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I have been caring for a feral colony now for 3 years. but now they have done something I do not understand --

Over the years a momma cat will occasionally leave and take a baby or two with her (as if they have an arguement or something).
This time, two cats had 7 babies total. the mother of one set of babies disappeared, the other momma adopted all 7 of the babies to care for them.
I have been feeding these kittens (all the cats actually, adults etc) and the babies are about 5 weeks old now and cute and fuzzy.

two days ago, all 7 kittens disappeared and were gone for 2 days. they returned about the time I thought aliens had abducted them. I live on acreage and its not like people would have access to them. raccoons show up now and then but the cats seem to tolerate them.
Now, a week has passed, and they are all gone again. all 7 of the kittens. but this time they have been gone nearly 4 days now. the adoptive mother cat has been gone for 2 of the 4 days as well.

all of these cats ALWAYS show up for the evening meal. but now none of the kittens have shown up to eat for 4 days. should I worry about them? I hate feeding and caring for them for all these weeks only to lose them. and why would they leave at such a young age?

I have not had this sort of thing happen before.
 

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Welcome to Cat Forum. I've never managed a colony, but I have trapped the kittens to tame/socialize for adoption and TNR'd the adults, all of whom were slowly tamed/socialized outside and then transitioned to becoming our housepets.

When Malibu's litter was about 4wks old, she moved them off our property. She brought them back about 4wks later, on field-trip sort of visits ... and I was able to trap them in my garage. When several weeks of work wasn't producing any results (none would approach me) I separated them and brought the litter into my bathroom to tame/socialize and Mallie was spayed and released. In less than 5mo she allowed me to begin socializing her and she has now been my bestest-buddy for several years.

I *think* at this age, the Mamma-cats begin to take their litters on 'field-trips' to learn their territory and how to survive in it. I also suspect that some kittens, who don't pay attention and keep together, may get left behind and lost. If they were older (around 5-9mo old) I would suspect them of 'wanderlust' and wishing to search out and establish their own territory, but being young-ish ... I'm leaning towards field-trip, possibly field-trip-gone-awry.

Best of luck, I hope they all return.
heidi =^..^=
 

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Raccoons will kill kittens. We had a terrible problem with them in a couple colonies. Cats will disappear if raccoons start coming to eat the cat food. Weve found dead kittens with head and limbs missing from the raccoon attacking them.

I would suggest you take up what ever food is left over and not leave it around for the raccoons to feed on. You do not want to encourage them that this is a food source for them. When ever Im trapping and raccoons show up I cant get the cats to come around to get them trapped. Sorry your having this problem.
 

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There's 2 raccoons that (most likely) live in the attic above me. (Lots of darn noise in the daytime from them overhead.) They're very large. I saw them one time show up after most of the food had been eaten by the cats. A few cats were still there. The raccoons started eating too. One cat kept eating, while another was sitting a few feet away from the raccoons. No problems. I also saw the raccoons in my yard while the cats were lounging around on my porch late in the evening, me there talking to them, petting them. (After they'd eaten.) The cats didn't pay any attention to the raccoons. I was personally scared, went & googled ferals & raccoons. Lots of utube vids of ferals & raccoons eating at the same time with no problem. Shocked me. 8O Both the strays/ferals & raccoons in my neighborhood have been around along time with no issues.
 

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It's possible that the kittens were killed by something other than racoons. Weasels, mink, foxes, coyotes, dogs, bobcats and birds of prey could all eat the kittens. The mother that abandoned her kittens could have been killed herself, lost her milk, or died of pyometra. It's a hard life for a feral cat and most don't live beyond 3 years. :cry:
 

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The woman who manages the feral colony in her backyard heard the screams and watched the raccoons kill the kittens. There was nothing she could do to stop it. It was horrible. I wish they were friendly like the ones mentioned but they arent. But she is in the country and food is few and far between.
 
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