Are there risks to letting a feral cat "mingle" with our indoor cats?

Once again we have a feral cat roaming our home. I think we are magnets to them as they seem to love our birdfeeders and the big barn out back.

Anyway, lately there is a feral cat that is not really behaving all that feral. She comes to the door in the morning when we go to work, we never feed her* and she is very clingy to us when we are outside. She doesn’t do the normal feral cat [ OH GOD IT’S A PERSON RUUN!! ] She is very amicable.

  • I came home the other day and Mrs.Phlosphr was outside with kitty food in hand feeding the little cat. I was non-too-impressed as she has no defenses against a cute cat. She melts like butter.

I told her to please not feed the cat, but like a good husband I was ignored. So I come home yesterday and my wife is playing with said cat in the foyer! :eek: She let the cat in the house! And our siamese attack cats were non-too-impressed, but then the female began to take a liking to the little cat and began rubbing her cheeks on it. At which time the little cat got very happy and returned the favor.

Is there any danger in this? As soon as I came in I was the big bad husband because I kicked the little bastard [ahem…kitty] out of the foyer and let the cats play with her through the screen.

I am not too worried about fleas or ticks as the neighbors aparently gave the cat frontline a month or so ago. I am worried she could be carrying something else more sinister.

Any idea if this is a bad thing or not-so-bad thing? I’m thinking don’t let her in the house plain and simple. Anybody else?

Reasons not to let kitty in, just what I can think of right off the top of my head:
Feline leukemia (FELV)
Feline calcivirus*
Infectious peritonitis
Ringworm (This is a right PITA to treat in cats, as I have found out this month)
Panleukopenia (serious bad news, and quite prevalent in ferals)*
Feline influenza*

  • these are covered along with rabies in the standard 4-in-1 vaccine. Unless you paid for the others separately, your cats are not vaccinated against the other diseases or whatever others I have missed (there is often no reason to vaccinate if your cats are left indoors and all come up negative). And if you’ve slipped keeping the 4-in-1 up, they could be open to all these things.

Best thing for your feral kitty is to keep her in a separate area, get her some veterinary care and work with the vet to see when she can be around your other kitties. It should go without saying, but do be sure to wash your hands after you’ve handled feral kitty. Good luck.

I’m thinking you have a new cat.

That said, I don’t think it’s feral. It sounds like the cat bonded with humans early on and recognized them as nonthreatening and a source of food. As you say, it doesn’t act like a feral cat. It may well be just a stray, either lost or kicked out of its original home.

This was how we got our third cat; she was homeless, but hung around the complex. Unafraid of humans, and I made an attachment to her and eventually brought her in the house, where she immediately got along with the other two cats. As far as I know, there’ve been no ill effects on them. (ETA: Yes, we got her to the vet ASAP.)

Hmm… Initial response to new cat is No. But then my wife is not around. Plus our neighbor teenagers really like her too, they can have her.

As for vaccinations our cats were pretty well worked over before we got them with vaccinations…

Yes, she could have some fairly nasty diseases, like feline leukemia or FIV. If you or your wife want to keep her around, have her tested and vaccinated.

Another vote for not feral. I’ve had feral cats in the back yard, a long time ago: they won’t let humans come near them, and they start panicking when they feel trapped inside a house. A cat that will let you pat it within a few minutes is not feral.

Well, every so often you get a weird one. Stokie is a true feral cat, raised by a mother who wouldn’t let you approach. Before I grabbed him, the most civilizing he got was somebody feeding him occasionally and a house full of guys saying hey as they walked up and down the steps. He had two truly feral brothers. He himself required absolutely no “taming” beyond two days of sitting in a bathroom with him sometimes and slow blinking at him, and I think that’s just because of the new environment (plus he got all kinds of things done at the vet). After that he was literally the most affectionate cat I have ever met. But he’s a weird one.

Our most recent addition was most definitely a feral kitten, (a neighbor harbors and feeds a small clowder of them), but she pranced right up to our daughter’s dog one day and demanded that he play with her. We took her in, got her vet-checked (amazingly, she had only a herpes-type eye infection and intestinal parasites) and she blended right in. Of course, had she been allowed to be with the other cats right away, we would have had to get three cats treated for eye infection and intestinal parasites instead of just one.

The newbie could also be harboring fleas, ticks and any number of other nasty things. Keep them all separate until proven non-contagious and parasite-free.

That isn’t enough – get the kitten checked by your vet.

Unless you simultaneously treat their nesting & resting spots, (which you obviously can’t do for a feral kitten), Frotline, etc. won’t eliminate fleas & ticks completely. They lay eggs in those resting spots, and the cats will soon be re-infested from there.

Feral or not, the cat is an unknown. Pretty shortsighted IMO to debate whether she’s feral or not when in either case you simply don’t know what she could have. Better safe than sorry.