How do I help my feral cat?
I moved into an apartment a few months ago and one day, I noticed that a black cat was hanging out in my backyard.
He (or she, but for the sake of ease, he) didn’t return for a few weeks. He came back at the end of the summer and I was so excited to see him.
I put out a dish of milk and he immediately drank it all. He stayed the rest of the evening and a few days later he came back. I gave him more milk. Since then, he has been hanging out on the wall/fence at the back of my backyard every morning, all day, and into the evening.
I kept giving him milk every few days, and water on the days I ran out of milk. Last week I finally remembered to pick up a bag of cat food at the grocery store.
I have fed him twice in my backyard. He won’t come into the yard while I am there, but will wait until I have gone back inside before venturing over to the bowl.
I feel awful because I have gotten a much better look at him. He has ear mites or a bad infection, because he has scratched all the fur off his ears and they are bloody red. His fur is scraggly and he seems scared all the time.
However, he used to look at me with a mixture of boredom and fear, and would run away immediately when I approached. Now he waits for me to come home from work and looks at me with hope and expectation.
He still backs off if I get too close, but he lets me come closer before hiding in the bushes. I want to take care of him but, living in a city with neighbors in close proximity, I don’t want to make them mad by feeding him (people have strange reactions when it comes to feral cats).
I try to put the bowl in a place where they won’t see it. The cat is around all the time now, which is fine with me as I love cats. I guess what I want to know is: how can I best help him?
Taking him into my home is NOT an option, he is truly wild. But I don’t want him to be so afraid of me. I am also worried about what he will do during the winter. I hope by then he trusts me enough to let me feed him and provide some kind of shelter for him in my backyard.
The other thing is, he disappears at nighttime, I assume to hunt. I worry about him when he’s gone! I already feel like he’s my little cat, haha.
I just hope I am doing the right thing by feeding him. I don’t want him to completely depend on me if that’s a bad thing or if he will forget how to hunt for himself. It’s just that every time I give him food and milk, he eats like it’s his last meal and it breaks my heart. He is definitely alone. I haven’t seen any cats with him. He is the first feral cat I’ve had extended contact with, so this is all new to me. Any suggestions or comments are appreciated.
Hi Lacey… thanks for sharing and asking. And well done to you for helping this cat under difficult circumstances. I can understand your concern both from neighbour reactions and how to help – he needs help.
Other visitors who have feed feral cats have been criticised. Help Fight Beverly Hills Municipal Code.
My immediate thought is trap, neuter, return (TNR). The problem is you do not have the equipment and know how to do this. But this would allow for treatment and neutering etc.
I would try and find a local organization who might be able to help in TNR.
I think you would agree that he needs medical treatment and the only way to do that is to trap him. That is the first kind of help other than food that he needs.
It would be nice to think that he could be domesticated and rehomed after treatment. That must be the ultimate solution.
One last small point. Ordinary cows milk is not that good for cats. It can give them diarrhea. This is not in any way to criticism you. I admire you a lot for reacting compassionately to help and taking responsibility.
Good luck to you both. I hope someone else can provide a better answer.