Will my stray friend trust me again?

tabbytom

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Update: I brought him inside around 4:30 and he stayed until around 7. I knew I needed to get him outside before the skunks and raccoons showed up. He seemed very nervous at first. He was even shaking a little, meowing, just seemed like he felt trapped. I kept petting him and telling him it was ok. He finally ate a couple treats. I sat on the couch and he jumped up next to me. That's when he seemed to really calm down. My husband started moving around upstairs which seemed to put him on edge (understandably). But I gave him some of his food, hoping that something familiar would help out. It seemed to. We got back on the couch and he let me hold him for several minutes (purring the whole time), then he got down and curled up beside me. He slept like that for a good hour, even twitching at one point so I knew he felt comfortable enough to go into a deeper sleep. When I opened the door for him to go out he seemed ready to go. Although he did linger on the threshold while I had the door open.
Hopefully these are all good signs. I don't know. It's been a long time since I had a "new" cat so I'm not sure how long it normally takes for them to calm down. I knew this would be weird for him as it's all new sights, sounds and smells. But I guess I was hoping for more curiosity and less scaredness? Hopefully we'll get there.
Have you all had success turning strays into strictly house kitties? How long did it take them to fully adapt to their new life?
Everything is new from the outside for him and he needs lots of adjustments and assurance and love. I am sure he trusted you but many things are going through his mind now. Keep things simple for him, don't expect too much, get him as comfortable as he can and let him explore the room and the rest of the house at his own time.

The most important thing is that you've got in indoors and please keep him in. Do not let him dart out of the house as it'll be harder the second time to get him in.

Looks like he's quite comfy and should be quite easy cat to work with. As long as he's not freaked out by loud sounds, be it talking, singing, closing of doors, music and tv and sudden movements or anything that can freak him out. Since it's only his first day in, let him gain confidence and let him absorb the sights and sounds slowly.
All cats are different and so it's hard to say how soon they can settle down but one thing for sure, be it strays or ferals, they all can be transformed into house cats. Main thing is, don't give up. For your case, it was an easy one.
 
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dizkneephreek

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Everything is new from the outside for him and he needs lots of adjustments and assurance and love. I am sure he trusted you but many things are going through his mind now. Keep things simple for him, don't expect too much, get him as comfortable as he can and let him explore the room and the rest of the house at his own time.

The most important thing is that you've got in indoors and please keep him in. Do not let him dart out of the house as it'll be harder the second time to get him in.

Looks like he's quite comfy and should be quite easy cat to work with. As long as he's not freaked out by loud sounds, be it talking, singing, closing of doors, music and tv and sudden movements or anything that can freak him out. Since it's only his first day in, let him gain confidence and let him absorb the sights and sounds slowly.
All cats are different and so it's hard to say how soon they can settle down but one thing for sure, be it strays or ferals, they all can be transformed into house cats. Main thing is, don't give up. For your case, it was an easy one.
All good things for me to keep in mind. I did close off all the bedroom doors. For one, there are still some things I need to straighten up so he doesn't get into them, and two I didn't want to overwhelm him. He mostly stayed in the living room, but did explore the kitchen a bit. I'm hoping the more he comes in, the more he'll feel comfortable to explore more.

Also, one reason I didn't allow him to stay in is because I don't have a litter box set up yet. I didn't want to spend the money on litter if he was going to be completely miserable in the house. Now that I know he seems ok, I'll be getting that set up in the next day or two. That way I don't have to worry about him needing the bathroom while he's inside and he can stay in as long as he wants.
 

tabbytom

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All good things for me to keep in mind. I did close off all the bedroom doors. For one, there are still some things I need to straighten up so he doesn't get into them, and two I didn't want to overwhelm him. He mostly stayed in the living room, but did explore the kitchen a bit. I'm hoping the more he comes in, the more he'll feel comfortable to explore more.

Also, one reason I didn't allow him to stay in is because I don't have a litter box set up yet. I didn't want to spend the money on litter if he was going to be completely miserable in the house. Now that I know he seems ok, I'll be getting that set up in the next day or two. That way I don't have to worry about him needing the bathroom while he's inside and he can stay in as long as he wants.
Yes, rearrange some things so that they don't get in his way or he gets into them. Cats are very curious. They want to know everything, but once they check it out, they are most likely know that this things mean no harm to them and they'll leave them alone.

Since now he is more or less permanent indoors, set up the box for him and cats know what is comfort. There are several rescue threads here and all the cats made the home permanent. Why leave when there is world class room service? :lol:

Do keep us posted of the progress and photos please.
 
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dizkneephreek

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Has anyone used cat pheromone sprays or diffusers with success? I found a brand on Amazon that has good reviews. I'm wondering if that would help Elwood feel more calm indoors...and if that might help him want to use the litter box? I set up the litter box this morning before I brought him in (first time bringing him in during morning hours...I usually bring him in during the evenings when I get off work). I let him eat a bit, waited about 20 minutes and then set him in the litter box. But he jumped right out immediately. Didn't even try to smell or check it out. I waited another 20-30 minutes and tried again with the same result. It's in a half bathroom and I have an air freshener plugged in there, so maybe the smell was too strong? Or maybe he just doesn't like the litter or doesn't know what to do. But I thought maybe replacing the air freshener with a pheromone thing might help.
 

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Setting him in the litter box was a good way to show him where it's located. He probably hopped out because he didn't need to use it at that moment. If you're worried that he won't use it, collect a little of his waste after he goes outdoors and put it in the box. Or, sprinkle a little soil from outside over the litter, and he should be able to figure out what the box is for.

Pheromone products shouldn't hurt.... but does he really need that. The photos you've posted show a pretty relaxed cat!
 
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dizkneephreek

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Setting him in the litter box was a good way to show him where it's located. He probably hopped out because he didn't need to use it at that moment. If you're worried that he won't use it, collect a little of his waste after he goes outdoors and put it in the box. Or, sprinkle a little soil from outside over the litter, and he should be able to figure out what the box is for.

Pheromone products shouldn't hurt.... but does he really need that. The photos you've posted show a pretty relaxed cat!
When I first bring him in he seems anxious and like he's trying to find a way back out. Eventually he would calm down and sleep on the couch beside me for about an hour. But yesterday when I brought him in, he never fully calmed down. And today I couldn't get him to come in at all. It's odd though...he never tries to hide when he's inside. He does walk around and check things out and even hopped up on the bed when I let him explore pur bedroom. He just seems like he's trapped, and he's very jumpy at noises...not that I blame him, they're all unfamiliar to him. And when I let him back out, he never runs away. He just sits outside or lays down. I tried to get him to come in a few times this morning, but he didn't seem to have any interest. I got really discouraged and emotional about it, and wondered if I should just give up trying to make him an indoor cat. There have been a lot of tears today over it. Maybe he just just doesn't want it. But I'm trying to remind myself, it has to be his timing...even if I have to let go of the timeline I had in mind. Maybe things will change when he get neutered. Or maybe the house feels too cold for him right now, and maybe he'll be more willing to be inside in the winter. I don't know. I know I have to be patient, but I didn't expect it to be this hard. I'm still dealing with the grief and heartache of losing Dahlia. I was actually excited at the idea of having another cat...but in a way I feel like I'm losing him too. Or at least the idea I had of him, you know? It's all just making me miss Dahlia even more.
 

tabbytom

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When I first bring him in he seems anxious and like he's trying to find a way back out. Eventually he would calm down and sleep on the couch beside me for about an hour. But yesterday when I brought him in, he never fully calmed down. And today I couldn't get him to come in at all. It's odd though...he never tries to hide when he's inside. He does walk around and check things out and even hopped up on the bed when I let him explore pur bedroom. He just seems like he's trapped, and he's very jumpy at noises...not that I blame him, they're all unfamiliar to him. And when I let him back out, he never runs away. He just sits outside or lays down. I tried to get him to come in a few times this morning, but he didn't seem to have any interest. I got really discouraged and emotional about it, and wondered if I should just give up trying to make him an indoor cat. There have been a lot of tears today over it. Maybe he just just doesn't want it. But I'm trying to remind myself, it has to be his timing...even if I have to let go of the timeline I had in mind. Maybe things will change when he get neutered. Or maybe the house feels too cold for him right now, and maybe he'll be more willing to be inside in the winter. I don't know. I know I have to be patient, but I didn't expect it to be this hard. I'm still dealing with the grief and heartache of losing Dahlia. I was actually excited at the idea of having another cat...but in a way I feel like I'm losing him too. Or at least the idea I had of him, you know? It's all just making me miss Dahlia even more.
I agree with what poolcat poolcat mentioned.

The other thing I think is that he may not want to be carried and be out into the litterbox. It could be one of the reason he is unsettled after that because he felt caught and he's weary about that and also he may not have used a litterbox before and when you try putting him in there, he felt strange and also felt trapped. Try to let him explore on his own time and if you can find out where he pee or poop when he's outside, get some of it and bury it under the litter in the litterbox.

I believe that you are able to get him in permanently but you must not give up.
 

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You've had a lot of big losses recently, and a trip coming up.... and now you're trying to get a cat who (it seems like) wants to be an indoor/outdoor cat to accept being an indoors-only one. That's a lot to have to deal with. My advice is to take one thing at a time. Plan for what you know is coming up, but try not to worry about all of it all the time. Easy for me to say, I know.... Sending hugs for you and scritches for your new boy. 🤗
 

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I have found that Cat Attract litter does seem to draw cats to the litter box! It is expensive but it has been worth it for me. Dr. Elsey's also makes a litter attractant which I have never used but might be worth checking out.
 
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dizkneephreek

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I agree with what poolcat poolcat mentioned.

The other thing I think is that he may not want to be carried and be out into the litterbox. It could be one of the reason he is unsettled after that because he felt caught and he's weary about that and also he may not have used a litterbox before and when you try putting him in there, he felt strange and also felt trapped. Try to let him explore on his own time and if you can find out where he pee or poop when he's outside, get some of it and bury it under the litter in the litterbox.

I believe that you are able to get him in permanently but you must not give up.
All very true. Mostly I wanted to show him where it was, so now that he knows hopefully he'll use it when he needs to.

You've had a lot of big losses recently, and a trip coming up.... and now you're trying to get a cat who (it seems like) wants to be an indoor/outdoor cat to accept being an indoors-only one. That's a lot to have to deal with. My advice is to take one thing at a time. Plan for what you know is coming up, but try not to worry about all of it all the time. Easy for me to say, I know.... Sending hugs for you and scritches for your new boy. 🤗
Thank you for that. It has been a really rough couple of years for me. I've had a lot on my plate emotionally and mentally. I think I was looking at Elwood as my "maybe things are turning around" moment and I wanted it to happen quickly. But I just need to chill. I mean, we've already come a long way since July 20. First he would just show up randomly. Then about two weeks later he started sitting on my porch chair. Since then we've had a vet visit, he went MIA for a few days, came back, and now he's been in the house a few times. That's a lot in just over a month! So maybe it won't take as much time as I fear.

I have found that Cat Attract litter does seem to draw cats to the litter box! It is expensive but it has been worth it for me. Dr. Elsey's also makes a litter attractant which I have never used but might be worth checking out.
Ooh good to know! I'll have to look into that!
 
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dizkneephreek

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Hey friends! I've been stressing over something and wondering if I could get some opinions.
Elwood is scheduled for his neutering on Friday. My plan was to get him in the house that morning to get him in the carrier. I'm afraid he'll run off if he sees it outside again. But getting him in the house has been challenging. He's been in 3 times and came in on his own. Although he was very unsure of it, and would run back out the door as it was closing. One day he acted like he didn't want to come in at all, so I picked him up to try to bring him in and he wrestled out of my arms. He has seemed to not have much interest in coming in since then. I've been out of town since Wednesday (heading home now) so haven't had a chance to try it again for a few days. But now I'm trying to figure out would it be better to try to bring him in during the week or would that just make him more leery and destroy my chances of getting him inside on Friday morning? I just don't know. I really don't think brining him in earlier and letting him stay during the week would be possible since I have to work in office Wed-Fri. Bringing him inside and leaving him by himself for hours after only 2 days seems unfair to him. And I don't have a good area where I can close him in...I feel like he would freak out at that anyway. I'm just not sure if it's better to try to bring him in during the week, or wait until Friday morning?
 

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In my honest opinion I would bring him in sooner rather than waiting for Friday. I say this because of the off chance you can't even get him Friday at least this way if you were to try today and it doesn't work you have more days to try.. he could stay in a bathroom or bedroom while you are at work it is only for a couple days and only while you would be at work. If you could get him some things he can put his scent all over that may help his anxiety (ie cat bed, blanket, scratcher, and of course a litter box) if you know where he goes outside you could even take one of his poops and put it inside in the litterbox. This will give him something with his scent and also possibly show him where to go. In whichever room you would be keeping him I would put the cat carrier out with a towel in it and maybe a blanket draped over it. This could be used as a cubby hole for him where he would feel safe and if he goes in and sleeps it may even make getting him in the carrier friday easier. When you are home you can bring the carrier out wherever he could have free access to it.
 

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If he's at all difficult to handle and unused to being indoors I'd suggest using a humane trap to get him to the vet for neutering. Picking him up to bring him indoors or put him in a carrier will be dangerous for both of you.

You can buy humane traps at places like Tractor Supply or rent/borrow them from rescues, shelters and TNR groups. Ask around, if your vet regularly deals with feral cats they might have a trap you could use.

Do you feed him in the same spot outside? If so, set the trap up with the door wired open so it won't trap him before you are ready. Put the trap in the place you always feed him and start by placing his food bowl just outside the entrance. Once he is comfortable with eating outside the trap gradually move it back inside. On Thursday evening set the trap so that it closes when he goes in to eat. Cats shouldn't be fed after midnight the day they are going for surgery, so it's OK to keep him in the trap overnight if he has an appointment for Friday morning.

You can put grass cuttings, straw or a sheet of cardboard on the floor of the trap so he doesn't notice he's walking on the wire mesh. This will also help soak up any pee if he needs to pee while in the trap on Thursday night. Standing the trap on a couple of bricks once he is inside of it lets any pee leak out. Make sure you cover the trap with a sheet or towel so he feels secure. Cats feel safer if they are in an enclosed space.

Once he is back from the vet you can try keeping him indoors in a safe room. Are you planning to make him an indoor cat?
 

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I just don't know. I really don't think brining him in earlier and letting him stay during the week would be possible since I have to work in office Wed-Fri. Bringing him inside and leaving him by himself for hours after only 2 days seems unfair to him. And I don't have a good area where I can close him in...I feel like he would freak out at that anyway. I'm just not sure if it's better to try to bring him in during the week, or wait until Friday morning?
In this case, call your vet and tell them your plans of trapping Elwood and keep the neutering appointment open. Most vets allow this as they understand that trapping a stray or feral is hard and they know that the appointed time at the vet is quite impossible to meet.

What you can do now is prepare the recovery room for him and later make this his safe room too. Soak up as much of his scent if you can with towels or old T-shits without buttons. Place them in the room where Elwood will be recovering from the surgery. Just make sure that there's no escape route and the room is cat safe. After he's in, do not let him out again and it takes awhile for him to soak up the reality of being indoors. Don't give up.
 
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dizkneephreek

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Turns out I was stressing for no reason (which is usually the case). Yesterday went fairly smoothly. In fact, Thursday he started coming in the house on his own without much coaxing. I just left the door open while I did my own thing in the house, and he came right in. So getting him in the house Friday morning wasn't that bad. We had a bit of a struggle with getting him in the carrier, but I did it and got him to the vet. He's now neutered and microchipped. The vet tech did let me know he had urinated in the litter box, so at least I know he's willing to use one if he has to.
He's been in the house since I got him home. He had moments of going to the doors and meowing, but then he'd settle down for a while. I slept on the couch last night to hopefully help his transition. It was rough at first with him keeping me awake with meowing. But then I had the realization that he usually gets sleepy after he eats. I didn't think he was hungry because he hadn't eaten much dry food, but thought I'd try wet just in case. He was practically begging me for it when he realized what I had for him. And he lapped it up in no time. I gave him another pouch, which he didn't finish...but that's ok. I just wanted to make sure he was satisfied. He calmed down more after that and we were both able to get to sleep.

One thing that really floored me...at one point I was laying on the couch and he was laying on the top part. He suddenly jumped down on me. I figured he'd go on down to the floor and roam around. But instead he laid down on me. I couldn't believe it! That's something Dahlia loved to do. Didn't matter what position I was in, she'd jump on top of me and find a comfy spot. And it's one thing I've missed most about her. But it took her about a year to finally do that. So for him to do it so quickly, or even at all...I still can't get over it. 🥹❤

He has seemed very content this morning. He still hasn't used the litter box, which is a bit concerning. But I've led him into the room a couple times, and set him down in the box. So hopefully he knows it's there when he needs it. It's in my half bathroom, and I have the door wide open...not sure if it would be better to just leave it cracked...maybe he wants more privacy? Or if that would make him not want to go in the room for fear of being closed in. I did buy Cat Attract litter, so hopefully that will help entice him.
 

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Wow! What fantastic news! I'm a big worrier, too, and would have been totally stressed out about getting him in the house, in the carrier, and then to the vet so it is great that it all happened fairly easily! The fact that he jumped down and got comfy on you as you rested on the couch is adorable and so encouraging. You are off to a wonderful start with this little guy. In the areas where I have litter boxes, the doors are wide open. I think as long as there is easy access, it should be fine.
 
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dizkneephreek

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Today seems a little rougher than yesterday. I'm guessing Elwood was just worn out yesterday so he seemed more content. Today he's back to going to windows and doors and meowing and trying to find a way out. Not frantically or anything...but enough that it makes my heart break. I feel like I'm trapping him and keeping him from the life he wants to have. I know it's to keep him safe, but he doesn't know that. I'm hoping his desire to go outside will eventually calm down. But right now it's hard not to blame myself. I feel like I'm not doing enough to make him want to stay 😢
 

tabbytom

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Today seems a little rougher than yesterday. I'm guessing Elwood was just worn out yesterday so he seemed more content. Today he's back to going to windows and doors and meowing and trying to find a way out. Not frantically or anything...but enough that it makes my heart break. I feel like I'm trapping him and keeping him from the life he wants to have. I know it's to keep him safe, but he doesn't know that. I'm hoping his desire to go outside will eventually calm down. But right now it's hard not to blame myself. I feel like I'm not doing enough to make him want to stay 😢
This is normal as he is used to the outside but nevertheless, now that he is in and I mentioned a few post up, let him get use to being indoors as this will take awhile.

One thing you can do is distract him each time he goes to the windows and doors and meow. Talk to him and reassure him. Get a cat wand and start playing with him each time he does that and that'll take his mind off about the outside for awhile and do this till he does not ask to to let out.

Please do not blame yourself. What you are doing is best for him and he'll know it eventually. This is the usual process of time that you and Elwood have to go through and it's just a phase. Give it time and give up and now that he is in, never let him out else it'll be hard to get him in the next time or there may not be the next time.

If you have the time, give this thread a read and it may encourage you :- Feral in my garage. Do keep us posted of the progress but just don't give u
 
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