Shelter for semi-feral cat

schoolhouse_gwSeptember 6, 2011

The feral kitten that showed up at my house in April has become very tame in that I can pet her and she enjoys my company - as long as I don't pick her up. I can pick her up by the scruff of the neck like momma cat, however. In this way, I have been slowly introducing the inside of my house to her. She's been in about four times, each time is a little calmer but after a tiny bit of exploring she searches out the back door and I let her out without much fanfare so as not to spook her. I have fed her bits of food when she in too.

Now that colder weather is coming, for instance tonight it is chilly with a cold wind, I worry about warm shelter for her. I have two beds in the small barn for her, but I have yet to see her use either one. In fact, before dark I went in search of her and found her curled up under a shrub in the leaf mulch. How do I get her to use the barn? Is she afraid of being enclosed, altho there are plenty of exits?

I went online to look for plans for building outdoor cat shelters and one thing they mentioned was to not use blankets, ect. in the shelters. So I went down to the barn and removed the donut cloth bed I had sitting untop of the box of straw. Straw is definitely the better idea so they can suggle down into. I should have known that.

Should I build a couple small cat shelters in the barn or should I sit them outside like on the back porch or under the porch? The barn would be so much better against the elements - we can get lots of snow. How do I get her to accept them? Or do you think she will eventually become accustomed to coming into my house? I knew this would be a problem back in April but she was very wild and took months to let me pet and play with her.

I just walked down to the barn in the dark with a flashlight and the bed(s)are empty. Suggestions? Experience?

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Cats are notorious picky and you may have to give into to their wished. BTW - put down some Food grade DE in the straw to kill any fleas that jump off and fleas which may hatch in the bedding or under the straw. Good luck

    Bookmark   September 6, 2011 at 10:59PM
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The indoor/outdoor cats I used to own didn't sleep much at night. They tended to hunt & roam and then slept all day so that may be why you didn't find her in the barn tonight.

If you have a covered porch, I'd set up a bed/house there and start feeding her next to it. As winter gets worse she may eventually seek out the inside of your house.
Check Craigslist or feed stores for dog houses that you can convert to accommodate your cat.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2011 at 2:21AM
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I set up a crate with a heating pad set on low and comfy towels. I wintered a cat that way before I found him a home.

Or you can get a Snuggle Safe (a disc that warms in the microwave and stays warm 24 hours) and put it under comfy blankets or in a crate. She might go of the heat.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2011 at 6:54AM
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We have a cat house DH built from plans from a website. She uses it mainly in cold weather, but I do see her come out of it when its rainy also. Our feral cat Baby never took to the snuggle safe, I thought it would be great for her to keep warm. We added a kennel heater about 2 yrs ago and she uses the house all winter. We put straw in it, and change it out a couple times a season. Blankets & textiles are a no-no, they can get musty, buggy, & can freeze if wet.
We placed the house in a safe spot in our driveway, behind a boat that's stored all winter, and backs up to our backyard, so she doesn't have to worry about anything coming from behind her (thanks to 2 barky dogs, we don't get much critter traffic in the backyard) and can see the driveway in front of her. DH shovels her a path out of the house when it snows and she always walks along the sidewalk after he shovels, its cute to see.

But it would be great if you could get her to come inside, maybe as the weather cools off she will start coming in for you.
Is she spayed yet? That is a big concern, unless you want kittens. Good luck with her.

Here is a link that might be useful: house plans site

    Bookmark   September 7, 2011 at 9:58AM
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Oh, most definitely spayed. The first three weeks she was here she came into heat, the toms gathered. I trapped her and $226 later she was spayed,shots,wormed. I told her even if she ran away or back home, at least there would be no kittens in the barn. She is deaf, which adds to her heightened awareness of her surroundings, necessary for her protection to avoid strange situations so I can understand her not wanting to be "enclosed". Which makes me wonder if she would even enter a shelter with four sides and a roof.
If I leave my tomato gathering basket out on the patio table, she'll curl up in there and sleep! :)

Ok, thanks for the suggestions and encouragement. I just know I'll lay awake the first cold snowy night if she still out there.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2011 at 12:36PM
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For the past 5 years my feral barn cat has been sleeping in a computer box I have stuffed with hay. This year I decided to try and find a used dog house since it will be easier to clean, so I put a "wanted" ad on craigslist and am going to pick up a medium dog house tomorrow for $15.

My feral cat is in the box constantly in the winter ... sometimes sharing it with a cat from another barn.

I put the box up on the top of a work bench, where she can see everything that's going on. She and the donkeys keep each other company in he barn.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2011 at 1:04PM
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murraysmom Zone 6 OH

Your kitty is beautiful!!!

I made a shelter for my outside cat from a covered litter box. I put a fleece pad in there and then cover it so it has an "igloo" type tunnel into it. It's up off the ground, on a table on the front porch. Kitty is sheltered from wind, rain and cold. She has always been an outside cat and has rebuffed my attempts to bring her in. She is at least 14 and has done well with this setup. In winter she gets fresh water and dry food 4 or 5 times a day, wet food twice a day.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2011 at 1:24PM
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Yes! Right from the beginning I thought of a small dog house, some Amish around here craft animal houses and I've seen some little ones sitting for sale; but a used one would certainly work as well. And sitting it up off the floor,even on the work table was an idea I had too. Thanks.

As far as fresh water and food, she gets fed well too. "Taste of the Wild" dry offered in the morning up until 8pm or dark at night(so other critters won't partake) and wet food (Evo) a little in the morning and some in the late afternoon. Her coat is very thick now. I have a heated water dish I bought new years ago for a pet sheep(!) but never used, I dug that out and will have to see if it still works.

Ok, I feel better.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2011 at 2:29PM
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What a cutie! I'm glad to hear she's spayed:)

We also keep Baby's house raised up on blocks, about 4" off the ground.The plans we used had an option to add a back door for escape if necessary, we didn't include it, but it's a good idea.

An igloo type house is a great option, I also priced them & doghouses when we decided to offer her shelter.

Taste of the wild? Your feral is eating way better than ours! We learned after many ants and critters to feed her 2X/day, I use disposable plastic bowls and chip clip it to a larger steel pet bowl. She gets 15-30 minutes to eat then I toss the bowl. We haven't had bugs since, and boy did we get them prior to that idea. Her water bowl is a standard pet food bowl, I rinse it often and wash w/soap every week or so. We're sure to give her fresh water 2X/day in the winter, cause it does freeze.

I have a feeling she will learn to trust you and come inside, maybe you can tempt her w/yummy treats in the house. Bless you for helping her, there are so many ferals out there in need.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2011 at 11:17AM
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