Check out this great set up for getting cats out into the household for socialization. THis would work well for undersocialized cats or former ferals moving into a new home. DISCLAIMER: The cats pictured are in the last stages of socialization and can be managed without risk to life and limb. A hard-core feral cat could tear his way out of this set up in a New York minute. For the starting stages of socialization of cats/kittens, a more secure confinement is required for the safety of all.
Here's the email note that came with the pictures:
This is the 'tent method' for socialization. It works very well. You put the pup tent where the people hang out (family room, TV room, kitchen, etc.), so the cats can see everything going on. It really helps socialize/tame them quickly. There's enough room for a person to sit halfway in the tent and interact with them, also. This is where she'll keep Julia, until she feels it's time for Julia to come out and roam freely in her place. The cats seem very comfortable and happy in them, plus there's a cat tree to play, nap on, toys to play with. Very cute.
Thanks for the pictures and info Dorothy.
Making sure adoptions work out requires supervision and follow-up. If the cat is adjusting well, don't be a pest, but make sure the cat didn't run under the bed the first day never to be seen again. Many times the adopter will shrug off your concerns with a remark like "We've had cats all our lives, and never had any of those problems." Those same people may be calling to return the cat if you haven't prepared them for what to expect and don't help them to get through the first few days. For this reason, I like to let cats have the run of the house for a few days before going up for adoption or being moved to an adoption cage for viewing. This way their first experience having the free run of a home won't be with the new adopter. Sometimes a cat that is comfortable being picked up from a pen and held will be less confident when turned loose in a home. They may have the impulse to hide under a bed and just stay there forgetting why they are even hiding. A set up like the one in the picture would be a great intro to a new home for an undersocialized cat that is ready to be adopted but not ready to be turned loose in a big apartment or house. A bathroom or bedroom can work well for this transitional period too, but a pen or tent can put them out in the busy part of the house to see their new family in action. Once they are turned loose in the house, they may hide for a couple days but if the cat is confined at the start and the adopter can hand-feed the cat and "bond" with it first, the cat will usually only hide for a short time. If the cat hasn't bonded at all with the adopter before being turned loose, the adjustment period will take much longer and the adopter may loose patience and interest in the cat. It is hard to predict which adopters will have the compassion to work it through. Insisting on some confinement in a bathroom or pen at first is the best assurance that the adopter will bond with the cat and then have the patience to get through any problems later on.
Sometimes one is so elated that the cat is getting adopted that we forget to make sure that it will work out. After all the hard work it takes getting them socialized and ready for adoption, don't screw it up in the end-game. I'm usually so happy to be getting part of my life back once the kittens leave the house, I have to remind myself to do the follow-up calls and house visits BEFORE the call comes from the adopters with problems. Usually it is enough to check in and reassure the adopter that everything will be ok if they stick to the plan we laid out before the adoption. I hope this advice will help you to more successful feral adoptions. All the best, Mike