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moving and feral cat

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
In the near future, say within the next six months, we'll be moving - from southern California to Santa Fe, New Mexico.

We have a feral cat that we've been feeding and providing shelter for - and for the past couple of years we've even been able to pet him. He mostly hangs out in our back yard but also likes to explore around the neighborhood.

He has been spayed and he does have a locator-chip in his ear. To the best of our knowledge, he's in pretty good health. We feed him very well (natural, organic foods, purified water, etc.).

Before I ask my question, I should add that my wife is extremely allergic to cats. So, she is kind to him and feeds him but we cannot pet him much or let him into our home - though he's expressed an interest in doing so.

My question is this: What should one do if you're moving and you're responsible for a cat such as this? What is best for the cat?

Do we take him with us and hope that he doesn't run away? This has happened to me before - though not with a feral cat.

Any advice would be sincerely appreciated?

post #2 of 12
Hank, if it is possible, contact the Humane Society or Alley Cat Allies
to find help in getting this guy re-homed or with a new "provider" of

In the best of worlds, you could take him with you and keep him as an outdoor pet. I understand why you can't (my BF is allergic and I have 4 cats!!) do so easily, but it MAY be that people on this board could help you transport him to your new home and a coyote proof outdoor shelter, were you so inclined.

Otherwise, as I said, taking him to a NO KILL shelter, contacting Alley Cat allies and finding out if there's a feral rescue network in your area is a good idea. Someone may be along with more ideas shortly, but this is my 2 cents and - a start anyway,.
post #3 of 12
Thread Starter 

Thank you for taking the time to reply to my post. I really appreciate it.

We've been giving this some serious thought and we think we may have come up with one potential solution.

I think how things will play out is that we'll be moving to Santa Fe and staying in a smaller rental for the first several months - until we decide whether we'll make Santa Fe our permanent new home.

During this trial period, it is our intention to find a real home - which should include a backyard and more space for our feline friend.

So, what we thought *might* work is to find a really good facility in Santa Fe that we could keep our cat in during this transition period. A place that offers excellent, loving care and that isn't too confining. We would visit our friend on a daily basis and take him out as soon as we have the home set up for us and him.

Does this seem like a viable solution? Do you or anyone on this board know of such a facility located in or around Santa Fe?

Any thoughts or suggestions would be most welcome.

Thanks again!

post #4 of 12
Hank, there are a number of things you can do. As opilot pointed out, you can contact local organizations to see if there's someone you can work with to rehome him - even if it's to a feral colony. A great resource for finding local organizations that may be able to help is

You can also go to, type in your zipcode using the expanded search range, and quickly scroll through the listings to see the organizations that are actively adopting out cats and contact them.

It is possible to bring the kitty with you. It would be treated just the same as a feral rehoming. Kitty would need to be kept in a large crate (large enough for bed, litterbox and space for food and water) for about three weeks. Feed him wet food along with the dry you leave for him to free feed on. The wet food should be fed to him at the same time every day. After this amount of time, he'll have the schedule down and should know this is "home," and should return for his food as he stakes out his new territory.

Of course, if you're in an urban/suburban area, it is actually best for kitty to be rehomed to where he'll be an indoor only cat, though an outdoor shelter could easily be built for kitty.

How attached to kitty are you and your wife? I'm also extremely allergic to cats, and we have six feral rescues that we've kept as pets and they're all indoor only cats. But I'm willing to take Zyrtec-D twice a day, and I'm willing to use a prescription steroid cream for when I have a problem with hives or welts from accidental scratches. We try to vacuum every day (though it's usually more like every 2 - 3 days realistically), and use an allergan suppressing spray on the carpets (though if you have wood floors that makes it even easier), drapes and furniture. If you made the bedroom off-limits to kitty from Day 1, that would help. Just a thought.

If you decide to bring him with you, we've got traveling tips.

No matter what happens, wishing you, your wife and kitty best of luck.

post #5 of 12
Thread Starter 

Thank you for your informative reply. I have a few follow-up questions that I hope you can offer your opinion about.

We have decided to bring the cat with us. I think your idea about rehoming him, once we're settled sounds like the appropriate thing to do.

Here's the thing, I think we're going to move (first) into a temporary place (likely, an apartment) with no backyard. So, because of my wife's allergies, it won't be possible to keep our furry friend there with us. I appreciated what you said about your struggle with allergies but my wife also cannot tolerate allergy medications very well - so that option isn't viable for us.

Our alternate idea was to take our cat with us to Santa Fe - even while we'll be living in the temporary situation (in which time we'll be searching for a real home). During this transition period, we were thinking of keeping our cat at a facility like this:

We would visit him every day so that he'll know that we haven't abandoned him and provide him with the food he's become accustomed to.

The owner of Braemarr appears to be a kind man - based on his e-mail reply and what's stated on the website.

What do you think about this idea? If it's a bad one, please let us know. We really do want to find a way to make this work.

Thanks again!

post #6 of 12
Hank, I was obviously writing my long reply while you posted! Sorry to have to make you say the same things twice.

I think it's an excellent solution. We've used boarding facilities for extended periods of time during Winter. One winter up here some kittens turned up at thanksgiving - and it had started snowing before Halloween, and it was just bitterly cold that year! By December, it was constantly around 0, and the cats were just NOT using the shelter we'd built. So we trapped them and took them to a boarding facility. We scouted out many - and settled on the one after talking to the owner. They LOVED cats, and were willing to accept our feral kittens - and work with them. We only visited twice a week - but the whole process helped socialize them, and, in fact, they ended up being adopted out through that facility.

The most important thing is to feel comfortable with the person/people that run the place. In our case, the owner was willing to let the cats out of the cage daily and play with them, and to work on socializing them. Kind of a partner with us in our rehoming feral kitten rescues.

Kitty will be scared of the move and the new environment (cats are territorial, and while knowing their "people" are there helps, getting used to the new territory is the issue).

And when you do finally move him to his new back yard, I do think you should keep him confined for at least a few weeks until the feeding schedule is totally set in his body clock - this shouldl ensure he centers the new territory around your home.

And - just think of shelter cats! Some kitties are in shelters for years, let alone months. And they do just fine when they do get adopted out.

It's a very thoughtful solution. Not one that everyone can afford - but as you can, it's probably the happiest of all solutions for all of you given the circumstances.
post #7 of 12
The only thing I would suggest - do talk to the boarding facility owner/manager. E-mails are great, but given the extended period of time kitty may be in boarding, I'd want to actually talk to someone. Just a thought.

And if you want travel tips, feel free to ask. Southern Cal to Sante Fe is going to be a 10 - 12 hour drive if I remember correctly. It's a long haul, and you may decide to fly with him, or have him flown cargo. Whatever you choose, there are things you can do to make the trip less stressful.

post #8 of 12
Thread Starter 

You're so very kind to take the time to answer my questions. I have one follow-up question that I'll ask on this thread and then another which I'll start a new thread on - so that hopefully other people can benefit from the answers.

One concern we have (for "down-the-road") is how we can properly protect our cat once we get settled (in our permanent home). As you know, we're moving to Santa Fe. We've heard that it's important to provide protection for our outdoor cat, not only for the from the elements but also from other wildlife - coyotes, hawks, owls, etc.

Do you know where we might find some good information about this? In our minds, it's going to be a problem trying to ensure that our cat will be willing to go into any shelter during the appropriate times of the day/night. How can we ensure this when he typically wanders around the neighborhood at will and won't let us pick him up?

Any tips on how we can deal with this and/or guidance about how we can buy or build such a shelter would be very helpful.

Kind regards,

post #9 of 12
The only real way to protect your cat from cars, coyotes, and other prey is to keep kitty enclosed. Because you're willing to build for your kitty, there are lots of options.

You can build him a shelter to protect him from the elements - but you can also fence in your backyard, so his territory will be confined to this protected area.

The best option is to build a complete outdoor enclosure - sides, roof, etc. that is fenced in, with a shelter from the elements built into it.

Having been in boarding for a while, your currently roaming kitty will likely have already gotten used to not being a roaming kitty, so it's not a bad time to make the transition.

Here are some basic links:

From Alley Cat Allies - a basic do-it-yourself shelter

Some prettier, prefabricated houses:

Outdoor security enclosure:

Do-it-yourself fence instructions from Alley Cat Allies:

And the Humane Society has a number of helpful links:

And any searches for Outdoor Cat Enclosures (or shelters) &etc. will likely turn up quite a few more options.

One of the TCS members, Jenn (jcat) just moved and is in the process of building an outdoor enclosure with shelter for their large crew of feral rescues:

And, it's a long thread, but worth scrolling through it. One of the original members of TCS and a long-time rescuer built an incredible shelter for her feral colony to keep them protected:

Of course, these larger shelters were intended for many cats - but there isn't any reason you can't dedicate as much space as you want to your guy - and make it as interesting as possible with lots of places to perch or play.

If you want to allow him to roam (which few of us recommend - we've seen too much tragedy in cats not returning, or returning home beyond help after having been hit by a car, hurt by another animal, or poisoned - intentionally or accidentally), open the gate in the morning, make sure you have the feeding schedule down so he returns in the evening to eat, and close the door, so kitty is safe all night.

There are lots of possibilities - and whether you decide to do it yourself, or to purchase kits, there are lots of combination potentials!
post #10 of 12
Just remember - if he wants out, he'll work to find a way. If you decide to go with an outdoor enclosure, the fencing will have to be dug down into the ground a ways. In Hissy's thread about the outdoor enclosure, I believe they dug a 4 inch trench (?), took the wire down into it and poured concrete to prevent digging out from under the enclosure. But she discusses it in the thread.

post #11 of 12
Hank - I can't add too much to what Laurie has shared, but want to add that I just move my feral cats with me when I moved. They adjusted fine.

I kept them inside for about a month before I released them back outside. They adjusted to indoor living and actually come inside on a regular basis once they realized that it is less trying than living outside all the time.

If you are thinking about boarding this boy for a while then moving him to an enclosed shelter, I just wanted to share that this approach will most likely work great for you, particularly since you mentioned that the cat is a little bit friendly.

When I moved 13 years ago from Texas to Missouri, we actually flew 2 of our feral cats on a plane. We did sedate them and they made that trip OK. Just sharing in case you are thinking about that over a drive.

Good luck with the move!
post #12 of 12
Thread Starter 
Dear Laurie and Momofmany,

Your posts have been invaluable. Thank you for sharing your time and wisdom with us.

The fact that we have this information has helped to "settle us down" a bit. It's made the whole prospect of moving, with our friend, seem much more managable.

We've been doing some other research on our own and we have found some other cool sites that may be of use.

Once we implement some of these strategies and gadgets, we'll certainly post our experiences with them - so that hopefully others can benefit from our experiences as we have benefitted from yours.

You gals rock. Thank you!

Kind regards,

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