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introducing a stray/semi-feral to a indoor cats household

Discussion in 'Caring for Strays and Ferals' started by dawnie42, May 16, 2014.

  1. dawnie42

    dawnie42 Thread Starter TCS Member Young Cat

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    May 16, 2014
    Hello all.  I'm so glad I found this place because I'm freaking out about the step I'm about to take.

    First the backstory.  There is a yellow and white female (mama kitty) who has been living outside my workplace (in a wooded corporate park) since at least last October.  She may have been there since last June.  I rescued a litter of kittens in August and never saw the mother and I think it may have been her.  The first time I saw her in October, I could tell she was pregnant.  I didn’t see her again until December when she moved her two kittens into a broken down delivery truck in the wooded area behind our parking lot.  She moved the kittens somewhere else when I put food out there.  So for the next two months, she hid the kittens.  She would come to eat every evening (I would come back after to work and on weekends to check on her) and in January started bringing the kittens maybe once a week.  Due to the bitter cold and not knowing where she had the kittens, I couldn’t trap them.  In February she moved the kittens back to the truck.  The weather got a bit warmer so I trapped the kittens and found a home for them.  I then trapped her and had her spayed and released her back.  The vet said she did not tolerate people at all.  She was very mad at me for a few days and wouldn’t come around when I was there.  But she finally got over it.  She’s never been afraid of me but would not let me closer than a couple of feet.

    I’ve been feeding her every day since then.  Her home base is the broken down truck.  She usually was roaming during the day and would be there in the evening when I came to feed her.  About a month ago she let me pet her.  And she loved it!  For the last two weeks she has been hanging around most days.  She knows the sound of my car and comes out when I arrive in the morning.  She also knows my voice and will come out during the day if I’m outside.  She follows me around like a puppy.  She wants petting more than she wants food.  Last weekend she chased my car as I was leaving.  Wednesday she followed me to the back door and sat looking in trying to find me.  In other words, we have become bonded.  She is not really afraid of other people but will not let them get too close.

    I’m worried now that since she is running around the parking lot during the day, she is going to get hit by a car.  She is very smart and she knows how to survive out there (she did get through the winter with two kittens!).  But I want to take care of her (not just feed her) and I just can’t do that at work anymore.  I put some Frontline Plus on her last weekend and I’m waiting on the worming medicine to get here.  But I’d like to get her to a vet and then take her home.

    My problem is that I have two indoor cats – a male who is 10 and a female who is 13. I'm really worried about upsetting them.  I’m pretty sure mama kitty will be freaked out by being inside even though I think she was a pet before she ended up at work.   I can’t put her outside because my neighbor is a cat hoarder and has a dozen cats at any time, most of whom hang out in my yard and on my porch.  They would run her off.  So inside it will have to be.  I'm planning to put her in my office to keep her away from my cats.  I've set up places for her to hide and of course will have food, water and a litter box in there.

    Do you think she will do well because she likes me so much already?  That's my hope but I have no experience with strays.  I've only ever introduced kittens to other cats I've had.  How do older cats usually respond to a new adult?  I've read about the things you do to get them used to each other's smells and such but I'm feeling overwhelmed that I'm going to stress out these animals.  I love my cats so much.  I don't want to do anything that will hurt them.  But I love mama kitty, too, and I just can't let her live in a parking lot anymore.

    So of course, now that I made my decision, mama kitty was not around today.  I'll have to catch her during the day to get her to the vet.  I have no where to keep her overnight and don't want to bring her in until she sees the vet.  I think I will be able to get her into a carrier that is upended.  A couple of times I've picked her up by the scruff of her neck and she just goes limp.  I have a large carrier for my 22 pound male and I think I can just put her down in it.

    Any experience and advice will be greatly appreciated!
     

  2. helenwithcats

    helenwithcats TCS Member Kitten

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    Apr 16, 2014
    I'm no expert, but I have successfully introduced a feral and two  semi feral cats into my existing cat household, the first was a feral pregnant queen who had three kittens three days after we trapped her; we kept her separate until the kittens were old enough to be rehomed (although we kept a kitten too) and then gradually introduced them to the two existing cats.  They were a bit huffed at first, but then accepted them and get along great now.   My newest semi feral I kept separate for a while and did gradual introductions, again they all get on great.   There are some good articles on here about cat introductions, and in my experience you tend to know intuitively when the time is right for face to face meetings.  I now have six cats and they all get along nicely.   Good luck with your new arrival, I'm sure that they appreciate a good home.  My semi feral was a spitting hisssing thing that I couldn't get within five feet of outside, but once he realised he was being looked after he has turned into the most affectionate cat that is stuck like velcro to me as I speak  after only a month.
     

  3. StefanZ

    StefanZ Advisor Staff Member Advisor

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    Sep 18, 2005
    Sweden
    Re the you dont know where to keep her during the night waiting for transport.  Why, keep her in this big carrier you do have.   Homeless and shy semiferales are used to hide in a hole even 24 hours if need be.  So a carrier, partly covered, should be just fine.   Not ideal, but entirely OK, for such short waitings.

    A dog cage is another alternative, (where you can have her even longer) but not all have dog cages handy...

    Re the introduction,  I agree with Helen here above. 

    I want to add, the intro of an adopted semiferale to residents, is usually easier than intro of a bough, home raised cat to them.  they are usually anxious to please theselves in, to adapt, yes even being usually submissive.   Especially if already neutered.

    The big exceptions are dominant, territorial toms. where you must neuter them several weeks before you even attempt to try and let them meet.

    Good luck!
     

  4. shadowsrescue

    shadowsrescue Advisor Staff Member Advisor

    5,504
    1,874
    Apr 27, 2011
    Ohio
    I brought a stray/feral into my home last spring and have integrated him into my home with another cat and large dog.  It had its trial and tribulations, but it did work out.  The first thing you will need to do it have a room where this cat can be by herself for awhile.  She will need a space where she can acclimate herself first.  You also will want to make a trip to the vet for a check up before allowing her contact with your other cats.  I used a spare bedroom.  I made sure to pick the bed up off the floor as that was the first place I knew he would run.  You also can just place the mattress flat on the floor.  Block all other hiding spot such as behind shelving, dressers, bookcases or other furniture.  It would be nice to have a cat tree or other spot for her to see outside.  If the room does not have a window, do have an appropriate hiding spot.  It can even be an old box with a cozy blanket.  Feliway plug ins help the adjustment as do Composure feline treats.  As for the litter box, since she is used to going outside, you can mix some soil into the litter or get a product called Litter Attract.  It works very well and most cats respond to using it quickly.  You may need to start with more than one litter box.  You can also play soft music for her 24/7.  Keep your other cats away.  You will want the new cat to adjust a bit in her own space.  You want her to feel comfortable with you and a clean bill of health from the vet first.  Visit her often for short periods.  I would often visit up to 6x a day for 5-10 minutes.  You can introduce a few toys as well.  Just take it slow.

    After she is adjusted to living inside, you can start the process of cat to cat introductions  http://www.thecatsite.com/a/introducing-cats-to-cats  The key once again is to take it all very very slow.  When I brought the feral/stray inside, he did not have contact with my resident cat for 2 months.  He took awhile to adjust to inside living.  Each cat is different.

    Thank you so much for wanting to rescue this sweet girl and taking such good care of her.  She will be forever grateful.

    Keep us updated.
     

  5. dawnie42

    dawnie42 Thread Starter TCS Member Young Cat

    35
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    May 16, 2014
    As far as keeping her overnight, I don't have a garage or shed or any place outside I could put the carrier.  I can't leave it on the porch because the neighborhood cats who get no medical treatment hang out on the porch a lot.  I wouldn't want her to catch anything from them or be terrorized by them.  And I don't want to bring her inside until she sees the vet because even though she seems very healthy (and always has), I don't want my cats exposed to anything.  Fortunately, I'm flexible enough at work that I can leave as soon as I can get her and go straight to the vet.

    She is very sweet but we'll have to see about submissive!  I've seen her with a couple other cats a few times and they were submissive to her!  She graciously let them eat her food.  Since my cats are old, they are pretty sedate.  They sleep a lot.  I guess I'll see if she perks them up.
     

  6. dawnie42

    dawnie42 Thread Starter TCS Member Young Cat

    35
    2
    May 16, 2014
    Thanks for all your advice!  I'm still feeling anxious about my decision but now that I've made it, I want her here with me so bad!  I went to feed her this afternoon and I put her favorite food in the carrier and she went right in to eat it.  I'm going to do that again when I go back tonight and when I go tomorrow so she will be used to it.  Then hopefully the first of the week, she'll be around during the day and I can get her.  I have to do it on her schedule unfortunately.  I wish I could make her stay they way she used to do with her kittens!  It was so funny.  They would start to follow her and she would walk them back to the truck and I could just hear her saying "you stay right here until I come back!".  And they would.

    I've got the room ready for her.  I've made several hiding places for her and there's no where she can get that she would be trapped.  I've closed the room off so my cats are getting used to not being able to go in there.  Do you think it's going to be a problem that they have been in this room for years?  I'm sure their scent is all over it.  It's my office and they often hang out with me when I'm on the computer.
     

  7. dawnie42

    dawnie42 Thread Starter TCS Member Young Cat

    35
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    May 16, 2014
    I finally figured out how to post a picture.  This is mama kitty right after she was spayed and had her ear clipped.


    Tonight when I put her food in the carrier, she went right in.  I wanted so much to just shut the door and bring her home.  But I have to do what's best for her and that's to wait until we can go straight to the vet and then to her forever home.  She's very smart - she'll fall for the carrier trick just once. :)
     

  8. helenwithcats

    helenwithcats TCS Member Kitten

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    Apr 16, 2014
    Oh, she's a bonny cat, she'll be beautiful when she's clean after being inside for a while!   I think you are doing the right thing if you are waiting to see the vet by trapping as close to the vets appointment as possible, but I would have thought that as long as she was in a carrier in a separate room there wouldn't be any risk to your cats.

    I know it is intimidating and nerve wracking taking a big step like bringing a new cat in, I posted a thread on here about hand holding for support but to be honest my worries were unfounded.   I'm just so glad I took my latest cat in, I can sleep at night without worrying whether he is cold, hungry or frightened and he has been a delightful additon to the family.  He plays with the timid ex feral and has really brought her out of her shell.  He is also the most affectionate cat I have.  I think that keeping calm and taking things slowly is a bonus, I tended to dwell on 'what iff's' and caused myself no end of unnecessary stress! 

    I'm sure your other cats will adapt, I suppose it is like when a new baby brother or sister arrives for a human when we introduce a new cat.   I think it's lovely that you are helping this cat, so many aren't so lucky.

    I hope you have your new cat home soon, does she have a name yet? [​IMG]
     

  9. shadowsrescue

    shadowsrescue Advisor Staff Member Advisor

    5,504
    1,874
    Apr 27, 2011
    Ohio
    When I brought my feral/stray inside last year, he had been neutered a few months previously and had a rabies shot.  Yet I needed the rest of his vaccines and a clean bill of health since he would be joining my resident cat and dog.  I got him into a carrier as well and took him straight upstairs to his room.  I had no idea if or when I would get him into the carrier so I decided to wait before taking him to the vet.  The room I used, I kept gates all over the place to prevent my other animals from going near. 

    If you did decide to catch her today, she will be ok in a carrier for the day/night.  Just cover it with a light sheet or towel to keep her calm as well as placing her in a quiet location. 

    The room I used for my cat had previously had my other cat in the room too.  I just vacuumed really well.  I even put one of the old cat trees in there too.  I made sure to have a feliway plug in too. 

    Thank you so much for rescuing her.  She looks so sweet.  Let us know how it goes when you catch her and her visit to the vet.
     

  10. dawnie42

    dawnie42 Thread Starter TCS Member Young Cat

    35
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    May 16, 2014
    I have mama kitty (now named Summer) home with me!  I got her to get in the carrier this morning and went straight to the vet.  They wanted to keep her in case they needed to sedate her (which they did) so I picked her up at 2.  She got a clean bill of health and all her vaccinations and the vet thinks she is around 3 years old.  

    He suggested strongly that I get a dog kennel to put her in until she uses the litter box.  I've got a friend bringing one over.  I don't like the idea but I guess he is right that if she won't use the litter box right away, I'd end up with a behavior problem.  I hope she will take to the litter box right off so I can let her be free in "her" room.  

    She is very relaxed.  Not freaking out at all.  I just put my hand in the carrier and petted her for a bit and she purred!  I've never heard her do that before. She didn't make any move to escape but I think she would have come out if I let her.  The other cats haven't figured out she is in here and I don't think she knows they are "out there".  But hopefully everything will go smoothly.  One day at a time!
     

  11. shadowsrescue

    shadowsrescue Advisor Staff Member Advisor

    5,504
    1,874
    Apr 27, 2011
    Ohio
    When I brought Marvin into my house, he too was estimated to be 3 years old.  He had 2-3 accidents, but I used Dr. Elsey's Litter Attract and he never had another accident.  I used it straight so I bought a big bag of it and then once the litter box needed to be changed I just used Dr. Elsey's Precious  Cat litter.  It was an easy swap. 

    I don't think it's necessary to keep her in a cage for very long.  Once she goes in the litter box, she should be fine to be out in a cat proofed room.  You may still need the Litter Attract.  It has special herbs in it to attract cats. 

    If she she does an accident, sop it up with paper towels and bury the paper towel in the litter.  This is her scent and she will smell it and know to go there for her next pee or poop.  If she poops outside of the box, bury the poop too.

    I am so happy you got her and she got a clean bill of health.  Welcome home Summer.
     

  12. dawnie42

    dawnie42 Thread Starter TCS Member Young Cat

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    May 16, 2014
    My friend brought over the kennel and she also brought me a diffuser and Feliway refill.  Summer is pretty calm and purrs when I pet her but it can't hurt to have it.  

    She's doing great in the kennel.  I put an old shirt I've been sleeping with for a few days in there and she's laying on it. :)  She still hasn't eaten anything but I guess that's normal.  Here she is in her "prison".


    I'm taking off work tomorrow.  I want to spend a lot of time with her here at first.  If she doesn't use the litter box by then, I'll go buy some litter attract.

    One question though about burying her poop in the litter if she has an accident.  She was dewormed today.  Should I bury that if it's full of dead worms?  Ewwww.
     
    Last edited: May 19, 2014

  13. shadowsrescue

    shadowsrescue Advisor Staff Member Advisor

    5,504
    1,874
    Apr 27, 2011
    Ohio
    She does look so calm.  If she seems to get nervous when you are not around, you can play soft music for her.  Also if she doesn't eat for awhile, you can get some Gerber stage 2 chicken or turkey baby food.  Only get the kind that is chicken or turkey and water with no added spices.  Most cats love it.  It is not a meal replacement just a training tool or a way to get one to eat.  I also use it when I need to give medication. 

    She looks as sweet as can be.  I hope all goes well.  I am just so happy that Summer found you and she will have her furever home!!
     

  14. dawnie42

    dawnie42 Thread Starter TCS Member Young Cat

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    May 16, 2014
    I've let her out of the cage for a while.  She's been exploring the room, just curious, not at all afraid of anything.  Every few minutes she comes back for more petting.  She jumped up on my chair and I got eye to eye with her and she gave me a nose bump. :)  

    She still hasn't eaten or used the litter box so I'll keep a close eye on her.
     

  15. shadowsrescue

    shadowsrescue Advisor Staff Member Advisor

    5,504
    1,874
    Apr 27, 2011
    Ohio
    She trusts you completely and knows you will care for her.  Hopefully she will use the litter box and eat soon.
     

  16. helenwithcats

    helenwithcats TCS Member Kitten

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    Apr 16, 2014
    I'm sure she'll use her litter tray and eat something soon too; she sounds as if she's very happy to be with you, and Summer is a lovely name!  
     

  17. dawnie42

    dawnie42 Thread Starter TCS Member Young Cat

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    May 16, 2014
    For most of the day she has been sleeping.  She has eaten about a quarter cup of dry food but still hasn't used the litter box (or had any accidents).  I haven't seen her drink any water but I only once saw her drink from a bowl in all the months I was feeding her.  I assume she was drinking from puddles and the pond that was down the street.  That's probably going to be an adjustment.

    She seems fine, though.  I've had the cage open whenever I've been in here and she has been out looking around the room some.  She let me pick her up and hold her!  Then she sat in my lap for a bit.  But mostly she has been in her cat cave.

    Should I be concerned that she hasn't pooped or peed?  I'm thinking the food she ate today should do the trick (she didn't eat yesterday).  I don't think it's a matter of attracting her to the litter, I just think she doesn't need to go yet.  But if she still hasn't by tomorrow morning, should I call the vet?

     

  18. shadowsrescue

    shadowsrescue Advisor Staff Member Advisor

    5,504
    1,874
    Apr 27, 2011
    Ohio
    Are you offering her any wet food?  That would really help with water consumption and cats just love it.  She would probably love it too.  Wet food is really good for cats since they tend to not drink alot.  I offer both wet and dry food, but more wet than dry.

    She looks so content!
     

  19. dawnie42

    dawnie42 Thread Starter TCS Member Young Cat

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    May 16, 2014
    She's been refusing most wet food for over a month now.  I'm not sure why because that's pretty much all she ate this winter.  On occasion she would eat this really cheap tuna in a pouch food someone had given me (which I used to get her in the carrier yesterday) but she didn't even want that today.  I've tried several different varieties recently and she just doesn't want it.  I offered her her two kinds today and she preferred the dry stuff.

    She ate some more and still hasn't used the litter box.  I was rubbing her tummy (yes, she showed me her belly :)) and she was gently biting and grabbing my hand but with no claws out.  She definitely was someone's pet.  But anyway, her belly feels a little tight and looks a bit distended.  If she hasn't used the litter box by morning, I'm going to call the vet.
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2014

  20. dawnie42

    dawnie42 Thread Starter TCS Member Young Cat

    35
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    May 16, 2014
    I talked to the vet and he said since Summer is feeling fine otherwise he wasn't concerned yet and to keep an eye on her. I went home for lunch and let her out of the cage. She went right over to the other litterbox I have set up and peed and pooped! I guess she didn't like the one in the cage with her.

    Now that I know she will use the litter box, I'm going to let her stay out of the cage this evening. and really get to hang out in the room. I think I've moved everything she could pull or knock down but we'll see. I may keep her in the cage overnight just to make sure she doesn't get into trouble.

    The other cats know something is up but Summer doesn't meow when I'm not in the room and she has a soft meow when I'm with her, so they haven't heard her. She has heard them and sometimes Will scratches at the door but she doesn't really react to it, just a little twitch of her ears. I'm going to start the towel thing soon to get them used to the smells.
     

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