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Caging a semi-feral

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
I'm seeking advice before I get to the "release" part of this exercise.

Tabitha is a 9 y/o DSH spayed dilute calico. She was born feral on my families farm. She has "domesticated" some, but remains fairly true to her independent/self-sufficient nature. She's been in the house since April 24th, first residing in my bathroom, then being upgraded to living in my bedroom. She was caught due to some health issues - she was very ill. She had a URI, required fluids for a few weeks, had lost most of one of her ears due to frostbite, and was in desperate need of a dental.

May 18th she had her dental, and is down to 3 front fangs. She has issues with eating food - and can only manage certain shapes (she can't eat the normal food I feed the farm kitties).

She is somewhat taming down - but I know the moment I release her she'll be back to her old ways. So I am building an enclosure for her, attached to a shed. She will require ongoing care - weekly ear cleanings, canned food daily, special feedings, etc.

Now - she's doing OK in my bedroom, still shies away from me - but what will happen when I release her into a cage? She *hates* being crated indoors - and will dump any food/water/litter & try to dig her way out.

Will she freak out & be climbing the walls to escape?

I will have other cats in there with her, but she has always been independent & not really closely bonded to any other cats.

Should I lock her in the shed for a few days to let her adjust?

The enclosure is only started - it's been in the works since May. We have the space cleared, the lumber, the wire, all the pieces, now they just need to come together. It'll be 6' wide - anywhere from 10 - 20' long.
post #2 of 9
Nat, what's the shed like - any sun or window? Because if it's just dark I wouldn't do it. But if not, then I'd consider that option given her proclivities.

post #3 of 9
Nat - if she digs, it sounds like she just may dig her way out of the enclosure! Do you have any bricks or anything you can make like a three-brick width of bricks lining around the inside of the enclosure at the edge of it? (Did you get what I mean?) The idea here is that it makes it a really long way to actually dig out.....

post #4 of 9
The enclosure I am building uses treated 4"x4" beams along the ground and as uprights. We are burying the wire about a foot down as well and hope this keeps the diggers in.

If she's used to being by herself, is there a way you can give her her own "room" within the enclosure? I have one kitty we're going to take that route. I know he isn't going to be happy in the enclosure but I figure he'd be less happy laying flat on the street. The other kitties will be in the bigger part of the enclosure. His "room" will be about 10' square.

If you keep her in a smaller, personal enclosure, it will also make it a bit easier for you to catch her when needed. Give her her own little and she'll feel like a queen.

ps - don't forget to put wire across the top - or some other sort of cat proofing.
post #5 of 9
Thread Starter 
There aren't any windows in the shed - however - one door is a human sized door that is wire. We're probably adding another human sized door that is wire. Plus there will be a cat door (possibly just an open hole for the time being).
post #6 of 9
Thread Starter 
Well, I took her out & sat with her for 30 mins while she was in the carrier. I had given her rescue remedy an hour before I took her out.

When I opened the carrier door - she was off & hit the roof. I got her back into the carrier & set up a dog crate. I only covered the back half of it - as it is hot here & I don't dare cover much more. She's totally non-responsive to me, whereas she would crawl in bed with me nightly when inside. Breaks my heart & makes me want to bring her back in - but she wasn't happy inside, either.

She's being most unpleasant - I'll see if I can't get some Feliway spray for her tomorrow.
post #7 of 9
Hang in there, Nat. You're doing what's right and what's best for her.

she'll calm down and resign herself to the fact that she needs to be able to be within reach for care. No more frost bitten ears!
post #8 of 9
Are you sure she wouldn't adjust to being indoors permanently with more time inside with you?
I know it takes time to adjust even for new cats added to households ?? just my thoughts? IF you really want her as inside kitty? She sounds like she liked it if she was sleeping with you?

You are doing a good thing either way of course!

I just want them ALL inside! To be safe but you have the other shed enclosure option there too! good luck, let us know what happens!

post #9 of 9
Thread Starter 
She wouldn't adjust to indoors - she was slowly becoming more aggressive & trying harder to escape....she is doing OK in the enclosure, flighty, but happier out there than inside.
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