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HerbiesMom

Registered:
Posts: 196
 #1 
Hi, all.  Some of you know that I lost my cat Herbie Feb, 20th and my belle two years before.  They were a part of a feral colony I've been caring for for over 16 years, and I lost 4 in less than 2 years.  I have one feral left -- she is hte most wild.  While the others would come in my house and hang out when it was cold, she came in only when Herbie was alone and I was out of the house.  After Herbie died, she came in thru the kitty door after I'd gone to bed because it was too cold out.  In the winter, she lives under the house.  She uses the kitty door on the screen porch to come in and eat, and now that it is summer and I have the kitchen door open, she likes to sit and watch me from the porch or from the step just outside.  I can scratch her head and pet her a bit when she is eating, and she will take treats from my hand and even come into the kitchen to get them from me.

Her name is Shirley and she is all alone for the first time in her life.  She will sit on the porch if I am sitting there quietly (she, hiding a bit behind a chair, but seems to want the company.(  Shirley is 14 years old, and I've noticed she is skinny, although appetite good but not voracious like a cat with hyperthyroidism.  I've ordered dewormer online and will do that this week.

My issue is this:  I do not want her to spend another winter outside now that she is old and completely alone.  I am trying to decide if I should bring her inside when the fall comes, and force her to be an indoor cat.  I live alone and am home all day, so it is quiet.  I have the rest of the summer and early fall to get her more used to me on the porch, but I know it will be traumatic for her if I force her inside.  She will go nuts, I'm sure, for awhile and that concerns me because she is now older.

However, I think being outdoors could be worse.  This is the only home she has ever known.  Herbie had a scratch box with catnip that he would never let her use, but she would sometimes sneak a scratch.  I finally bought her one of her own this weekend, and she uses it. 

I have struggled with this decision because I miss Herbie and can't replace him.  But Shirley is the last of my ferals and has ot other kitty to snuggle with in a kitty bed on the porch in the winter.  I was hoping last winter when Herbie was still with me that we could get her to move in, but Herbie was a bit protective of me.  After Belle died and Cookie dissappeared, another semi-feral, Ladybug (Belle's siter) was older and slowing down and moved in on her own little by little.  But I think with Shirley, I would have to force it.

I would appreciate any thoughts or feedback on this.  I don't want the last of my kitty family to freeze outside or to get sick and die a horrible death alone.  I figure she doesn't have a whole lot of time left, and I want her to have a warm bed and for me to be able to make her comfortable in her old age and help her cross when the time comes so she doesn't die cold and alone under the house or wanders off.

My plan would be to take her to a vet only when she is somewhat tame.  She has not had any problems in 14 years since she was trapped, spayed, vaccinated and dewormed.  Appetite good, but skinny which could be worms. 

Again, the issue is how bad this might be for her at first when I bring her inside, even though my little place is a familiar place to her.  When her mother was still alive, I would wake up in the morning some winters year ago and go into the living room and see Shirley and her mom and Cookie on the couch where they had been sleeping.  They'd see me and leap off the couch and run out thru the kitty door. 

Herbie and Belle's Mom (and caretaker/landlord/cook to Charles, Muffin, Ladybug, Cookie and Shirley)
MaxsMom

Registered:
Posts: 258
 #2 
Dear Herbie and Belle's Mom,

   As I read your post, I became impressed more than ever with what a special person you are and at the depth of caring in your heart.  I know absolutely nothing about kitties...I guess my family has been "a dog family" and the only kitties I have known have been those of friends.  But I think I know a little bit about love and about how that connection can overcome so much.  I have read your posts about Herbie and your other wonderful kitties and your connection with those you care for strikes me as so profound.  I think you can nurture that bond - you have already begun to - with your little Shirley.  With your urging and gentleness, I bet she will be yours by winter!  I am confident that she will sense your love and take comfort in it, and maybe the transition inside will be easier than you think. 

  I am sure that many others here are much more educated about the ways of cats and ferals, and will be able to give you much more sensible and helpful advice about if and how you should go about this.  But I, sensing your heart from your words, say go for it.  Shirley is a lucky little girl to have you looking after her. Please keep us updated on what you decide to do and how it goes! 

   Keeping you and Shirley in my prayers.

Hugs,
MaxsMom~Joanne
basil

Registered:
Posts: 1,205
 #3 
I dont think Shirley will need much persuading.  While Herbie was still with you, she was probably deferring to him, so not stepping on his toes so to speak.  Dont forget, nearly all animals have a heirarchy. 

I think that should keep doing as you are, and not try to force her inside, let her come in under her own terms.  Perhaps you could try putting some food just inside the door, and, if she eats it there, gradually moving it right inside. 

You are such a sweet and kind person, and Shirley knows that.  I think by winter, you wont be able to get her out of your house anyway.  Love Di xxx
DrewTenderHeartWolf

Registered:
Posts: 1,493
 #4 

HerbiesMom, what a blessed soul you are.  It takes much patience, caring, kindness and understanding to be a feral furmom.  I think you are doing all the right things and have been for these many years.  It sounds to me like Shirley trusts you already.  I agree with Basil.  To just keep moving her food a little at a time to eventually get her inside.

 

After I lost Drew, I took in an abandoned mama kitty whom I named Maddy and her four feral babies.  They were about four months old by the time they came to live with me.  Maddy disappeared in September 2006 after having lived with me a little over a year.  Three of the four babies still live with me and the other (Buggy) lives with friends of mine.  I am told he is still a little wild, but is very loving when it's time to eat!!!  One of my babies (Pippy Otis) is completely tame, is quite affectionate and is permitted to go outside with the big kitties.  He's very good about coming back in at night when I call him.  His sisters (Sandy the calico and Peekaboo the silver tiger) however, have never been allowed to go outside because they are not completely tame.  My husband is actually the only one Sandy will allow to touch her.  Peekaboo seems lately to have become more affectionate and will actually rub against my legs and let me pick her up.  This, after having lived here for three years!

 

I think in time, you will find that Shirley wants to be in the house.  They seem to sense when we need them.  I hope you will keep us posted on how you are making out with her.  Please feel free to e-mail me anytime.

 

God bless you and take care!

 

Your friend,

 

DrewTenderHeartWolf

 

http://www.catster.com/cats/311365

katebock

Registered:
Posts: 686
 #5 
Dear Herbiesmom

What a kind person you are.  I think if you take things very, very slowly and let Shirley set the pace, she will adapt to living in the house.  She will probably never turn into a lap kitty, but she will have a safe loving home and will be wonderful company.

Best wishes
Kate (Gus' mom)

HerbiesMom

Registered:
Posts: 196
 #6 
I think Shirley is gone.

Lat night on the back screened porch, I fed her some treats and she let me pet her a bit.  She sat there for awhile with me just hanging out and so I knew I was making progress.  THen she slipped out thru the screen kitty door into the night. 
This morning she didn't come for her breakfast -- usually she is waiting for me on the porch or comes when I call her.  She didn't come all day long and now it's dinner time and still nothing.  Perhaps she knew what I was planning and simply didn't want that.  Perhaps her being thin was more serious than I thought and she went off to die.  I will call the animal shelter in the morning if she isn't back and see if someone brought her in.

When another feral who was more tame -- Ladybug -- was old an thin and on meds for Hyperthyroidism, I'd been pilling her with pill pockets, and decided I would do the radiation treatment with her so that she would not have to be pilled (which was getting mroe difficult as she had figured out how to spit out the pill.)  On the morning I was to take her to the vet for her check-up, I got up and looked out on the porch on the loveseat where she slpet snuggling next to Shirley and she wasn't there.  And I knew.  I'd had to stop her pills two weeks prior in preparation for RadioCat treatment.  it was week before I learned a neighbor found her laying the yard and had the humane society come get her.  They euthanized her the same day and told me from their notes that the vet didn't think she would have lasted more than a few hours so rather than keeping her the regular amount of time, they put her out of her misery.

Shirley is 14 years old.  I had her trapped, spayed, dewormed and vaccinated all those years ago with the others when she was less than a year old.  She has appeared healthy and perfect and only this spring looked a little shaggy.  I know that 14 years for a feral is a really long time -- pretty good for any cat -- but she is the last of my kitty family and I just lost my precious Herbie this past Feb. 20th.  If she is gone, this means that after so many, many years of caring for all of them and Belle and Herbie adopting me and everything they have all meant to me -- my "kitty life" is over.  Just like that.  I feel guilty, too, because I've wanted to move and have not because of them. 

Maybe Shirley was never meant to be a pet to me personally.  But she was the pet of Herbie and was Ladybug's and Cookie's close companion, and of course was so close to her own mother who died over 6 years ago. 

I am in a bit of shock if this is the case.  I just don't know how to handle all of this death and loss so close together.

I feel scared and empty -- How can this be happening? I can't believe this part of my life may be over.

Herbie and Belle's Mom and caretaker of Shirley (and Ladybug, Cookie, Muffin and Charles)

MaxsMom

Registered:
Posts: 258
 #7 
Dear Herbie and Belle's Mom,

As I read your last post my heart sank.  I know how worried you must be about Shirley.  I am hopeful that by the time you see this reply, she is back.  It's so hard to suffer even one loss like this.  I am so very sorry that you have gone through so many and in so short a time.  Also, it is difficult when we sense that a "season" in our life has passed, or when it seems impossible to recapture.  You have dedicated so much of your life and your heart to caring for your sweet babies, both tame and feral.  You ARE Shirley's Mom...you have done everything possible for her and she took comfort in your home with your beloved Herbie and the others.  I hope to hear that all is well, but I know that this may not be the case.  In any case, please do keep us updated.  Meanwhile, both Shirley and you remain in my prayers. 

Peace and Hugs,
MaxsMom~Joanne
Loudpurring

Registered:
Posts: 774
 #8 
Dear Mom of the ferals;
Have you seen any sign of Shirley yet? I just read your posts tonight and I hope she is OK.. Please, Please post back and let us know if you have found her yet.
I have had many years of experience with feral cats and I would love to talk to you. Please do post back.
HerbiesMom

Registered:
Posts: 196
 #9 
Shirley returned after a day and was very hungry. I simply looked up and she was in her usual place with her face up to the screen watching me. I've no idea what happened or why she left!  The best I can figure is that part of the neighbor's deck fell and perhaps the noise scared her off.  I think I remember something like that happening a few years ago.

I feel a little silly now thinking the worst -- that she had gone.  I guess because I've lost so many that I just assume the worst in each case.

I think I will bring her inside for the winter and allow her access to the screen porch but sclose off the screen kitty door so that she cannot go all the way outside.  Then, depending how things are in the spring (if she is healthy) I can let her be outside, too, again.

Herbie and Belle's Mom
basil

Registered:
Posts: 1,205
 #10 
I am so glad little Shirley is back.  It is perfectly natural to jump to conclusions.  Each time I have lost a baby I become more paranoid with any others.

My boy Ben is only 18 months, and he likes to sleep with his front half under the bed.  I had a bad dream about him the other night, and jumped out of bed cos I was sure he wasnt breathing........I was still half asleep.  After poking and pulling at him, he finally lifted his head, and looked at me as though I was mad.......Love Di xxx
Gruntsmomforever

Registered:
Posts: 699
 #11 
Dear Herbie and Belle and now Shirley's Mom,

You are a very kind and special person.  I'm glad you care for Shirley.  I can imagine your surprise to see her at the screen watching you!  Bless your heart.

Hugs,
Katharine, Grunt's Mom Forever
Gypsymagic

Registered:
Posts: 219
 #12 

Shirley has spent 14 long years living outside--maybe her old bones are ready for a soft, warm bed if you do this gradually. I know that ferals are hard to "tame" but she's already allowing you to touch her and coming to you, so she's already halfway there. She clearly has your heart.  She may not be completely healthy--how many cats live that long on the street--but with your attention she may well have a few more good years in her. I have had cats that lived to be 18 if they lived indoors their whole lives.

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