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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
    I'm starting phase 2 of the process to get them introduced.  I took the shirt she has been laying on all week and let Will and Remy smell it.  Neither had any reaction to it.  I put a plate next to it and fed them some treats but they still just sniffed it and ignored it.  I rubbed a sock on Will and Remy and then put it by Summer's bowl while she ate.  She sniffed it and no reaction either.  Does this mean they are accepting each other's presence?

    Tomorrow I'm going to do a room exchange and see what happens.  If they are all ok with that, how soon could I let them see each other?
     

  2. splasha1

    splasha1 TCS Member Young Cat

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    May 24, 2014
    Florida
    One food they don't seem to be able to resist is Gerber #2 Baby Food. Either Chicken, Turkey, or Beef which I was using to wean kittens until mom got her face in it also.
     

  3. shadowsrescue

    shadowsrescue Advisor Staff Member Advisor

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    Apr 27, 2011
    Ohio
    I would do the room exchanges a few times.  Maybe once a day for 3-4 days and then see how things are going.  When you start sight to sight, make sure you either use a baby gate or just crack the door very slightly.  It is also helpful to have 2 people that that one person is with the resident cat and another is with the new cat.  Since you have 2 resident cats, you may want to introduce them to Summer one at a time.  It might be too overwhelming for her to have 2 cats all at once. 

    The key is to really take things slowly.  I made the mistake of introducing the stray/feral I brought into the house with my resident cat and moving too quickly.  I had to start the process over again and the second time it took much much longer. 

    Slow is your friend!
     

  4. shadowsrescue

    shadowsrescue Advisor Staff Member Advisor

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    Apr 27, 2011
    Ohio
    This is good for training purposes, giving medication or getting a cat to eat under stressful situations.  It is not meant to be a meal replacement or substitute for cat food.  I use the baby food for rewards when training cats or introducing cats.  It also works like a charm when I need to give a cat liquid medicine, especially ferals that I cannot hold.  Yet, it does not contain the proper nutrition that is needed to be fed all of the time to cats or kittens.
     

  5. dawnie42

    dawnie42 Thread Starter TCS Member Young Cat

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    May 16, 2014
    I was going to do the room exchange but when I opened the door, Summer wouldn't leave the room and I didn't want to force her.  (Remy and Will were locked in the bedroom.)  Summer got into her cave in the cage, so I decided to try something different.  I locked her in and opened the door to the room.  Remy came in first.  She and Summer sniffed each other through the bars and Remy checked out the room.  Neither hissed or seemed afraid at all.  Then I went and got Will and let him come in.  Again, just sniffing, no hissing or aggression.  I gave everybody treats and petted them and told them what good cats they are.  After about 15 minutes Will and Remy left the room and Summer went back to sleep.  She never showed any fear.  The cave is right against the bars and she had her paws and head out the whole time.  Will and Remy are napping (which they do 95% of the time) so I've shut the door and let Summer back out.  And she is napping.  :)  I'll do the same thing again tonight after dinner.
     
    Last edited: May 24, 2014

  6. shadowsrescue

    shadowsrescue Advisor Staff Member Advisor

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    Apr 27, 2011
    Ohio
    Sounds like it all went really well.  Offer them all yummy treats when they are all together.  This will create positive associations between them.  Summer sounds like pure delight.  You are her angel!!
     

  7. dawnie42

    dawnie42 Thread Starter TCS Member Young Cat

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    May 16, 2014
    A little while ago Will started scratching at the door and whining so I decided to let him in with Summer out of the cage to see what happened.  She was laying next to the cage.  He came in and they sniffed noses and then Will tried to get his 25 pound self into her cave!  He got about half way in and got stuck.  I had to pick up the whole thing with him in it and get it out of the room before he realized he was stuck and freaked out.  It was hilarious.  Summer just calmly watched.  I closed the door and helped Will get out of the cave.  I don't think he will do that again!

    Since that went well, I'm going to let Will and Remy in after dinner.  I'm really pleased.  Summer still shows no interest in leaving the room but maybe in the next few days after she gets to know them she will feel comfortable exploring.  
     

  8. dawnie42

    dawnie42 Thread Starter TCS Member Young Cat

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    May 16, 2014
    I'm spending the day in the the room with Summer and letting Remy and Will come in as they please.  I started this last night and it went well.  There was some hissing and a few swipes but no contact and Summer just took it in stride.  Will and Remy eventually went off to sleep.  It's much the same today.  Every time they come in I praise them.  They all had treats when I first opened the door.  Summer is so calm.  No matter what, she just lays there.  She is not at all intimidated.  Remy just came in and took a swipe and Summer just started taking a bath!  Earlier she did leave the room and check out the kitchen and dining room but decided she still likes it better in here.  I think it's best that she not explore until Remy and Will feel more at ease.  I tried to give them a calming treat but neither of them will eat it.  Maybe I can sneak one in their dinner.
     

  9. ondine

    ondine TCS Member Veteran

    It sounds like it is really going well. Just keep doing what you are doing until you are confident that they are comfortable with one another. It shouldn't take too long at this rate, although the slower the introductions go, the better.
     

  10. dawnie42

    dawnie42 Thread Starter TCS Member Young Cat

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    May 16, 2014
    I had to go to work to leave some food for the other kitty there and closed off the room.  When I got home, I opened it and fed them dinner (the door opens into the kitchen) and neither Remy nor Will even came in the room.  They both went back to sleeping.  They are apparently ok as long as Summer is in here and they are out there.  I'll keep things this way until next weekend and then try to get Summer out into the house.

    I've figured out one of the reasons she would rather stay in here.  I clicked on a video earlier and when she heard voices, she jumped up and started looking around so I stopped it.  I realized that she thinks the voices she hears on the TV in the living room means there are people out there.  I'll have to keep the TV off when I try to get her to explore.
     

  11. dawnie42

    dawnie42 Thread Starter TCS Member Young Cat

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    May 16, 2014
    I've spent all day in the room with Summer letting Remy and Will come in when they want to.  She and Remy are getting along pretty well.  Will doesn't like her so much.  He hisses and growls a bit but doesn't try to approach her.  Summer just calmly lays there.  

    I've realized another problem I'm going to have.  Will came in and settled down, laying about two feet from her.  I was talking to them and everyone was relaxed.  Then someone started up a lawnmower outside and Summer jumped up.  This startled Will who began hissing and I got him out of the room.  Summer got in her cave.  She always hid from the landscapers at work.  Those sounds are going to trigger her.  I noticed earlier that she got in the cave when I was getting the trash ready to put out.  The truck she lived in was near the dumpster so she always ran from the cleaning folks throwing out trash.  I can control scaring her with that but It will probably take a while for her to get used to lawnmowers.  I'll have to be mindful of other things she would have been frightened by that might trigger her.

    Since I'll be working the rest of the week, I'll only be letting them hang out in the evening when it will be quieter in the neighborhood so that's good.  I hate for them to make such good progress and then have something spook her and set them back.
     

  12. shadowsrescue

    shadowsrescue Advisor Staff Member Advisor

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    Apr 27, 2011
    Ohio
    These are some of the same problems I had with Marvin.  Last summer, the sounds of lawnmowers and trimmers nearly did him in.  He would hid in his cave and it would take hours before he would come back out.  Thunderstorms were also troublesome for him.  The vacuum cleaner was also quite a threat.  Now one year later, the lawnmowers hardly bother him or the trimmer.  Yet, the weekly vacuuming is still a problem.  He hides for quite awhile with each episode. 

    Last summer when he was stressed with storms I did find that Composure really helped him.  I also played soft calming music for him.  I would turn it on when he could hear lawnmowers, trimmers and in the winter, snow blowers. 
     

  13. dawnie42

    dawnie42 Thread Starter TCS Member Young Cat

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    May 16, 2014
    I don't think I'll be vacuuming any time soon.  Remy and Will hate it, too.  I'm not going to subject any of them to that for the foreseeable future. :)  Fortunately I have hardwood floors and most of the rugs can be taken outside to shake.

    We had some distant thunder one night last week.  I came in here to see what her reaction was.  Her ears perked up but she didn't hide.  Of course, the storm didn't come close so I don't know what her reaction will be to one overhead.  

    She's been so calm I haven't tried to get her to eat a calming treat.  Will and Remy refuse them.  I hope she will eat it if she needs it.  I need to set up a CD player in here so I can play music for her when I'm not here.  Lawn season is just beginning.  Hopefully the Feliway diffuser and her cat cave will help her get through it. 
     

  14. kittychick

    kittychick TCS Member Staff Member Forum Helper

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    Jul 2, 2013
    Ohio
    As a newcomer to this thread-congrats on saving such a sweetie!!! Sounds like she must have been a stray at some point vs lifelong feral. Sounds like she's (& Will & Remy) are adjusting beautifully! Don't forget that sounds like mowers etc may always startle her-it's that fear reaction that kept her alive when she was on her own! Hopefully those reactions (& the chain reactions they set off ) will lessen over time....but we've got cat that was very abused as a kitten, & 5 years later still jumps in terror at the mail man, a noise outside, you name it. So hopefully it will lessen over time but try to think of the happy side -that "self preservation" kept her alive so she could make her way to you!
     

  15. dawnie42

    dawnie42 Thread Starter TCS Member Young Cat

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    May 16, 2014
    It's been 11 days now and things are going well.  I leave the door open to her room in the evening and Will and Remy come in sometimes.  Mostly they aren't that interested.  They still hiss at her but she doesn't even flinch.  She will go out in the kitchen but she is wary of the living room because of the TV.  At first she thought the voices were people in there.  Then one day she came in when the sound was off and saw people on the screen and scurried back to her room.  I guess she thinks people live in that box.  :)  I haven't opened the other door in the room that will lead to the rest of the house (without going through the living room).  I'm going to do that this weekend so she can explore the whole place.

    Another thing is that she sleeps most of the evening (as do Remy and Will - well, they  are old,  they sleep most of the time).  She gets active and wants to play just about the time I'm getting ready for bed.  I play with her for awhile but I can't stay up all night!  I know this is the schedule she had outside but do you think she'll adjust to a more "inside kitty" schedule?  Remy and Will sleep with me so I'm hoping someday she will do the same.

    She's looked out the backdoor but showed no interest in seeing outside.  I have a feeling she doesn't ever want to be there again.  We had a storm two nights ago and hearing the rain confused her and she hid in her cave.  I even got Remy to come in and show her that we weren't wet but that didn't help. :)

    She is just as sweet as can be.  She loves to be petted and brushed.  She doesn't want me to hold her as much as she did the first week but that's a cat for you.  Everything in their own time.

     
    Last edited: May 29, 2014

  16. dawnie42

    dawnie42 Thread Starter TCS Member Young Cat

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    May 16, 2014
    I'm still just letting them socialize with supervision but it's going really well.  Remy and Will still hiss but they have never been aggressive towards her.  Summer understands that this is their territory and she is here at their pleasure. 

    And here's Summer and Remy:


    I'm just so happy that my worst fears were not realized.  But it looks like all the time I spent taming her outside was just what she needed to help remember the indoor kitty she used to be.
     

  17. helenwithcats

    helenwithcats TCS Member Kitten

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    Apr 16, 2014
    I'm so pleased for you that it has all gone so well!   I took in 'Alfie' in similar circumstances a few months ago, I was worried as one of my cats is very territorial and had been fighting with Alfie outside. 

    Luckily they've all got along just fine, I have an old grumpy cat who tends to growl and hiss at Alfie a lot because Alfie is very affectionate and wants to head bump and rub everyone, but Alfie just ignores him (but will give his backside a sneaky swipe from behind now and again!)

    They are all left with no problems when we go out, and I'm sure that yours will be the same.

    I also have problems with the hoover, and having six cats and two labradors means I have to hoover everyday, Alfie and Tansy another ex feral are both scared of it and run upstairs to hide when I'm downstairs and vice versa.  They are both fine the minute it stops though.

    Alfie is terrified of strangers, especially men, and to be honest I'm not sure he will ever overcome this initial fear; but I think I just have to accept that this is how he is.

    Summer looks so content and at home, I bet she can't believe her luck at having someone to love!
     

  18. shadowsrescue

    shadowsrescue Advisor Staff Member Advisor

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    Apr 27, 2011
    Ohio
    Your updates put a smile on my face and warm my heart.  Summer looks so sweet and content.  She hardly looks like the same cat you rescued just 3 weeks ago. 

    I remember leaving my 2 cats alone during the day for the first time.  I started slowly by just running errands for an hour and then gradually increasing the time I was gone. 

    Keep us updated.  I love hearing her story.
     

  19. ondine

    ondine TCS Member Veteran

    So happy this is going so well! time will tell but I think they are on the right track,
     

  20. kittychick

    kittychick TCS Member Staff Member Forum Helper

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    Jul 2, 2013
    Ohio
    She really is just adorable! I went back and  reread this thread because - interestingly enough - my husband and I are in basically the exact same situation!!

    Sadly we've got a whole feral colony in our suburban neighborhood that we've TNR'd about 14 out of 19 so far...and one was a little tiny female that we named "Flick" (she's solid grey with a flick of white on her chest that forms a heart and has some kind of neurological issue that makes her back legs a little unstable so she wobbles a little when she walks. She was actually born under a neighbor's porch last summer - and they handled the litter when they were tiny, but didn't want them to be TNR'd OR take them to a shelter. She acted feral originally, then one day - out of the blue - she climbed onto my lap, settled in, purring. She comes in the morning to eat and be petted, and then comes at around 8 for more snacking and pets...and then she curls up on the hot pink cat bed my husband put out on our back step for her (and this from the man who said "don't get attached - we can't take on cat #6 -- since we've got a nice balance where all of ours get along."

    So we're playing the game of "should we take her to the vet first for testing, etc -- or do we bring her into our foster room/spare bedroom first to see if she's even able to be an indoor cat." 

    So I truly sympathize - it's so hard not to second guess yourself at every turn. But I try to keep telling myself that whatever I do for Flick,  for all the TNR guys we've already done and ones we're hopefully going to get this spring/summer & fix them..anything we do makes their lives a little better. And you've obviously made a huge difference in Summer's life! She looks so healthy and happy - and looks like she's doing so well! Your other two seem to be adjusting to her quite well - - no one looks the least bit agitated which is amazing! I know for you it feels like it's taking forever for everyone to be comfortable, etc. ---but it hasn't been that long in "cat socializing world." :) I think it looks like you're well on your way to a very happy bunch of kitties! If I can get Flick to work that well with our guys - I'd be thrilled!

    Keep us posted!
     

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