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post #1 of 15 (permalink) Old 06-14-2013, 12:04 AM Thread Starter
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Hello Everyone, Advice On Stray Cat/Kittens

Hello everyone. I am new to this forum. I am also new to feeding a stray cat. I started feeding her around Thanksgiving 2012. I already have one male cat, so I would feed her his food daily. At first, she would always run when she saw me and she would come back a little bit later to eat the food. It wasn't until around March of this year, where she stopped being afraid of me. It took another month for me to be able to pet her. Now she lets me pet her all the time, and she purrs. The only thing I have not done was pick her up yet. She doesn't like when I move too fast.

Anyway, I had made an appointment to get her spayed back in April. Her tummy looked big at that time, and I wasn't sure if she was pregnant (I have never had a female cat before), or if she was just gaining weight with me feeding her. The day of the appointment to get her spayed, she never showed up. I did not see her for a week, then she showed up. Her belly was a lot smaller, so I knew she must have been pregnant.

She kept coming to eat, but she would leave right away, so I knew for sure she had kittens. I live in a townhouse community, and in back of my house, there is a hill, and then a grassy area with trees. She had the kittens up there somewhere. I also have been putting Frontline Plus on her, because she did have fleas and ticks when I was able to start petting her, and so I started using the Frontline.

So, Tuesday of this week, I was in my kitchen, and here I see the mom cat coming down the hill with one of her babies running beside her!! It was the cutest thing ever!!! So, she brought all of her kittens down, and they are now under my deck. I went out and bought kitten food, and 2 of the kittens have been eating it. I can pet the 2 kittens that are eating. Bad thing is, one of the kittens went missing yesterday. I know mom went looking for it today, she went over the hill and was gone for like 20 minutes. I was watching and hoping she would have the kitten with her, but she didn't. They are about 7 weeks old.

The 3rd kitten has not tried eating the food I put out for them. They are still nursing on mom ... but I take it that mom is weening them now. My question for you is, is there a way for me to try to find the lost kitten? I am not sure how far mom is going? This kitten that is missing has NOT let me pet it. So, I am not sure if I would go looking, and find it, if it would even let me pick it up.

I did set up my office with 2 litter boxes, a play tower, a large bed. My question to you is ... would it be a good idea for me to bring the kittens inside now? I was going to bring them in, but I am new to all of this, and not sure if I can just take them from mom at 7 weeks old?? I am not sure how old mom is, and I am not even sure if mom will like it in the house? I would like to bring mom in too, and have mom and the kittens in my office. I know I have to keep the separated from my male cat, until I can get them to the Vets, to make sure they are disease free.

I am just not sure what is best for them? I don't know how long they should be with mom? Also, any suggestions on finding the lost kitten? Is there anything I can do? I was going to go looking through the back yards ... but since I live in a townhouse community, I am worried the neighbors might freak out if I come looking under all of their decks. They may get mad that I am even feeding a stray cat. Any suggestions/tips on this I would GREATLY appreciate it! Thank you so much!

Tiffany
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post #2 of 15 (permalink) Old 06-14-2013, 10:39 AM
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This is a great story and you are kind to try and help them. You might consider posting lost kitten flyers in the area. I would try and search for the kitten but not put myself at risk doing it or trespass. No telling what happened to it. It may have wandered off somewhere or been snatched by a predator, or taken in by a kind neighbor. The kittens can be weaned after 8 weeks, but they learn very important social skills from mom between 8-10 weeks, maybe even up to 12 weeks. The safest place for them is inside IF you can get them all inside. Once mom is in the kittens can be brought in separately. Handling would be essential to their socialization with humans and make them much more adoptable.

Best wishes and keep us updated on what you do!!

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post #3 of 15 (permalink) Old 06-15-2013, 03:46 PM
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You are so sweet to do all this for this momma kitty and her babies! Thank you for that, the world needs more people like you.

I too wonder, sadly, if a predator didn't get that baby kitten . I hope I'm wrong. It is possible that the kitten wandered near someone and they picked it up. Most cat people that saw a helpless kitten that young wandering around would try to trap it, and with food and a kitten that small, I would think it would not be that hard to do with a cage. So I wonder if that is possibility, someone found that kitty and took it in. At least it is better to think of that than the alternative, that something horrible happened to it. Just yesterday at Petco, someone brought in a tiny 5-6 week old kitten from the parking lot that had wandered off from who knows where, no momma in sight, it was dirty and oily, but it was fat and healthy, so you know it's momma had to not be far off, but it is possible that kittens wander off, and this one didn't want to be handled either...it was stuck up in a big truck near the spare tire and someone had to climb under the truck to get it out....if he'd not heard the mewing, he would have driven off with it there.

I think it's possible you might be able to get the momma cat to come inside your house, but if she has never been in a house before, she might freak once in there. You may want to leave the door open first so she sees that she can go out if she wants to. I think if she has a good experience coming in at first, and she walks around and sees that it is safe, you give her some food, make it a pleasant experience, maybe she will come back, maybe with the kittens. I think once you got all of them inside, I'd keep her confined to the room you set up. She will probably be upset at first and howl like crazy to get out, but I would not let her out until you are able to get her spayed or she'll end up like this again. Hopefully if you get her in the enclosed room, and you just casually put a small cage or carrier in there with some food, and just be nonchalant about it at first, put a small blanket or bed in there, she will get comfortable going in there and then you can shut her in and get her to the vet. If you have a chance to get those kittens inside, with or without her, I would get them in there.

You are wonderful to take this on! Maybe your vet or a rescue can help you find a home for the babies....or maybe you will end up keeping one? Two cats is always better than one, one and they get bored and lonely. I think this momma is so lucky to have you, you are a guardian angel to her right now.

I have a feral that it took me many months to be able to pet her, now she loves me, lets me pet her, but she will have no part in letting me pick her up. What she will do....and this has just been very recently, I lift her up under her front legs, but I don't lift her back legs off the ground. I usually do it right when I walk outside, when she is the most excited to see me and happy and mewing and purring, and I will sort of do this half lift, and she is letting me, after about 15 seconds, she starts to squirm to get away. I once tried to lift her up completely, and she freaked. She didn't bite me, but it scared her, so I have not tried again, and I am not sure I"ll ever get to that point. I did have success sitting in a chair with treats and she jumped into my lap and ate the treats and jumped down, and she has done that one other time, but she has never settled in my lap. She will lay across my feet though, in the chair I am in. Small steps. This has all been over a year that we have gotten to this point, from hissing and running at first, to now this, so I'm happy. She is already spayed, a TNR with a tipped ear, and I have 3 inside cats, and this girl has in interest in coming inside, so I love her as best I can as an outdoor cat.

I can't wait to hear more about your kitties. You sound like you will be a wonderful cat momma!
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post #4 of 15 (permalink) Old 06-16-2013, 02:59 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you!!

WOW, I have been refreshing the main page of this site for days, since I first posted my post, and I just now found it. I thought maybe my new post did not make it. Sorry for the late reply back. I kept looking for my post in the "Introduction" section.

UPDATE: Momma found the lost kitten the next day!! Thank goodness. However, the very next day, another one went missing for another 24 hours. This has been a stressful week for me. Shewwwww. I have spent so much time with the momma cat and kittens, trying to get the kittens used to me.

I noticed a tic on the one babies ear, so I was able to pick it up while it was eating, and I got the tic off of it. I am sorry, I do not know what their sex is yet! I cannot put the Frontline Plus on them until later this week, when they are 8 weeks old.

So, tonight, I decided to bring all of the kittens inside, into my office that I have set up for them. I was able to get them while they were eating. Bad thing is, after all of the kittens were inside and safe, I tried to go get the momma cat. I tried picking momma up, but she freaked out! She did not like that. Then, momma was sad, I could tell. I went to feed her and she did not eat at all, I almost started crying. I've been petting her, telling her that her babies are ok and safe. About 3 hours later, I got momma to eat! However, I know she is still sad.

So, what should I do now? Like I said, I am new to all of this. Should I leave the 4 kittens in my office without momma? Or, should I still try to bring momma in and keep her up with them? The kittens are currently hiding under my desk, they are not too happy. So, I just went up and made sure everything was safe for the night, and I turned the light off.

I am hoping by the time I wake up, they will have settled down a bit? I have been reading things online tonight about how to care for kittens and how to go about socializing them. They were letting me pet them when they were with mom, if they were eating the food I gave them. I am just hoping they come around, and hopefully with the things I read tonight about how to socialize them, I hope they will do ok! I will work really hard at it, I know that!

I do plan on keeping 2 of them, as long as they are disease free. I am praying that momma and the kittens are disease free. I would like to bring momma in too ... so shes safe, I am just not sure if she will like it inside, but I will try.

I will call Monday to get the kittens in, and have them checked out and tested. I will also make an appointment to get momma spayed before she gets pregnant again. When I had the previous appointment for her, they said they would tip her ear. I am not sure if I should have them tip her ear or not? I would like to keep her inside, but I am not sure if she will like it.

Thank you all so much for your advice/comments!!! I have pictures of the kittens but I am not sure how to post them on here.

Tiffany
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post #5 of 15 (permalink) Old 06-16-2013, 04:20 AM
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First off thank you for caring for this poor mommy kitty and kittens. You are wonderful!!!

Our TNR group takes in kitten from the mothers around 6-8 weeks so I think you made the right decision to take them in right now. I wouldn't suggest leaving them with the mother until 12 weeks because she would be teaching them feral ways. If you have the mother inside with the kittens and you are interacting with the kittens daily, socializing them, then it is OK to leave them with their mother because they are gaining social skills with humans while nursing and the comfort of mom.

It sounds like the mom is what we consider semi feral. She sounds like she has been out there for awhile and has become wary of humans to a degree. Probably mistreated while out there so it will take baby steps to bring her around. Read thru Heidis Kitty Boot Camp for tips on bringing an adult feral around to become socialized. viewtopic.php?f=2&t=60586&p=604933#p604933

I had posted 3 video in the sticky section from the Urban cat league that are on Utube. They are by far the best Ive seen on socializing kittens. Lots of good tips you can use with bringing your kittens around to be comfortable around humans. https://www.catforum.com/forum/56-fer...tens-cats.html

The mom needs to be trapped asap or she will be pregnant in no time and you will be fielding more kittens! Nursing females can get pregnant even while she still has kittens and is nursing them. Do you have a low cost spay neuter clinic in your area? You may want to tip her ear unless your committed to getting her into your home and socialized. This will show others doing TNR she doesn't need to be spayed if they trap her or see her in with other strays.

Your off to a good start. Best of luck with the kitties.
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post #6 of 15 (permalink) Old 06-16-2013, 07:40 AM
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Wow, great job getting the 3 kitties! I know they are scared and confused without mom inside with them, but I think you did the right thing, otherwise they will likely end up dead outside. So mom has no desire to come inside the house if you try to coax her in? I"m not surprised if she won't. My feral wouldn't think about that for a long time, now she looks like she wants to come in, but I have 3 inside cats and don't know her health status, so I can't, but she has finally trusted me enough that she would.

Those videos are GREAT! I believe they are under the title taming and socializing feral cats and kittens, and if you scroll down a bit, it's not the first set of videos, but about 4 or so posts down....the videos are great, best I have ever seen. You should definitely check them out.
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post #7 of 15 (permalink) Old 06-16-2013, 04:37 PM Thread Starter
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Thank You

Thank you so much for all of your kind words everyone!

The 4 kittens are doing a little better, I have been going up to my office where I am keeping them (until I get them to the vet to make sure they are disease free, because of my male cat that I have) about every hour today and spending 15-30 minutes. They are slowly coming around. I have held 3 of them, and have pet them all. The one keeps hissing at me, and so I haven't held that one yet, but I have been petting it. I will try to find out their sex soon! It's so hard for me to tell!

I can tell momma cat is depressed. I tried getting her into the house several times today, but she just comes right inside the door in the kitchen. I can't get her to come upstairs where the kittens are.

I was thinking ... if I would go buy one of those large, round playpens ... and keep my male cat in my bedroom .... and bring the kittens downstairs, to the kitchen, and put them in the round play pen ... and then have mom come in and go inside the playpen ... do you think that is a good idea? Since mom does not want to come further in the house, I was thinking I could do this.

I just want to do what is best for the mom and kittens. I feel bad taking them and mom not coming. I have a daughter of my own, and it seriously just breaks my heart. I feel bad ... and I just want to do what is right. So, maybe if I slowly ween mom from them? Let them nurse once a day with mom, and then mom goes back outside, and the kittens go back upstairs? Or would that just prolong the depression with both kittens and mom?

Thank you so much!

Tiffany
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post #8 of 15 (permalink) Old 06-16-2013, 04:39 PM Thread Starter
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Ooopss, I forgot

I forgot to also say thank you for the links you all have posted! I watched all of the videos and have read and favorite the other link!
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post #9 of 15 (permalink) Old 06-16-2013, 07:53 PM
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That would be a good plan to lock up resident cat and let momma spend time with her kittens. Maybe put resident cat in a spare room with litter box and water for a few hours. That will be reassuring to momma and make things so much less stressful for her and the kittens. You might be able to block off the doorway to the kitchen with baby gates. (Look in thrift stores - I can almost always find one or more there). You are making tremendous progress with momma to get her into the kitchen already! A true feral would not think of doing this for years at best, I think.

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post #10 of 15 (permalink) Old 06-16-2013, 10:44 PM
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I second that idea, put your male cat in a spare room with a litter box for a few hours, if you can get one of those round playpens for the kittens, put it down near where the cat could see them and maybe she would come in. I know she must be so confused, but I think you are doing the right thing, if she gets ahold of them outside, she will likely run of with them and you won't see them again. I really hope she will come around soon.
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