If your ear tipped indoor ex-feral gets out?

narelle

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When I first brought home my feral kitty, I thought it was kind of cool that she had been ear tipped and would always have the mark of being a feral. Like a badge of honor or something. But I've since realized that her tipped ear could mean trouble if she gets out. Why would anyone look at an ear tipped cat and suspect they even belong to someone, never mind that they might not belong outdoors at all?

Once my kitty gets used to me enough, I'd like to try to get her to wear a collar. (We're still at the isolated in a room stage.) But I still worry that it won't be enough, or that she'll get the collar broken off and won't be externally marked at all. (She is already chipped.)

I've heard of the kitty convict project, but when I've mentioned it to other cat lovers they hadn't. So until it gains more traction and attention, I really don't think it'll be a huge help. (I also think it's a good idea, but has a major flaw - an orange collar won't stand out on an orange tabby, which are very common. It needs to be more universally applicable.)

I did think of getting a brightly colored collar (probably yellow, to best stand out on her dark fur) and having "INDOOR CAT" embroidered in big black letters so it could more easily be seen from a distance, as opposed to only having that on a tag. I think this is probably the most effective solution?

But, as much as I hate to admit it - my family cats have never had collars, so this is the first time I've had a chance to dress my kitty up. Her safety is much more important to me, but I'm still not excited about having to look at a gaudy, ugly collar against her pretty fur every day. I've found lots of really cute collars that I'd love to get for her, but they would be much less noticeable and wouldn't give an indication that she belongs indoors beyond reading the tag. (I doubt she would approach strangers and give them a chance to read the tag. At least with the embroidered collar they could read from a distance and then look up lost pet ads.) I've never seen an outdoor cat locally with a collar, but there aren't terribly many in my immediate area. I would expect that a collar on an ear tipped cat would make it pretty clear that she wasn't feral and might make people look into it, but I'm really worried that won't be enough.
I could get a cute collar and do the big embroidered letters in a contrasting color, but it would be much less noticable than bold black on neon yellow against dark fur. (Neon yellow I could maybe get used to? Part of wanting yellow over orange, aside from making sure that the words are legible, is that it would look terrible on her...as much as I hate that that's even a factor.)

But back to the point, my main question here is for others that have converted an ear tipped feral to an indoor only cat - what safeguards do you have in case your kitty gets out? Do they wear a collar and what kind? Have they ever gotten out and how did that go?
 

kittychick

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Curious to hear what others say - we too converted one of our ear-tipped ferals into a completely indoor mush of a kitty :) She is completely indoors now, and microchipped - but recently has started nosing around the door a bit more expressing interest in what's beyond the door. She's darted out a few times - hasn't run far - but definitely put the fear of god into me a bit. I'm worried about her getting out (my husband swears of all of our cats I should worry about her the least since she spent a year outside and survived!) - but we live only 2 houses from a very busy road, and a large ravine with a ton of wildlife (hence the tons of feral cats we're always working on TNRing). I read about the Cat Convict idea and thought it was a smart way to approach kitties getting out - but like you, I've yet to talk to another person who's heard of it. Which defeats the purpose.

 I've never been a big cat collar person, and when we tried to put one on her, she immediately houdinied her way out of it - - a second attempt got her hind leg caught before I could adjust it. Needless to say - one look at a cat collar now and she runs the other way. 

So I'm curious too if anyone has a collar they've had good luck with - or any other way to identify her as not feral (since she's ear tipped). The other fun at our place is that she looks almost identical to 4 of the other TNR ferals currently basically residing in our back yard. We almost can't tell them apart unless they stand together! My husband jokes about using the colored paint/die that we've seen people coloring poodles with - - he's just teasing but it's tempting to paint a big "1" etc. on them :)
 
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narelle

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It would scare me so much if my Astrid got out even once, even just for a little bit! That's why I want to get this figured out early. She's still living in a safe room, so she hasn't gotten a chance to investigate any doors that lead outside yet. Fingers crossed she's the type of converted feral that never wants to go outside again.

Still not sure what idea is best, but I did find tutorials how to make breakaway collars and a supplier to get the buckles cheap, so I can always make some of my own and pick my own fabric. Maybe that way I can find a nice middle ground between cute and noticable? And get "INDOOR CAT" embroidered on it before its all stitched together. I need to learn to embroider.

But I do want to hear everyone else's stories about what they do/have done! Especially if you have a really good solution to escaped ear tipped kitties.
 

theyremine

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I, too, worry about my two "ex-ferals" getting out.   Although they have shown no interest in the outside for the two and a half years I've had them,  strange things do happen.  I have inquired about the chipping and have been told by the rescue I volunteer for that they do pay attention to the lists of lost cats and descriptions provided by the "chip companies" .     I don't know if all shelters/rescues follow this protocol.  
 

iluvcats3

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My cat is clicker trained to come for mealtimes. When she was still a wild adult, I clicker trained her to put herself in an outbuilding and shut her in for the night to keep her safe from the numerous coyotes. Then I let her out in the day. Now after 2 years she is a housecat, tame, but last summer I let her out daily and click clickity click! She comes running in the house for supper, and she's in for the night. I thought it could be a problem, but the house is her territory now.
 

msaimee

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Does your cat's collar contain a tag with its name and your phone number on it? You can have one made using a name tag machine at PetSmart for a couple of dollars. As long as your phone number is on the collar, if someone finds the cat, they will have a way to contact you. Not everyone who takes a cat inside their home takes it to a vet to be scanned for a microchip, and many wouldn't want to anyway if they've become attached to the cat and don't want to know if it belongs to someone else.  

I know most people don't have the time or patience for this, but I take my formerly outdoor cat out on walks on a harness and collar. He's gotten out the front door past me a few times but has never gone beyond my front or back yard. I know that if he ever did get out and go for a romp, that he's familiar with my block and yards and will find his way back to me because of the walks we've taken.

It's also helpful to communicate with your neighbors so they will know and recognize your cat if it gets out and can call you. If your cat is fixed, it won't wander far, and your neighbors can help you locate it.    
 

kittychick

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We do have our ex-feral I mentioned earlier chipped. And the shelter I volunteer for currently (and the others I have in the past also) does run every cat that comes through to see if they are chipped, and if they are, makes every effort to contact the person listed as owner by chip. Sadly - often what we find is that most of even the chipped ones - the owners no longer want them. I know ours recently went through major efforts to track down a listed owner who had moved abroad - shock, they no longer wanted the cat and had dumped them. Sad.

I think most shelters are so eager to find homes for any kitty that crosses their doorframe that they happily run chip checks and make a major effort to contact the owner listed. So a microchip is definitely one of your best insurance policies against them never coming home!
 
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narelle

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But how often do feral cats even make it to shelters and if they're tipped, would they still be checked? I'm still getting my cat used to me, so I have no idea how she's going to be with other people. I kind of doubt she'd approach other people if she got out (again, why I don't think a tag would be enough) and if her tipped ear shows she's already been spayed, why would anyone try to trap her? (Other than maybe if animal control got called? Would they check an ear tipped cat for a chip, especially if she's broken off her collar and looks like every other TNR'd feral?)

My cat is already chipped and I will do everything I can to get her to wear a collar once we're familiar enough to give it a try. But I keep reading that no one bats an eye at a loose cat with a collar because outdoor cats are so common. A tag won't do any good if no one thinks she belongs inside, and still won't if they can't get close enough to read it.

Right now I am planning to try harness training my cat, especially if she shows an interest in the outside. But I am not as confident that her knowing the area would make that much of a difference. Too many variables that could mean the difference between us finding each other and her being lost and afraid somewhere.

I really like the clicker training idea, and also the suggestion to make neighbors aware of what your cat looks like in case they get out. I think those would definitely help. I also will still probably make sure whatever collar I get for her has "INDOOR CAT" in big bold letters that can easily be read from a distance.
 

msaimee

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Was your feral living in your neighborhood when you took her in? If so, you don't need to worry about her getting lost if she gets out. Ferals have the amazing ability to roam great distances and find their way back to their territory or home. They leave a trail of their scent and know how to find their way back home. If she gets out, she may roam around a bit, but she will return to your home because she knows there is food there. If she gets out, just leave out a bowl of dry food where you used to when you were feeding her before you took her in. She will return there. Also be careful when you open and close your house door. I have to enter my front door with my foot in front of me because I know my one cat will be right on the other side and will want to run out. I know that despite our best efforts, a cat who really wants to go outside may sometimes slip past us, but if we're consistent in preventing that from happening, they get the message.
 
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