Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Norwegian Forest Cat Waits for Master's Return


Many cats are abandoned by their masters; left behind when they move or put out the house and forgotten. Some cats are rescued and adopted into other homes and other cats wait for their masters to return.

Bob is a cat that was left at the side of the road several years ago, he is waiting for his master to return .

In March of 2008 a car pulled up in front of my home and out the passenger side came a Norwegian Forest cat, the cat tried to get back into the car but the door was closed and the driver of the car backed up the hill and drove away.  The cat sat on the sidewalk most of the day, looking up the hill, watching and waiting for his master to return.

Children approached the abandoned cat and he greeting them lovingly.  He wrapped his tail around their legs and allowed them to pet him, the children walked away and the cat sat back down and waited patiently for his master to return.

I slowly approached the cat to see if I could take him inside.  The cat was friendly and did allow me to sit next to him and pet him.  I picked him up and he was okay with that too, but as soon as I walked toward my home he became agitated, he leaped from my arms.

The Norwegian Forest cat ran into the forest and was not seen for the rest of the day.  I called my neighbors and the caregivers that I work with to ask them to watch for the abandoned cat.  We all put out a bowl a food and water and we opened up the kitty door in our garages to allow this cat shelter.

The following morning the cat returned to the sidewalk and he waited and watched for his master to return.  Many people think that cats have no feelings and that they will adjust.  Cats love their masters and they never forget them.

This Norwegian Forest cat cat got lucky, as he was abandoned on my block.  My neighbors and I watch out and care for the feral and stray cats.  We trap them and take them in for medical care: tests, shots, vaccination for feline leukemia, pest control, wormed and spay or neuter.  Then we release them to a controlled colony that located on private property.  These cats have thicket shelters, insualted wood shelters, KH outdoor insulated cat houses and daily feedings with fresh bowl of water.

We named the abandoned cat Bob.  He is easy going and does not fight but he does love the queen cats.  He will meticulously groom them and I swear if he was human he would be a hair stylist.  He is also a bit of a lover boy, as he is always kissing the queen cats. Bob joined the colony and visits me three times a day.

Bob's daily routine:


  1. Arrive at 5:30 am to the sidewalk where he was pushed out of the car and waits for his masters car to return.
  2. Go to my neighbors house at 9 am for a bite to eat.
  3. Visit with his cat friends at the colony.
  4. Head over to my feeding station at 1:00pm
  5. From 1:00 to 5:00 he is unaccounted for
  6. 5:00 pm shows up at my other neighbors deck
  7. 6:00 pm arrives at my feeding station
  8. 9:00 pm after neighbors go to bed Bob stretches out on their heated porch

Bob got lucky he did not need to forage, or seek shelter.  He did not have to worry about feline leukemia, worms, or parasites.  Because he gets his routine shots and is treated monthly with Merial Frontline Plus Flea and Tick Control for Cats. I am the one who usually brings Bob in for his annual wellness exam and vaccines and my neighbors who love Bob, chip in to pay for veternarin bill. 
.

The abandoned cat that we call Bob gets plenty of human attention as everyone who meets Bob immediately loves him. Bob is making due, filling his time but he is still waiting for his master to return.

Update 1/28/2012

Bob is approximately ten years of age and he has chosen to spend his time with my neighbor that helps me care for the feral cats.

Bob can be viewed sitting on my friends porch, or following her around her yard.  He will also spend time with me and I can count on him being in my yard or sitting on my front porch six hours out of the day.

This winter he has camped out in my shed/shelter and has allowed me to bring his food and water indoors to him.  He will stay in the bed rather then hide from me in a dark corner.  He also enjoys a thicket den I created for him out a wheelbarrow, wood logs and four feet of straw.

Here is a card I made at my zazzle shop that shows the winter den that I made for Bob.
 
Bob's life is simple, as he has a routine, we all feed the feral and stray cats the same food so there is no stomach upset and he has a warm bed to comfort him throughout the winter months.

 He has cat friends that come to my yard to visit with him and they all lay in the ornamental grass garden by the back pond and groom each other.

But you should know that Bob waited for his master to return for 3 years, he sat on the sidewalk every day and stared up the hill.  He watched the cars pass him by, no car ever stopped.

Bob's master never returned.


Thursday, December 9, 2010

Shelter Ideas for Outdoor Cats


Feral cat in winter:  Image by Susan Golis

Cats that live outside need shelter from rain, wind, ice and snow.  An outdoor cat will adapt to winter conditions provided they have adequate shelter.  I believe that all cats should live indoors but many people keep cats outdoors.

If you have an outdoor cat then you must provide the cat with an insulated shelter for summer and for winter.  Allowing your cat access to the area under your deck is not a shelter unless you provide insulated exterior walls, a solid wood platform flooring that lift the cat off the cold ground. 

Waterproof the shelter so that the rain does not pour down on the cat from the slats in the wood decking and provide the cat with thermal bedding.
  
As a colony caregiver I provide shelter for feral cats by opening up my garage to the cats.   We have installed a kitty door and this door is open at all times. Inside the garage shelter the feral cat has access to cat grasses that I grow in containers by the southern window and they also have raised insulated bedding of straw or self warming beds for the cold and in the summer we have cozy beds and a window air conditioner and heater.
Insulated raised cardboard shelter
Straw bedding with back escape door
Shelter Ideas for Winter

Keep cats warmer in the winter by raising their beds off the floor. I raised the bedding by setting the insulated bedding on kennel flooring. by elevating the cat bedding I will enable the cats to not feel the coldness of the cement floor.

The floor of the box was insulated with another layer of cardboard.  On top of the insulated cardboard I added 8 inches of straw.  On top of the straw I laid a polar fleece blanket. 

The blanket was molded into a bed for the cats and the sides were raised to form a layer of insulation.  On top of the fleece blanket I placed another four inches of straw.   The straw was elevated on the sides leaving bedding area in the center of the box.  This insulated box will keep the feral cats warm throughout winter.




Another way to provide shelter for the feral cats is with a kitty tube shelter.  What I like about this shelter is that it can be used outdoors or inside an uninstalled garage or shed.  The tube provides up to 3 cats a safe, secure and cozy sleeping chamber.  That will keep the cat warm in winter and cool in summer.  The four walls of the tube are insulated to protect the feral cats from extreme weather; heat and cold. This Alley Cat Allies approved cat shelter is made from recycled milk and detergent bottles which makes this a green house for cats.


About my garage cat shelter

The garage is made of clay block with metal roof and one large southern exposure insulated window.  The shelter does provide the cat with an area that is not damp and is a break from the wind.  To help to keep the cats warm I have space heaters, wall mounted electric heater and a kerosine heater when there are power failures.

 
During the day the sun enters the shed from the southern exposed window.  The sun warms the clay block walls and the clay blocks provide heat.  At night the wall mounted heater and space heaters keep the shelter from freezing.  The cats are warm and cozy in their insulated straw beds or inside their cat houses.

Wall mounted garage heater
Garage Ceiling-Mount 5000 Watt Electric Heater

We have turned our detached garage into a shelter for the feral cats. The cats can come as they please as the kitty door is always open.   

Photographs I took of Feral cat Dens:

Thicket Den: feral cat shelter: Image by sgolis

Tip:
For outdoor cat shed or garage shelters cat set a box of kitty litter and small bowl of fresh water and food in the shed.  Set the food and water close to the door and then leave.

Feed cats in the shelter during the daylight hours, feed at the same time daily.  Mix wet food with dry kibble.  The wet food will keep the cats hydrated. 



Feral cat eating outside shed: Image by Sgolis
Warning:
Do not put cat food in your garage or shed shelter at night. Night feeding will attract raccoons, possum and skunks.

Do not set space heater close to cat bedding, the noise from the heater clicking on and off will scare the cats.  Set the heater three to four feet away from cats resting area.


Learn how to make an inexpensive insulated shelter for your cat by viewing this YouTube video:





Sunday, December 5, 2010

Why Adopters Shy from Feral Kittens

Feral Kitten six weeks old: Image by SGolis

Adopters like the idea of raising a feral kitten and giving them a chance at a normal life however they do not fully understand what a feral cat or kitten is and what is required to bond with the kitten.  

Charlie the feral kitten that I socialized was adopted out three times.  Each time I met with the adopters to discuss Charlie, I asked interview questions to determine if they were cat people and to weed out any concerns such as "No pets allowed at apartment".

The adopters met with Charlie, they viewed him lying in his hammock in his cat crate. Charlie was shy and afraid of the adopters and hid his head under his blanket.  Everyone said he was adorable and all wanted to bond with him and give him a loving home.  There was a nominal fee of $50.00 for Charlie as this was a guarantee to me that the adopters were sincere and would be Charlie’s forever home. 
I explained to each adopter that Charlie would need to undergo a short socialization that may last a week or up to a month.  I highly suggested that the adopter allow the feral kitten time to adjust to them and his new surroundings.  

I added that he was a sweet kitten but afraid of new things and he would hiss at them.  So if he hides in the back of a closet or under the sofa to let him be.  Set up his pine kitty litter and he will find it, put out his food and water bowl and he will find that too.  I suggest that they talk softly to him and treat him like a baby. I also told the adopters that loud talking, music, TV, dishwasher, or vacuum were all things that scared Charlie. 

Everyone said, yes that they understood and they were happy to give a feral kitten a chance at a normal life.  Two of the adopters returned him within forty eight hours, and one of the adopters put him outdoors.

 Every single adopter forgot their conversation with me.  They refused to let him be, they wanted to hold him and hug him and tickle his belly and Charlie hissed at them because he was terrified of them.  

The adopters insisted that he needed to be held and Charlie showed one of the adopters his claws and she went after him with a broom and he ran and hid in his crate.  She then latched the crate and put him outside on her porch and called me to come and get him.  She told me he was viscous, and yelled at me for adopting him out as socialized.  She had adopted Charlie for 6 hours.  All refunds were paid and Charlie is back where he started.  He is with me and he is going to stay with me.  

Feral kittens are terrified of humans, they may be socialized but they need time to adjust to any new situation.  When they hiss they are saying I am afraid, so be gentle okay.  When they show their claws they are saying, I am really afraid of you, please don’t do that anymore. 

Feral kittens are not lap kittens, mainly because they don't know what it is.  People want kittens that are tame, they do not want to take baby steps or take the necessary time to bond with a feral kitten.  They want the kitten to trust them and love them immediately.  These are the reasons why adopters shy away from feral kittens.  Many adopters do not have time to invest in the bonding process.

Feral kittens and cats are not the right pet for everyone, but for the few people that understand feral kittens and cats and are able to open up their heart to these cats they will be rewarded with a bond of trust.  The feral cat will show their person their abdomen and in the wild they protect this area of their body, they never show it outwardly When the feral cat rolls to their side and allows you to view and touch their abdomen the cat is saying “I love and trust you   It is the greatest gift a feral cat can give to their person.  This is a bond of trust that will never be broken.   

11/26/2011
Charlie stayed with me and I continued to socialize him.  He grew up into a loving and normal house cat.  He gets along with the other cats and with our family dog.  Charlie follows me all around the house, comes when he is called and was clicker trained to sit and stay.  Charlie may have been born in a cave and he may have lived outside for his first six weeks of life, he was attacked by a wild animal and now walks with a limp but that was then and this is now and I am so glad that I was able to keep Charlie and provide him with his forever home.  

Photographs of Charlie as an adult cat (Age 1 to 2 years)


Sunday, October 31, 2010

How to Keep Feral Cats Warm in Winter




Cats that live outside during the winter need shelter from the cold, snow and ice.  Many people believe that the cat’s winter coat will provide adequate warmth.  

The cat's fur will keep them warm, but if the temperatures dip below freezing the cat will be cold and if the cat is left outdoors, with no shelter or wind protection in extreme cold weather they will develop frost bite on paws, nose and ears.  

Feral and stray cats need an insulated shelter to stay warm and dry in winter. 
Winter is coming and I need to make sure my colony cats have a shelter to protect them from the cold and snowy winter.  The feral cats visit the feeding station that I monitor and occasionally they will come inside my shelter/shelter.  



Locating the Feral Cat Colony

Feral cats are terrified of humans and will go to the hallow trees and the thicket dens in the forest when the weather is bad.  My husband and I decided to fill the hallow trees and thicket dens with straw as it would provide more insulation.   

I decided to track the feral cat I call Bob in hopes to find the forest colony.  I followed each of my colony cats by walking 20 feet behind them into the forest.


 I found that the cats shelters, they were 107 feet south of my home; a hallow tree, a groundhog burrow, thicket den, shallow crevice in the limestone rock.  

The stray cats lived closer, they had leaf shelters that were located under my neighbors low to the ground deck. 

 I noted the cat’s shelters and returned to the areas the following day when the cats weren't there.  I brought insulation material; straw for their shelters.  I set a thick pile of straw inside the hallow tree, burrow and thicket den.

I spoke to my neighbor and informed him that the cat was using his deck for a shelter and asked if I could insulate it for the winter.   

Insulating a deck is a little tricky because you never know what is living under it.  I crawled under the deck and my husband handed me cardboard to set on the ground.  I then piled a thick layer of leaves on top of the cardboard and topped the leaves with straw.  

The top of the deck was covered with a plastic tarp that was secured tie downs. The tarp would provide a wind break and it would also prevent the water from getting the cats bellow wet.  The home owner had no problem with the tarp on the deck because during the winter months it was seldom used.  

About Sgolis, Feral Cat Colony Caregiver

When the temperature dips into the teens I will provide shelter for the feral or stray cats  by allowing  them entrance to my shed or garage. I  Installed a kitty door at the entrance.  The door allows entrance to cats only and does not allow raccoon, dog or fox. 

Inside the shelter I hang heavy blankets or insulated drapes over the windows and walls.  For added warmth I cover the cement floor with cardboard or old carpet.  

For cat bedding;  I filled dish boxes with straw and gave the cats a fleece blankets I also provide the cats with self heating cat beds, mats and igloo and other insulated plastic cat houses.
Insulated cat bedding inside shed:  Image by Susan Golis

Here is a video that will show you how to get your feral and stray cat shelters ready for winter:


Tips 
  1. Keep cats warm by fueling their bodies with high protein food. The protein will give the cats the energy they need to keep them active during the winter months.  
  2. Feed the cats daily and provide them with fresh water.  
  3. To avoid freezing put cat's water in a heated bowl
  4.  In winter season I feed outdoor cats dry food as the canned food will freeze.  If cats are in the heated shed/shelter I will leave canned food for them.   
  5. As long as an outdoor cat is in an area that is dry, with some insulation, straw and a wind block the cat will adapt to living outside during winter.  The cats will sleep together and their bodies will keep them warm.