Bad Cat needs a home
September 7, 2013 3:24 PM   Subscribe

What should we do about a friendly stray cat that hangs out on our porch, aggressively tries to come inside, and generally drives our own cat crazy? We've tried not feeding her and chasing her off, and we've tried regularly feeding her far from the house, and now we're not sure what to do next.

Our neighborhood has many feral and stray cats. We adopted a friendly one and sometimes fed a skittish, skinny one ("Mama"). While doing so one day, we fed another we'd seen occasionally. Big mistake!

That was when we renamed her Bad Cat. She sat outside our door the entire night, yowling softly. Then she began to bully everyone. Mama Cat went away. My cat grew paranoid and grouchy. I couldn't walk to my car without her trying to entangle herself in my legs or block my path, then hissing when I slowed down only enough not to actually kick her.

Then my view became: Bad Cat has to go. I began to use a water spritzer to keep her off the porch and key bottlenecks in the yard. My cat would mew at me when he wanted to cross the yard to come home, like "cover me, I'm ming in." I stopped ever leaving food outside. (We used to put our cat's dish out when we left in the morning.)

After about 4 days of this, Bad Cat began to give me some distance and to be a bit less aggressive. And I increasingly felt like a real jerk. She was persistent and seemed desperate. A cat cries for food at 2 am and I come outside and menacingly threaten it?? Sooo... my resolve broke.

I thought I might instead get her on a regular outdoor feeding schedule, not near our deck, so she wouldn't be starving and could just go enjoy her outdoor cat life. But so far this plan has not resulted in quite the independence I had hoped, and the original problems are returning. My cat still wants an armed escort whenever he has to walk past various ambush locations.

My new theory is that Bad Cat needs a home. A different home. She may have even had a home until recently. She certainly has a lot of love to give. I suspect that if her status was less precarious, she'd probably be less pushy and perhaps oversee her territory with a kind of royal grace.

So I posted about her on Craigslist to help her find a new family. I got no replies. I emailed one of those groups that has the whole foster home + vet services + cute pictures + adoption thing dialed in -- but got no reply. Now what? Should I call animal services or a low-kill shelter? Should I keep trying with the nonprofit foster groups? I can repost the ad a few times and maybe even get a better picture of her. But will anyone adopt her if I don't shell out for a full vet exam? In the meantime, should I feed her? Should I not? Should I go back to being the world's biggest jerk squirting her? Ugh. I would like to figure this out quickly so I stop getting woken up by cat drama. Poor Bad Cat needs a better home.
posted by slidell to Pets & Animals (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Should I call animal services or a low-kill shelter?

Oakland Animal Services at 1101 29th Ave, Oakland, CA 94601 is pretty clear about what to do:
I’ve found an animal in Oakland. What should I do?

You may bring the animal to Oakland Animal Services during our open hours. If you are interested in adopting the animal if no owner comes forward, please give your contact information to the staff person assisting you at the front counter. Finders have first priority to apply to adopt an animal they have brought in to the shelter—if the animal passes its temperament and medical tests. The Oakland Animal Services shelter does not adopt “injured, sick or extremely aggressive” animals to finders.
Since the cat doesn't sound aggressive or dangerous and you want to get rid of the cat quickly, it seems most appropriate to take it directly to them rather than relying on them to pick it up.
posted by saeculorum at 3:34 PM on September 7, 2013

Response by poster: And just in case it's not clear, we don't really think she's "bad." If anyone is "bad," it's us for giving her mixed messages in our attempt to be sympathetic toward her. If she was someone's number one kitty, she would probably make a nice family cat.

On preview -- thanks!
posted by slidell at 3:35 PM on September 7, 2013

If you bring her to the SPCA, you can get her case number and put out some publicity to see if someone you know wants her. Or put up "found cat" signs. I agree that you ought to take her to your local humane society or cat rescue.
posted by blnkfrnk at 4:10 PM on September 7, 2013

Have you put up flyers around the neighborhood? That's a fat cat, for a stray. I think somebody owned and took care of it in the very recent past.
posted by something something at 4:39 PM on September 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

You need first to know if she is actually a stray.

Have you taken her to the vet to get her scanned for a chip? Best case scenario you find her owner, hooray!

If she doesn't, put a collar on her with a note attached saying something to the effect of: "Is this your cat? Please call us at _______ asap".

First things first before you start trying to give her away.

You should be feeding her in the meantime.

After you have done the above steps, THEN you can start the process of finding her home.
posted by nanook at 4:48 PM on September 7, 2013

You need first to know if she is actually a stray.

This. Our landlord adopted a cat a few years ago that was always hungry, relentlessly hanging around the house all the time, looking pathetic and needy. After about six months of this, landlord let him into the house and named him Greypaw. He continued to let Greypaw out periodically to wander, but Greypaw lived with landlord. After naming him, landlord took him to the vet about three months after that. He didn't put a collar on him (landlord doesn't like collars) but had him fixed and innoculated.

Landlord was up watering his bushes while Greypaw later that week after Greypaw was fixed and saw his down the street neighbor, Bob. Bob and Landlord share an affection for German automobiles (but really, anything shiny) and they talked for a while about cars, then Bob invited Landlord over to check out his shiny car. A while later, they started talking about animals. Landlord had three cats, and Bob had two. One of them, Sinatra, was a cat who loved to go outside and went outside every day. Landlord remarked that he had a cat, Greypaw, who was exactly the same.

Bob said "Oh look, there is Sinatra!" Landlord stared at the grey cat sauntering up the driveway and said, "Bob, I have some news for you. Sinatra is not a boy any longer." As Bob stared in astonishment, Landlord explained that he had taken the cat in, named it, and had it fixed all without Bob having any clue that "his" cat was considered a stray!

Greypaw ended up remaining with landlord. Bob and Landlord agreed to put the cat on the street, and both called him - he came to landlord, so Bob ceded his claim to the cat.

Long story short- Bad Cat may be someone else's Good Cat.
posted by arnicae at 5:11 PM on September 7, 2013 [7 favorites]

Yeah, that's a goodlooking not-stray. My orange cat goes into other people's houses all the time...thankfully, he wears his collar. I have had cats that simply refused to wear a collar, and we had one cat that obviously rotated between us and at least one other owner and would come home smelling like cigar smoke!

Also, my cats are fed twice a day and act like they're dying every time. Today my cat was sitting on the lawn making his hungry kitten whine at a magpie.... that cat doesn't look hungry.

good luck!
posted by jrobin276 at 10:50 PM on September 7, 2013

If you give her to a shelter, most likely she will be put down in a week or so, they have too many animals that are thrown there by owners. Try putting up her pics on Facebook and social media sites to see if anyone is interested in adopting her. There are orgs that transport adopted animals from one State to another so perhaps that is an option (another State).
posted by ladoo at 2:35 PM on September 8, 2013

Relist, relist, relist! If I have a CL ad, every two weeks I delete, reword it, and repost. You need a better ad. Crop your pictures if you can, and put one up of your SO cuddling the cat. You only need one of her rear end.

First of all, is she fixed? She absolutely needs to be fixed, and you need to repost your ad and title it Loving Neutered Female Cat. That will do more to find her a home than anything.

Second, take off the whole confusing refundable deposit thing. That's too much hassle and repeated contact. When I have to find an owner for an abandoned animal dumped at the house, I interview the person and ask a lot of questions. What's your setup? Other animals? Who's your vet? What kind of cat litter? What do you feed? How often do you do shots and worming? Collars, tags, microchips? It's not an interrogation, but we schmooze about critters in general, and I work to get a sense of how serious they are about taking care of the critter I'm offering.

Who the heck gets up to feed a critter at two am? Let her meow! Call her at 6 am-6 pm, put out a bowl of food, take it away if she hasn't eaten in an hour. She'll figure it out.

Lastly, you mentioned detente in your ad--is it possible that this might resolve itself?
posted by BlueHorse at 3:42 PM on September 8, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks everyone. Good food for thought. It sounds like Animal Services and the SPCA would take responsibility for ensuring she is not owned by someone else. On the other hand, euthanasia becomes more likely with them. Maybe they'll take her in but let me list myself as the adopter-of-last-resort, at which point l'd work on my Craigslist ad.

I can't quite bring myself to do a flier (because I can't quite figure out what it would say) ("IS THIS YOUR CAT? If so, keep it at home! It is annoying the heck out of us.") But I like the collar idea. Maybe one of her other feeders would even adopt her with some encouragement. Thanks.
posted by slidell at 9:17 PM on September 8, 2013

Response by poster: Okay, time for the exciting conclusion! I just dropped off Bad Cat at a foster home with a great organization that helps cats find homes. (They normally only take cats directly from the shelters but made an exception.)

And, because of the answers here, before taking him there, I put a collar on him seeking other caregivers ("Am I your cat? call xxx-xxxx") -- and someone called! Someone who works at a nearby business not only feeds him during the day but actually nursed him back to health when she first found him. She agreed that this could be for the best, if it works.

He hated the car ride, getting panicked when he saw we were leaving the neighborhood, so I worried I was doing the wrong thing. But once he got to the new house, he calmed down, basked at being the center of attention (instead of being the cat outside looking in), curled up and started purring. We will see how it goes, but I think he'll be happier adopted into a home and family than he would be out on my porch, especially once the winter rains start. Thanks for the help.
posted by slidell at 10:33 AM on October 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: P.S. If anyone wants to adopt a super-affectionate male orange tabby in San Francisco once he adjusts and gets checked out by the vet, let me know!
posted by slidell at 1:25 PM on October 13, 2013

« Older Manual typewriter tricks   |   What blogs do you love? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.