Three Stray Cats in my Shed

I live in the middle of the city, in an apartment on the second floor of a house. I have a great big deck in the back, that even has a shed on it. Odd, yes, but there you go.

Three stray cats have taken up residence in the shed. It looks like one big one and two kittens. Of course I am not a cat person, I am in fact hideously allergic, so not only do I have no experience with cats whatsoever, but I can’t really even interact with them. If I could I would probably try to pick them up and play with them, or keep them, or take them to the shelter, or something.

I know I’m supposed to put out a saucer of milk, but I don’t buy milk. Do cats like soy milk?

Maybe I can pick up some cat food at the store.

Also I’m getting a dog soon. I wonder if they will all be able to get along.

I hope so. This is the closest I’ll ever get to being a cat person.

I don’t believe milk is a good idea. Fresh water and kibble seem to suit my feline just fine.

Except when we’re having dinner and she comes a’begging. I swear, she’s worse than the dog…
Do you know a cat person who might want your stowaways? Not me, mind you. One cat and one dog are quite enough for this household.

Now I see there are three kittens and a mamma. They are adorable. The kittens are dark grey striped and mom is light grey striped.

I put out some water and some cheese (all I’ve got in this vegetarian, pet-free home!) I do have some frozen salmon steaks, would they like those? When I approached they scattered, but mama approached and MEOW-ed at me. I assume from my dog experience that she is trying to keep me away from her kitties?

Man, they are cute. I almost want to keep them. From no cats to four. That might interfere with my dog plan.

I’m going to call my cat-person friend for advice, and to see if she wants another one.

Don’t give them milk, it’s meant for cows. It can make them sick (really). Animals don’t drink milk after they’re weaned, and the kittens should be getting all they need from mum. Most adult cats are lactose intolerant, anyway, so no dairy at all is best. Kibble is nutritious so you should just feed them that (and water). I don’t know that there’s anything wrong with salmon per se but if it has parasites or something that would be bad. You should call animal control. They’ll come pick them up.

Don’t make me write you a ticket for posting a cat thread without photos…

Very likely, though I’d bet if you put out a bowl of some good-quality kitten food she’d really appreciate it. Nursing takes a lot of energy for a mama cat, and she could very likely use the extra food.

And do contact animal control – even if the mama isn’t socialized to humans, she can at least be spayed, and the kittens are still young enough to be adopted out.

The kittens look like teenagers, they’re not teeny-weeny, and they were sure interested in the scraps of cheese. I’m going to go to one of those super-expensive downtown grocery stores beside my office (where I am now) and get some kitty kibble for them.

When I came inside, mama sat in front of the door staring at it and watching for me to reappear. Was that a “hey, get back here” stare or a “keep the hell away from us” stare or a “now, what is this human-shaped thing up to?” stare, do you think?

I don’t speak a word of cat.

Be gentle! cowers

This is my first cat thread, ever! I’m a total newbie at this. Plus I don’t have a camera.

But they’re cute. Trust me.

It was probably a “When come back, bring food” stare. We have a stray who lives under our deck who was originally really, really skittish, but eventually (through regular feeding) became tame enough to pet and snuggle with. She refuses to enter the house, though…she came in one time, stayed about fifteen minutes with our indoor cats stalking her constantly (guard duty, y’know), then all but opened the screen door herself to get back outside.

Well in that case, its Jedi mind tricks are working perfectly.

Ever since I left the house I’ve had the strangest compulsion to go buy cat food.

Don’t give the cats any more milk products–PLEASE! It will give them the major poopies. (From this, I speak with experience.) For a nursing momma, it may be enough to make her dehyrdated to be very sick, or die. As far as the salmon goes, yeah, they’ll probably eat it, but a can of cat food is a lot less expensive.

I second calling animal control. Without getting spayed, Momma will just continue to produce another litter. Plus, if any of those pretty kitties are female, in the next 9 months (or less) you’ll have MORE cats in your shed. (Cats mature at 9 months and go into heat–which means you’ll have EVERY tom cat in the neighborhood howling at your shed. Your neighbors will love you, I’m sure.)

There may also be several animal adoption agencies in your city, however, they usually want you to drop off the animal (if they have the space), and for someone with severe cat allergies, this may not be possible. (Of course, this is where you recruit your friends.)

Good luck!

The fates have been having such fun with me lately. Just now, when I am just about to get a dog (something I have been preparing for since I moved out of my folks house), the gods give me a family of cats to deal with.

Re: the allergies - I usually suffer miserably whenever I am in a cat house. However, I know the following:

  • it’s way worse the more upholstry, carpet and drapery there is in the house (and my house is all hardwood and tiled with no drapery)
  • Many allergic people aren’t allergic to their own cats (like my sister; she was always allergic until she got one)
  • I’m getting quite good at keeping my house clean with my fabulous new vacuum cleaner; I’m allergic to dust too but haven’t been suffering lately

So it’s not totally out of the question for me to keep a kitten. Might be easier than a dog anyway.

The only serious concern seems to be getting Mama spayed. I don’t know the first thing about handling cats. Do I need to get a cat carrier, and get Mama into it? If she’s not socialized to humans, isn’t that going to be rather difficult for someone who has - literally - never handled a cat before?


As far as the carrier goes, you can try to lure her into it with food. Put the food out inside the carrier for a week or so. She’ll get used to the carrier and associate it with food, so you’ll be able to get her in just by bringing it out and baiting it. Don’t close the door during the “lull her into complacency” phase…just when the time actually comes to travel.

There may be a local feral cat trap-neuter-release program that can help you out with this - check with a local vet or humane society. If mama cat approached you, she most likely hasn’t been feral for long, she may have been thrown out by someone. If the kittens aren’t socialized young, it gets much more difficult to do so. They all need to be spayed/neutered - a female cat can literally breed herself to death, and each litter from an undernourished mother is weaker and less likely to survive.

If you do try to attempt to socialize a kitten, make sure you wash your hands after you touch them - every time! I catsit for a lady who is allergic to cats, yet has three indoor ones. Frequent handwashing and frequent vacumning keep her allergies under control.

Good luck, and thanks for giving some homeless overlords a helping hand. You get Karma points for that, you know.

Yep, I’ve been phoning around. The humane society has a feral spaying program, all I have to do is get the cat there and take it home (once fixed) for release. The only problem now is (a) figuring out if it’s stray or feral, (b) catching it, © getting it there on my bike, (d) picking it up again, and (e) dealing with the kittens at the same time.

Could I keep a kitten with its feral mama living outside? Wouldn’t that be a bit weird?

Thanks for the tip. I would probably also bar it from the bedroom and designate a chair for it that I don’t like to sit in.

I just went and bought some Purina Cat Chow Advanced Nutrition dry food. How much should I put out? How often?

Any tips about how to tell if they’re stray or feral? Remember: I’ve never touched a cat before.

More updates after I learn a bit more about them.

If the mother was sticking around when you appeared at the door, she’s not feral. Feral cats beat feet the instant they see a human, usually. Likely she’s a stray. If you can socialize the kittens soon, they probably won’t go feral either.

Don’t know about that. If a cat wants to keep you away, it will usually hiss or growl, not meow.

Frankly I don’t think I could tell the difference between a meow and a growl.

It wasn’t a hiss, though, that’s for sure. It sounded like a “mrowww” but louder, and I definitely saw teeth.

It was on the other side of the chain link fence, so she wasn’t trying to keep me away from her - I think she was trying to distract my attention from the kittens.

I’m going to have to pick up a Cat/English dictionary.

You mentioned earlier that you had a cat-owned friend, could she come over and give you a hand with this? If MamaCat is a stray, it probably won’t be difficult to get her to come to you if she hasn’t been out too long. Sitting down near her (hovering over her will make her nervous) and making psssssssssstpsssssssst noises usually works for me. You’re an awful long way from Georgia, or I would volunteer to come help!

As for the food, start with about a half cup at a time, and refill as necessary. I don’t recommend refilling late at night as that may attract other creatures you would just as soon not be feeding on your deck.

I just got done doing this. I captured three feral kittens but couldn’t get their feral mama. And let me tell you, it *is *weird. Mom sat right on my back patio for weeks, staring in the sliding glass door and giving me the hairy eyeball. She called for them a lot, and the kitties called back for a while. She even climbed up on the bathroom skylight (above where the babies slept) at night so she could hear them and talk to them. Finally they were big enough to have been weaned naturally, and so they quit paying much attention to her. She didn’t give up, though, and contented herself watching them play through the back door for hours at a time. The poor thing was (is!) completely devoted to her kittens, and the whole situation was really heartbreaking. The kittens turned out to be wonderful pets, though, so I ease my guilt by telling myself I did the most good for the most creatures.

" I would probably also bar it from the bedroom and designate a chair for it that I don’t like to sit in." (Sorry don’t know how to truly quote)…

You can probably bar it from the bedroom, but you’re going to have a heck of a time giving a cat one chair. Not trying to be a spoil sport, but with the allergies I want to warn you that it may not be simple. Cats are defiant. You’d probably be better off keeping them off all “human” furniture and getting a nice tree-type scratching post and possibly a bed for your new pet(s). My cat has a window seat that she simply adores. It’s a fake lamb’s wool and has a frame but no base to it (so it’s like a kitty hammock) and it’s where you’ll find her most of the time. The ones with a true platform (no hammock effect) she never liked as much.

Also, in my experiece, cats do tend to like “rough” fabrics that lodge their fur deep into them, so if you have any please think twice before bringing the cats into your home (but the micro-fiber materials are great - yes, cats like them, but their fur doesn’t sink in the way it does on more densely woven fabrics). It’ll take awhile to teach them what is not theirs.

I love cats, but I don’t want you having a horrible allergy attack and regretting your decision or despising your Feline Overlords should you choose to take one or more in.

That said, it sounds like you are already enjoying their company, even if from afar. Cats are great companions, so if you choose to keep one and train it for your needs (a water squirt bottle with a firm “no” to keep it off furniture), you’ll be pleased - these cats chose you, that’s how it normally goes!

Also, on the food - stay with the kibbles. Cats MUST have meat proteins (as found in commercial cat food) or they will die. They love the milk and cheese and some even fancy vegetables, but their main diet has to consist of cat-friendly food. Canned food is better as a treat (mostly because if you give it to them too much they will demand canned food only).

Keep us posted!