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post #1 of 17 (permalink) Old 09-26-2011, 07:02 PM Thread Starter
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Two Feral Kittens Help with Question and Guidance

I'm new to this board, little experience with cats and need a little help and guidance. I'm sorry in advance that I can't seem to figure out how to make paragraphs yet so this post is going to be one very long paragraph! About two months ago I discovered to kittens had made a home in my garage. For quite some time I could only get an occasional glimpse of them because they liked to stay hidden. I put food and water down for them every day and slowly gained their trust. It took nearly 2 months before one of the kittens finally became very friendly with me, lets me pet her and hold her and the other kitten was getting close. Not knowing what I was doing, I had a plan to wait for both kittens to trust me enough so that I could take them to a vet together and then figure out how to find a home for them. Every morning for a very long time now the kittens would wait for me to bring their breakfast and lunch and dinner and snack etc. They're quite bonded and always together. This morning there was only one kitten. I spent the morning walking around in the ran looking for a hurt or dead 2nd kitty. I drove around the neighborhood looking for it. Nothing. I don't know what could have happened to her. What do I do now? I'm scared for the remaining kitty's safety. I'm sad for him because I know he misses his littermate and I'm sad for the other kitty. Do I bring the kitten in for the night? I'm sure it will freak him out to be inside. I'm concerned about my animals, I have two parrots and a gentle dog. I don't want the animals exposed to possible disease from the kitten. Do I wait until the other kitten comes back before taking the remaining kitten to the vet? If I take the kitten to the vet and the other one comes back looking for her mate, will she leave if the kitten isn't there? Please, what's my next step?? Thank you for any and all advice.
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post #2 of 17 (permalink) Old 09-27-2011, 01:14 AM
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The way I look at it... better for the kitten to be freaked out but SAFE, inside with you. It's possible something did happen to the other kitten, and for that reason I would probably try to get the remaining one inside asap. Both cats are used to you feeding them, so if the other kitten does come back I think it's likely she'll stick around because she knows that you will bring her food. Then you can get her too. In fact it might be better for her not to see you 'catnap' her brother, since I imagine wrangling two kittens at once wouldn't be easy.

When you bring the kitten inside all you need to do is keep him separate from your own animals. You should set him up in his own room with food, water, litter box and somewhere he can hide. That way he can get used to you, to being inside, and to the smell and sound of your other animals. Keep him in a separate room until you can get him to a vet to be checked over.

It just occurred to me actually - I take it you know the genders of both kittens, as you know the female is the one that's missing. Is it possible she's gone into heat, and has wondered off in search of a male? I've read that female cats can go into heat as young as five months. It's possible the male kitten hasn't quite reached maturity yet, so he's stayed behind while his sister seeks out some male attention.

I think it's really wonderful of you to care about these kittens. Good luck to you and the kitties - hopefully the female comes back ok, and the two of them take well to living inside with you. Either way it's really kind of you to care about them enough to take care of them up to now.
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post #3 of 17 (permalink) Old 09-27-2011, 07:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PennyToad View Post
I'm new to this board, little experience with cats and need a little help and guidance. I'm sorry in advance that I can't seem to figure out how to make paragraphs yet so this post is going to be one very long paragraph! About two months ago I discovered to kittens had made a home in my garage. For quite some time I could only get an occasional glimpse of them because they liked to stay hidden. I put food and water down for them every day and slowly gained their trust. It took nearly 2 months before one of the kittens finally became very friendly with me, lets me pet her and hold her and the other kitten was getting close. Not knowing what I was doing, I had a plan to wait for both kittens to trust me enough so that I could take them to a vet together and then figure out how to find a home for them. Every morning for a very long time now the kittens would wait for me to bring their breakfast and lunch and dinner and snack etc. They're quite bonded and always together. This morning there was only one kitten. I spent the morning walking around in the ran looking for a hurt or dead 2nd kitty. I drove around the neighborhood looking for it. Nothing. I don't know what could have happened to her. What do I do now? I'm scared for the remaining kitty's safety. I'm sad for him because I know he misses his littermate and I'm sad for the other kitty. Do I bring the kitten in for the night? I'm sure it will freak him out to be inside. I'm concerned about my animals, I have two parrots and a gentle dog. I don't want the animals exposed to possible disease from the kitten. Do I wait until the other kitten comes back before taking the remaining kitten to the vet? If I take the kitten to the vet and the other one comes back looking for her mate, will she leave if the kitten isn't there? Please, what's my next step?? Thank you for any and all advice.
How old are the kittens now? The most pertinent question!

An unspayed or unneutered cat can disappear for several weeks on end and then reappear. Donít give up hope. Just have food waiting in the usual spot. Take your remaining kitten in to the vet or low cost spay neuter clinic immediately to be s/n. If female, she can get pregnant at 6 months old. Donít chance that. Her buddy will stick around if she isnít there, if the food source is there.

Itís not impossible to socialize an older kitten or cat but it takes time and commitment. Common TNR rule of thumb is we donít bring in kittens after they are 12 weeks old. Not that they canít be tamed but that the feral tendencies are stronger by then and takes more consistent effort to bring them around.

You will need a separate room to bring this kitten or teenager around. The kitten will be terrified at first so donít expect it to respect you or your pets or your household items. That is why keeping it in a small bathroom is a good place to originally start.

The most important and best thing you can do for both these kittens (if the other shows up again) is to get them spayed or neutered. The male wonít feel like marking your garage and territory of its neighborhood. They both wonít feel the need to wander and mate, which in turns keeps them safer. Plus vaccinations given during s/n will keep them safe from common feline diseases like felv and fiv.

Cats or kittens canít bring in diseases to your other pets. They may bring in fleas or a parasite from their poo in their cat box like Giardia etc. But those are all very treatable and not a biggie.

Kitty Boot Camp by Heidi is the best Iíve seen on socializing. Cat Forum : Cat Discussion Forums - View Single Post - Kitty Cat Boot Camp

If your kittens are younger then the 3 Utube videos by Urban Cat League are the best Iíve come across. You can even use some of the tips in there for older kittens or semi-ferals. Tough Love: Socializing Feral Kittens (Part 1 of 3) - YouTube

You sound like a very compassionate person. I hope your other kitty shows up again. Keep asking us questions. Weíre here to help.
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post #4 of 17 (permalink) Old 09-27-2011, 09:01 AM
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It is more than just possible to socialize a cat/kitten over 12 weeks. I have done it quite often. My rescues this year are only about 9 weeks and are currently ensconced in my quarantine room (extra bedroom) with their mother. Rosie is about 18 months old and her former owner stopped feeding her when she found out Rosie had kittens. She figured if she didn't feed the mother then the kittens would starve. What happened was Rose continued to be a very good mom and was at the brink of starvation when my BFF and I snatched her and the two remaining kittens up.

Rosie is semi-tame and becoming tamer by leaps and bounds. The female kitten, Dora the Explorer, is wary and prefers not to be touched, but is very playful and cannot resist a string toy. The tom kitten, Silver, is going to be the hard sell and hides all the time I am in the quarantine room.

The plan is to provide food, water, safety and time. Never force human contact on them, wait for them to come to me. Rosie will probably be out of the quarantine room within two weeks. She and the kittens are already determined to be FeLk and FeAids negative. As soon as she has her shots and is coming to me for socialization, she will be allowed out of the room. Rosie is really ready to get away from the kittens and the large room has made it easier for her to get away from them. The kittens should be ready for new homes come Thanksgiving or Christmas, if they follow the usual time line for taming kittens.
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post #5 of 17 (permalink) Old 09-27-2011, 09:36 AM
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If you watch the videos or read Heidiís Kitty Boot Camp, it isnít about "forcing" yourself on a cat to socialize it. Itís about techniques of gently nudging its comfort levels to bring the cat around.

Itís been my experience, if you wait for a cat to come around, it never will. Then you will have a partially socialized kitten and they get returned when adopted out. The work is to be done now before they go up for adoption, to ensure a permanent home.

The general public wants a kitten they donít have to work with to make it comfortable with them.

Make sure the kittens are spayed and neutered before you adopt them out. FYI, tests for FeLV and FIV are not always accurate in kittens. You have to wait until they are a year old. Even then the snap test only shows when they are shedding the virus. If you had the mom tested that is the best indicator for the kittens so far.

It was super kind of you to rescue the mom and kittens. Iím always amazed at the sheer unfeeling ignorance of people thinking starving can motivate a cat. Thank goodness you were there to rescue them and change their lives for the good.
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post #6 of 17 (permalink) Old 09-27-2011, 10:28 AM
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I am sorry Mitts and Tess, I was not criticizing or anything. Just stating what I do. And yes, you can be sure the kittens will be spayed and neutered when they are rehomed, as well as microchipped. As soon as I get Rosie away from her kittens she has a date with SNAP for surgery.

Yes, it was the mother we had checked for leukemia and aids. The kittens will be checked before their spay surgery in a few months.

Where as you say you have no luck with older kittens taming themselves, I have to say I have never had a failure with even two and three year old ferals taming themselves. It just takes time and patience which I have since I only am able to rescue two or three a year and do no deal with large quantities of cats like other rescues have to. I am not just bragging here, I am being honest. One three year old cat I had for two years before he was social with humans and when I finally placed him in a home, I was honest with the new caretakers Whip was not a cuddly cat. They said that was what they wanted. I visited WhiperSnapper often over the period of three years after he was placed and he established a bond with their older queen cat and their youngest child. Whip absolutely loved that little boy and ended up sleeping with the child every night. I was surprised at how tame Whip turned out.

With all the cats I place, I have a no fault return policy. If the cat does not work out, they can give them back without problem. I have only ever had one returned and it was because of allergies, not that they didn't want the cat. I still have China as one of my own.
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post #7 of 17 (permalink) Old 09-27-2011, 10:35 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you, everyone. The other kitty came back last night after dark. Me and her sibling were both VERY happy to see her! She ate a ton of food last night and the two kittens stayed together through the night and are together still right now. My best guess at their age is an uneducated guess but I think they're 16 to 18 weeks of age.

Can we go over the steps I need to take? The first thing I need to do right away is get them into a carrier and take them to the vet for medical (whatever that is that a vet does for a cat) and spay/neuter.

The next step after that is what??? It took near 2 months of daily interaction and a lot of patience to get the kittens to trust me. The boy kitten rolls over and lets me pet his belly. He jumps on my lamp and purrs up a storm. The girl kitty isn't quite there and I think she may be more limited in terms of how much attention she'll ever want from a human. She's very skittish but she finally comes to me for pets and play and she will purr. But if I move to quickly she's out of there like a bat out of ****. She won't let me pick her up yet. I learned my lesson after trying to once, but I'll risk it again in order to drop her into a carrier.

She's special and I adore her. I don't know what it is that makes the two kittens so different in temperament. It could be as simple as genetics or a trauma that may have happened to the one kitten. Or it might be the role of the girl cat. I've been watching them for two months and the female cat seemed to be the protector of the two.

I have an awful lot of respect for the kittens and their fight for survival. I cannot allow them to be separated and it's going to take a special person to give the kittens a home and where do I find that person??
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post #8 of 17 (permalink) Old 09-27-2011, 10:52 AM
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IF you can get them into a carrier, that would be easiest. Or if they are still too skittish you can put - two have a hart traps out, to get them in. TNR groups and rescues that TNR will lend you traps, normally. We can tell you how to bait the traps.

Google ďLow cost spay neuterĒ then your ďtownís nameĒ and see what comes up. That would be the most cost effective route to take. When you take them in to be s/n request all vaccinations, check for fleas and ear mites. A general once over check while they are under.

If they are females they will need a 3 day recovery from spay. Donít just let them back out of doors right away. Do you have a dog kennel? My TNR friends usually let ferals recover in a kennel. You donít want them to rip their incisions during recovery. That is why we keep females 3 days. Male one day.

Cats can recover in a trap, which is what some groups do. Or bring them in to the vet in a trap; have them put them in a big carrier after surgery for you.
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post #9 of 17 (permalink) Old 09-27-2011, 11:36 AM Thread Starter
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It seems as though getting them to the vet is going to be the easiest part. The boy kitty will be no trouble getting him into a carrier. The girl kitten, not so much. I can do it although I'm sure I'll get hurt in the process but that's ok.

The tricky part comes after they heal from s/n. I can't just release them back outside. I'm working against the "weather" clock. I'm in Michigan and the cool weather is rolling in quickly. These two little stinkers aren't going to want to be out in the cold and I think they're suited to be in a home. How do I find that home?

I have two parrots that are both flighted and not confined to a cage. I'm afraid that I'll put their lives in danger if I keep the kittens.
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post #10 of 17 (permalink) Old 09-27-2011, 11:47 AM
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I am sorry Mitts and Tess, I was not criticizing or anything. Just stating what I do. And yes, you can be sure the kittens will be spayed and neutered when they are rehomed, as well as microchipped. As soon as I get Rosie away from her kittens she has a date with SNAP for surgery.

Yes, it was the mother we had checked for leukemia and aids. The kittens will be checked before their spay surgery in a few months.

Where as you say you have no luck with older kittens taming themselves, I have to say I have never had a failure with even two and three year old ferals taming themselves. It just takes time and patience which I have since I only am able to rescue two or three a year and do no deal with large quantities of cats like other rescues have to. I am not just bragging here, I am being honest. One three year old cat I had for two years before he was social with humans and when I finally placed him in a home, I was honest with the new caretakers Whip was not a cuddly cat. They said that was what they wanted. I visited WhiperSnapper often over the period of three years after he was placed and he established a bond with their older queen cat and their youngest child. Whip absolutely loved that little boy and ended up sleeping with the child every night. I was surprised at how tame Whip turned out.

With all the cats I place, I have a no fault return policy. If the cat does not work out, they can give them back without problem. I have only ever had one returned and it was because of allergies, not that they didn't want the cat. I still have China as one of my own.
I know itís hard to tell over the internet but in no way did I think you were criticizing me. Iím very direct in my postings so it may come off that way. But trust me; itís hard to offend me. Iím very laid back, quiet and non emotional in real life.

I just saw your intro and youíve been in this many more years than I have. You obviously have your act together. Iím a total believer in thereís many ways to do things. Just when we think weíve got it figure out someone shares a better way! Iím far from an expert. Iíve only been in this since 2006 with TNR and Rescue. I only know what has worked for me and my group. Iím on a giant learning curve.

I wrongly assume people donít always know about things. Things Iíve had to learn the hard way so I pass on info just in case someone doesnít know. Iíve learned a lot on Cat Forum and from my vet and from my cat savvy friends. Iím still on the journey! So please share your opinions and experiences. They count!

I made a comment awhile back; it takes a village to save a cat. Itís true. Itís all of us united together to help a cat or cats.
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