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About a month ago I took over feeding a stray (feral maybe?) cat for my neighbors because they were moving. Now, I am moving. However, I will be living in the same apartments just at a new building that is approximately 800 ft away from my current one. Will he travel over there to eat? His ear seems to already be clipped so I am assuming he is neutered (this also makes me think that maybe someone else in the area feeds/cares for him too? I don’t know how to find this out). If he won’t travel to my new apartment I am prepared to get him trapped and bring him with me to my new place (I have my TNR license and know how to do all this safely). I just need to figure it all out within a month. I just worry that doing that would be really stressful for him (and me) and that him staying outside with me still feeding him is probably best. Any help would be greatly appreciated!!

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It will depend on the density and territories of other cats in the area, and whether they have formed a colony.

Outdoor cats can have fairly large ranges—miles in some cases! A mere 800ft is nothing, and he may already wander past your new home on a daily basis as part of exploring his territory. If he finds free food there, he will definitely come more often, and he may recognize your smell around the food as being safe, though it may confuse him for a few weeks since it’s in the wrong place.

The real issue is other cats. Hungry cats can be quite possessive of their territory; they don’t want strangers—or even their own offspring after a few months—stealing “their” food. If your new home is in a different cat’s territory, your stray will have long ago learned not to go there, and taking him there against his will and releasing him could get him killed before he finds his way back to safety.

On the other hand, if food is so plentiful they can’t eat it all, cats will form a colony that shares one territory. This often happens around humans, especially nice ones that leave lots of easily accessible food outside on porches or in open dumpsters. If the two apartment complexes are adjacent or nearly so (i.e. no border that would create two distinct colonies), this seems likely.

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  • StephenS, thank you! When I said trapping him and bringing him with me was an option, I didn’t mean I would release him, but I would try to socialize him and keep him indoors (I know this would be really difficult). My concern with that option is that I don’t know the role he plays in the colony, I know there’s a few other cats around but he’s the only one who comes to my patio and eats. I don’t want to disrupt the colony. So it seems my options are: 1. Keep feeding at my new apartment and hope he shows up. or 2. Trap him and potentially disrupt the colony (or just have a really upset cat)
    – livfrankk
    Jun 29 at 15:31
  • @livfrankk Keeping him indoors depends on whether he’s feral or stray. If he’s fixed, he wouldn’t be a dominant member of the colony unless (maybe) all of them are fixed. The real question is whether the same colony inhabits both places. If so, feel free to take him to your new place and release him next to a big dish of his favorite food.
    – StephenS
    Jun 29 at 15:36

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