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Friday, July 22, 2016

Hospice Care for Feral Cats

Hospice care for feral cats

Our cat Elsie is nearing the end. Elsie is deaf, semi-feral and has been with us for 17 years. We have always respected her feral ways and haven't forced her to socialize unless by her choice. Although she sometimes joins us on the couch or bed, she still prefers we keep our hands to ourselves - no petting allowed. She loves the other cats, tolerates us and all has worked out fine until the last year when her health declined and we started hospice care.

All of my other animals have let me know when it is time. But with Elsie, it's more complicated. She comes to us for food, but not comfort. While others have responded to a soft voice, a cuddle or embrace, or even a soulful look in the eyes, Elsie does not. She can't hear, doesn't want to be touched, and still sometimes gets frightened if we look her directly in the eyes. 

We are fortunate to have a wonderful hospice vet who visits Elsie at home. She still shows some feral spunk during exams so that's a good sign. She also happily takes her medicine in food - thank goodness. 

I want to make the right decision for Elsie and provide the same level of care and comfort that I have provided all of my animals in their final days. And so for now, I will continue to sit with her quietly and hope that when she is ready, she finds a way to let me know. 


If anyone else has experience caring for feral cats in their final days, please share your thoughts.
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45 comments

Valerie said...

I'm so sorry :(, I trust you will make the right decision!! It's such a difficult topic.. Love & hugs!

Sherri Telenko said...

I'm sorry to hear this. I just lost my cat of 17 years - not feral but welcoming of constant attention. When she stopped purring when cuddled, it was time. Hardest thing I've ever had to do in my life. People kept telling me you'll know when.. I'm not sure this was true.

The Swiss Cats said...

We're sorry to read this. You know Elsie so well, respect her so much, that we're sure you will know when she's ready. Purrs and hugs

Sketching with Dogs said...

Elise will tell you when she is ready. She is a lovely old lady and sounds like she had a wonderful life with you.
Elliot x

Carleenp said...

So sorry for you and Elsie. Thanks for taking such good care of her!

Yamini MacLean said...

Hari OM
Truth is, Kristen, that each will be entirely different. Jasper, who was a loving shoulder cat all his life, lost a big part of his being when Jade dog passed away and for three years I lived with a shadow - he effectively became feral. Then one day he just didn't come home. I had to do a lot of forgiving... Blessings to you for this process. You'll know... yes you will... Huggies, YAM xx

The Broke Dog said...

Sorry to hear that Elsie isn't doing well. It's always hard, and the feral aspect must not make it any easier. Henry and I will keep you in our thoughts.

Bella Roxy & Macdui said...

We don't have any cats, but the people across the street go out every morning to put food out for feral kitties. People often dump cats at their house and they have a Vet who helps out with sick feral kitties.

Lisa Begin-Kruysman said...

I have never had a feral but when our family cats decided it was time, they went off somewhere in the yard and went to sleep. It was as if they wanted to go on their own terms and to somehow spare us. Wishing your Elsie comfort.

Three Chatty Cats said...

Oh my goodness, this makes my heart sad but happy at the same time. Sad for Elsie, but so happy that she has you and has been in the perfect forever home experiencing love.

Bocci said...

Elsie is such a beautiful girl! We're so glad to hear that she's had such a loving and patient home with you for 17 years. We know you will know when and if it is time...

Sheltie Times said...

I wish you well with your journey. I have always had dogs not cats, but I will say not all animals give you that clear message, today's the day. I was sure one minute with Bailey, he'd rally and then I'd feel terrible for even thinking about taking him in. However, eventually his body made the choice for him. When he stopped being able to eat, it was time. It is a brutal choice to have to make for our fur friends, but you will know when it's time.

By the way I think it's amazing there is such a thing as a hospice Vet. We are just starting to see mobile Vans that make house calls in this state, although I've never seen one in this area. It would be wonderful to see them more available and for services like hospice when dragging the poor animal in the car is cruel beyond belief.

LBJ said...

I'm so very sorry. I've only had cats for a short time - caring them for friends who were away for an extended time, or finding a stray, getting it back to health and finding a home where the owner is there more than I would be. You are a wonderful protector and friend to your animals.

The Island Cats said...

We're sorry to hear about Elsie. It sounds like you are doing what is right for her. The mom worries about Zoey when she gets to that point...because she definitely is feral like in many ways.

Sammy Sam said...

We don't have any experience with this at all. However, we do have experience letting them "go". It was the toughest thing we've ever done. My dad said that it was harder than losing his dad. But when the time comes, you'll know because a little voice will tell you that it's time to let go.

Jane H said...

Hugs for you and Elsie. All the TNR cats I've had that were feral lived outside with access to a building through a kitty door. Once they were nearing their time they would spend most of it indoors and find a cozy spot to curl up. Then one day they would head out to the woods and not come back. It's tough because you never really get to say goodbye. Hopefully Elsie will let you know when it's time and you'll be able to be there to say goodbye ❤

Foley Monster, Pocket and River Song said...

I am so sorry. We don't have experience with feral cats. We just know how hard a decision this is.

Idaho PugRanch said...

We wish we could give helpful advice but I have not had a cat for many many years. I think you will know when it is time.
hugs
Mr Bailey, Hazel & Mabel

Tenacious Little Terrier said...

I don't have any experience either. It must be very hard. I always hear that when they're not enjoying their favorite things anymore, it's time.

Emma said...

We have had shelter cats and our last one from Germany Biene had been abused as a kitten and never really let anyone get close to her. It was very hard for Mom, but she gave her the space she needed. She got cancer and Mom did know when the time was right. Not a feral cat, but somewhat similar behavior. So sorry you are having to go through this.

Mark Muller said...

I'm so sorry for Elsie... it's such a darned hard time... wish I could be on your side ...

M. K. Clinton said...

Elsie is very lucky to have you. I have never heard of a hospice for cats. That is interesting to know.

Ruth Epstein said...

Elsie is blessed to have had you in her life, I had 3 cats when living in Israel and it was hard making the decisions when to let them go, but you will know - sending prayers

Lessons From A Paralyzed Dog said...

Elsie is very lucky to have such understanding humans in her life. My semi-feral boy hid his heart condition until it was too late so we didn't get hospice care for him. But the veterinarians at the critical care hospital were very kind to him and to me.

pilch92 15andmeowing said...

I will be praying for Elsie, she is such a pretty kitty.

Kitty Cat Chronicles said...

Even though Elsie may not let you pet her and may not get too close, she shares a connection with you and you with her - we are sure you will know when the time comes. Thank you for giving her a home full of love and understanding. Sending purrs and prayers

Lola The Rescued Cat said...

We're so sorry about Elsie. She is so lucky that she has you for a mom and that she has so much love.

Sadie and Co. said...

I'm so glad Elsie found you. I'm sure she does take comfort in all that she allows you to do for her. Great post.

Sweet Purrfections said...

Wishing you the best as you help Elsie during the final days of her life. I think it's wonderful to have a hospice vet.

Talent Hounds said...

So sorry to hear. How wonderful to have a hospice vet. Such a difficult time made harder as she is part feral. Sending hugs, I am sure she will let you know.

Robin Mudge said...

I'm sorry to hear that Elsie may not be with us much longer. It is tough to make that decision even when you know it is the right thing to do. We will be praying and purring for you in this time.
-Purrs from your friends at www.PlayfulKitty.net

www.shelter-cats.com said...

What a tough situation. I think it always comes down to a quality of life question.
You have given Elsie the life she wanted and kept her safe. Seventeen years is a good long life for a feral cat.
Whatever you decide will be a choice made out of love.
With sympathy,
Maggie

meowmeowmans said...

Thank you for loving Elsie so well, and so respectfully on her terms. She is a beautiful kitty, and we know you will make a decision based upon what is best for her, and her quality of life. Hugs, purrs and prayers.

Elizabeth Keene said...

Wow, I'm trying to process having a cat inside for 17 years and it never coming around to being touched, or receiving affection. My goodness. Thank you for taking such good care of Elsie all these years, in spite of herself. That is a tremendous testament of your love for her (and cats in general). I hope she gives you clear signs when it's time. So sorry. :(

Gattina said...

I think you will see when it is time to go, it is hard, but I have never insisted to keep them longer only because I don't want to let go. They shouldn't suffer. All the best !

Rugby James said...

How wonderful that you've been able to provide such a wonderful home for Elsie! I think cats are so good at hiding pain, and I would think that a semi-feral cat might be even better at doing that!! Helping our pets in their final days is challenging for us all, and I think Elsie will let you know. Sending you hugs!

Daily Dog Tag said...

I'm sorry that Elsie has cancer, but how wonderful she has had a good life with you and your family. I know this is hard on you as well as her. If she isn't crying out in pain, then I think you can just let nature take its course.

sprinkles said...

This post makes me so sad. I'm glad you've been able to enjoy 17 wonderful years with Elsie, but I'm sad that she requires hospice care now. I'm sure she'll find a way to let you know that she's ready to cross the bridge.

Katie A. said...

I'm sorry Elsie isn't doing well. 17 years is good lifetime for a cat. I think you will be able to tell when it is time.

da tabbies o trout towne said...

Elsie; we are sorry; while we dont have any advice to offer, we ask St Francis be by your side, today, and every step of the way, along your journey to your 10th life. with hugs and love from boomer, dai$y, tuna, dude and sauce ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

FidoseofReality said...

I am sorry to hear about the cancer. Gosh, I remember when I knew my dog was not going to pull through and the despair. My heart is with you.

Cathy Armato said...

That is so amazing, that she's been with you for 17 years. That's a beautiful, long life for a cat. Sending thoughts & prayers your way, I know it's difficult. You gave Elsie a beautiful life. It's nice that your Vet comes to the house to care for her. I'm sorry I can't offer any great advice.
Love & Biscuits,
Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

Ava at Savvy Pet Care said...

Having been through this (not with a feral) several times, I truly feel for you. It is never easy. Sounds like you have given Elsie the perfect life for her. It's wonderful that you have a hospice vet who comes to you.

Lindsay Pevny said...

I'm sorry to hear Elsie isn't well, but it sounds like she's had a long, full life, and you're giving her the best possible happy ending.

FiveSibesMom said...

So sorry to hear she isn't well...it's a wonderful thing that your vet provides hospice care. We have a rehabilitated and adopted feral. Even after almost five years he still does not like to be picked up. He can jump on you, and lvoes to jump into the car when we pull in the driveway and rub all on you, but is not fond of being picked up. Loves his head and back rubbed though! We've had to treat him for some minor things in the past, and that is not always easy. Having hospice care when the time comes I'm sure is very comforting.

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