about introducing new cats to current residents. It’s one of my recent threads and there are others. The short of it: Make it gradual and supervise it.

She may always yearn to be outside but that’s proven to be too dangerous. In the spring, you may want to build a catio as a compromise.
Thank you for doing this. If you want to post pics, Imgur is easy to use:

I’m having problems with the edit window but you could also get a high cat perch (so dogs can’t get her) and put a heating pad inside. I know someone who did this for a feral living in her yard & it worked out great. And yes, get her spayed if she isn’t already.

Can you handle her? Setting a cat in a cat box and gently scooping her paw in the litter has worked for me in giving a cat the idea that this might be a good place for bathroom habits.

Thank you everyone for your responses. I went home at lunch to check on her and she was out of hiding and much more calm.

She has been spayed and I assume vaccinated. Apparently the hoarder got with a TNR group a few years ago and had all the cats spayed. I know I had given her some info when we had an out-of-control kitten problem. All the others I see in the neighborhood now have the clipped ears.

I don’t plan to keep her inside. I have three cats and two of them are seniors with health issues. I’ve felt guilty about this ever since they started living on the porch but I hoped that feeding them and giving them shelter would be enough. I live in Memphis and this weather is freakishly abnormal. We might get one little snow a year. And I can’t remember it ever being this cold for so long. I just need to get her through the next few days and then let her back out when the temps get back in the 40s on Friday. Temps will be in the 40s and 50s for the next couple weeks.

I’ve tried to find a home for them but I didn’t want to separate them and no one wanted two black cats. I’m going to try again now that it’s just Trei.

When the weather is nicer, Trei usually doesn’t even sleep in the shelter. She’s an adventurous one who sometimes stays away for a day or two. I think she will be ok back outside. Her sister, June, was very timid and always stayed close to home. I miss seeing her run up to me every time I go outside.

I’ll stay in the room with Trei as much as possible when I get home. I can pick her up so I’ll try scooping her paw in the litter. Hopefully, she will get the idea but I’m prepared for messes.

I am worried about fleas. My cats get Advantage every month but my 13 year old male is highly allergic to them. And he weighs 26 pounds (the vet is not concerned - he is part Maine Coon) and I’m not completely comfortable that he is fully protected. He got a dose two weeks ago but I’m wondering if I should give him another now as a precaution. Would it hurt him?

I am so sorry about the dogs and the other kitty.

Another way to make the litter box more attractive for its intended purpose is to put cat poop in it. If you find any of hers outside of the box, put it in the box and partially bury it.

ETA: I’d ask the vet about the flea medication. The better bet would probably be to dose Trei for now.

Don’t feel guilty about letting her back outside once the weather warms up. But I would make sure she can successfully escape from any future attacks like making sure the porch is inaccessible to dogs and/or raising her shelter up high enough that she can climb up to it or stay safe in it if another attack comes.

That’s what TNR is, giving these abandoned cats the best life they can have. Sometimes that is living outside with provided shelter, food and water. She’s already fixed so that’s half the battle done.

I’m home now and I’ve fed her some good stinky food and put Advantage on her. I don’t see or smell any evidence that she has eliminated anything. The litter box is untouched. She’s been pretty quiet but occasionally meows. I’m going to spend some time with my cats and then go back in later to hang out with her. My seniors don’t seem perturbed but the five year old is curious and a little anxious. She knows Trei from the other side of the picture window where they like to sit and I think she is wondering why she is hearing her meows from inside the house. Out of habit I keep going to the door to check the porch. I miss June so much. :frowning:

Thanks again for all the advice and for just letting me talk it out. I’ll keep you updated.

Good luck with her. You are a good cat protector.

You’ve gotten some great advice and have a plan, so I’ll just say thank you for taking her in. I’m so sorry about June. :frowning: