We will not be keeping Winter, the new outdoor cat.
Winter was named Winter as he showed up in the Winter, and at the time, we didn’t know if he was male or female. So we choose a name that isn’t gender-specific.
If you don’t want to read the background story, you can skip to the end to see the reasons why we will look for a new home for Winter.
Here is the background on Winter
Winter first appeared in my yard in November 2021. He was a bigger kitten at maybe three months old.
We didn’t notice him until sometime in December, but the trail camera revealed he found the cat food shelter in November.
Winter was not approachable. He ran from me and would not eat in front of me.
The initial trapping attempts failed.
My attempts to trap him in December all failed. I planned to trap him and find out if he was a scared kitten.
He didn’t have any of the socialized cat behaviors listed by Ally Cat Allies other than meowing.
He would meow in the mornings from inside a container cat shelter when he heard me bringing out the cat food and talking to the other outdoor cats.
The tiny meows were enough for me to want to give it a try. And at that point in December, it was still warm enough that I could keep him in the cat pet playpen in the garage for a few days while determining his status.
And I may have been able to convince a TNR clinic to do a spay/neuter without an appointment if it was clear after a few days in the playpen that he wasn’t going to be friendly.
But, my attempts at trapping him all failed. He avoided the traps, even when the food in the trap was the only option.
And then the weather turned colder, his meowing stopped, making him seem like a feral cat, and it was too cold to spay/neuter an outdoor cat.
Waiting for Spring
So, I scheduled an appointment with a TNR clinic near the end of March 2022, when it would likely be warm enough to fix the outdoor cats.
Meanwhile, I kept feeding Winter, and as he grew, he would not run from me right away. But he would also not allow me to touch him.
There were days when he would come within a couple of feet when I was petting Midnight, but then he would back away.
On a few mornings when he was very hungry, I was able to sneak in a pet or two, but he didn’t like it.
So, he seemed like he was going to be a semi-feral cat. His behavior was similar to Pork Chop’s, who has been eating in my yard for more than four years but still isn’t socialized.
Trap training worked!
I didn’t know if Winter was a male or female. His rear is very fluffy with long hair, making it hard to tell from a distance.
After having kittens in my yard in 2014 and 2017, one of my life goals is not to have any more kittens born in my yard.
Since Winter needed to be trapped on a specific day for his appointment, I did trap training for a few weeks with him.
Trap training is when the cat is fed inside unset traps, so they get used to eating out of a trap. I used zip ties to keep the traps open.
On trapping day, he quickly went into the trap for rotisserie chicken.
Winter’s time in the trap
Winter was not happy about the trap. He stayed overnight in a covered trap the night before his appointment.
He meowed, like “please let me out” whenever I checked on him and also during the drive to the clinic. It’s very unusual for a feral cat to meow in the trap.
He was neutered on a Thursday, and the clinic keeps the outdoor cats overnight as it takes them a while to regulate their body temperature.
When I picked him up on Friday morning, I learned that he is a male cat.
When I released him from the trap, he didn’t dart away like most cats do. Instead, he went a little way and then turned around and came back to me for a few quick pats.
And since being released from the trap, he slowly wanted more attention. At first, I was able to pet him while he was eating.
After only a week after being neutered, I was able to pet him, and he demands attention now in the evenings. Also, I’ve been able to pick him up and hold him in my arms easily.
So, here’s why we are not keeping Winter.
There are several reasons why we are not keeping Winter as an outdoor or an indoor cat.
Outdoor cat life is much more dangerous and risky for cats. They can encounter humans who hate cats, diseases, poison, cars, etc.
Winter is a young cat that is socializing very well. Finally, he will be able to get the attention he wants as an indoor cat.
We will not try to bring him into our house because:
- At least half of our current indoor cats would not like the energy of a young cat.
- It’s taken years for the current indoor cats to have a happy balance with each other. Not all of them really like each other, but fights are rare now.
- The last two times we tried to add a younger male cat to our home, it failed. We had to rehome Rocko after realizing that Nacho was afraid of him.
- Even with 14 litter boxes, we still have litter box problems.
- I am content with the current number of cats we care for and with my comfort level with the monthly costs of the cats.
For the reasons listed above, adding one more cat would make for too many cats in our house.