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Stray Cat - What Should I Do?

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
I started noticing a stray cat around my house a few weeks back and am feeding him every evening. I thought he was feral until I spoke with a staff member at a local cat sanctuary and from what I described of him so far, she doesn't think he's wild, just that he lost trust in humans from a lack of contact with them. I can get within 5 meters of him, but any closer than that, and he'll bolt.

I call this cat Mickey.

I just got home from speaking with one of the neighbors, two houses over. Apparently Mickey's been hanging around her house for about 4 years now. She feeds him in the winters, but stops when the weather gets warm because the food has attracted other cats as well.

She thinks the previous family living in her current home abandoned him when they moved because he seems to really love hanging around her property and not to mention that family had lots of pets. She has a children's playhouse outside and often finds fur in there, so she thinks he sleeps in there and/or uses that for shelter in the winters. Also, her guess is that he's at least 10 years old, based on his physical appearance and what not (she has cats of her own).

There is a no-kill cat sanctuary in the next city (just 10 minutes drive from my house). They are the biggest cat sanctuary in North America and I'd love, more than anything, to relocate Mickey there. I have spoken to them a couple times, but they usually don't take in cats from other areas. I've contacted rescues and cat groups local to me, but none of them run a sanctuary.

It's been suggested by the cat sanctuary that I could keep him and try to work things out between my Mango and Mickey. Or, since he's been around the neighborhood for 4 years now, to leave him be since he probably knows how to survive on his own. I've been seeing more and more raccoons come by at night. I worry...a lot.

I'm at my limit for pets right now and renting, so I shouldn't bring in anymore cats. I don't think the landlord would approve anyway. BUT if push came to shove and it was necessary Mickey be brought inside, I'd be willing to do so, even if it's temporary. The hard part is getting my boyfriend's approval...

However, the neighbor says he sprays around her house sometimes. That's one thing I don't think I can deal with inside. Will neutering him fix this? Will it cause Mango to potentially spray inside the house, too? He was neutered at 5 months of age.

My question is: What do you guys think I should do? Should I leave him be or trap him and see if he's adoptable? It's kitten season and every rescue seems to be full.

I have no clue and want the best for him. There is no way I'd take him to the local SPCA as they euthanize cats often and I'm sure being how timid he is now, Mickey would have a slim to none chance of getting adopted before his time's up.

Thanks for reading!
post #2 of 12
I would first get him neutered and vet checked by trapping him. Poor guy. I would bring him in and then see if you can socialize him some. It would be worth it to try to find a no kill shelter or really talk to the sanctuary. If you try to keep him and get to know him maybe you make his case better since you will know him.
We are here to help so feel free to ask as many questions or cry for help.
post #3 of 12
It's a rough time of year to find space in any shelter, especially for an adult cat. Your best bet is to try and trap him and get him neutered and vaccinated. Sorry but my experience is an adult male that is spraying, and that old, will usually do it even neutered. My male (neutered) will spray outside but has never sprayed inside, we have tons of ferals around. He does it to keep other Tom's out of his area and it helps keep him safe. On the bright side, if you can trap him males especially can become very tame very quick. My guess is he is more stray than feral because he has stuck around and can learn to trust humans quickly. Maybe if you can't keep him you can find someone willing to take him in and work with him. If trapping isn't possible, the best you can do is give him a warm, dry place to sleep and food and water. You never know that might lead to him changing his mind about you. He seems to be very good at surviving if he is as old as your neighbor says so that's a start.
post #4 of 12
Thread Starter 
I spoke to a kitten rescue who deals with ferals all the time and someone will come by and drop a trap off for me to borrow. I will bring him to the vet to get neutered, vaccinated, tattooed, Advantaged, etc. It seems my only option at this point is to release him back into the neighborhood afterwards.

I was told to contact the rescue again if I move in the future and can't do the daily feedings.

I'm concerned about winter times. I'm only renting and the landlord lives upstairs. I have to sneak to feed Mickey, as I'm sure the landlord doesn't want a cat hanging around his house all the time. I would love to provide a warm shelter during the cold months - is there any other way I can do this?

I can ask my neighbor if she can keep her children's playhouse outside, but aside from that, I don't know what else. That's also IF she's willing to keep that house around.

How do cats usually cope with the cold? I'm in Canada and it gets pretty darn cold up here, especially in recent winters.

Thanks for your replies!
post #5 of 12
If she feeds him in the winter, maybe you can drop a big bag of food off to her a couple times a season. And maybe you can take food out to him watch him eat and pick up the bowl when he is finished. That way you are not feeding the whole block, I did that for a year with a cat.
Good luck,
post #6 of 12
You can make a shelter and hide it. There are some you can buy and heat. There are people here better at that part. I tend to just take him all in. I tried to keep one outside and she is living in my bathroom after giving birth...You are doing a good thing for him.
I would help with the food and water. I would tell her that you are willing to make sure he is up on his vaccines. She may be willing to partner with you if she knows you are going to be paying for some things.
post #7 of 12
Thread Starter 
The rescue dropped off a trap and taught me how to use it.

I've had it out two consecutive days now and this cat is much smarter than I gave him credit for. Or, much more wary.

There is food at the very very back of the trap with a small trail leading to it right from the outside. The trap itself is covered with a big towel with the exception of the front, where the trap door is, so he can walk in.

I watched him the first day I had it set up. He managed to eat a lot of the food without triggering the trip plate. 95% of his body was in the trap already. Then today, the most he went in was halfway.

I have a feeling this may take some time. The rescue will drop off a bigger trap to me tomorrow so hopefully, he won't be able to eat the food at the back without triggering the plate. However, I think the real issue is that he's wary and isn't going all the way to the very back and instead, just eating the trail instead.

Any suggestions on what else I can do to speed up this process?
post #8 of 12
From what I have read here, a lot of people have luck using KFC chicken, original recipie, skin removed, tied at slightly higher eye level to the cat, inside the trap. They are then looking up at the tasty treat, not down avoiding the trip.
post #9 of 12
Thread Starter 
I didn't drape a towel on the trap today. It worked. Well, sort of.

The trap went off, I heard it from inside, and I rushed out to see. What I found: closed trap door, newspaper lining on the trap floor a bit ruffled, no cat inside, and Mickey running away from our house.

I don't know what happened, but he set it off somehow.

I called the rescue and was told to feed him like normal, trapless, for three days and then set the trap out again on the 4th day. He's quite a big cat, so I think what might have happened was that he went into the trap, triggered the plate, and the trip door came down, but not ALL his body was in the trap, so he managed to back out somehow.

I don't know, that's just my guess.

Since then, I've taken the trap back in and set out his regular dish of water and food. He hasn't returned.
Do you think that was enough to scare him off forever?

Is it still possible for him to fall for another trap? I'm so frustrated.
post #10 of 12
I don't know. I would keep trying. Tempt him to come back to your door by giving him tuna juice or some wet food or other treats. Every cat I've known loves Feline Greenies.

If it was me I would wait much longer than 3 days to try to trap him again - unless there's a particular reason to hurry (maybe I missed that?)
post #11 of 12
I think what you're trying to do for this cat is so wonderful!

For whatever it's worth, here are my thoughts on the whole situation.

Since neighbor-lady feeds him in Winter, I'd tell her what you're doing, and I'd offer to share the cost of feeding him in the winter. I'd discuss your concern about shelter, explain the situation with your landlord, and ask if she'd be willing to have a shelter in her yard for him. Plastic actually isn't very good for shelter, as it just transmits the cold. And the most used shelters have an entrance and an exit - we haven't had luck with shelters that have just one way in and out. And the best insulator for bedding is straw! Just loosely stuff straw into whatever you're using (some people contact local restaurants and obtain a large styrofoam box used for shipping refrigerated stuff).

As to the trapping. Here's what I would consider doing.

If you have a way to do it (access to a hose), wash the trap with just a little bit of dish soap and water. If you have time and money to do it, buy Feliway, and spray some on the trap.

Buy some potting soil - pour it over the bottom of the trap. You can lift the trap right up through it, and he won't have to feel the wire on his feet. Put food out for him at a regular time right next to the un-set trap for the next three days.

Day 4, put really stinky food in the trap, still un-set so it can't trip. Use canned tuna or salmon or herring. Day 5, set the trap.

....but have your car or truck ready. Most cats we've trapped and driven to the vet pee (or pee and poop) out of fear. So having a thick plastic tarp down with wee-wee pads on top of it where the crate will sit is a REALLY good idea. And for the transport part of the trip, a light blanket over the trap but not covering the ends of the trap is a good idea. And open the car windows about an inch each, so there's moving air during transport.

If you have sticks and leaves available in the yard, you may want to consider putting some of them on the trap, but not completely covering it up. Especially if you're able to wash the trap (removing the scent of other cats and fear) and use the feliway on it ("friendly" cat scent) - then get the scent of nature on it, but still leave lots of space so kitty can see out and around - that might do it.

Good luck!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

post #12 of 12
yes, keep trying, i have yet to meet a cat too smart for a trap baited with a food he really likes. i've caught cats multiple times, if they're hungry enough, they think 'well maybe THIS time i can get in and out!'

it sort of sounds like your trap might be too small for him, if part of him is actually outside the trap when he's going for the bait. if he trips the door, his body might block it enough to wriggle free. if they have a larger trap you can borrow you might try that. good luck!
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