Need advice for taking kitties from mother - Cat Forum : Cat Discussion Forums
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post #1 of 15 (permalink) Old 10-24-2007, 05:05 PM Thread Starter
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Need advice for taking kitties from mother

I'll try to be brief as possible, but the background is: I have a momma cat a/k/a Floppy) w/ 4 babies (7 1/2 wks old) staying under my deck for the past 3 wks. I put a small doghouse w/heated pad and fiber fill pad on the edge of the underside of the deck where they sleep, which keeps them toasty warm and out of the elements. I have been trying to wait until they are 9 wks. old to take them from momma. I documented their birthdate from Momma's obvious overnight tummy size change in her daily meal visits, so I know exactly when they were born). She has moved them twice since she moved them here, but brought them back after a couple days. Sad to say that her litter was 5 and on the last return, one baby was missing.

They come on the deck to eat, having learned that my "Kitty, Kitty" call means "soups on". I can pick up a couple of them, third is leary of me, fourth runs for under the deck until I leave and then she comes up to eat.
My plan was to bring them in and keep them inside until I can find good homes for them, hopefully at 9 wks. They are all eating canned food that I put out twice a day and eating some dry food. They don't seem to try to nurse Momma when they are all on the deck, but I know that she is still nursing them. I plan to suppliment their food w/canned milk (from vet) for several days. Should I do this?

I don't know if I can pull off getting all of them when they are on the deck. I'm afraid that the 2 reluctant babies will head for under the deck and Momma will move them if I take the other 2 from her. I'm very concerned with what kind of reaction I will get from Momma. What can I expect?

She is an excellent mother. She doesn't leave them alone only to go out in our treeline to do her business, and quickly returns to the litter, so I don't have that option of waiting for her to be gone for awhile. She isn't bothered by me touching or picking up the babies, but is very watchful and stays nearby. I don't know how she would react if I took one inside the house.

History of Momma: She is an old cat... had 3 litters last yr. Probably is responsible for most of ferals in the neighborhood. She has been coming to my house for the past 3 yrs. to eat daily, but I've never been able to capture her to get her spayed or capture her babies. She's too saavy to go in a live trap. I am determined to get her spayed after she has finished nursing this litter. Only in the past couple months would she allow me to touch her. She tolerates it, but, because of her long, hard life in the wild, she doesn't react positively by human contact.

The only way I could be assured of getting all 4 is if I could put something on the front of the doghouse door opening to keep the kitties inside and take the doghouse inside, hoping that none of them would run out of the house before I could accomplish this.

Last Nov. I brought in another feral "Momma Kitty" with her 4 wk. old litter of 4 and kept them until they were 10 wks. old, (kept one baby) had her spayed and Momma Kitty, (now "Molly") joined our feline family of 3 former ferals and a Ragdoll. She is the most lovey, wonderful kitty ever. Thanks to all the help and advice I received on this forum, I was able to get Molly's babies socialized and ready for going to wonderful homes.

So, once again, I come to the experts for good advice. , which is greatly appreciated.

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post #2 of 15 (permalink) Old 10-24-2007, 05:42 PM Thread Starter
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Here's Molly (Momma Kitty) and her babies

Talking about my first experience last year with fostering a litter, I just had to post my photo gallery of Molly and her babies. Some of you frequent forum participants might remember my saga with Momma Kitty and her babies. I would never keep kitties as long as I did Molly's litter (6 weeks). I got way too emotionally attached to those babies. Giving them up was devastating! We're talking a complete bawling meltdown when they left. They all went to loving homes and I was very selective to who adopted them.

I am concerned that Floppy's litter might be difficult to find homes for. They are all black and black cats get a bad rap, IMO. I do have one promised to my hair dresser. I am going to try to convince her that two kitties are just as easy as one and they need a companion. Don't know if I can convince her, but I'm gonna try anyway.

Bobbie ... s&page=all

Click on the thumbnails to view larger photos and then NEXt to continue to other photos. They are so, so cute and were so much fun to watch their antics. What is sweeter and more fun than baby kitties?
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post #3 of 15 (permalink) Old 10-24-2007, 06:22 PM
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I think 7.5 weeks is okay to take the kittens, especially with the situation you are dealing with; possible move and ability to get NO kittens if you wait.
If you can get them all, I'd say go for it. Get Mamma into a carrier and spayed/returned asap and then deal with taming the kittens indoors in a bathroom. I have taken a litter that was about 6 weeks, though they were able to be conditioned, tamed and raised with a slightly older litter, too.

IMO, domesticated kitties, leave the babies with the mamma's. Feral litters, take the babies when you are assured of success. Don't feel bad, you aren't doing this to be 'mean', you are doing it to assure their future lives and prevent other ferals being born.

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post #4 of 15 (permalink) Old 10-24-2007, 07:04 PM Thread Starter
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Question about time for spaying

Heidi>>Get Mamma into a carrier and spayed/returned asap and then deal with taming the kittens indoors in a bathroom.>>

But, don't I have to wait 2 weeks after nursing ceases for her to dry up to have her spayed? At least, that is what my Vet told me.

My experience with the litter I fostered last year was so different because I had Momma inside with the babies and was able to observe when she stopped nursing the babies (8 weeks) and it worked out that the kitties were 10 weeks old and ready for adoption when she could be spayed. When she returned home to recuperate, the kitties were gone. She didn't seem to be disturbed by their absence, so everything went well.

I worry that this mother will miss the kitties when I take them and go searching for them. I know I may be worrying way too much. Caring for litters is old hat with this ole gal and who knows, she may be glad to have someone else take care of her kids. That's why she brought them here, isn't it? I guess I should feel honored that she moved her family to my house, knowing that I would furnish nice warm housing and dependable, delicious meals. Who could pass that up?

With her past litters, she would bring one at a time to my house in the morning, leave them here for the day, enjoying a meal, hanging out under the deck until she returned in the evening to take them back to her nesting location several blocks away. One liked it here so well, he made his home under our deck and at 7 months decided he wanted to move in. Our first ever cat, Sammy.

I just want to be sure that I can get all 4 and not have to worry about leaving a couple of them outside and have Momma move them. I guess I had better get my plan ready to enact when the opportunity presents itself.]

Thanks for the reply, Heidi.

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post #5 of 15 (permalink) Old 10-24-2007, 08:29 PM
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Re: Question about time for spaying

Originally Posted by bobbimcd
...don't I have to wait 2 weeks after nursing ceases for her to dry up to have her spayed? At least, that is what my Vet told me.
No. It is strictly vet preference.
Cesarian births are done and the kittens/puppies are put with mother right away. I don't see any reason why this can't be reversed and done when the kittens AREN'T there to bother the stitches. Yes, the milk glands will swell and be uncomfortable, but spaying can still be done.

Malibu was feral and had a litter under my shed. I began feeding them canned food at about 4 weeks old. I fed them for a few weeks, maybe 3, and then she moved them. I was heartsick as I didn't see Malibu, either. One month later (kittens about 8 weeks old) I saw them all playing on my front porch as Malibu sat in one of the chairs and supervised them playing among my plants. I began putting food out in the morning. On the 4th or 5th morning, I put the food in my garage and left the garage door open about 12". When I thought they were all in the garage, I quietly exited the front door and knelt down to see all 4 kittens and Malibu eating at the plate.
I pressed the garage door button and closed the door those last 12", effectively trapping them all. I fed them in there for about 2 weeks before I finally got ahold of a place that would spay Malibu. I trapped the four kittens (now about 10 or 11 weeks old) and put them in my bathroom to tame and trapped Malibu the next day and took her to the organization. They kept her for about 3 days, to be sure her stitches had healed enough for release and then I picked her up and turned her loose on my property. She did go around my house, calling, until she found the bathroom window the kittens were at but there was no way for her to reach them, or them to reach her. I spoke with her and told her they were doing fine and would get good homes.
Eventually, she quieted, but it took a few days. It look longer to 'tame' her. But after about 7 months, she would let me pet her. Another year and she would come into the house and now she is an indoor/outdoor cat who spends more and more time indoors. She sleeps on my head every night since last year when she got very sick and I almost lost her.

So, no, spaying does not have to wait. If you do wait, you run the risk of Mamma cat leaving to get pregnant and not returning until she needs your food for her family. Myself, I would trap/spay at a moment's notice to prevent more litters. I wish more vets would understand the need and not have such hard/fast rules. Rules are nice for kitties that can be controlled, ferals need to be done on an opportunistic approach; whenever, wherever it can be it.

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post #6 of 15 (permalink) Old 10-24-2007, 09:06 PM Thread Starter
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You gave me a do-able plan idea, Heidi

Heidi, Thanks for sharing your experience. I'll call my Vet in the morning and see what he says about the timing for spaying. I would definitely have it done immediately if he would do it. My vet keeps the females for three days, which will give her time to partially start healing. If she is in discomfort with painful breasts, they can give her meds to relieve the pain, thankfully.

Heidi says>>She did go around my house, calling, until she found the bathroom window the kittens were at but there was no way for her to reach them, or them to reach her. I spoke with her and told her they were doing fine and would get good homes. Eventually, she quieted, but it took a few days. >>

That is what would break my heart. My brain is saying I would be doing the right thing to take them away from her now, but my heart would break for her missing her babies.

My concern is that she never leaves the kitties, so I would have to remove them in her presence and she would know that I have taken them and try to get in the house. She sits by the sliding door when she wants to be fed or just have my attention and if she wants to come in, she can sneak thru the smallest door opening, no matter how careful I am in opening the slider.

Your experience in capturing the kitties in the garage has helped me come up with a do-able plan that will require my husband to help with. If he can get Floppy caught and in a travel crate to take to the Vet, while I have the kittens confined to their little house, we can move them inside and she won't know that they are there.

If the Vet gives us the okay for Floppy to have surgery right away, I'm really going to be on high alert tomorrow to go with this plan. I know she has to have an empty stomach before surgery, so she is going to have to stay overnight before they can do the surgery the following day. My Vet requires a Feline leukemia test before they do surgery, so they will have to test her first. I don't think she is going to like being confined and will not be a happy camper.

Thanks again, Heidi. I'll keep you posted.

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post #7 of 15 (permalink) Old 10-25-2007, 12:04 AM
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Wow! Sounds like you have a great plan to get them all caught and taken care of, much better than what I had to doto trap my first litter.

I have cared for other mothers/litters after Mallie. While I had Malibu's litter in my bathroom, another mother cat moved her 3 babies to the shed and I was able to catch them. I saw them playing and went down with a carrier and walked up and shut myself into the shed. I herded them around the shed until they all went into the carrier to 'hide' and took them to the house. They were younger by a few weeks than Mallie's litter, but they all did well together. I never saw that mother cat again.

The first adult one to come along after Malibu, was a pregnant black kitty (Shadow) who let me pick her up. I readied my bathroom and went to the shed the next morning with a carrier and was able to put her into it and take her to the bathroom. She kittened 10 days later. A few weeks after, another pregnant feral I was trying to trap kittened outdoors before I could trap her. She died in the road in front of my house when her litter was only 9 days old and it took me 2 days to find them. Shadow would not accept them, but would let them nurse for 10-15 minutes if I asked her to. It was just long enough for me to get them all switched to Kitten Milk Replacer and a bottle.
The next adult cat brought me her two 8-9wk old kittens in a rainstorm to my front door. By that time, Shadow's kittens were adopted and the new Mamma and her 2 were put in with Shadow, who got along with them very well. Adoption day and everyone was adopted except Shadow, who was very scared from the process, so we kept her. I bottle raised a litter of 3 (2-3wks old?) who were found in a house being built. Friends couldn't catch the feral mother.

I had two juvenile cats hanging around, a brother and sister. I think the neighbor's dogs killed the brother and a local tomcat got Pretty pregnant. She had a litter of 5 and was hugely pregnant when her 1st litter was about 10wks old. I trapped her litter in a livetrap and took them to my bathroom. I trapped Pretty the next day and took her to be spayed/aborted. I felt bad about her 2nd litter, but I had no place to keep her 1st litter AND a place to allow her to kitten the 2nd litter. She was returned to me after 3 days and did well. It took 14 months before she'd let me touch her, but now I can pick her up for short periods of time or she will sit in my lap for lovies for longer periods of time.

Save what I can and prevent more from being born.

I've also gotten a few male cats neutered, one being Dusty, who got Pretty pregnant. He is now a part-time housecat. He'd be fulltime, but Pretty needs company and he won't use a litterbox so needs access to outdoors regularly.

I swear, we must have a sign over our house that the needy cats can read.

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post #8 of 15 (permalink) Old 10-25-2007, 12:36 AM
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Bobbi says >>That is what would break my heart. My brain is saying I would be doing the right thing to take them away from her now, but my heart would break for her missing her babies. >>>

I know how you feel. Although Libby was in the midst of me taking her babies away, even got in the way, she spent the next two weeks calling them. There were times that I tried to work out in my head how to let her inside to be with the babies or the babies outside with her. I just kept telling her and myself to shut up and think of the babies. It was a rough two weeks for everyone. We got through it. She got over it quicker than I did.

It's so sad, but the mother does forget her kittens were ever born if she doesn't have their scent. Libby still grooms her 1st kitten, Grin, outside on the patio, but if her son, Tybalt, from the litter that I took even gets near the window, she hisses at him. She has no idea that he is the baby that she cried about for two weeks.

Good luck to you.
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post #9 of 15 (permalink) Old 10-25-2007, 11:55 AM
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Good luck with your rescue, Bobbie! I agree, it sounds like this is well-thought-out on your part. I hope everything goes smoothly.

That's interesting info about the spay timing, because I've also been told that the 2 weeks is an ironclad rule, both by the Humane Society and the spay/neuter clinic I go to.

I agree that it feels awful to take the kittens from the mother. But nature has given her the ability to cope and recover. If you didn't intervene, chances are she would lose some of them anyway (awful as that is to contemplate), and she would have to cope with that instead. So please hang in there and keep doing what you're doing!

I've only taken kittens twice, but from the same mother cat. I don't know how she reacted with the first litter because she was still in the wild. But the second time I caught mom and baby together. At first I left them together and just took the kitten out a lot, which made the mom frantically upset every time. Eventually I had to take the kitten away altogether, and within 24 hours, mom had totally relaxed. It was like she was relieved that it was over. Three weeks later, I let her see the kitten again, and she didn't even recognize her. But both are in happy homes now (mom is now my kitty, Gladys), so it was all for the best.
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post #10 of 15 (permalink) Old 10-27-2007, 11:12 AM Thread Starter
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The plan is not going well.....

Called the vet about spaying Momma now, while still nursing. They won't do it until 2 wks. after nursing has ceased. She explained that the mallary glands have lots of blood vessels that are severed in surgery, lots of bleeding, very painful and slower recovery for Momma. So, we decided to capture the babies now and hope we can catch Momma in a couple weeks.

No opportunity to get kitties in the early a.m yesterday. About mid-morning, I noticed Momma was in the backyard, calling for the kitties to come to her. I'm sure that she was going to move them back to the nesting site, possibly to teach them to hunt. They were so busy playing in the grass, attempting to climb a tree and chasing each other, they ignored her. I decided that I'd better hang out of the deck to be sure that she didn't get them rounded up. We have a golf fareway right behind our property, so Momma had to wait for each group of golfers to pass by before she could have an all clear to lead the kitties across the fareway to trek across several more fareways to get close to the her nesting site, even cross a kinda busy road. <sigh>

I stayed out on the deck and every time she would get a kitty to come to her, I would walk out toward Momma and the kitty would retreat to under the deck. She was getting very frustrated with her willful kitties not minding her, to say nothing of the evil looks she gave me for interferring. Over the course of several hours, she came back on the deck several times and was drinking an incessantly large quantity of water and lots of dry food, when I knew she had to be full. The past few days, she has been constantly eating, everytime she is near food, she just eats and eats. I saw that she had three bouts of diarrhea while I was watching her.

So.... I called the vet and he wanted me to catch her and bring her in to stay for 2 or 3 days for them to examine, treat her and get her on a high fiber diet to relieve the diarrhea. He said her overeating is due to her trying to produce enough milk for the 4 kitties. I can't stress how much she's been eating....... is that normal? The diarrhea and excessvie water intake is a big concern. I hope it isn't anything serious. With the more pressing developments, we shifted gears to try to capture her, take her to the vet and then catch the babies.

Thankfully, the lawn service arrived about 1:30 to mow and trim the yard, so she gave up on moving the kitties. By now, they were hunkering under the deck, frightened by the loud mower. We tried for 2 hours or more to lure Momma to come close enough for me to try to pick her up and put her in a carrier (hidden from her view), but she seemed to sense something bad was going on and soon became very leary, keeping a safe distance from me. When I saw that we couldn't catch her in time to get her to the Vet office before they closed, I gave up for the night, hoping we'd have better luck this morning.

Hubby fed Momma and babies about 5:30 a.m. this morning and when I got up about 15 mins. later, they were gone. Still pitch dark out, massive dew on the grass and a long, long way for those little babies to go, trying to keep up with Momma. They had to be soaked and freezing in the cold morning temps. I pray that one of them doesn't get separated from her and is left to fend for themselves. She lost one last weekend when she took the 5 kitties somewhere for a couple days; returned with 4. <sigh> Obviously, she was ****-bent to take them somewhere else, for whatever reason, I can only guess. I am so mad at her right now. I just pray that she will return with them tonight. Keep you posted.

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