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A Tale of Two Feral Cats

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I've been feeding a couple feral cats. Actually, at first I thought it was just one, but upon closer inspection, I realized it was two (which explains the amount of food being eaten, as I couldn't fathom how a single kitty, even a single starving kitty, could snarf that much down). In my defense, they look pretty similar, both gray tabbies with white feet:



Kitty 1 (pictured) seems to have hurt her (his?) paw, favoring the right front one. Don't know if it's an old wound or a recent one. You might be able to see that she's holding it to her chest above. She was limping a couple weeks ago, but appears to be able to walk on it now.

Kitty 2 looks almost exactly like Kitty 1 except her tail is less fluffy, and her white feet are shoes only, lacking a white sock up to her elbow that Kitty 1 has.

They're both extremely skittish and won't come to the bowl if either I or fosteronfilm are on the porch, although Kitty 1 will crouch beside it on the edge of the porch—just out of reach—while we're filling it, waiting for us to go back inside before coming to eat. I've tried to make friends with her, but she's not inclined to have our relationship grow any closer than it is, meowing plaintively at me if I linger, talking to her, as though asking me (politely) to please leave so she can get on with her breakfast.

My plan was to trap them both and take them into a vet's to be fixed (and looked over) and then releasing them. They're both very feral, and I can't imagine either of them becoming tame enough to make the transition to being an adoptable housecat. But now I'm rethinking whether I ought to trap them or not. britzkrieg informed me that she recently trapped a feral just a few blocks away from our place (in j_hotlanta's yard) which ended up testing positive for FIV. It was too feral to be adoptable, and a FIV-positive kitty can't be released back into the wild, so she had no choice but to have it put to sleep.

The odds are higher than I like contemplating that any feral in such close proximity could also have FIV, and I don't want to have to euthanize these kitties. I know it'd be more responsible to bring them in and have them evaluated (assuming I could trap them), but the thought of my well-meaning action resulting in tragedy gives me the shudders.

Pointy-sharp quandary.

   

Writing Stuff


Received:
• 13-day SALE of "Beautiful Summer" to the Killers anthology (edited by Colin Harvey, to be published by Swimming Kangaroo Books). This came last month, actually, so it's an end-of-year hurray rather than a first-sale-of-the-year ring-in.
• Contracts for "A Thread of Silk" from Baen's Universe and "Daughter of Bótù" from Realms of Fantasy.
• 22-day (or so) rejection from Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling for the story I submitted for their next anthology. Sigh. Disheartening and disappointing is an understatement, but I've been clinging to my "it was an honor to be invited" mantra.


Published:
• "When Shakko Did Not Lie" in the Jan. 2008 issue of Cricket, and it's the lead story. Yay! "Shakko" has been awaiting an issue to be slated in for some time, and it's been a while since I read it. Getting the contrib. copies and reading my story over was a little like seeing an old friend you've not heard from in ages, familiar but also new. Very pleased that it's out now.

Shiny cover:

I'm feeling:
worried worried
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[User Picture]
On January 2nd, 2008 07:26 pm (UTC), martinhesselius commented:

Beautiful (if feral) kitties!
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On January 2nd, 2008 08:21 pm (UTC), eugie replied:
They're both lovely, and I just wish I knew for sure what the best thing to do for them was. Sigh.
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On January 2nd, 2008 07:37 pm (UTC), ellyssian commented:
That pic looks an awful lot like our Tanis.

Who we haven't seen since November...
=(
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On January 2nd, 2008 08:24 pm (UTC), eugie replied:
I suppose the odds are pretty low that either of my ferals are immigrants from Pennsylvania, alas. I'd love to discover that they actually belong to someone so I could have some hope of a happily-ever-after for these kitties.
— On January 2nd, 2008 08:48 pm (UTC), ellyssian posted a reply · Expand
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On January 2nd, 2008 07:42 pm (UTC), spitgirl commented:
Preeeetty cover...
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On January 2nd, 2008 08:25 pm (UTC), eugie replied:
Isn't it? It's one of the more sfnal covers I've seen on Cricket.
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On January 2nd, 2008 07:56 pm (UTC), secritcrush commented:
hooray for the sales, bleh for the rejection - could I ask what the thene was for the datlow/windking anthology?
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On January 2nd, 2008 08:57 pm (UTC), eugie replied:
Thanks for the celebratory "hooray" and the commiserative "bleh."

"could I ask what the thene was for the datlow/windking anthology?"

Erm, I'm not sure if that's public information yet, so I'm afraid I don't feel comfortable divulging it. Sorrysorry.
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On January 2nd, 2008 07:59 pm (UTC), amysisson commented:
I would feel exactly the way you do -- worrying that I might be the one responsible for putting them to sleep.

But, untrapped, they're going to have babies, spread FIV if they already have it, and likely contract FIV if they don't already have it.

Sorry, I know that won't make you feel better, but I can't not say it. :-( We're trapped feral kitties too and I had a similar fear. Luckily ours were not infected. Oh, and although common wisdom says they can't be socialized, you'd be surprised. We socialized a battle-scarred, 1-2 year old feral tomcat. You'd have to be able to keep them permanently indoors, though, and that could be a problem with existing pets. Also, we may just have gotten lucky. It was freezing (upstate NY) where we are, which probably made him and little sister that much more willing to adapt to life inside. He hissed at us every day for 3 months, though. But now he sleeps on the bed with us!
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On January 2nd, 2008 09:10 pm (UTC), eugie replied:
All of these concerns have been at the forefront of my mind when contemplating the fate of these kitties. One major issue is that I, personally, am unable to take the responsibility for any attempts at socializing them. For starters, I'm allergic to cats; next, I've no experience with socializing ferals; and finally, I won't risk Hobkin's safety by exposing him to feral cats—both his physical safety and his health. He's lived his whole life indoors, and he'd be no match for a cat. And I don't know if skunks can get FIV. It's unlikely, but stranger things have happened on the medical front. I'd never forgive myself if he came to harm because of my thoughtlessness or misjudgment.

So if I bring these kitties in and they do have FIV, my only hope would be to find someone to adopt them who could socialize them who has a home environment where FIV wouldn't be a problem. And the shelters certainly won't take FIV-positive ferals with a big question mark on their socialization likelihood and adoptability.

It's a terrible predicament, and I wish I knew what the best thing for these kitties would be.
— On January 2nd, 2008 09:24 pm (UTC), amysisson posted a reply · Expand
— On January 2nd, 2008 10:47 pm (UTC), britzkrieg posted a reply · Expand
— On January 4th, 2008 06:13 pm (UTC), eugie posted a reply · Expand
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On January 2nd, 2008 07:59 pm (UTC), vylar_kaftan commented:
If you bring them in, and they do have FIV, you're sparing other cats from contact with the disease.
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On January 2nd, 2008 08:44 pm (UTC), eugie replied:
I know I know! But FIV isn't necessarily immediately fatal, and if these kitties were of a personality to make them adoptable, I wouldn't hesitate. But if I bring them in and they do have FIV, it's essentially an immediate death sentence. Erg.
— On January 2nd, 2008 10:51 pm (UTC), britzkrieg posted a reply · Expand
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On January 2nd, 2008 08:43 pm (UTC), n_decisive commented:
If you're willing to keep them, chances are good that if one has FIV, the other does as well. At that point, they wouldn't need to be euthanized; they can live out their lives together with you. You just couldn't get any other cats unless they were positive, too.

Skunks can't get FIV, right? My science brain says no, but sometimes it's wrong.
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On January 2nd, 2008 08:54 pm (UTC), eugie replied:
The thing is, I don't think these two are keepable. They're too skittish and anxious around humans. One of them, I'm not sure which, swiped me a pretty good scratch on my finger when I got a wee bit too close with my "making friends" efforts. And also, I, personally, couldn't keep them regardless, as I'm allergic to cats.

"Skunks can't get FIV, right?"

I don't believe so, but I don't know if they've done any studies on the matter. FIV notwithstanding, I'd also be really hesitant to bring newly-domesticated ferals within Hobkin's vicinity from a physical safety standpoint. Hobkin's soft, spoiled, and without any proper defense mechanism—he's never even been outside save for being carried in my arms or en route to the car. He could be seriously injured (or even killed) by a cat accustomed to the rigors of an outdoor life before I'd have time to intervene.
— On January 2nd, 2008 10:42 pm (UTC), rigel_kent posted a reply · Expand
— On January 4th, 2008 06:22 pm (UTC), eugie posted a reply · Expand
— On January 4th, 2008 06:45 pm (UTC), rigel_kent posted a reply · Expand
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On January 2nd, 2008 08:51 pm (UTC), madwriter commented:
Laurie and I have both dealt with this kind of situation before, unfortunately, and now we always end up taking two things into consideration:

One, how well (or poorly) the animal is living. If it's hungry, or obviously sick, for instance, we'll take it in. There are also a lot of free-roaming dogs in our neighborhood, and some of them love to attack cats.

Two, and more pressing in our consideration, is the likelihood of the feral infecting other cats.

I'll tell you, too, that one of the sweetest cats we have was a feral: Friday, now our big black panther, was only about four weeks old when we found him shivering on the library patio, and he fought us with everything he had. Two weeks later and much to our surprise he was clinging to our chests against our hearts part of the time, and spending the rest of his time playing around our "quarantine" bedroom and desperately wanting out to be out with the other cats. Now, fourteen months later, he still curls up on my lap when I'm writing, on my legs when I'm sleeping, and lets our current foster kittens groom him. :)
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On January 2nd, 2008 10:53 pm (UTC), britzkrieg replied:
Feral and semi-feral kittens are pretty easy to tame, if you know how. Adults... not so much. :(
— On January 4th, 2008 06:38 pm (UTC), eugie posted a reply · Expand
— On January 4th, 2008 06:48 pm (UTC), madwriter replied, “Of allergies and skunks” · Expand
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On January 2nd, 2008 09:02 pm (UTC), wishwords commented:
Boy, am I glad I'm not in your shoes. I'd hate to make that decision. I think that I would end up choosing to take them in. It's only a chance that they are infected; it's not a certainty. They would be so much happier if they were fixed and had their shots. If they are FIV positive, well, it's not an immediate death sentence, but since they aren't in a home where they can be given the meds to help them, it is an eventual, miserable death sentence. And then there's the thought of all the kittens they could produce. I volunteer at a shelter and absolutely dread "kitten season" every year.

It's a hard decision. Whatever you decide, take as good care of them as you can and enjoy knowing that you are making their lives easier. You're doing a good thing.
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On January 2nd, 2008 09:53 pm (UTC), m0nkeygrl commented:
Woo! Congrats on Cricket.
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On January 4th, 2008 06:02 pm (UTC), eugie replied:
Thanks!
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On January 2nd, 2008 09:57 pm (UTC), mystrys commented:
I don't know if this will help but I did find the following page for Georgia.

http://www.spotsociety.org/atl_shelter_listmain.htm

About halfway down the page there's links to "Feral Cat Resources" and a link to this group:

J Feral Friends Network www.alleycat.org/feral_friends.html If you know of feral cats that need to be trapped, fixed and released, this group can look to see if they have anyone to assist you with the trapping in your area. Then if you need financial help getting them fixed, you can contact SPOT at 404 584-SPOT(7768).

I don't know if it will help but maybe :)! -Mystrys
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On January 3rd, 2008 02:12 pm (UTC), eugie replied:
That SPOT society website is a fantastic resource! Thanks so much for forwarding it along!
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On January 2nd, 2008 11:55 pm (UTC), tezmilleroz commented:
Aw, that cat looks so fluffy-cuddly! Would need maintenance, though, combing that bushy tail. Good luck with that - my short-haired cat doesn't like being combed, but he's fine with being finger-combed.

Thanks for sharing the photo, and have a lovely day! :-)
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On January 4th, 2008 06:04 pm (UTC), eugie replied:
Thanks! The kitties are gorgeous, no argument there. But I doubt that combing/brushing is an option, at least not by me. They're very skittish and seem more inclined to slash and run than to be pampered and coddled. Also, I'm allergic to cats...
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On January 3rd, 2008 05:12 am (UTC), bevlovesbooks commented:
I applaud your responsible nature in trying to help these two homeless little waifs. Good luck catching them, though. Feral kitties can be verrrry wary.

I love that Cricket cover, btw. I have got to get my hands on a copy. If I score one, will you autograph it for me?
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On January 4th, 2008 06:02 pm (UTC), eugie replied:
Thanks, and yah, all my angst and fretting might end up being moot, as there's no guarantee that I'll actually be able to trap these kitties should I set out to do so.

"I love that Cricket cover, btw. I have got to get my hands on a copy. If I score one, will you autograph it for me?"

Of course! Cricket is carried in some Barnes & Nobles, and I've seen them as well at Joe Muggs.
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On January 3rd, 2008 08:08 am (UTC), dream_wind commented:
Have you contacted any of your local cat protection agencies/welfare societies? From what I've seen, they seem to be more common in the U.S. than here in Australia. One I've read a lot about is Living Free (www.living-free.org) which even has a sanctuary for unadoptable pets.
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On January 3rd, 2008 08:09 am (UTC), dream_wind commented:
And that is a cool cover, too. Congrats on being lead story!
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