Originally Posted by Val2006
...Should we buy a wire crate (large enough for litter and food, etc...)
to transport him the 200 miles, and then just leave it in the new family's garage.
He is so skittish, I can't help but wonder if he will ever adjust to anyone other than my sister. What do you think?
What is the best way to transport him 200 miles and help him adjust?
There's no way to say if he'll befriend anyone other than your sister. This will be traumatic for him, but it's a good solution to a difficult problem. It totally depends upon the people who adopt him, and how much time they put in to socializing him. It's one of those situations where after a year (or years) of living in the barn, he may decide it's OK to trust whoever's a regular to the barn. But the bottom line is that it's all about trust. There are things they can do to help him learn to trust them, but that's up to them, and it will happen on kitty's schedule, and that's all there is to it.
As to transporting him - he doesn't need to travel in the large crate that should be his home for the next few weeks, but he can.
He does, however, need a crate that's large enough for him to live in with water, food, a litterbox and a bed for a couple of weeks once he arrives. Whether that crate is used for transporting him or a smaller crate (though large enough for him to stand in and stretch around in), the crate be travels in should be mostly covered with a light blanket during the trip. The windows on the car/truck should be open - this will help reduce car sickness (most cats have more fear than car sickness, but either way...).
I'd also purchase some Feliway and spray the crate before he goes in there. You can also put a catnip toy in there with him. This may also help calm him for the long trip.
I'd count on him peeing, pooping or vomiting out of fear. I'd line the crate with several layers of those puppy protectors (large sheets that are basically a diaper that lays on the ground). If he pees, poops or vomits, pull over when you can safely (preferably at a gas station, rest stop or something). CLOSE THE WINDOWS. Then open the crate and take out the first layer of puppy liner leaving the clean ones behind.
200 miles is going to be 5 - 7 hours I guess. He does not need access to his litterbox or food during the trip. Do not leave water in there for him - it'll just slop around. But if you have to stop to clean the crate, offer him water in a bowl. And if there are no accidents, stop about half way and offer him a little water. He may not drink, and that's OK.
Just make sure that whenever you open the crate door that all the car doors are closed and the windows are shut all the way. I cannot emphasize this enough.
When you arrive, the liners should all be removed. If he was transported in the crate he's going to live in for a few weeks, the floor of his crate should be cleaned (unless he didn't mess it).
If he is going to live in the barn, the crate should be placed in the barn. He should have his dry food in the crate on which he can free feed, but he should be fed at least one meal of wet food every day at the same time. He should be kept in the crate for at least two weeks - three wouldn't hurt. After this, he may run when the crate is left open for him to leave - but the bowl of wet food should continue to be left out for him at the same time every day
near the crate. It is the use of wet food that will let him know this is home, and after several weeks, he'll know to come back for it. His dry food should be left in or near the crate. Whether or not he should be kept in the crate for 2 weeks or 3 weeks is something they'll have to judge based on his behavior when they feed/interact with him. And if he's seriously scared, when they open the crate door permanently, they should just leave his wet food meal out for him at the same time each day, not stay to see if he comes, but come back later to pick up the bowl.
But if he's going to live in the barn, it's best not to put him in the garage.
This is the method used for relocating ferals. And basically, though this guy has come to trust your sister, he's a feral.
...and... his feral friend is going with him? If they're both to be barn cats together, two crates ought to be purchased, and the same thing done with the other kitty, even though this feral is friendly. Unless you want to purchase a crate large enough for the two cats to share (I don't know how good of friends they are with each other). The problem is in the transporting - it's going to be easier if they don't share a crate.
No matter what happens, this is going to be traumatic for them/him, no way around it. The most important thing is to get them there safely, and to make sure they understand they're "home" before they are released - and time, really, is the only thing that will do this.
And - thank you for finding this kitty a new home!!!!!!