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I need some advice on some feral kittens...

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
Recently I was randomly (due a series of unfortunate events) drug to one of my mom's Woman Meetings. I was wandering around out back when I saw a fuzzy black tail disappear under a chainlink fence. I saw a long-haired black and white kitten skitter away quickly. When I meowed (I have this weird natural realistic cat meow) the kitten stopped and I got a good look at her before she disappeared. She was a very small thing, but probably weaned. I would guess maybe seven weeks old. She stopped once again for me to look at her, when from behind her, out of a tangle of blackberry, a very small black kitten leaped. This one was also black, but about four times smaller. I would assume it could still be nusing, but when I approached the bush and peered inside, I saw about six kittens, but no mother. I have been looking for a cat for awhile, but decided not to long ago that I wanted a kitten or cat that needed my help. I didn't want a purebred fluffy indoor cat that would easily find a home somwhere else, I wanted an ugly, mangy cat that nobody else would want. Any one of those kittens would fit the part. My best friend also was looking for a kitten. SO I immedietly wanted to offer at least two of them homes. But how to catch them?
I once earned the trust of a feral kitten, but he had taken up residence in an empty house next to mine and I had easy access to feed him and gain his trust daily. These kittens I would only be able to see maybe once a week, if I was able to go to my mom's meeting again. So right there that means I can't rightly gain the kitten's trust. I then guessed a Hav A Hart trap would do the job. But the bush which the kittens live is on private property. When I knocked on the door of the house to ask if I could install a trap over night, the woman said she didn't want anything to do with the kittens... they were her cats litter and she had tried to dump them somewhere and they had come back. She said she didn't want me to trap them because if I got hurt my mom would sue her (completely not true!) Even when I tried to tell her I would be careful and my mom wouldn't mind, she still slammed the door in my face. With my head hung low I retreated when I heard my mom calling me in to go home. I really would like to round up one of those kittens! I could give them great homes! But what should I do? Can I gain the animal's trust just visting sometimes only twice a month? How long would it take? SHould I try to set the trap off the woman's property? I don't know... any suggestions?
post #2 of 5
What a mean woman...! You could always talk to the people at your mom's meeting and find out if they would mind if you set your trap on their property. Then bait it and wait.. The way you described it, it sounds like the woman's property and the meeting property meet.

If you put something really tasty in the trap, they would probably come to it. Expecially since they are old enough to be mobile.

But I would stay off of her property. She sounds like a police caller/trouble maker.. And the babies need help so I would not give up based strickly on her sucky attitude. If you don't intervene in some manner [without getting in trouble], the babies are doomed.

If the place where the meeting is taking place don't mind, there might be someone there who will contact you if your trap proves successful.

Good luck and please keep updating on your progress. This will prove to be an interesting thread. It is nice to read something from such a caring young person...

post #3 of 5
I would have your mom talk to this woman. This woman is being very irresponsible. These kittens need your help, and it seems to me the only way to do this is to enlist your mom's help.

A Hav-a-heart is the way to go - but you have to be there (not to close to the trap or you'll scare the kittens). They'll be scared when you first bring them home, but if you have a room set up for them with hidey places, they'll come around.

You may also want to find a low-cost/no-cost spay clinic for your mom to suggest to this lady so she can get her cat spayed!

If your mom won't or can't help, you may consider contacting local groups to see if they can help out. (And if your mom is going to help, you can also contact these groups to see if you can borrow a trap).

You can search for local groups here:


Here is information on socializing feral cats:


You can search for low/no-cost spay/neuter here:


If you need to use a shelter to get them adopted out, please make sure it's a no-kill shelter. But I'd try to help all of them, because this lady just wants to see them die. How horrible of her!

I hope you're able to help these babies!

post #4 of 5
Thread Starter 
I still haven't been to the site recently... however I am planning to go there this week. The property of the woman's and the property of the meeting does meet, and I will make sure to ask if anybody would mind letting me set a trap. But I was wondering if I set a trap and caught just one kitten, would the others be to smart to re-enter another trap? And also, since I haven't gotten to close to the kittens, I can't be sure if they are weaned or not. If I caught the mother, would the others be doomed without her milk? Or would a kitten without the milk be able to survive? I am pretty sure the babies are old enough to eat solid food, but when I have ad the oppurtunity to watch a housecat raise her litter, she stayed with them for about two weeks after weaning, teaching the kittens how to use a litterbox, where the warmest spots to lie on the windowsill were, and so on. Would feral mothers do the same? Thank you for all your help and advice! I will update this thread as soon as I figure out where I'm going to get the trap and where I'll set it... Thanks!!!
post #5 of 5
Well, this is a difficult question, and one where people will have different opinions about how to proceed. I think it best if I share information and you decide, given your circumstances, how it's best to proceed.

If you believe that the kittens are relatively safe from harm (predators, cars), then IMO it's actually best to wait until they're about 10 - 12 weeks old before trapping them. Most organizations, like Alley Cat Allies, recommend trapping the ASAP, and no later than 8 - 10 weeks old.

Feral kittens live with their mums until they're about 12 weeks old. They learn everything they need to know, just as you described - and while they're a little harder to socialize (which is why most organizations recommend trapping them young) - and a little harder to adopt out because they're not as teeney with that same "awwwww" factor - if you don't catch them all, or if you trap mom - they're at a place where they'd be on their own anyway.

Unfortunately, the best way to trap cats is to be putting food out at a regular time for a set period of time (like two hours) every day. Then the cats are used to coming to eat there and then. When you put that really stinky food in the trap (like KFC without the skin or bones, or herring with no sauce or something), it makes it a lot easier to be able to count on trapping them.

With one trap, we've never trapped more than one cat in an evening. If the family is together, once one is trapped, the others are usually reluctant to go in the trap. For us, it's on successive nights that we've trapped kittens individually.

And if you're not sure that the kittens are weaned (for more info, you can visit http://www.kitten-rescue.com), it's best not to trap at all unless you have a plan to trap the entire family, including the mom - but if I understood correctly, the mom belongs to the neighbor, and we can't recommend you steal her!

To trap a family, you really have to use a drop trap, and it doesn't seem like a possibility in this situation. You also have to be somewhat skilled at retrieving the cats from such a trap.

I don't know if you've trapped cats or not, but just in case - if you do trap a kitten, make sure you have the place you're going to put the trap in the car covered with plastic garbage bags or something. Cats are very scared, and they will often eliminate from any or all orifices, and you want it to be easy to clean up. It's also helpful to throw a light blanket over the trap (leaving the ends open) to help them feel less scared during transport.

And if you have a vet that has hours and is open when you'd be on your way home, it is really best to take the cat directly to a vet. Sometimes they'll have fleas or whatever that you do not want to bring into your home. They're also usually terrified of you and the new place - they don't understand what is happening - and to catch them again and put them in a carrier to get them to a vet can be difficult. They may also have parasites, or a cold or other disease, so if you have pets at home, you must make sure that kitty/kitties do not have any contact with your animals at home before you get the "all clear" from a vet.

However, if that is not an option, make sure you have a room ready for him/her/them. A bathroom is great (if not too small) until kitty/kitties see a vet. Make sure you wash your hands any time you've been where kitty/kitties are before you do anything else after being with them even if you don't touch them.

To encourage kitty/kitties to use a litterbox, it's best not to use clumping litter at first, and to cover the litter with a layer of organic potting soil. They're used to going to the bathroom in the dirt. You may find they lay on the dirt at first - but when they HAVE to go, they should use the box.

Threads with helpful info on socializing cats:


Just make sure that whatever room you use for the kitty/kitties that it has a hidey place/places for them. Boxes on their sides with the flap on the top hanging down are great. And a sweaty t-shirt inside with your scent on it will help them come to associate you with comfort, not fear.

But it seems to me like you're going to end up having to do this one kitten at a time (each week?) - unless you drive, or your mom or someone is willing to drive you every night.

Maybe the woman who hosts the group meeting could start putting food out for the kitties between 7:00pm and 9:00pm (when are the meetings held?) every night - get them used to coming for food? That would help your trapping efforts.

Enlist the help of as many people as you can - that will substantially increase your chances of success.

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