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Hey all, I have a stray (tame and super sweet) cat who gave birth in my backyard. Upon learning that she was nursing, I began to feed her. Just a few days ago she brought her kittens up to my back porch. They are super cute and still nursing, but also eating solid food...so I think they are about 5 weeks old. Mama cat comes running to me but kitties run and hide in a gopher hole under our house. The kittens are super scared and every attempt I make to socialize them they run away. One little male even hissed and growled at me when I got too close. From cute cuddly calendar creature to maniacal killer wild animal! Even mama kitty seems stressed that they go under the house (where she can't fit)...she goes to the field and brings back a mouse, which she places at the entrance to entice them out. I have a person who wants to adopt the mama once the kittens are weaned, but I am so afraid that the kittens will be feral and unadoptable. My vet tells me it is natural for kittens to be skiddish, but these buggers run and hide for hours at a time. I sit outside with the Mama every time I feed her hoping they will see. I am feeling a sense of urgency due to the fact that I am leaving town this week and will not return for a full month. The woman who is adopting the mama is coming over to feed them and form a bond with the mother while I am away. Is it too late for the kittens? I'm a city girl living in the country for the first time, so this is my first real experience with mama and babies. There are no rescue organizations that will accept ferals in my region of the state (Michigan). My first goal is to get them out from under the house, my second is to tame them and get them medically fixed up and third is to adopt them out. Worst case would be a TNR scenario. I really do NOT want the bros and sisters to start mating. Will they be too far gone by 12 weeks old to be tamed??


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First, what you're doing for this momma and her babies is great! I don't have a ton of experience with this situation but I've read that it's a lot harder to socialize kittens over 6 weeks old... not impossible or anything but a lot more effort and time involved. Are there any rescue organizations in your area that could maybe take the kittens to socialize them?
 

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I found ONE local no kill place that may take them if they have room and if they are ADOPTABLE. No rescue organizations that will service my area. At this point they are not adoptable....but today while I fed and pet the mama, two of the kittens came out and watched tentatively. Then as I sat far away, all four came out and played for a bit....until I spoke to the mama and they all ran away. I am going to call the no kill place tomorrow (they were closed today) and offer a donation in return for socializing the kittens....otherwise, they will have to wait til I return...I will have the month of November to work with them. I am told that kittens are in demand in these parts at this time of year...Also, it is FREEZING here and I notice the kittens stay underground more when it is cold....not to mention I am outside less. I am a San Diego girl so definitely NOT used to frost in September...or ever actually! Right now, they are sleeping in a box right outside my door however that I filled with straw and some of my worn clothing so they get my scent. I would not be able to live with myself if I were not able to get them all fixed up before I move in December. :(. All of my family and neighbors around me are of course "animal lovers" but are unwilling to help with the kittens while I am away. I am determined to find a solution. This sweet mama kitty did not go thru all of this just to have her babies left for dead! She is an excellent mama and I don't want to let her down. Though I will say rescuing tomcats on the beach was SO much easier!!!


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At five weeks old, with a social mama...they aren't feral yet! What they are is scared.

TBH the best thing you could do is try to catch them and bring them inside, along with mum, and keep them confined in one room. At that age if you make a point of it, you can socialize them almost entirely in a week or so! Since mum isn't afraid of you if they can't escape they'll watch her and loose their fear quite fast, especially if you give them lots of yummy food when you're there.

If they willingly go into the box with straw sneak outside and try to block the babies in. Then use that to bring them inside into a bathroom. Honestly, if you spend a week socializing them then you could turn them over to an adoption agency at 6-7 weeks and they'll be fully adoptable once they've been vet checked ect.

I've done it! Muffin was 'feral' at 4 weeks when I brought him inside, it took me all of 4 hours to have him snuggling and purring. That was without his mum helping! (Who was a true feral.)

The first litter I ever stole from their feral mum I took at 12 weeks old. It took me 3 weeks to socialize them to the point that I could adopt them out, and most groups won't even take kittens that age.

The sooner you do this the easier it'll be, I promise!

PS, we totally need pictures! :)
 

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As the previous post said, if you can get the kittens and Mama together to nurse where you can reach the kittens, just slowly, with one finger, stroke each kitten a little at a time. Then pet Mama. If she purrs, they will start to relax. It won't take long. Too bad you couldn't have started at two weeks. I have the best luck with 2 to 3 week kittens. Mama doesn't like it if you start too early. But good luck.
 

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5 weeks old with the mother cat acting friendly towards you does not a feral kitten make. Continue to interact with the mother cat and show yourself as non threathening and you will win them over. Years ago my wife had a kitten stuck in the wheel well of her car. This tiny creature hissed, spat, growled puffed up until she received some food. Within minutes the purring began and she clawed her way up into the bed. This bunch should be easy to calm down
 

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Rescue red, I had a similar situation once. A tame calico cat had three kittens in the foundation of my mom's country church. They were scared and unsocial. My mom and I set out to get them used to us with wand toys and treats, but after two weeks we really weren't getting anywhere.

We would actually bring lawn chairs over and spend an hour interacting with them. They would only allow us to get so close, then make a dash for the hole in the foundation.

The solution was to trap them, one at a time. They were about 10 weeks old. Even in a quiet setting back at my house, with the mother cat's calming influence, it took them over a month to allow any sort of touch.

I would say, round them up all at once or have some one feed them every day until you return, then trap them.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thank you so much everyone for your advice! G Ferals sounds like your situation is most similar to mine. When I get back to town, the kittens will be 11-12 weeks old. I do have people feeding them while I'm away...they have toys, etc, but have only gotten 2 kittens to come out and show interest....not touching distance of course. It's doable I know, but it will take a while. I did notice though, before I left, the kitties would come out and play at a distance while I pet their mom. So they are seeing me and other humans interact with their mother on a daily basis. I will definitely keep you all posted. And been trying to figure out how to post a pic, but can't....I'm losing' it! Or perhaps it may be another thing my iPad can't do. :(. Thank you all!!


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For some reason the Part one gave me problems when trying to post it. You may want to click on the Utube and go directly to it on the sight to play it. I tried on both my Mac and my PC to post it. Kept giving me problems. Sorry
 
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