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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 11-19-2008, 09:44 PM Thread Starter
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I need some ideas...

My two Dentist Office ferals are doing very well, but I don't think I'm making much progress with them. Well, with one of them, really.

I still haven't really decided on their names. #1 will be the dsh and first kitten (11/04) trapped. #2 is the dlh and is the last kitten (11/07) trapped. My problem is with #2.

#1 progressed very quickly and nicely. I can approach her and put my head to her and kiss her feet and back. I haven't tried kissing her head or face yet. She will come out and 'greet' me with a meow when I go in to pet or feed them. I can easily get her to purr.
#2 has been a lot of work. She was very hissy, and is still hissy. She will approach the food plate with her tail up and even lift it when I pet her. Getting her to purr is hit/miss and depends on how relaxed she is for that particular visit. Every time I enter, and I always speak to them before I open the door, she flattens her ears sideways to make herself less visible and sometimes hisses. She also will dart a look around to see if she can run/hide before I reach her, usually she stays in that spot. She will sort of hunch up as I approach and bend/kneel/sit down to pet her. Once I pet her a few strokes, she sometimes relaxes. Sometimes not.

I have found that petting in short strokes, reminiscent of a mother cat's licking tongue, relax her the best. I can get her to purr about half of the time. I'd say about a 1/4 of the time, she will 'leave me' and go hide. Usually I am able to prevent her from leaving and I set her on my lap and just sort of smother her with handling and then as she stops struggling, I let up and give the light mom-cat-tongue pettings and she usually relaxes.

These kittens are fairly well developed, like around 12+ weeks old. They don't play very much, though the last 2-3 nights I have heard them playing and being active between 2-4am. I have been able to get them to pat at some toys, #1 will grab and wrestle with some of the soft toys. Both will follow the laser light, but I have yet to get them to chase anything with abandon while I am in there. I would love to let them explore the master bedroom and be able to race around full speed, but I cannot let them out of the bathroom until they consistently come to me when I call or bring canned food.

I am waiting to take them for a vet visit, because #2 is so introverted. I don't want to set her back, but I do think worming them could make a difference and I think they are old enough for first shots.

Someone at a horse forum is interested in the ploydactyl kitten (#2), but I just can't feel comfortable letting her go unless she loosens up quite a bit.
Does anyone have any other suggestions I can try with #2 to help bring her out of her shell?
Heidi



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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 11-23-2008, 06:23 PM
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Re: I need some ideas...

Hi, Heidi!

How long have you been working with these kittens? Have you tried DaBird? As of last night, all four of my feral kittens (11 weeks?) play with and chase it; I've had three of the kittens for two weeks, the fourth for one week today.

A.C.
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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 11-23-2008, 07:01 PM Thread Starter
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Re: I need some ideas...

I've had them for 2.5 weeks. The last two days I have made GREAT STRIDES with kitten #2. She is finally coming out of the cat carrier to greet me, stretching and sometimes giving me a mew. I sit with them and place them on my lap for petting and cuddles and she will happily sit there to soak up the attention and purr. They are getting more playful, but still startle at fast-moving things, though they are getting better.

I posted when I was feeling down and like I was making no progress. Truly, I am making progress, it was just so incremental that I guess I didn't see it or give the small steps were were taking enough importance.

We are doing better, now.
Heidi



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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 11-23-2008, 07:03 PM
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Re: I need some ideas...

Any more pictures to share? I know I'm just tormenting myself, I'm already smitten with #2 kitten.

Cali, Cinderella, Cleo and Charlee

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Always in my heart, my lovely Cinderella, running free at the Bridge.
Always in my heart, my sweet Cali, running free at the Bridge.

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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 11-23-2008, 07:11 PM Thread Starter
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Re: I need some ideas...

No, I haven't taken any more photos because I was concentrating on getting them to trust me. I'll try to take the camera with me before T-day and snap some more pics.
Heidi



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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 11-23-2008, 08:21 PM
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Re: I need some ideas...

Holy smokes, you've had them for less than three weeks, they're 12+ weeks old and you can pick them up and cuddle them?! You're amazing!

Can you pm me and tell me exactly what you've been doing? What was their life like before they were caught / how were they caught / what have you done with them since they arrived at your house / how much time do you spend with them a day / etc., etc.

Wow, that's just amazing. You're little ferals are lucky!
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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 11-23-2008, 09:19 PM Thread Starter
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Re: I need some ideas...

Auntie, you've made me feel really good about the progress I've made with these kitties. I think I have gotten such good results because I am expecting to get the same results I've gotten with younger kittens.

Kittens were hanging around my dentist's office parking lot. There is low income housing up a small gully behind the dentist's office. They believe that is where the mother cat came from. I do not think the kittens had any human contact until they were trapped in an Animal Control trap.

The kittens are in one of my bathrooms with a covered litter box in the bathtub. It makes it easy for me to sweep up tracked litter. I have a medium sized cat carrier with a towel inside and a smaller towel over the top to cover the ventilation holes and create a 'safe cave'.

I would go in probably every 1-2 hours and talk to them, leaning down to peer in the door of the carrier and then putting my hand/arm inside (even if they hissed) and petting them. Not tentative dabs, really petting them and pressing my hand/fingers into their muscles and rubbing them around their head, cheeks, neck, shoulders and back. I would always force my attentions on them for about a minute or two. I would give eye blinks and sighs, trying to leave when the scaredest kitten would relax her ears or eyes.

Kitten #1 was letting me hold her baby-style in my arms and purring after only two days. On the 3rd day is when I got kitten #2.

I would bring plates of canned food (small amounts, maybe a tablespoon for them both to share) and stand at the door until they came out. Usually they would crouch and give me scared looks before turning their attention to eating. I would do eye blinks and talk to them as I left. After a few days I would pull them out of the carrier and place them on my lap, holding them there. Scruff if I have to, but usually just cupping my hand under their chest and holding them so they cannot leap off my lap. My other hand would be rubbing all over, trying to get them to see I wasn't hurting them and to relax.

If/when the kitten relaxed, I'd stop 'holding' them on my lap and then use both hands to manipulate and massage them. After a few days, the kittens began sleeping on top of the carrier or toilet lid and I'd come in and talk to them, petting them and handling them where they lay. #2 was always leary, but if she would relax her ears or eyes, I'd leave, showing her it wasn't bad and I wouldn't stay forever, keeping her tension high. After about a week I was able to get #2 to purr sometimes. I could always get #1 to purr.

At about 10 days is when I was able to get them interested in patting their feet at feathers or strings. They like the laser light and would pounce a bit, but I could not entice them to chase. The last few days, #2 has been coming out of the carrier, stretching and yawning with her tail up, maybe giving me a mew and she has soft eyes and ears. If I move quickly though, she will regress and hiss, with her pupils dilating and ears flattening. Kitten #1 is still very sweet, though she crouches down when I pet her. #2 will push her head and back into my hand when I pet her.

Lately, I have been trying to incorporate lifting kitten #2 up. Up to the top of the carrier, the toilet lid or my lap. This is to show her I can lift her and I will put her safely back down without dropping her. Last night I lifted her up a bit so I could kiss the back of her head and she got frightened to see my face so close and hissed, but when I set her down I held her and handled her until she relaxed before I released her.

I'd say my method is just sensory overload bootcamp; I handle, handle, handle and bring good things to eat. Sometimes going in to just give them a bit of cooked chicken and then leaving, or going in to pet and scrubble and then leave. I will let a few of the other cats inside to 'visit' every once in a while. Usually LuckyDuck, but Dusty and Floofy have been in to see them briefly (sniff noses, though LD lets them get right up next to him) and I've had no hisses from the adult cats. When I shower and dry my hair I close them into the cat carrier so they feel safe and can't run around if they do get frightened.

Anyhow, that is what I've done. Tell me what you think and/or if there is anything you would change, add or remove.
Heidi



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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 11-23-2008, 09:40 PM
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Re: I need some ideas...

Since I've never, before now, handled a feral cat/kitten, I've got no recommendations for you. And since our kittens are about the same age and we've had them about the same length of time, but yours can be handled and mine cannot, I'd say you've got a lot to teach me.

My kittens are in a bedroom large enough for a king size bedroom set with room to move around ('though there's no bed in there). I've eliminated all but one hiding place (under a futon frame), but they've got lots and lots of space to run from me. If I thought I could catch them without an extended chase - and therefore a lot of anxiety - I would move them to my bathroom. But I can't, and I'm reluctant to put them through that stress. In fact, there's no guarantee we wouldn't just go 'round and 'round the room to no avail anyway.

On the other hand, the space may be what's allowing them to play a bit more than yours - they know they can get away if something scares them, so they're more relaxed about risking it? CindyLou, especially, will go crazy with the wildest leaps and flying runs I've ever seen (if I can catch her on film, I'll be sure to post it), but they all chase DaBird.

In the future, though, if I'm ever crazy enough to do this again, it'll be the bathroom for SURE.

I'm so glad your kittens are doing so well! Please keep us updated - it helps me a LOT to know someone else is going through exactly what I'm going through, even if yours are doing better than mine.

(And when you're all done, you can come here and finish with mine! )
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