TheCatSite.com › Forums › Feral Cats and Rescue › Caring for Strays and Ferals › How Do I Get Feral To Use Outdoor House?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

How Do I Get Feral To Use Outdoor House?

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
I have been caring for a feral mother cat and her three kittens in my backyard since May...I now have their trust but my dogs do not even though they have never bothered them. Winter is approaching and I am so worried they will be cold so I bought them a heated house. The mother cat gave birth under my deck so it is now their safety spot. If they are frightened for any reason that is where they go. I cannot fit the house under my deck so it is ON my deck. Most of the night they spend on my deck playing with toys, eating, etc. they know the dogs will not be out anymore. I have the house ON my deck with a canopy over the entire deck. They are also ON my deck some of the day, when they go to sleep they go underneath again. They have not even tried to enter the house. I even put the door flap up and put cat nip toys in it...they managed to get the toys out with long extended paws. Today it was pouring rain and I did see one kitten enter the house and stay awhile...how can I be sure they will ALL use it in the winter??? They could freeze to death under my deck and I have no where else to put their heated house. I tried putting their food in it and they just waited me out knowing I would take it out because they are hungry...I am very attached to all of them. Please tell me anything I can do to get them to trust being in there. People keep telling me they will always go UNDER the deck because they feel safe and they could freeze to death. There is no room under my deck for anything and I don't even know where they go under there. Any advice would be great....Thanks ....Barb.
post #2 of 14
I'd suggest using something very fragrant such as tuna, and not caving in, but leaving it in the house. If they want to eat -- and we know they do -- eventually they WILL go inside. GOOD LUCK, and THANK YOU SO MUCH for caring so much about them -- I do hope somehow you can get mama cat spayed after her kittens are weaned, and get them fixed at four months, too -- young feral kittens are handleable, and the more you handle them, the better your chances of being able to catch them for transport, and the better their chances of being adopted. Two sites that may be of help to you in general for feral cat information/care: Alley Cat Allies at http://www.alleycat.org and Best Friends Animal Society at http://www.bestfriends.org . Please keep us updated, won't you? Prayers and best thoughts going out to your little feral family.
post #3 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by BarbLimauro View Post
I have been caring for a feral mother cat and her three kittens in my backyard since May...I now have their trust but my dogs do not even though they have never bothered them. Winter is approaching and I am so worried they will be cold so I bought them a heated house. The mother cat gave birth under my deck so it is now their safety spot. If they are frightened for any reason that is where they go. I cannot fit the house under my deck so it is ON my deck. Most of the night they spend on my deck playing with toys, eating, etc. they know the dogs will not be out anymore. I have the house ON my deck with a canopy over the entire deck. They are also ON my deck some of the day, when they go to sleep they go underneath again. They have not even tried to enter the house. I even put the door flap up and put cat nip toys in it...they managed to get the toys out with long extended paws. Today it was pouring rain and I did see one kitten enter the house and stay awhile...how can I be sure they will ALL use it in the winter??? They could freeze to death under my deck and I have no where else to put their heated house. I tried putting their food in it and they just waited me out knowing I would take it out because they are hungry...I am very attached to all of them. Please tell me anything I can do to get them to trust being in there. People keep telling me they will always go UNDER the deck because they feel safe and they could freeze to death. There is no room under my deck for anything and I don't even know where they go under there. Any advice would be great....Thanks ....Barb.
Hey Barb....can you put some straw under your deck?? I understand it isn't ideal...but mom probably does feel safer there for now. I would encourage you to plan to trap mom as soon as possible for spaying (and her kittens as well) because cats can become pregnant again a few days after they give birth and I'm sure you would like this to be her last litter.

Katie
post #4 of 14
I have been lurking and I have never posted here.
But after reading your post, I had to say hello!!!

Just like you, I have been caring for a feral mother cat and her three kittens in my backyard!!
I think our kittens were bone around June.
And my hubby just built cat house and put it out there last Monday.

Do you have blanket or something your cat has been using?
Cat has been using crate with old blankets.
When I put cat house out, I put some of their blanket inside and sprinkled quite bit of dried catnip.
As soon as house was out, kittens went in side.
Mom was very cautious, though... But went inside shortly after.

How does your cat house smell like? If the room come off, you should air it out?
They may not like "brand new" smell of it.

Let us know how it goes!
-Kazy
post #5 of 14
I have a cat house and my cats hardly use it either, even in winter or while it's raining.

Dont give up, just fill the house with straw and change the straw twice a year to prevent a buildup of dirt or fleas (spring and fall is what I do) They will go in if they want to, and some do more than others.

I leave the cat flap on from late fall to mid spring, and keep it off from late spring to early fall.

I dont own a heated house, so im wondering if dry straw could catch on fire?
post #6 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kazy View Post
I have been lurking and I have never posted here.
But after reading your post, I had to say hello!!!

Just like you, I have been caring for a feral mother cat and her three kittens in my backyard!!
I think our kittens were bone around June.
And my hubby just built cat house and put it out there last Monday.

Do you have blanket or something your cat has been using?
Cat has been using crate with old blankets.
When I put cat house out, I put some of their blanket inside and sprinkled quite bit of dried catnip.
As soon as house was out, kittens went in side.
Mom was very cautious, though... But went inside shortly after.

How does your cat house smell like? If the room come off, you should air it out?
They may not like "brand new" smell of it.

Let us know how it goes!
-Kazy

Hi Kazy....

Straw is recommended instead of blankets because straw helps cats retain heat while blankets can get cold and soggy. From Neighborhood cats:

Insulation:

Straw is the best, while shredded newspaper will also work. The worst are blankets, towels or folded newspaper. Because the cats can only lie on top of these materials, they actually draw out body heat and defeat the purpose. But do keep in mind, if you use insulating materials, you must be able to change them regularly in order to ensure they stay dry. If you can't, it's better not to use anything except the shelter itself.

Have you trapped the mom and kittens to be spayed/neutered?? If the kittens were born in June...they are now almost 3 months of age and can be spayed/neutered in a clinic that performs pediatric spay/neuter. Mom should be spayed so that this is her last litter.

Below is a link to TNR groups in WA:

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

Low Cost Spay/Neuter resources:

http://www.lovethatcat.com/spayneuter.html#wa

Katie
post #7 of 14
Katie,

Yes, I started trapping them today!:
Please read the story in my other thread.
http://www.thecatsite.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=142689

My cat house has same insulation as regular house and stays quite warm.
But I will definitely add straw.
I had old blanket on the bottom of crate and cats love to play with it.

-Kazy
post #8 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kazy View Post
Katie,

Yes, I started trapping them today!:
Please read the story in my other thread.
http://www.thecatsite.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=142689

My cat house has same insulation as regular house and stays quite warm.
But I will definitely add straw.
I had old blanket on the bottom of crate and cats love to play with it.

-Kazy
Hi Kazy...ok, for some reason I thought your situation was one where the cats were being exposed to the elements. Many people build outdoor enclosures but don't know to use straw.

Katie
post #9 of 14
Hi Barb,

I have the exact same setup as you- the heated house with the flap, the deck (that they go under when they are afraid), a canopy, and two ferals living on my porch.

I got the heated cat house last fall, actually I got a couple of them (a double decker and a single) since I had multiple kitties then (3).

What I did was to buy several solar swimming pool covers. I intended to cover my entire deck with one, so that if they went under the deck they would be warm. http://www.poolsupplies.com/covers/solar-covers.asp

I am still thinking about doing that this year on top of what I did last year, for extra warmth for my kitties, but am not sure. Anyhow, last year:

Instead I used outdoor furniture (wrought iron chairs etc) to make a canopy with the pool covers. I put the heated house inside the canopy. Then I secured the entire thing with bricks and I used a chair to make a little opening for them to go in and out of their solar pool cover "lair".

Inside their lair I also put an outdoor cat heating pad and some of those scratch cardboards. http://cozywinters.com/shop/kh-3093.html

For the heated house, I left the door open on it just a tad and put some duct tape between the door hinges so it would not close. My kitty turned out to really like that feature.

My heated house uses those reptile bulbs for heat, so I turned the bulb on a low setting. My heated cat house also had an unheated lower level so I put a regular heating pad on that level, turned on the lowest setting.

I used a heated bird bath outside their lair for them to get water. For their food, when it got really cold I fed my kitties in a room upstairs in the morning and I let my ferals inside the kitchen so their food would not freeze. I left the door open while they ate; I know it was hard on the heating bill LOL.

For all those plug-ins, I used an outdoor multiple-plug cord that is sold with holiday supplies.

I also have a patio table and I bought a winter skirt to cover it. I put an outdoor heating pad on that and made a donut with fleece around it for the cold fall days when it was warm enough to be outside but too cold not to have some heat.

Since last year I have been able to make friends with one of my ferals (he was injured and I had to trap him and take him to the vets) and I am able to put Frontline on both of them. I also bought Frontline spray to use in their house before this wintertime.

Let me know if you have any questions where I can be of help. I know it is hard to see them not using the stuff you got for them, but they will, definitely!
post #10 of 14
Thread Starter 
you helped me very much with your canopy idea -- I am going to try it -- I have a heavy tarp -- gonna try it....can you tell me what wattage reptile bulb you have in there....I have a 60 watt ceramic bulb (used for reptiles) and it does not seem very warm...I also have the heated mat but I believe it only gets warm if cats lay on it....I am trying to entice them into the warmth but it actually has not been cold enough here yet...they still like under my deck better....thanks for all your advice....anything else is appreciated...B.
post #11 of 14
If your bulb is a reptile bulb, it should get pretty cozy in the heated house. I will check the bulb wattage on mine and let you know. I don't think it is more than 60 and it could be less.

If you are worried about heat, you should consider buying the solar pool cover and don't use a tarp, since the solar covers actually increase the temperature inside the canopy (by 14-20 degrees or more) using the sun. Also they allow light inside. The ones I got were cheap enough that I was able to get 2 of them (a blue one and a clear one) and use them together.

I'm not sure which heated house brand you got, but mine has temperature settings where you can adjust the heat with the bulb. With the solar cover I was able to keep the setting on low all winter and the house door open, and the house was still cozy. I did use a heating pad too though (inside a lower unheated part of the house), and that was probably risky.

Speaking of the heating pads, what I did to get my cats to use them was to buy a few yards of fleece from the fabric store and make a donut around the pad with the fleece. The kitties seemed to know that this was their bed and they went right for it.
post #12 of 14
I almost forgot, if your kitties don't go for the outdoor pad, you can try sprinkling some catnip on it or the fleece if you use that too.
post #13 of 14
I forgot one more thing about using the solar covers instead of the tarp: Where I live, we have raccoons and other critters who like to stay in the dark. They hang out under the deck, as a matter of fact.

In the winter, they are not attracted to the solar cover because it lets the light through during the day. So if you have critters too, it is an advantage to have a cover where light can get through.
post #14 of 14
Thread Starter 
thanks for the added advice about critters because I also have seen a racoon or two and have a possum....so thanks again....
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Caring for Strays and Ferals
TheCatSite.com › Forums › Feral Cats and Rescue › Caring for Strays and Ferals › How Do I Get Feral To Use Outdoor House?