Should I keep two socialized ferals inside?
(Long Island, NY)
I began feeding two feral kittens about 15 months ago. After a while they began acting more like domesticated cats.
They spent most of their time in my yard, waited at the door at feeding time, came when called and meowed. They respond to their names.
The male allowed me to pet him and would come for a pet before eating. The female remained more wary.
This summer the male cat began following when I walked my dog at night, sometimes following a short distance behind and sometimes running ahead and waiting for us to catch up.
Then he would come back home with us. At night he would sit with me on the front stoop, curled up against me and purring as I petted his belly.
This winter I began taking them into my sunroom at night. They seemed to enjoy the warm sanctuary and their beds but at first were a little nervous about me shutting the door to the outside.
They use the litter box. The male does not spray. At first I would let them out in the AM but I had to confine the female inside when she went into heat as I was waiting for her spaying appointment. The male was upset about being left outside.
I have kept them inside the past few weeks to bring them to a feral cat clinic for shots and to be neutered and spayed and for recovery after the surgery.
They seem to have become acclimated to being inside the sunroom but they spend much of their time at the windows. The female remains wary, especially after her trip to the clinic and neither enjoyed being captured for their clinic appointment. They are not comfortable being held.
Now that they have both been fixed I am wondering what next. Keep them inside? Let them outside during the day? Or return them to the feral life they are used to and enjoyed when the weather warms up. If I try to bring them into the house I will have to deal with introducing them to my dog (a shi tzu/terrier mix) whose previous relationship has been chasing them out of the yard.
The dog seems to be aware that they are in the house just on the other side of the bedroom door and seems to have adjusted to it. He sees me bring them food and he can smell them. Any suggestions?