Need to move my cats permanently from main house to different area
January 18, 2017 2:38 PM   Subscribe

My cats have already claimed the main house and the surrounding area as their territory over the past 8 months. However, I need to move them away to my separate house - about 1200 meters away (see below for reasons). What is the best method for moving all of them and insuring they won't return to the main house/stay at my house? Thanks so much again Metafilter!!!

My cats have been causing many problems: bringing in decapitated animals that rot in our common areas, chasing in skunks to common areas, bringing in and leaving half-alive poisonous snakes, picking at and eating food directly from dining tables and kitchen counters (and they are dirty, tic and flea infested), and making terrible, terrible crying noises. Since I run a hotel and have frequent paying guests, it is totally unacceptable to have them around at all in the main area.
posted by MD_yeahright to Pets & Animals (18 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
If they are in your separate house, can you keep them indoors? Indoor cats will solve all these problems, including the dirt and fleas and ticks.
posted by jeather at 2:41 PM on January 18, 2017 [5 favorites]

Maybe at first, but ultimately not really since I live in the country. Also, I don't think they'll take well to being confined indoors. maybe they'll get used to it?
posted by MD_yeahright at 2:44 PM on January 18, 2017

I don't think it's fair to confine cats that are used to the outdoors. Can you not just a. board up the catflaps/other ways of entry and be consistent about not letting them in the doors, b. feed them in the new place c. put all their stuff - beds etc - in the new place, d. maybe be "unfriendly" i.e. water spritzers at the old place and provide lots of positive reinforcement at the new?
posted by runincircles at 3:02 PM on January 18, 2017

If they're infested with fleas and ticks and are also tangling with poisonous snakes, they should be indoor-only cats for their health and well-being. They won't like it at first, but you can set up various scratching posts, toys, catnip stations, and even consider whether you want to put in a screened-in porch for "outside" time. There are also anxiety-calming products for cats like Feliway diffusers.
posted by quince at 3:05 PM on January 18, 2017 [11 favorites]

If you look into people adopting feral cats as barn cats, what they suggest is keeping them in an enclosed area for a period of time to acclimate to the new home. I don't know how that would work for you as they're not terribly far away from the hotel you want to keep them away from.

Like others have noted, indoors at a new place would solve the problem, and some cats adapt very, very well to indoor life. I've got two cats right now that were strays that have not made one attempt to go outside in the years I've had them. You could possibly try to keep them in one enclosed area (after treating for fleas) with litter box, toys, scratching, the Feliway diffuser and see how it goes.
posted by not that mimi at 3:18 PM on January 18, 2017

If I attempt the indoor only solution they will be alone a lot of the time and the house isn't that big. I have a yard behind my house which would be nice if they could romp around in, but I suppose they could wander all the way back to the main house.
Also, even with indoor only, won't there be some sort of issues with them adapting out of their old territory?
posted by MD_yeahright at 3:38 PM on January 18, 2017

It seems like a lot of the problems are because they are outdoor cats, in a way -- dragging in kills, bringing infestations. If they were indoor-only and treated for parasites a little more, if they could be trained not to steal guests' food, and IF you could figure out what is up with the crying, could they hang out in the Inn more?

I get that if they are prone to weight gain and thus don't get as much cat food as they'd like, then it might be really difficult to train them out of taking snacks. However, it might be worth looking into.

If I knew that you had friendly cats roaming around your Inn, it would make me want to visit more.
posted by amtho at 4:13 PM on January 18, 2017

Could they become outdoor cats? My first cat became an outdoor cat from having been an apartment dweller, and it worked out very well: she lived long and was clearly happy and in good shape. She also had a ton of kittens. We had a barn she could seek shelter in, and she set up her new home on a loft with a lot of hay. We fed her, but she supplemented with hunting.
posted by mumimor at 4:26 PM on January 18, 2017

Maybe I'm not understanding the layout right, but I would propose to either go all indoors or all outdoors. If these are pets you want to live long, healthy, lives and be your companion, then take them to the vet to get their health problems looked at and keep them inside for their own protection. They can definitely adjust! And cats are perfectly fine with being "alone" most of the day (especially with other cats for companionship). I also think that once the cats are indoor they can probably stay at the Inn more easily and snuggle with guests, since they will no longer be tick/flea infested, dirty, or bringing in kills.

Or, if these are more strays that have adopted you and you don't really have the time/money/inclination to care for them, just have them as outside-only animals and perhaps put out food for them. Post a sign on the door saying something along the lines of "Please don't let in the cats - they live outside!" and close up any cat flaps or similar. I would also suggest getting them treated for ticks/fleas/etc. if at all possible -- even outdoor-living animals can be treated for this stuff and it will probably make everyone much happier!

If you want to try indoor/outdoor with the other house, I would do the above for the Inn (post signs, close up any entry/exit points) and limit all feeding to the new location. Ideally try for at least some period of time indoors-only at the new location while they adjust. But, honestly I'm a little confused here -- do you really want your home to become flea infested, which is what will happen? If there is going to be any indoor component here, a vet visit and parasite treatments seems like a must. I would also suggest having access to the house be by a person physically opening/closing a door rather than a cat flap or similar (cats can easily learn to meow when they want in/out). This avoids them bringing in kills since you can simply not open the door for them if they're holding a dead snakes or whatever!
posted by rainbowbrite at 4:28 PM on January 18, 2017 [5 favorites]

If you're willing to throw some money into a solution: a catio/screened in sun-room. It could easily be fashioned to benefit the guests. And as long as it gets good sun and you have some bird feeders on the other side, it's 90% of what cats want from the outdoors.

I'd also test out some toys to find which best satiate your cats prey drive. One of my cats prefers a few stuffed mice hidden around the house, which she will randomly 'discover' and bring to me as presents. The other likes feathers on a fishing pole to chase after until he's exhausted.
posted by politikitty at 4:29 PM on January 18, 2017

Venomous. What kinds of venomous snakes? This is in Mexico? Can you spay and neuter them or is that not a thing in Mexico? 'Cause it kind of sounds like there may be a lot of cats.

1. Spay and neuter
2. Worm (fleas = tapeworms = cat loses epic amounts of weight and pulls out all its hair so that it looks like a depraved derelict plus drops tapeworm segments everywhere = guests flee the hotel)
3. De-flea
4. Lock them in the new space and don't let them out for six weeks or so
5. Board up their ingress to the hotel
6. Release; feed them only in the new space; never let them into the hotel again

Repeat 1 through 4 at intervals, perhaps yearly or every six months, just so they can get a little relief from bloodsuckers? Indoor cats are miserable and deranged, but outdoor cats kill all the snakes and get infested with every parasite. It's a PitA whichever way you go.
posted by Don Pepino at 4:34 PM on January 18, 2017

You are going to have a lot of trouble keeping outdoor cats from hanging around outside their home, even assuming they are prevented from coming back inside.

It is possible to have indoor cats even in the country, if you want to have indoor cats. Most -- not all, but most -- cats will acclimate to being indoors. But I don't see any reasonable way to keep having free ranging outdoor cats who will be healthy and not kill things and ignore their indoor home.
posted by jeather at 6:35 PM on January 18, 2017 [2 favorites]

I once read that when you move to a new house you should keep cats inside for about a month before letting them outside, so that they don't try to find their old home once they're out. Maybe you could try that with the new house.
posted by kinddieserzeit at 11:13 PM on January 18, 2017

Also, try to give them regular feeding times at your house so that they are encouraged to come back.
posted by kinddieserzeit at 11:16 PM on January 18, 2017

Two questions immediately come to my mind:

1) How many cats are we talking about?

2) Why in heaven's name do you have these cats?

Whatever the answers to above, if the cats are "dirty, tic and flea infected" that's completely ON YOU. As a pet owner it's your responsibility to give them medication for infections. Cats are normally self-cleaning animals; what kind of dirt are we talking about? You need to help them stay clean.

"Terrible, terrible crying noises"? All of them? Something's seriously wrong. I've had cats who made some godawful noises, but always for a reason (let me in, let me out, there is no proper food). Again, it's up to you to use your human mind and empathy to figure out what "terrible noises" mean, and how you can mitigate the situation.

There are ways to train cats to not jump on the table and eat your food, but I can't imagine how you would train a cat not to chase a skunk into the house, or stop bringing in live snakes, except by making them completely indoor or outdoor cats, as suggested above.

I know this is not a direct answer to your question, but seriously, I think you should consider finding other homes for these cats. Your comment about the cats "romping around in the back yard" makes me think you're not used to cats, and unless you're willing to shut them away completely from your hotel, you're going to continue to have problems.

You obviously care about the cats, asking the question in the first place, and worrying about leaving the cats alone in the house, but running a business, any business, is full of problems and a life with cats is never problem-free -- it might be time to be pet free for awhile. Or a dog? (I'm not a dog person, so can't really recommend it, but it works for lots of people.)

Good luck to you all!
posted by kestralwing at 7:04 AM on January 19, 2017

Is the crying noise because they are in heat? The solution there would be to spay / neuter them.
posted by Julnyes at 7:57 AM on January 19, 2017

No, all 3 were already spayed/neutered.

Thanks for your responses so far.
posted by MD_yeahright at 10:04 PM on January 19, 2017

and as far as them being dirty, I didn't mean they have dirt all over them, I meant more that since they are constantly interacting with mice, lizards, venomous snakes, skunks, and others (where I live is very wild and there are many species of insects and pests), that they are most likely carrying diseases, bacteria, etc.
posted by MD_yeahright at 7:10 AM on January 20, 2017

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