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stray cat

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Dear Gary:

I am not necessarily a cat person, but one female feral cat that I have watched raise her kittens has made me her friend.

She comes over and will rub against me and even let me scratch her back.

I'm not sure what to make of it. Should I become her friend, feed her or just leave her alone? I feel OK about it, but don't know what to do about it.

Art in Hayward


Dear Art:

Cats are the ones that decide who is, or isn't, a cat person. We humans really have nothing to do with it.

You should start feeding her. Set up a feeding place for her and leave a bowl of cat food and a bowl of water. Bring the food and water in at night so the raccoons, skunks, etc., don't eat it. She will quickly learn when the food is available and become a regular visitor.

Try to be around when she comes to eat and sit and talk to her so she'll rub against you while you scratch her. You want to continue the bonding process and help make the relationship stronger.
After a week or two, try moving the food and water closer, and closer, and finally inside your house with the door open to see if she'll come in and feed. Be careful not to frighten her when she's inside and don't close the door. She needs an escape route if she gets frightened.

When she'll let you pick her up and even sit on your lap, contact a veterinarian and explain what you're doing. Make arrangements to get the cat vaccinated and spayed. Make sure the vet realizes she's feral and may be freaky and frightened and you're making her into a pet.

Get a plastic cat carrying case from the pet store, put a clean towel in the bottom and use it to transport her to the vet hospital when the time is right. Be very careful not to let her escape on the way to and from your house so she doesn't get lost.

Ask the vet how long you need to keep her inside after her surgery. When you bring her home, you can keep her in a little room (spare bathroom?) with the door closed. Set up a litter box and a special soft bed for her ahead of time. Use the food and water dishes she's familiar with.

Yes, she'll be frightened at being kept inside, but spend some time sitting quietly and talking with her and she'll come around. You don't want to let her back out until the vet says it's safe.
At this point, you have a decision to make.

You can let her back outside and stay an outside cat, or install a cat door in your back door so she can learn to use it and become an indoor/outdoor cat "... or "... you can start training her to be an indoor cat. Indoor cats can live up to five years longer than outdoor cats because they don't have to deal with coyotes, dogs, disease, other cats, bad humans, etc. They also don't kill birds, lizards and other wild creatures.

Your call.

By arranging for her to get spayed, you will have helped her to escape that dangerous cycle of pregnancy after pregnancy "... with no medical help, no food or shelter "... and endless litters of kittens that may or may not survive.

You will have saved her life, and you also will have become a cat person.

Welcome to the club.






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