Feral cat to inside cat

grawmmawmoses

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I have been feeding feral orange tabby "Robbie" (Robert Redford) for almost a year. He was already TNR'd with clipped ear when he showed up. I closed off a small room that already had a doggie door, separating him from my inside cats with a screen door. He plays with them through the screen door and sleeps in there on his bed during the hottest part of the day but stays outside at night. I think he knows he would be trapped in there if a predator came in through the doggie door. I think he sleeps in the big Arizona Ash tree in my back yard at night which is good so the coyotes can't get him. I keep dry food and water in his room and feed him wet food on the patio table in the morning and pet him while he eats. He waits by the kitchen door most of the day hoping I'll come out and pay attention to him. He tries to play with me by smacking my legs when I'm out and about in the yard but doesn't know to keep his claws in. I tried closing him in his room once and he was terrified. It was very traumatic. I have to close the doggie door at night to keep the raccoons from eating his food and muddying his water bowl. Is it possible to make him an indoor cat? My cats have accepted him and one even waits by the screen door for him to come into his room. But Robbie loves his back yard. Also I don't think I could pick him up and put him in a carrier to take him to the vet for testing.
 

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I am dealing with a similar issue. Kind of. My husband managed to trap a feral cat that he has been feeding at his hunting camp for the last two years. We live in Louisiana and have had record temps and he has been worried about this cat being outside. Thankfully we were able to bring her straight to the vet to get checked out. She has been living in my bedroom/closet/bathroom for about a month. She will not venture out and explore the rest of the house. Surprisingly she really likes my other cats. I just go about my business and let her watch me and when she is ready to come out she will. This morning was the morning I have been dreading for weeks though. It was her spay appointment. How was I going to get this cat in a carrier?? This girl is smart and is not going to fall for putting food or treats inside the carrier. I was about to just cancel the appointment and then I remember reading a seemingly ridiculous post from a lady that worked with feral cats. Her advice was to get the cat in a small room (i managed to get my girl in the bathroom and close the door and that was hard). Corner them and walk towards them with a carrier that has the door open and they will jump right in. I mean there is no way I thought in a million years it would work. She just walked right in! I could not believe it. Her little butt is at the vet getting spayed as we speak!! I wish I could find that lady and tell her that she is a genius. I hope this kitty will eventually relax and adjust and accept our love and affection but in the meantime at least she knows she has good meals and treats and a nice safe place to sleep. I think she one day she will come around but I am in no rush. It on her terms.
 
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grawmmawmoses

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Thanks so much for responding! I wish I knew whether Robbie would ever be happy being confined to inside the house. If I am able to get him into a carrier and take him to the vet I won't want to let him outside again. I guess my next step would be to try confining him to his room again. It was disastrous the first time. I think the next step is to put Dr. Elsey's Touch of Outdoors cat litter in a litter box in his room and see if he will ever use it. I tried with normal cat litter and he never figured out what it was. Right now I think he would just go out the doggie door to do his business. It's a process but I'm still hoping he will become an inside only cat. There are so many predators in this area!
 

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It's a process for sure but I am seeing small improvements. Plus I think orange kitties are more stubborn! My girl is orange and my kitty Rooster who passed away about 2 years ago was the ultimate hardhead. They are just so adorable though. Hopefully things will all fall into place. I don't get on here often but feel free to message me. I wish y'all the best of luck
 

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I tried closing him in his room once and he was terrified. It was very traumatic. I have to close the doggie door at night to keep the raccoons from eating his food and muddying his water bowl. Is it possible to make him an indoor cat?
It's probably possible, but sounds like it would be a long, difficult process.

But Robbie loves his back yard.
Is building a catio a possibility? Do you think that would be a good enough substitute for actually being outside?

Also I don't think I could pick him up and put him in a carrier to take him to the vet for testing.
If you have a vet that knows you, and you explain that this is a feral cat, they might be willing to give you a dose of gabapentin. That should make him dopey enough that you can get him into a carrier. It will also give the vet advance warning that s/he's going to have a patient that may be difficult to handle. In fact, two doses would be better, so you can give one the night before and the 2nd dose an hour or so before leaving for the appointment.

But I love what R Roosterboots suggested... if you can get Robbie into a small enough room!
 
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grawmmawmoses

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It's a process for sure but I am seeing small improvements. Plus I think orange kitties are more stubborn! My girl is orange and my kitty Rooster who passed away about 2 years ago was the ultimate hardhead. They are just so adorable though. Hopefully things will all fall into place. I don't get on here often but feel free to message me. I wish y'all the best of luck
I never met an orange tabby that wasn't a wonderful cat and I've had some!
 
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grawmmawmoses

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It's probably possible, but sounds like it would be a long, difficult process.


Is building a catio a possibility? Do you think that would be a good enough substitute for actually being outside?


If you have a vet that knows you, and you explain that this is a feral cat, they might be willing to give you a dose of gabapentin. That should make him dopey enough that you can get him into a carrier. It will also give the vet advance warning that s/he's going to have a patient that may be difficult to handle. In fact, two doses would be better, so you can give one the night before and the 2nd dose an hour or so before leaving for the appointment.

But I love what R Roosterboots suggested... if you can get Robbie into a small enough room!
Thanks so much! I've thought about the catio for sure and I think that would be an excellent idea. I have a window in Robbie's room so that could be the way to go.
 

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Is it possible to make him an indoor cat? My cats have accepted him and one even waits by the screen door for him to come into his room. But Robbie loves his back yard. Also I don't think I could pick him up and put him in a carrier to take him to the vet for testing.
Thank you for having the idea of taking in Robbie and for giving him a warm and fur-ever loving home and a safe sanctuary to live out his life :clapcat:

Yes, it is possible to make Robbie an indoor cat. It'll be a slow transition and it's not impossible. You have to do it step by step without spooking him in whatever wy that will make him fearful of being indoors as he has been living outside for so long.

It's good that you cats had accepted him and this take away the step of introduction to your cats. Once he's onside, leave the carrier opened where he is and let him get used to it. Also, leave some of your clean unwashed non perfumed garments in the carrier and also around he room he's in so that he can get use to your scents too.

Call your vet and tell them that you've rescue a cat but it's hard to get the cat into the carrier to get the cat to them for vaccination and tests. Check with them and say you'll come in at any time as soon as you can get the cat into the carrier so that you don't have to make an appointment. The vet will understand this band many vets allows and welcome this way of bringing cats to the clinic if they are difficult to get them into the carrier.

Best is to keep Robbie strictly indoors once he's in. Slowly get him to get used to staying indoors. As for building the catio, you can do it later once Robbie has settled down and maybe you don't even need to build one if he's more or less prefers the inside after awhile.

In the meanwhile, keep things simple and keep it slow and visit Robbie many times a day so that he can get more use to you and also someone to be with him.

Keep us posted of the progress and don't give up.
 
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grawmmawmoses

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Thanks for your reply. I don't visit Robbie in his room but he sees me from outside when I go in there to get to my closet. He probably knows my scent because I pet him in the morning while he eats and he purrs when I pet him. He approaches me but is skiddish if I approach him.
 

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He approaches me but is skiddish if I approach him.
When you approach him, make yourself small by sitting or squatting down. You'll look intimidating if you stand up to approach him as he feels intimidated. Have some treats or toys and approach him slowly. Just inch your way in.
 
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grawmmawmoses

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Good idea! Thank you! He doesn't understand treats or toys but he loves petting and sweet talk. Sweet talk keeps him from running out of his room when he realizes that I know he's in there. He still doesn't seem to understand that I've arranged the room for his comfort.
 

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Thanks so much for responding! I wish I knew whether Robbie would ever be happy being confined to inside the house. If I am able to get him into a carrier and take him to the vet I won't want to let him outside again. I guess my next step would be to try confining him to his room again. It was disastrous the first time. I think the next step is to put Dr. Elsey's Touch of Outdoors cat litter in a litter box in his room and see if he will ever use it. I tried with normal cat litter and he never figured out what it was. Right now I think he would just go out the doggie door to do his business. It's a process but I'm still hoping he will become an inside only cat. There are so many predators in this area!
Of course he can be "happy" as an indoor only cat- I'm not sure the right word for how he feels about living outdoors is "happy" it's just what he's used to,he's in his familiar territory -comfort zone.

The first time a feral lies down in a comfy cat bed is the most heartwarming thing to see- that's happy.Sleeping soundly instead of always on high alert,relaxing while using a litter box instead of having to see 360 degrees the entire time and knowing those meals just keep on coming and not having to wolf it down as quickly as possible---- there's so many things the inside life has to offer thst they've never experienced..... in time you'll see a very " happy" cat that if given the choice would not choose to go back to survival of the fittest.....

Firstly,thank you for taking care of this boy and secondly I'd love to thank all your kitties for welcoming their new friend- that's a great beginning

If you do decide to bring him in for keeps then it won't be easy at first but he'll get used to it plus you are ahead of the game because initial introductions have already begun and you're off to a good start- with other cats the hard part is acceptance but the great part is that once they all accept one another the ",new guy" gets to watch the others,learn and build confidence by following the crowd.

Of course you can do the easier way of a slow transition but you have to always consider that one day he just might not return and you'll never know what happened..... I have no idea where you live or what he has to contend with outdoors as a slow transitioning is taking place,(traffic,mean people,predators ,weather,etc..) and you did mention coyotes....

So if you decide to " go for it" then we are here to support you and help you each step of the way- But you can't give in if he howls,scratches,slams walls or windows..... he may or may not but one thing he will do is acclimate to his new,easy breezy ,safe wonderful life.... in time with lots of love and patience
 
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grawmmawmoses

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Thank you so much for your encouragement. Everyone I know tells me to leave him outside. But there are coyotes, raccoons, hawks, and owls out there. It just isn't safe! I need to get him tested and if he's ok, give him a bigger space inside by opening the screen door and giving him access to the rest of the house. Every night when I go to sleep I worry about him and every morning when he is waiting at the kitchen door, I am so relieved!
 

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Thank you so much for your encouragement. Everyone I know tells me to leave him outside. But there are coyotes, raccoons, hawks, and owls out there. It just isn't safe! I need to get him tested and if he's ok, give him a bigger space inside by opening the screen door and giving him access to the rest of the house. Every night when I go to sleep I worry about him and every morning when he is waiting at the kitchen door, I am so relieved!
I know the feeling,believe me....I worked with a feral for over a year outside to get him as far as my hallway by the front door-at thst rate he'd be an indoor cat by 2030!!!!lol .. Every day & every night my heart was in my mouth if he was not there or I didn't see him barreling towards me from across the parking lot- it's waaaay too stressful,I was literally getting sick over it....

Like you,he was familiar with my 4 resident cats and the "feral" who I now refer to as ",Timmy the housecat" was not an easy capture to bring to tye Vet: but it got done....and then there was 5!I did a cold turkey confinement for about 60, days and now ( months 3) he's free to explore the house,uses the litterbox and barely looks out the window- you can read Timmy's story here on TCS ( Timmy,7yr old TNR true feral!!COLD TURKEY!) under Caring for Strays and Ferals

Each cat is an individual,some acclimate faster than others but they all will my friend-many of us here have decades of experience and we are all here to support your endeavors and help you attain reasonable goals..... maybe not a lap cat per say but certainly a wonderful loving companion
 

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Btw- in my profession ( behaviorist/trainer)I've lots of colleagues and not a one supported my decision to take Timmy into my home....I heard" he's thrived out there for 7yrs,leave him be".....I've never had many agree with my beliefs anyway,that EVERY cat deserves a home,I've heard & disproved the " impossible: many times over and still they disagree..... not sure what it takes to convince some folks that there's no difference between a feral & a domestic except behavior- and that can be modified,changed and a cat is a cat is a cat!🥰
 
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grawmmawmoses

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Btw- in my profession ( behaviorist/trainer)I've lots of colleagues and not a one supported my decision to take Timmy into my home....I heard" he's thrived out there for 7yrs,leave him be".....I've never had many agree with my beliefs anyway,that EVERY cat deserves a home,I've heard & disproved the " impossible: many times over and still they disagree..... not sure what it takes to convince some folks that there's no difference between a feral & a domestic except behavior- and that can be modified,changed and a cat is a cat is a cat!🥰
Thank you so much! I'm so happy to hear that others have successfully made outdoor cats indoor cats. Robbie is already very affectionate and trusting. Just gotta get him into a carrier. I ordered Dr. Elsey's Touch of Outdoors cat litter. I tried closing him in his little room once before and it was terrifying for him so I can't do that again. Getting him into a carrier seems even more terrifying. But I'm not giving up!
 
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grawmmawmoses

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I am going on a cruise with my granddaughter next May and I'm determined to have Robbie a happy housecat by then. It will make care of the cats during my absence much easier!
 

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Thank you so much! I'm so happy to hear that others have successfully made outdoor cats indoor cats. Robbie is already very affectionate and trusting. Just gotta get him into a carrier. I ordered Dr. Elsey's Touch of Outdoors cat litter. I tried closing him in his little room once before and it was terrifying for him so I can't do that again. Getting him into a carrier seems even more terrifying. But I'm not giving up!
Oh,now you've got a fan,your own personal cheerleader here- the magic words that win my heart are"Im not giving up"....I'm at your beckon call my friend ❤

And by May he can join Timmy's club as Robbie the housecat!

You might want to consider a humane trap rather than a carrier to trap and bring to tye Vet,usually local organizations or ASPCA will loan you one for a small deposit or for free for taking in a homeless kitty.... or perhaps your Vets office,do inquire as it's slot easier for trapping,for tye Vet and then the Vet can put him in your carrier to take him HOME( I love thst word)
 
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grawmmawmoses

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Thanks again. I just have to take these steps slowly to reach the end goal! Today I moved the cat tree out of his room (he never used it) to make room for the litter box and I had to move his food and water bowls. It kind of freaked him out. He was creeping around and then sat looking out the doggie door as if to make sure it didn't close on him again. Change is scary so I'll have to wait until he gets used to the new arrangement in there before I introduce the litter box.
 

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Thanks again. I just have to take these steps slowly to reach the end goal! Today I moved the cat tree out of his room (he never used it) to make room for the litter box and I had to move his food and water bowls. It kind of freaked him out. He was creeping around and then sat looking out the doggie door as if to make sure it didn't close on him again. Change is scary so I'll have to wait until he gets used to the new arrangement in there before I introduce the litter box.
Yeah,ought leave things put --3months I'm looking at a 6x6x6 enclosure in between my couch and the sliding glass doors -I had to arrange my living room around this monstrosity and now he's barely in it ..... the thing is to prepare and plan and leave it alone until they are familiar with the whole house.....transitioning from outdoors to inside is a very big deal for a cat,let his safe place be unchanging ..... he'd likely go on thst cat tree after he's resolved to the fact he cannot go back out...

A good start to begin litter trainimg for a cat that does have access to outside is to put the box in front of that exit( cat door) so he must step in it to go out.... that would be step one so he'd become used to walking into iit- push it to the side when he leaves,when he's back inside you return it to the front of the exit.....
 
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