I don't even care if this ends with getting a third cat, I just want him to stop crying
May 21, 2011 9:58 PM   Subscribe

HELP! There's a cat under my mobile home that's been crying for 24 hours. It's up in the insulation or ducts. What do I do?

I live in a mobile home in the woods in a rural area. There are lots of feral cats in my neighborhood (as well as hogs, deer, bobcats, and even a mountain lion.) Both of our current indoor cats were rescues from outside who were in needy situations. I keep an eye on the cats that frequent our property. There's been a new one the last couple of weeks who is obviously young, but not quite a kitten. I had a good look around when I spotted him to make sure there wasn't a whole litter of kittens or family anywhere. When he saw me, he took off at a dead run so no chance of getting anywhere close to him.

I was pretty sure he was living under the skirting of our home, which didn't bother me. There was a spot dug out under the skirting, but as I said I didn't detect more than one cat around, so I didn't worry about it. We were in a bad drought and I put some water out for him. I watched him catch a mouse from the woods, so obviously he could get food on his own.

On Friday night we had a big storm and the first major rain in a long time. At some point in the night, maybe 3 or 4 AM, I started hearing a cat cry under the house, and figured it was that cat hiding from the storm. This morning about 10AM he was still at it, crying piteously from right under my bathroom. My husband and I went out to look for him. We walked around and called to him, no cat. After about an hour more of non-stop crying, my husband went under the house to try to capture him. Turns out the cat isn't just under the house, but up in the house, inside the insulation or somewhere. So not in the crawlspace under, but below the floorboards. He cut two holes in the plastic that holds the insulation in, but wasn't able to find the cat, though he said it sounded like he was right under it.

We left one of those openings in the plastic open, and left the skirting open. We placed a can of stinky fishy cat-food under the house to try to lure him out. After 5-6 hours, it was untouched. He is still crying now and it's almost 24 hours since I first heard him.

I've been trying to find information on what to do, but not really finding any. I do run across stories of cats getting stuck and dying under people's homes and it smelling for months, which obviously I don't want because that would suck, and also we love cats and all animals and I want him to be ok. I've been trying to find a number for animal control, but there apparently isn't one in my area (apparently, I can no longer even get a driver's license in my county!). The only number I can find is for a local volunteer shelter, but I've called them before and it took about 2 days for them to call me back. And of course I can't call any local government offices tomorrow, since it's Sunday and no one will answer.

Oh, and also, I don't know that this is the same cat I've seen. It sounds like a tiny little kitten, but he was still young.

What the hell do I do?
posted by threeturtles to Pets & Animals (29 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
ASPCA. They're trained to handle situations like this. Call them.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:26 PM on May 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

I live in a mobile home in the woods in a rural area.

You want to call Animal Control or similar, if only because there is a potential risk of rabies infection that their staff are trained to handle.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:12 PM on May 21, 2011

I would try the police non-emergency number, and ask them who you should call. It may be they have a deal with another county to get some help with animal control, or have access to other resources. Or try an ASPCA nearby.
posted by freshwater at 11:29 PM on May 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: You want to call Animal Control or similar, if only because there is a potential risk of rabies infection that their staff are trained to handle.

Yeah, unfortunately, as I said, we don't seem to have Animal Control. The closest place with actual Animal Control is 100 miles away. So, I don't know, I guess I have to call the Sheriff?
posted by threeturtles at 11:34 PM on May 21, 2011

Best answer: I would suggest calling someone in mobile home construction or repair. Maybe the company who sold or manufactured your mobile home would have suggestions?

At this point, the cat is stuck, and no amount of coaxing is going to get it to leave where it is at the moment; the only way to find it is to take your house apart until the cat is found. If you call the fire department or animal control, they're just going to destroy your house. I'd suggest instead calling someone who knows the ins and outs of how your home is built, how to take it apart, and how to put it back together.

The downside is, you'll likely have to pay for construction/repair services; the not-so-downside is, if someone from animal control destroys your house searching for the cat, you'd have to pay for repairs anyway.

As an aside, I've had piss poor experiences with animal control, even in cities; I'm guessing that in most places they're understaffed, undertrained, and underpaid.
posted by lesli212 at 11:50 PM on May 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Yeah, we'll give it another shot at finding the damn thing tomorrow morning. It may involve cutting a big hole in the bottom of our house. But I've been reviewing diagrams of what's down there and how to fix holes, so if we can get to the cat I think we can then fix whatever damage we have to do to get it out.

If that fails, I don't know what else to do but to call the local Sheriff's department and ask if they know anyone who might be able to help.
posted by threeturtles at 12:04 AM on May 22, 2011

Best answer: I do TNR in our urban area. I don't have a tip for finding it, but wanted to mention that if it's crying then it's probably not beyond taming. True ferals tend to shut up even when in distress. In my experience, if it's crying for help, then it's likely either a lost/abandoned house cat, or if feral then still young enough to tame down.

Do you have sturdy gloves? Put them on, or use a net or heavy towel when retrieving this cat. Even a tiny kitten can give a fierce bite when really scared, and those bites can easily become septic. Even healthy cats have lots of bacteria in their mouths; those bites are more of a concern, IMO, in this situation than rabies.

Good luck! Please post your outcome; we'll be watching to see what happens!
posted by theplotchickens at 4:28 AM on May 22, 2011 [10 favorites]

Yes, please post the outcome. Rooting for all of you!
posted by cyndigo at 10:19 AM on May 22, 2011

Response by poster: Update: We have it. It was a tiny little fit-in-your-hand kitten. My husband was finally able to get his hand up in the house and grab it. So now we're nursing a baby kitten. We've had to get kitten milk and bottles and all. Picture here.
posted by threeturtles at 11:14 AM on May 22, 2011 [41 favorites]

posted by trip and a half at 11:22 AM on May 22, 2011

Teh cute, it hurts my eyes! Congratulations on your newest addition. I bottlefed a couple of wee kittens enormous monsters and bottlefeds are just the best.
posted by cyndigo at 11:38 AM on May 22, 2011

You're awesome.
posted by Nickel Pickle at 11:41 AM on May 22, 2011

posted by radioamy at 11:43 AM on May 22, 2011

Congrats and kudos for your persistence in trying to find the kitty.

FYI - you might be able to find a trap-neuter-release program close to you or a referral at one here. Reducing the number of feral cats in your area would be a good idea.
posted by brookeb at 11:56 AM on May 22, 2011

The squeeeee. It burns.

Congratulations on your new cat. Will your next post be The Naming of said cat?

Otherwise, post here, so we can further enjoy the Catness.
posted by BlueHorse at 12:06 PM on May 22, 2011

Response by poster: Yeah, we're working on names. I think it's a girl. Suggestions welcome.

I do want to find a TNR program around here. (Alternately get a trap and take them to the local low-cost neuter clinic myself.) Something I've been meaning to do. I'll look into it when I take this one in for shots/neuter.
posted by threeturtles at 2:03 PM on May 22, 2011

Well done! Good news - been following this hoping you'd get ahold of the meower sooner rather than later. Only name I can think of right now is " Awww..."
posted by likeso at 3:37 PM on May 22, 2011

Yeah for you!!! I was trying to think of solutions to post. I have done bottle feeding with kittens. They bond with you like Krazy Glue.
posted by fifilaru at 3:57 PM on May 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

awwwww! too cute. I'm so happy you don't have holes in your house! :-)
posted by lesli212 at 4:21 PM on May 22, 2011

I'd say "Tigger" might be a suitable name :)
posted by Kimchee.Noodles. at 8:03 PM on May 22, 2011

You should call her "Newt" from Aliens .. didn't they find her holed away somewhere? Plus that means you're Ripley !
posted by duckus at 9:23 PM on May 22, 2011 [4 favorites]

How about Patch, since you're gonna haveta? And also... more pics, please!
posted by Scram at 10:35 PM on May 22, 2011

oh, what a great resolution! bless y'all for being persistent & compassionate!
posted by batmonkey at 1:29 AM on May 23, 2011

Response by poster: RE: names

I actually had a cat named Tigger who died a few years ago, so no. Newt is a pretty good suggestion. Wonder what my husband will think of that.

So far the choices are: Marble, Molly, Cleo, Zoey
posted by threeturtles at 7:35 AM on May 23, 2011

Can't...breathe....cuteness....crushing me.......

Congratulations! You are teh coolness!

I bought a couple of traps and super-sturdy gloves, and do spay/neuters at a couple of low-cost clinics. Trickiest thing is to get the nursing moms between litters. I got one of my neighbors to help chip in with it; it's been hard but definitely worthwhile. If the kittens are small enough to socialize, we pull them IF we can find homes for them. Alley Cat Allies is a great resource if you decide to go that route.
posted by theplotchickens at 8:05 AM on May 23, 2011


I was so scared reading the beginning of this thread -- I'm so happy to have clicked through and learned the outcome! And such a cute outcome!

The world has redeemed itself to me. ;o)
posted by MeiraV at 3:39 PM on May 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

"Listen to me. We've traced the meow... it's coming from inside the house!"

So Jill, or Carol would be a good name.
posted by lefty lucky cat at 12:54 PM on May 24, 2011

YEA! So happy to read the happy ending!!! Happy thoughts to you for saving such a tiny sweet little creature.
posted by muirne81 at 12:47 PM on May 26, 2011

Response by poster: Hi all! Kitten update: I took her to the vet and they're not sure if it's a boy or a girl. Besides some problems pooping, she seems to be doing very well. She's about three weeks old. Her teeth have come in and she's eating like a horse. We're going to introduce some mushy solid food soon.

We had decided to name her Molly, cause it fit her, but once the vet said she might be a boy we had to change it. So her name is either Gremlin or The Grim Squeaker. We call her Grimmie (or Gremmie) or Squeaker (since that's what she mostly does: squeak.)

More kitten pics are here, as requested.
posted by threeturtles at 10:24 AM on May 28, 2011 [4 favorites]

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