We have brought a community cat inside--Advice Please!

Jbrookat

TCS Member
Thread starter
Young Cat
Joined
Jan 12, 2019
Messages
32
Reaction score
55
I posted about this cat about a month ago. He was TNR'd and chipped as part of a "Community Cats" program in late May and showed up in my backyard in early June. I verified with the local shelter that he was a "Community Cat" and not a pet, but there is really nothing feral about this cat. He loves pats, enjoys people, and he has been essentially living on my deck for four weeks now. We feed him and provide water, we visit with him on the deck several times a day, and he has always been a little nippy with my kids, but it has decreased over time. I have been working with a local rescue to try to find him a foster or a placement, but there has been no luck there. In the meantime, my children have grown increasingly attached to him. He has also been terrorized every day by my neighbor's very territorial indoor/outdoor cat, and this morning he had scratches on his face from a scuffle with that cat. So this morning, after much begging from the kids, my husband finally relaxed the "cat quota" and we brought him inside.

His name is Tucker, and he is current on rabies (they do that when they TNR here) and flea treatment (I did that, since we were petting him so much), and he has a vet appointment in 10 days for everything else.
In the meantime, he is isolated in my daughter's bedroom with his food, water, and litter. I have two other cats who are definitely aware he is there, but other than everyone sniffing suspicuously around the door, there have been no issues among the cats (yet).

He slept and groomed and kneaded whenever we went into her room to visit him today, and he never seemed at all inclined to try to leave. There has been no meowing, no scratching at the door, not even any wistful looks out the window. He has used the litter box perfectly. He actually crawled almost onto my lap at one point today, which he had never done before, so I think he is pretty happy.

Tonight, when my daughter went to go to sleep, Tucker initially curled up next to her (it was precious and she was thrilled), but then he sauntered off under the bed. When she leaned over the side of the bed to look for him, he clawed her across the face.

So now my husband is freaking out. He thinks we need to put Tucker back outside because he is "too wild." My daughter insists Tucker didn't mean anything, she told us she was looking him in the eye and she thinks he got scared because cats think that is a sign of aggression. (FWIW, she is 8, she has read many cat behavior books, and she wants to be a wildlife officer when she grows up, LOL). She does not want him to go outside and got hysterical when my husband mentioned that. She went to sleep on the bunk bed in my son's room tonight so Tucker could have "his space".

In the meantime, I am trying to convince my husband that Tucker is not a lost cause.....but please help me know what to do next. Aside from visiting him during the day, keeping him isolated, and being calm around him, is there anything else I should be doing? I'd hate to have to put him back outside because I think he really likes it in here, but how can I help him adjust?
 

Furballsmom

Cat Fan especially Black Cats
Staff Member
Forum Helper
Joined
Jan 9, 2018
Messages
26,221
Reaction score
35,575
Location
Colorado USA
I'd hate to have to put him back outside because I think he really likes it in here, but how can I help him adjust?
Try claw caps in addition to clipping his claws, and honestly I can't see anything that you need to do differently for this cat other than know that your daughter was exactly correct, and your husband hopefully can give him more time.
 

Jcatbird

TCS Member
Top Cat
Joined
Dec 5, 2017
Messages
6,603
Reaction score
33,463
Location
Southern U.S.
That cat is not a feral cat. He sounds like he was a dumped pet or somehow lost his family. I am totally in love with your kids, and your daughter is right on the money. Looking him in the eyes was scary and threatening to a cat who just got swiped by another cat. For a pet to be thrown into a colony puts him at great risk and he has probably been scared as long as he has been there. Life outside is a huge risk and lifespan is much shorter for him in a colony. You are giving him a better quality of life and are actually saving his life since at some point he could face predators, cars, other cats chasing him into danger, threat of inclement weather etc. etc.
I have brought in and socialized an entire, large colony for adoption. They were true ferals and even the wildest of them all became a big old teddy bear in time. It does take some time and getting through the vet check is good. There is a process that helps kitty to adapt and he will need proper introductions to the others over time. This scratching was an unfortunate accident but your daughter is very in tune to cat behavior. I am impressed. I truly hope you will stick to letting this cat join your family. It’s a great teaching experience for your daughter and I wish all parents would teach their children the compassion and understanding shown here.
Slow blinks when looking at kitty and no staring him down. If he turns his back, he is trying to tell you he is finished talking. Cat speak is part of learning cat behavior. Time for him to learn that he is safe is important. He sounds like a wonderful kitty. Please do keep us posted, and I hope you can look up some information here that your daughter would enjoy.
The picture and video forum can give you all some smiles.
There are lots of threads here about how to integrate cats. I wish something like this had been available when I did my first rescues as a girl. Thank you all for helping him!
 
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #4

Jbrookat

TCS Member
Thread starter
Young Cat
Joined
Jan 12, 2019
Messages
32
Reaction score
55
Thank you furballsmom and jcatbird! I will try clipping his claws tomorrow! And jcatbird, I will definitely share your kind words of encouragement with my daughter!

I also remembered reading about Feliway somewhere in these forums, so I bought a diffuser and the spray on Amazon. Here's hoping!

I will definitely keep you all posted. Tucker is not a fighter at all. I have had to use a spray bottle on my neighbor's tabby 2-3 times a day for the past month to keep him off Tucker, and I have only seen Tucker lash back twice in all that time. I have also thought he must be a dumped pet, and that breaks my heart. But I do worry about how introductions with my resident cats will go. They are a bonded pair of littermates. Toffee is my dominant Tortie and she can be very territorial also. Mittens is a calico, and she still gets nervous anytime we rearrange furniture, so I know this is going to be a challenge for her.
 

Jcatbird

TCS Member
Top Cat
Joined
Dec 5, 2017
Messages
6,603
Reaction score
33,463
Location
Southern U.S.
Many of us here have been through touchy introductions. Slow, steady and patient. Sometimes the kitties can surprise us too. I have an old Tom that surprised , pretty much , everyone here who had been reading about bringing him in. I also have a Tortie and a Calico so I understand the personality traits. Since the rescue has already experienced being slapped around by the neighbor cat, he may be submissive to the cats you have. Take it all in kitten steps. A little at a time. I’m sure that lots of others will be checking in to give helpful tips. That’s the great thing about TCS, everyone here has information to share and will be supportive as you go along. One other though, any cat you ever have could possibly deliver a scratch. I understand that a Father would be protective of his daughter but I think with this cat just coming in, the difference is simply that this cat is unknown. As he comes to know the kitty, he may be more comfortable with the situation. Husband likes cats? Maybe you could encourage Dad to play with or spend time with new kitty? If Dad bonds with new kitty first, it’s his kitty. ;) Awww look everyone! Tucker loves Daddy! Let Father feed Tucker some Gerber 2nd foods all meat baby food or other super yummy cat treat. Done regularly, Tucker will feel the love.
 
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #7

Jbrookat

TCS Member
Thread starter
Young Cat
Joined
Jan 12, 2019
Messages
32
Reaction score
55
Thank you for the link to the article, furballsmom! There was lots of good information there! It helps a lot.

Jcatbird, my husband enjoys our current indoor cats, and we have pretty much always had at least one cat sharing our home, but he is not a cat lover in the way that me and my kids are. He would never go to a cat cafe for fun, or attempt to make friends with strange cats while out on a walk. He grew up in the country, around "working" (barn) cats, and he still sort of believes that cats "belong" outside. Our current cats adore him, though. Toffee curls up with him most nights while he watches television, and both the cats regularly crashed his Zoom Meetings when he was working remotely back in March/April and he found it endearing. I think getting him to bond with Tucker is critical. Fingers crossed, maybe I can get him to spend some time in the room with Tucker this weekend.

Morning update: No meowing, no hisses of cat rage from my indoor kitties last night, so that is good. Tucker had knocked some items off a bookshelf in my daughter's bedroom, but that was probably an accident. One of my resident cats has peed on the floor, I am sure from stress of smelling Tucker through the door. At least the floor is hardwood and not carpet.
 

Furballsmom

Cat Fan especially Black Cats
Staff Member
Forum Helper
Joined
Jan 9, 2018
Messages
26,221
Reaction score
35,575
Location
Colorado USA
Hopefully that feliway helps, and try cat music, there's Spotify, YouTube, relaxmycat and Musicforcats :)
 
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #9

Jbrookat

TCS Member
Thread starter
Young Cat
Joined
Jan 12, 2019
Messages
32
Reaction score
55
Furballsmom, my resident cats absolutely loved that music for cats on YouTube, especially my calico! She got this completely blissful expression and just relaxed, it was amazing. She loves music anyway, we always have music on here, but I had never seen her react quite like that before!

Tucker has had a good day. We have visited with him many times, including my husband. He is so happy. He purrs loudly and kneads whenever we come in. He is loving my daughter's bed. I hope she gets to sleep in it again, eventually. Do you think it would be ok for her to sleep in there while he is isolated there? Or would that be too stressful for him?

We did the first day of the sock scent exchange today. My calico was very interested in the smells off the sock, she sniffed it for a long time. My tortie smelled it once, hissed loudly, and stalked off to lurk under the bed for an hour. She is normally a total love bug but she is highly suspicious right now. Tucker did not react at all to the sock we rubbed all over Toffee (the tortie), but we suspect that is because the room he is isolated in reeks of her scent already. He sniffed once then went back to sleep, LOL.
 

Furballsmom

Cat Fan especially Black Cats
Staff Member
Forum Helper
Joined
Jan 9, 2018
Messages
26,221
Reaction score
35,575
Location
Colorado USA
She got this completely blissful expression and just relaxed, it was amazing.
I'm SO glad!! :purr:

Do you think it would be ok for her to sleep in there while he is isolated there?
See how he reacts when she's in there by herself, she can lie down and pretend-sleep which should give you a fairly good idea of what he'll do. I'm thinking/hoping he'll just snuggle with her like he did before, or at the least be very "chill" about her presence...

My tortie smelled it once, hissed loudly, and stalked off to lurk under the bed for an hour.
Sounds like a little bit of tortie-tude :)

He sniffed once then went back to sleep, LOL.
I love this cat!!
 
Last edited:
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #11

Jbrookat

TCS Member
Thread starter
Young Cat
Joined
Jan 12, 2019
Messages
32
Reaction score
55
We tried the fake sleeping. He did settle down right next to her, started grooming and purring loudly, and seemed okay generally. She is still awake and reading and hasn't gone to sleep for real yet, so that will be the true test. I hope it goes well and he doesn't want to play in the middle of the night, or worse freak out that she is there and not leaving. My kids and I talked through what we'd do if he keeps her awake or panics again-it's either she has to sleep in brother's bunk bed until isolation ends, or we have to relocate his safe room to the kids bathroom. Neither of those situations is ideal, so I hope he settles in. I am worried, but only time will tell.

LOL on Tortie-tude! She does have some spunk, but she is an absolute sweetheart. She is devoted to the calico, Mittens, and constantly "defends" her turf (through the window) from the neighbor's tabby. Maybe she and Tucker can eventually bond over their dislike for the neighbor's tabby, LOL.
 

Sylvia Jones

TCS Member
Adult Cat
Joined
Jun 11, 2019
Messages
232
Reaction score
350
I’m cheering for your success I think it will be a reality sooner rather than later We would love to see pictures of all 3 kitty’s
 
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #14

Jbrookat

TCS Member
Thread starter
Young Cat
Joined
Jan 12, 2019
Messages
32
Reaction score
55
Thank you! I will try to upload some pictures of all three kitties later today.

Last night went sooooo well with Tucker! My daughter says he slept curled up with her most of the night, which was a dream come true for her. She has been trying to get our resident cats to sleep all night on her bed for years. She says Tucker got up a few times in the night, but he always settled right back down.

However, my resident cats are super freaked. There were two potty accidents last night :( Luckily, I figured this might happen and stocked up on Nature's Miracle a few days ago. There was also a brief, unintentional visual contact between Tucker and Toffee (the Tortie) this morning. I was cleaning up litter in my daughter's room and when my daughter came into the room, and she accidentally left the door slightly cracked. Toffee and Tucker had maybe a 5 second visual contact through about a half-inch gap. Toffee hissed loudly at him and stalked off, and now she's hiding under my bed and not speaking to me. The Feliway is supposed to arrive today. Hopefully it will help her relax.

It also does not help matters that my neighbor's tabby has reclaimed "his" deck now that Tucker is inside, and whenever he sees my resident cats through the glass, he hisses at them.
 
Last edited:

Furballsmom

Cat Fan especially Black Cats
Staff Member
Forum Helper
Joined
Jan 9, 2018
Messages
26,221
Reaction score
35,575
Location
Colorado USA
Try spraying lemon scented furniture polish in small pieces of cloth and place those around the deck. The citrus smell might be enough to deter him, or there are other cat deterrent options if this doesn't work.

he slept curled up with her most of the night,
Oh, WOW... my heart is filled with joy for the both of them!!
 
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #16

Jbrookat

TCS Member
Thread starter
Young Cat
Joined
Jan 12, 2019
Messages
32
Reaction score
55
Does citrus deter cats?? I had no idea!! I will try that.

Here are the kitties. Toffee is the Tortie, Mittens is the calico, and they adore each other. 0712201239.jpg

And here is Tucker. 0712201243b.jpg
 

Furballsmom

Cat Fan especially Black Cats
Staff Member
Forum Helper
Joined
Jan 9, 2018
Messages
26,221
Reaction score
35,575
Location
Colorado USA
About the citrus, granted that it depends a bit on the cat, but definitely try it. Most cats find the scent off-putting.
 
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #18

Jbrookat

TCS Member
Thread starter
Young Cat
Joined
Jan 12, 2019
Messages
32
Reaction score
55
Just wanted to update everyone. Things are going well on the introductions so far. Tucker is still isolated in my daughter's room and sleeps curled up with her every night. Every day, he seems to relax a little more. He still scratches and nips a little when he plays, but I think he just plays rough because of his time outside. I have plugged in the Feliway diffuser for my resident cats. There have been a couple more potty accidents from them, but when I load a sock with Tucker's scent, they are not hissing at the sock or hiding anymore. That is progress, right? There have also been occasional visual encounters, through a tiny gap in the door.

Am I right in thinking that the next step is feeding the cats on opposite sides of a door?
 

Furballsmom

Cat Fan especially Black Cats
Staff Member
Forum Helper
Joined
Jan 9, 2018
Messages
26,221
Reaction score
35,575
Location
Colorado USA
That is progress, right?
No more hiding is definitely progress 😊

You're right about the feeding on either side of a door, with the idea being that food is good, and it can help to bring about a "good" association with the other cats presence, or at least not a "bad" association.

Here too though, go only as quickly (relatively speaking) as the least comfortable cat, which is to say you may need to set the dishes quite a distance away from Tucker's door to begin with, and gradually move them closer over time.
 

moxiewild

Seniors, Special Needs, and Ferals
Super Cat
Joined
Aug 4, 2014
Messages
739
Reaction score
803
You are such a great Mom, seriously. And your daughter is so smart and passionate!

I’m a wildlife rehabilitator, and working with feral (or even tame but traumatized or poorly socialized) cats is very applicable to wildlife behavior! It’s incredible that your daughter not only understands that he wasn’t being “mean”, but also that it was, in fact, a fear reaction, and she understands what it was she did that triggered it!

This is a concept I can’t get through to an otherwise rational adult human most of the time! So huge kudos to her!

Tucker definitely isn’t feral, and shows signs of not only being a former pet, but a former indoor pet. So I think it’s safe to say that he’s been through trauma, and I highly doubt the neighborhood bully is the only trauma this poor cat has faced.

He seems to have adapted well overall, and that one incident may be the only incident you ever even encounter with him! But it would also be completely normal for some hang ups along the way until he figures out he’s truly safe.

As for introductions, people have different opinions and there’s a lot of good information here.

Personally speaking though, I do not attempt the introduction process with a feral, traumatized, poorly socialized, etc cat until they’ve been in their new home for at least a week or two (definitely more for ferals, though).

I’m a certified feline behavioral consultant. Mind you, I don’t make a living this way (for now), but I do apply what I learned when working with all sorts of cats at work (the wildlife sanctuary I work at takes cats and ferals too) and at home (I also rescue privately!).

My perspective is that unless there is a very pressing need or urgent time crunch, you should take your time with this sort of situation in order to (re)build the cat’s confidence in himself, and in his new environment, prior to beginning to facilitate new relationships with other cats.

A cat with a known history of cat aggression (whether perpetrator or victim) is a cat I go even more slowly with. Not quite feral slow, but more slowly than a cat that was traumatized by other means.

The fact that your cats are acting so strongly to his presence is another yellow flag to me on this.

It does not - by any means - mean you can’t make this work. Not by a long shot!

But it strongly indicates there is a much greater likelihood that your cats will act negatively toward him once you graduate to the “in person” steps, and this isn’t good for a cat with a history of being bullied who hasn’t been allowed enough time to heal from that trauma.

He needs adequate time to forget, and to learn he is safe and stable and protected in his new home. This will help him bounce back better in the event that introductions are a bit... rocky.

That doesn’t mean it’s impossible go to start proper introductions now and have everything go swell, or that Tucker won’t bounce back quickly if he does have some negative interactions with your resident kitties. That may very well happen! Nothing is guaranteed.

But there’s an elevated risk involved. And personally, if you don’t need to take that risk, then don’t.

To be perfectly honest, I’d wait 3-4 weeks before starting the introduction process, and really concentrate just on him during that time. (Although it is perfectly fine to keep working with your resident kitties on this! Meaning, allow them to smell him, but don’t bring socks with their scent to him. Feed them by his door, but let him eat where he’s comfortable. Visual encounters are often inevitable though, so don’t worry if they happen, just don’t force it for now. And yes, it’s a great sign that they’re no longer hissing at his scent!!!).

During this period, allow him to establish scent soakers (beds, scratchers, etc), utilize play therapy (with interactive toys, like Da Bird) as much as possible, have your kids make homemade toys and treat puzzles for him, etc. Keep to a schedule and routine as much as humanely possible.

If your daughter is really into cat or animal behavior like she seems, then she might even really enjoy doing clicker training with him!

All of these things will help to rapidly build his confidence and help heal the emotional wounds and rewire some of the neural associations related to being bullied/relationships with other cats.

That said, it’s not a perfect world! For some reason or another, sometimes we really do need to rush the process a bit and take that risk, and that’s okay!

My only point is that if you don’t need to rush, then take your time!

So far, you are otherwise going about introductions perfectly!

Thank you for taking this guy in! He was clearly lost/dumped/abandoned at some point and having a rough go of it. That neighbor’s cat probably has him incredibly stressed, and it is so kind for you and your family to offer him a safe space (the first he’s probably had in a very long time!).

You and your daughter especially are so patient, understanding, and kind, it is truly refreshing. You’re teaching her some very invaluable lessons right now too :)

Keep up the great work!
 
Top