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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-05-2009, 02:07 AM Thread Starter
 
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Moving with a Stray?

Hi all,

For the last two years I've taken care of/adopted Lancelot, the neighborhood stray. After talking with the neighbors, we believe he was abandoned by his previous owners thinking that he would be happy in a place where several other neighborhood cats (domesticated and otherwise) roam around. He lives outside because one of my roommates is allergic, but that doesn't stop him from waltzing in, thinking the house is his alone!

Anyway, after I graduate in June I'll be taking a job in Arizona and would like fully adopt Lancelot and take him with me. Once we get there, he'll have a house to call his own that he can come and go from as he pleases. There are a few concerns with my plan that I'm hoping you folks might have some insight with.

The first is that the only way to transport him is to take him on a 10 hour drive from California to the new house. How can I keep him comfortable and happy for that long? He also hasn't traveled in a car for as long as I've known him, though yesterday I ran a test with him in my lap as someone drove us around the block. He gave me the typical yowling routine that cats go through in a car, but didn't struggle or claw me trying to escape. So I have hope that he won't be bothered too much, but a 10 hour drive is pretty long.

Another concern is that I'll be arriving in Arizona in its hottest months. I plan to keep him inside most of the time initially to keep him cool. However, he hasn't lived inside in a long time. How can I adapt him to indoor/outdoor living if my current roommate is allergic to him? I'm sure he used a litter box when he lived with his last family, but will he remember how now, and how do I retrain him? Once we get to Arizona, how can I introduce him to his new territory without him running away? I think he'll stay around because he trusts and likes me, but being in a new territory can be intimidating.

Finally, here in the neighborhood he's befriended a feral cat, Midnight. She's a true feral though not part of a colony, and though she will get close and lick my fingers, she's very skittish and I've never been able to pet her. She follows Lancelot around and will usually only come close to me if he's near by. If I had a few more years here I might get her to trust me. But as a feral she'll never be truly domesticated, so I'm not sure it would be the best idea to bring her to Arizona, a totally new environment, to live with me if I have no way of comforting her (not to mention that after a 10 hour drive she'd never trust me). But what would be the consequences of breaking them up? I feel it's better to adopt and care for at least one if I can't adopt both, and I can't bear to think that Lancelot would be "abandoned" a second time. What do you folks think?

I'm excited to be moving on to a new chapter of life, and I want to make sure that my furry friend is as happy as I am. Any advice you have is greatly appreciated.

Thanks!
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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-05-2009, 08:03 AM
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Re: Moving with a Stray?

Once I had to take two cats on an eight hour ride. They were kept in their cages for most of it. I had a small litter box on the floor of the back seat and would stop at a rest stop and let them roam around inside the car for a while. I did not give them food or water for the trip because I thought that might make it more difficult for them in the long run. (Car sick/need for llitterbox more often). There are probably others here with more advise. Maybe Trinity Quiet will post about how her move went with Rotten.

Once you arrive at you new home it is best to keep your cat indoors until he accepts it as his new home. Another thing you may want to consider is local dangers to outside cats. (coyotes? snakes?) And decide if it would be best to attempt to make him an indoor cat.

Congratulations on adopting Lancelot, he is a very lucky cat to have found you.

Sue



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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-05-2009, 01:27 PM
 
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Re: Moving with a Stray?

When I moved and drove around 8 hours, I got tranquilizers for my cat, since he hated he even driving even a couple of miles in the car. It didn't totally help, he whined a lot, but it was much better than it would have been. Talk to a vet about getting the tranqs.

once in his new home, i suspect most of the issues will resolve themselves easily. it's a rare cat that doesn't 'get' the litterbox concept innately, so just plunk it down and he'll figure it out. definitely keep him inside for a good long while so he gets his internal locator rewired at the bare minimum 2 weeks, and if you let him out at first you might keep him supervised and only let him out for brief periods. this may be difficult if you have roadrunners near your home!

as for his girlfriend, goodbyes can be sad but taking her along is probably too much for both of you. as a semi-feral she'd need a lot of work just to be more domesticated, let alone being snapped up and hauled across state lines. good luck!
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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-05-2009, 01:46 PM
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Re: Moving with a Stray?

My Nina was a rescue from Virginia (Siamese Rescue), and was delivered to a nearby town in PA, where my husband picked her up. I had provided a large carrier with a litter pan and water dish. Nina was not let out of the carrier, and she cried the whole way. Being a Siamese (Balinese, actually), the crying was not a surprise. I believe your trip is longer, however, so you will probably want to let Lancelot out of the carrier every few hours. Of course, the doors and windows would have to stay closed, because most cats would take off, and the chances are you wouldn't see him again. If he shows signs of panic, and you fear that you can't catch him, (he could hide under a seat), don't let him out at all. It won't be pleasant for him, but it's only a one time trip. The tranquilizers would be an excellent idea. I agree that asking Trinity Quiet how she managed is a good idea!

When you get to Arizona, Lancelot will have to remain inside totally for at least a month in order to accept it as his home. I too would not want him to go outside. There are so many dangers in the Southwest. I hope your room mate can get some help for her allergies, because I think it would be best for Lancelot to live indoors only. I know this is an inconvenience, but I would hate to see you leave Lancelot. There are outdoor shelters that you can have built, but with snakes to worry about, you'll need to make sure the metal screening is fine and strong---and covers all four sides. You can make one quite reasonably. Here are some ideas:

http://www.animalnetwork.com/cats/enclosure.asp

Here's an article about allergies and living with cats. I hope it helps. There are some good ideas for your roomie.

http://www.allergyconsumerreview.com/cat-allergies.html

Cats like to scratch in litter or dirt to bury their waste, so I don't think the litter box training will be a problem. Good luck, and please keep us updated!




Jeanie

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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-06-2009, 01:35 AM Thread Starter
 
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Re: Moving with a Stray?

Thanks for all the great advice!

I'll definitely look into the tranquilizers when I next take him to the vet. They sound like they can make the trip less stressful for him and quieter for me since he won't be yowling the entire time!

I'll be sure to keep him inside for several weeks to reset his internal radar. But I'm not sure that I can make him an indoor cat only. I won't be living with my allergic roommate after I move, but since Lancelot has lived outside for a good portion of his life, is very curious and loves to explore, I can't imagine he'd give it up willingly. That, and I'd never get any sleep - he's VERY vocal. He'll sit at the closed front door and yowl until you open it, and somehow he knows I'm inside though he hasn't seen me for hours. I do plan however to keep him inside whenever I can, especially at night. And depending on where in Phoenix I end up moving, I might avoid some hazards like snakes and coyotes. I imagine there will still be coons and opossums, not to mention cars, but he's used to sharing a neighborhood with them now and knows to give them a wide berth. He and I will work together to figure out the best way to keep him happy and safe. Maybe he'll be content being an indoor cat! However, if you have any recommendations for reducing dangerous encounters with pests and predators (deterrents, etc), I'd love to hear them!

I agree that leaving Midnight where she is would probably be the best way to go, especially if the neighbors will keep feeding her. She doesn't need the trauma of being ripped out of her home, just as I don't want to constantly worry that I did the wrong thing. I'm sure she'll be fine with her other cat friends in the neighborhood, and perhaps later down the road I can introduce Lancelot to a new girlfriend.
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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-07-2009, 08:46 PM
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Re: Moving with a Stray?

I don't know if my story can help or not on moving with your kitty! I moved 2,700 miles with my cat, Rotten, back in September. More than a year prior to that, we moved 350 miles in April.

I know the advice is to make sure the cat is in a crate, but...I've never followed that rule. Thankfully I've had no escapees,either, but I feel awful cooping them up in a scary box when they're already nervous. I like them to be able to make themselves comfortable. I made sure she wore a collar, and when we had to leave the car I kept her on a leash. I kept a litter box in the car, but the one time she pooped, she pooped in my potted ginko tree. On the first move she got very carsick and pooped/puked on me...so I recommend keeping baby wipes and cleaning materials close by. I also like my kitty to have access to me for comfort. She spent a lot of the voyage in my lap or in her chosen safety zone--beneath a potted fern. She did come to enjoy it after a while, and loved watching cars.

For the heat, all I could do was keep the air conditioner going. I could see her panting if she was hot, and kept the air as high as necessary to prevent panting. I kept her foodbowl and waterbowl in the cupholders; she knew where they were, but never chose to use them. As to litterboxes anywhere...most cats I've known take VERY naturally to using litterboxes, but I've seen here that's no guarantee

There are cat-soothing materials,supposedly, sprays you can use to spritz on cars & houses in potentially stressful situations. I found some at a pet boutique and at Wal-Mart; vets may also carry them.

When we've arrived at new places, I certainly stayed home as much as possible to let her know I hadn't abandoned her. I kept her favorite basket & bed with us. Thank God, Rotten loves new places and new things. I was much more scared than she was about the first ventures outside. Here she's indoor, although she hates it. There she was indoor/outdoor. I could only take her crying for three days before letting her outside. We went outside on one short supervised trip, then I panicked and grabbed her back inside. The next day I stayed on the porch while I let her get as far away from me as she was comfortable with (which was less than fifteen feet). You've known Lancelot a lot longer than I knew Rotten when we moved; we'd only been together six months when we moved 350, and two years when we moved 2700 miles. If you feel comfortable with him, that's a lot of power to you.

Feel free to write me if there's anything I can help you on...don't know if this helped, but I've been there!


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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-08-2009, 02:58 AM
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Re: Moving with a Stray?

First off thank you for taking this little guy into your heart and be willing to give him a good home.

I live in the Tucson area. DO NOT let your cat be an outdoor cat if you want him to survive. He will become coyote bait. Its a huge problem here. I was talking to a woman from the Tempe area today and she told me coyotes are a huge problem in the Phoenix/Tempe area. She had a coyote kill one of her indoor outdoor cats so she now keeps all her cats indoors. SHe watched a coyote just the other week take her neighbors chihauha dog. People have started to shoot the coyotes because they have become such a big problem. (which makes me very sad)

I would get a collar and tag with your cell phone number on it for your kitty now. Let him start wearing it.

Every feral (true ferals) have always used litter boxes when weve had to keep them for a period of time. I dont think this will be an issue for Lancelot. He will use a litter box.

I would recogmend you getting a large kennel and not let him free roam your car. Esp since you will have to stop for gas and he could escape. Why take the chance?

Get the kennel now. Put it outside and start feeding him in the kennel. Then the day of the trip put him in it with water and litter box. Get yourself some ear plugs incase he decides to cry a lot. Most likely he will settle in for the trip after crying an hour or two. Just assure yourself when he is crying that you are giving him a shot of having a great life with you and he will adjust. What's a little crying?

My sister has a cat that we affectionately call her fake feral. He circled the neighborhood for two years. I neutered/ shots, and tipped his ear then released him back outside. He has now worked his way into her house and spends 90% of his time inside. He was seriously injured a couple months ago and I had to take him in to my vet. It was infected. He had to have surgery with a drain. He was so sweet about it. It was like he knew we were trying to help him. Now he doesnt want to go outside for long. Just circles the house and wants back inside!

Good luck on your move and new job. How exciting. There are lots of great rescues (and AZ Cats) in the phoenix area you could volunteer with if your interested.
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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-08-2009, 02:14 PM
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Re: Moving with a Stray?

Coyotes are becoming more and more threatening. I have lived in SW PA my entire life, and never saw or heard of one in this area. Now, Animal Friends has a coyote trap. They have to, to keep the area's smaller pets safe. Coyotes seem to be spreading their territories.




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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-08-2009, 03:20 PM
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Re: Moving with a Stray?

Even in the Western and Northern states, people are reporting large packs of coyotes as becoming bolder and braver; attacking large livestock (horse, cattle, sheep, hogs and especially their young), in addition to the smaller stock (chickens/housepets). It is happening in remote rural areas and even in more populated rural areas and the fringes of towns/cities. It seems the larger packs are feeling confident of their numbers.
I read a story of a woman who was riding her horse on public land (I want to say in Arizona?) and she and her dog were closely followed and flanked by about 30 coyotes who were eyeballing the dog, but also keeping an eye on the horse and rider, which of course was making everyone (dog, horse, human) nervous!
Another woman in Colorado only a few weeks ago was out on her property haying her horses and had allowed her two housedogs to accompany her. They stayed close to her, never more than 30' away. Well, one sniffed into some tall-ish grass/scrub only about 20-25' from Terry and a coyote jumped out and 'took' him. She heard her dog (Arlo, small poodle mix) cry out and looked up to see him being shaken in the coyote's jaws. She ran after the coyote to make it drop Arlo and the 'yote just kept truckin'. Terry ran to the house and told her husband who got his rifle and she jumped in the truck to drive to a road where she knew the coyote was heading to cross, saw him cross and that he wasn't carrying Arlo. She went to find Arlo (deceased and dropped in the scrub-brush) and her husband tried to track/shoot the coyote, but it slipped away in the scrub grass and underbrush.
She now keeps her housedogs on a leash attached to her when she brings them outside the house. She said the Coyote would stop periodically to look at her, as she was huffing along (recent knee surgeries) after him, and just clamly turn and trot/run ahead for more distance before looking back to check her progress across her property and before she ran back to the house/truck.
They are definitely getting bold, but again, they are only trying to survive...it is up to us to keep the things we cherish, safe.



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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-11-2009, 11:22 AM
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Re: Moving with a Stray?

Thanks to humans all animals are struggling for survival. We are destroying their homes and habitat. I listen to (ignorant and uninformed) people rail at me that feral cats are killing all the song birds. But studies have been done and its human who are threatening the survival since we mow down where they breed, live and mirgrate thru.

I hate to see coyotes villianized because they are just trying to survive. The ones here are pretty skinny and rangey looking. But it breaks my heart every time I hear them go into a howling frenzy in my neighborhood. This means they caught something to eat. Most likely an outdoor cat or bunny.

One day I saw a beautiful bobcat crouched in a center island of the road, terrified trying to find a place to escape to. Its just not safe to have an outdoor pet in Arizona for sure and sounds like other states are experiencing this.
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