Guidelines for Safe Relocation of Feral Cats

Preparation

Getting Ready - what you will need:

  1. A large cage or enclosure of some sort with room for the cat to move around plus room for a litterbox, bedding, and dishes. Rabbit cages work especially well. Aviaries, chicken coops, or a completely enclosed dog run (including a roof) can be used. Be aware that dog crates have a distinct disadvantage: the large door. There is more of an opportunity for cats to rush past the caretaker while the door is open because the opening is so large. A cage where the door is to one side of the cage is better, so the cat has a place to move away, off to one side, from the caretaker when they reach in to clean the litterbox and bring fresh food and water. In addition, custom cat enclosures are available online: www.catfencein.com, www.cdpets.com, and www.purrfectfence.com are just a few. (Keep in mind that cats are natural escape artists, and will have lots of time on their paws to seek escape avenues, so make sure it's secure - a small hole to you may be the perfect escape route to them.)
  2. A large sheet, blanket, or tarp to cover cage.
  3. Blankets, towels, or other bedding for inside.
  4. If possible, make available some sort of cubbyhole (box, carrier with door removed) for cat(s) to hide in.
  5. Two sturdy, hard-to-tip dishes (straight-sided heavy ceramic work well).
  6. Litter box and litter.
  7. Dry cat food.
  8. Optional: toys, catnip, cat treats, canned cat food.

The Cage

The cage/enclosure needs to be sheltered from the weather. A large enclosure should have a roof or other secure covering. A smaller cage should be positioned inside a structure, such as a barn, garage, shed, etc. Ideally, the cat(s) should be able to see the outside area where it will eventually live. This will facilitate acclimation to the new home. Cats will naturally be extremely fearful when they first arrive. As noted above, they will need a transition period to adjust, as well as to become accustomed to their new caretaker who will feed them every day. The choice of location for the transition cage is important. The cats need to be near the hub of activity, if this is where the rodent control is needed, but at enough of a distance so they can observe everything without feeling threatened. Do not place the cage directly on a cement floor.

When deciding on appropriate coverings and bedding for the cage, consider the time of year, and be prepared for the extremes of temperature and weather. A tarp might keep off a light rain, but if it is accompanied by gale force winds, the tarp may be inadequate. If the weather is very cold, make sure the maximum amount of warm bedding is available, and that the covering will provide some insulation. In extreme hot weather make sure the cage is completely shaded, yet make sure there is maximum airflow. Certain fabrics work better than others. Cotton, if it gets wet, tends to stay wet and eventually will mildew. Synthetic fabrics can often be the better choice in damp weather, while cotton can be better when it is hot. Make sure everything is set up and ready at the new location prior to the cats arriving, if possible. The less time the cats have to wait in their trap or carrier before being released into their temporary lodgings, the less stress.

Read Next Trapping for Relocation

Feral Relocation Topics

  1. The Right Spot
  2. Screening
  3. Preparation
  4. Trapping for Relocation
  5. Follow Up

All Feral Cat Pages

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  1. What is a feral cat?
  2. Spay/Neuter Clinic for feral cats
  3. How to care for a colony
  4. Being a Colony Caretaker (YouTube video)
  5. How to trap humanely
  6. Humane Trap Sources
  7. How to relocate feral cats
  8. The Right Spot
  9. Screening
  10. Preparation
  11. Trapping for Relocation
  12. Follow Up
  13. How to tame feral cats
  14. Total Ferals
  15. Semi Ferals
  16. Reverted Ferals
  17. Foster Kittens
  18. Colony Caretaker's Thoughts
  19. Cats vs. Birds Controversy