How can I get an outdoor cat to use the house I've made?

wertach zone 7-B SCJanuary 4, 2012

My Tomboy won't go in to a house I made for him. I made it months ago, right after I took him for the "cut". It is completely dry and I have a heating pad and a clean, warm blanket in it, a little porch cover to keep the rain out. He will not go in!

I can't bring him inside because he fights with my indoor cat.

He will stay under the shed out back instead. He comes out shivering when he wants to eat. I have tried, putting food in it, pushing him in, ETC. Nothing works! It has been in the 20's the last 2 nights and will be the same tonight.

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Put catnip in it. The smell will attract him in there.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2012 at 6:38PM
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where is it located? We were careful in placing the house for our feral cat. If he feels vulnerable, he may never use it. Is it a high-traffic area, or are other animals (that you know of) coming around?

Would you consider putting something near the back shed, since that's where he goes now? It can be made very cheaply, a styrofoam cooler from a discount store, or a rubbermaid tote can be made into a nice shelter. The link has some ideas. And thanks for getting him 'the cut!'

Here is a link that might be useful: old cat house thread

    Bookmark   January 4, 2012 at 7:26PM
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Has he always been an outdoor cat? I'd be very concerned for a cat that is actually shivering and the low temps you're having. Can you put him in the shed with the heated pad or maybe in your garage (if you have one) so that he has extra shelter during the low temps? He'll never get warm sleeping on frozen ground.

I use the pads shown in the link below because they don't work off the pet's body temp but instead heat to a certain temp. My cat has a kennel she has access to, via a cat door, and has spent lots time on the heat pad when the air temp was around 28. But.....she can come in the house once she starts getting too cold.

Here is a link that might be useful: Heat pad

    Bookmark   January 4, 2012 at 8:54PM
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wertach zone 7-B SC

I ordered a heating pad Monday with plans to put it in the house! I like the idea about moving the house, dogs do come around daily looking for any food he might not eat. I hope that works.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2012 at 7:13AM
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If all those good suggestions fail....

Tell him he is absolutely, under no circumstances allowed in that house. :)

    Bookmark   January 6, 2012 at 6:50PM
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Also, if you pick up food it really helps keep animals from trying to get it. We feed 10 ft from the cat house, and never leave it out more than 20-30 min. I used to leave it out, and we had a possum visiting, along with who knows what critters.

Susan has a good suggestion too:)

    Bookmark   January 7, 2012 at 11:06AM
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Don't know how practical this is for your situation - maybe not. Instead of a free-standing house, I knew someone who built sort of a little box or room in the basement using the basement window to be the opening thru which the cat entered the little room via a cat flap. This room or box wasn't very big, maybe 2 x 3 x 3, and it didn't open up into the basement at all (though maybe you could put a door in it so you could clean it once in a while.) The benefit was that even though it wasn't heated, it was still much warmer than a freestanding house would be. Even if your house has good insulation the temps within a foot or so of your house can be a good 10-20 degrees warmer.

FWIW! Good luck with kitty (my mom had same problem when another feral cat started using the house - her cat would not use it at all, even months/years later. I suggested cleaning it out thoroughly with odor neutralizer.)

    Bookmark   January 7, 2012 at 7:50PM
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wertach zone 7-B SC

The heat mat arrived! Problem though, it's not flexible, so I can't put it through the door! I put it on the porch of my shed and sat down next to it so he would "discover it" while I petted him. He loves it!

Since the porch isn't enclosed blowing rain or snow will be a problem. I plan on cutting a hole in the house then resealing it in the next few days. Depending on my work schedule.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2012 at 11:34AM
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well that's a good development! Sounds like you're well on your way to a solution.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2012 at 3:12PM
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The pad I use is also very hard. Some animals won't lie directly on it so hopefully your cat continues to enjoy it. I usually take the foam bottom out of a dog/cat bed then lay a blanket or thin crate pad along the bottom of the pet bed. I found the foam too insulating and it wouldn't let the heat thru the bottom of the bed, but the blanket/pad absorbs the heat and helps hold it.

Glad to hear he's enjoying it! So, is giving him a doorway into the shed not possible?

    Bookmark   January 9, 2012 at 5:36PM
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wertach zone 7-B SC

I've thought about putting a door in the shed for him. But I'm afraid he might get in to something that would poison him. I keep pesticides, antifreeze, and cleaning chemicals in there. They are in sealed containers, but cats climb and knock things over you know!

    Bookmark   January 10, 2012 at 11:58AM
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I have suspected for a long time that my semi-feral cat wasn't using the fancy new cat shelter(s) I had specially built for her and placed in the barn. On only one occasion did I open the barn door and see her swoosh out of the shelter and past me out the barn door. Lately I've walked in there and smell what has to be cat urine. Have I found the answer? I think the neighbor's male cat has been "claiming" the boxes by spraying, and perhaps my own male is also marking them to prove they are his! Both males are neutered. Would this keep the female from using them?

The female prefers the large brush pile in the orchard whenever she feels threatened, and I frequently see her laying ontop of it on sunny days. Is she using an old groundhog hole? On rainy days, she comes in the house dry. I don't know. However, I am happy to report that she now comes in every night to sleep on my bed until morning, besides coming in for meals and occasionally lays on my lap in the evenings for awhile as I watch TV. She's come a long way. Sorry went OT!

    Bookmark   January 10, 2012 at 4:07PM
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