Bungled cat rescue - advice needed please

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tina1
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Bungled cat rescue - advice needed please

Post by tina1 » Mon Sep 02, 2019 10:42 am

Hi everyone

I've been trying to rescue a friendlyish stray for a couple of weeks and managed to get it into a carrier last night. I took him home planning to transfer him into a bigger carrier (in my garden) where I wanted him to spend the night. I put the doors of both carriers together, opened the doors very carefully and turned both carriers upside down so I could close the big carrier door without risk of him escaping. AND THEN....I looked inside and there was no cat to be seen. Somehow he escaped during this transition. I still don't quite know how he did it. I am berating myself for not just keeping him in the original carrier overnight. I saw him in my garden half an hour later then he disappeared. I spent half the night outside looking for him.

Does anyone know what the chances are that he will return to his original outdoor home? Its 2 streets away from me but in a straight line with a busy road going across. This is the worst possible scenario for him as he will not have known where he was. At least before, he knew the area and got regular food from me. Now he is in unknown territory without knowing how to get food. I could just kick myself for this and would appreciate any advice, etc.

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Re: Bungled cat rescue - advice needed please

Post by angelaj » Tue Sep 03, 2019 8:39 am

Hello Tina

I hope that he has at least shown you that he is safe again last night, although he may not want to trust you for a while; if only we could explain that it is for their own good!? When our neighbours moved their cat kept returning as they had only moved a few streets away and his old home was within his territory, although no really busy roads thankfully - so hopefully he has found a way back to his old stomping ground.

If possible I would put some food out for him in case he has stayed around and water too; my lad was a stray when we first met him; he was wary but seemed to know who might help him. He met my husband on his walk home from work every day and came as far as the drive with him and then would disappear; he would sit and watch us in the garden but if you moved would run away and it took him months to come to the house. Eventually he would walk in if the doors were open but would run if anything moved near him and it took about a year for me to get close enough to paper collar him. When he got ill we managed to get him to the vets (and only minor injuries to ourselves), and as we had heard by then that he had been left behind when his owner moved away about 18 months before, we got him chipped to us and he has been here ever since.

You may need to consider borrowing a trap from a local rescue; cat chat have a list of all rescues here: https://www.catchat.org/index.php/cat-r ... uk-ireland, as he may not be as trusting of you now. I shall keep paws and toes crossed for you.

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Re: Bungled cat rescue - advice needed please

Post by tina1 » Tue Sep 03, 2019 12:00 pm

Thank you for your reply. I've been reading about how stray cats in this situation sometimes behave when they go into "survival mode" and apparently, they often stay around but hiding. And apart from looking for them the advice is to leave food out. One complication is that I have foxes in the garden that I feed but they are around most of the night in and around my garden so I knew if I left food out that the cat likes, they could get it. But I did leave some out at about 1.00 am when all seemed quiet and I put it in a cat bowl on top of my garden table. Around 3.30 am I heard the bowl move but when I looked it was a fox eating it. If the cat is hiding near my garden food could entice it to stay around but with the foxes it doesn't seem likely food will stay around long enough for the cat to get it.

I went back last night to where I normally fed the cat - about 10 mins walk away and was hoping the cat would be back there but it isn't. It's probably lost as I had covered the carrier with a blanket and the cat escaped into my back garden not knowing where it was in relation to its previous territory.

The last good meal this cat got was Saturday evening. Sunday I just gave it bits of chicken to entice it into the carrier, intending to feed it properly when I got it home. I wanted to improve this cat's life and now I've put it in a terrible situation. I can't believe I didn't just keep it in the original carrier as that would have been good enough without being transferred to a large one. No good crying over spilt milk as they say but I keep berating myself over and over and feel such guilt. I had built up a good relationship with this cat. It would run towards me as I approached and let me stroke it and it would brush up against me. I think it would trust me again in terms of giving it food but it would be hard to get it into a carrier. I just feel such guilt about taking it from a place it knew with a regular food source and then bungling the transfer and causing it to now be lost and hungry. I have cats that are outside in the daytime so if the cat is nearby it will most likely only come out at night. I went out last night looking round the neighbourhood but it is most likely in someone's back garden.

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Re: Bungled cat rescue - advice needed please

Post by tina1 » Thu Sep 05, 2019 11:11 am

Just wanted to provide an update. I bought a humane cat trap yesterday. I put it in the garden last night with mackeral and tuna in small dishes and hid it in the shrubs. This morning the trap was on its side, the door completely removed, the food taken and the dishes on the lawn. Seems likely it was the foxes that reside in the neighbour's garden. Will secure it tonight so this can't happen again but the trap is one where if you move the trap too much the trap setting comes undone, so it might prove tricky to catch an animal. Am just hoping the cat is still in a nearby garden to smell the food and go into the trap before the foxes move it.

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Re: Bungled cat rescue - advice needed please

Post by Kay » Thu Sep 05, 2019 1:01 pm

there's a good chance he knows the neighbourhood well enough to find you when he's ready - I fed a stray cat in my garden for several months, and one day I had a knock on the door from someone who lives a couple of hundred yards away, who had been feeding him regularly until one day he stopped coming - she had seen cats in my back garden so wondered if he'd come to me

a few months later he stopped coming here and went back to her garden - and for all we knew he might well have had a few more saps looking out for him too!!!

cats are nothing if not resourceful

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Re: Bungled cat rescue - advice needed please

Post by tina1 » Sat Sep 07, 2019 1:54 pm

He doesn't know the neighbourhood, unfortunately. I have been feeding him in an area he claimed as his own 10 minutes walk away. I fed him every night at the same time. He was always waiting for me in the same spot and ran up to me excitedly every time he saw me. He always ate a large meal so it seems I was his only food source. He escaped the carrier late at night in my garden not knowing where he was. He has been predictable so far as lost cat behaviour goes....he must have been hiding in shrubs in the nbrs garden. Last night he broke cover and was in my front garden. He then jumped over walls into neighbouring front gardens and I pursued him, calling him so he would hopefully recognise my voice. I think he did but he still wanted to keep going. I followed him with a cat trap filled with smelly food. I put it in each front garden but he ignored it. Then he hid underneath a car and I put it on the pavement alongside the car. He came out and smelled the food but made no attempt to go inside. At this point he is extremely hungry as its 6 days since he ate. I kept following him and calling him. I thought I might scare him if I tried to pick him up. He used to let me but he is now in survival mode. He then ran into a garden and disappeared. I walked up and down my street and side streets looking in front gardens and under shrubs with a flashlight. I couldn't find him.

Does anyone know if he would be likely to come back to my garden to continue hiding? I am wondering if now he has broken cover he might continue wandering around the neighbourhood. I feel so bad about bungling the rescue attempt and putting him in this position. For him to find his old territory it would mean crossing two streets, one of which is a busy road. I put the cat trap in my front garden last night in the hope he would come back but it was empty this morning. If anyone has any advice or suggestions, I would be very keen to hear them.
Last edited by tina1 on Sat Sep 07, 2019 10:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Bungled cat rescue - advice needed please

Post by Lilith » Sat Sep 07, 2019 8:35 pm

Hi there - and I feel for you. It was such an awful accident to happen when you'd taken the greatest of care - please don't beat yourself up about it. I once got the neighbourhood feral stud into a carrier and got him neutered - on release he disappeared and I agonised ... was I pleased when he reappeared. He bore me no grudge and moved in ... 10 happy years ... what a cat ...

It's a good sign that your lad's hanging about. Personally I'd leave the trap aside for now and just put out food for him without trying to call or entice him and keep a low profile. Once he's started to rely on his belly being filled, you could start leaving a smaller meal - and something more delicious (and smelly) in the trap and ... good luck!

All the very very best - please keep updating x

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Kay
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Re: Bungled cat rescue - advice needed please

Post by Kay » Sat Sep 07, 2019 10:23 pm

I agree with Lilith - he may see you following him as an attempt to chase him away, when of course your intentions are anything but

a cat who has become confused and wary isn't going to go back into full trust mode right away

I reckon he'll find food if you keep putting it out - perhaps start during the night when he's most likely to come out of hiding, and then progress to daylight hours - if you can keep him in or near your garden you will not need the trap, I presume, as that is what you want

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Re: Bungled cat rescue - advice needed please

Post by Ruth B » Mon Sep 09, 2019 11:11 am

I've just come across this thread, so a bit late to the party. Try not to blame yourself, you did everything with the best intentions and it went wrong, accidents happen, you know he is still ok so focus on that rather than berating yourself.

You say it takes you about 10 minutes to walk to where you collected him, unless you are going at a really brisk pace I would think that is about half a mile or so, which for a male, unneutered cat, is well within his possible territory, there may be a busy road, but if he as lived on the streets all his life he is quite likely accustomed to busy roads. If nothing else then he will have marked his territory and a cat can smell his own scent marking from quite a distance away, he could use that to help guide him home (which is the reason when people lose a cat they are told to put the litter tray outside, not to give the cat somewhere to go, but so it can follow the scent home).

You say you put food out for the foxes, I'm sure he is therefore used to sharing territory with the foxes and sharing what food there is with them, I'm sure if you were to put some type of camera watching the food you put out you would find not only foxes and cats eating it, but hedgehogs and other animals as well all taking it in turns to eat. Animals are incredibly adaptable, I live in the heart of suburbia and have a garden pond, during dry spells we get lots of neighbourhood cats visiting along with birds, and I have seen frogs and newts in it, and we have three cats of our own who will normally drive any other cats out of the garden, but during the dry months, it is almost as if it becomes neutral ground.

My best advise is to accept you will have to take things slowly with him, can you leave the trap out but not set, leave food for him in it so he gets used to going in and out of it, hopefully if it isn't set it will be less likely to be damaged. Don't try and approach him, but if you see him and he runs off then just talk to him and act normally. At the moment he is still seeing you as a threat after you caged him (he can't realise it was for his own good), give him time and I'm sure he will come around, and in time you will be able to get him either using the trap or just by being able to pick him up again.

Also remember that the more stressed you are the more he will feel there is something to be worried about, easy to say, hard to do anything about, but something to keep in mind.

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Re: Bungled cat rescue - advice needed please

Post by tina1 » Thu Sep 12, 2019 10:09 pm

Thank you to all who have replied and thank you for the advice and suggestions. What concerns me is the fact that he took off down the street. He probably isn't in my back garden anymore. His only points of reference are my back garden (or the nbrs) where he must have been in hiding and then my front garden where he came to leave and walk down the street. I hadn't thought he may have been thinking I was chasing him away. He didn't seem to like me following him but then he was in survival mode so not his normal self. He used to be so friendly with me when I gave him food.

What I have been doing is, putting the trap in my front garden every evening and leaving it all night and its been partially hidden in shrubs but not entirely. I've kept the end with food in it facing the street so he might smell it. I've put tuna in it, mackeral and sardines and now roast chicken. Someone advised that I put a blanket over it which I have now done. The foxes have attempted to get the food out. Sometimes they succeeded but not that often. They have also tried digging underneath it. My concern is that the cat may never come back to my front garden but I put the trap out anyway. I have put some cat food at various points along the street just in case he were to come across it, as the main thing is getting him to eat, and the second priority is catching him. Other cats may eat it of course.

The reason I have berated myself is that there was no actual need to put him in a bigger carrier. I just thought he would be more comfortable and I wasn't thinking straight and seeing the risk I was taking. Mostly, I am just so sad to think about him not knowing where he is and being really hungry. He is a timid cat.

Walking the streets looking for him is not producing results as he is probably hiding in back gardens but I worry that he won't find food. I just keep hoping that either I find him (and am able to catch him) or that he finds his old territory again. I will be acting on advice and suggestions in the replies. I will try anything and everything possible to try and find him.

PS: A fox managed to get a chicken drumstick out of the trap. I found the door down (so the trap worked) and the chicken drumstick gone. So he must have managed to get it out and set the trap off on his way out. I know it was a fox as he left his scent on the dish the chicken drumstick was in.
Last edited by tina1 on Fri Sep 13, 2019 3:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Kay
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Re: Bungled cat rescue - advice needed please

Post by Kay » Fri Sep 13, 2019 1:41 pm

have you tried putting a leaflet through your neighbours' doors asking if anyone has seen him, and could they contact you if they do? you might even find someone who has been feeding him too

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Re: Bungled cat rescue - advice needed please

Post by tina1 » Fri Sep 13, 2019 3:13 pm

I haven't done that yet as the websites I've visited for info on misplaced cat behaviour all say the cat would be hiding in gardens and nbrs probably wouldn't see the cat and that flyers wouldn't help. They advocated asking nbrs for permission to search gardens at night which is something I wouldn't feel comfortable about doing. There is nothing to lose putting flyers through doors though, just in case it produces results. I could use a photo of a similar looking cat so I will do that. Thanks.

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