"Indoor feral" cat with issues

Hi all –

I have a bit of a situation with Sam, my huge and un-handleable indoor cat. 2012 was the last time I tried to get him into a carrier, and not only did it fail cr*ptactularly, as in, cat shit and urine all over the place, he bit me and I ended up in hospital for several days with cellulitis (I am diabetic, too, so really cannot have a repeat.) I have not attempted to get him into a carrier since then. All 3 of our cats are indoor only.

He will accept pets and scritches under very specific circumstances, and since I started working from home, has become marginally more friendly (he and the little girl kitty, who is also shy, both live in my office – which is a big 2-story space.)

So my basic idea after he bit me was that he could live out his life, and when he got ill/old/decrepit, we’d trap him and have him euthanized.

But now I like him too much to do that. He’s 12, seems generally healthy, but I am pretty sure his teeth are bothering him, based on how he eats his kibble. He also has some mats in his coat that need to be shaved off, because he’s very fat and cannot reach some places on his body.

I’d like to get him to the vet, but it might be a one-time deal, if we can even get him into a trap. The vet knows we have him, and does do some work with feral colony cats. He did get his 3 rabies shots before the “incident” but he’s obviously not up to date on vaccinations.


Oh man, I know what you’re talking about! We have a 12 year old cat that walked on the property 12 years ago and have recently moved him into the house. He’s a longhair and stopped grooming years ago, so he basically looks like a stuffed animal some kid left out in the rain. Any attempt to clip him brings out his inner demon and he will not hesitate to sink his teeth in whatever part of you he can reach.

I’ve made peace with the fact that we’ve done the best with the parameters he’s set for us. Semi feral or feral cats live life on their own terms, and it’s often not as pleasant as we would like. When we first bought our farm we had a feral mom cat that delivered nine kittens in short order. I was able to build a “nest” in the hay mow where I was able to sit with her and the kittens and eventually got her tamed enough to get her in a crate and get her fixed. But I never touched her again. The last time I saw her she was skinny as a rail and had a head the size of a softball, most likely due to a infected tooth. I made one more attempt to grab her and she eluded me, never to be seen again. In contrast, another kitty that was in the barn when we bought it became quite tame, and lived out there until just shy of her 21st birthday.

Do your best, but don’t beat yourself up about what you can’t. Most outdoor cats have a very short life, so you’ve already done so much for your guy.

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Well, you’ve got me beat for Feral Longevity.
But I got 2 shelter kittens - ~6mos - to be barncats. Both failed miserably when I decided they should not be tortured by the huge raccoon I caught near their cages on Week 2 of their in-barn trial. In relocating them Feral bit a friend so badly she had to have a ring cut off.
Relocated to my basement, after a month one became friendly.
The other was a seldom-seen blur.
Then - 3yrs later - I had to have major construction work done in the basement. Including jackhammers & workers going in & out.
By this time Friendly had relocated himself upstairs & showed me he had no inclination for the Outdoors.
I live-trapped the 2nd.
Left the trap unset with food inside for a couple days, then set it & caught him.
Upstairs he spent the following 2yrs hiding in the guestroom.
Last year he began Hiding in Plain Sight behind a curtain.
Then I was allowed to approach, a while later to touch & now - some months later, he is a fat orange barnacle attached to my side.

I’m not saying your guy will reform.
But the livetrap could get him to the vet.
You will need to remove his GF from your office when you set the trap up.
Ask vet if you can bring him in still in the trap, as transferring him to a carrier could get you hurt.
And then vet can deal with sedation & treatment.


We have a huge dog cage that the little girl kitty, Naku, can live in while we get Sam sorted. She’s lived there before, post-surgery. As long as she has a heated mat to lay on, she’s happy. (She is 19 years old, deaf as a post, and treated for hyperthyroidism, but otherwise very healthy.)

I like the description: “orange barnacle.” Sam may get to the point someday; at the moment he likes to be within 6 feet of me.

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The :cat2: in question:


I had a similar situation with a once feral, now “almost tame” house cat. He loves to petted, sit on my lap and sleep next to me in bed but I could not pick him up or try to put him in a carrier. The first time I trapped him and took him to the vet for neutering, etc. but a few years later when he developed what I thought was an eye issue I had to pay a vet and a technician to come to my house. The young woman vet, who had previously worked in a cattery, caught him with a big fishing net. Then the three of us had to hold the net down while vet prepared a syringe of some kind of sedative. Once that took effect, we were able to put him in a carrier and off he went to the vet to be evaluated and treated. Luckily, a few years later his FIV+ status caused him to need all his teeth pulled. From then on I would chase him into my walk-in closet and lock us both in with the carrier. He would bite down on my wrist as hard as he could while I stuffed him into the carrier but without his teeth it was just his hard gums he was “biting” me with. :slight_smile:

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I take cats to my vet in a trap all the time, I adopt or treat a lot of ferals. OP if your vet is not happy treating ferals (some are not), then call a local shelter or humane society and get a recommendation. The ones who work with ferals on a regular basis do a great job of it, you don’t have to switch vets permanently, but use the new vet just for the hard to handle feral.

It does sound as though your guy has dental issues, those are very painful and a dental treatment will make a world of difference to his comfort and his health. Even my cat who had ALL of his teeth pulled did great, eating all wet and dry food with absolutely no problem. It was well worth the cost and gave him years of a more comfortable life.

I wear a heavy quilted winter coat and shearling gloves when dealing with the really wild ones but I haven’t had to resort to that in years.


Are you sure he can’t be trapped? A have a heart trap is a great place to start. Maybe he’d be perfectly happy walking in to one? Is there any food that he thinks is FAAAAABULOUS? Maybe the next size up from the regular cat trap would be better for him since he’s a beefy guy.

If he just says NOPE, a drop trap might do it. They’re often used to snag trap wise ferals. He can eat under it until he’s chill about it, and then when he’s acclimated, you spring it. There’s some info about drop traps here: https://catinfo.org/feral-cat-managementtnr-folding-drop-trapremote-control-trap/

Another option would be feeding him in a small wire dog crate, like a 24" one. Bigger than a cat crate, and airy. Once he’s chill about being in it, close the door.

The drop trap looks interesting but in my experience many of the ferals I have trapped would pop out of it quickly, jumping around would create an opening at the bottom that they would scoot out of. I have also had two who managed to get out of a Have a Heart trap, one was so fast he swung around and was out the door before it fully closed and another used his head to push it open even as I ran outside and was trying to close it on his head! Sadly, he got hit by a car a couple of weeks after this attempt at trapping. I felt awful as I was trying to trap him to treat an infected foot and I always wondered if he wasn’t able to get out of the way of the car that hit him because of his injured foot.

The wire dog cage works well, I know some backyard barn owners who feed their barn cats in those all the time, so when its time for a trip to the vet, its no problem to just close the door.

@quietann Sam is a cutie :heart_eyes_cat:

My barnacle Cheeto:
(with Friendly aka Bounce, draped around him)


Could you possibly get something from the vet, gabapentin or such, to dose up some Friskies and take the edge off, thus making him nice and drowsy for the carrier cram? Having a little mood adjustment before attempting the carrier might help.

He looks very self-satisfied in that picture.

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I’m thinking a bit of nice drugs first to slow him down…and then someone Else net or trap him. You don’t want him to associate any of this with you, if you can help it.
I feel your pain, we had two indoor feral cats for 19 and 20 years. To be fair they weren’t indoor until 6 or so, and were a bonded brother/sister pair. We never did take them to the vet after the usual spay/neuter. I will always be haunted by the fact that I think whatever killed the male might have been something a vet could have dealt with. But he was 19 and had not been to the vet since he was less than 1 and that had been incredibly traumatic. And you couldn’t pick him up, let alone take him anywhere…


I agree with the others that say to put a sedative in his food before attempting to trap him. If he’s sedated you may find it easier to put him in a carrier instead of using a trap.

He’s gorgeous!

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[quote=“2DogsFarm, post:3, topic:753190, full:true”]
he is a fat orange barnacle attached to my side.[/quote]

Pictures please!!!

I have never seen a “fat orange barnacle”!

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@CanadianTrotter See Post #9 above
Pic is actually flattering - gray cat is all of 8#, Cheeto is 14# :open_mouth:


I have a few cats in various phases of domestication. One of them had an abscess, and I was able to get close enough to her to drop a fairly decent sized blanket over her, and from there transfer her to a carrier. A trap would have worked.

I think a drop trap would work for this guy. Especially in the closer quarters of a house, you should be able to get to the trap and hold it down so he can’t lift it and get out. Then you can put something on it to weight it. Drop traps have a smaller cage attachment you can then get the trapped cat into, so you can transport them. In addition, you can use the drop trap as a holding area if you trapped your cat say the night before his vet appointment and don’t want him confined in a regular trap overnight. I had a very feral female I needed to get to the vet and the drop trap worked great for her.

Oops. my mistake! I missed the caption above the picture and should have realized you meant Cheeto! He’s such a gorgeous bright orange marmalade man!

My Dizzy who is only 1 1/2 and still growing is 15.9lbs and his brother Bird is right behind him at 14.7lbs. They’re going to be monsters when they stop growing.


Here’s Rotten Ralph at 14.2lbs after losing 4lbs.

He absolutely adores Ella and will quite often lay on the side of her bed and watch her while she sleeps. Those are dog beds…none of my cats fit into cat beds!


Cats are the same as horses in that they do not have any traffic sense. He was hit by the car because of that as he would not have been trying to get out of the way of the car, not because of his paw.

What I mean by that is they can not judge distancing or cars coming on a road. Dogs can, if they have survived being a puppy!

So a guide dog is capable of being taught that if a blind person asks them to walk into traffic they will say no and not go. If you asked a horse to step on to a road with a car coming it would do as asked and step onto the road.

Cats and kangaroos are hit by cars as they have no traffic sense. Horses too, but they are usually fenced away from traffic.

Crows, magpies etc do have traffic sense. Crows have been known to drop nuts onto a Road and go and get it after a car has opened it.

Trap him and take him in for a scheduled appointment. Get the teeth and everything else he needs done at that time since he’ll be sedated anyway.

It’s really not a big deal. Let him get a little hungry and put food in the trap. He’ll likely walk right in. I tend to put a towel or something on the floor of the trap and cover the trap with a sheet to make it look less trap-like.

I’ve had to do this with a couple feral cats that lived with me. They got over it.