Some of you may recall my previous post on The Kitten in our Yard. I’ve also fielded a few PMs on him and in light of recent developments, I thought I should post an update.
In the time since that thread, Stripe the feral kitty has been a frequent and welcome visitor. He eats here just about every day, has fun playing and chasing bugs in our protected yard, and has even spent a few rainy days in the little house my wife made out of a cat carrier. He has on occasion poked his head in the door, as well as taken cat treats from my hand, though he is still wary and careful.
A few days ago, we noticed that Stripe was limping. Watching him close up when he came to eat confirmed that somehow, he had damaged his front right paw. We don’t know if he stepped on something like a nail, or whether a bone is broken; but either way, he’s not walking on it. He still comes and goes, but on three legs; and certainly not as easily, quickly, or lithely as he used to. Because of this injury, and the danger it poses to Stripe in a neighbourhood of big dogs, fast cars, and curious kids, we decided that it’s time to do something.
We’ve managed to borrow an animal trap, and have baited it with tuna. (Hey, tuna worked to trap Hobbes the cartoon tiger, after all.) We’ve also got a few calls into local vets who have been recommended as being good with feral cats. If we manage to trap him, we’ll get him to the vet for his leg, a checkup, necessary shots, and a neutering; and see what happens from there. I’ll try to keep updates coming as things develop.
Thanks so much for the update. It shouldn’t be too hard to catch him, I’ve trapped wild cats in my time, when there were too many.
I’ve taken in a cat that was born “in the wild” but on my back porch, and the mother was friendly. So I handled it from birth. I thought I’d found a home for it, but the adopters brought it back. So I took him in to find another home, got him introduced to my other two cats, and now I’ve fallen in love. I shouldn’t keep him, but he’s just so darned sweet.
The tuna-baited trap worked, quicker than we thought. He is now in the basement bathroom, where there is nothing he can hurt, and no way in which he can hurt himself. He has food, water, a place to sleep, and a litter box. We will keep our current cats out of the basement for the time being, as well.
Stripe is not a happy camper right now. He hissed when we brought the trap in, and he tried to climb the walls when we let him out in the bathroom. But he is safe.
Tomorrow morning, we will go to the vet, and find out about his foot, and other medical issues.
– We’re probably among the dozen or so people remaining in the world who do not have a digital camera. I could try to get a photo with my film camera at some point, and see if the drugstore developer has any digitizing options when I take the film to be developed. But that may have to wait a bit–see the next point.
– It’s probably best to just leave Stripe alone for now. He’s had a bit of a shock; he’s been literally yanked out of his normal routine and is in an unfamiliar place. And tomorrow, more things will be unfamiliar: being put in a carrier, being taken in the car, and undergoing a vet visit. It may be best to just leave him alone for now, and let him have a bit of peace and quiet and rest.
I’ll do what I can when I can as far as photos go, though. He’s quite a handsome little guy; we should show him off.
Oh, good for you. I think Stripe is still young enough that once his natural curiosity gets the best of him, he’ll realize in no time that he isn’t in any danger in the house, and it’s actually a good place to be.
Does he have a soft and cushy towel, rug or blanket to sleep on, inside a box? Cats hide when scared (as you probably know), and while he has the bathroom to hilself, he does need a small safe place to hide.
Yes, my wife fixed up a nice little bed in a covered box, very much like the back porch house that she made and in which Stripe would spend rainy days. He can go inside and sleep and hide in this new one if he likes; he need not be “exposed” on the tile floor.
Stripe got through the night okay. He doesn’t seem to have touched his food, and there is nothing in the litter box. He’s hunkered down in a corner and doesn’t want to have anything to do with us (which we figured on), but he seems to be as well as can be expected.
We’ve called the vet, and given the circumstances, it seems that it would be best to take him in on Tuesday, when the doctor has time to do all that needs doing. At that point, they can neuter him, and while he is under the general anaesthetic for that operation, they can x-ray his foot with minimal trouble. At the same time, he can get the necessary vaccinations and such.
Until Tuesday, my wife and I will take turns just sitting for fifteen to twenty minutes in Stripe’s bathroom every couple of hours. We’ll leave him alone; we’ll just sit and read or something. But hopefully, he will get used to seeing us, and understanding our scent. We’ll put one or two of our other cats’ toys in there as well–not that we expect him to play (though that would be encouraging), but so he can begin to familiarize himself with their scent too. And we’ll set up a small radio; again, not because he might like music, but just for a little quiet background sound.
Anyway, thought I post an update after our call to the vet.
hhhhmmmmm. i’m a bit concerned about the food thing.
when we caught winken the wonderful, we put her into the vestible with food, water, comfy sleepy spot, and litterbox. i slept on the couch that night so i could check on her through the glass inside door.
by morning she had eaten all the food and anointed the litter box. she was in there for about 8 hours.
do you think there is a cut on the paw? perhaps an infection? or are you thinking stress?
i hope all goes well for y’all and await further updates.
I’m happy to report that Stripe has been eating–not much, but he has obviously had a few nibbles from the neat pile of food we left him. He’s also peeing, if the litter box this morning is any indication. And he’s possibly been playing as well; this morning, I went in to say hello, and he was hunched down in the corner with a toy mouse under his good paw. He may not like his current circumstances, but he seems to be making the best of them.
We have managed to touch him once or twice. Just little thumb strokes between his ears, with the grain of his hair. He tolerates it for a minute or two, but hisses when he wants it to stop. Fair enough.
Tomorrow is his vet visit, and we’ll find out just what happened to his foot. If it is some kind of puncture, I hope it’s not infected. And if it’s a break, I hope something can be done–watching him play in the back yard was a treat; I hope his agility and his playful spirit haven’t been damaged as well.
Good for you! I love hearing when people do something to help those that can’t help themselves, especially animals. It gives me some measure of hope.
I wouldn’t worry much about the eating/litterbox thing. I’ve found that cats often go on a hunger strike and don’t use the restroom for a couple of days when put into a new environment.
Are you and Mrs. Spoons talking to Stripe when you’re in there with him? Cats have a varied vocal range with a lot of meaning to it, so it seems to me that vocal reassurance would help him connect with you.
Yes, we talk to him. Just normal voices, as if he was human: how his day has been going, the weather, what we’ve been looking at on TV, and so on.
Actually–and I’ve mentioned before on these boards that I occasionally read and record audiobooks–perhaps I should take the next chapter of the book I’m currently recording into Stripe’s bathroom and rehearsing it. I’ll record it later, of course, but I always do a few run-throughs first. Might as well do one for Stripe; I’ll get practice, and he’ll get to hear a nice, calm voice. Good idea; thank you!
Sounds like you’ve got the right idea, and patience is key. I really like the reading aloud idea.
We had a feral (or at least one that truly was terrified of people) show up back some years ago. We had chickens at the time, so we fed the cat so he wouldn’t eat the chickens. He lived in the barn but we always wondered if he was truly feral because we’d go out and holler “KITTY!” and he’d meow.
Poor guy was beaten to heck. Open sores, scabs, ripped ear, you name it. I took him food every day and talked to him. Just saying “kitty kitty kitty, pretty kitty, what a big guy,” stupid stuff like that. Soon he’d come and eat while I was there. Over months, I started inching closer and closer, just hanging out and talking. Finally, I got close enough to touch him. He freaked. Tried it again the next day. Freaked. Day 3 of touching, and he started purring - a very rusty, disused sort of purr.
I’d be outside walking around and he’d come and flop down on my feet but if I bent to pet him, he’d run. He’d walk by and I’d say hello. I sat for hours on the ground just hanging out with him and I still remember how I held my breath as he oh-so-gingerly stepped into my lap the first time…and then nearly shoved my head right off my neck by snuggling his head underneath my chin.
It’s been 3 years now. He has taken over the house and everyone in it - especially my DH who used to hate cats. He has gone from a scruffy vagabond to an elegant tuxedo-clad gentleman (who still can’t fight worth a darn). He cuddles and purrs and snuggles and doesn’t even run from our car anymore, just stays back a safe distance. He purrs and drools like crazy when I say “kitty” or “meeeeeow” in the soft gentle voice I used when I first was talking to him.
Best of luck to you and Stripe. I hope the vet gives him a clean bill of health and that you are all happy together for many, many years.
Back when I lived at home, my mother and I took care of a feral cat we named Jagger (after the famous Mick). We fed him for months, and eventually caught him in a trap so we could get him immunized and neutered. He was pissed and dangerous, but we managed to get him to the vet and back. Jagger didn’t come for months after that. But eventually, he started coming again. In the meantime, word must have gotten out because several other cats and a raccoon occasionally came for food. Most eventually left off, but one in particular (a barn cat from the adjacent farm), kept coming. Once we confirmed that he more or less belonged to our neighbors and was up to date on his shots, we approached him and he proved to be extremely friendly. We named him Shidobe, after a lyric from a Rolling Stones song (see the pattern?).
Jagger eventually returned, but then disappeared again. My mother was afraid that something had happened to him, and that she’d never know for sure. The winter after my mother passed away in 2003, Jagger started coming back. I’d wished that Mom could have been around to know he was ok. By that time, however, Shidobe had adopted Dad and I, and was spending frequent nights in our garage. Jagger ran into him and got nervous, and he stopped coming.
I always told my mother that one day Jagger would stop coming, and we’d never know for sure what happened, but that we had to take solace in the fact that we’d improved his life as much as we could. Shidobe is still around and is our inside/outside cat. He’s got tons of personality and seems to be quite happy that he gets two squares a day yet retains the ability to run around outside. I don’t live at home anymore, but my father takes good care of Shidobe and our other cat, Misty.
So, good luck with Stripe, and kudos again for helping out an animal. My mother would approve heartily.