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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
    Thanks to everyone for all the encouragement!  It's been a little over 3 weeks and Summer has free range in the house.  Remy and Will still hiss sometimes but she lets them know she is not afraid and she is not a threat.  She is spending a lot of time during the day under a chair in the bedroom but that's ok.  She will only come in the living room after dark.  I finally figured out that the big picture window makes it look too much like "outside"!  She's playing with her toys on her own and learning how to live on hardwood floors.  And always comes in "her" room when I'm on the computer to hang out with me.

    Unfortunately, we've developed a flea situation.  I dosed her a week before I brought her in but somehow they got in the house.  As soon as I realized it Saturday, I dosed Remy and Will.  I'm in the process of washing, picking up, cleaning up and throwing out to launch a full-scale offensive this weekend.  All the noise and activity scare her and I hate that but I've got to get this under control.  I've never dealt with fleas before so I've done a lot of research online and the process terrifies me.  Clean their sleeping areas?  They sleep everywhere!  And I thought just bringing her in was overwhelming.  

    Good luck with Flick kittychick!  I know that once Summer let me pet her and realized how awesome that is, we had turned the corner.  I don't think she would have done so well when I brought her in if she didn't love my attention.  She is sitting by my chair right now just waiting for my hand to come down. And I think that her being so comfortable with me helped Remy and Will be comfortable with her, too.  So if you do bring Flick in, the others may pick up on her affection for you.
     

  2. helenwithcats

    helenwithcats TCS Member Kitten

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    Apr 16, 2014
    Great to hear that summer is doing so well, I used a spot on product called Activyl for fleas; apparently it treats the environment as well as the cat so no need to use different products and it is supposed to be safe as it works without affecting the cat.  Mine have been fine with it and although it isn't the cheapest I found it effective and easy.
     

  3. dawnie42

    dawnie42 Thread Starter TCS Member Young Cat

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    May 16, 2014
    It's been a month now and Summer acts like she has always been here. I woke up Sunday and she was laying on the bed! At one point, all three of them were there. Remy and Will still hiss and growl but she is slowly winning them over. She is so smart about how to do that.

    She was hiding much of the weekend as I attacked the house in my flea elimination quest but once things quieted down, she came right out. Everything would be so great if it wasn't for those damn fleas. I am so mad at myself for being so stupid and letting this happen.

    But anyway, I hope my story of introducing her gives others hope that it can work quickly and easily sometimes, especially if you already have built that trust. She really loves me and I really love her. :)
     

  4. kittyperson

    kittyperson TCS Member Young Cat

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    Apr 11, 2013
    Dawnie42,

    Your story is very interesting. Last October I caught a kitty that I had been feeding Spring through Fall. I caught her. Took her to the vet and had a big beautiful floor to ceiling cage constructed for her in my clean, warm basement. She was very happy there. In a couple of months I let her expand her territory into the entire room. She continued to hide but started coming out to greet me when I fed her. She has now started to not run when I come in the room and she is playing with one of those round plastic floor toys with the ball that goes around in a circle.

    I have 3 other cats 9, 12 and 21. They know that she (Glenda) is in the house and have now gotten used to her being there but they all have never been together. About a week ago she jumped her doorway fence and came upstairs. What a racket....plants knocked down, curtain rods bent. I have just hired the carpenter to come back and install a wooden screen door at the top of the basement stairs so that Glenda can come out of her basement room, up the stairs to the screened kitchen door so that they can see and smell each other. 

    I will be very interested to see how long it takes before I can let them all be together.
     

  5. shadowsrescue

    shadowsrescue Advisor Staff Member Advisor

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    Apr 27, 2011
    Ohio
    I love hearing about Summer's progress.  She was just meant to be with you!!  I love that she is sleeping on the bed.  She seems so happy to be in a home again. 
     

  6. kittychick

    kittychick TCS Member Staff Member Forum Helper

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    Ohio
    I hadn't been able to check in & see how you & Summer are doing until today---SO happy to read that it's going so well (except for the fleas-eek! Not a fun problem!). Had to update you that we brought our little tiny feral that we named Flick inside a week & a half ago. So far it's too good to be true-she let us pick her up & put her right in the carrier to bring inside! I flea-treated her the week before, & after reading what happened to you-flea combed her like a mad person before bringing her in-no evidence of fleas. We've got her in our "foster room" (half of our finished basement), away from our gang of 5. Her first day in was a little rough-she really cried the first 24 hours. After that-she's seemed to really settle in. She's just a love-loves sitting on my lap or curling up on my hip if I lie down. We're keeping her separate from our gang until her vet appointment Monday , where she'll be tested for FeLV etc & vaccinated (she was TNR'd last summer). If she gets a clean bill-we're going to start site swapping, etc. My hubby swears she's going to have to find another home eventually (we are admittedly at the almost-embarrassing-to-admit number of 5 already, but I can't imagine letting her go (& bet he'll feel the same if all continues to go well!). Even tho I do a lot of work for a local cat shelter, & I'm sure eventually I could get her in there...but she's still so afraid of people other than the 2 of us that I can't imagine she'd do well in a shelter. So cross your fingers that her vet visit goes well, & then that the she fits in as we'll at our house as Summer fit into yours! Flick is such a sweetie-but here's a new one for me that I wonder if you ever feel-Flick was doing well outside (as well as a cat can do when surviving outside wih lots of busy roads) but I keep having pangs wondering if she's missing the outside. Do you get those pangs for Summer?

    Hope Summer's continuing to do as well as she's been doing. Obviously, your story hit quite close to home for me ;)
     

  7. dawnie42

    dawnie42 Thread Starter TCS Member Young Cat

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    May 16, 2014
    kittychick - I’m so glad you got Flick in!   She is already attached to you so I have high hopes that she will settle in with the family.  How did the vet visit go?

    I honestly don’t believe that Summer misses outside at all.  From the minute she came in, she has been content.  She’s looked out the back door a few times and didn’t seem to care what was out there.  She wouldn’t even come in the living room during the day at first because the picture window made it look too much like outside (she’s gotten over that).  And that’s a good thing since I wouldn’t let her out anyway.  My hoarder neighbor has a constant stream of cats and kittens who get no vet care and I'd never let her out with them.  Now that she had free range in the house, I’m super careful about coming and going but I don’t think she’ll try to make a break for it.

    It’s just been amazing how well she has done.  She is teaching Remy and Will how to adapt to her being here!  She is so smart.  She’s starting to follow them around to see what they do and where they go.  She’s confident but not arrogant, determined but not pushy.  She knows she belongs here but it’s still their territory right now.

    I've been a maniac in my flea eradication program and I think we're just dealing with the adults that are hatching since treatment began.  I haven't seen an actual flea since the one I saw a couple weeks ago but I do still see some evidence that they are around.  I use clear tape to check the chairs and couch after they've been sleeping on them and I see less debris every day.  Fortunately, I think I caught it before it became a real infestation.  But I'm not slacking off now!  I foresee obsessive cleaning for months. :)  And Frontline Plus forever.

    Here's a picture of them all last night:

     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2014
    zed xyzed purraised this.

  8. ondine

    ondine TCS Member Veteran

    I once used a very primitive flea trap that actually worked pretty well.  You set a bowl of water under an outlet.  Put a drop or two of Dawn dishwashing liquid in it.  Plug a nightlight into the outlet and leave it on.  Apparently the fleas jump toward the light and often fall into the water.  They drown because the Dawn keeps them from jumping out.  I remember being freaked out because there were so many fleas after one night!

    You only have to worry about the cats drinking the water.  We had a lab at the time who drank the water and got sick, so we had use it in one room at a time and not let him in there.

    So happy they are all adjusting so well.

    Kittychick - so glad Flick is in and safe!
     

  9. crazeaboutcats

    crazeaboutcats TCS Member Young Cat

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    Nov 5, 2015
    So Catchick, tell me about Flick. I am facing similar challenges wth a stray TNR kitty and a spoiled household of 4!
     

  10. kittychick

    kittychick TCS Member Staff Member Forum Helper

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    Jul 2, 2013
    Ohio
    @crazeaboutcats ---- Flick has become our (we don't say this out loud in front of the others :) ) "favorite kitty ever." She's such an amazingly special kitty that we're thrilled she chose us (and we do feel she chose us, not vice versa).

    We did take the intro with our other 5 guys (now just 3--two died this year from basically old age, at 19 & 18) VERY slowly. Perhaps even slower than necessary but I'm glad we did. We'd spent lots of time with her outside before even attempting to bring her inside. We'd TNR'd her fall of 2013-and she seemed completely feral. We saw her periodically over the winter, but not every day. Starting that next spring, my husband noticed she was always around when he worked in the yard - hovering about 6-7 feet away. Never closer, but never further. My husband (who swore 5 cats was more than enough & no way was Flick coming in") then put a cat bed on our back steps. She settled into it and was there every night at "dinner time." If we were out late -she parked herself in the middle of the driveway till we came home - then ran for the pink bed. We started feeding her treats by hand - and in a few weeks she was curling up on my lap, purring. Needless to say, we had a new cat! We then had to worry about getting along with our guys.

    So she spent several weeks completely away from all the others in our "Foster room"--a large basement bedroom. I work from home -plus it's a full bedroom complete with cable TV - so I was able to spend lots of time with her. She'd already been spayed, but we still had to get her tested, etc. after those first weeks, we started letting our guys into the basement but leaving "her" door shut--so they could sniff, play footsie, etc under the door. Only one of our cats showed any interest (Bowie - who now is her best buddy).

    After a few weeks we put a screen door at the top of the steps -the entrance to the basement. And we moved our guys' food & water bowls in from of the screen door. At first we fed the "regular guys" at the door but still fed her in "her room." At week 2 of the screen door we started feeding all of them at the same time - but still kept the door shut. We also spent time with my husband giving treats to our guys on the one side, telling them how good they were, while I did the exact same thing with Flick on the other side. After a few days with no growling, etc, we cracked the screen door about 2 inches, and kept feeding them like that.

    Still relatively no negative reaction from either side!!! The next week we opened the door completely while we were present, enticing Flick upstairs out into the kitchen with all of them together -keeping them all busy with "big excitement" treats like bits of chicken, tuna, etc. we'd move the treats closer together, forcing all to eat within inches of each other. For awhile we'd put her back on her side when we weren't there. Finally we were 100% convinced they'd all be fine together. There were certainly a few minor dust ups (there still are occasionally). But I think taking it super slowly, working hard to convince our guys they were still very special kitties, plus the fact that Flick was very much "low cat on the totem pole" of her colony (she has minor cerabellar hypoplasia -perhaps because of that she's very good at being submissive and getting along with everyone) all combined to help her fit in like she's always been there.

    Obviously we were very lucky - but I think taking it slow does help. So yes - it was work - but I'd do it 1,000 times over again - she's truly the sweetest, most loving cat I've ever had (& I've had a lot!). Even as I write this she's curled up on my lap.

    Good luck with your introductions - and let us/me know if you have questions!!

    I've attached a picture of Flick (note the ear tip - a remnant from her TNR)...and "resting like her big brother Jo" (she loves to "copy cat").


     

  11. ondine

    ondine TCS Member Veteran

    I have to comment on what a pretty little girl Flick is! So happy all is going well. So true that slow introductions, if possible, are the best approach.

    Thanks for the update!
     

  12. crazeaboutcats

    crazeaboutcats TCS Member Young Cat

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    Nov 5, 2015
    Thanks so much with sharing with me and all of us about Flick's happy ending. Although through my lifetime as a cat lover and companion of many, until the little guy my husband named Romeo showed up with his nicked ear I had no idea that you could "tame" a adult grown up feral cat, the TNR program and all it entails. But, after reading Flick's and Summer's story we are going to give it a whirl. 

    We will use your advice and time seems to be the most important thing when introducing them to the inside and our other 4 spoiled cats (all from shelters but introduced as kittens).

    Here are his circumstances if anyone has additional suggestions....we live in a residential neighborhood in SC and recently moved here almost 2 years ago. About a month ago a tiger striped kitty with a nipped left ear showed up at the door of our backdoor screened porch quite literally yelling! (he was skinny and hungry).

    I put food and water outside the door for him and went inside and it was gone in minutes. Same thing happened several days in a row as I began to feed him twice a day, at the same time I feed our indoor kitties. I started staying and sitting closer and closer.

    Then I moved the food day by day into the screened porch and put a towel on a chair and some toys outside. I would sit out there and read and talk to him as he ate and eventually he would hang with me for a little while.

    Last week we had quite the breakthrough, I brought treats and got him closer and closer and then he head bumped my hand with the treats and there is no going back. Now, he wants to be petted and scratched and rubbed, throwing himself at my feet. Every so often he purrs loudly and then opens his eyes and sees me and my hand touching him and he bolts a few feet like he just realized what is happening. He is hugely chubby now eating everything given to him so I am slowly cutting the portions down.

    I work with him a few times a day. He disappears mostly during the day and sleeps on his blanket in a chair every night, waiting for breakfast and a pet every morning.

    All the cats have interaction with him through the glass sliding door and he rubs up against it while they look on, fairly interested.

    My plan is to just build the trust for a few months and then experiment with locking him in the screen porch with kitty littler and maybe after that, open up the slider with only the screen.

    I will need to take him to the vet, how do they ever forgive you for that? Or do they hold a grudge forever? After that take the next step into the house in the guest room and then on.

    Question, once they are in and settled, don't they ever make a mad dash for the door to get outside? He has really long nails, I trim my cats every couple of weeks, what do you do with a cat that isn't used to nail trimming?

    Any suggestions are welcomed! And bless all of us crazy cat people! Cat lives matter too! (Oops, am I being politically insensitive?)
     

  13. ondine

    ondine TCS Member Veteran

    @ Crazeaboutcats - you may want to creat e new post for your question. You most likely will get more answers.

    In the meantime, thank you for helping this young man! He will forgive you for taking him to the vet. Plan on taking him as soon as possible after allowing him on the porch and before real intros start. Just like people, cats can catch germs from other cats. No sense in him or your residents getting sick. A thorough vet check will help prevent this - plus he'll need neutering (?) and definitely his shots, and a flea treatment.

    Once he's back home, you can get him settled in. My experience has been that most ex-ferals will avoid the door. They learn fast how good they have it.

    I've actually never trimmed my cats' nails but provide them with plenty of scratching posts and those cardboard scratchers are in constant use. They have never seemed to want to scratch the furniture.

    Good luck with this guy. Keep us posted!
     
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2015

  14. crazeaboutcats

    crazeaboutcats TCS Member Young Cat

    31
    16
    Nov 5, 2015
    So question for all you feral cat friends.. Although through my lifetime as a cat lover and companion of many, until the little guy my husband named Romeo showed up with his nicked ear I had no idea that you could "tame" a adult grown up feral cat, the TNR program and all it entails. But, after reading Flick's and Summer's story we are going to give it a whirl. 

    We can use any advice when introducing them to the inside and our other 4 spoiled cats (all from shelters but introduced as kittens).

    Here are his circumstances if anyone has additional suggestions....we live in a residential neighborhood in SC and recently moved here almost 2 years ago. About a month ago a tiger striped kitty with a nipped left ear showed up at the door of our backdoor screened porch quite literally yelling! (he was skinny and hungry).

    I put food and water outside the door for him and went inside and it was gone in minutes. Same thing happened several days in a row as I began to feed him twice a day, at the same time I feed our indoor kitties. I started staying and sitting closer and closer.

    Then I moved the food day by day into the screened porch and put a towel on a chair and some toys outside. I would sit out there and read and talk to him as he ate and eventually he would hang with me for a little while.

    Last week we had quite the breakthrough, I brought treats and got him closer and closer and then he head bumped my hand with the treats and there is no going back. Now, he wants to be petted and scratched and rubbed, throwing himself at my feet. Every so often he purrs loudly and then opens his eyes and sees me and my hand touching him and he bolts a few feet like he just realized what is happening. He is hugely chubby now eating everything given to him so I am slowly cutting the portions down.

    I work with him a few times a day. He disappears mostly during the day and sleeps on his blanket in a chair every night, waiting for breakfast and a pet every morning.

    All the cats have interaction with him through the glass sliding door and he rubs up against it while they look on, fairly interested.

    My plan is to just build the trust for a few months and then experiment with locking him in the screen porch with kitty littler and maybe after that, open up the slider with only the screen.

    I will need to take him to the vet, how do they ever forgive you for that? Or do they hold a grudge forever? I assume since his ear is tipped that not only is he neutered but he was given a rabies shot?

    After that take the next step into the house in the guest room and then on.

    Question, once they are in and settled, don't they ever make a mad dash for the door to get outside? He has really long nails, I trim my cats every couple of weeks, what do you do with a cat that isn't used to nail trimming?

    Any suggestions are welcomed! And bless all of us crazy cat people! Cat lives matter too! (Oops, am I being politically insensitive?)
     

  15. shadowsrescue

    shadowsrescue Advisor Staff Member Advisor

    6,124
    3,047
    Apr 27, 2011
    Ohio
    It seems you are already on your way to building his trust.  Food is a great motivator.  Offer him special yummy treats such as plain cooked chicken or canned tuna when you are working with him.  Also introduce some toys such as a laser pointer, string or wand toys and see how he reacts.  He seems to be a stray that has developed some feral tendencies.  Hopefully the ear tip is from a TNR program and not a cat fight.  I would start getting him into your screen porch sooner than later.  Not waiting a few months 

    I brought a neutered male stray turned feral into my home over 2 years ago.  I was certain he was feral as he lived under my deck and only came up to eat when I was inside.  If he caught a glimpse of me, he wouldn't return for hours.  Yet as time went by, he got used to me and watched me interact with my other feral cats.  I trapped him and had him neutered and ear tipped and returned him to my property.  He started causing some problems with the other feral cats and the tensions really grew.  I had hoped to relocate him, but by then it was May and kitten season was in full swing.  I decided to take a chance and bring him inside.  I already had one cat inside and a large dog.  Trapping him again did not work as it had been just a few months since his initial trapping.  It took me 4 hours to get him into a cat carrier, but I did it.  I brought him inside to a safe room of his own.  I had picked the bed up off the floor as it would be the first place he would run to hide.  I also blocked off all areas behind dressers and book cases.  I had 2 litter boxes and a small cat tree by the window for him.  I also used Feliway diffusers and soft music.

    Once inside he made a mad dash for the window and threw himself over and over again against it.  Yet after 30 minutes he calmed down and hid in the cat tree.  He yowled and howled a bit for the first week.  I used Composure calming treats at night to help him.  I visited as often as I could.  I made sure the windows were not opened, only the ceiling fan was running.  I had a large mesh cat carrier I used to feed him in.  I needed to get him to the vet for a check up before he could be anywhere near my other pets.  By feeding him in the carrier, he became used to it.  On the morning of the appointment, I placed a small amount of food in the back, he went in, I blocked the exit with a firm chair pad and zipped him up.  I then covered the carrier with a towel.  He did well. 

    Introductions with my other animals took awhile.  I rushed the process at first and had to start again.  It ended up taking a solid year.  Yet now he is the sweetest and most gentle cat.  I am so happy I have him a chance.

    Thank you for taking a chance too.  Just give it time once he is inside.  He will forgive you for the vet visit.  I always tell my animals where they are going and why. 
     

  16. crazeaboutcats

    crazeaboutcats TCS Member Young Cat

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    Nov 5, 2015
    Thanks for all the positive suggestions! I will beep building his trust! I'm pretty sure he his part of the TNR program as it is his left year and he is such a boy, but haven't seen any boy parts! question, it seems like if I lure him into a cat carrier to go to the vet, that will be the last time! How do you get them in a carrier for subsequent visits?
     

  17. shadowsrescue

    shadowsrescue Advisor Staff Member Advisor

    6,124
    3,047
    Apr 27, 2011
    Ohio
    I just kept feeding him in the carrier.  When I first took him to the vet for shots and tests, he had to go back again in 2 weeks and then again in 6 weeks.  Ugh.  I just kept feeding him in it and some how managed to get him each time.  The carrier I used was large.

    This is the carrier I used

     

  18. crazeaboutcats

    crazeaboutcats TCS Member Young Cat

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    Nov 5, 2015
    That's great! Sounds like a plan, thanks for attaching the link, I am going to get one!
     

  19. kittychick

    kittychick TCS Member Staff Member Forum Helper

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    Jul 2, 2013
    Ohio
    Several of ours are real terrors to get into a carrier. One - Bowie (cat pic in my avatar) - was left at the end of a driveway for 3 days (in summer in the blazing sun) in a gerbil cage so small he couldn't turn around, with no food, water (or obviously, litter box). A Good Samaritan finally "stole" the cage and brought it to our shelter. Poor Bowie was so dangerously dehydrated & starved that when we picked him up to foster (directly from the Good Samaritan) & got him home , I had to introduce food slowly & he actually tried to eat the ceramic bowl the food was in. Needless to say - confinement terrifies him. When I took him to the vet for his first visit, I ended up pulling off the side of the highway - hysterical - because the poor thing started to panic so badly in the carrier that if never seen anything like it---he bashed his face repeatedly & so hard into the metal door at the front of the carrier in a panicked effort to get out that he split his nose wide open. Needless to say - we have to sedate him slightly before transporting him anywhere -& only do so in a soft carrier. But he's obviously an extreme case - and even he can be gotten into a carrier. :)

    With Flick (& any other "reformed ferals" we've helped get adopted), we do a combo --what @ShadiwsRescue suggested (feed &/or give treats -super "exciting" stinky treats like canned mackerel-work best for us-inside the carrier for a few days before we have to get them into a carrier). And we also do "laser play" (although not all kitties will chase a laser)--making a game of going into & out of the carrier, for a few days before any appointment.

    I've also found that- for most of our guys- a top loading carrier ends up being easiest. The others I use a front opening carrier, but put it on its end so that the door is at the top. And then my husband and I do a "2 person approach"- one person quickly scruffs the kitty and drops it into the carrier, while the other person stands ready to slam he carrier door shut once the kitty's dropped in.

    Every kitty is different-and worst case (like Bowie), the vet prescribes a super mild sedative. I've yet to have one that, one way or another, we couldn't get to the vet :)
     

  20. kittychick

    kittychick TCS Member Staff Member Forum Helper

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    Jul 2, 2013
    Ohio
    And @ShadowsRescue - I'm going to order that crate from Amazon for Bowie ---looks great AND a good value!! Thanks!!!!

    (I love that after all this time I still learn things constantly from everyone!)
     

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