Feral family in my yard - Cat Forum : Cat Discussion Forums
 
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-11-2009, 10:35 AM Thread Starter
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Feral family in my yard

We've been watching and feeding a feral family in our yard for many weeks. We would love to get the five kittens and Mom a good home but they are feral and we can't get close to them. We've watched the Mom nurture her babies and play with with them. They seem to be about 12 weeks old and the Mom had disappeared for a couple weeks and now has just returned looking pregnant again! She is afraid of her own kittens. She slinks around to avoid them and if they run to her, she hisses and bats them away. Is this normal behavior? Why then aren't the kittens wary of the mom?
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-11-2009, 01:16 PM
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Re: Feral family in my yard

The kittens aren't wary of their Mom, because she's their *Mom*. The Mom is forcibly keeping the kittens away from her to protect her resources (her time, attention, shelter and food) for this up-coming litter.

Weaning isn't only about transitioning the young from mother's milk to solid food, it is making the young Go Away so the mother can birth/raise the next litter without having to battle them for resources of shelter and food. Some mother animals can appear 'brutal' when they are chasing their previous litters away. IMO, what you are seeing is pretty mild.

Can you TNR everyone? You may be facing the problem *I* faced several years ago when I began feeding the stray/feral cats behind my shed. They were getting pregnant and I realized by feeding them, I was assuring better health/nutrition so more kittens would survive to adulthood. And bring their kittens to my feeding station. And more and more of those kittens/cats would be surviving. And I'd have to feed more and more to prevent any from going hungry. Until I reached a financial limit where I could *not* put out more food. Then the strong would eat, the weak would not and death would claim the ones who were not scrappy/old enough to fight for their portion of food. Then the numbers would dwindle until food was plentiful (for the surviving numbers) and the cycle would begin again.
I contacted a TNR program and was able to trap, spay and neuter every cat. All kittens were fostered and tamed by me to go through the adoption program of the TNR place that helped me and I kept all but one of the adult ferals (she was friendly, so she had to be stray and not feral), eventually I was able to tame all of those adult ferals who were TNR's and they are now my happy indoor housecats.
Best of luck to you,
heidi =^..^=



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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-11-2009, 02:18 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Feral family in my yard

Yes, I just told my daughter that I think we're going to have to call the TNR lady. Of course, she wants to keep every single one of them! I contacted this no-kill association when I first noticed the kittens. They told me that their kitten room was filled and couldn't take anymore. They asked if I could foster them until permanent homes were found. I have 5 cats myself and also as I said, we aren't able to get close enough to them for capture. It would have to be done through traps. So I, too, thought by feeding them I was helping them become healthier, stronger adults. I also knew that eventually as they matured I was going to have a greater problem on my hands. The dad cat is also around all the time. And as they all mature, it's going to get pretty territorial at the food dishes! It would probably be better, too, if the momcat were caught before she gives birth again. Oh, I wish this weren't up to me, but I don't think anyone else in my neighborhood has this much compassion for animals.
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-11-2009, 06:19 PM
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Re: Feral family in my yard

Quote:
Originally Posted by sdk1406
Oh, I wish this weren't up to me, but I don't think anyone else in my neighborhood has this much compassion for animals.
Sadly, that is also the story of my life. I hear you...
We currently have 8 housecats of our own, but I have had as many as a dozen and I still fostered, BUT, we don't have children so it was fairly easy to isolate the fosters from our own cats and keep everyone happy with attention and handling the fosters to get them ready for adoption. I also had to use a humane trap to catch most of the kitten litters and adult cats. I had so many cats around our property, I just bought my own trap so I didn't have to wait on one I could 'rent' from Animal Control.
Best of luck to you...
heidi =^..^=

If you do decide to foster, here is how I was able to reconcile loving these little babies and then having to give them up.
#1. They are not mine. They belong to the Cat Rescue I foster for.
#2. I am doing an important job. I am preparing these kittens/cats for their new lives with adoptive families and every skill and situation I can help them encounter and grow comfortable with, increases their chances of a quick adoption and being a well adjusted and happy family cat.



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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-11-2009, 06:59 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Feral family in my yard

Can all ferals be tamed or is there an age when it would be too difficult? Any special ways to tame them or just time and TLC?
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-11-2009, 11:07 PM
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Re: Feral family in my yard

In my heart, I'm gonna say all can be tamed. In my head, I know that cannot be true. However, I have managed to tame *every* feral cat that has crossed my path. This is not to say it doesn't come without challenges.
First, all of the adult ferals I have tamed...I did so *outside* with absolutely NO constraints on the kitty until it allowed me close enough to touch, pet and hold. After the allowed me to handle them outside, I then began to introduce them to the inside cats via holding the back door open 2" for nose-sniffs and some footsie. When there was no more hissing, then I allowed them to poke their head inside and/or come in, if they wished.
The longest I have had to work with a feral was Pretty (Pretty Green Eyes, from my husband saying "that pretty green-eyed cat is here again"). I trapped her first litter to tame/socialize and they were all (4) adopted to homes in pairs. Then I TNR'd Pretty. Unfortunately, she was hugely pregnant and the cat association I work with spays all ferals because they have not had good success with trying to keep a feral mother contained to birth/raise her litter in captivity. I do not know if they were delivered C-section as they spayed her and hand-raised or if they were aborted, and I really don't want to know. Anyhow, it took 14mo from the time of TNR before she would let me *touch* her fur. Not even a real 'pet' along her fur, just a slight brush of my finger on her fur before she would scoot/scurry out of reach.
To make Pretty's long story, short: It took about 4yrs to turn her from a flighty feral into a calm and relaxed housecat that my husband or any visitor can handle. In my experience, Pretty has been the most challenging. Every other feral was comfortable with being handled after 5-8 months of working with them. Adult cats *will* take more time and patience. Kittens are easier/quicker, however there is a "cut-off" age for kittens that most rescues will not accept past...but I have taken older kittens and successfully tamed and socialized them.
Kittens of about 3-6mo are at the critical age of their life where in nature, it is "do" or "die" and they either become independent and self-sufficient, or they die. ...but that independent and self-suffiecient attitude can make taming and socializing much more difficult to work through the barriers the kitten/cat has put up to protect itself and survive.
Here is a link to some information I have put together about how I work my foster cats. I foster friendly kittens, poorly socialized adult and sub-adult cats and completely feral kittens and adult cats. Each requires a little different approach, but the overall theme remains the same: Advance/Retreat. Ask for a 'little more' with each handling session. Do not overload the cat with sensory input. Short and frequent handling sessions are best at first. Allow the cat time between sessions to process what happened while it was being handled and keep building on that. You want to make forward progress and you especially want to avoid any negative encounters that will set the cat back. You cannot (and should not) "force" an animal to do something, but my overall goal is to gently 'show' the cat how things can be better when they have people-interaction to give them confidence within themselves and be able to become happy and well-adjusted housecats.
This requires patience and dedication, but it can be so very rewarding to see a cat finally open themselves up to you. You also need to *read* the cat very carfefully, so you know exactly how far you can go with the cat and how far you can take the cat, with every session. Just keep building on The Good Things and try to avoid anything "bad".
I hope I haven't scared you off!
heidi



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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-11-2009, 11:23 PM
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Re: Feral family in my yard

A link to pics of my fosters:
viewtopic.php?f=22&t=56968

My last foster cat:
viewtopic.php?f=22&t=57026

...I found a thread about Pretty. As a comparison, she was TNR'd at the very end of December 2004 and this post was from 2008, about her beginning to be comfortable inside. She became permanantly inside Jan/Feb of this year, 2009.
viewtopic.php?f=22&t=46882

Kitty Cat Boot Camp
viewtopic.php?f=2&t=60586

Regarding the KCBC. There is a lot of information there, about techniques I developed on my own and philosophies I learned from professionals, both on-line and through the Cat Foster Program I work with. I believe the theme and goals are consistent throughout, but there will be areas that won't apply to you or your cats, or things you may wish to do differently. There is no right or wrong way to do this; other than you don't want to frighten or traumatize the cat and above all: you want the cat and yourself to remain safe...you just want to make steady forward progress and try to keep this as low-key and low-stress for the cat as possible so the experiences it has are all good ones that it can build its' trust with people on.
Good luck, and I'll answer any questions you may have. Hopefully Mitts & Tess will see this and chime in. She works extensively with feral cats and her advice here would be invaluable. In addition, I would trust any articles written through the "LittleBigCat" and "MuttCats" websites.
Heidi



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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-12-2009, 11:33 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Feral family in my yard

Thank you so much for your help! And thank you, too, for what you do for these special, lucky cats and kittens. I enjoyed looking at all their pictures. My first fear when I find any cat or kitten outside is of them having FeLv. We do have one cat that was most likely a feral, but we found him when he was about 5-7 weeks old. He was very sick and starving. He looks just like your Bella. We always keep any new cats quarantined until we get them checked at the vet. One probably wouldn't be a problem, but five or six?? I'm thinking about the vet bills, too. I don't know how I'm going to go about this, but I know something needs to be done. I think these kittens are about 3 months now.
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-12-2009, 04:22 PM
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Re: Feral family in my yard

I don't pay for any veterinary things for my fosters. The program I foster for pays for all of that. My job is to provide a home environment and supply all food/litter/toys and my time/effort to socialize the cats. It is also my responsibility to shuttle the cats to/from their medical appointments (de-worming/vaccination and s/n) but I don't pay for any of the veterinary costs.
See if you can get accepted into your local cat rescue/adoption centers and/or see if any feral/rescue organizations will help you with costs.
Best of luck,
heidi =^..^=



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