Stray community cat has made my porch his territory, advice needed

6CatsandCounting

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Hi all I’m looking for some advice (sorry I’m advance for length of this post, I appreciate whomever takes the time to read)

back story- I recently moved into a neighborhood that has an estimated 25+ feral and stray cats. Three houses in my immediate area have their own colonies of various TNR’d cats and there’s probably some unaccounted for dumped strays as well.
The multitude of community cats are not a problem to me. Originally I did not mind the visitors. I suspect my own cats did, as I’ve had problems with two of my indoor fixed males marking. In But between moving and adding two new cats into my home (as well as the community cats scoping us out around the outside) I’m sure they’re just stressed out and I’ve been trying my best to manage it.
Now on to this stray on my porch- this one cat showed up pretty shortly after we moved in. He would nap on my side porch and in my garden. He’s truly a stunning cat and I always admired him. His behavior made me suspect he was feral originally as he’d run off as soon as I’d come home or go outside. But he was around pretty regularly and I would always look forward to seeing him particularly. There was probably about five other cats I’ve spotted randomly over the past few months in my yard but he was showing up multiple times a week. Photo below
80C7CB57-160E-40AB-B54C-0C63C655CFB9.jpeg

So, this is where I went wrong. During one of his sun bathing sessions on my porch I softly spoke to him through the door and he looked up at me and didn’t run off. I stupidly made the decision to go outside and give him three treats. He was scared but slowly approached and ate them from a distance. A few days later he was rolling on my back steps and for some reason I went out and chose to give him a couple treats again. This time he decided to rub up on my legs and meow at me. That’s when I realized he very obviously was not a feral cat. From this point forward is when he decided that my house was now his new home.

So at this point when he was spending hours everyday at my house I attempted to figure out what colony caretaker he belong to. He is in good shape and friendly, as well as fixed, so I knew someone on my street must take care of him- right? Well, when I posted him on Nextdoor my neighbor across the road reached out and told me he did not belong to her colony nor her neighbors colony. So that only left one other house nearby that has cats roaming and cat shelters on their property. I would watch this cat when he made his daily rounds on our street and sure enough he was crossing over to go to this house. I figured I would reach out and left them a kind note informing them he was sleeping on and setting up camp on my porch and simply stated I just wanted to open a line of contact and left my number- no response from them.
So at this point, since it is the start of winter and getting into the low 20s at night, I decided I would at least do the bare minimum to help him as he was cold and sleeping on my doormat. I put out my outdoor cat heating pad and a bed. I had a spare cat condo house and premade tote shelter from the last stray I took care of that I cleaned up and put out (although he won’t go in either though). I started feeding him at this point when he continued spending cold nights here out of pity. He’s clearly an older cat and it breaks my heart to get no response from my neighbor who was most likely providing some sort care for him.
I believe he left her colony probably because he was being bullied by the others, he’s extremely territorial here. He tries to fight with any other cats that come on my property, which I hate. He’s now begun trying to fight my own cats through my back door window and side windows. I’ve tried to move him from my back porch further away from doors and windows onto my side porch but he refuses to relocate and will sleep on the damn doormat yet again. I’m at a loss on what to do.
I’m also unsure of if he’s ever been indoors, he’s terrified of my garage and will not enter it but he’s clearly friendly. I cannot bring this cat in however, I currently have six cats, two of which I recently brought inside after they were dumped at my last house.
so my options are-
1) continue to try to form contact with this neighbor who ignored my note and may take offense to me badgering them
2) take on continuing to care for this cat who already has some type of caretaker
Any advice or insight would be appreciated 😕
 

Furballsmom

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Hello-
Bless your heart for helping this cat.

You made the effort to communicate, they haven't responded, I'd call that the end of the line there. Granted this is an assumption on my part, but it sounds to me as though their hands and wallet are full/overrun with what they already have.

You're sure he's been neutered? Can you trap him and get him in to a vet for a health and wellness checkup? Those "chubby" cheeks and his assertiveness/aggressiveness over territory makes me wonder.

Once that's been done and confirmed, you could check with your vet regarding if there's anyone they know of who could take him in, realizing he's very skittish but friendly. Or, a true no-kill rescue that is able and willing to work with such a boy in order to socialize him so he can be adopted could be just the ticket for him. He's darling, and as you've already experienced, very charming too :)

Regarding your indoor furry crew, you might try some calming treats. I wouldn't recommend feliway or comfort zone, since these can sometimes make things worse when territorial disputes are going on.

However, Cat Music could be helpful, there's RelaxMyCat, MusicForCats, and spotify and other sources have everything from classical harp music to harp music that's been written for cats, and even music with purrs in it to videos with only purring.
 

FeebysOwner

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Hi. I would venture to guess one of two things about this cat - 1.) he was left by the people who previously lived where you live now, or 2.) somebody dumped him there around the same time, knowing there are colonies nearby that they just assumed he could mesh with. The aggressiveness, if not for being intact as mentioned above as a possibility, could be to steer other cats away from what he may consider his 'home base'.

He obviously has found some sources of food somewhere, but in the above scenarios, he isn't likely fitting into an existing colony, so he stays close to a quieter place - that being your home.

For now, I would continue to feed him and offer him whatever shelter you can. Make sure that the bed/etc. that you have set out for him do not still carry any scent from the previous cat that used them - it could be a deterrent to him using them. Set treats/enticing food in/on these places to help encourage him to check them out. If so, maybe you could gradually move them away from the area that would bother your cats?

Tbh, what makes a difference about this other non-responsive colony caretaker? This cat doesn't want - or cannot be accepted - by her colony. So, continuing to reach out to her is kind of a moot point.

In the meantime, you can do what was suggested above and see if you can get him checked out by a vet while asking for potential sources of fostering or rescue groups. Other than getting him checked out, I realize the odds of finding someone to help are minimal.

Not much help here, but a whole lot of sympathy - and hope for him, and you.
 

Devia Morgenstern

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I'd look around for a new home.
I know I'm echoing what others have stated, but finding out if there's an animal welfare group, such as an animal shelter, a non-profit rescue group or cat sanctuary, willing to take him on does appear to be the best option. I do know a few non-profit cat charities, and I'd be happy to give you their contact information if you want :)
 

IndyJones

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He does not look neutered to me. Are you positive he is a stray and not a free range house cat?

They usualy crop the ears of strays when they neuter them so that they don't get cut oppened again. His ears don't look cropped.

Also looks like a manx and has a uri. Please wash your hands after handling things he has touched or you could infect your cats.
 

Furballsmom

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I see a couple dark marks above his nostrils, but I didn't think there's an upper respiratory infection?
 
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6CatsandCounting

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Hi again,

thank you all for your replies. I’ll try to cover as many questions and provide as much information as possible.
So on the possibility of him being not fixed- I’m 90% positive he is. I have not touched his hind area because he does not allow his full body to be touched. He really only tolerates his head being touched without becoming a bit unpredictable and spicy. However when he rolls on his tummy I do not see testies. I think there’s a good possibility he was fixed later in life and that his behavior and appearance is from him going through sex development. Today though I’ll try to see if he can allow me to touch him but below is a screenshot from a video of him rolling for me and I do not see testies in it
5166EB53-20F4-4351-82C7-A2569C1A1B57.png

The black spots on his nose are actually just a part of his cute unique markings 🥲 I thought they were something else originally too. Thankfully he seems overall in decent health given the circumstances.

Also, I realize I did not mention this- he has the “tailless” mutation which is why I know he’s at least related to some of the cats around here that belong to two of the colonies. Two caretakers on my block have several tailless cats (I suppose from them all inter breeding prior to being fixed) the one women said she did not recognize him and he does not go to her house but the other who I’ve never spoken to (and left a note with) has a few tailless cats as well. This is why I can pretty much assure he was not left behind or dumped, rather most likely born here.
There was a big TNR effort here a few years back and other than one male who is apparently trap avoidant, everyone is fixed. Some ear tipped, some not. I’m unsure why everyone not was tipped but 🤷🏼‍♀️
Now the only reason I wanted contact with his suspected caretaker was to see if she needed any assistance with her cats and to at least have history on him/know he has a “home base”. I used to work in a shelter specifically with cats, as well as several years in vet clinics. My fear was if anything happened to him via cat fighting, hit by car, etc I’d be the one making the call on what to do (if I was even legally allowed to not being the “owner”)

I wouldn’t be against trying to get him into a rescue, however I live the south now where animal welfare efforts are sadly stretched thin. Especially with cats. Our counties are literally overrun with cats and euthanasia rates are pretty high. Most no kill facilities are not open admissions to the public and they only pull from high kill municipal shelters. We’ve gotten to a point where even animal control has started turning away stray calls because there’s simply no space. Last week they even left a cat stuck in a sewer drain for four days despite neighborhood panic 😣 A local TNR group had to come get that cat.
There is one no kill cat only rescue my fiancé used a few years ago for a stray, this place maybe my only option- hopefully their admission is still open but intake may have a waiting list for a while. My worry would be this neighbor thinking we’re “stealing” or “relocating” cats if this one was to kind of disappear and if this was to start some type of neighborhood dispute- given we’ve posted about this cat and left them a note, they would know it was us. He does still make short rounds over there but always just comes back to my porch. However if I wait a few months this may not be a factor.

The other concern with getting him into a shelter would perhaps be knowing he may not thrive or be “adoptable”- he is extremely cat reactive and scared of enclosed spaces. It may just be my past of seeing cats decline in the shelter systems high stress environment. As friendly as he is with people, there are times his behavior is a bit unpredictable and it makes me wonder exactly how long he’s been outdoors or if he’s ever even been indoors. I just wish I knew. I guess I’ll try to touch base with the cat rescue and see what they say about everything, I can’t be the only person who’s ever encountered this situation 😕

For now though the only plan I’ve come up with is trying to enclose a lean to attached to my garage to hopefully give him comfort and more shelter through the winter. **If anyone has any tips on caring for a cat who won’t go inside of traditional cat shelters please advise.**

My plan is to at least get walls up on the lean to and to build a shelf for him to be up off the ground but this may take a while to get done. For right now on my porch he’s using a cat bed and outdoor pet heating pad that’s under near a chair. Of course it’s going to be storming the next few days and nothing is water proof- especially the bed. I’m going to try to get a weatherproof tarp to drape other the chair and make a “tent” for him. Last time it stormed (prior to me taking on care for him) he ended up sleeping inside a grill cover to get out of the rain 🙁
Here’s the boy sunbathing in his less than ideal makeshift set up 🙃
145A3E6A-82DB-499D-8523-3FE03E8CC661.jpeg
 
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6CatsandCounting

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Also, another question- I’ve only fed him for about a week here and there just out of pity. I realize this is probably a mistake. If I was to not leave food out to prevent fighting from the possibility of other cats roaming over here, would this be fine? Assuming the house across the road does provide food. I don’t think he would have become “reliant” on my food sources after a week.
My fiancé is kind of annoyed by me doing this already because we have our six indoor cats and money is pretty tight because of them (three have expensive medical needs)
I only started giving this stray food because of the cold fronts coming in and knowing that the cat’s caloric needs were higher to stay warm but i do understand my partners frustration that I can’t take on the cost of feeding another cat and the longer I provide the more dependent he’ll become, plus the risk of more cats showing up.
 

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Thank you for taking care of this cat! I understand that you have reached out to the colony caretakers who must be the folks who were feeding this little guy and never heard back. Do you think it would help if you made one more attempt? Do you ever see them outside? Is there another neighbor who is friendlier with them who might be willing to check with them? You had mentioned that if you were to find a rescue for him, you were worried that these neighbors would think you were "stealing" him if he were to disappear. It seems odd that anyone who is taking care of outdoor cats would not appreciate your concern and desire to return this cat to his colony if possible.
 
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6CatsandCounting

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Thank you for taking care of this cat! I understand that you have reached out to the colony caretakers who must be the folks who were feeding this little guy and never heard back. Do you think it would help if you made one more attempt? Do you ever see them outside? Is there another neighbor who is friendlier with them who might be willing to check with them? You had mentioned that if you were to find a rescue for him, you were worried that these neighbors would think you were "stealing" him if he were to disappear. It seems odd that anyone who is taking care of outdoor cats would not appreciate your concern and desire to return this cat to his colony if possible.
I definitely found it odd too that no one reached back out. For example, the other caretaker on my street (across the road) was very kind about my original Nextdoor post about this cat a couple weeks ago and told me it wasn’t one of hers, got me in touch with another older women a few houses down that has a colony of 15 or so on her acre and it didn’t belong to her colony either. So that’s when I started to kind of watch where this cat would travel. And where he goes is across the road the opposite way from those houses. The house has a couple of cats that hangs out front, a few obvious feeding stations out front too, and even several cat shelters that are visible in the back. So I’m kind of stumped on why they didn’t respond, even if it was to say “hey yes I feed him but he doesn’t technically belong to me” or whatever 🤷🏼‍♀️ If they at least said that I would feel comfortable trying to get him into a rescue.
But I agree with trying again to get into communication, I just didn’t want to be that “new nosy neighbor” or something along those lines. I literally just move here over the summer 😅
I do speak with a neighbor directly next to me who has lived here a long while so hopefully soon I can strike up a conversation with him and see if he knows them or of this cat. otherwise I’m hoping to at least see someone outside of the house I can talk to one day. I’ve toyed with the idea of knocking on their door but unsure of how they may respond.
my running theory is that it’s a husband and wife who live in that house, the wife takes care of these cats and the husband found our note and tossed it because the hates the cats and hopes that we just take him in instead 🙃
 

Furballsmom

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Assuming the house across the road does provide food.
Probably the only way you'll know for certain is if his body condition begins to deteriorate. I don't mean that harshly, --we have strays along with housecats that people allow outside, here in my neighborhood, and that's my only guage for whether I need to take action or not.
 
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6CatsandCounting

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Probably the only way you'll know for certain is if his body condition begins to deteriorate. I don't mean that harshly
I definitely understand what you’re saying- it’s not harsh at all. Since he’s been in good body condition for the few months he’s been showing up I do believe he *was* eating else where before this last week, now if he’ll still go there for food is another thing. I guess I just feel dumb for intervening with his food sourcing out of empathy- don’t get me wrong, I LOVE cats but sometimes my emotions led me to doing things I probably should not. Like shelter is very easy since I already had supplies to provide. Another cat to feed, with the possibility of luring more over here and causing more cat fights than normal, is something I’m debating about after my partner talked to me about it 😕
I thinks he’s mostly just frustrated with the cat now hanging out begging for food any time we go outside (I try to only put out what he will eat within 15-30 mins to avoid luring cats) and the fact that this cat now hops on to the window ledge and yodels/howls at our indoor cats. I can’t say I’m too thrilled about those new issues either. I guess his thought is that if I’m not regularly feeding him he won’t be here 24/7 at least. He’s fine with the cat sleeping on the porch, hanging out in the yard, but I guess the constant harassment for food and having to take on the consistent expense of supplying it is something to factor.
i am hopeful that if I’m able to build onto the lean to that’s attached to our garage the cats shelter space will be further away from our house and will defuse the situation a bit. The feeding situation is something we will have to sort out over time.
 
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6CatsandCounting

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Updates:
  • we’ve caved and have continued feeding him as the situation is pretty heartbreaking. It’s difficult to just ignored the cat.
  • The “tarp tent” shelter worked out well for the big storm, everything stayed dried and the boy seems to enjoy it. We successfully managed to move his set up to the side porch. But, this didn’t make a difference as he still hangs at the back door occasionally fighting with my indoor cats through the glass and bottom of door
  • He is still finding new window ledges to hop up on to fight with my cats through too
    57BC5D10-4908-4982-AE1D-D6396072A1B6.jpeg
  • I spoke with my neighbor about this cat, he doesn’t know who owns it. He said he’s seen it at another house I haven’t tried to touch base with. He does not know the neighbors I had left the note with (who never responded) His best bet is it was someone’s cat that they either dumped/stopped caring for and that it’s currently just a “traveler” that gets fed at various feeding stations around.


I plan to reach out to this cat rescue to see what their waiting period would look like/if they can take him in despite the “possibility” he could be someone’s outdoor cat.

Also has anyone ever used the plastic cat deterrent mats? My fiancé has been looking into them for the windowsills outside to keep him off the ledges. Reviews and descriptions say they aren’t designed to harm the cats but I just worry they *could*
Cat deterrent mat
 

Avery

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I'm looking at the photo of the cat on the window ledge and brainstorming things that could work! Kind of MacGyvering! I wonder if there is a way to make the ledge inaccessible. I'm picturing a board resting on the ledge at an angle so he would not be able to get on the ledge at all but would slide off if he tries. Or a piece of heavy cardboard in a similar angled fashion, but held in place by closing one edge under the window and letting the cardboard hang slightly over the ledge so there is no room for him to sit. Or I wonder if any kind of deterrent spray would work. Supposedly, cats hate citrus smells. Hopefully, whatever you try could be temporary until he gets the message!
 

IndyJones

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The problem with deterents is they wash off anytime it rains or snows.

The cat deterent mats, i have the exact same ones to keep raccoons out of the swimming pool

They look far more menacing than they actualy are, I have accidently stepped on them barefoot getting out of the pool and while they don't feel great they also don't do any damage if stepped on, they kind of give a bit.

Chicken wire hurts far more than the spike mats do. Not that ive stepped bare foot on chicken wire but i have handled it enough to know it is sharp enough to cut you.
 
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