Help With Outdoor Cat

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bharrison82
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Help With Outdoor Cat

Post by bharrison82 » Fri Feb 07, 2020 3:08 pm

Hey, all. First time poster, long time cat lover here.

We have an outside cat named Sam. He's been coming around the house for years and generally just wanders from neighbor to neighbor. He had an elderly owner, but she passed away. After she passed, Sam basically set up shop on our back porch. I built him an insulated house so he can stay warm. And for the past couple of years, this is how it's been. Sam just lives on our porch, occasionally wandering off to visit a neighbor, but always back for bed time and always there for breakfast.

This past Sunday, however, he had a run in with some big dogs that wandered into the yard. They didn't hurt him, but they chased him around the house and basically had him treed on the front porch bannister. My wife and I ran the dogs off and our neighbor took them into her garage until someone could come and get them. Sam was, obviously, shaken. But Sunday night he was gone and he didn't show up for breakfast Monday morning. He was gone all day Monday. He finally came back Monday night and ate, but again left and didn't come back until Tuesday evening. When he comes back he eats, lays around and gets some pets, then leaves again. He won't go into his house at all now, even though he's used it for a couple years now every day. I'm glad he's ok and I'm glad he's at least visiting for dinner and pets of the evening, but I'm worried about him being out there in the weather.

Any ideas on how we can get the old guy back to normal and back in his warm house? I tried putting his food in there, but he just went halfway in and ate the food then backed out. I also tried some catnip, but he was even uninterested in that.

Mollycat
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Re: Help With Outdoor Cat

Post by Mollycat » Fri Feb 07, 2020 6:14 pm

Hi, welcome to the forum.

Sounds like Sam has had quite a bad scare and if it just so happens he was in his house or near it just before the dogs came in, he might now associate it with the incident. One of the features that makes cats so successful at being feral is how one single bad experience can make them avoid something forever more, so the fact he is back at all is a good start.

Probably a lot of work but could you give him a whole new house? Maybe high up so he feels safer, or more hidden away? A whole new house might eventually tempt him but the association with the old one would be broken.

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Kay
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Re: Help With Outdoor Cat

Post by Kay » Fri Feb 07, 2020 9:09 pm

I have two strays living in my garden, and they have outdoor kennels - I have noticed that they are happier with the kennels which are open, so they can face outwards, and only use the ones with an inner hidden area when the weather is too bad for the open ones - I have always assumed this is because their instinct is to keep a look out for trouble approaching

So I am wondering if Sam is able to keep an eye on things whilst in his house, and if not if you could configure it so he can

and if the dogs were actually able to get into his house, maybe it would be better if it was divided up so they couldn't? an inner room for Sam would be good, once he feels safe enough to hide away

bharrison82
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Re: Help With Outdoor Cat

Post by bharrison82 » Sat Feb 08, 2020 2:20 am

Thank you both for the replies.

Sam's house is built out of plywood. I built each wall/roof/floor out of two pieces of wood with a piece of styrofoam sandwiched in between. After he went through the cardboard and plastic tote versions, I decided to build him something nice that could hold the heat in and keep the wet out much better. The roof is also on hinges so I can raise it up to get inside. He has a cat bed inside with a blanket on it. In the winter we also keep a couple towels in there that we routinely warm up in the dryer for him and when it's really cold we put a heating pad in there for him to add some heat.

Here's a pic of him and his house from this past summer. We refer to that cushion in front as his front porch. He likes to lay on that as well.

I tried to make this image work with the forum rules, but wasn't able to, so here's the imgur link.

https://i.imgur.com/7qpiJEM.png

As you can see, the door isn't big enough for the dogs to get in. One of them was a shepherd and the other was a husky. Them being so big probably just added to his fear. They were honestly a bit scary for me. He also tends to lay inside and face out of the door. I can certainly build a new house, but I'd rather I didn't have to do that. Do you think if I changed the position on this one so that it faces a different way or maybe built something so that it's up on another level rather than sitting directly on the porch could make a difference?

I work from home, so I generally go out and check on him and give him some pets ever hour or two. And like I said, in the winter time we're routintely heating up his towels for him and turning the heating pad back on. He often scratches at the back door just to let us know he needs his towels heated up. It's breaking my heart that I open the back door and he's not there. I love my porch pal and I miss him. :(

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Kay
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Re: Help With Outdoor Cat

Post by Kay » Sat Feb 08, 2020 10:42 am

that does look very snug, and hopefully Sam won't be able to resist returning to it when his confidence improves - as the dogs are big I don't think raising it is na option, as it would have to be very high to be above their nose level

better to work on keeping the dogs away - is a porch gate with space only for Sam to slip through feasible? I wouldn't do anything until you know he wants to be back in his house though, as it is possible he has now found himself another sleeping place - cats do do that

good luck - please keep us posted - I have a special interest after years of trying all sorts with my two outside friends

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