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Keeping socialized feral indoors in spring/summer is getting difficult

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 
First of all I have 3 socialized ferals but the first two were caught as kittens. The last one I have is a 2 year old who's name is Harley. He's been home with me since Oct. '06. He's very friendly to me and my DH and has turned out to be a lap cat, except I think he still yearns for the great outdoors. We live on the first floor of a condo and have a long balcony. I put a harness and leash on Harley the other day and took him on the balcony. He freaked out, tried to twist himself out of the harness, jumped on the ledge and wanted to jump off, and when I tried to pick him up to take him in he scratched and bit me. Well, that took a trip to the urgent care center and a rx for antibiotics...for me. He is ok.

Well, I can't take him on a leash again. I'm afraid to take him on the balcony. I'm afraid to open the balcony door ...he may bolt out the door.. how do I handle this now that its warm out and his feral instincts are calling him? I might add that the two other cats go out and sun themselves on the balcony and come right back in, they know where the food is.

And, yes, he is neutered...so there is no mating behavior here.

I just don't know how to handle this.
post #2 of 3
This probably will sound either mean or counter-intuitive to you, but when I was working with a cat behaviorist because I adopted a cat with litterbox issues, I was told NOT to take her outside on walks on a leash, because that taste of the outdoor world might just make her sense of it worse. In our case it would mean that she still felt she needed to "mark" even IN the house. In your case, I think it would mean, your Harley gets his hopes up about scenting all those WONDERFUL new things, and then can't really do anything about it.

I'm not saying that the outdoors is so great, especially today, for a cat! I've kept indoor cats totally indoors, and what counts for them seems to be a) good food, b) those great lap times, c) sufficient play time and grooming time and attention from us humans and any other friendly pets. I also think that some cats are just more naturally inquisitive and bold than others. Harley wants to be an adventurer, while your other two simply want some warm sunshine.

I'd most like to tell you to keep all of the cats indoors, but I doubt that you would agree to do that, huh? <G> So, I would say, you COULD distract Harley in another part of the house when you have to let the other cats in or out. Hide a particularly good treat in a distant room, or get someone else in the house to engage Harley in a good play session, or if he likes combing, groom him some. Maybe Harley would like those "Cat Video" programs, that make him feel like he's watching birds outside the window or fish, or something?

It IS possible to "train" cats to stay clear of the door as you go in and out -- my family has been able to do that. However, if you still have younger children at home, or some family members aren't willing to help, you will have a risky situation for Harley, so you should think about how to prevent him from rushing into danger.

post #3 of 3
I have to agree with Linda that it would be best to keep Harley inside completely. I have a house full of formal ferals along with a couple of kits that were adopted from the pound. All of mine are indoor/outdoor. With every one of them I have seen a small taste of outdoors quickly fuel the driving desire to explore further.

We live in a rural area with many acres of grass, trees, woods and farm fields around us so I am comfortable with my crew being outdoors. If I lived in the city I think I would probably make my living quarters as cat oriented as possible with kitty walks, etc. because I would not allow them out at all.
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