Feral mom and homegrown kittens. How to get mom to be more at ease? - Cat Forum : Cat Discussion Forums
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post #1 of 24 (permalink) Old 12-23-2010, 10:39 PM Thread Starter
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Unhappy Feral mom and homegrown kittens. How to get mom to be more at ease?

I posted about these cats in the behavior forum but I think this might be somewhat different.

Long story short, we have in my office at home a feral mom who gave birth to kittens about a month after we got her in here. Since the kitties are now 3 months we are seriously wondering just how we are going to get them away from her so we can adopt them out. There is no question of the mom leaving my house. Ever. She is completely unadoptable and would surely be killed if we took her to any shelter. We don't mind that she stays but we have no idea how to take her kittens away. Momma cat eats food from the bowl when we hold it and, if she is hungry, will eat out of our hands. However, she hisses at any sudden movements (which is always just me trying to get up after I'm done feeding her! or me trying to sit down to do so). She's only scratched me a couple times since she's been here and that's because I got too close while cleaning the floor. She scares easily.

Basically she knows we give her food but she seems to be very much afraid. We know that's normal since, after all, she IS a feral cat, and we wouldn't push the issue if it wasn't for the kitty situation. We need to get them away from her. She doesn't mind us playing with the kittens but if one starts to cry when we try to pick him up, well, mom gets pissed.

We can only keep them maybe for another month (they would be 4 mo old then) so time is seriously running out. It's not like she has 1 or 2 kitties which we could grab and just leave quickly. She has 5 and two are such scary cats they jump at their own shadow and hiss if we try to come near them and then they run and hide. Those I'm especially worried about.

How do we get the kittens away without World War 3 breaking out? How do we make sure mom isn't going to be stressed out AFTER we take her kittens away? We can't help but have this horrible picture of her just crying all the time after her kittens are gone and if she goes crazy and stops eating I don't think I could handle it.

She does have one older kitten (about 6 mo old) which we separated from her when she gave birth. We are keeping her as well so mom at least has some company while being stuck in the one room (I have 3 dogs and a cat so I can't let her out of there for everyone's safety). We are now going to start re-introducing them tomorrow. We bought a crate to put the kitten in so we can get her inside the room with mom.

But we are just really worried about

1.how to get the 5 kitties out with minimal damage

2. what mom will do once her 5 kittens are gone. will she feel better because she has the older one? can she still go mental from the stress of having had her kittens taken away?

I'm so sorry this is so long but we are in a desperate situation.

We pick up kittens and feral cats all the time and we get them accustomed to people (with lots of patience) but we've never had a mom with kittens. It's usually just an older cat or kittens all by themselves. I should mention that there is no way of picking up mom AT ALL to take HER out while we get her kittens. She is way too feral and extremely scared.

Thanks for any help anyone can get us.

Last edited by mailyn; 12-23-2010 at 10:43 PM.
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post #2 of 24 (permalink) Old 12-23-2010, 11:41 PM Thread Starter
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Here are some pics from today:







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post #3 of 24 (permalink) Old 12-24-2010, 03:45 AM
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I have fostered many cats/kitts for public adoption and one of my specialties is taming and socializing feral kitts for public adoption and also taming the feral adults. Granted, those adult cats (Shadow, Malibu and Pretty) remained as our own personal pets, but they became happy, relaxed and confident housecats after our work with them.

First, the kittens need to be removed from the mother.

Two reasons:
1. The kitts *must* be socialized NOW, before they reach the independent do-or-die/self-sufficient age where socialization becomes much more difficult to reach past their barriers.
2. The mom-cat can stop being 'protective mamma' and concern herself only with herself.

Trap the kittens. Any way you can safely do so. I would highly recommend removing the kittens as closely together as possible, like in under an hour. Definitely try to get them all shifted w/in 8hrs of you starting to remove them. This helps them bond together and not make outcasts of any late-comers. IMO, it is important to give them only ONE hiding place, and it has to be a place where you can reach in and touch them at any time you wish (emergency). This also prevents them from avoiding contact with you so you *can* socialize them.

The kittens will need to be put on a serious schedule of socialization work. Helping them to become familiar with and learn the skills of socialization. Patience and practice pay-off. Start slowly and only add new things after they've mastered the last thing. Always start from the beginning with the things previously taught/learned and work towards the newer skills and if the kitt is ready, add a new one. Repeating old skills repetetively helps the kitt accept that handling as 'normal'. Practicing those skills helps the kitt reinforce those skills. New things keep things 'fresh' for the kittens.

Here is a link to my Kitty Cat Boot Camp. KCBC is a program I have put all of my fosters and personal cats through. In fact, I continue to put them through it as it keeps those skills fresh and acceptable to them, helping them to become relaxed and confident with handling.
There will be a LOT of information that won't apply to your situation, but in general, I feel the overall message and hints about how feral cats/kitts think/react would be beneficial. Also in the link I'll provide, Merry had posted several videos made by Mike with the Urban Cat League and they are AWESOME! They are very similar to how I begin handling my own ferals and the videos are a great way to see the techniques in action.

https://www.catforum.com/forum/56-fer...tens-cats.html

Good luck with your fosters and the mamma-cat.
heidi =^..^=



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post #4 of 24 (permalink) Old 12-24-2010, 10:24 AM Thread Starter
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The kittens (except two who are scared of themselves lol) are all very friendly and like to play and climb all over us. Mom doesn't mind at all. However, sometimes one of them will cry if they don't want to be picked up and mom gets mad but only then.

The kittens are social and like people and even one of my cats who has gone in and play with them. Even the two scaredy kitties come and play with us if they see all the other kittens play with us (they just run faster to hide if one of their brothers/sisters accidentally jump on them lol)

Thanks for all your help and info! One question though, if we trap and take them all out of there will mom be really sad? I don't want her to stop eating or cry nonstop. She did that the last time we took her kitties away and we ended up giving them back to her. Basically it's the mom that's the problem.

I'm going to check the links out now. Thanks again!
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post #5 of 24 (permalink) Old 12-24-2010, 06:39 PM
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I don't know about 'sad' ... but IMO, if you need to be able to work with the kittens w/out Mom's influence around, you've got to separate them for the better of the majority. Mom will get over it after a bit. If you want to be able to keep a kitt or two with her, then I would not recommend removing the kittens so every one keeps their bonds strong.



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post #6 of 24 (permalink) Old 12-28-2010, 06:47 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks! We are thinking of going ahead and remove the 5 kittens and take them to the Humane Society and then reintroduce mom to her older (now around 9 mo old) kitten which we had to separate from her when mom gave birth to the 5 kittens. Hopefully it will work.
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post #7 of 24 (permalink) Old 12-30-2010, 12:11 AM
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In the future if you ever have a mother and kittens, it is best to remove the kittens around 4-6 weeks of age. You do not want the mother teaching them to be feral. The older they are the harder it is to make sure they are totally socialized so they can be adopted out or placed at a no kill shelther.

If the feral mother lets you interact with her kittens to socialize them then they can stay longer. Ive had semi feral mom in my garage which let us handle the kittens from a few weeks old. She would watch at a distance to make sure her kittens were being treated OK. We let her stay with the kittens until 12 weeks old then had her spayed and release back to where she came from.
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post #8 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-04-2011, 09:36 PM Thread Starter
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I wanted to do that but someone in another cat forum had told me to wait till they were a couple of months old. I see now it was a mistake
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post #9 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-04-2011, 11:26 PM
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Hey this journey with cats is all on a learning curve. Because I do TNR Ive learned these things. Not to worry. If you follow the suggestion in Kitty Boot Camp you can bring them around. You wil know better next time, no biggie.

Cats who arent socialized completely can be returned to rescues because a lot of people arent cat savvy and arent committed to "bringing" a older kitten around. That is why we start early. Its nice to have a group of them so they can all learn together and have the companionship of other kittens.

Most people think cats are aloof. But they arent. They like the companionship of other cats. If you have an older Tom, they are great influences on teaching kittens the kitty rules.

Go to the feral cat section and click on the videos called Tough Love by the urban cat league. Its also very helpful. Between the two resources you will have a great idea of how to bring them totally around.
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post #10 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-05-2011, 12:12 AM Thread Starter
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Of all the cats we've ever rescued this was the difficult case because it's the first time we've ever had a cat give birth. We either find kittens by themselves or in groups, or a nice stray cat and once we had a mom with her kittens but they were all pretty friendly. This was the first time we had a feral mom who then gave birth when she came in the house. I just feel like we could have saved her kittens but now they will probably be killed and all because we didn't know what to do with newborns. That's the trully awful part we just can't get over and then having mom cry when she goes looking for them is heartbreaking.
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