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Taming Feral Kitten

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
I live on a ranch, isolated from town by 30 miles of highway and dirt road. We have approximately 30 cats; 10 are tame, including this years kittens from the docile adults, excluding the tame kittens we gave away. Though I have never cuddled, or even touched, the rest of the ferals, almost all have names, and I love each and every one of them, and love watching them as well. There's Scar, Mama, Tux, Maverick, Broken Foot, Silly, Kaliea, Aqua, & Timmy. (Sadly, Maxie ran off a couple weeks ago an we found him in the road... ) Then there are the kittens; we had a total of 17 this year, and gave away four. Our tame cats are Jenny, Bobby, Gracie, and Sylvester. The tame kittens are Sherbert, Calico Angel, Spring, Savannah, Starbucks, Chloe, and of course Zoey. That totals up to... 26. Then we have some that come and go, they travel the 6 miles to the neighbors and come back... Well, we have this one litter of 3, they are about 4 months old, I'm guessing. There were 4: a grey, black and white, and two blacks. One of the blacks and the grey joined another group (they have their own little Cat Cliques), and the two remaining live near the house, under a broken down old Ford, and hang with our docile litters. I haven't named them yet, but am kind of attatched to the black and white one; skinny and lanky, but so quirky looking. I feed the docile cats and kittens in the morning, on a small (2 x 2 ft) cement slab. I sit on a rock nearby (about 3 feet off) and watch. The 2 wild kittens have started coming to eat, and I got Black & White to come within 4 feet of me! That is as close as I have gotten. I kind of want to tame the B&W, not totally, just so I can pet him/her a little bit. I've grown attatched to it! Any advice on how to get him/her to trust me? I use relaxed, non-aggressive body posture (relaxed shoulders angled away, head down, eyes lowered, breathing easily, hands idled at my sides) and watch quietly while they eat. What is the next step?
post #2 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by KuntryKitty View Post
I live on a ranch, isolated from town by 30 miles of highway and dirt road. We have approximately 30 cats; 10 are tame, including this years kittens from the docile adults, excluding the tame kittens we gave away. Though I have never cuddled, or even touched, the rest of the ferals, almost all have names, and I love each and every one of them, and love watching them as well. There's Scar, Mama, Tux, Maverick, Broken Foot, Silly, Kaliea, Aqua, & Timmy. (Sadly, Maxie ran off a couple weeks ago an we found him in the road... ) Then there are the kittens; we had a total of 17 this year, and gave away four. Our tame cats are Jenny, Bobby, Gracie, and Sylvester. The tame kittens are Sherbert, Calico Angel, Spring, Savannah, Starbucks, Chloe, and of course Zoey. That totals up to... 26. Then we have some that come and go, they travel the 6 miles to the neighbors and come back... Well, we have this one litter of 3, they are about 4 months old, I'm guessing. There were 4: a grey, black and white, and two blacks. One of the blacks and the grey joined another group (they have their own little Cat Cliques), and the two remaining live near the house, under a broken down old Ford, and hang with our docile litters. I haven't named them yet, but am kind of attatched to the black and white one; skinny and lanky, but so quirky looking. I feed the docile cats and kittens in the morning, on a small (2 x 2 ft) cement slab. I sit on a rock nearby (about 3 feet off) and watch. The 2 wild kittens have started coming to eat, and I got Black & White to come within 4 feet of me! That is as close as I have gotten. I kind of want to tame the B&W, not totally, just so I can pet him/her a little bit. I've grown attatched to it! Any advice on how to get him/her to trust me? I use relaxed, non-aggressive body posture (relaxed shoulders angled away, head down, eyes lowered, breathing easily, hands idled at my sides) and watch quietly while they eat. What is the next step?
May I make a suggestion.....see if you can bring some of the cats to a low cost spay/neuter clinic. For the ones that are feral or not able to be pet, contact a TNR group in your state. Then you will not need to concern yourself with trying to give away kittens.

Article on why you should never give kittens away for free:

http://www.cathobbyist.com/articles/...yist/Free.html

http://www.petrescue.com/library/free-pet.htm

TNR groups by state:

http://www.alleycat.org/orgs.html

Low Cost Spay/Neuter clinics by state:

http://www.lovethatcat.com/spayneuter.html

Article on working with feral kittens:

http://www.alleycat.org/pdf/socializingferal.pdf

Truly it is better for the cats to be spayed/neutered. It reduces their chances of cancer, it reduces the females chance of pyometra, it allows kittens from shelters to find homes and it gives you the peace of mind that your cats will not add to the overpopulation issue.

Katie
post #3 of 14
Thread Starter 
First of all, thankyou for the link of feral kittens, I am looking at it now.

For the rest of your information... I know the people we gave our cats away too. I would never just put an add in the paper and give my kittens away to the first person who came along! We gave an orange kitten they named Haystack to some people we know very well, and they are phenomenal people, and he is spoiled to a fault! And we gave away 3 to a 10 year old boy we know, and the kittens (now 3 months) follow him around the house faithfully. Don't worry, we always find good homes and give kittens to people who really want them and people we know.

And as far as the spaying... we cannot get the feral adult cats spayed/neutered. But what I know when they have kittens (can tell by when they drop their belly), and then I follow them to the litter. I work with the kittens so they are semi-tame and we can catch them to get them spayed/neutered when they are old enough. So we are getting all the kittens spayed/neutered, but the mommas to the kittens I am talking about hid ehr kittens under the scale shed and I could not get to them. And trapping them in a live-trap and taking them to the vet would be very stressful on them. However, almost all the kittens are getting spayed/neutered. And we don't need to give away our cats to a group; they keep away the rats, mice, and snakes. They were all here when we got here, and we have only been here for 2 years, so we haven't had a chance to bring the population down. But we are working on it, trust me; in another 2 years I bet we'll be down to approximately 15.

Thankyou for your concern and the links!


A note... all of the clinics in our town have free neutering and spaying, so our town's population of cats is at a healthy number. Also, we live very far from town, so none of our cats end up at shelters. They're all well taken care of. Also, the link you gave me is not valid in my situation. I cannot bring the kitten inside, Mom wouldn't allow it. It doesn't need to be tamed, therefore she won't want it in the house. She didn't want Zoey in here to begin with.
post #4 of 14
Quote:
we cannot get the feral adult cats spayed/neutered. And trapping them in a live-trap and taking them to the vet would be very stressful on them.
Frankly...I don't understand this comment. Spaying/neutering cats is the most humane thing you can do. Believe me...the cats get over the stress of being in a humane trap once they have been through the procedure. We have many adults that come into our spay/neuter clinic stressed and the caretakers always comment how much more content the cats are once they have been spayed/neutered. It's better than being subjected to a life of litter after litter after litter or dying of pyometra. And another note...as long as you have intact females...you will attract stray males, whether owned or not to your location. So if your goal is indeed to bring the population under control, I would suggest that spaying your females would be towards the top of the list.

Quote:
A note... all of the clinics in our town have free neutering and spaying, so our town's population of cats is at a healthy number. Also, we live very far from town, so none of our cats end up at shelters.
So exactly how many cats is your local shelter euthanizing?? And what % is that of the total number that are dropped off? In order for the population to be a "healthy" number....at least 70% of ALL cats and kittens in your town would have to be spayed/neutered...that means all feral, stray and owned cats. And that just means that the number of cats that die is equal to the number of kittens that are born. A free clinic doesn't mean that everyone is using it or that the feral cat population is under control (although of course the wish is that the clinic is being utilized to it's fullest capacity).

Quote:
Don't worry, we always find good homes and give kittens to people who really want them and people we know.
You misunderstand again....my point was that while the cats on your property are able to have litters that you end up giving away to people you know, it means that those people aren't adopting from your local shelter. It would be great if your shelter is able to place 100% of all cats/kittens brought in...but that would make them an extreme rarity.

I applaud your efforts to at least have the kittens spayed/neutered, and I do hope you follow up with whoever you adopt to to ensure those kittens are also spayed/neutered. But if you want to bring your population under control, you will need to start addressing the adults.

Also...I don't have any advice on being able to tame a kitten that you cannot bring indoors to work with...it will definately help to have it spayed/neutered...but giving it time is the only suggestion that I can provide.

Katie
post #5 of 14
Thread Starter 
I don't think we understand each other. But that's okay, I won't try to make you understand. I was just curious as to what you think I should do next. The cat would not be indoor, of course, and I would probably almost never pick it up. Just kind of bond with it a bit. I did it once as a small child, tamed a wild cat, but I remember how... That cat never did let anybody else touch it but me, and for the life of me, I can't remember how I got it to trust me.
post #6 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by KuntryKitty View Post
I don't think we understand each other. But that's okay, I won't try to make you understand. I was just curious as to what you think I should do next. The cat would not be indoor, of course, and I would probably almost never pick it up. Just kind of bond with it a bit. I did it once as a small child, tamed a wild cat, but I remember how... That cat never did let anybody else touch it but me, and for the life of me, I can't remember how I got it to trust me.

I think I understand you perfectly well...you have both tame and feral intact cats that are having litters of kittens. I appreciate that you are trying to tame the kittens of the feral cats so that they can be spayed/neutered at the right age, but I am concerned about your statement that in 2 years you will be down to 15 cats. If you aren't allowed to have the feral cats spayed/neutered, I'm really not sure how you are going to reach that goal. Wouldn't it be more effective to trap one of the feral cats and have her spayed versus trying to follow these cats when they are about to have a litter and then try to socialize their kittens.

As to the mom whose kittens are under the shed...if it were me, I would trap them. I recognize that you are concerned that it would be very stressful to those kittens to be in a trap, but my thought on that is better for them to get spayed/neutered versus them becoming additional feral adults that have litter after litter.

I do appreciate that the decision about having the adults spayed/neutered isn't one that you can make, but I think it is definately something you could start discussing with your parents. You obviously care very much for these cats and I just think that ending the continuous pregnancies would be a benefit to you and the cats.

As far as socializing that wild kitten that you have grown fond of..that is very dependant on the kitten. Time and spaying/neutering are your best bets if you aren't able to take it indoors. Remember that each kitten is unique and what can work for one kitten, may not work for another so it's best to just take your time with it.

Please keep us updated as to the spaying/neutering and if you need any information to provide to your parents, let me know. Alley Cat Allies has lots of really good information on TNR which is Trap, Neuter, Return (a nationally recognized humane way to work with feral cats).


Katie
post #7 of 14
I agree with Katie that it is best to trap the adults and go at the population control that way if you are physically able to do it.

I have had to trap several cats around my home and I agree that it is scary and at first the cats are freaked out. It was hard for me to take those first steps, to get the traps, to figure out a plan, and to set them. I worried about one cat following another one into the trap and all sorts of things. None of this happened and I was able to get them situated. But it was scary for me and required all my courage. Also, as Katie says, even though the cats are freaked out at first, when you cover their trap with a towel they calm down right away.

Also it is true that they become less active and more happy and they stay closer to home after they are spayed/neutered. It makes such a difference in the quality of their life, and a really good difference. They still play and chase little mice and in the case of my kitties they ward off other pests. Overall they are more mellow with each other and us.

It is a large undertaking to stabilize the territory for your feral cat colony, but it sounds like you have things pretty well under control and simply need to consider what Katie is saying. Her approach is the right one; it is the standard for managing a feral colony and guaranteeing the best physical and social health for everyone involved. If you are able to overcome your limitations you should give it a try.

A lot of people think if they spay and neuter the main adults, they are taking away their defenses. I have not experienced this with my cats outside.

No matter what you do, good luck and I applaud your caring about these cats. It sounds like you have good intentions for them.

With the little one kitty you would like to socialize, my advice is that you tempt it with toys and treats. If it is not responsive to treats at first, you should be able to engage it with toys such as a string on a stick. It will come to you for playing if you set a regular time and encourage it while playing "get the string!" and use its name frequently. Be sure to have a treat on hand to reinforce it. As far as touching this kitty, you will have luck if it sees you touching other kitties. I have found that kitties who may not want a hand on them are more receptive to being brushed. Your body posture and eye contact are all great for now.
post #8 of 14
Taming feral kittens that live within an outdoor colony is not an easy thing to do. Cats in general learn from those around them and if they see feral behavior, they learn that behavior. Kittens in particular learn from adults and therefore will pick up that feral behavior. Sometimes you get an adult feral that is genetically disposed to being mellow and you will have an easier time socializing those kittens.

Every agency that I know of that works with feral kittens insists on separating the kittens from the adult ferals in order to break the cycle of feral behavior. I've also seen them separate kittens within a litter so that the kittens aren't witnessing any feral behavior in the others.

I've been working with feral cats for about 17 years now. The things that I do to socialize them is in this preferred order:

- Spay/neuter all adults. If you take them out of the breeding cycle, they tend to calm down and will warm up to you a lot more than if left mating with other feral cats. Remember that you have to break the cycle of them participating in feral behavior.

- Separate the kittens from the adults and bring them inside to socialize them. Keep the kittens separate for a while until you know they are healthy, then gradually introduce them to your tame cats so that they can witness other cats interacting with humans. Nothing brings a kitten around quicker than having it learn from a tame cat that it's OK to snuggle/play with a human.

- If you simply can't bring the feral kittens inside (or find a home for them), then get them on as regular schedule with you as possible. Feed them at least twice a day and sit with them while they eat. Get on their level (sit on the ground) and talk to them while they eat. If outside with them at other times, continuously talk to them. If you make eye contact with them, slowly blink you eyes as this is a greeting in feral colonies. These things also work great with the adult ferals. Get them spayed/neutered as soon as possible. 2 pounds or 8 weeks is an ideal time as they are small enough and not yet influenced by the colony and you can usually grab them. Any later and you may need a live trap.

An easy way to catch a feral kitten without a trap: Get the cats used to you sitting on the ground when you are feeding them. Over time move closer and closer to the food. When you are close to the food, hold your arm out at a 90 degree angle with your hand over the food and sit very still (you might have to do this for a couple of days to get them used to it). When the kitten is eating (and looking down at the food), drop your hand and scruff grab the kitten. The more calmly you do this with the first of the kittens, the more likely you will catch them all over a couple of days. The others will bolt when they see your arm drop, and you are better to catch the ones whose backs are to you. During this entire process, keep a carrier close by with the door open and ready for the kitten. In fact, I would keep the open carriers near the feeding station whenever new kittens showed up and left it there for the cats to get used to.

When we first bought a house in the country about 15 years ago, we didn't know much about taking care of feral colonies. We would borrow traps from time to time and try to catch them, but didn't catch enough and we experienced the heart ache of seeing cats and kittens die from the hard life that comes with colonies. We too were upset when we would trap a feral cat and see it become stressed. But then we realized that the ones that got spayed/neutered lived a much higher quality of life than those that we didn't fix. Fixed cats are much more friendly, don't roam as much, don't get the bad diseases as those that mate, and don't leave us with more kittens to find homes for. The good life they live after getting fixed far outweighs any stress you give them when you trap them to get them fixed. The longest that an unfixed cat lived with us was about 5 years (we didn't try hard enough to trap her). The longest that a fixed cat lived with us is 13 years (Indie is still going strong).

I know others have stressed this point and I don't want to bring it up again but have to. Buy a good live trap, get the cats fixed, and keep the trap handy for the times when additional cats show up. You live in the country and there will always be unneutered cats showing up at your place. The best thing to do for the kittens is to not have them in the first place!!
post #9 of 14
I totally agree with tnr......

You need to spay and neuter the adults. Male and Female..... Then work down to the younger groups....

The only way to control the population and get down to 15 cats is to keep them from having more kittens....

And then just continue caring for them....

I have 24 cats...... I cannot imagine how it would be if they were breeding.... It would be horrible...

With a free spay/neuter clinic, there is no excuse... And noone will ever understand your reasons for not getting the females fixed... Stress??? Think about the well being of the kittens and the undue stress of having to have litter after litter......

I'm not an expert on the TNR thing but after being a member of this forum for quite some time now, it is the best way to go.

It will be a challenge to you to get them all fixed and trapped but there are people that can lead you and help you through it...

But noone here is going to condone someone purposely letting cats have litter after litter after litter without saying something to you about it... It is good, friendly and rightous advice....

It is the best thing for the cats.....
post #10 of 14
KuntryKitty. You are worried about them stressed for catching and taking to the vet. Yes, this is easy to understand.

This is one of the reasons of using humane trap. It is not only easier, but also a lot less stressfull then chase them around, catch them with your hands with thick gloves and thick rock on and hold them with sheer force... THIS would be stressful.

Human trap, and later a towel over the trap / carrier box / cage, as somebody mentioned.
The vet is prepared, and gives them a sedative right away through the net when they are still inside the trap / carrier box.

If you want to be double sure, try with spraying Felifriend inside the trap. Or Feliway. It will lessen the stress.
post #11 of 14
If you afraid that you will loose their trust if you trap them, think again...

We have trapped MANY ferals and semi ferals, they can't make the connection that YOU set the trap, they just know that they want OUT. Will my expireince you never loose the trust that you have with them-it stays the same.

I am 18, and I totally understand having the problem with parents not backing you, my mom SWEARS that Iams is good for her cat Penny, and that Iams is better than Nutro. From some of your posts about you new love for nutrition, I know that you would agree with me on this. If cat food is over $10 a bag, my mom thinks that it is NOT worth it. I have printed pet nutrition information, read it to her, ect... She is set in her ways. But I buy my cat food and feed Nutro anyway.

Wow, did I get off topic... If it were me, I would trap, try looking up information about it, even if your not interested at this moment. I feel that trapping mine and getting them spayed/neutered was the best thing that I have done for my ferals.
post #12 of 14
Here's some interesting stats for ya.....

Multiplication Chart for Cats
2 uncontrolled breeding cats create the following:

2 litters a year at a survival rate of 2.8 kittens per litter.
With continued breeding: Year 1 = 12 cats
Year 2 = 66 cats
Year 3 = 2,201 cats
Year 4 = 3,822 cats
Year 5 = 12,680 cats

Multiplying to a staggering
Year 10 = 80,399,780 cats
post #13 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by jcribbs View Post
Here's some interesting stats for ya.....

Multiplication Chart for Cats
2 uncontrolled breeding cats create the following:

2 litters a year at a survival rate of 2.8 kittens per litter.
With continued breeding: Year 1 = 12 cats
Year 2 = 66 cats
Year 3 = 2,201 cats
Year 4 = 3,822 cats
Year 5 = 12,680 cats

Multiplying to a staggering
Year 10 = 80,399,780 cats

Great info. I've been looking for some numbers like that to share with others. Thanks.
post #14 of 14
If you have a free clinic TAKE ADVANTAGE OF IT!!! It will do those cats and the ones in the shelter a world of good.

What I mean by that is, if you keep letting your cats have kittens and keep finding "good homes" on your own for them. That is depriving the really needy cats and kittens in local shelters and rescues from being adopted by living families. It's all very irresponsible and inhumane.

You may thing you are having fun with all these babies and finding home for them, but there's kitties dying so your cats can have babies. Kittens are grand fun, but not at the expense of the lives of other cats who have no choice than to be adopted by people who you could be taking away from them or being killed.

You're also taking YEARS off the lives of the mother cats that are repeatedly having kittens and not getting veterinary care.

If you really love your animals, convince your parents to contact your local shelter to explain your situation to them. If they really do have a free spay/neuter clinic, then you can get them done, and then they will have a place to live out the rest of theit feral/tame happy lives The agency may even help you trap them or do it for you.

They may be stressed, boy my cat is when she goes to the vet for anything, but believe me, they are animals (I hate to say that) and they will get over it.
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