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Moving with a former feral

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
I have a 5 year old "ex-feral" cat who was given to me as a kitten. Despite the young age of acquisition he never grew comfortable with anyone but me. We have lived with my parents this entire time and my mom has tried her best to befriend him but he's just terrified of her, and my dad(to a lesser degree, only because he basically ignores him). He's the sweetest cat and he adores other animals but he's just extremely afraid of people and is even distrusting of me when my parents are around. So.. in other words he's a fairly typical ex-feral cat but without any of the bad behaviour that often comes with them. I tried my best to socialize him but I'm not the most social person so this didn't work out so well. My sister comes by on rare occasions and he'll come out to stare at her and has even gotten into her lap to take food(the only thing he'll approach people for) but he's terrified of her as well.

Anyway, I will most likely be moving in August or September and have even considered not moving because of my ex-feral. I have no idea how he will adjust to apartment life, he's pretty much had my companionship 24/7 for 5 years and I'll be working/going to school a great deal if I move out of state, I don't think I am going to be able to afford my own place so we might have to live with a friend of mine, and.. I'm just really worried about how he'll handle the move itself and adjustment to a new environment. I'm afraid he'll just hide all the time and become miserable(he's a happy cat, despite the fears). My friend is willing to work with him but I just don't know how successful this will be. Also, I'll be taking my other two cats with me and he's grown very close to one of them(I got her back in February when she was about 5 months old, she was also a feral but is very outgoing and comfortable with people. No feral qualities at all.) so I'm hoping that will help put him at ease. I'm also going to be bringing all of his things(my cats have more furniture than I do) but for the most part our apartment will be fairly vacant, which I'm concerned will bother him. I'm going to try and have a bed delivered before we move in so he'll at least have a place to hide under or in(he hides inside the foundation of our mattress here).

So.. the question is.. should I try and get a place for just me and the cats? This is what I'd prefer but they're all out of my price range. I could do it if it's necessary for my cat's well being, though. Or.. should I just get an apartment with my friend.. perhaps a townhouse where my cats/I can live in the upstairs part?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated. The area we're moving to is 1800 miles away and we'll be making stops at hotels. I imagine it will be the most stressful thing he's ever gone through. And I feel awful and selfish about putting him through it all.. This probably won't be the last move or the last roommate...
post #2 of 6
Having moved with a formerly feral cat, it is stressfull on them, but it isn't something that can't be overcome. Arm yourself and kitty well for the trip with Feliway and Bach's Rescue Remedy to calm kitty (well, all the kitties! My cat who was raised underfoot actually does worse with moving than the feral.). Taking away his comfort of having his feline companions and leaving him with humans that he doesn't trust to me sounds worse than the move, IMO.
post #3 of 6
I am considering moving and have the same issue with by 6 year old former feral. Sounds like Tigger is just like your cat, although mine will hide when ANYONE other than myself is in the room. My friends have been coming over for 6 years and have never seen him.

Your story gave me a thought - do you have anyone in an apartment close by that you could try a "trial" move with him? Someone that would let you stay there for a few days/week to see how he would adjust to a new environment? It may not be long enough time, but perhaps you could get a sense on how he would react in a new home.

Also, have you ever been away from home long enough to see how he would adapt living with your mom and dad? Can he reattach to another and would your parents be open to keeping him?

1800 miles away is a long haul for a scared boy. It sounds like you would move him by car. When I moved some ferals from Houston to Kansas City, I rented a van, got a huge dog carrier, and placed them with a litter box in the carrier. My husband and I rotated driving shifts so that we could avoid overnight stops at hotels - I don't think we could have gotten them in and out of them. Granted we were on the road only 20 hours (we had a stop in Austin to pick up other cats), not like your 1800 miles. We did have tranquilizers ready in case any of them got over agitated. They were mostly bored.

Hope this helps.
post #4 of 6
I would spray the heck out of your carriers the night before with feliway spray. I would also read the article on site here called Traveling with Cats in our Care Section.
post #5 of 6
We have four feral rescues as pets. They are not well socialized, though they are happy as clams and we love them dearly - and they love us, too.

I think it'd be OK to have a room-mate, just so long as your kitty has some space he thinks of as "his." That you're moving with both cats will be a comfort to him since they're pals.

Just remember - keep him in just a bedroom or bathroom when you first move. Friends of ours have cats that are gregarious and well-socialized - but when they moved to a new home, they lived in the bathroom (with the door open so they could go out if they want to) for close to a week before they ventured out to explore.

He'll get used to your room-mate as long as he or she is willing to work on building his trust.
post #6 of 6
I found my feral while I was at university. I moved from house to house with her each year and she stayed. I just made sure I kept her in the bathroom for a couple of days (hardest part) then I let her out when she was hungry and showed her where the food was. She stuck around, plus it helped that she responded to her name when I called her for dinner. I just moved her back to my parents house in the country. She loves it and the cat who only trusted me follows the whole family around everywhere when we're outside!Her new thing is to jump onto the roof and come and sleep outside my window. If she catches me in there she starts meowing to let her in for food where she can also see her daughter (my indoor cat) . It worked out great. I'm so happy. It might be easier with females though b/c they tend to have a smaller territory. The first weeks were filled with hissing and yowling of the barn cats from around here as she was trying to establish her territory. She stuck to it though and they no longer come around.
Good luck,
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