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Some stray/feral cats in backyard

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
Hello!

I'm new here and I'm glad I found this site!

So sit back with a cup of coffee as this post might be kind of long...

First off, I don't know too much about cats, just that my ex girlfriend used to have one...

I'd say about 3 weeks ago I started to see what I believe to be a mother cat and her kitten. They were hanging around the back of my shed, so I started feeding them first some leftovers, now dry cat food.

It seems that they are only hanging around my backyard as them two are ALWAYS there near the shed. I've also noticed another cat which I thought was maybe the father, but I don't know if there is any relation. Sometimes they all hang out together, but mostly the mother and kitten play on the lawn when no one is around.

So now I've been feeding them for about 3 weeks. I posted some pics of them as well, but I'd like to know what everyone's opinion is if they are feral or strays. The supposed (by me ) mother and father look pretty thick and don't look like they are starving for food. But then again, I live in a pretty suburban neighborhood, so they might have been feeding from garbage cans or from other neighbors feeding them.

The mother is all gray, and the father has a white chest, belly and paws. The kitten is the cutest, he/she's a light creme color with brown ears, shnoz, tail and paws. But it's the eyes that get me...they're light blue!

PICS!

Here's all three of them:



Here's the mother:



Here's the father (with my shed in the background):



And the kitten:



They are all pretty frisky and will run if I approach them. But what I've been doing lately is putting the food and water out, then I sit on the deck stairs ( about 12 feet away) and wait for them to come out. I've been doing this for acouple of days, and they are getting used to me. That's when I took the pics. I had to use a telephoto lens to get some close ups. I also try not to make any sudden or drastic movements when I'm out there. But they didn't seem to mind the camera's shutter noise

Anywho, last night got pretty cold (about 40 degrees). I'm here in NY, so the winters can get pretty bad. I was browsing these forums and started looking at some houses. Of course the ones that I would like to get for them are around $150-up. So what's the next best thing? To make one of course!

So I found an old octagon shaped fish tank in the basement that I no longer use. I then wrapped it completely in insulation (which I use for custom stereo installs in cars for sound deadening and heat control=this stuff is not cheap but since I had some extra....). For the bottom, I used some dry straw. I even made some small windows! Hopefully this will help when the temps drop.



Do you think this will be warm enough for them? I know I should trap them and bring them to the vet, but I just barely had extra time to wrap the tank in insulation.

So if you have any tips please let me know!

Thanks!
post #2 of 14
Thread Starter 
I forgot to mention that within two hours of putting my homemade "house" out there, the kitten and mother where snooping around it and going in it for a minute or two. Hopefully they like it and will call it home, otherwise I'll try the styrafoam cooler as that seems to be easy and quick to make.
post #3 of 14
Quote:
Do you think this will be warm enough for them? I know I should trap them and bring them to the vet, but I just barely had extra time to wrap the tank in insulation.

So if you have any tips please let me know!

Thanks!
Welcome to TCS.....thanks for caring for these cats. As far as whether they are feral or stray...that really depends on how they respond to you. Do they eat and run?? Will they allow you close to them?? Scared strays often act like feral cats:

Although they are commonly confused, stray cats and
true ferals have different behavior patterns. A stray cat
may be seen at any hour, will likely approach a human
even if cautiously, is often vocal, and will eat food if you
put it down. A feral, on the other hand, generally will only
be seen from dusk until dawn, will not approach humans,
is silent, and will not eat food you have put down in
your presence.



There are a few good links for inexpensive shelters:

http://www.all-creatures.org/ak/feral-shelter.html

http://www.petfinder.com/journalinde...cats/1.5.1.txt

http://www.neighborhoodcats.org/info/wintershelter.htm

As far as the shelter you built...the insulation on the outside is a good idea...but in all honesty...I'd be worried about the glass. What if something falls on the shelter when a cat is inside?? I would also think with the insulation on the outside that the glass would still get cold. Some of the examples in the above links are pretty inexpensive to make.

You also should be planning to trap this family now so that they do not breed next year and add additional kittens. Below is a link to TNR groups in New York.

http://www.alleycat.org/orgs.html#ny

The great thing about TNR is that the cats are returned but because they are spayed/neutered, they cannot add to the overpopulation. There is also a lot of good information on this yahoo group:

http://pets.groups.yahoo.com/group/feral_cats/

under their files section.

Good luck and thanks for caring for these cats.

Katie
post #4 of 14
Thank you for caring for these cats!

I have to agree with Katie - I'd be worried about the glass too. But it was a creative solution, I have to give you that!!!!

As to getting them spayed/neutered, if you want to find a trap to borrow, you can search for orgs/shelters in your area that may rent or lend them: http://www.pets911.com. You may even find a place that can take them to help find them homes as pets. ??? Worth some e-mails or calls.

And I have to say - what a strange family!!! I find it so hard to believe that that kitty is related to the tabby! I mean - I don't doubt your description of their behavior. But I do wonder if the kitty didn't get separated from its owner, or lost from its family - and the tabby "adopted" it. ???? But what a cutie!

Sometimes it can be impossible to tell if a cat is feral or stray - especially if older, especially if the stray has been on its own for a few years. Basically strays can "become" feral in all of their behavior.

But these are such handsome cats - it might be worth putting up some posters around the neighborhood to see if they're missing from a home. And when/if you get them to a vet, might not be a bad idea to have them scanned to see if they were microchipped. Maybe they belong to a neighbor (irresponsible enough to let such beautiful animals outside, especially not spayed or neutered) and they just have taken to hanging out in your yard? The pics certainly make them look like clean, healthy kitties! Or perhaps you've just done such a good job caring for them...

If you want more info on ferals, or you're just interested in the issue of stray/feral cats, there's lots of info at http://www.StrayPetAdvocacy.org.

We'd love it if you could keep us updated - and if you have any more questions, please feel free to ask away.

I don't usually admire tabby cats (the two "parents") (even though two of our rescues are tabbies) - but I just think "your" cats are so gorgeous. And I don't know anything about breeds - but that little kittie is just so beautiful it seems like it should be a pure-bred something!



Laurie
post #5 of 14
Yes thankyou for feeding them!! the feral/stray cats in my neighborhood get overlooked!!

I like the idea of the house for them but will they go in it? I am taking care of a stray and tried ot make him a box, and even after i put treats in there he STILL refuses to go in!


Its good that your sitting out there with the scittish strayys/bold ferals. They should get used to people being around them ( though if they are ferals i'v heard there's no hope for them living in a house unless theyre 8-10 weeks old.) I would work on the kitten getting to trust you since its at a young age.

BTW i love the pix you took!! Theyre clear and i like the way the kitten is "framed" by the flora.
post #6 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by catcrazyperson View Post
Yes thankyou for feeding them!! the feral/stray cats in my neighborhood get overlooked!!

I like the idea of the house for them but will they go in it? I am taking care of a stray and tried ot make him a box, and even after i put treats in there he STILL refuses to go in!


Its good that your sitting out there with the scittish strayys/bold ferals. They should get used to people being around them ( though if they are ferals i'v heard there's no hope for them living in a house unless theyre 8-10 weeks old.) I would work on the kitten getting to trust you since its at a young age.

BTW i love the pix you took!! Theyre clear and i like the way the kitten is "framed" by the flora.
Just wanted to dispel the myth that unless feral kittens are brought in at 8 to 10 weeks of age they cannot be socialized.

It takes time and special people to do it if they're older. But even someone with no experience but the will, the time and the space can socialize ferals up to about 8 months of age. See this thread: http://www.thecatsite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=11395 Older cats - up to 3 or 4 years can be socialized, but that is an undertaking that should only be done once one has experience with socializing ferals.

Even feral kittens shouldn't be taken from their mums until they're 12 weeks old - when she's done teaching them everything they need to know. However, it is usually much easier to adopt them out at 8 - 10 weeks old, which is why so many people go ahead and do that. We either let kittens stay outside with mum until they're 12 weeks, or we trap the whole bunch (meaning mom and her kittens) and keep them together until it's time to adopt out kitty. No matter what, the young kittens need some socialization, and whoever is adopting them should understand that. Kitty will be terribly scared in a new environment.

If you want to read up on socializing, here's a great article: http://www.straypetadvocacy.org/html...feral_cat.html

Laurie
post #7 of 14
Awww, thanks so much for trying to help these 3 wonderful kitties........
post #8 of 14
Welcome to TCS!! i have recently adopted a former feral - he is really quite the cuddler these days - and i used to be afraid of him i began the taming in May, and by the end of August, he would let me touch him, and no longer attacked my legs (turned out that apparently he was kicked, and the bottom fangs were knocked out, and he has 2 broken teeth - tho i cant see him letting a human getting close enough to kick him). In September, he had an epiphany with my grandson, and became a new cat - completely tame. 2 weeks ago, he was attacked by a dog and had to go to the vet - she is fairly positive that she did the neuter & ear-clipping, and that the cat is actually older than I realized. She was amazed that it was him, but said that the markings and his location are what make her sure that he's the TNR that she worked on.
I used the food techniques that you are using - takes awhile, but works Because there are more than one, it may take more time; but that kitten is off the cuteness scale - is there such a thing as ULTRA-CUTE? , definitely don't give up!
My brother also has a feral that he tamed after its TNR- Ozzie is the cat's name, and Ozzie was almost 3 before he got trapped and neutered (my brother had purchased a large piece of land and wanted to transfer the nearby feral cat colony with him)- now almost 3 years later, Ozzie enjoys being a part time housecat.
Please keep us updated on your progress with your crew
post #9 of 14
Honestly, feral/stray cats crave canned food the most, if you want them to come to you, try canned food. Also toys for the kitties will attarct attention as well, especially a long shoelace, if your movng it, their curiosity may lead them right to you (even though its because of the moving string) Do it every day, and mabye they will surprise you and come right up to you.
post #10 of 14
Thread Starter 
Sorry I haven't replied sooner. I was having some sign-in problems.

So far the trio has been (I believe) sleeping in the house. The last time I went out and fed them (in the morning around 8:30AM), the mother and kitten came running out of it. The father sometimes hangs out by the side of the house near the water hose. But I've seen all three of them in and around the house. So far so good.

The mother and kitten are now not running as far when fed, they just hide next to a bush pretty much unhidden and look at me fill thier food bowl. By the time I walk back and sit down, they are out and eating. The father, however, is very timid. He won't come out until I go back completely in the house. When i took those pics, I was actually pretty surprised that he came out while I was there.

I have some more pics of the cats in my photobucket album:
http://s44.photobucket.com/albums/f14/gunz1993/?sc=3


Quote:
Originally Posted by keith p View Post
Honestly, feral/stray cats crave canned food the most, if you want them to come to you, try canned food. Also toys for the kitties will attarct attention as well, especially a long shoelace, if your movng it, their curiosity may lead them right to you (even though its because of the moving string) Do it every day, and mabye they will surprise you and come right up to you.
Thanks! I will try canned food as well as the shoelace idea. That sounds like it might help.
post #11 of 14
Thread Starter 
Sorry for the delay in response, I had a problem replying to threads....

So far so good!

The mother and kitten do not run away as far anymore when fed. I can get to about 3 feet of the mother while holding out food. But it's still too early for her (or the kitten) to approach me.

They seem to like the house as they've been spending the nights in there as well as some days! I always see them in/out and around the house.

There are some more pics of the cats in my Photobucket album:
http://s44.photobucket.com/albums/f14/gunz1993/?sc=1


Quote:
Originally Posted by keith p View Post
Honestly, feral/stray cats crave canned food the most, if you want them to come to you, try canned food. Also toys for the kitties will attarct attention as well, especially a long shoelace, if your movng it, their curiosity may lead them right to you (even though its because of the moving string) Do it every day, and mabye they will surprise you and come right up to you.
The shoelace sounds like a great idea! I will try that along with some canned food.
post #12 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by andyman View Post
Sorry for the delay in response, I had a problem replying to threads....

So far so good!

The mother and kitten do not run away as far anymore when fed. I can get to about 3 feet of the mother while holding out food. But it's still too early for her (or the kitten) to approach me.

They seem to like the house as they've been spending the nights in there as well as some days! I always see them in/out and around the house.

There are some more pics of the cats in my Photobucket album:
http://s44.photobucket.com/albums/f14/gunz1993/?sc=1




The shoelace sounds like a great idea! I will try that along with some canned food.

Andy...I wouldn't wait until you can pet them to get them fixed...I am concerned that mom may in fact be pregnant again. The best thing you can do is to borrow a humane trap and try to trap this family so that they can be spayed/neutered.

I would recommend that you reach out to this group:

http://www.licp.org/

I'm also concerned that you are using a fishtank that is made of glass and if something were to fall on it while the cats are inside...it could harm them if the glass breaks.

Katie
post #13 of 14
hi andy,
that is very sweet of you to be watching out for and feeding
and housing these kittys. they have such a hard life with most
of them lucky to see 5 years old.

they are adorable !!!! that kitten looks small enough that i bet he/she
could be socialized in no time and be very adoptable !! she/he is just
beautiful.

i live in north babylon (and work in melville) on long island and i have a
trap i could lend you or a carrier i could lend to you. you might be able
to catch them in a carrier.

what town are you in ?


i did the same thing you are doing four years ago and before i could
even think a straight thought there were a total of 12 kittens and cats
in our yard. so i hae to agree with everyone that catching them and
getting them vaccinated and fixed would be high on the list of what you
might want to do.

also great quick thinking on the little house but as soon as you can
please switch over to a rubbermaid container with lots of straw (NOT hay)
inside. you can get the containers at either target or walmart on sale
for about $5-6. or if all three are willing to sleep together in the
same container which would be best body heat wise, you could get a
rubbermaid container that is a little bit bigger for about $8-9.
the straw you can get a pet store like pet supplies plus. i love that store.

i think this is probably the two most economical containers that won't
blow away that you could easily build. the first link shows where the
door should be cut so that the wind does not blow directly in on them.
if you get a big enough container all three could cuddle in the corner
away from the door.

http://www.neighborhoodcats.org/info/wintershelter.htm

and this one is a good one too its just a little tricker getting one
container to fit inside the other container so that all the insulation also
fits in between and on the floor of the containers and the covers fit on
also. the pink insulation in this like sells by the sheet at home depot
for about $7 as i remember.

http://www.pacthumanesociety.org/core/WinterShelter.htm

if you don't want to borrow a trap from me you can buy one at home depot
for about $40. just make sure to get the large one. when i went there
they said they did not have the large one that fits racoons and such but
i kept looking because i knew they sold it and i found it high on a shelf.

good luck and please let me know if i can be of any assistance.
four years ago i was about crying in my socks for some help.
so i would be happy to help you however i could.
post #14 of 14
andyman how is it going ?

don't leave us now.
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