Savannah's Paw Tracks

Autobiography of a Former Shelter Cat

Archive for the tag “feral cat rescue”

Mr. Hissy On the Loose


Mom L, Dad P were at the animal services shelter to pick up a black feral cat we trapped in our own back patio.

When can I leave? A not happy Mr. Hissy in trap

He was neutered, vaccinated, flea treated and ready to be returned. We figured due to his chunky body he was being fed somewhere close by my castle.

Dad P, Mom L and Miss Sue, animal services’ Cat Specialist, went to the feral ward to pick up Mr. Hissy. The ward looks kind of like the one in this photo, and they have cages on all four walls. The room is about fifteen feet by eighteen feet (4.57 meters by 5.4 meters).

But all three were asked to leave the feral ward when Mr. Hissy became adamant about not wanting to leave his cage. The animal services Peep#1 and Peep#2 were trying to pry him from behind his feral den box and he was having no part of it. They were gonna have to open that cage so that’s why they vacated the room. Just imagine Mr. Hissy jamming his whole body behind his den box with his cage set up like the one in the photo below. He should’a been “in” the den box like this orange kitty, but nooooo—Mr. Hissy was BEHIND his den box!

Then all heck broke loose in that room!!!

Thud! Rrrrrrrrooowwwl…mrooowwwlll!!

Mom L hears Peep#1 in the feral ward hollering to her co-worker Peep #2—”Oh no! get the big gloves!”


“Holy smokes”, says Mom L. “That sounds like Mr. Hissy hit the door at the TOP!!”

Peep #2 shouts “Watch out! He’s climbing the walls!!

Scuffle, scratch…whoosh!

“He’s under there! Use the net handle to push him out! says Peep #1 in an urgent but calm voice.

Meowwww…huff, puff…meowwwwwwwww—”Mouses these Peeps are slow!!” thinks Mr. Hissy.

Clang! Ping! Clangity clang!

“There go the food dishes!”  whispers Dad P.


Peep #2 warns “Look out the water is everywhere!”

Mr. Hissy is just getting started in his run for freedom—”Sheesh…Peeps are gonna have to get smarter if they wanna get me back in that stoopid den box. It’s a tight fit for me.”

Feral Den Box

Kathunk!! “Ouch!! I Missed him! And that cement floor is hard! ” Peep #1 exclaims.

Screeeeeeeeech….yeowwzah…grrrr—”Maybe my growl will throw them off” Mr. Hissy mutters to himself.

Zoom…kazonk—”heh…heh…using the wall to launch from gave me a lot of speed!!” Mr. Hissy smirks proudly to himself.

Peep #1 urgently asks Peep #2 “Toss me the towel!”

“The towel??! Are you crazy???!!!  Did you hear that growl!!”

“Just give me the towel now!”

Zip! “Mouses again!!” shrieks Mr. Hissy. “How did I end up in this corner??!! Noooooooooo!!!”

Peep#1 exuberantly states  “Got him!! He’s a burrito cat now.”

Peep #1 used the old “toss a towel over his head” trick!!

“Double mouses!! That thing works every time!! It’s dark in here…hmmmmm…not bad after all…nice and dark and finally quiet. Maybe I’ll just let them think they won the day” giggles Mr. Hissy.

“Ok, quick open the den box. Good grief he sure has a big butt!” mutters Peep #2.

“Hey Peep! Watch who you are calling “big butt”!  I am nicely padded, that’s all” says an indignant Mr. Hissy.

Peep #1 emerges from the feral ward room, and proudly shows Mr. Hissy firmly caught in his feral den box. “Ok, Mom L, here is your Mr. Hissy to release back where he was trapped.” (Peep#1 and #2 were both wiping sweaty brows and upper lips).

“Mr. Hissy ought to nap all the way to his home.”

Mom L thanked the Peep#1 and #2 and hoped their day would get better after the Mr. Hissy adventure.

Mom L over hears Peep#1, considered by fellow workers to be Queen of the Feral Cat Ward, say—”I live for this excitement!”

As you can imagine, Mr. Hissy was not happy once he got home. He had made himself comfy and was taking a much needed nap when Dad P tried to get him to leave his feral den box! Mr. Hissy lived up to his name and uttered several meaningful growls.

Let me know what ya think of Mr. Hissy’s Adventure in comments!! Purrsonally, I am giving Mr. Hissy 10 points but I have to give the Queen of the Feral Ward 12 points!!!


When Community Cats Cannot Go Back


You may remember that Mom L does some volunteering with a RTF (return to field) program. She is doing it now with our county municipal animal services.

Tabby in Feral Den & then released—zooom!

When the county shelter cannot return a community cat (feral) to the location where it was trapped, this presents a dilemma for the cat. Everybody knows that we cats are territorial so moving cat who has only known one specific outdoor territory is a real challenge.

Now you ask “why can’t you simply RTF community cats once they have been trapped, brought to the shelter for spay/neuter, vaccinations, etc.?” Here’s the conundrum. When a member of our community traps one or more community cats and takes them to the county municipal shelter, they fill out a form. On that form they are asked “do you want the cat(s) returned?” and “if returned will you feed them?”  If the trapper says “NO” to both those questions, then what does the municipal shelter “do” with said community cat(s)?”

My county animal services has a Working Cats program which ought to be the answer, right? But, what happens when there are no barns, wineries, warehouses and such wanting working cats at the same time the community cats arrive at the shelter and cannot be returned? It’s a problem for lots and lots of public animal shelters across the USA. Many shelters euthanize community cats without even trying to return them or find them a working cat job.

Thankfully, my county shelter doesn’t do that. But then what can Mom L do when she talks with the community member who trapped the cats and he says “don’t bring them back!!”. Re-homing community cats is hard, but Mom L and a friend, Miss Lisa, took on the task.

First task at paw—find someone who is willing to take on three community cats as backyard cats. Miss Lisa knew someone who had a small colony about two miles (3.2 kilometers) from where these three cats were trapped and they agreed to add three more to their small backyard colony of seven cats.

Second task at paw—build an outdoor enclosure that will hold three cats with litter box, food and water dishes. The cats must remain enclosed at least two to four weeks. This helps them start to realize this location is where they will get their food.

Mom L and Miss Lisa had to zip tie two wire cages together to make enough room for three cats to live for two to four weeks. That took them about two hours! You can see the enclosure being assembled in the photos above.

Next they had to cover it to make it den like for the cats. We cats like to find dark places when we are scared. So Mom L places a small cat carrier inside the enclosure so one or more cats could get inside that. Next they placed lots of “pee pads” down and then soft blankets. Finally they covered the enclosure and weighted down the covering so the wind wouldn’t blow it away.

Cat enclosure for re-homing community cats

Third task at paw—introduce the cats to their new temporary home. Mom L transported them from the animal shelter in their feral dens.

Needless to say, the cats were very worried and scared. (photo taken through the Plexiglass)

What’s happening to me??

Each cat was transferred to their new enclosure and allowed a few moments to decide what to do and where to go.

Oh no! Another new place and I don’t recognize any smells!

We are hoping that these three cats will remain close as they all came from the same location. When they are released the new feeders will do all they can to keep them in the resident colony. But, re-locating community cats is extremely hard. The cats may flee when released and become lost and not find their way back to the yard where they will be fed regularly. Doing this is always a last resort. Mom L tried everything she could do to find another feeder in the area where these cats were originally trapped. But no one wanted them. There were no working cat placements and these cats had been at the shelter for over a month. They needed to have a placement and be allowed to live free.

Keep your paws crossed with hope that these three community cats (all definitely feral and untouchable) will accept their new location. And of course, we hope the resident cat colony members will allow them to join this colony.

Have you ever had experience trying to re-locate community cats? Please let me know in comments. We can always use new ideas.



Compassion for a Senior Feral Cat


I asked Savannah to allow me to tell a story about a senior feral cat I recently met. There is a community cat colony within walking distance of our home. Fortunately, a friend who is a skilled cat trapper has already trapped almost all the cats for spay, neuter. I will tell you more about this colony in another post.

My time with you today is to share the story of a senior feral cat from this colony as I know it. I have only known him for about two months. There are about thirty five cats in this colony which has been in this location for over fifteen years. I walked around one day by myself and I saw a cat on one of the hillsides. I got closer because I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.

The black cat on the hill appeared to have no ears! I moved slowly forward to try for a better look and photo. Unfortunately my photos are blurred but you can see that indeed he appeared to have no ears.

And yet what I discovered was that they were collapsed forward and inward. Once the feeder arrived I asked about this black cat, with no name. She said he was about three to four years old in 2006 when they took him to a vet about his ears being damaged. That would make him about fifteen to sixteen years old now. They were told he had cancer, but was otherwise fine. They determined to bring him back to his colony and watch his health. His ears grew worse and worse and yet here he was twelve years later, alive. But was he truly “well”.

I asked if I could trap him to get him to see a Vet at the Community Concern 4 Cats feline clinic for community cats. You see, I was finally able to view his ears up close while he was eating.

The earless black cat is behind the bench so I used the bench to lean over him, and his ears were very raw, torn, infected and yes, bleeding. The tree above the bench is the one I would often find this kitty sleeping in when I arrived to help feed or just visit. I believe that some of the other cats were beginning to sense his weakness and perhaps took advantage of it. He would always greet me with a soft “meow” then come down from his tree bed.

He loved roasted chicken so the feeder brought some on the day I would try to trap him. For some reason that day, none of the other cats arrived for feeding time—except this one. I put the cooked chicken in the set trap and placed it near him. He did not even run. He did love his chicken! He followed that chicken trail right onto the trap trigger plate and I had him!

We kept him in our garage over night for his early morning appointment next day. We knew he was at least twelve to fifteen years old. We gave him food and water but removed the food dish—which was empty—as we knew he needed to fast over night. Interestingly, he meowed to us softly a few times when we would check on him. He never hissed and only growled once when he was trapped—who wouldn’t growl at that!!

I doubt he was ever a totally feral cat as they do not typically “meow  talk” to humans.

I had already talked with the feeders to get their permission to have this senior fellow euthanized if his ears and general health could not be effectively treated. We all agreed on this.

However, talking about euthanizing a senior feral who has never bothered anyone, simply lived his life in his colony with a view, is easier than doing it.

Strider’s view from his hilltop feeding station

I knew he had lived a good long life with feeders and park visitors and maintenance crew who all treat the cats with respect and caring. His view of the Northern California Delta was pretty amazing and free!

Fog coming up the delta from San Francisco bay

Nonetheless, I was wishing I had found him when he was younger—perhaps I could have helped socialize him or at least find what his food allergies were. On and on went my self questioning.

Dad P and I could not take him to the clinic without giving him a name. Because he was wise and had not had a true home, we named him Strider. That is a character in JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy. We believe his name suited him very well with his coat of dark shiny black fur that allowed him to blend in with shadows just like the “Strider” in the books.

I was allowed in the exam room, after they sedated him, to join the Vet in her exam. Before the Vet began to go over what she observed about his condition and health, she asked me to keep in mind his “quality of life”.

His ears were the apparently the result of year upon year of likely food allergies, not cancer. This could be temporarily treated but he would be right back in a month —needing to be trapped again and sedated to give him more antibiotics and treatment for his ears, and this would go on month after  month. For those of you who feed large feral colonies, you know it is next to impossible to manage a cat with such a severe food allergy.

And then the Vet informed me that her even greater concern for his quality of life was his mouth. She opened it wide so I could see all the infected gums and teeth that were the worst I have ever seen. And not many left either. The clinic did not have dental cleaning equipment and even if they did, she said he would have to go through multiple sedation procedures and then not likely that all his dental infections would resolve.

She left the decision to me, which I truly appreciated. I was alone with Strider and I stroked his pretty shiny black fur—even having lived outdoors for at least fifteen to sixteen years, his fur was in lovely condition. His feeders fed him well!

And so I stroked Strider, told him I loved him as the Vet and I helped him on his painless way to The Bridge. The loving feeders of this colony miss seeing Strider as do I. But Strider needed us to show compassion for him and his declining lack of quality of life.

I can’t say enough positive thanks to the Vet and staff at the Community Concern 4 Cats clinic. They were kind to me and ever so gentle with Strider. His body will be cremated and his ashes spread at a local kitty cemetery. That seemed a loving place for Strider, don’t you think?


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