WCHS looks for outdoor homes that are willing to take in cats that need to be relocated community cats. To relocate these cats, WCHS asks that the new home provides a few things to give the cat the best odds and being successfully relocated. These include a doing a relocation “adjustment” period for 3 weeks, shelter, food, and water.
Because they are so territorial, community cats must be trained that their food source has changed. Three weeks is the recommended amount of time for this process. During this period, they must be confined in the new territory, whether it’s an enclosure in a barn, cages in a garage or the like. If not confined, they are likely to run away, looking for their former food source. Choose a quiet spot and create nearby hiding places where the cats can go after being released, like bales of hay or cardboard boxes.
Three weeks is optimal for the adjustment period. Don’t confine for longer than that or the stress may cause the cats to run off after being released. Ideally the new caretaker will to talk to the cats and spend time with them, so they bond with their new person. Feed tasty wet food and stick to a regular feeding schedule so the cats learn to enjoy their new routine. After release, leave the cages or enclosure in place (with doors now open) for a couple of weeks or more so the cats have a familiar place to go if they want.
Community cats feel most at home in a space that has outdoor shelters just for them. Build or set out as many shelters as you think will house the cats you care for. Keep in mind: Cats like to share a shelters so they can cuddle together, share body heat, and many other reasons!
–Make sure the shelter protects from the elements. Especially if you live in an area where it gets very hot and/or very cold. Insulate with straw, NOT hay. Hay still has moisture, which will freeze in low temperatures.
–There’s a cat shelter for every skillset and budget. You’ll find options to assemble, build from scratch, or purchase at alleycat.org/ShelterGallery.
If you want community cats to stay by you, or any outdoor space of your choosing, food is the biggest motivator. Cats think with their stomachs and they make their homes where food is readily available.
Naturally, the perfect outdoor space for a cat will include access to water. If cats feel they can meet all their needs in the area you want them to stay, then they won’t feel a strong need to make their home or hang out elsewhere, like a neighbor’s porch.
–Feed the cats on a regular schedule, every day in the area you want them to be. That way, the cats know the area is a reliable source of food and are less likely to leave.
–Set up a specific area outdoors to feed the cats. Always feed them there and nowhere else to establish a routine and keep them coming to the same place. Be sure it’s away from foot traffic or loud noises, where the cats will feel comfortable.
–Keep water bowls where the food is, ideally in or near a feeding station. Replace the water every day, or whenever you see it get dirty, so it’s always fresh.
–Prevent water from freezing during a cold season.