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Teaching an outdoor cat where home is--please no judgements

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
Please read this and understand that if there was a chance for Ginger to be indoor she would be, but Ive looked and it isn't an option--if she went to our shelter, it is a kill shelter and she would be euthanized.

15 weeks ago I relocated Ginger (she was a stray) from the other side of town to my house to safely have her babies in a cage on my front porch--there was no way I could bring her into my home.

Her babies have now found homes, she will be spayed tomorrow and sadly no one is wanting to be her furrever indoor home, she has two options, continue to live in her outdoor cage here--a dog crate, or live as an outdoor cat and be pampered and cared for by me. I will continue to search for a furrever indoor home for her but can no longer force her to live in the cage.

How do I teach her that our "area" if you will, is her home? I thought about harnessing and leashing here and walking the perimeter of our backyard with her and then bringing her back to her cage the first few days. I have thought about putting her in the cage at night just for safety. I feed her at the same time everyday as it is, so I hope that since she knows the schedule she continues to expect that and always comes to the porch to eat.


post #2 of 15
The "old wive's remedy" was to put butter on the cat's paws. Supposedly, this was so wonderful, the cat would always remember where home was.

There are worse things, I guess.
post #3 of 15
Thread Starter 
Never heard that one before!

post #4 of 15
This remedy is perhaps not so weird as it sounds. I may even worked, I suspect.
My suppose is the smells from the house fastened on the butter. And thus, the cat licking off the butter get the smells of the house better fastened in the memory.


Here, Ginger. If your place is where she has her food and her safety, and if Ginger feels of you as a friendly person, I think she will tend to stay with you at your place.

Unless she knows some much better place. Which I dont think there is.

The only contra is perhaps if she doesnt like the dog cage, and thus think of your place as the place of captivity...
post #5 of 15
After 15 weeks, she should be fully imprinted on your location. So I don't think she'll go back to her old house at this point. Whether she'll actually stay in your yard, I don't know....some cats will, some prefer to wander. Seems like females are more likely to stay close to home, though.
post #6 of 15
Let me ask a question. And this is by no means a judgement, as I firmly believe you need to decide based on your own situation, which only you know well enough to do so. My question is (simply because I don't know your situation): I can completely understand the possibility that this cat would not accept being totally indoor, but would there be a possibility that she could be indoor/outdoor? I ask this because we do allow our cats out, and we have a routine, once they know the house is their home, for introducing them to the outdoors, establishing where "home" is and how to get in, and once they have learned this, letting them decide on the balance of in and out. Perhaps it would be possible to do something similar, but in reverse.

Of course, if the issue(s) that make indoors not an option are to do with those in the house, or the house itself, rather than the newcomer, then that presents a different problem, one that might not have a resolution other than keeping the newcomer out. That's yours to judge, and either way I hope you find a good resolution for Ginger.
post #7 of 15
Thread Starter 
Thanks I've gotten some great ideas here and on another forum. I've even started employing one and that is giving her a distinct call to know me by. I'm using a clicker for her to initiate with me and food etc... I was going to use a verbal cue, but want her to respond to my husband, and next door neighbor as well (they cat sit for us when we go out of town).

I wish she could be indoor however due to our current cat situation she can't be integrated and we are really at our limit--in fact two over our lease agreement.

I do believe she knows this as home, she delivered her babies here and has never missed a meal here. I think its time she be added to my signature...

post #8 of 15
Fair enough. I thought that might be the picture. And so, you do the best you can with what you've got, and I have no doubt whatever that Ginger can tell that this is the place where, in addition to having a reliable food source, she is loved and valued -- that's a pretty strong incentive to stick around, particularly if you can find other ways of giving her those clues, too.
post #9 of 15
In my experience, cats know where to come home to for their meals, petting, cuddling, a place out of the rain, etc. As long as your home is where she gets whatever she needs, your home will be her home.
post #10 of 15
If she's been enclosed outdoors at your place - she should know that this is home.
post #11 of 15
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the helpful thoughts everyone!! I'm not so worried now and look forward to the future with her. Right now Im focused on tomorrow and ending her suffering with heat cycles. As I sit here typing she is yowling on the front porch and it breaks my heart. I reassured her that tomorrow her life changes for the better, tomorrow a new life begins!

post #12 of 15
To be safe, I'd keep her contained for a week after she gets back from being spayed. Gives her recovery time, time to re-adjust, and time to calm down after what can be a traumatizing trip to the vet.
post #13 of 15
Personally I would keep her INSIDE at night (when its most dangerous). And what about building or buying a very large enclosure - one you can walk into? She can sit in safety out there during the day and come in at night.
post #14 of 15

as she's been with you for severall weeks while rearing her kittens she'll know where her home is by now so personally I don't think you should be too worried about letting her out. Give her 2-3 days after the neuter so you are certain she's fully recovered from the surgery and the cut is healing nicely, then let her out.

Simply open her cage door before feeding her and let her wander out at her own pace and time. Personally I wouldn't bother walking her on a harness and leash, either. She'll come back when she's hungry .

Try to stick to feeding times so she's around every day for these times.

Make sure she's chipped or tattooed so she will be returned to you if something does go wrong- but that's an advice I'd give anyone, even with an indoor only cat .


post #15 of 15
Thread Starter 
We don't own the property so we can't really built an enclosure. However we are in the process of getting a loan and looking for a house. I would like to be able to build an enclosure when we buy a house so that she could be safe--but time will tell-- It does stink that all of this will have to be repeated sometime in the future--showing her her home.

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