Help! 2 Feral cats loose in basement

krissyj

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I will try to make this a brief as possible... I have been feeding 2 feral cats for over a year. They live behind an abandoned restaurant and are both TNR cats. Prior to me caring for them many others were feeding them.

I have been feeding them twice daily like clockwork. They would always come when I called and roll over on the pavement when I arrived. They would not let me pet them but would get within 3 feet of me. Recently the property owner leased the building and he has told me I am no longer allowed to feed them. Unfortunately there isn't an area around it that I can move my feeding to. I felt I had no other choice but to trap them and attempt to relocate them to my property.

I have a basement and lots of outdoor space that would be much safer for them. I trapped both of them on the same day and moved them into a room in my basement. They reacted as expected but somehow got out of the designated room (they somehow squeezed through a space near the ceiling after jumping on a cabinet) and are now loose in a large unfinished basement which is surrounded by a crawl space. The crawl space is sealed so they cannot get to the outside. They are hiding and I have not seen them since the escape.

I have continued to leave food down at the same time twice daily and otherwise stay out the basement. I put flour around the bowls and they are eating and I see their paw prints so I know they are still in alive and not stuck somewhere. What do I do now? My plan was to ultimately have a window with a cat opening they could go in and out of the basement area after I have them confined for 4 weeks. Now I cannot interact with them as they hide and I cannot get to them.

What the heck should I do? Do I need to retrap and seal up the room better? Or should I leave them with free range and still let them outside after 4 weeks with access to the basement? Ugggg
 
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Norachan

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Hi K krissyj Welcome to TCS.

First of all, don't panic. I think that as long as the cats can't get out of the basement this is all going to go pretty closely to plan. Even though they are hiding you can still interact with them.

Why not take a chair and a blanket down to the basement and sit there for around half an hour every time you go to feed them. Put the food bowls in the place you always do, sit a few feet away and just keep talking to them in a low gentle voice. They know you, they know you're the one who feeds them. They'll soon get used to the new routine. When you go out of the basement leave your chair and blanket there, but maybe sprinkle a few cat treats on the blanket to reinforce the idea that you're a friend.

It may take a few days, but with nothing bad happening to them in the basement they'll adjust to their new home.

Does the basement have a socket where you could use a Feliway plug in?

FELIWAY CLASSIC Diffuser

Are you planning to make them a catio or enclosure in your outdoor space? That might work better than keeping them confined for a month and then letting them out.

Cat Enclosures – TheCatSite Articles
 

gilmargl

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You have done a wonderful job so look on the positive side. It was unfortunate that the cats found such a small escape route from their intended living area but most fortunate that they cannot get back outside. We once trapped a mother cat and fetched her kittens from their nest high up in a tree, put them together in a "safe" room at a colleagues home. The mama cat escaped through an air-vent up close to the ceiling, which took a lot of searching before we finally discovered it. Mother cat never returned so I had 4 kittens to bottlefeed.

This is only my personal opinion: as long as it is possible for you to allow the cats the run of the whole area (are they now using litter boxes?) I would keep them there as long as possible. Don't try to retrap them unless it is absolutely necessary. After at least 4 weeks (preferably longer) you can let them out, but continue only placing food indoors, where you have been feeding them. It will be risky - either they will run away or keep coming back to your basement, where you can begin taming them. I am almost certain they will decide to stay!

Our local shelter, situated in a large park, has a separate cat house where, after quarantine and neutering, feral cats and very shy strays are kept enclosed, fed and watered for a period of time (I will have to ask to find out exactly how long). After this period the cats are put in another space, but in the same small building with a cat flap so that they can go out into the park. Those cats which decide to live there as indoor/outdoor cats can be offered for adoption. Those who only return silently for food are allowed to live their lives in the park.

Good luck!
 

fionasmom

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I also have had to bring cats inside on the spur of the moment. The feral cat colony I helped maintain at my workplace had to be cleared out overnight because of nightly roaming dogs who showed up and killed several cats. As was stated, this is going by plan much more than you realize. Just start from here, keep them confined for the four weeks and then feed indoors so that they know that they have to stick around to eat. You don't want them to return to the original site which has been known to happen but if they connect food with your home it should be safer. I have relocated ferals using food and it always worked. You are very kind to have helped these two and to have not let them starve or be in danger.
 

tarasgirl06

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I will try to make this a brief as possible... I have been feeding 2 feral cats for over a year. They live behind an abandoned restaurant and are both TNR cats. Prior to me caring for them many others were feeding them.

I have been feeding them twice daily like clockwork. They would always come when I called and roll over on the pavement when I arrived. They would not let me pet them but would get within 3 feet of me. Recently the property owner leased the building and he has told me I am no longer allowed to feed them. Unfortunately there isn't an area around it that I can move my feeding to. I felt I had no other choice but to trap them and attempt to relocate them to my property.

I have a basement and lots of outdoor space that would be much safer for them. I trapped both of them on the same day and moved them into a room in my basement. They reacted as expected but somehow got out of the designated room (they somehow squeezed through a space near the ceiling after jumping on a cabinet) and are now loose in a large unfinished basement which is surrounded by a crawl space. The crawl space is sealed so they cannot get to the outside. They are hiding and I have not seen them since the escape.

I have continued to leave food down at the same time twice daily and otherwise stay out the basement. I put flour around the bowls and they are eating and I see their paw prints so I know they are still in alive and not stuck somewhere. What do I do now? My plan was to ultimately have a window with a cat opening they could go in and out of the basement area after I have them confined for 4 weeks. Now I cannot interact with them as they hide and I cannot get to them.

What the heck should I do? Do I need to retrap and seal up the room better? Or should I leave them with free range and still let them outside after 4 weeks with access to the basement? Ugggg
Hello K krissyj and two, and welcome to TCS!
THANK YOU for spaying/neutering and giving safe haven to these two! I am really hoping and praying you plan to adopt them permanently? Under no circumstances would I let any cat out as I don't know of any place that is safe for cats. It's much safer to keep them in. As other posters have stated, so far, it's going very well. If you don't have an outlet for Feliway diffusers, you can always use Feliway spray which helps cats to feel less stressed. It's wonderful that they are eating regularly! I would try Norachan's suggestion of sitting a few feet from where they eat, talking softly and reassuringly to them. If you do plan to let them out, please only release them into a catio or cat-fenced, safe yard. Please keep us informed as to their progress and wellbeing. Again, thank you so much!
 
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krissyj

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Last night I set up a wilderness camera. I have absolute proof of life! They were both in and out of the designated eating area multiple times overnight. I am so happy they are okay and eating. I am gonna put a chair down there and a blanket and read. I also am trying to find a catio they could be in when I first release them. Thank you to everyone who responded. I have had some pretty sleepless nights over these cats for the last year. I hope it works out and they make my place their forever home.
 
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krissyj

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Thank you to everyone for all of your support. One of the cats came out of hiding when I went to feed them tonight and did his usual meowing and rubbing against things. He stayed a safe distance away but I feel relieved he is coming out to visit. I wish I could bring them upstairs with the rest of my family. Unfortunately, I have 4 cats, 3 dogs, and my German Shepherd would scare them to death. She is good with our cats but she is very loud and our cats have been around her since they were tiny kittens. I also do not have any idea if they have any diseases they could give to my cats. I am hoping to get them to a vet after they get settled in. I can't imagine how hard that will be. I will keep you all posted.
 

hexiesfriend

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I kept a feral in my home for over 15 years. She never became tame. She lived in my garage eat and used the litterbox and would come into the house at night and mixed with my cats fine but never me. The first time I ever really pet her was when she was very sick and at then end of her life. It was bittersweet, you can literally just keep them in the house and either they will acclimate to you or stay feral and they will actually be happy. It’s a bit of a sacrifice if they stay feral but at least you know they are safe.
 

Norachan

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That's great news!

Catios are pretty easy to build yourself. You can make them the same way you would make a chicken enclosure, with wooden beams and wire. Cats like to be able to climb, so make the most of vertical space and put in some shelving for them. I'll post a few pics I found online here, but if you check YouTube you'll find lots of video of people explaining how they made them or giving you the tour of their catio.


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Once they get settled I suggest you get a couple of humane traps and leave them in their space all the time. Wire them open and start by feeding them in front of the trap, then gradually move the food closer to the door and then inside. Once they are eating comfortably inside you can schedule a vet appointment and trap them that way.

No rush though. If they've been TNR'd they've probably been vaccinated too, so all they will need is a booster and maybe something to treat any parasites they've picked up.
 

Mrsty1203

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I took care of an outside feral for 17 years. I was always worried about her. Do your best to keep them in or use the catio as suggested. What a great idea that is! I currently have a cat that used to be outdoors before she ended up in a rescue group. Actually I just adopted her at 4 years old. The first time I brought her to the vet she was not very good with them. Vet said next time I should give her Gabapentin. Ask your vet about that it might help you and the Vet.
 
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krissyj

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It is going okay so far. Both cats are eating twice daily. One of them comes to watch me put food down each time. The other one still wont come out while I am there. I hope he warms up but even if he doesn't at least I know he is safe and eating well. My indoor cats can smell them through the air vents and are very curious....all of my friends think I am a crazy cat lady. Thank goodness my 2 kids and husband are supportive of my kitty shenanigans.
 

tarasgirl06

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It is going okay so far. Both cats are eating twice daily. One of them comes to watch me put food down each time. The other one still wont come out while I am there. I hope he warms up but even if he doesn't at least I know he is safe and eating well. My indoor cats can smell them through the air vents and are very curious....all of my friends think I am a crazy cat lady. Thank goodness my 2 kids and husband are supportive of my kitty shenanigans.
Great UPdate, K krissyj ! So glad to hear they are both eating well and that one is warming up to you. It's good that you have a good family, too. As for other people, what they think shouldn't be a concern. What YOU think and what you do is the important thing!
 

hexiesfriend

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Looks like it’s going as planned. Even if the cats do not warm to you they may have no issue coexisting with your animals. This is how my household ended up as. My feral cat honey got along with the rest of the cats in the house but never warmed to me. She would even go out and sit in my garden with the other cats and would come back in. It’s a compromise but everything else was normal except her being involved with me.
 
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