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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
We successfully relocated a feral family of three following their TNRs.

It has been about five weeks and we feel it is time to open the door to the 'cradle'.

In another week or two, we will be releasing our three transplanted feral cats from their enclosure. They have been in a 6'x8'x12' covered enclosure, with a 'mezzanine' level, and old wooden wire spool to climb around, an older wooden ladder to climb and pull claws on, a few water pots, a litter box, a few toys, and food and water dishes.

We intend to leave everything set up, and continue to put fresh food and water in the dishes in the cradle, as well as the dishes the existing group of two siblings and a 'red-haired stepsister' eat and drink from. The two groups seem to pretty much ignore each other, but I am sure they know the others are there. Things MAY change once they are loose. Some of the indoor lot will sit in the window while I go into the cradle to visit the feral lot. The inside group and the transplants have been watching each other through windows for about five months between the two locations.

Partly Cloudy (PC, the one who got us into this) will close close and sniff and swat my hand, but won't quite let me touch him. I try to touch him with the stick of the string toy, and sometimes can, but only for less than a second.

Our hope is that they will meld into one colony. The second is the two groups will share the same territory. The three to be released came from a colony of more, and the three existing ones are the remains of what had been a colony of five. One had to move inside for health issues, and one was killed by someone else's loose Pit Bull pups. So they are accustomed to being around more, too.

My question:
Is there a preference/optimum time of day to let them out? I am thinking just after feeding, at dusk. Then they would be a little less likely to just bolt I would think, and if they wander slowly around, they will know where 'safety' is, rather than just running and not paying attention to where they are going. I also thought I would sit in the chair out there for a spell with them before opening the gate. Can't decide whether to sit inside the cradle with them, or just on the patio next to it. I've done both. I have also sat on the floor in the cradle with them.

Any other suggestions, caveats, or hints? I (we) realize from here it is totally in their hands, or should I say paws, as to whether they hang around or look for other lands.
 

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Congrats to you for your successful work with these feral kitties!

Maybe you could take the food away for a while before letting them out. I'd think that they wouldn't stray too far from their food source if they're fairly hungry when they're let out. My stubborn cat who always wants to be outside on the deck will only come in voluntarily if she's hungry or if she has to use the litterbox.

I'll keep my fingers crossed that all works out well with the two groups of ferals!
 
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