Re: Need Help With Feral Kittens
I have tamed numerous adult ferals, however they were all tamed outside and free to come/go as they pleased. This only gave me mealtimes to get them accustomed to me, so taming took months, sometimes only a few weeks and in one instance...it took years.
All of the feral kittens I have tamed were tamed in my master bathroom. They had a 'cave' to feel safe, usually a large-ish carrier with soft towels inside. I would also keep a towel over the top to cover the vent holes, leaving the cage door propped open and unable to swing closed. Litter box in the tub (drain closed!) to contain litter tracking.
My secret weapon is boneless/skinless chicken breasts crock-potted with cans of Cream of Chicken soup and a half can of milk. A little cheese and sometimes wine is added. This feeds us, too. We shred the chicken and wrap them in flour tortillas with taco/burrito fixings: sour cream, advocado, lettuce, diced tomatoes, onions, cheese and sometimes I make white rice to have with it. Anyhow, I mash up some chicken with the CofC soup mix helping to keep the mixture thick and sticking together...and I hand feed the feral kittens.
I stick some on the ends of my fingers and just reach my hand into the carrier opening. I don't go ALL of the way back to the kittens, but I do put my hand in pretty far. The usual reaction it to hiss, but they cannot resist the smell of that delicious chicken, and they begin to eat off my hand. Over time, sometimes a few days, I will be able to lure them closer to the opening of the carrier and even getting the braver ones to come out TO me. From there, I progress to canned food mashed around the edges of a plate and while they eat, I will pet and stroke them. I don't dab hesitantly or fearfully at them, I just pet them. When they stop trying to scoot away from my hand and pay more attention to eating, then they are ready to move on to the next step.
This is where I begin forcing my attention on them. I sit on the floor and grab them firmly by the scruff and place them on my lap, facing my knees. Then I hold them by the scruff and pet and rub them all over. IF they begin to relax, I'll loosen my scruff hold and ruffle the fur at their neck to 'erase' the memory of me holding them. Then I let them get off my lap if they wish.
The goal is for them to walk, and not dart fearfully, away.
If the kitten does not relax at all, when I am done handling them I take them off my lap and set them close to the opening of the carrier and release them like it is no big deal. I don't watch them to judge their reaction, I want them only to know that I will hold them, handle them, not hurt them and I will also release them and not hold them forever.
This progresses through more stages of intensive handling and working up to allowing me to put my head near them to kiss their shoulders, tops of head and eventually their noses. I will sit and pick them up and hold them to my chest, upright and also on their backs like a baby. That progresses to lifting them from the floor and onto taller surfaces, like the toilet lid, the bed, the counter, et cetera. Little by little I will hold them in the 'lift' for a bit longer and longer. I want them to not struggle and learn that I will lift them and I will let them go, it isn't a big deal. From there I progress to picking them up and holding them while I stand, then we progress to me holding them and walking with them.
The last things I do with them are treating them a little roughly. Handle them quickly, a little fast, maybe not so careful but never cause them pain or drop them. I need to get them ready for the public and children to be able to handle them, so that is why I treat them casually just before they go to the center so those familiar and not-so-careful handling techniques won't be frightening for them.
Anyhow, it takes weeks to work through that progression. Younger kittens tame faster than older kittens.
I will talk to Lisa on Tuesday. Be prepared, when I saw her Thursday she told me she has fewer volunteers than the last time I fostered for her, which was 3yrs ago. There may not be anyone here able to take your two.