Corrina Lawson

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Ghost Cat
The short story: we trapped a stray kitty and now he's with us but still very, very worried about *bad things* happening. He's healthy and allowing small pettings, however.
 There he is, still looking very worried. One thing I only realized when I got him into the open is what a big cat he is. He'd been all hunched into himself until recently. 

The long story:
The youngest daughter had been feeding a stray in hopes of getting him to trust us. When the weather hit near zero, I agreed to borrow a humane trap from the local animal shelter. Two days later, he was inside and not happy about it. 

However, he was in such good shape, I worried he was someone's pet so I stupidly--I can't believe how dumb this way--tried to touch him. He bit me. 

Which meant quarantine at the local animal shelter for two weeks for a rabies watch. 

He turned out healthy, I found a vet recommend by my local rescue organization that did all the blood work, tests, and neutering at a discount. Verdict: he's about a year old, tests all came back that he's healthy, and now he's not a tom cat any longer. 

I'm not sure if he was a feral from the start or abused. He spent two weeks after his operation hiding behind my washing machine. I had to take him back to the vet for a booster shot yesterday and while he'll tolerate touching, try to pick him up and you get bitten. Which I did. At least no rabies watch this time and I took him to the vet in a carrier where the top pops off. 

We popped off the top, the vet gave him a shot, he stayed hunched in the carrier, and back home he came. He's in my bathroom now so he can't hide and has some small, regular contact with people on a daily basis. But no picking up. :) 

As I said, he's LARGE. We think he might have some Maine Coon cat in him. If he manages to sneak out of my bathroom, then I'll just let him hide to his content but I'll stop feeding him separately. I figure he'll eventually come out for food. 

His name is Jacob Marley's Ghost because he came at Christmas. The kids call him Jacob. I'm calling him Ghost. 

He's really very sweet, not aggressive at all unless you pick him up, and completely quiet. No meows. At all. 

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He's a very handsome boy, but you're right: he looks sooooo worried. Fingers crossed he eventually figures out he's landed in clover and comes out of his shell.

He does manage to get a lot into that facial expression, doesn't he?

A friend recommended this calming collar for him:

Here's hoping it works.

In the meantime, a cat with similar markings but a white chest and belly was just sitting on my deck, staring at me. He seemed to be a bit angry with me, somehow. He's even bigger than Ghost. I'd trap him but I don't have the $$ needed to neuter & release.

oops - you haven't 'catnapped' his relative have you?

Is there a local stray cat place that would come and collect Bigger Version of Ghost Sitting on Deck - or would they put him down?

I had that exact though, I'd catnapped his relative!

There is a colony of cats about the neighborhood that are probably feral, so it's not entirely impossible that they're related. I'm not sure how much long-term memory cats have. He might have concluded his buddy/packmate was last seen here.

Or, more likely, he's looking for the food we used to put out.

Our local animal people would just put him down. The lady doesn't like doing that, so she leaves the feral cats alone. I wish there was a local trap and release program but, alas, not. Still, if the cats are growing this size, clearly they are thriving in some manner.

I've heard good things about pheromone collars and plug-ins, so fingers crossed that works. Assuming you can get the color on him, of course.

He's beautiful!

It's interesting because total strays tend to be very lean--even if big--but he's a nice big cat and with a nice coat (although I'm sure that's also because he is been well taken care of since you took him in!).

That he doesn't meow may speak to poor socialization; "meow" is, from what I understand, a cat's vocalization for interacting with humans specifically. But he may also just be a quiet kitty. That he isn't completely bitey (apart from fear at the start) and pissy (literally, even after being fixed) would suggest that he isn't completely feral... but yeah, maybe abused.

Coons tend to get the ear tufts and ruffs even if not pureblooded. I've seen other American shorthair tabbies that are enormous of their own accord.

He was in very good shape when we found him--he's a bit fatter now and his course is softer but that's why I was bitten the first time. He looked so healthy that I thought i had trapped somebody's pet and opened the trap to have a look.

Then he escaped in my laundry room, I tried to grab him (stupid!) and got bitten.

He eats all his food and uses the litter box. But he seems convinced people will hurt him. I've never had a feral before so I don't know if this is typical but I'd think if he was truly feral, he'd be hissy and growly whenever we went close to him. But he's not. It's only when you move beyond the chin & ears or try to shift him that he hisses or bites.

The only true ferals I know of are really growly, yeah.

As he comes to realize you are here to take care of him, he will likely become a quite devoted cat. My dad's cat was a former mistreated barn cat who spent quite a lot of time on her own... and she is the sweetest cat ever.

Ghost is a beautiful boy! He looks very healthy, and hopefully he'll be moving into happy soon. ;D

I'd think that he'd continue to improve when he sees that he can trust you/your family not to hurt him.

We had a bunch of feral cats (well, Momma Cat was completely and fiercely feral, the kittens weren't that bad) years ago, and one of them was a monster as far as size. We named him Beast, after the x-man. lol.

Hoping that "Jacob Ghost" will come 'round to your thinking - or close enough for mutual comfort - in the days ahead...

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Congratulations on the new cat! He looks great! (I may be a bit biased since he looks a lot like Baxter.) So how big is he? Did the vet weigh him?

Good luck with the collar. I'm trying a nebulizer to acclimate my cats and I haven't noticed a big effect so far, plus it ran out after about three weeks, but maybe it takes time.

The bathroom sounds like a great way to gradually acclimate him. I wish that I'd tried that with some of my strays, but I usually had too many. And I agree with you and DQ. He doesn't sound like a feral cat, just one that didn't fully acclimatize or got abandoned. So he should come around.

Keep us posted!

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