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Discussion Starter #1
We have had Hurley in our home for 7 weeks. I was feeding him for a month before letting him walk into our apartment one night and closing the door behind him. Since then he has been adjusting fairly well with some setbacks. The other night I gave him a bath because he had diarrea and made a big mess on himself. I had to force him in the water to clean him up and it made him very upset, but I had no other way to clean the mess on his belly.

Anyways, that was two days ago and since then he has been very untrusting. He lowers his head when I come near him as if he has been abused. The last 2 days he has been hiding in a corner, which was not how he has been the last month.


I thought he was in the other end of the apartment and I was moving things to our outdoor shed and he slipped right past me out the door. :( I started to run after him (foolish) and he sprinted in the woods and I haven't seen him. This was 1 hour ago and now it is dark.

Will he come back?


We are heartbroken.
 

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First thing in the morning, leave canned food out. If there's other cats around, you might want to watch to see when everybody else gets done, then leave more - Harley might come back to eat, as he knows there's food at your house.

While I haven't had a feral that's been inside and then gone, I have had ones that just disappear for a couple weeks. Once a cat had a bad wound on her neck (I was about ready to trap her and taken care of), and I quit seeing her - kinda wondered if she went off to die from infection. Then about a month later, I saw her again with the wound all healed up (even had fur growing over it already). Then recently I thought the mom of older kittens was gone for good after not seeing her since about October, but I just saw her the other day.
 

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IMO, cats who escape do NOT go far. In fact, I actually think your Hurley will be better than most because he escaped into a surviveable area he is already familiar with. I do believe he will remember how 'hard' things were outside and how 'easy' things were inside ... and if you keep offering food I would expect him to return.
*thoughts/prayers for a safe/quick return*
 

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Discussion Starter #5
It's been 18 hours and no Hurley. It's 20 degrees out with snow right now. I hope he knows his way around out there. Will he ever come back is what I'm starting to wonder. I searched all over the woods behind our complex calling his name and shaking a bowl of food. Still nothing.

Poor guy.
 

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Keep trying and offering the food. Search at night w/ a flashlight to catch eye-shine. I really do believe they don't go very far and when they get hungry enough ... they REMEMBER where The Good Food was and will return.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
The big problem is that we haven't complete gotten this cat to trust us. While in our apartment, he would let us pick him up, but I'm certain outside he would run away if we tried. I am going to have to find a way to lure him back into our apartment I think.
 

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Zinny was perfectly tame while in my house... the moment I let her back out to the colony, she became totally wild again. She'll hang out nearby while I'm filling food bowls, but I can't touch her anymore.
HOWEVER! She is a sucker for canned food, and has been caught in my humane trap twice (I was trying to catch other cats). So maybe you could get some canned food and set a trap nearby?
 

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I truly believe hunger will win out, and he'll be back. You have supplied his only nourishment for nearly three months; he'll also remember the comfort and love he had in your home. Right now, he's confused. It might be hard for you to understand, but he's also pleased to be back outside -- on his turf -- even though he was safe and warm inside. He'll be able to withstand the weather; he did it before. But he will get hungry, even if he is hunting. Keep putting food out and he'll get back into the habit of coming for din-din. I wouldn't set a trap yet, because I'd want him to become comfortable again coming around to eat. Be patient and know that he is still unsure of you. Once you're sure he's frequenting your place again, then I'd put the food in a trap for a few days or a week, but I wouldn't 'set' the trap until he's used to it as a feeding station.

Daisy, one of my fosters, slipped out after she had been here only one day. While she hadn't previously been a feral, she was really, really skittish and fearful. Her owner had been sent to prison, and another rescuer and I broke into the house and rescued Daisy and her housemate, Billy Bob (who is also with me as a foster). I didn't even know Daisy's "real" name, and that made it even more difficult calling her. Plus, my home is about 20 miles from her previous abode. I actually thought she would never return. I put out posters, called shelters and vets (though I doubted anyone could catch her), set traps at neighbors' homes, and the local Domino's pizza even attached "wanted posters" to all their delivered pizzas! Daisy was gone for 30 days! In all that time, she had been spotted only once, about half a mile away. Then, she miraculously showed up on the porch steps, noticeably thinner, asking to be let in for food. She hasn't had the urge to run away since then, thank goodness!

Anyway, don't give up. He knows where you are and I just know he'll be back. As often as you can, call him, shake the food bag or bang on the can, because he does know where home and food are!
 

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Discussion Starter #10
over 48 hours and Hurley is still out there in 15 degree weather. :(

I have gone out in the woods several times and did some intense searching. I fear the worst for the little guy. He is only 8 months old.
 

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I wonder if you should just wait... your repeated presence in the territory might be making him hide more - especially if he wasn't totally trusting yet. I know that my ferals won't come out until they know I'm gone, even if they're hungry...the white cats I can see hiding back in the bushes, while I fill food bowls. Once I'm at least a few yards away, the bolder ones start to creep out.

I was afraid Zinny wouldn't make it during the winter, as she's only 6 months old and barely 4 pounds. But after a blizzard and 5F temps at night, I finally saw her one day at the feeding station. I do have a couple insulated shelters, and she did use one...but other cats who find little dens in the briars also survived.

I agree about setting a trap and putting food in it. Though yes, leave it open for a few days so he realizes that it won't hurt him and he's comfortable with it.
My kittens (Zinny and her sister Disco) now go in my trap all the time! A friend said that they probably have learned that while the door slamming shut behind them startles, it's not going to hurt them...and they get freed after a little while (I check the trap every hour). Just wish they weren't so greedy, and let the cats I want to trap have the food! LOL
 

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I didn't realize he was that young. So he hasn't ever been in this kind of weather. Do you have a porch or a place by the house out of the wind? It would help to put some kind of "house" for him to use, preferably big enough for him and a food bowl. Even if he's used to canned food, put some dry kibble in it. The dry food will still emit some aroma, whereas the wet food will freeze and lose its 'stink'. If he likes catnip, sprinkle some nip in and around the box. If you can get a large styrofoam container (with a lid), it works as a good temporary insulated kitty-house. Just cut a small door and put it with the door away from prevailing winds. Blanket, food, nip, and wait. Look all around for his tracks (if there's snow). When you do see him around, try to be patient. It's more important to have him comfortable coming around than it is to try to capture him quickly. I know, I know, it's so cold. But I'm still sure he'll be back home soon.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I've put out everything that is his on the front porch and sprayed it with catnip spray. I have left dry food out every night too. Another very freindly cat stopped by the other night and ate, but it wasn't my Hurley.

He left in a hurry and sprinted pretty far into the woods. I wonder if he has moved far away, I've been told cats stick to their territory typically. So going in the woods shaking a bowl will probably scare him. The only reason (just like when he lived with us) he would ever come out to see me is if he was really, really hungry.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
He's alive! I just checked to food bowl and it was half gone. Took a step outside and I heard some scurrying in the trees and heard his collar! Unfortunately he doesn't seem to trust me enough to come approach.
 

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Aaaah, now just take a long breath and sit back and know that you have to start all over again.....:?.....Really, though, the most important thing is that he's OK and he knows where home is. Congratulations!!!
 

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Good news! Hurley stopped by tonight. He was very, very skittish. I would bring his food dish into the apartment and he would take 3 steps in and 2 steps backwarsds. He finally mosied in and started eating and he let me pick him up. I closed the door behind him and he is officially home! Actually, he is more affectionate tonight than he has ever been! He also ate 2 bowls of food and has been purring for 3 hours.


So I'm really happy and now I am wondering if this cat will have a happier life if we let him go outside now and then? He was in really high spirits and I wonder if he needs to let loose outside now and then. What do you guys think? He has already proven he will return.
 

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Well, if your outdoor area is safe enough, it could be something to consider. We had some indoor/outdoor kitties; one was hbc (hit by car) and one contracted FeLV, even though he was vaccinated. After his loss, we decided in or out, but not both. Until recently, everyone was IN, but we've been adopted by a mamma-cat, a tom-cat and their litter of 4 kitts so now I'll have barncats galore! I understand the dangers they'll encounter by being outside, but we are over-full inside.

Something I noticed with two feral sisters I was taming/socializing ... they didn't fully break down their walls until they had to spend 2nights and 3days at the vet office getting spayed. When I picked them up *and brought them HOME* their attitude towards me changed considerably! It was like they *finally* knew I was okay, since they'd been okay in my home, spent a few scary days in a strange place and then I came and brought them BACK to where they finally realized they were safe/comfortable.
Handling them after that experience went MUCH smoother! I hope you see the same results with Hurley.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Intrestingly enough Hurley is now much more affectionate than he ever was. This is a cat who formerly would only want affection when food was near and usually he sat all day in a corner until mealtime.

The other night he started to climb onto our BED at 5 in the morning! This is very uncharacteristic of our cat and I think the time outside actually helped him appreciate our attention in some strange way.

Now I am just wondering if the poor guy needs to be let out of our tiny 1 bedroom apartment now and then to keep him happy.
 
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