Case Study #9: Tiberius, injured feral

We got several calls about a feral cat wandering around with a jar stuck on his head near our feeding station. Volunteers and neighbors spent three days searching, and finally were able to find and trap him on the morning of the 4th day.

It is incredible that he survived so long in record 90 degree heat without food or water, and without getting killed by a car or predator.

Catching Tiberius

Many attempts were made to locate Tiberius, but without the ability to lure him to a trap with stinky bait like tuna, it was like finding a needle in a haystack.

We had released Tiberius after his neuter the year before with a GPS collar, so we had an idea about his territory... but we didn't know it was Tiberius until the jar was removed so this was not particularly helpful.

Our volunteers were out looking in the forest, ditches, and anywhere we had gotten a reported sighting. Without concerned neighbors keeping us posted when they saw him I don't know if we would have been able to save him.

We had passed out a flyer the week before with information about our project and asking people to please look out for cats when they were driving. This is why so many neighbors knew to contact us.

On the morning of the 4th day, neighbors spotted Tiberius going into a culvert under the road. Gwen was out looking for him that morning, and took a minute to come up with a plan before rushing in after him. She grabbed blankets from her car and then coordinated with the neighbors so they each blocked off one end of the culvert at the same time. This prevented him from getting spooked and escaping while they waited for another person to arrive with a large fishing-style net that could fit inside the culvert and scoop him up.

Since this was very likely our one and only chance for a live rescue, it was critically important that Gwen took a minute to come up with a plan before taking action. If she had just rushed down there after him, he would have been much more likely to escape and far less likely to survive long enough to be located again.

Caring for Tiberius during recovery

Gwen rushed him to straight to Mountain View Veterinary Hospital, where he demonstrated he was still full of fight even after three days of 90 degree heat without food or water! He was sedated and the jar was removed. He was treated for severe dehydration, had wounds cleaned, and given antibiotics and pain meds. His sedation was reversed and we brought him to our Feral Recovery Ward, a cage-free, low-stress environment specifically designed for feral cats.

Since we have been caring for this colony of 200+ cats every day since February 2015, we have gotten to know their personalities pretty well. Tiberius had been around frequently at the start, and was very aggressive to the other cats. He was very fearful of us, and we hadn't seen him recently.

We de-wormed, vaccinated, cleaned his ears and did another round of cleaning around his head and neck. He was really enjoying it, and was very easy to interact with. We gave him his first tiny meal in 3+ days, but had to re-introduce him to food very slowly to allow his system to adjust.

In the morning, he was on the windowsill and was clearly nervous when I came in. He was very easy to cover with a blanket and bring off the windowsill so I could sit with him in my lap and check his progress. He was clearly feeling better, but still really enjoyed getting his neck, ears and head rubbed.

We would never have imagined he would allow even the tiniest interaction, let alone enjoy it SO much. So it was pretty awesome to be able to hear his purr for the first time during his recovery. Just another example of how wrong some of our assumptions about these cats have been!

Wrapping him in the blanket made him easy to handle for pain meds and wound care. It is essential to cover the entire face and head first and then wrap the rest of the body. Keeping the head covered makes them feel safer and keeps them much calmer.

We used a Bin of Safety (more on this soon) to make it very easy to cover him in the blanket even if he was nervous and hiding.

Our volunteer snugglers came in at least once a day (in addition to at least two caregiver visits daily) to spend time with him and try to have positive interactions. He became less and less tolerant as he started to feel better. After about five days, he started feeling much better and made it clear he was ready to go home to his forest.

Tiberius goes home

We were encouraged by a lot of the interactions we had with him, but he clearly was not ready for indoor life. We felt his ideal situation would be with the neighbors who had been feeding him. They had been checking in on him every day, and were more than ready to bring him home and give him all the food, love and care he wanted, along with the freedom he still needed.

To everyone's delight, Tiberius has been at their house every morning for breakfast and petting since his return. They had been starting to be able to touch him and get close before the incident, but he is now making sidewalk biscuits when they pet him... it is very special. We can't wait to see how things develop for them.

Tiberius before the incident

Since we have been caring for this colony of 200+ cats every day since February 2015, we have gotten to know their personalities pretty well. Tiberius has been around from the start, and was very aggressive to the other cats. He was very fearful of us. We would never have imagined he would allow even the tiniest interaction, let alone enjoy it. So it was pretty awesome to be able to hear his purr for the first time during his recovery. Just another example of how wrong some of our assumptions about these cats have been!












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