3 Feral Kittens Hiding in my Store - Cat Forum : Cat Discussion Forums
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post #1 of 40 (permalink) Old 12-18-2007, 03:51 PM Thread Starter
 
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3 Feral Kittens Hiding in my Store

My first time posting here, so here's a short intro. I am 57 y/o, and for the first 53 years of my life I couldn't stand cats! I have a wholesale business in the inner city, and a vacant yard behind the store. There's a 10' wall all around it. One day a scrawney looking cat showed up at the back door. I got a can of cat food from the corner store and fed it. I cat loving friend of mine told me he could promise me 2 things. First, if I fed the cat it would keep coming back. This I believed. The 2nd was that if it kept coming back I would get attached to it. Not me! Not possible! But it was. Some kittens came along shortly after that and when it got cold I let them come in. They stayed in our vacant basement until they got brave enough to venture upstairs to the business. All 3 had FL - 1 made it almost a year, the 2nd 2½ years and the 3rd just died last month. In addition, all this time I've been feeding a small colony of 6-10 ferals every day for the last 4 years.

Here's my problem. After "Little Girl" died a month ago, one of my employees and I decided to bring in some others. The ferals trust both of us. We can barely walk outside to feed them because they are meowing and running back and forth between our feet. But there were 3 new kittens - out of a litter of 5 -abandoned by their mother who were still distrustful. One of them got in here about a month ago, but the other 2 ran out. I didn't want to separate them, so I lured the other 2 back inside. I expected the same routine in them getting to know us as we had with the other three 4 years ago. But things aren't working out that way. Other than 1 or 2 rare sightings, we haven't seen hide nor hair of them! I know they're alive since they eat like horses! I lay out the food before we leave at 5PM, and when we open up again at 7AM the next morning, the food is gone. They play with the toys I leave out for them, and I keep six 7½ gal litter boxes downstairs, each filled with about 40 lbs of litter. They are using it regularly - at least some of them are.

Several times a week, I have to locate and clean up feces from one of them, and the male(s) keeps spraying. I tried not feeding them for a couple days and expected they'd come out to eat on Sunday. I stayed here for hours but to no avail. I didn't want to starve them any more, so I left out tons of food, all of which was gone Monday morning. I have to capture them, to at least get them s/n. I have two new humane traps I bought, but I am not here at night when they'll be trapped, nor can I leave to get them to a vet when I get here in the morning.

While they were still outside, they mingled well with the three 1 y/o cats out back. I've been thinking about bringing in 2 of them who are very friendly. Along with having 2 cats I can actually play with, I thought the 2 older ones might draw out the kittens. As I said, they got along just fine for the first few weeks they were outside.

A lot of info, but am I barking up the wrong tree with this idea?
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post #2 of 40 (permalink) Old 12-18-2007, 04:41 PM
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Ronnie, thank you for caring for these cats and kittens. You are keeping them alive. As for the kittens that hide, it is impossible to say how they will react to the other kittens. It's quite possible that they will get friendlier when they see that the older group trusts you. However, I can't assure you of that. It takes a lot of patience, and you were on the right track with the food.

The routine for socializing a feral is normally to keep them in a room which they cannot leave, and sit quietly, as you have done, but ideally, it should be done several times a day. (I know this is hard in your situation, but you will have a better chance of taming these babies if they are totally dependent on you.) You can't do weekends, I assume. That would be ideal. Normally, you would place the food far from yourself, dim the room, play some soft music, and just sit. Everything should be at the cat or kittens' pace. Never rush. Periodically, according to the kittens' actions, move the feeding dish a tiny bit closer to you.

When the kittens get a bit braver, treats and interactive toys, like da Bird, (something that can be played with a kitten who is at a bit of a distance, ) will help you to earn the kittens' trust. Be sure to do everything in response to the kittens' reactions; do not rush anything. Eventually, perhaps days, weeks, or longer, depending on the age of the kittens, they will gradually approach you. Do not pet the kitten until you are positive it wants to be touched. I know this sounds long and dragged out, but it has the best chance of working. Grown cats would take much longer than kittens, but the routine is the same...gradually and gently, allowing the cat to set the pace.

I so hope this can be accomplished! I would get in touch with alleycatallies.com for more hints and suggestions. It is also extremely important to get these cats and kittens spayed and neutered, and there are organizations who will help. Try some of those listed in your state at the top of this page, and call the Humane Society, (but don't give too much info. You don't want to have them put to sleep!) Just ask if there is a program for TNR closeby. That is, trap/neuter/return

There is a link at the top of this page, in fact many links that can help you in different ways, but this one is about low cost neutering by state. I wish you the very best. Please let us know how the project is progressing. We have some very knowledgable people here who will help you, and truly care. I wish you the very best! Please keep us updated.

Cats have a way of worming their way into people's hearts. I'm so glad you're one of those people. God bless, and thanks!




Jeanie

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post #3 of 40 (permalink) Old 12-18-2007, 05:27 PM Thread Starter
 
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Actually, weekends are good. I travel back to this store every day - including weekends - to feed the ferals outside. Blizzards, holidays - whatever! I don't like to leave the canned food out after we close because even here in the city, I've seen possums and raccoons, so I hesitate to leave food out back for the entire weekend.

I tried just what you suggested on Sunday, but to no avail. I didn't have the lights out, which I will try this coming weekend. Keep in mind that they have the run of the store. Our store is 3 row homes attached, and they have the first floor (working area) and the basement (vacant, but with litter boxes) to roam freely when they choose. They have barricaded themselves in the back of the farthest section of the store, behind old boxes and shelving. They are safe there and we leave them alone.

We all have to go back to that area during the day, and despite the noise we make, they never make a sound. So I guess they're used to the sound of people. I'll work on bringing them out with some food on Sat, but I'm not optimistic. At this point, I'm actually fairly savvy with ferals. But I expected these kittens to be the same as the others. Of course, they're not. My first three had the two males hopping on my desk or in my lap in a fairly short period of time. When the first one had to be put to sleep, the second male started jumping in my lap. All along, for a period of a year and a half, the female never let anyone near her, let alone pet her. She came around with her brothers to eat, but would head down the basement steps if anyone walked by. It was only after Shiny Boy (#2) died that she started to let us come near her, and she ended up being the biggest lap cat of them all.

Finally, it is funny how they work their way into your heart, even with an avowed cat hater like I was. Shiny Boy was the best pet I ever had.

Well, I'll have plenty of other questions when I start TNR with my two new traps (there are SO MANY ferals in this neighborhood), but for now, let's see if I can draw these kittens out of their hiding place.

Thanks much for your help! I've been all around the net over the years, learning how to build a cat house and such, but I think this forum is exactly where I need to be. Thanks again!
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post #4 of 40 (permalink) Old 12-18-2007, 07:02 PM
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Ronnie, Shiny Boy was absolutely gorgeous. As most members could tell you, I have had many black cats, and I would like to steal everyone's on the forum!

Ronnie, I would leave a bit of light on. It could take weeks before a kitten comes out, and you should take a book with you when you go. Patience is the key word! Days, weeks, and with adults, months and sometimes never. I"m glad these are kittens! I'm sure you will have success eventually.

I'm am so happy you are pleased with the forum. We have many informational, conversational, and just fun forums. Have a seat, get yourself and iced tea or coffee, and stay a while! I'll be looking forward to news.




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post #5 of 40 (permalink) Old 12-18-2007, 08:28 PM Thread Starter
 
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I do have a wall clock that lights up with a white light, and we turn it on every night, so that there is enough light for them to see in the main part of the store. It's dark for outsiders looking in, but plenty of light for them to play with the toys I leave out.

Thanks for your help. I'll be checking in often, and taking a look at the rest of the site.
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post #6 of 40 (permalink) Old 12-18-2007, 09:11 PM
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Ronnie, I was just recommending that for you, when you visit the kittens. They can see very well with only a nightlight, but you might want to read. Dim lighting just makes for a quiet, restful atmosphere.




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post #7 of 40 (permalink) Old 12-21-2007, 09:20 PM Thread Starter
 
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Well, I didn't leave any food out tonight so they should be hungry by the time I get there tomorrow afternoon. I am going to try your advice of keeping the lights out and playing some soft music, and I will stay for 4 or 5 hours.

I hope to at least coax them out. I guess I'll see.
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post #8 of 40 (permalink) Old 12-21-2007, 09:29 PM
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I'd use a night light. I wouldn't make any overt attempts, other than putting the food far enough away for them to see you, but not be afraid you might bother them. Just sit still. It would be better if you could do this at intervals during the day. I know your situation, though.

Good luck! Better take a radio and play some soft music...and a magazine, for your sake! The soft music is comforting, also. No heavy metal!




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post #9 of 40 (permalink) Old 12-21-2007, 09:53 PM Thread Starter
 
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I have all the time I'll need, as we're closed for the next 4 days. I'm not sure what you mean by intervals. I was planning on keeping the lights out, using only the computer light for work or reading. And I was planning on just setting the food out and waiting. Are you suggesting that I set it out, and if they don't come out in a certain period of time, put it away for a while and try again later. And then keeping doing that.

Sorry, but I'm not quite clear on what you mean. I will take your suggestions and use them, to be sure.
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post #10 of 40 (permalink) Old 12-21-2007, 10:12 PM
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Most people sit for about 40 minutes at a time, several times a day. If that's possible, they should get hungry and realize that you're not going to bother them. Yes, I would pick up the food and refrigerate it after about 40 minutes. You don't want it to spoil. Of course, kittens have to eat, so if you're not successful at all, leave them some food. If they were cats, they could go longer without food. But kittens have their age on their side. They are more easily socialized.

You're using canned food, right? It's usually more tempting. The more odor, the better! If you want to continue to work on your computer between feeding attempts, that would be fine.




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