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Abby the stray

post #1 of 2
Thread Starter 
Hello, I'm new here and was hoping y'alls could be a good source of advice for me. Recently, my husband and I have come to be quasi-adopted by a cute little stray in our apartment complex. I'll tell you a little of our story, and then I have a few questions for you.
I guess I should start off by saying that I'm "not a cat person," but I am a sucker for a cute little face in need. As such, I really don't know a lot about cats, at all. When we moved into our apartment, a small black cat had taken up residence on the landing. Come to find out, the tenants who had lived in our apartment before us had raised cats, and when they moved out, decided "Hey, maybe we'll just leave all our cats to fend for themselves!" So, she got left behind. She meowed at me, a lot. So I started feeding her scraps, etc. She showed very little interest in the food, and was meowing for human attention. So, who could resist, right? Well, in petting her I discovered that she had a lot of sores on her body, places where skin had been scratched off, a lot of dandruff, and very thin fur. My mom (who has two very spoiled cats) told me that it could be do to improper nutrition. I took myself to Petsmart and found what I thought was the best cat food there. Side note: I know a lot about dogs and dog nutrition, but not much on cats. I looked for a food without corn, with protein at the top of the ingredients, and no unnamed protein sources "meat", "animal" etc. So, I got her Blue Buffalo Salmon and Brown Rice. If there's a better food that I could be feeding her, let me know. Anyways, after a week of feeding her some "good food", her coat has grown back considerably, she's filled out some, and the sores were all gone. My husband and I have decided to make her "our cat" and here are where the problems lie.
Last night we brought her inside for the night, and things were going well. She used her litterbox, took a bath, and went to sleep. We went to sleep. Things were fine until 3 AM. Then she started meowing, and meowing, and meowing. The horror. She didn't want food or water (I've been free feeding, not sure if that's a good thing or not), she just wanted to petted. At 4 am I finally had to put her outside. I felt awful but sleep is necessary! We don't have anywhere that we can put her for her to have her own space or room (other than a small laundry room, which I doubt she'd like, or the balcony, which seems cruel) and even with our bedroom door closed and the fan on we couldn't get past the loud "meow!" (We had left the door open before, but she doesn't have any interest in our bedroom or sleeping with us/visiting us in there. She just wants you in the living room petting her) This morning when I opened up the front door at 7, she was just sitting there. Came inside and immediately, more meowing.
So here's where I'm lookign for help (finally, after the long ramble)
Is there any way to stop the meowing? Should she have a bed of her own, or something of that manner that will help her establish a bedtime routine or something? We're moving in two months, and I was hoping to have her used to being a housecat before then. (We're moving to Lake Tahoe, and snow will be falling not too long after we get up there, which means she's going to have to stay inside). So, any way that we can acclimate her to becoming a well-adjusted, decent sleep pattern member of our household?

Also, her dandruff has come back somewhat. I was gone last week (hubby fed her but didnt bring her inside or spend much time with her) so I'm thinking it could maybe be stress again? But, I know that with dogs, adding a little bit of oil or yogurt to their food usually clears it up. Is it the same for cats? We will take her to the vet as soon as my schedule allows, so I will ask them as well.

Can I continue to free feed her? Her weight seems good, ribs are easily felt but not visible, trim waistline. She leaves food regularly, so she seems somewhat self regulating.

But mainly, how do we get her to stop meowing so that we can all get a good night's sleep?

Sorry this is so long, but I've never had a cat, and she is quite the character
post #2 of 2
First of all, you are going to have to drop the title of "not a cat person"...you are now officially a "cat person"

A few points:

I'm the first, but I certainly won't be the last, person to tell you that she needs to see a vet. He/she will be able to tell you about her skin/coat conditions and have some suggestions. Also, she probably needs to be spayed. This may help alleviate the night time shenanigans. Outdoor cats are "on the prowl", and most active at night.

Also, that was her first night inside. I would think she would need more time than that to get acclimated to being inside. I know you need sleep, but she really needs more time. Her world changed pretty rapidly over the last few months, so I can understand her feeling a bit stressed. Even though a new home and humans is a wonderful thing, it's yet another change in her life, and she needs time to adjust...I hope you give it to her!

I always free feed dry. I've never had an overweight kitty yet, but that's just my experience, for what it's worth.

So, I think what's required here is "time and patience". This girl sounds worth it!
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