Bully feral?

julia123123

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We inherited a barn cat with our property and love her. She's fairly friendly with us and stays up on our porch a lot of the time, unless she's out scrounging for field mice. We feed her and bring her into a warm space on cold winter nights. However, a new feral has arrived. I think it's another female, or a smaller male. I broke up a cat fight between our girl and the new feral, and I've noticed that she's suddenly picked up some nasty deep scratches. I hear her growling on the porch sometimes, and when I knock on the window, the new feral speeds off. She normally sleeps under our porch, but the new feral has usurped her spot. We're going into winter and I'm worried about where she'll sleep (we have a heated cat house AND a feral shelter on our porch, but she doesn't like using them). My question is...how do I protect her from this cat? I hate to have her harassed and injured. I already pick up her food after she's done eating so that I don't draw the new cat in.
 

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julia123123

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I wish I could bring her in permanently, but she HATES coming inside, even when it's in the teens outside. I also have a very territorial elderly female cat inside, who "fights" with our outdoor cat through the screen door. They despise each other and there's no way I could bring them together. I'm not sure if the bully is fixed. Our barn cat has been spayed (by someone) but not sure about the bully. He/she is super skittish and is almost impossible to spot. I'm not sure how I could trap him/her but I could read up on it!
 

fionasmom

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I have a similar situation with a bully male feral who arrived a few months ago. He is very aggressive and will simply take the food of other cats I feed. The two that are most affected are the two spayed females. A spayed female is at the lowest rung of cat social hierarchy in the feral world, especially in the face of an unneutered male, or even an intact female. I assume that your barn cat is fixed.
If you can't bring her in, getting the newcomer trapped and fixed will help.

Other things I have done are to set up decoy food for the newcomer. Yes, it creates a situation where he will return, but at least my two females got to eat. Even once you trap and fix this cat, he will still recall that there was food at your house, so this may be a done deal regardless and you are sort of stuck with him.

You are already picking up her food which is good. Is there any option for another feeding schedule. If you shoo him off, does your female run? In my case, one of the females is very feral and if I step outside to get the bully to leave she will abandon her food and run away as well.
 
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julia123123

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Yes, our barn cat is fixed! She has the tipped ear, and also...we've been here for 3 years and no kittens, even though there are plenty of ferals around. What do you use for decoy food? The issue for me is that I almost never see this cat. I hear him fighting with our cat and chase him off, or I'll see him slipping like a ghost around our property - but rarely do I see him on our porch. I just hear our cat hissing at night and see a shadow running off in the dark if I come outside. I THINK that he is probably living under our long porch. There's a "crawl hole" under the stairs. I don't want to close it up, though, because our barn cat has been known to use this spot, and I don't want to displace any animal this close to winter. So there's shelter AND sometimes food (I'm not always great about taking away her food once I feed her, I get busy with other things and forget, plus she's a bit spoiled - I feed her many, many times per day!).
 

fionasmom

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Definitely agree that your cat sounds fixed. A characteristic of bully cats is what you are describing. The one here is stealthy, almost Ninja like. Like you, I would hear the fight and run outside, only to see his backside disappearing around the bend. He caused some injuries to my favorite TNRed feral and would lunge out at me if I went across the street to feed another feral that I take care of.

What I meant by decoy food....and only if this appeals to you.....is to actually give the bully some inexpensive cat food to make him leave your cat's food and her alone. With the one here, I found that once he had access to food, most of his bad behaviors stopped. He seems to go someplace during the day, returns at 5 AM and 6 PM, but has entirely stopped the aggression and even eats near "my" ferals and has abandoned the cat food across the street. So...it solved all of his negative behavior; maybe he was just really hungry, but I do have another cat on my hands now.
 
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julia123123

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Oh, I see! To be honest, I was setting out food for every cat in the neighborhood. The problem came when all the males started spraying all over our front porch (where we were setting out food). I'm very odor-sensitive and could barely go outside. Even when I started feeding several yards away from the porch, the cats would eat, then come BACK to the porch to spray. I tried enzyme sprays and vinegar cleaning out there, nothing worked. I finally stopped feeding anyone but our barn cat. I guess I could start putting out food by our barn, which is a fair distance (but still within sight) of our house - I'm assuming that the cats will be able to find the food? :) I will see if we have a local TNR group. It's been tough with the pandemic to even get a vet appointment (I think we're sitting at a 2 month wait for an appointment here) but I'll see if they might have more availability!
 

fionasmom

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If you want to do this with feeding, you might be able to move the food a little day by day so that the cats figure out it is in the barn. That should relocate them away from the house. TNR is tough now with COVID, but it will help with the spraying.
 
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julia123123

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Great idea! I will make a sheltered spot for food and slowly move it. Hopefully it will work!
 

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I have seen the same pattern and yes putting food - any food- at a distance and in exactly the same place -stopped the aggression. The need for food is paramount for ferals and I never grudged it - which is why now I have two extra cats living here
 
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julia123123

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I don't mind the extra cats, as long as they don't spray our porch! :) My husband is going to build a sheltered outdoor feeder this week.
 
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