Setting up outside shelter

Amanda923

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Hello -
I am looking to set up some outside shelter for a cat that I have been feeding for a while now. Normally I would trap the cat but I have no place to put him and I feel terrible saying that. If I trap him and he's feral I won't put him back outside, that doesn't feel right to me, I would want to give him a chance to see if he can come around to us... I have 9 cats and a dog - 4 of the cats are ferals of varying degrees. One feral has his own bedroom, I trapped him in my back yard - it's been just over a year and he has come so far (I can pat him and he's being introduced to the other cats very slowly). I also have another I trapped in my back yard and neutered and is in my basement - he is FIV positive, I'm trying to find a home for him because he's friendly but we're working on his manners. My kids share a room because we needed the space for the cats we've taken in over the years. I will trap the cat at some point but he hasn't been interested in eating in the trap (even at the end) yet. So, I'm trying to do the best I can and I worry that he will be out in the winter.

I was hoping that someone could offer some advice on what to do and how to set it up. I have a relatively open back yard and it's not fenced in yet, the plan is to fence it next spring. I could put the house in the woods but there are coyotes back there (I've seen them). I'm trying to put it somewhere that's still on my property but where there isn't a lot of traffic with the dog or neighbors walking by (even several feet away). I was thinking I could put it towards the side of my house and put some barriers / privacy fence or rain barrels around it so it would seem a bit more tucked away. Or, I could tuck it behind my small shed but there's a groundhog that's laid claim the beneath the shed so I wasn't sure if they would be happy being neighbors. And my neighbors on that side walk their dogs within about 6 feet on occasion. I was also worried I would scare him if we went in there for tools or the snowblower.

I was looking at the feralvilla cat house. It's kind of expensive once I tack on the shipping but those seem to be a good option. Any suggestions or advice would be great.

Thank you,
Amanda
 

Norachan

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Hi Amanda.

Thank you for trying to help this cat. If there are coyotes in your area and you get snow in the winter it would make sense to elevate the shelter. Either build a platform on the side of your shed, put it on the shed roof (if flat) or even use an old table to lift it off the ground.

An elevated shelter stays warmer and drier in the cold weather. If it's tucked next to your house it's going to offer a bit more protection from the cold too.

Coyote are pretty bold and will come close to houses even if there are dogs at home. You don't want to risk the cat becoming cornered in his shelter, so making it difficult for other animals to get up there will mean he's safer. It's easy enough to make some steps for a cat to access an elevated shelter.

TreeHouse18.jpg


Does the shelter you're getting have one or two exits? Single exit shelters stay warmer, but double exit shelters are safer if there is a lot of other wildlife around.
 
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Amanda923

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I only saw a coyote once - it was on camera in the wee hours of the morning. I was feeding one of the ferals I trapped ages ago back there and the coyote had come out and smelled the food. I have cameras around my property and I haven't see one anywhere else. I did see a fox come up on the deck - actually when one of the cats was eating but it ran away and I haven't seen it back since. The field cams and the motion sense cameras would have picked them up if they did come out (it picks up the cats and the groundhog). We have a ton of wild bunnies too so I am thinking the coyotes aren't around often but that doesn't meant they wouldn't come near the house in a pinch. Both neighbors have dogs (6 in total between them).

I've attached a few pictures of the yard so you can see what I mean. I've been feeding the strays/ferals on my deck for months now (I used to feed in the woods, that's where I trapped 2 of them and the 3rd I trapped on the deck).

The cat house I was looking at is the one by Feralvilla (FV-2-Feralvilla Outdoor Cat Shelter II). It only has 1 entrance (but the 'living' area is on the 2nd floor and is insulated). My husband was also thinking maybe he would make something instead. I can certainly elevate it on the shed but I'm worried the cat might feel like it's too high traffic over there and then not use it. I can tuck it on the other side of the house and put stuff around it so it feels more secluded and tucked away. We can elevate it a bit either way to ensure it's accessible and safe during the snow storms.

You've given me a lot to think about! I really appreciate the advice
 

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fionasmom

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You are very kind for helping this cat, and the others that you have. I live in a very dense urban area and am really at a loss to answer logistical questions about rural property without giving a lot of useless advice. All I can say is that I have set up on my property, which is walled, various cat shelters and have found that I have to relocate them sometimes to find an exact location that the cats like. In your case, I think that nearer to your house or the shed might be the best first attempts. We have active coyotes all over here and I don't know if I would encourage your cat to try to live in an area where they might be more comfortable in coming around to try to get him.
 

Whenallhellbreakslose

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Hi Amanda.

Thank you for trying to help this cat. If there are coyotes in your area and you get snow in the winter it would make sense to elevate the shelter. Either build a platform on the side of your shed, put it on the shed roof (if flat) or even use an old table to lift it off the ground.

An elevated shelter stays warmer and drier in the cold weather. If it's tucked next to your house it's going to offer a bit more protection from the cold too.

Coyote are pretty bold and will come close to houses even if there are dogs at home. You don't want to risk the cat becoming cornered in his shelter, so making it difficult for other animals to get up there will mean he's safer. It's easy enough to make some steps for a cat to access an elevated shelter.

View attachment 351588

Does the shelter you're getting have one or two exits? Single exit shelters stay warmer, but double exit shelters are safer if there is a lot of other wildlife around.
This is my first time seeing a elevated winter shelter. Excellent idea!!!🙂
 

Norachan

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We have a ton of wild bunnies too so I am thinking the coyotes aren't around often but that doesn't meant they wouldn't come near the house in a pinch. Both neighbors have dogs (6 in total between them).
That's good. Hopefully there aren't any coyotes around.
:crossfingers:
My husband was also thinking maybe he would make something instead. I can certainly elevate it on the shed but I'm worried the cat might feel like it's too high traffic over there and then not use it
You can make a shelter from a rubbermaid box and maybe your husband could make a wooden box to put that in. They're supposed to be easy to make and pretty cosy.


Where does the cat usually hang out? Does he stay on your property?
 

moxiewild

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Hi Amanda.

Thank you for trying to help this cat. If there are coyotes in your area and you get snow in the winter it would make sense to elevate the shelter. Either build a platform on the side of your shed, put it on the shed roof (if flat) or even use an old table to lift it off the ground.

An elevated shelter stays warmer and drier in the cold weather. If it's tucked next to your house it's going to offer a bit more protection from the cold too.

Coyote are pretty bold and will come close to houses even if there are dogs at home. You don't want to risk the cat becoming cornered in his shelter, so making it difficult for other animals to get up there will mean he's safer. It's easy enough to make some steps for a cat to access an elevated shelter.

View attachment 351588

Does the shelter you're getting have one or two exits? Single exit shelters stay warmer, but double exit shelters are safer if there is a lot of other wildlife around.
I’m pretty sure the people who make FeralVilla are actually very adamant about NOT having exits. I think they claim they’ve never heard of cats being attacked in shelters with no exits or something.

Clearly it’s only because they aren’t looking hard enough, though.

We’ve taken in many community cats where I work where that exact thing happened, and there is anecdotal evidence everywhere online of cats (Ferals and pets alike) being killed this way.

It’s very strange. If I recall correctly, they say the only threat of attack is from another cat (not true, most of the time it seems to be a coyote or loose dog), which can be solved with TNR.

Cool, but... unneutered cats are always going to pass through. We can’t control that.

Not only that, but even neutered cats can seriously fight. I am certain some of my neutered ferals would kill, and certainly maim, each other if they went into a shelter only to find their “enemy” in there with no way to escape.

It wouldn’t be too difficult to modify a FeralVilla to add an exit though, thankfully.

On the elevation point -

Coyotes can climb really well. I would recommend 2 exits rather than elevation. The photo of the shelter you posted looks really similar to the “playground” we keep in our coyote enclosure at work to be honest (but a lot prettier and nicer than what we have 😆).

OP, one coyote sighting one time is enough. If coyotes are native to your area and you have rabbits, then you have coyotes. Ensure there is an emergency exit in whatever shelter you choose.
 

moxiewild

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Cats often won’t use shelters in open areas like your property. We struggle with the same thing.

The best solution I’ve found is using natural brush to “camouflage” the shelter. Sometimes they only need this just to start using the shelter, then once they reliably use it, you can remove it.

Looks like you have more than enough to cultivate from the woods, but you could also just plant some bushes along the shed or house (depending on where he hangs out most).

Catnip also helps! And sometimes we spray some Feliway in there too!
 
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Amanda923

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You can make a shelter from a rubbermaid box and maybe your husband could make a wooden box to put that in. They're supposed to be easy to make and pretty cosy.

Where does the cat usually hang out? Does he stay on your property?
I haven't seen any besides that one time but I know they are somewhere in the woods....

That's great with the rubbermade box - I may give that a try. My husband is pretty handy so he's already been talking options :).

I can't tell if that cat hangs around much. He usually eats fast and then runs off. My neighbors are pack rats on one side so it's possible he hides over there, but I honestly don't know. I just feel terrible every time I see a cat outside.
 
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Amanda923

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Cats often won’t use shelters in open areas like your property. We struggle with the same thing.

The best solution I’ve found is using natural brush to “camouflage” the shelter. Sometimes they only need this just to start using the shelter, then once they reliably use it, you can remove it.

Looks like you have more than enough to cultivate from the woods, but you could also just plant some bushes along the shed or house (depending on where he hangs out most).

Catnip also helps! And sometimes we spray some Feliway in there too!
Is there a particular shelter that you have purchased that you would recommend? Or do you typically make your own?

I think the best place for it is tucked against the house (pool side vs barn side). I'm going to raise it off the ground a little so when the snow comes the entrance (and exit!) doesn't get buried. I am planning to put some stuff around it, branches, barrels etc so it's a bit more secluded and nestled. Is there any kind of camouflage that I should stay away from because it acts more as a deterrent?

This is the first time I'll be setting up housing outside for the cats - in the past I trapped them, rehabbed and keep/integrate them with my family. When you say use catnip and feliway - do you mean also put the catnip inside the house?
 
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