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Felinexpress.com home > Strays and Ferals > Moving with Outdoor Cats

Moving with Outdoor Cats

Moving to a new home, whether across country or down the block presents challenges for the family moving and the pets involved. But, the challenges increase substantially when the pets in question are free-roaming stray cats and/or feral cats.  House cats who are used to being popped into a carrier for an occasional trip to the vet or the groomers,  they can handle the temporary isolation and confinement that comes with moving better than outside cats. Free-roaming cats are used to freedom. In their old home, they have established ranges, and select places they can flee to when they feel threatened. Disrupting that routine will be unsettling for the cats.  So, is moving to a new home hard on stray and feral cats? Yes, without question. Any change in their routine will cause many cats to go directly into a tail-spin.

Fnding themselves enclosed in carriers, traps or cages can cause major health and behavior issues for stray cats. Ideally, leaving the cats in the area they are familiar with would be best for everyone, but sometimes, there aren’t kindly neighbors willing to step up and take care of outside kitties. You can place ads in the local paper asking if someone will take them, but screen anyone who answers this ad carefully so the colony doesn’t fall into harm.

If no likely candidate arises, days before the move even begins, it would be wise to start trapping all the outside cats in question and start their confinement. Once they begin to see strange cars, moving vans or strangers in the driveway, they will vanish for days.

Unlike the resident kitties able to travel in large dog crates or large cat carriers, stray cats and feral cats will find comfort in smaller quarters. It is acceptable to leave the feral cats in humane traps during travel (as long as that travel time isn’t extensive). Even stray cats used to being petted or even held from time to time fare better inside small cat carriers until they get to their new home. Cover all the crates, traps, cages with dark cloths so the cats will feel safer. Be mindful of the weather. If you are moving during the warmest part of the year be sure you allow for the air circulation. Take photos of each cat once they are caged. This way you have something to show your new neighbors should your stray cats vanish in their new location.

Tips for moving with outside cats:

  • Stray cats will spray (even neutered ones) when they feel threatened.
  • Confining them into a smaller area will prevent this. Spread tarps or newspaper down under the cages or traps for protection when traveling.
  • Move the cats quickly. The sooner they get to their new home the better.
  • At the new home larger quarters such as old outbuildings secure against escape would be ideal. If the building is completely secure, turn the cats loose in the building. They will find places to hide.
  • If no outbuilding is available, use large dog crates to house them. Be sure each cat has their own cage or carrier to prevent cat fights.
  • Secure all food and water bowls inside carriers. Scared kitties will easily spill food and water.
  • Litter pans should be full of clean litter before transfer.
  • Be aware their stress levels will be on high and fighting can occur.
  • If there are a large number of cats being transported, leave them inside cages- carriers etc inside one of the outbuildings for a few days then let them loose inside the building.
  • Feed and care for them on a strict schedule for at least 3 days, then release them into the building but not onto the property. They should stay confined for a week, ideally two weeks but accidents happen and cats do escape.
  • Before you allow the cats their freedom, sprinkle your property liberally with dry cat food. Leave out large trays of wet food and then dot the land with some organic catnip for some extra enticement to stick around.
  • Make sure fresh water is available.
  • Open the doors of the outbuilding and leave.
  • Observe their exit from a safe distance.

Most stray cats will stick around the food source and water supply. If there is mice in the fields, that is an added bonus for staying. Hide extra treats around the property so the cats have to hunt for it. Be sure you feed the outdoor cats daily on a strict schedule. Setting up a routine helps the cats to relax and accept their new home quicker. Even if they are just your “mousers” the cats still need to eat daily. Provide fresh food and water for them every day and be sure to safely de-flea them every month. Worm your mousers at least once every six months with wormer you get only from your vet.

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