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Stray question

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
I have a stray enclosed in a bedroom for the past five days. I've been managing a colony for several years now, and it's dwindling. This guy showed up last year and has always been very friendly and let me pet him, so that's why I'm calling him a stray as opposed to a feral. I had him neutered, tested (neg), vaccinated, and he's named "Mister". Mister is using the litter box (YAY!), eating, drinking, is accepting affection, purring loudly, but is fixated on the outside. He cries ALL night long and he climbed the curtains (resulting in the rod being torn off the wall). I know I have to be patient and I can be, but what to do in the meantime? He does NOT know how to play. I've tried catnip, little mice, shoe-strings, fishing-pole toys, large paper bags, nothing works. I spend quality time with him each day and he loves being petted and combed. But, I keep thinking he's getting terribly bored and I cannot think of anything else to try. Any suggestions on ways to liven him up? He loves seeing out the window and watching the birds. I plan on waiting at least another week or two before introducing him to the others.

Thanks in advance!
post #2 of 11
First of all, big kudo's for caring for a feral colony!!

My Lucky was born feral and started to come inside my house when he was about 18 months old. He was never really relaxed inside until he started to bond with the other cats in the house. Although I let him outside when he wants to go, he now stays inside more often than not. I guess what I'm getting at is that adjusting a cat to be indoors only takes time. I haven't heard a single person on this site that has had overnight success with the transition. Some are successful after a month, and others struggle with it for much longer.

Give him a perch by the window so he can look outside. If he was a tree climber (Lucky was), then a tall condo will replace the tree (Lucky spends a lot of time in the tops of my condos). Make the inside feel like the outside to him. Give him as many things that he really enjoys (yummy foods, treats, etc) to make him feel that the inside is a special place that he doesn't want to leave.

You are right - if he lived outside, he never learned to play with normal cat toys. Lucky will go after the occasional catnip toy, but doesn't even come out for the Da Bird. Don't give up on toys, because one day he will surprise you and play with one.
post #3 of 11
Music? TV??

there are videos with fishes or birds on for cats to look on...
post #4 of 11
Originally Posted by StefanZ View Post
Music? TV??

there are videos with fishes or birds on for cats to look on...
Good call! Mine actually like this one - Kitty Goes Hunting, Kitty Goes Fishing.
post #5 of 11
Yup - a tall cat tree in front of a window, and a bird feeder outside (encourage squirrels as well!).

Also, try some pine cones, tie a stick to a natural leather shoelace and make that move like an injured animal.... I've seen cat toys made out of some kind of fur - rabbit, maybe? Our latest feral BONKS for those. And hope a few flies make it into his field of vision!

And at night, leave harp music playing for him. Ferals seem to find that VERY calming.

It took Billy about three months to figure out wand toy play - and now he's addicted, though the ONLY thing he plays with are feathers at the end.

post #6 of 11
Thread Starter 
Hi all!
Well, since my last post, "Mr. Cheeks" has really loosened up. He is no longer destructive, doesn't cry all night, and sleeps curled up next to me or on my stomach (the door is always closed to the bedroom and no others are allowed in)! He's a real doll - loves to be petted. He's starting to play, too, which is WONDERFUL! During the day, we are starting to leave the room open when we are there, but he rarely ventures out.

Here's my question. Sure, the dogs are all interested, but not particularly. But, Sam, my sweet, lovely, affectionate, 2 year old male cat, is downright mean to Cheeks. Every time Sam sees him peek out from under the bed, he RUNS FULL SPEED and charges him. The poor guy gets defensive (understandably), growls, hisses, puffs up, and runs under the bed again. If there's a dog in the vicinity, all the ruckus sets them right off and the chase is on. Once I clear the room and call him, he comes right back out, tail up, looking right at me and speaking sweetly. So, I don't think he's terribly upset by these encounters. I just worry about whether Sam will adjust. Or, maybe it would be better for Cheeks to live with someone where he's the only pet. I really want this to work. Should I start correcting Sam when he starts the "stare-down"? Should I correct Cheeks? I'm really not sure of the best approach and hope that somebody here with more experience at this sort of thing can give me some pointers and/or encouragement that I'm doing the right thing.
Thanks in advance!
post #7 of 11
It sounds like things are going relatively smoothly. You are still in the introduction phase of your cats. Have you read through this thread?

If 2 of the cats are not getting along, start introductions all over again as explained in the thread. Not everything will work for you, but keep trying different things with them until you find the right combination.
post #8 of 11
Thread Starter 
Thanks for directing me to the articles. Coincidentally, the same day I posted this question, Cheeks ventured out of his room on his own! He made his way to the kitchen. Since then, he's come out several times, so I really think we are making progress. Sam is still charging him, but there's been no fights. I'm hopeful!
Thanks again!
post #9 of 11
Originally Posted by 4Dogs3Cats View Post
Sam is still charging him, but there's been no fights. I'm hopeful!
Earlier you wrote Mr Cheeks, although he quickly saves himself by a "hastily retreat into earlier prepared positions" - seems not to be really bothered by these assaults.

I´m wondering - perhaps it is not real assaults as there are no fights of it, but rather a sort of play between two guys??
War-play IS one of the plays they can play.

You were also lucky Mr Cheek apparently wasnt a dominant male. A dominant. territorial minded, non shy freshly neutered male can beat up the residents, especielly if they are not docile...
In such cases the usual is to wait at least minimum 3 weeks after the neutering - preferably longer, 2 months may be appropriate - before you even try to let them meet - beginning with the most docile resident.

Shy ferale toms are easier; they tend to be submissive to the residents, almost alike shy females.
post #10 of 11
Lazlo, our resident alpha, decided he did NOT like Billy, our most recent rescue. Lazlo does the same thing - charge Billy. There's no real fight, and Billy would just retreat, not defend himself, really. But Lazlo never actually attacked him. Billy never seemed particularly bothered or upset about the attacks, as, like Cheeks, he'd come right back out, tail up, interested in interacting with us.

What we did is use Feliway, we swapped scents with the focus on getting Lazlo to associate Billy's scent with good things (rubbed a towel all over Billy and put it under the free feeding dishes, played with Lazlo each morning and evening in "alone play" and put treats down for him on a "Billy scented" rag)). Whenever they'd be near each other or pass each other and Lazlo wasn't in "stare down" mode, we'd praise him to high heaven. So, focus on reinforcing the positive (when there is any). We also would give both of them treats when they were near each other - they'd eat RIGHT next to each other.

We explained to Lazlo about 20 times a day, we didn't need him to be nice to Billy, we just wanted him to not be mean.

After a couple of months, things calmed down. At that point, we were SURE Lazlo knew we didn't want him to rush Bill, so when he did, he went into the bathroom for a five minute "time out." After several weeks, the incidents of rushing Bill fell even further. Now it is 7 months later. Lazlo still rushes him every once in a while, but given it used to be 10 times a day, and now it's every 3 - 4 days, we're good (especially since Billy doesn't care, no one gets hurt, and Bill STILL tries to walk up to Lazlo to head bump him - knowing what may happen! ).

post #11 of 11
Thread Starter 
Hi Everybody!
Here's an update on our crazy menagerie. Cheeks is basically staying in the kitchen all day long. We made him a "bed" of oven mitts tucked in a corner of our countertop. He feels very safe there and now he can watch more of the goings-on of the family. He is either on this make-shift bed or in the kitchen window, which he just loves. Then, it's just a short stretch down to the sink for a quick drink (we are careful to leave a bowl of clean water there for him). He also knows that this is where the dog's meals are assembled, and he tries to steal a bite of their canned food. After all, he was a "dumpster kitty" for the first 2 years of his life! He still spends nights with me in my bedroom, and we always make a date for 10-15 minutes of intense playing before I nod off. He has a GREAT time.
Sam still charges him from time to time, but it's getting fewer and far between, as most of you have predicted. Only our puppy, Squirt, really gives him a hard time, but Cheeks generally is able to run away. He's doing just great, and I know he will only continue to improve, as will my original brood. Thanks, everyone, and I'll continue to post updates from time to time.
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