Help building back trust with stray

by Judith

I have been feeding a stray cat who has made my yard his home for about 10 years now. He is very sweet and comes by for food several times a day and night.

He will only come about 3-5 feet inside the house when the door is wide open and he has a clear escape. I have hoped he would come inside for good but since he won't, I have set up a little cat house for him with a heating pad inside.

We have always had a good cat/human relationship. When I feed him during the day we have a whole ritual. When he sees me he stretches and rolls over on his back and yawns. We slow blink each other and I talk to him and he answers back.

A problem arose a few nights ago. I opened the door and he came out of his house and sat on the porch watching me as he has done many times before.

I checked to see if his heating pad was on and noticed it wasn't so I leaned over to turn it on. I have done this many, many times before and he always just sat a little distance away, a little cautious, but OK with it. This time when I leaned over he ran off the porch and onto the driveway.

I tried to coax him back saying "it's OK" and putting his food out. But he wouldn't come back. When I kept trying to let him know it was OK, he ran off.

Since that night, when I try to feed him he runs away. I know he is hungry and wants to eat. I don't leave food sitting out because I don't want to attract raccoons or rats so I usually stand there until he finishes eating and goes back into his house. Then I take his dishes into the house.

He is a cautious cat, but over the years he has come so far and even lets me pet him while he is eating.

I just want to know how I can build back his trust? It kills me because I think he was mistreated at some point in his life because he is so skittish and cautious. I want him to know love and know my yard is his safe place.

Any advice would help.
Thank you.

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by: Will

Leave the food out during the day take it in at night. I have used a trail cam at night to see if anything comes... if you have woods or open land you will get other visitors. When they are scared it’s best to give up that night they won’t calm enough... in my experience.

Help for stray
by: Ellyb

I know you don't want to attract wild animals into your yard, but I would suggest leaving his food and water. Then you can check in the morning to see if he's eaten. If so, he may just need a little time to rebuild his trust. You might want to try one of the products to deal with frightened cats or keep something close that smells like him.
I hope your kitty comes back. It sounds like you're doing a great job.

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