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Found: Mom and kittens: The Plan

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 
Hi All -

I have learned a whole bunch since come to TCS. Now I have to put that knowledge to work!

My coworker knows I'm a cat lover so she asked for advice re: a momma cat and three kittens living under her porch. She doesnt like animals, and especially dislikes cats, but she is a kind person overall and willing to help out somewhat.

For now, no one is feeding them. The mom is enclosed under the porch, relatively safe, and leaves her kittens there when she must go out. She looks "not too bad" but a bit skinny. The kitten age is unknown, but by the size I'm guessing 3-4 weeks. (PS: they are very cute). We believe there are three of them.

For now, the advice I gave her was to feed the momma, but know that she will stick around most likely indefinitely so there must be a plan for her and the kits in the future. I don't know at what age kits are on solid food, but due to mom being skinny thought perhaps dry kitten food for all was good, even if just mom eats it (with the extra nutrients and calories). Of course we will leave water out. I suggested too any old blankets in a box would be good too.

I thought perhaps we should build a little trust before we try to trap. Is this a good idea? I'll be searching for orgs that lend them out. After trapping, we plan to take them as a unit to one of two "no-kill" shelters.

As far as trapping mom & babies - is there a way to get them all at once?
Or should we get momma, assume the little ones will stay close and then grab them (since at that age it might be easy). Or do we just catch whatever possible? I worry that if we get the kittens mom might disappear.

I havent seen the mom so I have no idea if she is stray or feral. The fact she had her babies and is staying under a porch attached to a house with people traffic located in a city - does this suggest she has been domesticated?

They have not tried to approach. I am going there tonight with food. Is it best to leave the bowls by the entrance to the porch only and "run"? I'm trying to avoid scaring off momma and dont want to enter her domicile if the means she might not return.

Any suggestions? Especially about a timeline of how best to approach?
post #2 of 4
I wouldn't wait...waiting until you have this cat's trust could lead to 1. her becoming pregnant again 2. her "disappearing" and you missing your chance to spay her. Cats can still nurse after they are spayed so what I would do if at all possible, is to plan to trap her ASAP (and her kittens).

Although it is a sweet goal to eventually find a no kill shelter to take the mom, the reality is that we are in kitten season, all rescues that I know are being flooded by requests to take kittens, pregnant moms nursing moms etc. from the local shelters. So the first goal is to spay and return her back outdoors. Try to find someone to socialize the kittens and place them when they are around 10-12 weeks of age.

I know there are several members from MD on the feral cat yahoo group, so perhaps you can post about this on that yahoo group:


post #3 of 4
You won't get them all trapped at the same time. Focus first on the mom and then the kittens. How easy is it to gain access under the porch? Is there room to crawl under there and grab the kittens once mom is caught?

I agree with Katie, most shelters are overwhelmed right now with kitten season. Call the 2 no-kill shelters that you mentioned and make sure that they have the capacity to take them, otherwise you will need to find an alternative plan.

The most important thing is to get mom spayed ASAP before she goes into heat again. Quite often that is within 6-8 weeks after delivery. They can be nursing and go into heat, but they can still nurse after being spayed.
post #4 of 4
My own method for catching kittens is to use a typical animal (dog/cat) crate -- they kind you find at PETCO or Petsmart. I then tie a rope through the back of the crate along one of the top-most holes through to the door in the front. I then put tuna fish on newspaper inside, towards the back. The mother cats are much more wary than the kittens. When the kittens go in, I pull the door closed and hold the rope firmly until I can latch it (being careful not to catch a kitten in the door in the process). Once latched, I untie the rope. Typically, I then have to catch the mother separately in a standard trap.

I'm sure everyone does it differently, but I prefer to catch the kittens first for this reason -- especially if there's one kitten I can't get. At least the kitten has the mother.

This has worked on 15-20 kittens, but it's really something you have to be comfortable with.

Lessons learned:
- If you don't hold the door tight, the kittens will still freak out and can push through.
- Make sure the crate is put together properly, and there are no spaces in which the cats can push through. Kittens and cats will do ANYTHING to get out of a trap, including trying to stuff their head through a little hole.
- I've caught mothers with kittens simultaneously this way, but you need an experienced handler to separate them into different containers
- I've had protective mother cats try to attack me once the kittens were caught (which caught me off guard -- I thought they'd be too scared). They backed off, but something to note.

The ALTERNATE approach is to use a Tru-Catch trap. Those traps have a door that drops and NO springs. Instead of setting the trap to close from the pressure plate, I prop the door with a stick and a rope tied to it. The food gets pushed towards the back on newspaper. When the kittens are safely towards the back of the trap (again -- young and foolish), I pull the stick out and the door falls. Again, those traps do NOT have a spring mechanism.

(great trap design, but coating wears off and they can rust)

Lessons learned:
- Kittens like string. They also can knock the stick out themselves.
- You've got to watch the trap. Patience is a virtue
- Often, a few kittens will go in, but not one. It's a tough decision when to catch the ones you have, or to wait. Patience is a virtue. They usually warm up after it looks safe. Sometimes I've had to do this in multiple rounds.
- Procrastinating tends to be bad. I've had kittens get hit by cars, or disappear, when I decided "just to wait a few more days until the time was better."

Just some ideas...


In my experience, there's a BIG difference between socializing a 4-week-old kitten and an 8- or 10-week-old kitten. Every week that goes by, the more difficult it is to get them to be loving and friendly with humans. That's not to say it can't be done -- and you shouldn't try to trap too early -- but it does help to get them at the 4-6 week mark. But they should be eating on their own,
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