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Advice needed on moving with not yet tame cats

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
Hi. This is my first post here. I have ten cats, eight of which were rescued, some feral and some apparently previously abandoned. The ferals became mine when I volunteered to help a local free trap-and-spay (and innoculate) program. They are all neutered and indoor cats, but six go out with me on leashes, and when I move I intend to either get Kittywalk equipment or built an outdoor area for all of them to use. Of the four that I can't get on a leash, three want a lot of affection but will struggle if I try to pick them up, or run if I start to try it. I'm hoping that when I have to move them, I will be able to get them into a carrier. Although I am worried about them, my main worry is one cat that has never allowed me to touch her. I have had her inside for two years, and the first six months I only caught glimpses of her, after she escaped from a cage. Now she is out and watching me with interest, and listens to me talk to her, and she may even let me get quite near (if I pretend to ignore her), but if I try to come close (within reach) while looking at her, she runs. She is extremely small but has gone from being very thin to a normal weight. I had thought when I trapped her that she was still a kitten, but she never got any bigger. Not only that, when the vet went to spay her, she was hurt, too damaged to neuter, they thought from a kick or bad fall, and she has never gone into heat, although once in a great while she seems to get flirtatious for an hour or two. I will be moving from Illinois to Wisconsin (I'm pretty sure) in June and somehow must figure out a way to take her. I am thinking of starting to put all food dishes in carriers or in a Kittywalk containing system in my basement,where she spends most of her time in a window, with the idea of closing the door on her while she is inside, when it's time to move. I'd appreciate any comments or ideas. Thanks.

post #2 of 8
Barbara...I will leave your question to those who have worked with ferals/strays for a while (there are certainly plenty of them on these boards that can give you good advice). I simply wanted to say WELCOME to the boards and THANK YOU for wanting to take your crew with you and not just giving them up because you are moving.

post #3 of 8
Hi Barbara-

I would start slow, as you have some time before the move, and instead of using a carrier right away, start feeding inside a large cardboard box turned up on it's side. Once the kitty gets used to being fed in the box, then introduce the carrier, and before putting the food in, spray the inside pretty thoroughly with Feliway Spray. Then let it sit for a few minutes and then put the food in. Put the carrier inside the cardboard box and the kitty should go right in. Continue to feed in the carrier, cardboard box then 24 hours before packing up, confine the kitty in the carrier. Also from the very first feeding in the carrier, use disposable diapers to line the bottom of the carrier. That way when the cat has an accident, and she will, it isn't so bad on you or the cat to deal with.

Before you even do this, try just sittting down on the floor near where the cat is hiding and read out loud to her softly. Take some tempting kitty treats like Kitty Kaviar and sprinkle them near you, shut the door so the other cats won't interfere and have story time with this kitty about 10 minutes every day- again, while you are sitting on the floor, not in a chair. If she comes out, don't make eye contact with her, just ignore her, and keep reading. Then leave after 10 minutes.
This will help her to know that she can trust you. Poor little girl injured by something or someone to the extent that spaying her would further harm her.

Good luck- classical music is another tool to use to calm her down- anything with harps in it has an almost mesmerizing effect on ferals-
post #4 of 8
I have no more to add to MA's comments about preparation in advance of the move, but want to add how I actually moved my babies.

I moved 8 cats and 5 dogs from Houston to Kansas City many years ago. 3 of the cats were ferals that I brought in as adults and had just started socialization about 9 months earlier. At the time I moved them, they were more friendly than what you described of your girl. While we drove most of them up here (it was a 16 hour drive with breaks for the dogs), we actually flew up the 3 ferals. After much discussion with my vet, and a full health exam, we ended up sedating them for the trip, and had arrangements made at the Kansas City end to be seen by a vet upon arrival. Yes they were scared but did sleep thru most of the trip, and the 4 hours travel time was much less strain than a 16 hour drive would have been.

The rest of the cats made the drive fine. We had a huge dog kennel complete with litter box & beds and we stopped enough for them to have (limited) food and water. We drove a cargo van and when we stopped, we let them out to play while we walked the dogs (we had a cat tree in the van with us). They were more bored than anything.

Thank you for bringing them with you!! There is always a way to work thru a move if you plan in advance!
post #5 of 8
We moved down from Alaska to Oregon in a 33 foot motor home with 7 cats and 3 dogs- you have my sympathy for the actual drive. The motor home was a blessing because the cats weren't having to be actually contained into carriers, but rather shut into individual rooms-
post #6 of 8
Barbara, you are doing a wonderful, wonderful thing.

Regarding the advice for your shy feral, I think you've already gotten great advice.

But for the drive, there are several things you can do for all of the cats. There are natural sedatives for cats - this can be discussed with any "high-end" pet store that carries natural foods and remedies for kitties. Also, you can put some shredded newspaper (or just strips of newspapers) at the front of the crate where the door is - they can still see out but it's not necessarily so scary. OR you can tie some pipe cleaners to the wires/slits of the crate - it'll give them something to bat at if the feel the need to attack at something to help with the stress or fear of moving.

Because the cats are very territory oriented, for the kitties, while packing for the move the smaller space in which they can be contained, the better. They'll stress out from their world being "turned upside down." Also, when in the new home, the same goes. With two cats I usually recommend the bathroom, and once everything (furniture-wise) is in place, leaving all their stuff in there but opening the door a crack so they can come out to explore if and when they're ready. Obviously with more cats, a larger room is needed. The key to confining them in one room is to put the litterboxes as far away from their food as possible. And DOUSE the room with Feliway - we also have multiple feral rescues in an RV, and we found Feliway to be a very useful tool when making new introductions. I'm sure it'll help in reducing the stress of a new environment. (Just in case you're not familiar with the product, it can be ordered from Petsmart online, and it is a synthetic pheremone that mimics the "friendly" pheremones that cats place on you and the furniture and corners of walls when they rub their cheeks there).

Regarding socializing your "scaredy" cat, there are a number of threads here dealing with just that topic. I don't know how much time you've spent exploring the forum/site, but here are a few threads you might find useful:

Socializing Lucky...

It's impossible to tame a feral cat?

Of course you'll be really busy the next few months, but once you've settled in I (and I'm sure others!) would LOVE to hear how things went if you get a chance to post an update!!!!!

Bless you, and sending only good wishes.

post #7 of 8
Thread Starter 
I appreciate all the good ideas you sent me. I hadn't thought of most of them and will incorporate them in my plans, and I will also read more of the material here on taming ferals. Thanks again.
post #8 of 8
Barbara, any questions you have, PLEASE feel free to ask!

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