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post #1 of 29 (permalink) Old 04-13-2007, 09:25 AM Thread Starter
 
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First time with TNVR...

I have a garage that is hosting 3 feral cats, a mom and two 9-month old kittens. Dad cat visits infrequently for food. I've been feeding them regularly since November. On Tuesday, I caught mom cat and took her to the vet to be spayed. He determined she had just whelped another litter of kittens in the last 12-24 hours, so I returned her home to her kittens (she whelped them somewhere else). That same afternoon, I caught the Tom cat! He was neutered and returned later that day.

The next two days yielded nothing....mama won't go near the traps (smart girl) and the two 9-month olds are very skittish. One of the "kittens" looked pregnant--and lo and behold, I went to the garage to set the traps this morning and I heard tiny squeeks. I think the 9-month old had kittens. In the meantime, I think the mom cat's litter died....she's been at my garage almost full-time since Tuesday and she doesn't look like she has any milk (no milk in when we took her to the vet on Tuesday).

What do I do? I'm hesitant to trap right now, because I don't want to catch the new mom. Is it safe to try and find the kittens and move them into a box in the same spot in the corner of the garage? I'm afraid her kittens are on the concrete floor (we're in Michigan with freezing temps). Help!
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post #2 of 29 (permalink) Old 04-13-2007, 09:56 AM
 
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Lord yes... get them off the garage floor. Even leave them in the same spot, just provide a box/blanket. I'm not sure about trapping the mother yet... just wait and see .. make certain she does not have a live litter somewhere else first. Keep us posted...
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post #3 of 29 (permalink) Old 04-13-2007, 10:09 AM Thread Starter
 
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helping new mother

So....it's safe to touch/handle the new kittens? I'm not even certain that she's done birthing.....I just heard tiny little squeeks.

Mama is hidden behind furniture/bicycles/etc, so it'll be disruptive to move stuff to find her. I do have a heated outdoor kennel pad (bought that for them this winter), which they often sit on to keep warm. It's out in the open, so I don't think mama wanted to have her babies there. I was thinking about installing the heated kennel pad into a box--good idea?
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post #4 of 29 (permalink) Old 04-13-2007, 04:39 PM
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That's worth a try. Or tempt mother cat to eat elsewhere and fix the box in a nice cozy, private place with the kennel pad and covers that you can change. You'll need to touch the kittens as often as possible, so that they become socialized. That way, when they're old enough, a shelter will take them and adopt them out...or you can do it! Good luck, and thank you for caring for this family.

I would wait for the birthing to be complete before touching the kittens, because Mother cat (if she's there) could attack you. If necessary, though, wear thick leather gloves. Poor babies. So many ferals! And not enough people who care for them. We have some great people here who do though, and you're one of them now!




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post #5 of 29 (permalink) Old 04-13-2007, 05:01 PM Thread Starter
 
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thanks for the advise....

The feral cats I have in my garage are very anti-social! When I took the older mama cat to the vet on Tuesday, the vet took her out of the trap to evaluate her, because I told him I was suspicious that she recently had kittens. I have NEVER seen a cat go so completely bonkers!! She was acting as if the exam room was a box and was literally scaling the walls. Everything went flying....syringes, the scale....it was complete pandamonium! I guess I share all of this because these feral cats don't seem even remotely approachable (unlike several other stories I've read in this forum today). I'm quite certain that her litter has died

Anyhow....I don't think that the 9-month old, whom I'm quite certain had her OWN litter today, will be any more friendly. When I go to the garage to feed them, they run and hide!

While waiting for replies to my post, I called my local humane society and the vet that neutered my mr. tom cat earlier this week. They suggested that since these cats are so distrustful, I may spook the new mom cat...which would lead to the newborn's demise.

Added to the chaos, we have a raccoon that has been visiting the garage to eat the cat food. We are now taking the cat food up before we go to bed....but, I'm fearful that mr. raccoon may go after the kittens.
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post #6 of 29 (permalink) Old 04-13-2007, 05:16 PM
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That's possible, unfortunately. If worse comes to worse, you could continue to trap, and hand raise the kittens. You can buy kitten milk and a bottle. Many people who care for ferals do that. It's important that the kittens get used to human beings.




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post #7 of 29 (permalink) Old 04-13-2007, 06:10 PM Thread Starter
 
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thanks for you input...

I certainly appreciate your feedback! I keep going over various scenarios with our situation. Today, I have seen the older mother cat go in and out of the garage. Would she help her 9-month old with her new kittens? Or....maybe she relocated HER kittens, too. She doesn't seem heavy with milk, however.....so, I fear the worst.

I have the traps tied in the open position and have placed their food just inside--so, for the next few days at least, they'll get more comfortable around the trap.

In the meantime, my house cats are perched at the window watching all the chaos. I don't know if the zoo lies in my garage....or, in my house!
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post #8 of 29 (permalink) Old 04-13-2007, 08:05 PM
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Would she help her 9-month old with her new kittens?
That's not far fetched. I saw a documentary on the Discovery Channel about barn cats, and it seems that cats are not the solitary animals we always thought they were. The barn cats were helping with the other females' kittens.

You know, you can only make the decision you think best. Right now, unless you find the Mother cats litter, it will be hard to tell if she's nursing...unless you get her to a vet. Then he could advise you. I understand your concerns, but it's a difficult situation. If you trap the mother of the kittens you know are nursing, you can tell the vet she has a litter, give them a couple of feedings, and get her back to them as soon as possible after spaying. I had to do this once with a pregnant stray who needed a c. section. The vet let her go home early, and I took care of the kittens until she got back. Her tiny newborns did not do any damage to her incision. Older kittens could, of course.




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post #9 of 29 (permalink) Old 04-13-2007, 08:23 PM Thread Starter
 
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That is all VERY useful information. One of the 'experts' I spoke with today thought that if I had a brand new mom spayed, it would dry-up her milk.

I was also VERY excited to read your comments about the possibility of joint-parenting. If ever a situation warranted that scenario, this is it!

I'm taking a 'break' from the trapping for a few days until I can sort this all out. In the meantime, I have the traps latched open and I'm placing the food in the door. After I trapped mom cat on Tuesday, she won't go anywhere near the trap....and I'm afraid her two 9-month olds are even more skittish.

I'm trying to time my trapping around the vet's hours. Our local organization, The Zimmer Foundation, gave me 4 vouchers to have them spayed/neutered, vaccinated, flea treatment. The vet agrees to whatever reimbursement the Zimmer Foundation offers. It's an unique arrangement and I feel very lucky to have a terrific willing vet and this organization behind me. Also, I'm grateful for your input. This is all very stressful!

One last question....do newborn kittens mew continuously? It was very quiet in the garage this afternoon when I put out fresh food.
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post #10 of 29 (permalink) Old 04-13-2007, 09:12 PM
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Mostly, new kittens eat and sleep. They cry if they lose a nipple, though.

You can't be sure about the joint parenting. This was a program about a group of barn cats who were always together. I would definitely get a bottle and kitten milk from the vet!

When you want to trap, it's best to camouflage the trap as well as you can, and skip a meal or two, if at all possible. (I'm thinking of the nursing mother, who needs more to eat than usual.) Some people skip an entire day. Perhaps you could close the garage with food inside for the new mother.

Move the traps to a different location, camouflage, and hide and watch. I hope all is well with the kittens. One thing you have to be careful about is feral males. They often kill kittens.

As for the cat I had with the C Section, that was my experience, and the vet approved. Of course, if your vet tells you not to spay her, don't do it. I don't consider myself an expert. I have learned from experience, reading, and watching educational videos.




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