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Dr. Deb
Dr. Deb, Cat Veterinarian
Category: Cat
Satisfied Customers: 10449
Experience:  I have been a practicing veterinarian for over 30 years.
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I have a mother cat (who I let have one litter )and her 2

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I have a mother cat (who I let have one litter )and her 2 'babies' a male and a female -mum is nearly 7 and babies are 5 years old and have all been neutered/spayed and micro-chipped. Last year the male kitten started spending periods of time away 3 or 4 days but always came back. This year he went for a month and I was distraught thinking he was dead. However I discovered that an old lady at end of road has been feeding him on a daily basis. She hasn't let him in the house overnight as she said she knew" he was a well cared for cat". she has said she wont feed him any more. But he has made his home in some thick hedging next to her house and was living outdoors even in bad weather rather than come home. This surprises me as he is the most cuddly cat and not a hunter like the girls. I managed to get him back home for a week, keeping him in for a few days until he had settled down again, gave him his wormer and flea control and spoilt him. For 3 days he would go out in day but came back at night and I started keeping them all in at night. After a week he went again. He is obviously getting fed somewhere even though I have put a disc around his neck saying do not feed-on medicated food only. He was gone for 2 weeks this time and last night we managed to tempt him with some prawns and brought him back home and currently am keeping him indoors. The only thing I can think of the reason he keeps leaving is that the females gang up on him a bit-they don't really fight but they are always hissing at him and I think that as he is a gentle soul this must be distressing him although there are no other signs of this. I think this will keep on happening when I let him out and am considering letting him got to live with my dad. My mum has just died and I think maybe this might be a solution for both of them-dad hates an empty house and I can't bear the thought of my lovely cat living wild and not being properly cared for. Do you have any other ideas or advice please, I don't really want to give him up but I do want him to be happy and looked after? Sue Marquis, Jersey, UK
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Cat
Expert:  Dr. Deb replied 3 years ago.

Hello Sue, I'm Dr. Deb.

I recently came online and see that your question about Scampi hasn't been answered. I'm so sorry that you've had to wait for a response,but if you still need assistance, I'd like to help if I can.



What a distressing situation this must be for you, to have to worry about what might be happening to him when he stays gone for such long periods of time. And, I know your concern is that a predator might find him or that he might come to some harm while he's away from you.

I agree that someone else is probably feeding/taking care of him despite your instructions on his neck so at least he is getting fed.

I also agree that the attitude of the girls may be what is triggering his desire to spend long periods of time elsewhere although I've seen this behavior in cats who have a very stress-free home life. Some cats just prefer to spread their love around, so to speak.

And, to keep him inside 100% of the time would obviously affect his quality of life in a very negative way, I suspect. In his frustration, the tensions between him and the girls might escalate and he might start inappropriately urinating/defecating as a result.
Other than trying to make his home life more pleasant with the girls (which is going to be very difficult to do at this point), it sounds to me like your options are limited.
I don't know what more you can do to encourage him to return other than what you've done.

Since you have another option with your dad, this is the option I would take. I wouldn't let him outside there for a while until he's totally acclimated and has adjusted to his new living situation. I might use Feliway, a natural pheromone, which may aid in the transition.
I would then let him out during the day but bring him in at night as you tried to do at your home. If he repeats the behavior at your dad's house of staying away for periods of time, then this is a cat who has wanderlust and most likely will never change (unless you keep him indoors 100% of the time). This is the lifestyle he's chosen and which suits him the best.

Would I like it if he were my cat? No, since I'd constantly worry about his welfare but I'd also try to realize that this is just his nature and would have to be content with it.
I would hope that he has enough street-smarts to know what's best for him.

I hope this helps. Deb

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Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you. It confirms what I think may be the best thing to do, at least if he is with dad I can see him often and I can still get him his jabs and make sure he gets his dental diet etc. He seemed to become a "man" last year so it may prove to be that this is the way he wants to live his life but I think he also likes to have a place of solitude and comfort. Oddly enough he is the one that I thought was the least independent and seemed to need the cuddles more-do male cats tend to do this?


 

Expert:  Dr. Deb replied 3 years ago.
Sue,

You're more than welcome although this is really a very difficult situation.

The fact that you have such an acception alternative, though, is more than most people have so this should bring some comfort.

Cats always surprise me in terms of their unpredictability. I haven't found that males are more independent...in fact, in my experience, it's the females who behave this way. But if may just be the cats that I've had over the years and not something that I can/should generalize about.

Best of luck, though. I know it will be hard not to have him living with you but at least you can visit him often, as you say, which I know you both will enjoy. Deb