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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-21-2014, 01:23 AM Thread Starter
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kitty will not go into a shelter

Ahhhh, help. An emaciated stray showed up last weekend, and I've been feeding him, but I think Mr. Casper (my former stray turned outdoor-only kitty) must have either chased or scared him off, or maybe sprayed the wall around my screened-in porch, because the new kitty will not go in the porch, even though I've left the door open. I put the feral cat shelter under the awning in front of the porch, and he wouldn't go in. I replaced the shelter with a cardboard box. Still no go. He comes towards the porch but stops dead at a certain point. I tried the box in front of the front door, where there's also an awning. Nope.

I've tried feeding him in or right next to the shelter/box, but he sits at a distance and meows until I bring the food closer to him.

He's been hanging out in my front yard, in a mulched area under the birch tree, even when it was raining yesterday. Tonight, since it's dry, I put the fleece blanket there, on top of a doormat. I fed him on top of the blanket, but he moved off it once he was done eating.

The mulched area is a mix of soil, wood chips, dried pine needles and leaves. Since I don't have any straw, would it help him at all to keep warm if I dig a little hole in the mulch, so it's like a nest?

It's not terribly cold yet - in the upper 50s tonight - but he's completely exposed where he is, and he doesn't have any fat reserves to keep him warm. And Monday night it's supposed to go down to the mid-40s.
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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-21-2014, 09:51 PM
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At a certain point, you've really done all you reasonably can, and it's up to the cat to accept the help or not. You've given the cat food, and you've provided a shelter. If he gets cold enough, the shelter is there, and he may use it when you're not looking. The only other thing I can think of is to spray the inside of a box or shelter with Feliway or some other cat pheromone spray and/or put some catnip inside as an attractant. I spray new shelter boxes I put out at the farm with pheromone spray, and it does get the cats to investigate them.

The most popular shelters I've made are cardboard boxes filled with wheat straw.
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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-21-2014, 10:21 PM
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Give the shelter a back door, too. I have a feral that now lives in a house I made on my deck. He would not go in til we cut a back door in it....worth a shot.

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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-22-2014, 01:14 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks to both of you for your suggestions.

Sabrina, since I had no way of cutting a hole in the shelter (it's wood), I put a plastic tote on its side, with a cardboard box inside it (I love the boxes that chewy uses - really heavy-duty). I bought a kitty litter pan and put the fleece blanket in it, but the whole contraption is completely open in the front. Not ideal, as it's windy, but maybe that'll encourage him.

Silvestris, I also sprayed some pheromone spray along the edges and on the sides inside.

I fed him right in front and he came and rubbed himself along the side and briefly put his head on the blanket, so I feel like at least he knows what it's for and why it's there. He didn't seem afraid of it, which is a first. He's extremely wary of going in things.

But I think the bigger problem is probably Mr. Casper, who came and hissed earlier while I was feeding the little guy, and the little guy ran off.

Every time I go out to feed him, he's sitting farther and farther away from the house. This time he was probably only about 10 feet from the street, at the very edge of my property.

Well, I hope my catsitter and I can get him into the carrier and to the vet tomorrow. I guess we'll see after that.
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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-22-2014, 09:16 AM
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Your little stray is respecting Mr Casper's territory. For as long as Mr Casper has access to that shelter, he won't go near it. He probably would like to stick around, but doesn't have the strength to fight Mr Casper off. It's probably why he's moving further and further away. If you can move the shelter further away, that might ease things between the two.
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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-22-2014, 10:19 AM
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Very normal for a feral. I have a feral girl and she will not walk into any type of shelter or box. They are smart, they do not want to be trapped. I have been caring for my feral for 3 1/2 years now, and last winter was the first winter I convinced her to hang out and sleep in the garage at night, but it took a LONG time to get her to the point where she would even walk into the garage. Now, as it is getting a little cooler at night (I live in FL, it's still pretty hot), my husband works in the garage more in the evenings and she's already starting to hang out in there, she is just waiting for it to get cold. In the beginning though, I tried everything to make a warm place for her outside, and I would be frustrated too that she just would not go in. I made one of those nice, insulated feral houses with straw.....she never set foot in it once. In fact, she won't even lay behind a plant or anything that obstructs her view. It just just instinct for them to do that, that's how they have survived this long. What I did end up doing was order one of those heated mats for her to lay on. I think it's a K & H brand. It only warms up if they are laying on it, and it warms up to their body temperature, I believe, so it doesn't get as hot as a heating pad. Arwen LOVES her mat! She is so funny that if I put a cat bed outside on the porch, if it has sides to it....she won't lay in it, but she will lay on the flat mat. But inside the garage in the winter, when she sleeps in there, she will sleep in the little cat bed with sides. I guess she knows she can sleep with both eyes closed maybe when she is safely inside the garage. They do make a heated feral house that has a front and back door, and I have heard people say that their feral cats will go inside those, because it has a way out. The first two winters though, the best I could get Arwen to do is sleep on top of a bunch of blankets that I would put on the front porch for her, and she would sleep on those. It broke my heart that she wouldn't go inside the shelter I made her. Lucky for me, I live in FL, and it does drop into the low 30's in the winter, but it's usually back up to 50 the next morning. I would get that heated mat if I were you. I know my Petco carries them, or you can order them online, but I have never seen them at Petsmart or Pet Supermarket. I paid $39 for mine, worth the money. The cover comes off, so you can wash it. I would still leave your door propped open to the porch and he may surprise you and come into the porch once it gets colder. Poor little guy. It takes time to gain their trust. It took me months before I could even touch Arwen, and she used to hiss at me and belly crawl up to her food bowl, inhale the food in 4 bites, and then run off. She still won't let anyone hold her, but we can pet her and love all over her and she loves to be near us.
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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-23-2014, 12:37 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks dumine and howsefrau.

Well, first, it turns out that kitty is a she. I couldn't get a good look under her fluffiness. And the vet estimates 6-8 months old.

Dumine, I put the "shelter" - just a sideways plastic storage box with a cardboard box inside - off at the edge of my property, near where she'd been curled up, but she didn't go in it. :<

howsefrau, she's definitely not feral. She's the sweetest, most affectionate little thing, and she has zero street smarts. She's not comfortable outside, and I thought she didn't want to be closed in, but the tote/box was on its side so that the whole front was open. And now I think it's really about not being in Casper's space more than being confined. I put her in a carrier this morning so my catsitter could bring her to the vet and there was no problem. She rolled around and mewed once but she was quiet, didn't freak out, didn't try to get out, and my catsitter said she didn't make a noise the whole car ride.

I have one of those heated pads for Mr. Casper! But again, the problem is that she won't come close to the porch, and I don't see any way to get a heated pad out to where she's been sitting.

Well, my solution for tonight was to pay for an overnight stay at the vet. But it's not supposed to be much warmer tomorrow, so I'm completely stressed.

The only thing I can think of is to bring Mr. Casper in tomorrow night and put her in the porch. Would she freak out if she smells him?
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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-23-2014, 02:18 AM
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Why don't you rather bring her inside? She's clearly not an outside cat and the sooner she finds a safe, warm home to call her own, the better.
Since Mr Casper's territory is outside it should be less intrusive to him too.
I hope you can find her a good home, because she's still very young and ill equipped to be a feral.
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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-23-2014, 04:34 AM
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I second Dumine, on bringing the little girl inside...set up your bathroom or another room (?) for her...she needs some tender loving care right now...
She has no defenses, since she was declawed on the front feet...
I just hope her poor feet have healed alright.
The vet can treat her for the flea issue...
Just heartwreching...
I'm so glad she found you...
I hate to think what would have happened to her otherwise...
Blessings be to you!
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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-24-2014, 12:35 AM Thread Starter
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Well, I updated earlier on the other thread, and I had a post almost ready for here, and then I pressed some key and it deleted everything. Argh.

The long and short of it: I had set up my screened porch with a choice of sleep/hiding options: the plastic tote shelter, a heated cat bed on a folded towel, the feral cat shelter without the roof, and a fleece blanket inside the cat house. And there was the carrier, left open. Plus litter pan, food, water. My catsitter said she wasn't freaked out by being in the porch, so I asked her to leave her there until I got home.

Kitty was sound asleep when I got back, inside the cat house.

I realized trying to get Casper in and leaving her there wasn't going to work logistically. And then after she finished her wet food, she tried to run inside with me. She clearly wanted to come in, and she didn't resist going back in the carrier.

And there you have it. My girls were dying of curiosity, and she hissed when they came to sniff the carrier, which is totally understandable. But she's set up in a room upstairs, and my girls seem to have forgotten about her. I haven't heard a peep all evening, so I'm going to go check on her now.
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