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.