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I think one of the five stray cats that visit my verandah has taken a liking to me and she hung around for a really long time (45+ minutes) staring at me through my large glass windows AFTER she had been fed. She looked playful and was pouncing around and meowing a lot.

I really like this cat a lot but my apartment contract doesn't allow pets on the premises. My landlord is however sympathetic to stray cats.

My question is, I would eventually like to take this cat in as the time progresses and bring it back to the United States with me in 2015 (I am in France right now for a year). I understand the paperwork necessary for this. My question focusses on the "integration" part of a separate answer here.

However, in the time being, how should I "adopt" this cat without necessarily letting her into my house? If I don't let her into my house, would this cat see this as "being shut out of my life" and leave for good? Or would she continue to come back to me as we have a "feeding cadence" of twice a day now. Also, I have always considered cats to be rather intelligent creatures (this one is a tuxedo cat). Would my forced indifference towards her translate into rudeness in cat language?

I am afraid that if I do leave on a mandatory 1 month trip next month, she will think I am gone for good and leave.

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She does at the moment look to you as a friendly food source.

A 1 month hiatus will definitely disrupt her routine and she will likely look elsewhere. That doesn't necessarily mean she won't ever come back, but it wouldn't be on a daily basis if there is no one home and no food.

Rudeness wouldn't be a factor but she may have a bout of panic as her routine would then require readjustment and she would have to look elsewhere for food.

Being a stable horse is definitely in your best interest here. Perhaps you can reach an understanding with your landlord regarding this issue and he may allow you to keep the cat indoors until you depart for good.

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Speaking from a very similar experience here: landlady didn’t allow animals in the house because of allergens (also some fear of her curtains and leather couch being scratched) but she was OK with the cat being kept outside. Often I would come home, or open the door, and the cat would already come running towards me. Some playing/petting outside helps reinforce the bond.

First of all I recommend talking to your landlord to find a solution. If he is friendly towards stray cats, chances are he won’t insist on the contract being followed to the letter. His main concern might be cat allergens in the apartment, which are hard to get rid of once you move out. If the next tenant is allergic, that may become an issue—even more so if the apartment is furnished, as there are much more soft surfaces where cat hair can survive. Keeping/feeding the cat outside might be less of an issue than letting the cat into the apartment.

While cats bond with humans, they are primarily territorial animals and attached to their home. If you are going to be away for a month, the best way to go probably is to get someone to feed the cat at your place (i.e. usual feeding location). That way the cat will stay in the same territory and should easily adapt to your return.

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