Feral Kitten--pictures and questions - Cat Forum : Cat Discussion Forums
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post #1 of 17 (permalink) Old 09-18-2010, 05:50 PM Thread Starter
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Feral Kitten--pictures and questions

It appears that a feral/undersocialized kitten (I'm guessing 7-8wks?) has followed my parents' very sweet orange tabby cat home. He hasn't left their backyard since he showed up a week ago and he adores the big kitty and doggie, but is wary of people. I don't know if he's technically "feral", as he will come very close, purring and mewing and kneading the ground, but just won't let anyone touch him. My parents want to help him, but honestly there is a limit to how much effort, time, and money they will put into any animal. If they can get him inside they are willing to foster him until he finds a home, but it would need to be in partnership with a rescue that will pay the cost of neutering and vaccinations. I don't think they're willing to trap him with a feral cat trap--my folks never force animals to do anything, even if it's for their own good . They also aren't willing to let him stay on the porch for much longer, as their very docile older kitty seems to feel displaced by him.

Sorry for the block of text. Here are my questions: For the time being, is there an OTC de-wormer that we can put in his food? Is anyone aware of any programs that help with low-cost vaccinations (we live in Oregon)? Any guesses as to his age? And finally, any suggestions for getting him to warm up to us before we bring him inside, since my folks don't want to put out a trap? I plan on picking up some chicken baby food (no onion or garlic), and we've tried playing with him (he was pretty uninterested). Also, we were thinking about putting out a small litterbox with some worlds' best (corn based litter), thinking maybe we can get him accustomed to it even before he comes inside. Is that a silly idea or do you think it might work?

Dirty face!


Poor quality but still cute--he loves the big doggy.

"His" chair.




I'll probably have more questions, but for now that's all I can think of.
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post #2 of 17 (permalink) Old 09-18-2010, 11:29 PM
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What a cute kitten he is! I'd guess his age to be about 10 weeks. As for a wormer, there are over the counter wormers. Just don't use Hartz Mountain products. I know their flea meds have a bad reputation, so I'd be a bit nervous about their other products.

It takes patience, interactive toys, and food to help socialize a cat. A kitten probably won't take long. They need care and loving. Just sit quietly and bring the food closer to you periodically. I would leave the resident cat indoors during these sessions, and it might even be best to close the drapes..if their pet seems jealous. The kitten might use a litter box. Of course, he has the whole outdoors to use, but the litter box would be easy to use. It's worth a try.

These videos, posted by Mitts and Tess, are wonderful! They should be very helpful in taming the kitten:





This link might help find low cost veterinary care when needed:

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

I hope this helps. Keep us posted, please.




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post #3 of 17 (permalink) Old 09-19-2010, 12:10 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks Jeanie. It's funny that you posted those videos--I had seen them a while ago (when the other member posted them) and I actually re-watched them this morning. I bought that baby food he recommends in the clip and he's right, it works wonders. I got the kitty to eat the food off my finger today, but he isn't as gentle as the kittens in that video--ouch! After he chomped my finger I left the food in a small cup and moved it progressively closer to me, until I got him to put his two front paws on my lap. My mother said that she'll work with him in the mornings when he's hungry.

I was thinking that if we can't partner with a local rescue shelter we might be able to get him fixed and vaccinated through the Feral Cat Coalition of Oregon. I'll contact them on Monday. My concern is that he might not qualify as "feral", since we'd like to socialize him and adopt him out eventually. I will be up-front with the FCCO about the situation, as I wouldn't want to misuse their services.
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post #4 of 17 (permalink) Old 09-19-2010, 12:12 AM
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He looks and sounds like a sweet kitten that *wants* to love/trust people ... he just needs incentive to get close enough so he can learn that people are Good.

IMO, any trick you use to help him, and works, is a good one. Give the litterbox idea a try, I actually think that is a brilliant idea as it will help him be familiar with at least one thing if/when he finally does get to come indoors.

I have found tempting food works well for helping kittens to get close enough to be touched and handled. Sometimes even a friendly cat helps, too. I tamed a completely feral adult cat by using a tamed/social former-feral 'buddy' of hers to lure her close to the canned food plate and eventually she became comfortable enough that I would pet him and could then pet her.

The thing with socialization is the kitt/cat cannot become socialized until you are able to handle it. It is getting the kitt to that point of able-to-touch that is the biggest hurdle. This kitten appears to *want* contact with people because he is hanging around, purring, mewing and doing the biscuit dance.
I cannot stress enough: The sooner people are able to socialize him, the better ... especially if your folks want to foster him for a rescue/adoption center. Kitts and cats *must* be well-socialized for public adoption and the sooner he can become socialized and accustomed to handling while going through his appointments for kitten shots and neutering, the more adoptable he will be.
When fostering, the goal is to have the kitt ready for public adoption which occurs after the kitten vaccinations and boosters schedule has been met and then shortly after their spay/neuter appointment.

In this instance, I would strongly recommend your folks trick, trap or do whatever they need to do to get him inside to a 'safe-room' (no where the kitt/cat can retreat beyond arm's length) to begin socialization.

I like to use a bathroom as it is small, contained and easily cleaned. I provide a litterbox, food, water and a 'safe-cave' in the form of a carrier with comfy towel inside and another draped over the top to create a cozy hiding place where the kitt/cat can feel 'safe' and 'hidden' until it feels more confident being in the open with people. In the bathroom, with that safe-cave you can offer tasty food, sit quietly and read, read to the kitty and help it become used to your presence. Food and toys may give opportunities to touch and handle the kitten without frightening it ... and I suspect because of his personality you described ... he will be very easy to socialize once he realizes he can trust people.

He snuggles up to the Big Dog ... he just needs the opportunity to learn he can do that with people, too. I think he's gonna be a great love-kitty and soak up all the attention. Once you've gotten him indoors (do not call organizations until after he is indoors as you do not want to 'flake' and burn bridges by having to cancel if he is accepted into their program but disappears before you can get him indoors) call around to the various rescues and adoption centers and find one that will accept him into their program while he is fostered with your family.
Good luck!
heidi =^..^=



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post #5 of 17 (permalink) Old 09-19-2010, 12:15 AM
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You posted as I was replying...
Quote:
Originally Posted by ogdred View Post
I was thinking that if we can't partner with a local rescue shelter we might be able to get him fixed and vaccinated through the Feral Cat Coalition of Oregon. I'll contact them on Monday. My concern is that he might not qualify as "feral", since we'd like to socialize him and adopt him out eventually. I will be up-front with the FCCO about the situation, as I wouldn't want to misuse their services.
I just wanted to comment that I had a feral cat TNR'd and ear-snipped that I eventually tamed and socialized. It took a LONG time to reach the point we are at now, with steady and consistent work ... but she is now one of our happy, relaxed and confident housecats. And she was as wild as wild could be when she first showed up at our property.
I think he sounds like he could be an easy kitt to tame and socialize because he is already coming so close on his own with a food-lure so quickly.



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post #6 of 17 (permalink) Old 09-19-2010, 12:41 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks Heidi, I was sort of hoping you would respond . That's a good point about not calling rescues until he is indoors, I'm glad you mentioned it.

I e-mailed the responses to my mom. I tried to tell her that they should get kitty indoors as soon as they can for socializing, but I think hearing it from someone with more experience will help.
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post #7 of 17 (permalink) Old 09-19-2010, 01:57 AM
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The deciding factor here, is time.
If they want to foster this kitt for public adoption there is a good bit of 'work' to do with him before he can be offered for the public to handle. He needs to be handled A LOT and in many different ways to prepare him for anything the public (adults and children) may do with him and it takes time to gain trust and accustom a kitt/cat to that kind of casual handling. Adding to the time-factor, is the younger they are, the quicker they adopt out ... so again, time is of the utmost essence. When I work with my fosters I work to reach a high level of trust, handling and socialization and keep them at that high level as long as I can before they leave and go to the adoption center. This is so those skills of learning to accept my handling become ingrained behavior and help the kitt become and remain a highly adoptable pet because it is relaxed, adaptable and confident.



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post #8 of 17 (permalink) Old 09-20-2010, 01:53 AM Thread Starter
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Just a quick update here, as kitty is already making progress. My mother was able to pet him today while he was eating. He was trembling but didn't run away, and eventually started purring. Of course, once the food was gone so was he .

Next time I visit, probably this weekend (if I can stay away for that long), I'll try to help them figure out a safe room for him. By then they might be able to simply coax him inside, or into a cat carrier.
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post #9 of 17 (permalink) Old 09-20-2010, 12:07 PM
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"Yay!" for your Mom, that sounds GREAT! Just *getting* to that first touch is WONDERFUL because that opens the door for the kitty to stop being afraid of being touched and start to think that 'Hey, that felt pretty good .... I think I *like* it!' and with every encounter they become more and more comfortable with being touched and handled as they grow to trust people. I like your idea of preparing the safe room first and having it all ready for him before you bring him indoors.
Best thing now is to try to keep every experience positive and un-scary. The 'catching' part might be scary for him, but if everything is already prepared for him inside, I think it will take him a short bit to accustom himself to his new surroundings and with visits from people with treats and toys he should calm down, relax and take fairly easily to handling for socialization.



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post #10 of 17 (permalink) Old 09-21-2010, 10:09 PM Thread Starter
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Well my mom called me all excited this evening.

My nieces (7 and 9) visited her yesterday and so she told them they could go out and feed kitty. She instructed them on how to hold the dish for him, how to be quiet and move slowly, and warned them that he might run off. Well a few minutes later my mom looks out the window, and the kitten is all over the kids! He wasn't eating at all, just purring and rubbing up on the kids. Of course, these kids are good with animals and have two cats of their own. Since then he has totally blossomed. He's playing with the interactive toys they bought him, and he will sit on my mothers' lap (as long as she doesn't move at all, haha).

I don't know what his background could possibly be. He's still frightened, but the fact that he's taking to human affection so naturally tells me that he wasn't truly "feral". He still has a long ways to go before he's ready for public adoption, but I don't think socializing him will be any huge challenge. My mom would like to get him inside by Thursday since it's supposed to rain. She has a safe room picked out and I gave her some kitten-proofing tips (hopefully she follows them, lol). She also bought him some flea and worm medications. She didn't get them from the vet, so hopefully they're okay (no Hartz products).

I'm thinking it would be fantastic if my sisters' family took him, but that's probably a long-shot. I'm sure the kids will be working on her, though .
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