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theHandpuppet Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-07-04 10:13 PM
Original message
Zoe, the Terminator Cat
Edited on Wed Jan-07-04 10:14 PM by theHandpuppet
During the summer of 2003, a starved stray cat in desperate need showed up on our doorstep. At first we resisted the inpulse to take her in -- our home is already filled with rescued dogs and cats, and we really had reached our limit.

The cat, however, was not convinced of our resolve and continued to hang around our house. She tried making a home in the back of my truck, then under our neighbor's porch. We simply couldn't stand to watch her slowly starve, so we started putting food out for her. Then, after she was attacked by some neighborhood dogs (luckily she was not harmed) we took her into our home for some "temporary" rehabilitation and for what we hoped would be her eventual adoption to a loving home.

Then we discovered she was pregnant. No wonder she was so desperate for shelter and food! We soon discovered Zoe (her adopted name) hates other cats and so she was confined to two rooms of my studio where she was well cared for and provided with a birthing den. After a month Zoe gave birth to SIX adorable, healthy kittens which we were able to place in responsible, loving homes.

So here it is, January of 2004, and still no permanent home for young Zoe. She's a lovely tortoiseshell who's been spayed and has had all her shots, yet even these covered expenses have not enticed any potential parents. We've tried everything -- including mulitple listings on, to no avail.

What to do with a cat who adores people but hates other cats? (Months of trying to let Zoe adjust to other felines has been totally fruitless.) Zoe really IS an outdoor cat who loves to hunt and roam but who wants human contact.

We live in a poor area of WV where the local shelter only keeps animals for one week before they are euthanized. The only no-kill shelter in the area is taking no cats. In the meanwhile, Zoe continues to live in two rooms of our house which we have shut off to normal traffic. She is lonely and bored out of her mind. What the hell can we do now? We've even thought of driving out-of-state to deliver her to a no-kill shelter somewhere, although this is probably not allowed. Anyone out there have some advice for us? Please???!

Here's a pic of our "Terminator Cat":

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brainshrub Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-07-04 10:14 PM
Response to Original message
1. Link to pic doesn't work. (nt)
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theHandpuppet Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-07-04 10:17 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. Link now fixed ---
Thanks... my brain is a bit fried this evening.
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brokensymmetry Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-07-04 10:18 PM
Response to Reply #1
3. The link worked for me...
But here's another try. /

I hope the little cat finds a home soon. I've always found that ex-strays make wonderful pets...I have one curled up behind me now! :)
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theHandpuppet Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-07-04 10:29 PM
Response to Reply #3
4. We've just about given up hope...
Edited on Wed Jan-07-04 10:31 PM by theHandpuppet
It would seem that most folks willing to adopt adult cats usually have other cats already at home, as we do. But turning her in to our local shelter would be resigning her to euthanasia, and there aren't any no-kill shelters here taking cats. It's not fair to Zoe to continue living in her current situation, but when you live in a rural area with few options, trying to do successful rescues for special cases can be a very depressing exercise.

I'm hoping someone out there can give us some fresh ideas, if not a home, for Zoe.
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Kat45 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-07-04 10:41 PM
Response to Reply #4
5. Are there any nursing homes/assisted living/retirement living ctrs
Edited on Wed Jan-07-04 10:43 PM by notmyprez
that could be talked into taking a cat to keep the residents company? If she's good with people, elderly folks would probably shower her with love. But I don't know if those types of places would do that. Or perhaps some elderly person who lives alone would like the cat to keep her company.

Edited to add: I just looked at the picture; she's a pretty cat.
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theHandpuppet Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-07-04 10:55 PM
Response to Reply #5
7. Zoe would be ideal for an elderly person or couple...
... but after months of searching we have no takers. You see, around here the stray cat problem is ENORMOUS. There are dozens of feral cats in every neighborhood and most folks who could/would take in a cat already have a houseful. There are also folks around here who have been doing the "neuter and release" method but all it takes is a few unneutered cats and the population problem becomes overwhelming. Part of that is due to sheer owner irresponsibility, but also because spaying and neutering can be a big expense in a poor area where the vets don't participate in discount neutering programs. Those of us who have been picking up the tab where we can are simply maxed out, financially and emotionally.

In addition, as loving as Zoe can be (she absolutely ADORES people) I'm not sure she could ever totally adjust to an indoor life. Part of Zoe wants to be free, roaming and hunting.

What to do with such a cat? This is part of the problem. She's a special case and we're not sure what to do at this point. But we know that the life she is living now is not fair to her.

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theHandpuppet Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-07-04 11:31 PM
Response to Reply #5
9. Thanks! Yep, she's quite pretty...
She was still a bit thin when we took that pic. It has taken us six months to really get her filled out. When we first took her in she was so emaciated her hip bones stuck out like knife blades and her face was completely sunken. I don't think there's any way Zoe would have survived her pregnancy if we hadn't taken her in when we did. At least she had a full month of the best food and rest before she gave birth.

She's a young cat (by the vet, two years at the most), small, and with lovely tortoise shell markings. Now that's she's back in good health and filled out, her coat has become sleek and soft.

God, it really pisses me off when folks don't spay or neuter their pets! Situations like the one we have with Zoe simply don't have to be. Yet when we deliver supplies to the local shelter the cages are literally crammed with kittens, cats, puppies and dogs who we know will be put down for lack of a home. I guess all we can do is try to save as many as we can, even if its just one at a time.
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Flaxbee Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-07-04 10:43 PM
Response to Reply #4
6. Do you have a garage or out-building,
or do you live in an apartment (you mention "studio")? We also have several strays, one of whom is exceedingly territorial (she's a calico, one of my vets said they tend to be more so than other cats). Anyway, Clarisse has slowly mellowed, but it's taken several years and she got MUCH better when we left our apt. and moved into a house that has a few acres so she can roam and be her cranky bitch self before she settles back in for the day. Our newest addition (feral female we captured and have spayed and are sloooowly taming) scoots in and out of our garage (we put a kitty door to the outside); we'll probably never fully integrate her into our cat household but I feed her every day, she's got a dog-house converted into a cat-house in the garage (fully equipped with a heating pad & multiple toys) and we visit with her a few times each day.

Anyway, just wondering if there's a way for you to let her be the outdoor cat she wants to be yet maintain some sort of daily contact?

Friends of mine are buying 40 acres in WVa and will be building a home soon and might have a barn/outbuilding for her shelter, but that situation won't "gel" for another 1-2 years. And, they have two enormous dogs that are not accustomed to cats.

I don't know, perhaps it will be easier in the spring to find someone willing to take her... she's lovely, I do hope you can find her a spot. Have you tried any sort of reconditioning behavioral tactics, like spraying her with water if/when she's aggressive toward your other cats? I do empathize, we even medicated Clarisse when we were in our apartment to try to keep her from terrorizing our other cats and it was just a tough situation all around.
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theHandpuppet Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-07-04 11:18 PM
Response to Reply #6
8. Thanks for the concern and suggestions...
We have several outbuildings but we also live in town in a neighborhood teeming with stray cats (and some dogs), many sick or starved. The fighting goes on day and night there are so many of them, and just recently one was severely wounded in a fight and eventually died. Otherwise we wouldn't hestiate to provide her with an outdoor home. But it's simply too dangerous for her here.

We've tried various reconditioning methods, but Zoe is so aggressive towards other cats that she immediately goes on the attack at the very sight of another feline (at least, she does so indoors). I suppose having lived as a feral cat in a dangerous world such instincts kept her alive, but they also make her difficult to place as a pet. She is much more mellow with dogs, but will still take a swipe at them for no reason. (All of our dogs like cats.)

At this point we can only see two options: one, an adult home without other pets or two, a farm where she can hunt to her heart's content yet seek out human company when she needs/wants it. Finding such a home is near nigh impossible in an area already overrun with feral dogs and cats. We know several folks in the area with farms but they are already dumping grounds for unwanted pets.

As I said in an earler post, we're to the point where we've thought of driving her somewhere that has a no-kill shelter, but that may be in another state. We're also concerned that this may not be a kosher thing to do, and we don't want to take advantage.

If anyone knows of a no-kill shelter within driving distance of WV and that would take a cat like Zoe, please let us know. Links to other cat adoption sites would also be most welcome!

Lastly, if anyone out there knows of a potential home, drop us a line at the addy link provided at

Thanks to everyone who has responded to this thread. Your concern and advice is most appreciated.
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Neko hime Donating Member (151 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-08-04 08:29 AM
Response to Original message
10. what a beauty
Hi there,

I've gone through the same thing myself with bringing a feral into an "established" cat home. Its sounds like Zoe has what's called "fear based aggression." Its because of her "feral" days. Sometimes when cats are brought into safety, they are still scared and take it out on the other cat occupants (and sometimes the people too). They fear that they'll be dumped back out as before. I don't think there's very much territorial agression although that probably plays a small part. Also, cats that "go in and out" are more likely to be aggressive to the ones that don't go out.

I found that Feliway works quite well at creating a "calming" environment. PetSmart I know has it. There's a spray, plus a handy little plug-in (like one of those air freshner) things. Also, you can always try the drug route. Prozac or Elavil will help stop aggressive behavior. A few weeks of supervised visitation and whole house privileges (while Zoe is drugged) will help alot. You might also try switching the cats. Let Zoe out and put the others in Zoe's room while she's out and about. That way when she's back in her room she smells the others and vice-versa. Plus, time itself is always a factor. Its only been six months and Zoe went through a very traumatic time. A little TLC and Prozac or Elavil can only help. I usually only do drugs as the last resort, but it sounds like you're getting desperate so I would go for it. I had to.

I have a "former" feral tortie myself that I trapped and brought inside. Her name is Minerva and she's about two years old. I already had the Feliway plugged in before she took one step in the house. I kept her totally separate for a few weeks then gradually introduced them. Lots of spats, hissing, etc. She and another female hated each other on sight. Now (after drug therapy and the Feliway) the two females tolerate each other fairly well. Only a couple of hisses every now and then and no more drugs. Although I keep it handy just in case! Its been about six months for her also. She's playing with the males and loves being brushed now.

You might want to contact about the feral/stray situation there in your area. They can usually help with those types of problems or at least it can't hurt to bring it to their attention. I agree with you though, its the person's responsibility to have their pets neutered!!!

I'm in Texas, plus I already have 8 cats so I can't take her but I do wish you luck. Keep us posted!!

Neko hime
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theHandpuppet Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-08-04 11:24 AM
Response to Reply #10
11. Thanks for the advice!
I've never heard of Feliway but at this point I'd certainly be willing to give it a try. Those other suggestions are workable, too. Wish us luck! We have to find some way to transform Zoe into a more adoptable cat.
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Neko hime Donating Member (151 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-08-04 11:28 AM
Response to Reply #11
12. Feliway
Feliway is a product that has cat phermones. It helps relax and calm them down. I think there's also one for dogs. I know that it comes in a spray or the plug-in. I used the plug-in. You can probably get it at the vet's too. Probably cheaper at PetSmart though. The drugs you can get at the vet's. Its not that much. I think I paid around $8 for the Prozac.

She's definitely a cutie!

Good luck!

Neko hime
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