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Old 10-29-2012, 12:28 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Opinions on this semi-feral cat in our garage?

He's the semi-feral we've been feeding without much thought the whole summer, he looks a world better than when we first saw him this summer, probably because he's been eating Blacky's food. He would sneak in through the garage to get at it.

We've seen him on and off the whole summer around here, sometimes every week, other times every few days. Once he was crouched down by the fence in the backyard like a statue, even though I was sitting about 10 feet away with the dog. So anyway, I figure the cat and Blacky get along well since there aren't any cat fights.

This last week we saw the cat twice, our garage doors are mostly closed this time of year and he doesn't seem willing or able to use the cat door (maybe he's slow, haha... even Blaze figured that thing out) the first time this week my father saw him sitting on our compost and went and brought out some kibble, he slid it right beside the cat without it running away. The cat at it all.

Then a few days ago my father found it again in our sun room (a glassed in room accessible from the steps leading into the backyard; this is one of Blacky's favourite spots) ... so my dad again got some food for it, he gave it 6 oz of wet food our cats won't touch and the cat ate it all immediately. The picture below was taken shortly before my dad put out the wet food, he'd slid some kibble right beside it on the chair and then thought about the wet food and got it as well, also putting it right beside the cat.

So last night my father again saw this cat. This time, it was because he'd closed the cat in the garage by accident. It was pouring rain all day and night so we left the cat in there. We got it some kibble, wet food, water, a litter box and a bed.

Overnight the cat ate most of the wet food and all of the kibble. That was a lot. This morning I found a really soft patty of poop in the litter box, I thought it was a clump of cat pee at first. What do you make of that? Could the cat have worms? Or maybe just have problems due to living on the street that may resolve shortly if fed a proper diet? On the bright side, it also did a pee in the litter box, which is more than I can say for Blaze most of the time.

The cat didn't sleep in the bed (large low to the ground cardboard box with pillow and blanket), so probably didn't have a nice night on the concrete floor. Eariler today it was hiding under some stuff but didn't do any growling. Later on in the day the cat made its home in a higher up window, it feels safe up there so even while we were making crazy racket in there cleaning the garage for the cat today it didn't run and hide, lowly growled very little, didn't have its eyes glued to our movements, and once I even saw it with its eyes shut. I checked on it a few minutes ago and it's in a weird little hard to reach corner growling at me, I guess I'd have to block that area off.

So anyway... today I bought it a heating pad. But I don't really know if I should continue with this or not, to what end? All winter? Or what... the cat probably won't even use the bed if I give it a heating pad.

I've thought about contacting the local shelter (they run a massive 700+ cat sanctuary) ... but I don't know if that's much of a life for a cat, and as its semi-feral, they probably won't have time to tame it.

Can't leave food out for it. Wildlife will eat it, and Blacky (seriously, she doesn't eat the kibble in the house but scarfs it down outside?!)...

Opinions?

So here's the picture of it (highly likely 'him') a few days ago in the sun room:
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Old 10-29-2012, 09:47 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I've had 4 feral cats living in my garage for 3 years now as well as a transit cat that we rarely see. We place food out for them twice a day and leave a bowl of kibble out during the day. Water always. Two litter boxes. Several beds and a couple of heating pads in the winter. We take the food in about 21:00 to discourage critters. There is a cat door in the side door of the garage. There doesn't seem to me to be much rhyme or reason to what they do. They come and go at irregular intervals. They sleep wherever, sometimes on the floor, beds, pads, rafters, my car. The garage is spotlessly clean as far as their presence is concerned. I've come to the conclusion that they will generally do what is right for them and I've learned to not be too concerned. They have food, shelter, security, med care and complete freedom. Not a bad life I suspect for a cat. I've learned to relate to the garage cats on their terms which was a good thing for me. That's my similar situation.
As to your issue. You can care for "the cat" as if it was "yours", your responsibility. It may never be quite tame. If you are able to put in a cat door, that helps. If you want to put in the time to try to tame it, go for it. You'll have to come to terms with the fact that he/she could disappear tomorrow. Needless to say it should be neutered/checked out and given the shots. I don't recommend this generally, but if your cats are coming into contact, you might also want to consider the FeLV/FHiv test as well. Don't be concerned about the details such as where it may choose to sleep. They know what to do and will make the right choice. If you want to do it and are able to provide then go ahead.
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Old 10-29-2012, 05:42 PM   #3 (permalink)
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First, thanks for caring about him (yeah, most orange cats are male). He looks kind of young. I agree with Lyle. Trap the cat, neuter (will get along better with Blacky if that's an issue), definitely get tested for FIV/FELK. Provide shelter, food, a door flap is great. The cat will sleep where he wants to, inside or outside as the weather and mood permits. Cats definitely know the safe places to sleep. (Ritz slept *somewhere* during a 20 inch snow storm. And I trust the 8 cats in my colony are safe during Hurricane Sandy.) There are microwavable disks you can buy that will heat a small sleeping area if you're concerned about the cold (I note you live in BC). If there are wildlife (foxes?) around, make sure they can't enter the garage through the door flap (not sure how they work, sojust putting it out there).
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Old 10-29-2012, 05:46 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Now winter is coming, my semi feral (I've had her for over 8 years but it still applies) is coming into the house to sleep with her beloved youngsters (she's a patsy with kittens and thinks they're hers) but has spent much of the summer sleeping in the garage. She's orange (ginger as we say over here) and her sister (also orange) was fertile which is even more unusual.
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Old 10-29-2012, 06:40 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Thanks for the replies!

I've been thinking on it a little more (today it's pouring outside so I'm still glad he's inside) and I'm just going to take it a day at a time for now.

We're going to leave him inside for now, he's too feral to take to the vet at the moment, we haven't touched him yet, so that's not something I'm going to consider yet. As my vet said of Blacky (the one I tamed from the outdoors) the test for FeLV/FIV could be false, as she probably used to be owned by someone and may have been vaccinated against it in the past. He recommenced not bothering with it, as she's always been healthy.

The problem with the idea of a cat flap is, we already have one, one room over from the garage that's built into the wall. This cat doesn't seem to know how to use it. We've had a totally feral cat use the cat flap before, yet this one doesn't pick up on it. We aren't going to be installing another one... the one we have already brings in enough strange things (smart rats, feral cats, mice... those could be from Blacky).

Leaving food outside will result in most of it going to other animals, I imagine. See that food in the picture? The cat didn't eat most of that, it ate all the wet food, but we forgot to bring the food in the house and the next morning it was all gone. We don't have foxes but we have raccoons and rats in the area.

We often come and go through the garage, it's the way we get into the backyard usually, so the cat could door dash at any time. It would likely return though since it wants food.

I agree he looks fairly young. I don't know how long he's been on the streets (at least ~6 months) but he definitely isn't a total feral as there's no way he'd allow us to walk right up to him outdoors otherwise - not even Blacky allowed anything like that for ages and she was a semi-feral as well. I'm going to take that as a positive sign, even though when confined he of course is not as accepting of us walking up to him.

He may also be neutered. Our city is very proactive about this, shelters don't give cats to people without them being neutered first, and recently laws were put in place about mandatory spaying and neutering of cats, and other low-cost programs.

I think I'll at least give a shot at taming this cat, he's using the litter box (a deal breaker), and we put a radio in the room yesterday with lots of talk shows on it. He seems pretty good all things considered. Last night I sat 5 feet from him on the ground and he looked like he was going to go to sleep. He growled when I got up/move around, but that's pretty amazing for the first 24 hours, I'd think. This morning he was in the same stupid corner that's hard to get at, he was growling at me when I looked at him so I stopped, I know they think it's a threat... but I threw some Temptations to him and he ate the ones closest to him. Half of his poop seemed normal too, so fingers crossed it was bad because of what he'd been eating (likely our garbage).

We're going to move a medium-sized dog kennel to the corner he's hiding, it's just the right size to block off that area, and put the heating pad in it instead of the cardboard box. Hopefully he'll go in it...

I'll let you guys know if there's any changes worth mentioning.
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Last edited by Carmel; 10-29-2012 at 06:45 PM.
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Old 10-29-2012, 06:52 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Pure aside - don't worry about rats - all of my cats can take them!!
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Old 10-29-2012, 07:00 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Haha, I wish that was the case here. Blacky is useless. She only goes after mice. She doesn't even care about birds... which I'm grateful for, I guess.
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Old 10-31-2012, 09:35 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Well, an update!

We've been trying to cat proof the garage/workshop and made a bit of progress but I was discouraged because I knew there would be no way to force the cat on ground level - there's 50 years worth of random stuff plus shelving and rafters.

He ended up on top of the fridge for most of the last few days, my father put the cardboard box up there so the cat has been in it most of the time. I was sort of annoyed that I couldn't see him...

Last night he came down to the table saw to eat some beef which was great since he hadn't been willing to come down for anything else while I was in the room, and then jumped back up.

Today was overall as discouraging as the other days, hardly seeing the cat, getting growled at in a very menacing way if I came around him (even when he'd simply suspect I was about to approach)... until almost a total 180.

I walked in with the Temptation treats like I have before, and shook the the bag and had planned to walk over to the cats location and hold up my hand with the treats like I had before, then place a few on the fridge and a few on the table saw... except before that happened, the cat popped its head up and meowed a few times (very sweet soft meow!) and then jumped down to the table saw before I'd even put the treats out.

I was able to walk over to him and place a few treats on the table. He growled at me a little (very menacing...) but then ate them, and sniffed my hand. I walked back 15 feet (causing more growling) and threw some more treats on the ground, and the cat jumped down and wandered around looking for the treats with a nervous slinky low to the ground walk, and then ate some of his wet food I'd put out as well and drank some water...

Sure, I was a ways away, but he also had his back to me (trusting gesture). He walked almost right up to me after he ate and I ignored him, continuing to read my book aloud ... I glanced at him and by the time he was walking back over to the table saw to jump on the fridge, he was in a normal walking position. At one point he even stretched his front paws out on the ground.

He hadn't done a single one of those things when I was around, and then he does a bunch at once. Cats...

He still had really soft poops, though, and today it was a massive one... don't know how long this should go on for before suspecting parasites/IBD issues...
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Last edited by Carmel; 10-31-2012 at 09:38 PM.
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Old 10-31-2012, 10:28 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Based on my experience I believe that your cat will prefer somewhere high particularly early on. After 3 years, none of my 4/5 garage cats sleep anywhere near the ground even though there is stuff to hide behind. They prefer the top of my car or the rafters, junk and all. It'll just take time before he's comfortable with you around. It's probably pretty stressful from his point of view just being confined in the garage without some giant looming over them. You've done good so far.
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Old 11-01-2012, 09:00 AM   #10 (permalink)
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I don't have alot of experience at this, but it sounds like you are doing a great job!!!
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