There is a wildish animal in my bathroom
July 1, 2012 9:44 PM   Subscribe

Help! I did something dumb and now there is a feral cat loose in my bathroom.

I attempted my first trap-spay-return with a feral mama cat who took up residence with her kitten on my back deck. Trapped mama cat Friday night in a humane trap, took her in to get spayed Saturday morning, all went well and I picked her up late Saturday afternoon. When I picked her up was the first time anyone told me she would have to stay in my house for 3(!) days. I set her up in the bathroom, still in the trap, with a blanket over it and newspapers and old towels inside. The person at the humane society said I could feed her by putting food in a cat carrier and opening it to the open trap door.

So, good news, mama is feeling better. Bad news, she figured out how to get out of the tunnel and is now sitting on the edge of my bathtub. I am afraid she is too wily to be lured back into the carrier or trap with food. In light of the following, what do I do?

*I have a cat who I want to keep away from feral mama cat because I do not know what all cooties she has.

*Mama cat is a day and a half post-spay. I do not want to hurt her by putting a big towel over her and tossing her out too soon.

*I had wanted to humanely trap the kitten and bring him inside to take to the vet and possibly adopt. I think this is unlikely if I let her out.

*Kind of it is freaking me out to have her loose in there. I'm afraid she'll dart out if I open the door.

*Humane society does not open until after I have to go to work.
posted by *s to Pets & Animals (18 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
You want a cat net. Or something that looks like it will work as a cat net, maybe a strong fishing net. If you live near a 24/7 Wal-Mart or Target, that's your best bet.
posted by ferdinand.bardamu at 9:52 PM on July 1, 2012

Is it your only bathroom? If not I'd leave her in there until she needs to leave - but close up your cat in a different room when it comes out.
posted by Lt. Bunny Wigglesworth at 9:54 PM on July 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

And gloves. Thick leather gloves.
posted by ferdinand.bardamu at 9:54 PM on July 1, 2012 [8 favorites]

When you do open the bathroom door, make sure that your resident cat is safely shut in the bedroom or another room. If the feral cat gets out, at least they won't interact.
posted by studioaudience at 9:55 PM on July 1, 2012

Best answer: Mama cat is probably terrified of you and also probably doesn't totally understand doors if she's lived outside all her life. If you need to get into the bathroom, just bang on the door a bit first and she'll probably scoot behind the toilet or under the tub or something. I'd be surprised if she darts though, frightened/injured cats tend to go to ground and hide rather than flee blindly into unknown spaces.

Also, it may well be possible to get her back into the carrier or trap if you use something sufficiently delicious and she is sufficiently hungry. It may take time, but time is something you have. Worked for my cat, anyway.

She's unlikely to die in a day and a half, though. If you have another bathroom then just let her have that one for a while. Give her some food and water and leave her mostly alone, she'll be OK. When catching time comes, wear gloves and lock up the other cat.

This is manageable. You'll be OK.
posted by Scientist at 10:27 PM on July 1, 2012 [3 favorites]

What about the kitten? You need to get the kitten asap as he is at risk without his mom to look after him
posted by zia at 10:32 PM on July 1, 2012 [9 favorites]

Yeah, what's up with the kittens?

That said...

Both of my slightly feral rescue female cats were WAY more active than i expected after spaying - one was bouncing off the walls within hours - both turned out totally fine and healthy.

Does Mama Cat have dissolving surtures, or do they need to be removed in a week? Besides the kitten issue, this is your biggest concern.

Thanks for putting yourself out there and doing this. So cool!
posted by jbenben at 10:39 PM on July 1, 2012

My TNR organization requires that you keep the fixed kitties in your house (in the trap) until the next morning after you pick them up. They come home in the afternoon one day and so you are only expected to keep them indoors for 18 hours or so. Could you lock up your tame cat and close as many doors as possible between the bathroom and the outside world and just open up and let her find her way out on her own? I guess if you have a huge house this would be a bad idea, but if you have a smallish house or apt, I would think she might follow her nose to her kitten.
posted by jvilter at 11:18 PM on July 1, 2012

Response by poster: What about the kitten?

He's still outside -- he's able to eat on his own and he's coming up from under the deck for meals. I'd planned to lure him in, but he's extra skittish without mom, so I haven't been able to get close enough to lure/grab. On my way home tonight, I'm getting another humane trap for him.

Does Mama Cat have dissolving surtures, or do they need to be removed in a week?

Dissolving, thankfully.
posted by *s at 4:31 AM on July 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

Best answer: This exact thing happened to me, except my feral cat managed to pull a cast iron heating register off the wall and escape in to the duct work, peeing as she went. It took 2 days of feeling like I was living the movie Aliens but eventually I caught her with a humane trap baited with sardines. Buy taste bait, set the trap and wait. She'll go in. No way I would try to catch her by hand, when feral cats get scared they are incredibly sharp and infectious balls of destruction.
posted by ChrisHartley at 4:43 AM on July 2, 2012 [12 favorites]

If you're looking at getting a pair of leather gloves, then I suggest some welding gloves. They are much longer than normal gardening gloves and could be used as oven gloves after things settle down again.
posted by ben30 at 5:29 AM on July 2, 2012

Best answer: In my time as a vet nurse I've had to deal with a few escaped feral cats. What we usually do is put a top-loading wire carrier (like this but without a blanket at the bottom) over them, then slide a thin piece of metal (or just something thin and sturdy) underneath and then flip the cage - fast. Any hesitation on our part almost always means the cat will escape.

I recommend you do not try to handle this cat yourself, even with gloves. Gloves reduce your grip a lot and the odds you will be badly bitten or scratched anyway are high.
Your best bet, as others have suggested, is try and retrap her by putting some towels over the trap and placing some tasty food in the back. Then turn off all the lights and stay out of the room for a few hours. Call the humane society after work.
posted by wigsnatcher at 6:04 AM on July 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: You are a mench.

My heart goes out to the poor scared kitty, but really, you did the right thing.

I'm thinking that if you catch the kitten and put him in with her that they'll both calm down.

You may need to redecorate your bathroom after that, but both cats will feel better.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:31 AM on July 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Would one of those Feliway diffuser thingies help soothe her somewhat in the interim?
posted by elizardbits at 6:34 AM on July 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oh, feral cats.

Nthing this needs to be a hands-free operation, with or without gloves.
posted by OsoMeaty at 3:31 PM on July 2, 2012

Response by poster: Ok, good news update (pictures forthcoming as soon as I get home tonight)! Mama cat did indeed allow herself to be retrapped, fortunately. Kitten, who I've named Eisenhower, was trapped in under 5 minutes last night and is now at my vet. Assuming Eisenhower does not have a life-threatening disease and gets along with current personnel, I'll keep him. Thanks for the helpful advice and kind me-mails!
posted by *s at 6:29 AM on July 3, 2012 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Mama cat, Eisenhower, current personnel
posted by *s at 4:40 PM on July 3, 2012 [2 favorites]

Yay!! I wish you luck with the little guy, and thank you for being so good to the mother cat.
posted by Pallas Athena at 10:49 PM on July 3, 2012

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