why won't this cat warm up???

Sean35

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The weather is nice here right now, but last week was near freezing overnight, which leads me to the problem with Stalker, the feral I feed. Stalker is bizarre (for many reasons) in that he/she will not set foot on any surface that isn't concrete or grass/dirt. I bought a heated mat and a warming disc and any time I put it out, Stalker showed zero interest. Same with blankets or regular mats. Because this frustrated me, my next step was to attempt to block the path to it's food with a heating element, and the levels that Stalker went to avoid setting foot on them was mind boggling. I think one time he/she basically balanced behind the railing on my front steps and ate through the bars. The next step was to put the food on a small elevated surface that couldn't be accessed without setting foot on a heating element. Stalker's response was to either avoid the table, try to eat standing up, or knock over the table (which sent him/her running off). If hungry enough, Stalker would reluctantly hop up and eat very briefly, but make as little contact as possible with the heating disc.

So, what the hell is this cat's problem? The pad isn't hot, and this was going on in temperatures that were 0-32 degrees F. My only speculation is that Stalker is afraid of leaving a scent. I'm so frustrated with the fact that even after 18+ months of feeding, this cat rejects any and all efforts to help make its life more comfortable. It goes without saying that the shelter I built last year went unused.
 

Norachan

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A lot of outdoor cats are wary of anything that smells unnatural. They don't like shelters that have only one entrance/exit because it's too easy for them to get trapped inside.

Straw is the best thing for shelters. It will insulate the cat and keep them warm, as well as drying out a lot faster than hay, blankets or paper. Try making something that is open both ends, elevated off the ground slightly (to protect from damp) and filled with straw.
 
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Sean35

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A lot of outdoor cats are wary of anything that smells unnatural. They don't like shelters that have only one entrance/exit because it's too easy for them to get trapped inside.

Straw is the best thing for shelters. It will insulate the cat and keep them warm, as well as drying out a lot faster than hay, blankets or paper. Try making something that is open both ends, elevated off the ground slightly (to protect from damp) and filled with straw.
Sorry, I worded my post poorly. The shelter had nothing to do with the rest of the post, I just threw it in at the end. I built a shelter that has two openings and was filled with straw. The heating discs and such were just for the cat to sit on while waiting for food.
 

Norachan

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Try cardboard. A few sheets of cardboard will provide insulation against the cold ground and will warm up while she sits on it. Cardboard boxes make great surfaces to sit on outdoors. That's why homeless people use them
 

SweetLittleKitty

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The weather is nice here right now, but last week was near freezing overnight, which leads me to the problem with Stalker, the feral I feed. Stalker is bizarre (for many reasons) in that he/she will not set foot on any surface that isn't concrete or grass/dirt. I bought a heated mat and a warming disc and any time I put it out, Stalker showed zero interest. Same with blankets or regular mats. Because this frustrated me, my next step was to attempt to block the path to it's food with a heating element, and the levels that Stalker went to avoid setting foot on them was mind boggling. I think one time he/she basically balanced behind the railing on my front steps and ate through the bars. The next step was to put the food on a small elevated surface that couldn't be accessed without setting foot on a heating element. Stalker's response was to either avoid the table, try to eat standing up, or knock over the table (which sent him/her running off). If hungry enough, Stalker would reluctantly hop up and eat very briefly, but make as little contact as possible with the heating disc.

So, what the hell is this cat's problem? The pad isn't hot, and this was going on in temperatures that were 0-32 degrees F. My only speculation is that Stalker is afraid of leaving a scent. I'm so frustrated with the fact that even after 18+ months of feeding, this cat rejects any and all efforts to help make its life more comfortable. It goes without saying that the shelter I built last year went unused.
I think this cat is afraid of fire. My domestic cat exhibited a very obvious fear of flea pesticides, and in fact pesticides could kill or seriously injure him. (I no longer use the flea ointment he was so afraid of). I am just thinking these cats can sense the causes of death, and fire is certainly one of them. Maybe poor kitty had a fire experience.
 
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Sean35

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Update: Stalker finally decided to sit on the heating disc about 5-10 minutes ago. Another feral has been showing up every night (it might be one that I caught and had neutered back in August and never returned, but I haven't been able to see him close enough to know for sure. Oddly enough, this feral is completely disinterested in food.) and would go crazy for the disc. Stalker still wouldn't sit on it, but would at least sniff around after seeing the other cat taking a liking to it.

A few days ago I threw a black doormat on my front steps, and despite being in a spot that Stalker normally doesn't sit at, Stalker immediately took to it. Of course, the door mat isn't heated, and personally I don't think it would be comfortable because the carpet fibers are so rough, but there are two indoor/outdoor cats in the neighborhood who lay on it at times during the day, so I guess it is more comfortable for them.

Anyway, I decided to build on that and I put the Snuggle Safe out, and instead of using the regular cover, I threw a black washcloth over it. After some hesitation Stalker finally sat on it and hasn't moved. I do need a more permanent solution because the wind could blow the wash cloth (which isn't very big) away, but I can probably get a black winter hat or something. It was just mind boggling that this cat would show up at 3 AM for a 6 AM feeding and sit on cold concrete in freezing temperatures when there was this much more comfortable thing to sit on just inches away.
 

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Just so you know you are not the only one, I have outdoor ferals who are entirely capricious about where the sit and sleep. I have shelters, heated outdoor cat beds, the works, and yet they still make their own choices. Your idea of working with his choice is a good one and might pay off.
 
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Sean35

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According to my cameras, Stalker ended up hanging out until about 1:30 AM before seeking shelter. Surprisingly, Stalker didn't even take off when the snowplows went by, and usually Stalker is terrified by those. It's somewhat of a big deal for me to try and get Stalker to sit on something other than concrete because I'd like to have something with Stalker's scent on it to try and lead him/her to an outdoor shelter, or even maybe in my house someday.
 

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Cats love boxes. Some more than blankets. Or they switch back and forth. I had a mama cat and 4 kittens. They stayed in the cardboard box.
 

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I can see how cats are more deep thinkers compared to dogs I’ve had in the past. Whatever experiences that they’ve lived through shape’s their view and calculations of what to do. They take risks that we can’t understand but overall they are quite cautious, at least that’s how ours behaves.
 
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Sean35

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Cats love boxes. Some more than blankets. Or they switch back and forth. I had a mama cat and 4 kittens. They stayed in the cardboard box.
This cat doesn't. I tried putting the disc in a box, and it won't go near it, even with treats inside. Stalker is frustratingly stubborn in his or her ways.
 
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