Adopted an adult stray

anticus

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We've actually adopted a feral and a stray. Pumpkin, the pregnant feral, has her own thread, but this one is about Midnight. He's the father of her kittens. He is super smart and we were told be a neighbor family that he was their cat despite him spending 75% of his day at our house - and IN our house. They said "he's a roamer." He's also not neutered (obviously). We don't know how old he is but probably at least five. Anyway, he has gotten hurt several times outside. Yesterday he showed up with a sore paw - he wasn't using it at all, so we texted his folks to come get him, because he shouldn't be walking. Facing another vet bill, they said that they only called him their cat because he hung around their house for the past year and if we want him we can have him.

So, vet visit scheduled. But the thing is - he naturally wants to go outside. He hasn't ever used a litter box as far as I know, but I got one for him and placed it next to Pumpkin's. She is a pro at litter boxing despite being a feral. I placed him in the litter box and dug around to show him, but he jumped right out.

Question: Is it cruel to not let Midnight outside? I am not going to deny them outdoor time that's supervised, but we certainly don't want him roaming and getting in fights and potentially hit by a car.

This is the first time I've denied him exit, and he isn't happy with me. But if he is our responsibility now, I want to protect him. We also don't want him eliminating on furniture or carpet or anything, really. But I feel that he's smart enough to figure out what the litter box is for, especially if he knows that Pumpkin is using the adjacent one.

Looking forward to your wisdom and guidance.
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tarasgirl06

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We've actually adopted a feral and a stray. Pumpkin, the pregnant feral, has her own thread, but this one is about Midnight. He's the father of her kittens. He is super smart and we were told be a neighbor family that he was their cat despite him spending 75% of his day at our house - and IN our house. They said "he's a roamer." He's also not neutered (obviously). We don't know how old he is but probably at least five. Anyway, he has gotten hurt several times outside. Yesterday he showed up with a sore paw - he wasn't using it at all, so we texted his folks to come get him, because he shouldn't be walking. Facing another vet bill, they said that they only called him their cat because he hung around their house for the past year and if we want him we can have him.

So, vet visit scheduled. But the thing is - he naturally wants to go outside. He hasn't ever used a litter box as far as I know, but I got one for him and placed it next to Pumpkin's. She is a pro at litter boxing despite being a feral. I placed him in the litter box and dug around to show him, but he jumped right out.

Question: Is it cruel to not let Midnight outside? I am not going to deny them outdoor time that's supervised, but we certainly don't want him roaming and getting in fights and potentially hit by a car.

This is the first time I've denied him exit, and he isn't happy with me. But if he is our responsibility now, I want to protect him. We also don't want him eliminating on furniture or carpet or anything, really. But I feel that he's smart enough to figure out what the litter box is for, especially if he knows that Pumpkin is using the adjacent one.

Looking forward to your wisdom and guidance.View attachment 374391
Awww, a cat after my own heart (I love all cats, but the black and tortoiseshell are my favorites, aesthetically speaking)! Thank you for putting your caring into action for this sweet family.
It's a controversial subject, as I'm sure you've discovered, but the opinion of many "experts" (and mine as well -- I was born into a family "with cat" and have lived almost every day of my life with cats, so I do know a little about the subject) is that cats should be kept indoors only, for their safety and wellbeing, as well as the peace of mind of their guardians (and then there's the bird fanatics' reasoning, which I won't go into as it's not pertinent to your inquiry; and I disagree with them, anyway). A cat who has lived outdoors may not want to transition to indoor life, but it is much safer for him or her. A good compromise, if you own your home and can, is to build or buy a catio. Search the subject and you'll find endless links. Visit catioshowcase.com for a few examples of very high-grade catios. Walmart, Wayfair, Chewy, amazon and many, many other venues offer prefab or buildable catios of every conceivable size and price range.
Cats in their natural habitat prefer sandy substrate, so scoopable clay, unscented litter is extremely popular among cats. There are several brands of litter that attract cats to the box; search "cat attract litter" to view. Cats' instincts are to use a sandy substrate and to cover their eliminations; generally they do not have to be "taught." I would continue working with him, though, as you have been, to make sure that he does eventually learn that this box is his. As long as the box is in a quiet low-traffic spot in the house, and as long as it is easily accessible and kept clean (I scoop 5 times daily for my two cats. This is not excessive. No human would want to use a toilet that hasn't been flushed all day.) it should be natural to use it. Experts recommend one box per cat, plus one extra. We have five large boxes here, because the family was larger and over time, it has gotten smaller due to age.
There are links here on TCS on these subjects; cat behaviorist Jackson Galaxy a/k/a "The Cat Daddy," host of Animal Planet's "MY CAT FROM HELL" series, author and co-author of several wonderful books, and host of many videos on YouTube, also has many informative suggestions on these subjects.
Please keep us up to date -- and we love photos at TCS! All the very best to you and your enlarging family!
 
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anticus

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Wow! Thank you, Tarasgirl! I scoop pretty frequently. If I notice there has been activity in Pumpkin's box I scoop it. We have a huge screened front porch but I feel that would be torture for him - to see all the activity beyond and not able to participate. He has lots of cat friends (my wife noticed him several streets over with a clowder) and I feel bad for keeping him from them.

We are using a grass seed litter for Pumpkin, which is sandy and clumping, and is no problem at all. What are your suggestions for helping him transition?

I am including this story as a representation of our relationship.... when Pumpkin was first interested in coming inside but still wary - she ran from us whenever we opened the door to put food out, Midnight was super comfy indoors. He has clearly been socialized. I told him to tell Pumpkin that we wanted her to come indoors and that it was safe for her. Without hesitation he walked over behind her, and pushed her inside with his head! I was agog. And that is not the only time he has responded like that.
 

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Wow! Thank you, Tarasgirl! I scoop pretty frequently. If I notice there has been activity in Pumpkin's box I scoop it. We have a huge screened front porch but I feel that would be torture for him - to see all the activity beyond and not able to participate. He has lots of cat friends (my wife noticed him several streets over with a clowder) and I feel bad for keeping him from them.

We are using a grass seed litter for Pumpkin, which is sandy and clumping, and is no problem at all. What are your suggestions for helping him transition?

I am including this story as a representation of our relationship.... when Pumpkin was first interested in coming inside but still wary - she ran from us whenever we opened the door to put food out, Midnight was super comfy indoors. He has clearly been socialized. I told him to tell Pumpkin that we wanted her to come indoors and that it was safe for her. Without hesitation he walked over behind her, and pushed her inside with his head! I was agog. And that is not the only time he has responded like that.
What an amazing "tail"!
You're doing an excellent job! I don't really have much to add except "keep on doing what you're doing, with plenty of love and patience, which you already have!" They may not want a lot of human interaction for awhile, if they haven't been used to a lot of it. Or, the opposite could be true if, as you say, Midnight has been socialized...how about Pumpkin? Their babies will be very good candidates for socialization and indoor-only life, of course.
If Midnight doesn't get the idea about the litter at first, you may want to try fixing one box with the earth from your yard, and gradually mix in your litter, until it is 100% and dirt is 0%.
Sounds like everything is going very well so far! You sound like excellent cat loving people. Good on ya and lots of scritches to your new feline family!
 

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If you get him neutered, that will calm down his wandering spirit and should make him more amenable to the indoor life. I have had outside cats who adapted to the indoor life. He might complain for a few weeks. But it will settle down when he realizes just how good the indoor life can be.
 
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anticus

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tarasgirl06 tarasgirl06 We have birds too. And squirrels, and deer. Surprisingly everyone plays nice together in the yard. Dr Wifey and I are going to have our yard designated as a nature reserve. That's not a joke. Our house is 120 years old and somewhat of a landmark.
IMG_8356.jpg

Pumpkin and a lady cardinal having a chat.

Pumpkin has been very affectionate today (although I should post on the Pumpkin thread about that). Midnight has also been inside the house all day and hasn't used the litter box. She did several times though, and I hope he got the message. I played a game with him and treats and the cat carrier to allow him to get in it and get out without closing the door. I am not looking forward to him screaming tomorrow. I have never done this before and I don't know how to apologize to him. I fear that I will lose his trust completely and that breaks my heart because our bond is so strong.

I let him onto the screened front porch and he sat at the screen door waiting for me to open it. I did not, I came back inside and shut the front door. He became VERY upset. He thumped on the door, and realistically was sitting there for five seconds before I could open it. In those seconds I got this.
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He looks tortured but I assure you he is not. He just did not get what he wanted for 5 seconds.

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Pumpkin ordered one boyfriend from Amazon

If he would just use the litter box I would feel SO much better.
 

tarasgirl06

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tarasgirl06 tarasgirl06 We have birds too. And squirrels, and deer. Surprisingly everyone plays nice together in the yard. Dr Wifey and I are going to have our yard designated as a nature reserve. That's not a joke. Our house is 120 years old and somewhat of a landmark.
View attachment 374564
Pumpkin and a lady cardinal having a chat.

Pumpkin has been very affectionate today (although I should post on the Pumpkin thread about that). Midnight has also been inside the house all day and hasn't used the litter box. She did several times though, and I hope he got the message. I played a game with him and treats and the cat carrier to allow him to get in it and get out without closing the door. I am not looking forward to him screaming tomorrow. I have never done this before and I don't know how to apologize to him. I fear that I will lose his trust completely and that breaks my heart because our bond is so strong.

I let him onto the screened front porch and he sat at the screen door waiting for me to open it. I did not, I came back inside and shut the front door. He became VERY upset. He thumped on the door, and realistically was sitting there for five seconds before I could open it. In those seconds I got this.
View attachment 374565

He looks tortured but I assure you he is not. He just did not get what he wanted for 5 seconds.

View attachment 374567
Pumpkin ordered one boyfriend from Amazon

If he would just use the litter box I would feel SO much better.
Once he does use it, he'll know it's a good thing, and keep using it, I'm thinking. Habits are always hard to change until we change them. Starting something different -- it's so difficult! and we don't want to!!! :crackup::insertevillaugh::sigh: I've changed so many habits in my life, so I know a little about that.
Dear online friends had their yard designated a wildlife habitat. They really loved nature and cats and gardening. He grew wonderful tomatoes and was (and still is) a tremendous inspiration to me. He almost made 100 years. Miss him so much.
 

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You are so kind to help these two! I have been in similar situations where someone "owned" a cat until they suddenly did not and it was mine.....more than once! Given this is all brand new, I think that the prognosis is very good that he will figure out the litter box..and there can be interim solutions if he does not.

What’s The Largest Cat Litter Box (and Why Your Cat Needs It) – TheCatSite Articles
The Litterbox: What Every Cat Owner Needs To Know – TheCatSite Articles
The 10 Most Common Litterbox Mistakes Cat Owners Make – TheCatSite Articles
Litter Box Location Secrets – TheCatSite Articles

Midnight is going to react to being put in a carrier and might react even upon coming home. Just steel yourself and ignore his dramatics. It is for the greater good even if he does not know this now.

Once he is fixed, he will probably begin to settle down and enjoy indoor life, especially since he seems to want to be inside. Once I bring a cat in, the door closes forever no matter what and everyone has always adjusted. Supervised outdoor time is fine as long as they don't exit your yard, however you have to arrange that.
 
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anticus

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HALLELUJAH!!!! While I was writing a post on Pumpkin's thread Dr. Wifey came up to my office to tell me that Midnight just took a
huge, smelly dump in the litter box, then came and and meowed about it!

I have never been so happy to clean up another being's poop. And afterward, Pumpkin added to it, because she wants to do everything he does.

This relieves SO MUCH stress. And even though he is demanding to go outdoors,
 

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HALLELUJAH!!!! While I was writing a post on Pumpkin's thread Dr. Wifey came up to my office to tell me that Midnight just took a
huge, smelly dump in the litter box, then came and and meowed about it!

I have never been so happy to clean up another being's poop. And afterward, Pumpkin added to it, because she wants to do everything he does.

This relieves SO MUCH stress. And even though he is demanding to go outdoors,
Excellent!!!
 
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anticus

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Well, the wife and I got into a huge fight last night because she demanded that Midnight be let outside. He naturally returned this morning for breakfast, but I canceled the vet visit.
 

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Cats using a litterbox is actually natural behavior for them since they are both predator and prey, they take steps to hide their presence in an area as much as possible and this includes burying their waste. There are exceptions, most often with Cats in predator free areas who want to mark territory and surprisingly this can include females as much as males. Even those Cats will use a litterbox though, they just won't bury it.

Well, the wife and I got into a huge fight last night because she demanded that Midnight be let outside. He naturally returned this morning for breakfast, but I canceled the vet visit.
Did you reschedule or just cancel it? If he's been outside for so long he's going to have worms and probably fleas, and will need his vaccines.
 

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Hi Talien. Thank you for your insight. I rescheduled it for when we can do his exam, vaccinations, and neutering together.
What a shame! I hope you can educate her to the fact that there are too many dangers outdoors for cats to be allowed out. Hoping your appointment is soon, that all goes well, and that Midnight adapts very well to his new indoor life. From what you've posted so far, it sounds like he will.
 
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anticus

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YAY! I'm doing something right!!!! tarasgirl06 tarasgirl06 - my wife does know the dangers, she explained to me that the process with Pumpkin was slow so she thinks the process with Midnight should be the same. I disagree. He is older and was not feral. He was comfortable in the house immediately. But I'm not going to win this battle. But after he is neutered he will need to be indoors for a few days to recover (he is also having other things done), and I think that is when he transitions to being an indoor cat. Now we just have to build a super large catio in the back yard, so Pumpkin can lay under our laurel tree.

IMG_8361.JPG
 

tarasgirl06

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YAY! I'm doing something right!!!! tarasgirl06 tarasgirl06 - my wife does know the dangers, she explained to me that the process with Pumpkin was slow so she thinks the process with Midnight should be the same. I disagree. He is older and was not feral. He was comfortable in the house immediately. But I'm not going to win this battle. But after he is neutered he will need to be indoors for a few days to recover (he is also having other things done), and I think that is when he transitions to being an indoor cat. Now we just have to build a super large catio in the back yard, so Pumpkin can lay under our laurel tree.

View attachment 374716
Well, there are all kinds, sizes, and prices of catios...you're sure to find one that fits your needs! *And more importantly, Pumpkin's and Midnight's needs!*;):insertevillaugh: Just praying he will be safe until he sees his doctor.:vibes::vibes::vibes::bigeyes::redheartpump:
 
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anticus

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I am too. Every time he leaves there is the potential that he gets into a fight and is badly injured again. The first time we met him he had a horrific head wound that is finally healed (mostly) - and that was in October.

We are planning to build a custom catio when Dr. Wifey's super handy cousin comes to visit in early summer. I hope Midnight's wunderlust has subsided by then.
 

tarasgirl06

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I am too. Every time he leaves there is the potential that he gets into a fight and is badly injured again. The first time we met him he had a horrific head wound that is finally healed (mostly) - and that was in October.

We are planning to build a custom catio when Dr. Wifey's super handy cousin comes to visit in early summer. I hope Midnight's wunderlust has subsided by then.
From what you're saying so far, I have confidence that it will. He should absolutely be indoors only.
We built a really nice one off our living room and installed both a glass insert and a screen insert with catflaps into the slider. There was an existing patio; we just added enclosure to it and also a locking door.
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