Advice needed on moving with my indoor/outdoor stray cat

This content has been archived. It may no longer be relevant

by Robin
(Glenwood Springs, CO ,USA)

Last winter, I noticed a couple of “feral” cats eating the suet I had put out for the large birds. I felt sorry for these two hungry kitties, and bought them cat food.

They would run if they caught me looking out the window, except one became friendly realizing I represented food and loving voice tones.

I started inviting him inside to eat, created bedding for him outside my back door, even my sleeping bag if he wanted to crawl in.

Finally, he came in for a minute, looked around and went out wanting to eat outside. He became friendlier, one evening came in out of a snow storm, ate, and went straight up onto my bed.

First night, he stayed until 1:00 a.m., I woke up to his request to depart. Next night he came in to stay, snuggling up to me in bed, totally matted long hair and all — I fell in love.

Within a week, he was fully cared for by a vet who works with C.A.R.E. Since his ear was tipped, C.A.R.E. footed the bill to have this neutered cat given a loving home. He insisted on spending nights and parts of the day outside as the season warmed to summer, and comes when he’s called.

My other cat is an indoor, trained to stay within a few feet of the door only when the door is open. For their own safety and longevity, cats should be kept indoors. My concern now is that I am moving away from this apt complex, into the country.

I worry about over-stressing Raggs taking him out of his neighborhood, especially into a place teaming with wildlife. I simply cannot let him outside once I move. He is already being treated for reoccurring non-bacterial lower urinary bladder inflammation, vet says from stress, but he appears to be totally “unstressed.”

Long story, sorry, but I need advice.



Hi Robin… Thanks for visiting and asking. I can sense the problem. You move and your stray cat becomes confused and stressed indoors and if he goes out he disappears and gets killed.

A better person than me can give better advice. But I also sense that this is a case where a really nice cat enclosure is the best compromise provided you have the facilities.

If you are going to the country I hope that you are buying a freehold house in which case you can add a functional cat enclosure. That would give space, some outdoor activity and also safety.

Of course even that might not be enough for a cat used to going out. He will need to train himself to live in a more limited environment. I think it can be done.

If a cat enclosure is a no go then plenty of play indoors is the only other solution or the last resort rehoming (sorry that is probably out of the question).

Your vet might advise how to reduce stress. Play must be a factor and things like Bachs Rescue Remedy comes to mind but these are rather feeble suggestions.

I will hope one of the regulars can come up with something better. I’ll ask.

You may get something from these pages:

Cat Drugs of Catnip and Matatabi

Our New Cat Enclosure or Catio

Relaxation Therapy for Cats

Michael Avatar

Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Advice needed on moving with my indoor/outdoor stray cat to Feral cats

Comments for
Advice needed on moving with my indoor/outdoor stray cat

Click here to add your own comments

Aug 27, 2010 Moving your cat.
by: Mitts & Tess

Yes you should move your kitty with you. I do Trap/Neuter/Return in Arizona. If you need to move an indoor/outdoor cat there are steps to take that insure he will stay around once you move.

Since he is use to being in your home, then once you move you need to keep him inside a minimum of 3 weeks, Or keep him in a tackroom or enclosure in a barn for 3 weeks. During that 3 weeks he learns this is where he is fed, he becomes accustom to the smells, sounds and familar to where he is now living.

Our TNR group has to move feral and semi feral cats to barns when they are in unsafe situations. We keep them in an 4×4 with beds, places to hide, food and water. the cats we move have been spayed or neutered and have vaccinations and a tiped ear to signify that they have been S/N. Then we release them. They have the safety of the barn and are free to come and go. We continue to feed them each day in the barns. No cat can survive on just field mice. Even when we return a cat that has been spayed / neutered to it colony we feed the colony everyday.

Cats are not equiped to survive on their own. To leave a cat in a neighborhood with no one to care for them is like a death sentence.

Best of luck on your move. Look on Best Friends website for more information or Alley Cat Allies or Cat Forum.

Aug 09, 2010 Check the new environment
by: Finn Frode, Denmark

Hi Robin. I’m pretty sure Raggs was not born a feral. You describe how one night he went straight up onto your bed, which he would never have done unless he had once been living with humans. He may have strayed around for a long time until eventually he chose you as his new caretaker – and that’s about the best compliment one can ever get. So of course handing him on to somebody in the neighbourhood is completely out of the question. 😉

I usually speak in favour of keeping cats safe in an enclosure, because the cat was never created for living in the modern human with all the dangers thet face free running cats. Actually I just built a catio myself which I have described here Our New Cat Enclosure or Catio

I do however believe that when circumstances are right then cats will have much better lifes if allowed to run free. But it depends on the actual environment and how safe it is from traffic, wildlife, hunters etc.

You say you move into the country. Now ‘the country’ means different things depending on where you come from, but take a good look around your new neighbourhood and consider the pros and cons of allowing your cats to run free in that area. At the end of the day it is up to you to decide.

In my experience cats adjust phenomenally well to moving, actually much easier than we humans do. Just make sure they have their favourite beds, scratchpoles, toys etc. with them and they’ll soon settle in with their familiar scents. But keeing them inside for at least a week or two is still avisable, so that they’ll know where they belong.

I wish you a successful move and a happy and safe life with your cats.

Finn Frode avatar

Aug 09, 2010 Quality not quantity counts
by: Fran

A long life full of boredom and frustration or a unknown span of life living it to the full.
I know which I’d choose if I was a cat.

As has been said on here many times if you live somewhere it’s too risky to let your cat out then you should make some provision such as an outside run.

It’s not natural to keep a cat completely inside, especially one used to going out.

I don’t know how people can do that and go out themselves and take the dog out but leave the poor cat shut in.

Safe?yes…happy? no

Anyone who can’t provide a cat with the necessary lifestyle it can live its life as a cat should not be so selfish as to take a cat.
In your circumstances it’s different in that Ragg’s trusts you and needs your care and I can’t think of a simple answer for you either but I do hope you ensure he still has good quality of life whatever you decide.

Aug 09, 2010 My thoughts
by: Ruth

Hello Robin.The ideal solution would be of course for Raggs to stay in the neighbourhood he knows. But I don’t suppose there is anyone as kind as you who would care for him as you do and make sure he has the treatment he needs.
Moving is stressful enough for cats,although most do adjust quite easily it’s a different story with a feral.
Even to a tamed feral, being shut in with no freedom is very hard on them and almost always leads to either depression or the need to escape.
Maybe Raggs will accept it, you won’t know until you try.
I do think Michael’s advice to make some sort of enclosure is a good one,at least Raggs can feel the sun and breathe fresh air. I wouldn’t recommend a harness and leash, to an adult cat used to freedom it would be torture.
I think once you get moved and suss out your neighbourhood you need to gradually allow Raggs some time out if he seems unhappy.If stress is what causes his bladder inflammation then this will flare up if he is kept entirely indoors after being used to going out.
Cats are very good at adjusting to new neighbourhoods as long as you accompany them outside at first so they can leave their scents and read the scents of other cats around.
Sorry there is no easy solution Robin,I hope you can work something out.
You say for their own safety and longevity cats should be kept indoors,but this isn’t always the case if the quality of that long life isn’t happy and fulfilled.

Kattaddorra signature Ruth

Aug 08, 2010 p.s.
by: Valley Girl


sorry, I realized that, if I read correctly, you’d had this ” kitty relationship” since last winter… but how many months kinda depends on what = winter and snow where you are… which I don’t know. But, max 10 months, min 7 months? That’s a long time!

Aug 08, 2010 That’s a tough one- pt 2
by: Valley Girl

You say he is being treated for bladder inflammation, vet says stress, but you say he doesn’t appear stressed. That’s tough to assess, because you don’t say how long you’ve had the kitty relationship, and how long he’s been treated. From a human point of view, a bladder inflammation sounds painful, and cats are good at hiding pain. From my (albeit limited) experience, it takes a cat a good long while to “reset” from a stressful situation- at least a year is my wild guess.

So, time is an important factor here- plus trying to read the cat’s mind as to causes of stress or more directly the cause of the inflammation- lack of food, lack of a warm bed, etc. etc. And, what happens to him it you leave him behind, and then he goes untreated?

As I said, it’s a tough question, and obviously from your point of view, a tough decision. If I were making the decision, I’d know all the details you do (some of which I’ve asked about). Failing that, I can’t give advice. I’m not sure I would give advice, even if I knew all! I’ve tried to come up with some issues that I, myself, would consider. Hope this helps.

Aug 08, 2010 That’s a tough one- pt 1
by: Valley Girl

Hi Robin,

I too would be hard pressed trying to figure out what to do- what’s best for the cat, in particular.

Outdoor cats do love their territory. But, I can also see that you might feel that if you left him behind, he’d be totally back in the wilderness.

You might put up an informational flier explaining the circumstances (and your conundrum) at your apt. complex (or however you would get the word out among your neighbors) to see if there is another cat lover who would “adopt” him. If you find such a person, someone you would trust, then that might be a solution.

Another thing to consider (and this would depend on the details of where you are now and where you are moving) is how much more jeopardy he would be in if he were allowed to be an outdoor cat or partially outdoor cat in your new place. You seem to rule this out.

I’ve had no experience with ferals, and you didn’t say how old he is. But, as he has survived a feral life outdoors, he’s probably attuned to the dangers. Do you have any specific information from cat owners in the area to which you are moving that would indicate he needs to be kept inside at all times? I only ask, because I think it would be hard on the cat to suddenly be an indoor cat.

But, the time of your move might be important- if it will be snow season, then he might not want to spend all that much time outdoors. And, you have become his regular source of food and warmth, and you say he comes when called. You have won the cat’s trust in an amazing way.

…. to be continued

Aug 08, 2010 I’ve gone thru that before
by: Joyce Sammons

I moved with my cat Salem 3 times and took him with me and he did fine outside with each move. I had left my cat Zack at my original address as he was the neighborhood cat and was comfortable there. Zack was the type to follow me everywhere so I thought he’d do OK with the move. He ran away the minute I got him to his new home. I’d see him in the woods and feed him and sometimes he’d come around but it wasn’t the same after the move.

My cats Furby and Lola have never been outside since they were brought in. We have wild animals here. Including wild hogs and bobcats. Plus poisonous snakes. I’d never feel safe with them outside.

You may have to restrict your kitty to living in one area of your new place. I would suggest a harness and leash but that may make the desire to go outside even greater.

I have a little escape artist terrier mix named Darla. I have to guard my door like a prison guard because if she gets out she’s gone. I’ve met every neighbor thanks to her. You may just have to have careful monitoring of the door and let any regular visitors know not to let the cat out.

Hopefully Ruth and Finn will have some suggestions. Glad to hear you’re moving to the country. I love country life.

Aug 08, 2010 PS
by: Michael

I forgot to say how beautiful and tender your relationship became. There is nothing better than gaining the trust of a wary feral/stray cat. You did well.

Michael Avatar

Leave a Comment

follow it link and logo