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Forgotten Felines of Forsyth

Committed to Humanely Reducing the Feral Cat Population of Forsyth County

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Barn Relocation Guidelines

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FFF does not advise moving cats from their original colony location in most situations. (Click here for more information on why relocation is problematic - see "Feral Cats: 3 Not So Simple Scenarios") However, there are times when relocating spayed/neutered & vaccinated feral cats to a barn is the best choice. It is much more than a matter of transporting the cat and releasing it - cats must be acclimated slowly to their new environment to ensure that they do not run away, which can mean death for the cats. The following guidelines have been developed by other feral cat organizations and have been found to successfully acclimate feral cats to their new outdoor homes.

Materials

The first thing you need is a large dog crate or cat kennel/playpen to hold the cat(s) during the acclimation period. You may be able to borrow or rent one if you are not able to purchase one. FFF may able to help locate one for you to borrow. If you are relocating during cold weather, we advise that you include an insulated cat shelter as part of your setup. You will need a small cat carrier to place inside the larger cage to give the cat(s) a place to hide. You will also need a litter box, litter, cat food, food and water bowls, and bedding (straw is recommended as it will not get moldy).

Acclimation

It is essential to keep the cats in the crate/playpen for no less than three weeks, and five weeks is preferred. We advise placing two or three cats from the same colony together. We do not recommend relocating single cats.

Place the cage in a tack room, stall or some other relatively sheltered location so that the cage will be safe from predators. If you are relocating kittens, use a cage with a small mesh so that weasels cannot enter the cage. If the cat shows any aggression, we recommend using a two-level playpen or cage. Your safety is very important. If you include a cat carrier in your setup, you may be able to close the carrier door after the cats run in to hide, while you attend to feeding and cleaning. Place the litter box on the lower level near the cage door so it will be easy to access. Be warned, the cat(s) may attempt to attack you when you put in food/water or clean the litter box, especially "hard" feral cats (ones that are not at all tame).

The first week - Clean the litter box and feed/water the cats once a day. It is likely that the cats will be very frightened, and may exhibit fearful behaviors. Use care when opening the cage door.

The second week - Feed/water and clean the litter box twice a day. Begin feeding a small amount (1 Tbsp) of canned cat food at night only. Speak quietly to your cats and make eye contact. They may still exhibit fearful behaviors, but they may seem more relaxed.

The third week - Continue the same as above, but bring the canned cat food with you when you feed. Tap the can with a spoon when you enter the barn, and speak soothingly to the cats. Continue to speak to the cats when you feed them a small amount of canned food. If you have young or semi-tame cats, you may wish to use a featherwand to softly stroke the cat through the cage, only if the cat does not seem to be getting upset.

The fourth week - Continue the same as above. If you try to pet the cat, be sure to use gloves or a towel. Unless the cat is semi-tame, it does not want to be petted.

The fifth week - By now the cat(s) should be used to getting the canned food at night. You may choose to keep them in the cage an additional week, or if the cage is in a secure room, you could let the cats out, but be sure that they cannot get out of the room.

After the fifth week, the cats are ready to be released. Keep several food bowls in the barn area but remove ground-level ones at night to discourage wild animals. We advise that you try to get the cats up at night, for their safety, by using the canned food trick. Try tapping the can as before, calling their names, and placing the canned food in the playpen or secure room. The cats may not come running, but if you can take the time, they may sneak past you to the canned food and you can secure the door. Keep a litter box available at night, as well as in the barn area for when the weather is bad or if the ground is frozen.

Like colony cats, it is important to provide for the care of your cats when you are not available. Also, the cats will need to be re-vaccinated. The first rabies vaccine is good for a year, and the second is good for three years. See our Colony Management Guidelines for additional information.

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Photo by Anna G.

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Contact Information
Forgotten Felines of Forsyth
PO Box 11363
Winston-Salem, NC 27116

 

 

 

 

 

 



 



 

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