The feral cat relocation: the release process

ldg

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Here's the post where we learned we have to move: http://www.thecatsite.com/t/283217/we-have-to-move-need-advice-on-relocating-6-9-feral-cats

We decided to use cages inside of a tent.




TCS angels donated cages! :heart2:

The kitties settled right in.

Baloo:



Next to him, his pal Smokey:



Froggie:



Khol:



Dottie - we decided to bring her inside. She came inside in November, and is no longer in her cage here. It's down and put away.



Bean, the newbie. He showed up in July, but became friends with Treebie. He was here for most meals, so along he came. :heart2:



And finally, Treebie.



We debated about bringing Tommy and Peanutbutter. Tommy stopped coming by, we took that as a sign he was best left in the territory he knows. Peanutbutter came by to say good-bye. :rub:

We relocated seven. With Dottie inside, we're in the process of releasing six. We are not releasing them into an enclosure, they will have free run.
 
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ldg

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We began the release process just after Christmas. Baloo and Smokey were first. Smokey poked around for a few minutes - and then started dashing around, climbing up each tree, jumping down, running to the next, up the tree in a few seconds... it was wonderful!









Bean - I was so worried he would run. He ran around checking things out. He said "hi" to Smokey and Baloo - and then disappeared. But he came back at the dinner meal! He came inside the tent - with a little coaxing, he went into his cage. I was so relieved!

This is the process, so far. I let the boys out in the morning, and they come home at night, I close them up. The problem? I can't leave the tent door open at night until there is no food in it. Don't want any closed area encounters between the cats and wildlife.

More happy outdoor kitty pics:



Baloo SO HAPPY TO SEE THE RV!



After that first day, Bean doesn't travel far. :)



Baloo AND Smokey did let Bean know who's who. ;)





Khol ventured out...




She ventured around the tent, and went back in. Since then, she will poke her head out the tent door, but doesn't seem to be in any hurry to leave.

Froggie had no interest in leaving - until yesterday!


She kept going in and out - rather, venturing out a ways and dashing back inside. :lol3:


Treebie only started leaving his crate recently!


I never foresaw the tent becoming homebase. I expected they'd all want out, and they'd want nothing to do with those cages! I suspect it'll be a few more weeks before we can leave the cages open all the time and tent open all the time. I need to start a new routine - picking up the food at night. I figure I'll give them about an hour. We do have their shelters and feeding stations set up.
 
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ondine

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Oh wow, Laurie, they seem to be adjusting really well.  Maybe you can get a shed out where the tent is as "home base."  It will give you an area for a litter box and maybe beds - give them a place to go when they don't feel like being outside.

Good job!  It is so exciting to see all your hard work pay off. 
 

catwoman707

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I am seriously smiling right now, not so much for words to describe what a lovely job you've done with this big move, the pics of the kids out and about now has my heart smiling!

As @Ondine  mentions, a shed or other more permanent structure can replace the tent in time and once they are established enough that taking the tent home down won't cause a pain :)

SO NICE.

(I am in love with your new home Laurie!) Bet you are loving it too!
 

feralvr

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SUPER DUPER JOB, Laurie !!!!!!!!!!!!! From the beginning of this whole process up till now - it could not be going any smoother or any better. And the key IS going super slow just as you and Gary did by keeping the cats confined for weeks. That is how you reach a successful feral cat relocation. :bigthumb: :high5: I would leave the tent up for as long as you can, if it were me, even till Spring. Hopefully the tent will bear the brunt of this winter :cross:. Eventually when you get to this point, you won't even be feeding in the tent (;) that is what I would do) and only feed in the outdoor shelters/feeding stations BUT leaving the tent up and the cages up still. This is another stage in the whole process to make the changes slowly over weeks/months.

I love seeing the pictures. My goodness, your property is GORGEOUS. Such lucky kitties and lots of trees to hang in. A MUCH better home/territory and a safer home/territory than the RV Park, for sure. Such a great success story thus far and will keep up the vibes for continued success! You certainly have to be sleeping better now just knowing that they are not wanting to stray far from the tent but all the while getting to know in and around the outside of the house, SEEING THE RV :clap2:, and then back to the safety of the tent. A BIG SIGH OF RELIEF !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! All of your hard work has paid off - a labor of pure love too. :heart3: :clap::clap: :sun: :hugs: and more of these for continued success even though I think we KNOW it has already happened. :cross: :vibes::vibes::vibes::vibes::vibes::vibes::vibes::vibes::vibes::vibes::vibes::vibes::vibes::vibes::vibes::vibes::vibes:
 
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ldg

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The one thing I'm seeing is FAT kitties! :lol3: They NEED out and to be running around!

This move definitely changed the dynamic of the group a bit. Froggie and Khol - while still hissy - are MUCH more tolerant of other cats being near them. Bean has been accepted as part of the group, and Smokey runs out after him. They bump and rub, and they'll roll around and play together. Bean will come flying up to Smoke and launch off of him - like leapfrog! :lol3: It's just totally adorable. Baloo still has Smokey has his groupie, but Baloo is too grumpy for anyone else to bother. Bean has tried a few times, but Baloo always puts him in his place. ;) SO FAR, Baloo is being a benevolent dictator. I hope it remains that way. Other kitties hung on the edges because he was a PIA to deal with. He may get bossier once he - and everyone - is more comfortable. But the advantage, here, is that it's new territory to everyone, and Baloo hasn't already staked a claim.

We *really* need a picnic table out there. That was "center stage" at the RV park - and with a tarp over it, made a lovely central feeding station that worked even if it was raining.

We don't have any shelters under the RV yet. We need to locate more straw! But we'd like to get a few under it ASAP, as clearly the kitties remember it and it's becoming a hide-out / playground.

Lauren, our going so slow, as you know, was actually planned out. It just worked out this way - and thank goodness, because (knock wood), things have been going so well! :cross:
 

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Laurie, I've just seen this.. What wonderful photographs that tell such a great story!

Thank you for sharing.
 
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ldg

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This surely has been interesting and quite the learning experience.

We thought the cats would be anxious to be out of their cages, out of the tent, and using the shelters, enjoying their freedom. Well freedom they wanted, but the tent became home base, the safe space. I did not foresee that!

So two things have happened that completely changed the course of the introduction-to-outside process:

1) Froggie went exploring despite a fair amount of snow on the ground. She got scared, hid, and big winds completely changed the landscape and likely lost the scent trail. On the third day of her being gone and my searches turning up nothing, in advance of the big storm, I called my animal communicator, who helped me find her the next morning. :heart2: This is a particularly cold, snowy winter, and other than Treebie in the old feral villa, none of the cats have staked out territory.

2) In the last snowstorm, the temps were pretty warm here, so the snow was very heavy. We didn't get out frequently enough, and the main pole across the tent broke. We were going to prop it up from underneath, but it was slowly sagging inwards, causing the snow to slide towards the center: there wasn't an efficient way to remove the weight quickly enough. It became apparent we needed to get the cats out of the tent rather than fix it.

We moved them in their crates to the back bedroom. The house is built into a hill, it was too snowy and icy to get them down and into the garage. And poor Gary was so bad off from pain he could only help with the first two cats.

We have decided to put up a permanent home for them. We'll have a shed built as soon as weather permits. In the meantime, they're caged until I can get all the boxes of books out of that room (it is going to be library / office). Then we'll bring up the cat trees from the RV, add shelters that can be moved into the shed with them, and we'll get rid of most of the cages, and they won't be locked up.

Once the shed is up, we'll just move their things and them to the shed. It will have a loft and functional windows, heater if needed, etc.

The collapse of the tent happened slowly, so the kitties really weren't that scared or freaked out, and they settled in to their new digs pretty much right away. :rub:

Bean's cage didn't fit through the bedroom door, even with the door off, so he's not in this pic from the night this happened. His cage was in the kitchen.

Treebie is under the off-white blanket; Baloo the red; Froggie the tan.



Smokey is towards the far wall, Khol's in front.



And here's the kitties. Treebie was hiding. ;)









Khol's hidey box was cardboard. I had to drag her cage over the snow, and a bunch got in and subsequently melted, ruining her box. :( She was not happy at first about her new bed.



Last, but not least, our brave Beanie boy. He made friends with Billy and Ming Loy while in the kitchen. :lol3:



With snow and more snow - and more snow - on the way, and temps falling to below zero or single digits at night, I have to say I'm glad this happened. :heart2: :nod:
 
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the3rdname

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Just saw this thread for the first time and, wow, what a tremendous feat you've accomplished!  You deserve serious kudos for all the effort you've expended in moving and caring for the kitties.  I'll have to refer to your threads for inspiration whenever the time is right for relocating my (admittedly small) colony.  

I hope your ferals realize how lucky they are!    
 

feralvr

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Ooooooooo !!! LOVE the pictures, I couldn't click the keyboard fast enough to see your updated post. Things always do happen for a reason, as you already know I feel this way. At first, yes, it was a bit of a freak out time as to WHAT NOW !!!!!!! But, I think two good things happened. Now, the kitties are going to safe and secure until the shed is ready and will become even more bonded and socialized with you and Gary AND..... NOW you don't have to be up worrying and stressed about them running off and getting lost, dealing with the bad weather, corralling them up to the tent and night and zipping them in. SO - this was a "blessing" :lol3: in disguise. Easier for you now too, no more going in and outside to tend to them.

Great job set up in the bedroom and I love the new plan to make it a nice room for them once you have things organized, moved out, AND the cat trees, etc. moved in. Brilliant idea to set up the shed the same as the room once that is ready. It will be such an easy transition for them! HOW is your indoor crew doing with knowing the bedroom is full of their friends from outside? I imagine they are all cool about it and doesn't bother them one bit. :D :rub:
 
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ldg

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I've been clearing the boxes out. Almost done! I've been letting all of them but Beanie out (I can't pick him up yet).

Our cats are not bothered in the least with them in there. I guess we've had enough new introductions the past year that more cats don't affect them. :lol3:

Flowerbelle slipped in the room without me noticing as I was bringing stuff out. I walked in to her and Khol sniffing each other. :thud: (For those that don't know, two of the six not-so-feral cats are girls, and they are both very hissy pissy, and don't like other cats. This process has definitely altered that, though something this not hissy pissy is completely unanticipated!).

I have been wanting Khol inside. This relocation has reinforced that, as she had so little interest in exploring outside. I kept dismissing the idea because I couldn't see her not freaking out with us having 10 other cats inside. Gary thought the idea was completely insane. She's so cool with exploring new space (tent, this bedroom) that my plan to convert Gary to this idea is to put Khol in our bedroom with him when I play and then feed the indoor kitties. Little by little... ;)

Oh - Billy went in too. I saw but didn't stop him. THAT was a mistake. He's a very cat-friendly cat, that's not the issue. No, he is obsessed with their food! He sits outside the door and cries now. :rolleyes:
 
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feralvr

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:cross: ON Mr. Bean letting you hold him by the time that shed is ready or Spring, whichever is first. ;)

I had a feeling your gang would not wince at anything new anymore. :lol3: SO many "new" additions, and new everything and they are fabulously and famously going with the flow. I think you have a lot to do with that too. ;) :nod: :bigthumb:

OOoooooooo - OK - this is the first I have heard of considering Kohl inside :hyper: and couldn't be MORE thrilled over it AND hope it all works out as I know it WILL. I think she has shown you that outdoors may just not be her thing anymore. :nod: Surely, Gary will give in and fall for her and fall for your gentle persuasion. I mean, THAT FACE on Kohl, it is to melt over IMO. :heart3: I bet she will fit right in too. Really, she already knows Pawley and Dot !!!!!!!!!!! And, now Flowerbelle has given her stamp of approval. :rub: :lol: I am sure Billy will make her feel right at home too. AND, :flail: OH YOU DIDN'T - letting Billy in that room. OF course, now, Mr. Smooth has a new fun room that he has yet had enough time to explore before momma "tossed" him out. :lol2: Surely, he will be taking every opportunity to get back in there. That is how Wendall would be too. ;)

Boy!! The tent collapse certainly has brought much excitement, joy, unanticipated surprises and happiness. It is all GOOD. :D :nod: :sun:
 
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ldg

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My goodness the changes that have happened over the past three months!

First - we bought a shed! It is 8 x 12, will be clay colored - a kind of ... mossy gray?, and it is going in on May 14 - next week on Thursday! :woohoo:

We don't know exactly where it will be placed - but not far from where the tent was, back in that general area.

Meanwhile... I can pick up Bean. He DEMANDS pets, he grabs my hands for more - he is the cutest, sweetest purr baby boy! He totally deserves a home where he can sleep in bed with his family, but I don't know how to adopt out FIV+ cats. Shelters / rescues / TNR groups here just kill them. So he's part of the family, even though we are making him live outside. If it were up to me, we'd have inside-outside cats. But it isn't, and Gary has drawn the line. The cats are either inside or outside.

I can't blame him: we're 99.9% sure he's suffering from long term lyme and tick bite co-infections. We just moved into the middle of NJ forest overflowing with deer - there are ticks, and I'm sure lots of them. I'm also 99.9% sure it is our work with the cats that resulted in tick bites. So I don't blame Gary for his feelings on this subject.

OK, what's changed. Bear in mind, they're still in the back bedroom - shed isn't in until late next week.

1) Treebie, who used to sit on the sidelines and watch Baloo, Khol, and Smokey and I go for walkies in the huge field twice a day is now part of the gang. He is best buddies with Smokey, and they are just always together. :heart2:

2) Bean is crazy friendly and loving. He has loads of energy as the 2-year old baby of the group. But even he defers to Baloo as King Kitty, so they've got their pecking order in order.

3) Smokey is "Dad" kitty. He has found his "own," and doesn't totally kow-tow to Baloo any longer. He does force baths on Bean. :lol3:

4) After Sheldon passed, we decided that worrying about Khol disappearing was something we didn't need in our lives, so we pulled her from the room and put her in the other guest bedroom. She got what was going on right away - I mean she got it, and boy is she one happy cat! We started intros by opening the door a bit daily - and yes, she remains very hissy pissy. She does not like other cats, and I doubt that will ever change. But her definition of personal space is MUCH smaller than it was. She barely hisses at Pawley. She doesn't get Ming Loy, who falls over (Cerebellar Hypoplasia for those that don't know) when Khol hisses at her. :lol3: But she has been out and about, exploring more and more of the house - and getting better and better about freaking out on the other cats. She is terribly fat, and I'm slowly working on getting the weight off of her.

5) Gary and I have only very briefly "discussed" it... but I'm 97% sure we are going to keep Froggie in. I expect we'll take all the stuff out of the room (cat tree, scratcher, beds, blankets, toys, crates, boxes, etc) and put them in the shed for the four boys (Baloo, Smokey, Treebie and Bean) and just leave Froggie in place with HER cat tree and cage with her box and bed (it's open all the time). I suspect she would be ecstatic to have her own space and yet get played with and have regular food. She's the one that has disappered several times at the RV park - and did not come back on her own. I would accidentally see her, and coax her with food, grab her and crate her and bring her home. In chats with our animal communicator, she says it's Baloo that puts her off - and now I'm sure we can add Bean to the list, as he tends to treat Froggie as a live toy. :rolleyes: She is NOT amused and has no interest in playing with him. So I would be very, very VERY surprised if we put her back outside.

This means the dynamic inside has completely changed. We had 6 males and three females, only one hissy pissy (Spooky). After Shelly crossing the bridge and bringing inside permanently all three girls (assuming we do keep Froggie in) we relocated in the "feral" cat relocation (they are SO not feral any longer! Skittish, yes, scared of anyone but Gary and I, yes, but ... ;) ), we would have 11 cats inside, five males and six females, three of those hissy pissy. :lol3:

FYI, Dottie, who came inside in November, is doing just awesome. She spends 99% of her time on the drafting table and the dining table, though she ventures over to the hutch - but she does explore at night, and she knows the kitchen, living room, the linen closet (which is where she hides when scared - like when we have people in to work on something). She's happy in her "up" world (table tops), and LOVES pets. She is still scared of toys. :dk: She loves bird watching - but she gets along with all of the other cats. The drafting table often has Pawley and Chumley hanging out on it with her. Everyone loves Dottie, she is just soooooo sweet!

As Gary and I have to attend a trade show the weekend after the shed goes in, I'm not 100% sure we move the cats out there the minute the shed is up. :lol3: And Bean has to go to the vet on his way out to the shed - now that we can handle him, he's got to have his microchip put in. With that done, we at least have a hope of using the microchip door. :lol3:

I don't have a picture of the actual shed, but this is similar to what it's going to look like

 
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ldg

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Khol, in her own room. :rub:

The very first night. She was purring, pushing, head-bonking like crazy. She's cuddled into me, pushing up against me so hard (I'm lying down on "her" bed. :lol3: )




Yesterday? Two days ago? Recently. ;)

 
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ldg

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Smokey and Treebie. :rub:




Smokey giving Bean a bath. :lol3:




Beautiful Treebie. :heart2:




Froggie! She claimed the tree in the end, and enjoys watching out the window. Though she does like to hang out underneath at times and jump out to scare anyone walking by. ;)


Just being happy....

 

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I can't believe I missed this thread! I remember your thread about moving from the RV and into your new home. So happy to hear the cats have all settled in well.

That shed looks great, your place is going to be one of those luxury country resorts for lucky kitties. 


Such handsome cats, Baloo and Treebie have both got beautiful faces.

Well done Laurie, I'm glad everything worked out well.

 
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