Teaching an outdoor cat where home is--no judgements please - Cat Forum : Cat Discussion Forums
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post #1 of 21 (permalink) Old 07-12-2009, 12:13 PM Thread Starter
Tom Cat
 
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Teaching an outdoor cat where home is--no judgements please

Please read this and understand that if there was a chance for Ginger to be indoor she would be, but Ive looked and it isn't an option--if she went to our shelter, it is a kill shelter and she would be euthanized.

15 weeks ago I relocated Ginger (she was a stray) from the other side of town to my house to safely have her babies in a cage on my front porch--there was no way I could bring her into my home.

Her babies have now found homes, she will be spayed tomorrow and sadly no one is wanting to be her furrever indoor home, she has two options, continue to live in her outdoor cage here--a dog crate, or live as an outdoor cat and be pampered and cared for by me. I will continue to search for a furrever indoor home for her but can no longer force her to live in the cage.

How do I teach her that our "area" if you will, is her home? I thought about harnessing and leashing here and walking the perimeter of our backyard with her and then bringing her back to her cage the first few days. I have thought about putting her in the cage at night just for safety. I feed her at the same time everyday as it is, so I hope that since she knows the schedule she continues to expect that and always comes to the porch to eat.

Thanks

Leslie
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post #2 of 21 (permalink) Old 07-12-2009, 12:19 PM
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Re: Teaching an outdoor cat where home is--no judgements please

I think food is the best way to a cat's heart, especially a stray. If she knows that good food is available, that is a good way of making her stay, although as a stray and especially if other cats live near you, she might try and make her way back to her old territory. Our cat ended up living inside, so I can't really comment further than that. He comes and goes indoors and outdoors so I have no judgements about outdoors cats
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post #3 of 21 (permalink) Old 07-12-2009, 12:59 PM Thread Starter
Tom Cat
 
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Re: Teaching an outdoor cat where home is--no judgements please

Thanks for your thoughts! We do have a few stray cats in the area--I hope that they don't scare her off. I think for the first bit I will try and only give her supervised time out of the cage, so that she continues to understand this is her safe place, where her meals are etc. I hope that she remembers the cage as her safe place. I know the front porch has her familiar smells, she gave birth to her babies there etc--she has spent almost 4 months on it.

Leslie
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post #4 of 21 (permalink) Old 07-12-2009, 01:39 PM
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Re: Teaching an outdoor cat where home is--no judgements please

Here are my thoughts, I'll try to keep them organized:

She has been successfully relocated and the 4mo she's spent on your porch are enough for her to know *this* is her new, best home: love, comfort, safety, food. My ideas for getting cats accustomed to new areas, is basically I want them to be able to recognize our home from all sides, both sight and smells so if they accidentally get out, they can find their way back. I would let her out of the cage and just take her on short exploring-walks. If she will accept a leash so you can prevent her running off, that would be great. Otherwise just walk around with her, kneel down and call her attention to things, like plants or fenceposts she may like to smell. Some cats will run if you follow behind them, some are more confident following their person for a bit before they feel confident being followed themselves.
Watch her comfort-level as you go exploring with her. Talk to her and pet her to reassure her. Return her to the porch-crate when she seems to get nervous. Allow her to stay out longer and longer before returning her to the porch-crate and eventually just leave her crate-door open so she can come/go as she pleases.
*another thing I do, is I have a particular "call" I make to call the kitties to me. I use this at feeding, grooming, treat-ing and play times. Use this to call her to you for her scheduled meal times and to just generally call her to you if she is out/about but near enough to hear you call.
When she is comfortable in/out of the porch-crate, you can add something else for her to use, maybe a small and enclosed sleeping area for winter weather protection and possibly a tall-ish perch to give her a commanding view and keep any stray dogs from reaching her. After she has grown accustomed to the new sleeping/perch-thing, you can remove the whole crate system and have your porch back.



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post #5 of 21 (permalink) Old 07-12-2009, 01:48 PM Thread Starter
Tom Cat
 
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Re: Teaching an outdoor cat where home is--no judgements please

Thank you so much Heidi your thoughts and suggestions are soo very helpful!!! I don't want to sound crazy but it gives me teary eyes, I just want the world for her.

I was thinking of something to call her with in bed last night and thought about trying to get her used to a clicker, it being a distinct noise she could learn and know for me--so that if necessary she would respond to my husband and not just MY voice? I thought I would start clicking it each time I fill her food bowl to start even now with her still in the cage?

I will see how she responds to a leash if she does we will go with that and start exploring the perimeter of the property etc, if not we'll try just free time on the front porch again--we used to do this when she was PG and when the babies we very young, then slowly expand to more space.

I'll post new pictures of her after her and Pepper's surgery's its gonna be a busy week here!

Leslie
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post #6 of 21 (permalink) Old 07-15-2009, 01:28 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Teaching an outdoor cat where home is--no judgements please

Well Ginger had her first taste of life out of the cage and she is in heaven. Her surgery went well and last night I tried her on the harness and leash. She responded really well to it. She lied on the porch and even tried out the front and side yeard a bit. We have an abandoned house next door and I'm going to have hubby board up a couple places where I know the raccoons go so she doesn't get into trouble. They should have been boarded a long time ago.

she is such a doll and just loves being petted and having her belly rubbed. I'll get her out again tonight and try the other side yard so she learns that side of the house as well. I'm working on making a area for her to go to the bathroom. Sort of an outdoor litter box if you will. Will try and post some pictures of her enjoying life out of her cage.

Thanks for all the advice so far. I've been using the clicker when I give her her food, but wil use it when I get her out of the cage tonight as well, when I call her name I'll click it.

Leslie
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post #7 of 21 (permalink) Old 07-15-2009, 04:08 PM
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Re: Teaching an outdoor cat where home is--no judgements please

This makes me so happy to hear how well she is doing. It sounds like your walks are going well and she seems very relaxed and comfortable. You really, *really* have changed her life for the better.

We have had a few outside and indoor/outdoor (i/o) cats. I knew their lives would be shorter, but they were happier. Actually, the i/o cats have done very well because as soon as they felt comfortable indoors, I kept them inside longer and longer. Malibu is the only one who still really cries to get out. Both she and Pretty have been kept indoors since the 1st of the year when we lost our Dusty-cat, our huge i/o male. Two other tomcats "moved into" the territory and claimed it after we lost Dusty. Mallie was attacked one afternoon and at that point I stopped letting her out and the only time she would get out was if she was too fast and snuck out, but I'd follow her and try to get her back inside asap. (she is who taught me that followed cats may run, because she didn't *want* to be caught and taken back inside)

Wishing you continued good luck with Ginger, but it sure sounds like everything is going well.
heidi



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post #8 of 21 (permalink) Old 07-15-2009, 07:04 PM Thread Starter
Tom Cat
 
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Re: Teaching an outdoor cat where home is--no judgements please

We have what I believe is an intact male in the neighborhood, in fact prior to bringing Ginger home I was feeding him daily on the front porch, but the minute he saw Ginger he refused to eat here. Do you think he'll give her trouble? I have the support to trap and neuter--but like I said he won't come near since Ginger being here.

Leslie
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post #9 of 21 (permalink) Old 07-15-2009, 09:38 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Teaching an outdoor cat where home is--no judgements please

Ginger did really good tonight. We ventured into the backyard and you would have thought she knew exactly my plan she walked right down the fence line, smelled would lay down, I talked to her, told her this was her yard now etc. She didn't want to come back though, so I carried her back to the porch, well most of the way. I put her back down and she dug in the mulch and went to the bathroom--serves hubby right for not getting the sand for her "litterbox" outside in time. She seems so calm and just happy.

I got a couple pictures of her on the porch before the camera battery died, I'll post them tomorrow evening--trying to get to bed early tonight--plus still need to love on the other the three--baby is doing well, her incision looks great, and it hasn't slowed her down a bit.

Leslie
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post #10 of 21 (permalink) Old 07-15-2009, 10:25 PM
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Re: Teaching an outdoor cat where home is--no judgements please

This is a wonderful story, Leslie. I look forward to seeing the pics!
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