spock: logic is sexy

Cat advice, please

Cat owners, I need your help! The boy and I never intended to adopt a cat, but when one was crying in the cold on our porch last night, we didn't have the heart to let it freeze to death. She is happily ensconced in a box in our garage now, wolfing down various leftovers from our fridge. The thing is...she can never come in the house. The boy has severe asthma exacerbated by animal dander, and no amount of allergy shampoo or HEPA filters will change that (he tried in his younger days, and it didn't work).

How can I keep this cat reasonably content in the garage until a better home can be found? I have tried letting her out to explore several times, but she won't even go near the door. I am also trying to spend as much time with her as I can, but obviously, I can't live in the garage all day. What kind of toys or equipment do you think she would like?

What if I can't find her a new home? Do you think being a garage kitty is a workable long-term option?
Has she been completely abandoned or could there be someone looking for her? If you can get her to the vet they can check if she's micro-chipped. Cats are smart, she might hunker down for the winter if she's kept warm and fed and run away as soon as spring hits.

The usual cat toys, cat food, etc you can find in a cat aisle at the pet store should be fine. Cats love boxes more than anything so if you're on a budget just find a bunch of boxes in different sizes and she'll be entertained for a decade.

A long-term home in your garage is probably not ideal for the reason that even if she's out there, if you play, cuddle and snuggle the cat, you're bound to introduce cat dander into the house.
She is so affectionate that she had to belong to someone, but she looks like she's been on her own for awhile. I hope that she is someone's beloved pet, but since she looks about nine months old, I'm guessing someone got her as a kitten and dumped her when she became a cat. I am going to take her to the vet, partly to look for a microchip and partly to treat the bald spot she keeps picking at.

That's a good idea to get boxes and bags! Actually, there are a lot in the garage already, so that might be why she seems so happy out there. I'm worried I'm doing something cruel by keeping her confined to the garage, but I guess that's much less cruel than leaving her to freeze or taking her to the shelter.

Thanks for the advice!
Long term, a garage home is not ideal unless you're willing to always leave the door cracked open so she can come and go as she pleases. Then I suppose she would be sort of the urban analog of a barn cat, and they seem to love their lives. But do bear in mind that the life span of outdoor cats is quite short: dogs, cars, coyotes, idiot people who leave out traps or poison, injury -- there are many hazards, sadly.

Also as someone else said, if you smooch her and love on her, you will bring dander into the house no matter how you try. Depending on how allergic your boy is, that may be hazardous. Excellent idea to check for micro-chipping, and if she doesn't have a home you can always advertise at work, school, neighborhood, and maybe find her a family.
You can play with the kitty without smooching her. Kitties really enjoy chasing things on a long stick or string. You can make cat toys yourself out of an old sock on a string or you can buy them -- they don't care. :)

You can also stroke the kitty and then carefully wash your hands. This is how I manage my allergy after touching kitties. Just remember to wash hands right away after re-entering the house, and don't touch the kitty except with your hands.

It would not be my instinct to let her out of the garage, but you might try a harness leash. That way you could take her out under controlled circumstances. Dog owners have to do it; no reason why cat owners can't. :)

Keep your eyes and ears open for a new home and something will come along.
If there are other stray cats in the area, she may be safer in the garage for now. I let a stray set up shop on my porch once but he attracted other male cats who wanted to attack him. I had two cats already and wasn't ready to tame a feral cat, so I made him as comfortable as I could and chased away the others when I had the chance. It's really not a safe life for them unfortunately. :(

If she's domesticated, if you can keep her safe and maybe get her to the vet for some treatment, I bet you could find her a home. It's really good of you to care and want to help her. Good luck to both of you.
All good advice to which I'll add--be very very careful with potential bad things in the garage, especially like antifreeze or things the kitty could get trapped in/under.
The vet might have a line on no-kill cat shelters, rescue groups, and foster families; I'd start there, and then I'd run a search for same in your area. I'd also place a found ad in the local paper; often, they'll give you the first week for free. And is there a Humane Society nearby that isn't overburdened to the point that it's putting down animals?
Oh, and papers will usually have an option to post found ads on line, which is worth doing. Whenever Shog and I find an animal, I first call our Humane Society and Animal Control with the details of the pet because people looking often contact them first. I then call the paper and place a found add in all the local editions and online. After that, I place found ads on all the relevant sites, and call the closest vets to give a description of the animal. Sometimes I'll put up flyers, but usually, Animal Control or the Humane Society calls us back within the day to tell us the owners have been in touch. Good luck!
Sorry to spam you, but I just had a thought: when you take kitty to the vet, have the tech check her for a chip.