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post #1 of 29 (permalink) Old 01-16-2009, 08:16 PM Thread Starter
 
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Need Help With Feral Kittens

I found two feral kittens, probably 3 or 4 months old, living in the crawl space beneath my home. I know they are still pretty young, but they seem extremely feral. They're terrified of people. One bit me. I'm not sure which one it was. I have them quarantined at a local vet's office for 10 days. At the end of the quarantine, I'm not sure what I will do with them. I can't let them live in the crawl space of my home because it's not really my home. I'm renting and the owner won't hear of it. He's securing the crawl space door. And, if I'm caught with the kittens in the garage, I could lose my lease (the owner is extremely against any more pets on the property). I have to find a new home for the kittens somewhere. Can you give me ideas of places that might take them in? What do you think the chances are of my placing them by next Thursday?
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post #2 of 29 (permalink) Old 01-16-2009, 09:35 PM
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Re: Need Help With Feral Kittens

You are so limited in time, and these kittens will have to be tamed soon in order to have a shelter take them in. These organizations (by state) offer low cost or free neutering and spaying:

http://www.lovethatcat.com/spayneuter.html

And this link should help with with trapping and many other aspects of helping ferals. I wish you the best.

http://muttcats.com/articles/taming_ferals.htm

http://www.peninsulacatworks.org/tnr/trapping.php




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post #3 of 29 (permalink) Old 01-16-2009, 10:24 PM
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Re: Need Help With Feral Kittens

Southerner...how close are you to (me) Atlanta or Athens, Georgia?
I foster and tame ferals for the adoption center at my nearest PetsMart. I have two kittens now, that I trapped at the age of 3mo and have tamed, they turned out very nice. They are going next week to be spayed and a week after that they will be leaving me and going to the center to find their forever homes.

You could contact cat rescues near you, see if a PetsMart near you has people you can talk to about finding foster homes for these kittens. The organization I foster for is called For Paws Sake, but I don't know it that is only near me or if FPS works out of every PetsMart.

Good luck,
Heidi



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post #4 of 29 (permalink) Old 01-16-2009, 10:41 PM Thread Starter
 
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Re: Need Help With Feral Kittens

Jeanie and Heidi, thank you so much for your suggestions. Heidi, I live in Nashville, TN about 5 hours from Atlanta, GA. There is a Petsmart near me and I will contact them tomorrow and ask about For Paws Sake. If I can't find a rescue near me willing to take these kittens, do you think For Paws Sake in your area might consider taking them?

My only concern is that they seem so feral. The vet tech said she thought they were 3 or 4 months old. Let's say they are 4 months (16 weeks) and very feral, could someone experienced tame them at that age?
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post #5 of 29 (permalink) Old 01-16-2009, 11:02 PM
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Re: Need Help With Feral Kittens

I trapped Bella and Mischy when they were about 3-4mo old and I was able to tame them from completely feral. It was challenging because I hadn't taken in such older kittens before, but I haven't failed in taming a feral, yet. It was time-consuming but very rewarding. I want to offer to take them for you, but I just don't think I can right now. My reluctance stems from the fact that I have health issues. I am currently taking chemo injections (I do not have cancer) but they leave me feeling nauseous and weak because I have a difficult time eating to keep my strength up. I really need to take a break for a bit so I can try to gain weight and strength before fostering again.
When I see the FPS director next week to drop the girls off for their spay appointment, I can ask her if any of their foster families have room to tame two ferals. I just wouldn't tell her they are coming from TN, only that I know of them and they are in need. I know she would take any that I took in, but I just don't think I have the energy right now.

I did a google search for "Nashville, TN Cat Fostering Organizations" and this is what I came up with:
http://www.google.com/search?q=Nashvill ... 1I7GGIC_en

I wish you very good luck in finding these kittens a foster situation near you.
Heidi

Novenber, 4, 2008. Bella, 5min after we transferred her from the trap to the carrier:

Mischy & Bella, probably the week of 11/10:

Last night, 1/15/09:




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post #6 of 29 (permalink) Old 01-16-2009, 11:17 PM Thread Starter
 
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Re: Need Help With Feral Kittens

I certainly understand about your health issues and hope that you recover completely very soon. If you do get a chance to ask the FPS director if there is a foster family available to tame ferals, I would really appreciate it.

As I said, I have them boarded at at vet's office right now. I asked if I could take the kittens into a room and interact with them to start taming them and they said yes. But, the kittens have been pretty aggressive and I have no experience with ferals so I was concerned I might get hurt and/or might not make any progress with them. Do you have any advice about how to interact with feral kittens when you are first taming them? Thanks!

PS -- Bella and Mischy are beautiful and they look so sweet. Hard to believe they were feral.
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post #7 of 29 (permalink) Old 01-17-2009, 12:43 AM
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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.
Heidi



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post #8 of 29 (permalink) Old 01-17-2009, 01:07 AM Thread Starter
 
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Re: Need Help With Feral Kittens

Thank you for taking the time to share your tips with me. I sure wish I could try and foster these kittens, but the owner of my house doesn't like pets and would never allow it. I have 3 pets already and the owner has made it clear another pet and I'm out of the house. I will give your crock pot chicken breast, Cream of Chicken soup and a half can of milk recipe a try, take it to the vet's office and tempt the kittens with it. I don't know if I'm brave enough to use my fingers at first. Maybe I'll try a spoon. Thanks again for all your great advice and help!
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post #9 of 29 (permalink) Old 01-17-2009, 01:26 AM
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Re: Need Help With Feral Kittens

You are certainly welcome. I'm not sure how much success you'll have with them at the vet's. It may be too chaotic with all of the activity and noise. You may be better off just offering them a tasty treat of nice food; canned wetfood or the chicken recipe I use. I understand about the land lord putting a limit on pets. That is why we bought our house, because we had 7 cats. We've had up to a dozen but we are down to 8, right now. Not including the 2 fosters. I am trying VERY hard to not add to the numbers. We've just had a cat diagnosed with a kidney problem and her care will incur some expenses in food and veterinary care.

Do you have a way of taking pictures of the two kittens and posting them so I can see how big they are and what their body language is saying?
When is the date they will be done with the 10-day quarantine?
Has the vet offered any solutions?
What other options are there?


...I'll be going to bed soon and will check replies in the AM.
h



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post #10 of 29 (permalink) Old 01-17-2009, 03:28 AM Thread Starter
 
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Re: Need Help With Feral Kittens

I haven't spoken with the vet. The vet techs have been very nice and they have suggested trying to place the kittens as feral barn cats or just release them back into my neighborhood after having them spayed/neutered. The problem with that is the crawl space where they've been living in is now closed, so where would they go to stay warm? The techs say the kittens are more feral than many kittens they've seen. I don't think they've been around people at all until a few days ago. Their quarantine is over next Thursday. I've emailed my friends and family asking if they know anyone with a barn who could use cats as mousers. And, a friend is emailing all her contacts with the same question. I plan to call horse boarding facilities and stables and ask if any of them might accept feral kittens as mousers. I'll see if I can get some photographs and post them online tomorrow night.
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