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post #1 of 66 (permalink) Old 10-09-2013, 10:57 PM Thread Starter
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So need advice on 5 new borns

Hi, looking for some advice, hope you can point me in the right direction.

We discovered 3 kittens in our backyard last March, 2 females and a male. The momma was semi-feral as she would come right up to us. Anyway she raised the kittens fine with little help from us, other than food when they got to be about 7-8 weeks old. (we did save them a couple of times when they got into predicaments) We've put food and water out each day since and they are now 7 months old. Our backyard is completely fenced and relatively protected, good size with big oaks and lost of big shrubs to hide under during the day.

Anyway, we got 2 of the youngsters fixed but the one female alluded us and darn if she didnt have a litter of 5 kittens last Friday. She had them about 20 feet from where we leave food out, under a big shrub.

So here's my dilemma:
24 hours after they were born (Saturday) we saw a nasty storm coming. Fortunately I had built a nice little 4'x4'x2' shelter out of wood, up next to our screened in patio/pool, and 10 feet away from the food bowl area on a step just outside of the screen enclosure a month ago anticipating winter and a place for the then 3 cats to use if they wished. . So I picked up the kittens and put them inside, and momma took to it right away. So far so good.

Now here we are 5 days later and this evening for no apparent reason, momma decides to take the kittens one by one and move them back under a brush pile about 30 feet away. They are not well protected and would get soaked if we get another rain.

We plan on socializing with these kittens and getting them people friendly and hoping we can find folks to adopt them. I understand between 3-7 weeks its critical for them to become comfortable around people.

So given that this rather young 7 month old momma made a poor decision on where to move them to, What would you do?:

A- leave them be and hope for the best
B- move them back to the nifty kitten shelter

Momma wont let me touch her, but will come to within 12" when I put food out each night and morning, and she's "known" me for 7 months.

Sure could uise advice on moving them back or letting nature take its course.

thanks

Last edited by bigredfish; 10-09-2013 at 10:59 PM.
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post #2 of 66 (permalink) Old 10-10-2013, 12:11 AM
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Hi Bigredfish! The little shed you built sounds great, did you put straw in it for mama and babies? Also if the front is completly open that could cause mama to move her babies to what she perceives is more cover...
Maybe a removable 'wall' area with just enough of an opening for mama to get through would help convice her that this is the spot to be!
I had used a huge rubbermaid tub when I went through something similar to yours, I cut a hole in it and in my case, used old blankets for bedding, my feral mama cat checked it out good for a couple of days, then she started moving her babies one by one from under the hood of my old blazer to her new home, the rubbermaid tub!
I also cut the hole for mama cat to get in and out about half way up, so there was a high lip that the kittens couldn't just fall out of.
You need to convice her that its the best nest area around!!
Good luck!!

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post #3 of 66 (permalink) Old 10-10-2013, 06:47 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks 7 cats, I'll try the straw bedding. Otherwise it's well built, plenty of room and protected from the elements.

So would you move them back to the shelter? DO I risk Momma abandoning them? Should I wait another week?

She has been around and in the structure for a month prior to having the babies so she's comfortable around it. I think something must have spooked her and being young, freaked out and made a bad decision.
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post #4 of 66 (permalink) Old 10-10-2013, 08:47 AM
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New kitty mums are known for moving their litters, it probably wasn't because of anything. Personally I'd change the bedding then move them back. As long as she's fairly comfortable with you it shouldn't upset her.
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post #5 of 66 (permalink) Old 10-10-2013, 12:40 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks, I think I'll do that.

By the way, Am I correct in assuming that I should not attempt to feed the babies until they have stopped nursing on Momma, say 7-8 weeks?


Thanks again for the help
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post #6 of 66 (permalink) Old 10-11-2013, 08:56 AM Thread Starter
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Well she beat me to it. Just 24 hours later, after the sun had come up and she realized what a bad spot she had picked, she moved them again to a much better location, still right nearby in a different place in the backyard.

Still I'd love her to take to the nifty kitty shelter, but for a few days, or perhaps until the kittens get to 3 weeks, I think I'll let them be where they are.

At 3 weeks the plan is to move them back to the shelter where we can begin the socializing process.
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post #7 of 66 (permalink) Old 10-11-2013, 01:23 PM
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Don't wait until 3 weeks! If she's let you touch them before (aka didn't freak right out and abandon them) then you can start now. The earlier the better, especially since mum is feral.

When I had feral females I had a trick I used if I knew they'd be OK with me around their kits. I'd feed them wet food at a certain point each day and as mum was eating her yummy dinner I'd go and pet the kittens in the nest. Don't pick them up for a few days, and keep a close eye on mum. If she seems to be getting anxious, or to be very angry about you being near her kits you'll have to try a different tactic, but it works pretty well.

When they're about 3 weeks old they'll start to toddle around (my absolute FAVORITE kitten stage ) and they may try to eat with their mum. They'll just start tasting at that age, and will still be completely dependent on mum for milk, but if you've gotten her used to eating at a certain time you'll get to see the kittens start following her around.

Then comes the tricky bit. Mum will start leading them on mini adventures around 4-5 weeks old...if there's anyone that lives nearby who is a threat to the kittens they're at a very vulnerable stage and can be easily caught. Keep that in mind. (That is why I took Muffin from his feral mum at 4 weeks. I'd gotten a straight out threat from a neighbor.)

If you can it's best to keep them with mum until they're 6 weeks old, but if you need to bring them in sooner for whatever reason do it after 4 1/2-5 weeks. They're a lot more work at that age, and would do much better with mum, but they're safety is always my first concern.

Once the kittens start toddling around spend as much time with them outside as possible; that's when you ramp up your socializing. Pet them, pick them up, cuddle them, talk to them ect. You want them to be very comfortable with you so it's easy to catch them when it's time.
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post #8 of 66 (permalink) Old 10-11-2013, 01:55 PM
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Yes, to what librarychick said.

Incidentally, kittens can sometimes be used to lure trap wary mother cats into humane cat traps, which would allow you to get mommy spayed! It's a tactic I employ a lot when trapping during kitten season.

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post #9 of 66 (permalink) Old 10-11-2013, 07:04 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks so much for all of the helpful advice. I really appreciate it.

Checked on the little ones when I got home and all seemed well. At least she's left them in the same place for 2 days.

So tomorrow we'll start trying the petting thing at feeding time and see how that goes. Still wondering whether to move them back to the cat palace, but will see how things go this weekend.

I'll keep you posted and get some obligatory kitten pics. Stay tuned
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post #10 of 66 (permalink) Old 10-13-2013, 03:40 PM Thread Starter
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Well she moved them again! My wife went to check on them and found one lonely kitten in the last bed she had made. That spot lasted 3 days like the other ones. Left one there, so we picked it up and brought it to her, again....Dont understand why she keeps moving them , it seemed like a great spot.

Now she's in a bad spot again up against the house behind the pool heater. Its not in use so no worry there, but it's open and not protected at all. Maybe 10 feet from the "cat palace". Anything I can do to lure her into the shelter?

She's very protective and when I get close she hisses and puts herself between me and the little ones. If looks could kill I'd be a goner.
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