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How do I get my ferals to sleep in their houses?

post #1 of 51
Thread Starter 
My hubby and I made a cathouse for our ferals to eat in and are in the process of making more (better insualted) ones for the small colony we have. The question is, how do I get them to go in there? It was easy to get them into the feeding station but how the heck do I get them to discover the new ones we are building? They are being built from large rubbermaid tubs and will have insulation and straw in them. Any suggestions would be great as it is getting cold fast!
post #2 of 51
How lucky your ferals will be this winter!!! I would start moving the feeding station right next to the new winter shelter. Start putting the bowl inside the opening of the new shelter. When it gets cold enough for them, they will use those shelters. I just bought a Feralvilla and am hoping it gets used too. I plan to set my feeding station right next to the villa. Last year I made my own shelter similar to what you are making. They all used it, but not until it got really, really cold like in the teens or lower at night.
post #3 of 51
If you figure out how to get them to use it, let me know. I guess we have too much natural cover/alternatives, because our ferals have never used any shelter we've provided, from the insulated tubs you're describing to a feral villa.
post #4 of 51
I have a new Feralvilla, too. I'm trying to lure my feral brown and black tabby, Grenval, to it by giving her slightly heated canned food, closer and closer to it each night. Last night it was in the 30's F. here. For most of the 8 nights it has been out, it was very cold and raining. Grenval walks right by the cozy house I bought for her. And for the last two nights she hasn't come around for the canned food in the evening. But she came this morning today for kibble, but 4 hours late, and after she had worried me plenty.

I.just realized that caring for ferals is going to be hard on me.


Robin
post #5 of 51
CATNIP!!! It was my solution for a cat I had to trap using a dog crate so he was VERY afraid of the confinement. I put loose catnip and a stuffed toy. Also helped that he knew my dog could not get him as house was placed in storage area of shed

Worst case make sure they have an open area free from snow/rain if they really refuse the house made for them. I find those self heating pads helpful for the hold outs.
post #6 of 51
Thread Starter 
Thanks everyone. I think we've nixed the rubbermaid idea and are going to build something really neat out of wood and housing insulation, like a real house! Most of my ferals definitley wont go in but I have a group of kittens that probably will if I start putting food in there. My favorite feral lives in the woods down the street from my house so Im at a loss as to what to do for her which kills me! I still havent given up hope that I can finally get her inside. We've gotten very close! I'll post a pic as soon as we get the structure made.
post #7 of 51
Thread Starter 
@ Robin, yes caring for ferals is definitley a labor of love. My favorite didnt show up for 5 days one time after I tried to catch her. I really wanted to get her inside for the hurricane.( I can pet her but I cant pick her up.) I was absolutley devastated! Finally I crawed into the woods where she lives (almost breaking my leg at one point) and she came out to the smell of tuna. No I have to feed all my others in a different spot b/c she gets very territorial! When one doesnt show I get so worried! Its hard not to get attached!
post #8 of 51
Last winter I had 2 of the rubber maid shelters with insulation and straw as well as a feral villa DH built. My feral never went in them. He hated the rubber maid ones with straw. The feral villa was so nice, but I couldn't figure out why he wouldn't go in it. Then one morning last winter I went out to feed my sweet Shadow and I went to check inside his house to see if I could tell if he ever went inside. Imagine my surprise ( and loud screams) when I opened the lid and there was a big fat raccoon. No wonder Shadow wouldn't go in.

This year, I decided I would try again. I had DH modify the feral villa he had built. He added a small back door escape route as well as a small plexiglass window. I then put it up on a table in the middle of my deck. The raccoons cannot jump up there. Shadow has been going inside. So far it hasn't been too cold, but I have seen him in there a few times. I have placed some yummy treats in there as well as some catnip.

I also have a large dog igloo my neighbor gave me. His sister took care of a colony of ferals, but when she needed to move, she was able to get all of the ferals moved to a barn. She gave me the shelter. I have it on our unused hot tub so it is up high too. My newest feral, Patches is going in it!! I just put a few treats and some catnip. I so hope Patches chooses to use it this winter.
post #9 of 51
There are actually two in my neighborhood, Grenval, the tabby, and Spot - all black with a white spot on his chest. Grenval very clearly showed Spot, right in front of me, who I was and where to come one morning a few weeks ago. They are both often in my yard. They both have the TNR'd left tipped ears.

I put out dry food (Taste of the Wild) at 7:00 a.m. (even getting up on days off to get it out there then) and I take it in at dusk. Grenval comes most mornings, though not all. Sometimes I go to the back of my garden and call her. Some mornings she comes out and has even answered me. Spot appears later in the day. In the evening I put out canned food, and most nights Grenval comes for that. Spot started tonight, too.

Slowly I am moving the canned food closer and closer to the Feralvilla. I tried putting catnip in it, but no interest. It was nearly freezing a couple of nights ago. But now it is back up in the 40's as a low. So, probably it isn't cold enough. But we had days and days of constant rain last week, and very chilly, and I hoped they'd realize what a cozy shelter it is. Eventually, I'll put the canned food in the Feralvilla and hope they figure it out.

I have to take up all the food by dark or else the resident skunk with get it, not to mention raccoons. I worry about them, and possums, using the Feralvilla. I hope the opening is too small for adult raccoons. And I'm going to put it up on cement blocks (with an insulated wood floor) to keep the skunk out and raise it up above the usual snow level. But, still I'm worried about other animals using it.

I have a 6 foot wood fence around my yard. I've been closing the gates every night for some time to keep out coyotes. We have them around here, and they can't go over or under the fence. But, everyone else can.

Robin
post #10 of 51
We tried the feral villa on the porch, but I think we'll move it back up there this year. I have seen skunks walk through that little "hallway" LOL. Given the sleeping area is full of spiderwebs, clearly no one's been it. But it's starting to get colder out at night. FINALLY we have some sun today, so we're getting out there and cleaning the houses up. We'll probably move them around - and we'll use the catnip spray at least on the edges. I do know the less skittish ferals LOVE catnip, because they BONK on catnip toys I've left out for them LOL.
post #11 of 51
I bought an insulated dog house last week and filled it with straw, I put in on the porch under my porch table and positioned the door opening in a corner to better protect it from wind... they were all in it when I checked the next morning... I was so happy! Good luck to the rest of you!!
post #12 of 51
Thread Starter 
I was worried about the racoons and the possums so we're gonna raise it up quite a bit. I love the idea about the backdoor! Im definitly going to incorporate that! I got the 2 most curious babies to play with toys today! I was also very excited that the 1 kitten ate while I sat right next to the food plate!!! I have to build a completley different shelter on the side of the house for my female. She's never had kittens in the year I've know her and despises the Tom and the kittens! She chases them away from her feeding house so I've started feeding them out back. (which makes my cats very happy b/c they get to watch!)
post #13 of 51
When DH put in the back door, he made it a bit smaller than the main entrance. Shadow can still get in or out, but it cuts down on the amount of cold air that gets inside. I would love to install a flap or kitty door, but I doubt he would ever get brave enough to use it. The window was really easy to put in too. He loves the window. I am so hoping the raccoons stay far away. I sprinkled some flour around the entrance on the table to be sure it was kitty foot prints and not other critters. So far only kitty and I have actually seen Shadow go inside!!
post #14 of 51
Thread Starter 
I purchased an old window at a flea market to put in but Im wondering if I should use plexiglass instead. Im thinking of propping the flap up then when their used to it putting it down?! Idk though b/c my cats wont go through the cat door into the mudroom where their litter is if I have the flap on! LOL

Im so excited, thanks for all the neat ideas!
post #15 of 51
Grenval walked through "the little tunnel" (as Laurie put it ) in the Feralvilla a couple of days ago. I thought that was a good sign, showing that she is not afraid of it. My neighbor, who is part of this project in that he helped me put the Feralvilla together, and he is interested in this whole project, said that it shows she knows what this house is for.

Today he brought me a piece of plywood he cut to be the floor. I put paint primer, two coats, on each side. Tomorrow I'll paint it. The other day I got a piece of closed cell foam insulation to go on this floor. It wil be cut to fit the exact outline of the footprint, and glued down. We discussed how to hold the Feralvilla securely on this insulated floor, and think nails around the base will work.

I'm going to set it all on cement blocks to help keep it above the snow level. However predictions are that we will get over 50 inches again this year, so I don't know what to do. And, also that it will be severely cold, again.

I'm going to get the dog house heating pad and outdoor extension cord. Any recommendations?

Robin
post #16 of 51
Robin, YAY for Grenval going into the tunnel section of the villa. yes, this is a great sign . I still don't have mine set out yet as you know we have had very warm temps and I just got my villa. But I will put it out soon. I also want to cut a piece of insulation to fit tightly under and inside of the bottom feet of the villa. Having the villa up off the ground an inch or so with the four corner feet was not a good design in my mind, at least for our type of climate. This would allow too much freezing air to circulate up into the shelter. I will then glue that onto some plywood too. So the bottom inside floor will be insulation. I did hear that we are due to have record breaking snowfalls. Keeping the shelter closer to the ground is actually a better idea rather than lifting it up too far. But I am planning on using the cinder blocks too. I just plan on keeping it cleared of snow anyway. Last year I shoveled a couple of paths for my ferals leading to and from the shelter to my deck (which they spent a lot of time under ).

I am sure that heating pad will be just fine. I plan on setting my heating pad on the second floor of the villa under the straw. That is what I did last year and they made a cozy little nest in the straw on the heating pad. I am sure the cats will use the shelter, how could they not, we are making it so inviting like a Ritz Carlton Hotel
post #17 of 51
The idea to put the foam insulation on the floor we add to the design (as the Feralvilla has on the inside of the 4 walls and roof) came from YOU, Lauren! And what a good idea it is. And as you know, I have a piece of insulation to give you when I see you next week.

I'll be interested to hear more about why low to the ground is better. The snow is warm, I suppose.

But, just what I need! More paths to shovel this winter!


Robin
post #18 of 51
HA HA yes, caring for ferals on the winter months is back breaking work . Remember our six foot snow fall last Spring (I did have six foot drifts anyway) well all I cared about was shoveling out my feral shelter, not the driveway or front door LOL. Actually, the deep snow or tunnels DO act as insulation for the cats. I was told by a feral expert that some ferals will actually "hibernate" for days at a time in brutal temps or huge blizzards tunneled under the snow. It is like an igloo, an underground house. And if two are sleeping together, the better.

PS. Looking forward to next weekend . And thanks again, in advance, for the insulation
post #19 of 51
Thread Starter 
Too funny, I spent all last winter shoveling paths for my ferals too!
post #20 of 51
I have been doing this now for quite some time and its not an easy job, I have grown to love these cats.. and I have a bunch. First there was the Momma who gave birth to four kittens Oreo, Gray Midnight and Mimi, well after months Gray and Oreo left ,never did show up again,Momma got pregnant again this spring and had four more, only three lived.. Tipper, Sassy and Peanut, now I have all of them here and Mimi has gotten pregnant , she has four, Cali, Brighteyes, and Shy and Shadow.. these were born about two wks after Momma had her second bunch.. its getting outta hand, I feed them all morning , and night .. water and Mommas three are on my front porch all the time pretty much.. I can pick two of them up at times.. Momma has taken off now.. but I know she will come back.. I took care of the first ones all thru last winter, I have a igloo that I filled with blankets and orders one of those heaters and they did well , I brought it up on my porch.. right now we are insulating a play house in the back yard for Mimis bunch..I have tried to get in touch with a few groups to see if they would take them but no help at all.. you sure grow to love them , but its harder and harder to take care of all of them . I give them dry food and canned friskies which I am going to have to stop doing.. I am retired now and its too costly .. but I do love them.. but honestly its not a good thing . my neighbors have brought it up to me.. so I know they arent happy with it .. what to do ??
post #21 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chatypaty View Post
I have been doing this now for quite some time and its not an easy job, I have grown to love these cats.. and I have a bunch. First there was the Momma who gave birth to four kittens Oreo, Gray Midnight and Mimi, well after months Gray and Oreo left ,never did show up again,Momma got pregnant again this spring and had four more, only three lived.. Tipper, Sassy and Peanut, now I have all of them here and Mimi has gotten pregnant , she has four, Cali, Brighteyes, and Shy and Shadow.. these were born about two wks after Momma had her second bunch.. its getting outta hand, I feed them all morning , and night .. water and Mommas three are on my front porch all the time pretty much.. I can pick two of them up at times.. Momma has taken off now.. but I know she will come back.. I took care of the first ones all thru last winter, I have a igloo that I filled with blankets and orders one of those heaters and they did well , I brought it up on my porch.. right now we are insulating a play house in the back yard for Mimis bunch..I have tried to get in touch with a few groups to see if they would take them but no help at all.. you sure grow to love them , but its harder and harder to take care of all of them . I give them dry food and canned friskies which I am going to have to stop doing.. I am retired now and its too costly .. but I do love them.. but honestly its not a good thing . my neighbors have brought it up to me.. so I know they arent happy with it .. what to do ??

Is there any way you could get them spayed and/or neutered to stop all of the kittens from appearing? I know it can be costly, but there are many low cost spay/neuter clinics. They will all get keep multiplying if they are not spayed or neutered.

I take care of 2 feral males. It is a challenging job. I do the best I can by providing food and shelter and special time with me. I would not trade them for anything. I understand how the neighbors would be upset. Many people do not like cats. If you would get them all spayed/neutered the male wandering and territorial marking ( spraying) will be greatly reduced.

You are doing a wonderful job with so many cats. Thank you for taking care of them.
post #22 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chatypaty View Post
I have been doing this now for quite some time and its not an easy job, I have grown to love these cats.. and I have a bunch. First there was the Momma who gave birth to four kittens Oreo, Gray Midnight and Mimi, well after months Gray and Oreo left ,never did show up again,Momma got pregnant again this spring and had four more, only three lived.. Tipper, Sassy and Peanut, now I have all of them here and Mimi has gotten pregnant , she has four, Cali, Brighteyes, and Shy and Shadow.. these were born about two wks after Momma had her second bunch.. its getting outta hand, I feed them all morning , and night .. water and Mommas three are on my front porch all the time pretty much.. I can pick two of them up at times.. Momma has taken off now.. but I know she will come back.. I took care of the first ones all thru last winter, I have a igloo that I filled with blankets and orders one of those heaters and they did well , I brought it up on my porch.. right now we are insulating a play house in the back yard for Mimis bunch..I have tried to get in touch with a few groups to see if they would take them but no help at all.. you sure grow to love them , but its harder and harder to take care of all of them . I give them dry food and canned friskies which I am going to have to stop doing.. I am retired now and its too costly .. but I do love them.. but honestly its not a good thing . my neighbors have brought it up to me.. so I know they arent happy with it .. what to do ??
AWW Bless you for taking care of the feral cats. Unfortunately, if you do not step in and get these cats into a Trap/Neuter/Release program, they will keep breeding and multiplying . Can you google TNR programs for your county?? Sometimes they will even offer to come out and assist in trapping and will pay for the sterilizations if one cannot afford to pay for all of those cats. They only request then that you become their permanent caretaker, which you are already doing anyway, providing them with food/shelter.

Blankets are not the best to use in the outdoor shelters only because they will just get wet, cold and freeze. I would go and get some straw bales and stuff them inside the igloo and playhouse, much better than blankets. Straw helps to maintain their body heat, especially with more than one huddling together.

You have a good heart and I really hope and pray you can get some help from a TNR group. Specifically, call only Trap/Neuter/Release Organizations. Most are very, very willing to help people such as yourself in their communities. That is what they do
post #23 of 51
No snow to contend with here in Florida... but we do have year round fleas.
post #24 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chatypaty View Post
I have been doing this now for quite some time and its not an easy job, I have grown to love these cats.. and I have a bunch. First there was the Momma who gave birth to four kittens Oreo, Gray Midnight and Mimi, well after months Gray and Oreo left ,never did show up again,Momma got pregnant again this spring and had four more, only three lived.. Tipper, Sassy and Peanut, now I have all of them here and Mimi has gotten pregnant , she has four, Cali, Brighteyes, and Shy and Shadow.. these were born about two wks after Momma had her second bunch.. its getting outta hand, I feed them all morning , and night .. water and Mommas three are on my front porch all the time pretty much.. I can pick two of them up at times.. Momma has taken off now.. but I know she will come back.. I took care of the first ones all thru last winter, I have a igloo that I filled with blankets and orders one of those heaters and they did well , I brought it up on my porch.. right now we are insulating a play house in the back yard for Mimis bunch..I have tried to get in touch with a few groups to see if they would take them but no help at all.. you sure grow to love them , but its harder and harder to take care of all of them . I give them dry food and canned friskies which I am going to have to stop doing.. I am retired now and its too costly .. but I do love them.. but honestly its not a good thing . my neighbors have brought it up to me.. so I know they arent happy with it .. what to do ??
MD is home to two of the national feral cat advocacy groups Alley Cat Allies and Alley Cat Rescue) and has MANY wonderful spay/neuter programs!!!
post #25 of 51
OK - THE CATNIP WORKED! We got all our shelters and the feral villa in order ... last week? Stocked up on straw and sprayed a little catnip in the shelters before stuffing the straw. ALL of them are being used (well, that first night it was down in the 30s).
post #26 of 51
That's terrific! But I'm envious. I don't think my Feralvilla is being used yet.

This afternoon my neighbor helped me make an insulated floor for Grenval's Feralvilla. She watched us do it the a whole time, always staying at least 15 ft. away. I kept telling her it is for her.

The floor turned out really nice. We made it two layers of the foam and screwed a board to the legs as the base. The last thing I have to get is 8" cement blocks to set it on.

I mixed fresh catnip in the straw, and tried catnip spray, too. But when I take off the roof to look at the straw, it looks undisturbed.

Laurie, did you see them go in or out, or how do you know?

Robin
post #27 of 51
We opened them up to look, and the straw was mashed down in little circles in the middle. It did not look like someone had been in looking around - it looked like the spots had been curled up on for some time (to be so crushed down). The feral villa also had straw that had been pulled down a little bit just under that hole they use to crawl up into the second level - like if a cat ensconced in straw dropped down through the hole and some straw was dragged out with them as they left.

But this is the first year that we're aware of any of the shelters being used.

Do you know she reacts to catnip? Because we've left catnip toys out for the ferals and have watched them go nuts with it. Some cats just don't react to it though.
post #28 of 51
No, I don't know if Grenval enjoys catnip. But this is the first year I've grown catnip in my garden. I had heard it draws cats. And this is the first year in about 5 that I've had a regular cat visiter.

I've never known a cat who didn't like catnip.


Robin
post #29 of 51
So far Chumley doesn't seem to react to it.
post #30 of 51
hmmmmmmm . . .

Well, if she doesn't like catnip, what else could draw her into this beautiful, comfy little house I bought just for her?


Robin
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