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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
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
 

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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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Discussion Starter #3
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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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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Discussion Starter #5
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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Discussion Starter #6
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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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 :D) 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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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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Discussion Starter #9
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. :thumb

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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Discussion Starter #10
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 :fust , 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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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
So...it's getting worriesome. I moved all 5 kittens to the shelter (10 feet from where she last moved them to) after she disappeared for 3 hours and wandered around the back yard.

She came back and moved one kitten back by the pool heater, and has left the other 4 in the shelter now for 4 hours.....She knows they're in there, she's been in and out of it 3 times, but I'm pretty certain she cant count worth a darn, and am worried she's just not the brightest bulb in the string or just too young to know what to do.

I guess my two choices are to A) leave things be and hope she comes back for the other 4, or B) take to her,... at coming up on 10 days old, I'm not sure what to do??? I'm afraid I'll wake up and find the 4 dead in the shelter..

My nerves are a wreck
 

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There's no way you can bring them inside? I may be saying the complete wrong thing, I'm not 100% educated on the matter and haven't had to care for a whole litter of young ones yet, but my main priority would be making sure the kittens are in a safe place where no one can hurt them. Hmmm. If mamma happened to abandon them for whatever reason, would you be able to care for them on your own? If so, then personally my main priority would be getting them to a safe spot even if mamma doesn't like it. Like you said, you don't want to wake up to dead kittens. :(

Of course, if someone with more experience/education on the matter thinks this is wrong, then by all means please say so, for their information and mine. I'm just worried the mamma is young and may not be making the best decisions for the little ones (and that seems the case).

If all turns out well, do you plan on getting the mama spayed? And the new female kittens? Also, what of the original mother? Sorry, lol, just curious. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Yes definitely plan on getting momma fixed. She is one of 3 kittens that appeared in our backyard in April, 2 females one male. I got the other female fixed, and was unable to catch her before she got pregnant. The older momma, Grandma, has since disappeared.

I can't stay home and care for the kittens all day, as my job wont permit it nor will my wife's.

They're all safe, right now she has one by herself around the side of the house, and the other 4 are still in the shelter. Problem is, she hasnt fed them in going on 5 hours now.
 

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Do you have somewhere inside that you could confine Mamma and her babies? If it were me, I'd trap her and bring them all in so that the musical babies scenario would stop and they would all be safe and Mamma would be there to feed for them. It does sound to me like as she's so young she's not really sure of what she's doing. I would be worried about the 4 not being fed as well. It's a very difficult situation for sure....
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Well I grabbed the 4 and took them around the side of the house and laid them down next to her. She was cautious but let me place them by her and stayed put so far (20 minutes) they all seem to be finding a place to suck, so I'm going to have to let them be for the night.

Not really a place to keep them inside. We also have an inside pooch, older Shizu, and both have high pressure jobs we can't take off for 2 weeks :deal

I suppose worst case I could put them in the garage..warm temps here in Florida, 65 at night, mid-high 80's daytime, so that's good.

I have a daughter who may be able to help, but it's a long shot do to living arrangements...

We'll see what the morning brings...I need a hug :patback
 

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That's great that she let you handle them and then let them feed again. That's a good sign, but I know this can be very stressful, especially when you don't really have the means to care for them what with money and time. :( Are you hoping to eventually give them up for adoption when they're older?

For the time being I would just keep checking on them and doing your best and remember that it's not your fault if not everything goes perfectly. It sounds like you really care and you're doing a pretty great job of helping them right now. ((hugs))
 

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I like the idea of putting them in the garage. Thanks for the cute baby pic, BTW, so cute! I am in Florida too, Orlando. (((hugs))) you are doing a good thing for this littler kitty family :)
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Thanks, I'm in Apopka off Wekiva Springs.

She stayed in place with all 5 last night, so one small victory.

Unfortunately, unlike her brother and sister who still come around for feeding time each am and pm, she won't get closer than 2 feet from me. The other two come right up to me and even let me pick them up.

We'll see about clearing a safe space in the garage this week, that is if she doesnt move them to Georgia by the end of the week :roll:
 
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